By Glynis Kazanjian
In two more surprises in the race for the redrawn 6th Congressional District, state GOP Chairman Alex Mooney said Tuesday he won’t challenge Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, but freshman Del. Kathy Afzali of Frederick said she will, pitting her against the state senator from her own district, David Brinkley.
Speaking in Frederick Tuesday morning, Mooney said loyalty still means something in this world, and he will now throw his full support behind Bartlett in his re-election efforts.
“When Democrats gerrymandered this district and decided to take out Roscoe Bartlett, they wanted us to in-fight. I’m not going to fall into that game,” Mooney said. “I’m going to support the Congressman and do everything I can get him re-elected.”
Mooney launched an exploratory committee in December when media reports revealed Bartlett’s Chief of Staff Bud Otis was secretly soliciting support for his own run, should Bartlett decide not to seek re-election. Bartlett also raised a nominal $1,000 in the 3rd quarter of 2011, which Mooney and others began to see as a sign that he wasn’t running.
Mooney also said he believes he was a catalyst to Bartlett’s renewed decision to seek an 11th term.
“Frankly I gave him some competition,” Mooney said. “I think he needed that and it was good for him . . . Bartlett is a competitive man. You don’t get to Congress by accident. I think when I announced, his competitive juices got flowing.”
Afzali calls the men long shots
In a statement, Afzali described Bartlet, Brinkley and Mooney as candidates Democrats could easily attack. “I think it is a long shot for any of them to win a general election,” Afzali said.
“Each Republican Candidate will have to introduce themselves to a huge block of new voters in a brand new district.” she said. “You need a Republican Candidate with the energy and ‘chutzpah’ to bring a positive message to new voters who have probably never heard their name prior to meeting them.”
“District 6 will need a strong conservative that will appeal to independents, is steadfast in constitutional principals, but able to cross party lines collaboratively,” Afazali said. “The candidate will need to be an articulate and steady voice against the Obama agenda.
She said that she, and not the three men, had all these qualities.
Brinkley welcomed her to the race. “The voters of Congressional 6 deserve to witness a spirited campaign more than once a generation.” He said he looked forward “to debating the issues, and bringing new, effective and conservative leadership to Washington.”
Mooney says it was right decision
In the end Mooney said he made the right decision because it was the right thing to do, and he questioned why other Republicans would challenge Bartlett.
“These other folks that are running against, I don’t know what they are thinking,” Mooney said. “What are they going to do, attack him? Say they’re liberal Republicans and Roscoe is conservative? It’s not going to work.”
Mooney said he remains open to running for a future office and that he plans to keep the $100,000 he raised with his exploratory committee, unless someone specifically asked for their donation back.
“When I called for donations of the exploratory, anyone that donated I think was aware that I would use it this time or in the future. If somebody wants it back, I’ll give it back, but that money can be used for a future race. That’s what I intend to do with it,” Mooney said.
Bartlett campaign spokesman Bob Wickers said Rep. Bartlett is grateful for Mooney’s support, but that he had always planned on running.
“Congressman Bartlett is pleased to have the support of Republican Chairman Mooney,” Wickers wrote in an email. “Congressman Bartlett has always been clear of his intention to seek re-election and win this seat in November. The congressman understands the unprecedented economic challenges our country faces. And supporters like Chairman Mooney know it’s going to take experienced leaders and authentic fiscal conservatives like Congressman Bartlett to get America’s economy moving again.”