By Glynis Kazanjian
After a shaky entrance into his 2012 reelection campaign and polling data suggesting vulnerability, 10-term Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett was placed in the incumbent protection program this week by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The Patriot Program helps incumbent GOP congressmen who have been targeted by the Democratic Party.
“National Republicans have made it clear that I am the best and only Republican that can win this seat in November,” Bartlett said in response. “This is a validation that we have been building a winning team from the ground up that will have the message and resources to defeat the liberal Democrat in the fall.”
Members enrolled in the NRCC program agree to participate in a formalized campaign process, including meeting a series of benchmarks related to fundraising goals and media plans. In return, they receive campaign counsel and advice and assistance with fundraising.
Faces primary challenge
Whether Bartlett can fulfill the NRCC agenda remains to be seen. He will first have to win the primary, which may be more than Bartlett bargained for with congressional redistricting.
“Given the fact that the district is 50% new, that 50% is in Montgomery County, or [Bartlett] hasn’t represented Montgomery County before, I think he’s probably the most vulnerable incumbent candidate in the country,” said 6th District Republican congressional candidate Robin Ficker.
Out of 500 6th District registered voters polled, Bartlett’s approval rating is 39% while 44% disapprove of the job he is doing. Voters give congressional Republicans a 39% favorability rating compared to 52% unfavorable. Only 37% of those polled believe Bartlett deserves another term, while 60% think Bartlett should be replaced.
However, Bartlett is equally matched at 42% when running against a generic Democrat challenger. The poll, which was not released in its entirety, has a margin of error of 4.4%. Forty two percent were Democrats, 40% Republican and 18% Independent, according to Ryan Rudominer, House Majority PAC spokesman.
“We didn’t need polls to tell us what we have been hearing from constituents for months,” said Sen. Chris Shank, Washington County campaign chair for Republican candidate Sen. David Brinkley. “This is why so many elected officials are supporting Brinkley.”
Brinkley has the support of at least 30 elected Republican officials in the 6th District.
Garagiola asks for Delaney disclosure
On the Democratic primary front, Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola on Twitter is calling on Democratic challenger John Delaney of Montgomery County to produce his personal financial records.
House Rules state that candidates must file a personal financial disclosure form within 30 days of filing as a candidate after meeting a $5,000 expenditure or contribution threshold, unless an extension is approved.
Delaney filed for candidacy December 24, but he filed for an extension of disclosure rules, and on Jan. 13 the House Ethics Committee granted an extension to Delaney to March 2.
Garagiola spokesman Sean Rankin says Delaney is worth about $250 million, and he accuses Delaney of trying to buy his seat.
“He’s buying a seat,” Rankin said of Delaney. “We’ll throw in everything with the kitchen sink. He’s a credible candidate because of the amount he’s going to put in.”
The FEC campaign finance disclosure deadline for the first quarter of 2012 expired midnight Tuesday.
Delaney spokeswoman Katie Burnham said their campaign raised about $75,000 on their website alone over the past few weeks.
The Garagiola campaign raised about $330,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011 and plans to spend between $700,000 and $800,000 in the campaign, Rankin said. Brinkley raised $90,000 in January, according to spokesman Don Murphy. Montgomery County Republican candidate Peter James, a former contender in the 2008 congressional contest, loaned his campaign money, but he did not state the amount.
Other candidates in the 6th Congressional District race did not immediately respond to comment on their fundraising. Eight Republicans and five Democrats are running