By Glynis Kazanjian
After weeks of a relatively subdued campaign, a group allegedly aligned with 10-term Republican Roscoe Bartlett sent a bombshell of an email on Saturday to registered Republicans in Montgomery County’s newly drawn 6th Congressional District attacking Sen. David Brinkley.
The email sent by “Victory for Bartlett” contained links to two YouTube videos. One tape features the recording of a 911 call made during an apparent domestic dispute by the former wife of state Sen. David Brinkley, Bartlett’s chief rival in the primary. The second tape slams Brinkley for allegedly supporting all of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budgets. (Brinkley has not this year and last.)
The mass email blast was sent within a few hours of a newly released poll from the Brinkley campaign showing a neck-to-neck race between Bartlett and Brinkley. The “electronic” poll conducted by EPolitical for Brinkley’s campaign showed Bartlett with a marginal lead over Brinkley – 34% to 31% with a 4% margin of error – with 19% of voters still undecided and 15% of the vote split among the six remaining primary candidates, Kathy Afzali, Robert Coblentz, Robin Ficker, Joe Krysztoforski, Peter James and Brandon Rippeon.
Brinkley camp calls it “desperation”
The Brinkley campaign called the last minute attack ads an act of desperation.
“As a last, pathetic act of desperation, Bartlett is willing to do or say anything, to destroy a family and his own reputation in order to give cover to his own anemic record and cling to power,” Brinkley Campaign spokesman Don Murphy wrote in an email.
“The Brinkley for Congress Campaign has run an issues oriented campaign which was both truthful and honorable,” Murphy continued. “We have offered a contrast, and pointed out during our debates with the incumbent those differences. But not once, has our opponent questioned the credibility of a statement or charge. We’ve never taken a cheap shot or a late hit. Some may question and second guess that strategy, but we will never regret it.”
Maryland Juice also featured a similar audio video attack ad Saturday featuring an additional video of Brinkley calling 911 himself. The issue has surfaced during recent debates, but the media has paid little attention to it during the primary.
Brinkley and his wife divorced after news broke in 2008 about an alleged affair between Brinkley and one of his aides. At the time Brinkley was the state Senate minority leader, but he was asked to resign amid the scandal.
Statements by others candidates
Since the 911 tapes were released, two of the 6th District Republican candidates have made statements.
Brandon Rippeon put out a statement essentially calling both Bartlett and Brinkley unworthy.
“The voters of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District deserve a Congressman they can be proud of,” Rippeon’s campaign stated. “We need a nominee who wants to win in the best way, not the worst way. It has become very clear that David Brinkley is not fit to serve in Congress and Roscoe Bartlett will do anything to cling to power.”
Del. Kathy Afzali sent a statement to supporters linking to the 911 calls. She called Brinkley a liability for Republicans, saying both front-runners needed to be replaced with a fresh face and a positive message.
Bartlett’s campaign would not provide a comment.
O’Malley for Garagiola, Bill Clinton for Delaney
The weekend’s activities bring to close what has been a contentious primary battle among Democratic frontrunners state Sen. Rob Garagiola and commercial banker John Delaney. Both candidates and another Democratic challenger, Milad Pooran, spent the weekend canvassing the 6th District with an emphasis on Western Maryland.
The Delaney camp issued an internal poll by the well-known Democratic pollster Garin, Hart, Yang last week showing Delaney with a double digit lead – 49% to 23% – over Garagiola, with 16% of voters remaining undecided and Pooran advancing to 10%.
O’Malley endorsed Garagiola last Thursday, the same day the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics convened to deal with newly filed complaint against Garagiola for failing to disclose employment as a lobbyist on state disclosure forms.
On Sunday the Delaney camp released a robocall by President Bill Clinton urging voters to select John Delaney “the son of a union electrician who’s built his own business from scratch and proved he knows to create jobs and grow this economy,” Clinton says in the call.