By Len Lazarick
For the second time this year, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican considered a presidential contender, has helped Dan Bongino raise money in his race to recapture Maryland’s 6th Congressional District for the GOP.
“We’ve nationalized this race,” Bongino said in an interview after a Silver Spring fundraiser for which Paul was the main draw Tuesday night. “We had to bring some attention to Maryland.”
Democrat John Delaney took the seat from 20-year incumbent Republican Roscoe Bartlett in 2012 after Democrats radically redrew the Western Maryland district to include more Montgomery County Democrats and lop off conservative Carroll County voters.
“[Gov.] Martin O’Malley took gerrymandering to a new level and stole our congressional seat in the 6th District,” Maryland Republican chair Diana Waterman told the crowd of about 100 at Tuesday’s fundraiser.
“Dan Bongino is the perfect candidate to take back our congressional seat,” Waterman said. “He’s not your typical Washington insider.”
Bongino, 39, is a former Secret Service agent who was the party’s U.S. Senate nominee in 2012, losing to incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin in a three-way race.
In recent months, Bongino said he has been raising more money than Delaney, but Bongino freely concedes that, as “the sixth richest member of Congress,” Delaney could easily write himself a check for a million dollars as he did in 2012 defeating the party establishment candidate in the Democratic primary, state Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola.
Delaney made a personal fortune founding and running two financial services firms.
June reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Bongino has raised $533,000 for this campaign and has $73,000 cash on hand. Delaney has raised $707,000 and has $163,000 in cash, but still a sizable $603,000 debt, reflecting the large loans he made to himself for his first race.
Bongino has gained the support of conservative Republican leaders such as Paul, Utah Sen. Mike Lee and former Florida Congressman Allen West. But all three nationally known independent political analysts of congressional races expect Delaney to hold onto the seat. TheCook Political Report does not consider the race competitive, andSabato’s Crystal Ball and theRothenberg Political Report view the seat as safe for the Democrats.
That’s not what Bongino finds as he goes door-knocking in the district that stretches from Potomac to the mountains of far western Maryland.
“Nobody seems to know who [Delaney] is,” Bongino says. “I think he’s taking this race for granted.”
‘Liberty leaning conservative’
Bongino described himself as a “conservatarian,” “a liberty leaning conservative.”
“Liberty is not a hard sell,” he said. “Divide and conquer politics dies down when they meet you in person.”
People know “you can spend your money better than the government,” he said
Sen. Paul has roots in the Tea Party and libertarian wing of the Republican Party, and Bongino said he was comfortable with his views, including his position on foreign policy, which other Republicans call isolationist.
“I’m very cautious about our foreign use of troops,” Bongino said.
Bongino praised Paul’s outreach to minority groups and others not considered part of the traditional Republican base.
Let people keep their own money
Paul’s speech at the fundraiser emphasized fiscal discipline and the lack of it in the federal government.
The senator talked about his plans for Economic Freedom Zones to revitalize cities like Detroit, reducing taxes for people to create economic stimulus “by keeping their own money.”
He said current economic stimulus plans wind up enriching the wrong people, and there is a revolving door between Wall Street and Washington.
“They take your money and give it to rich people,” Paul said. “We need to zero out [the tax breaks for] big corporations.”
“They’re using the rest of us to enrich themselves,” he said.
Applause line on immigration
Paul drew his biggest applause in regard to the influx of Central American children and teenagers across the Mexican border into Texas. He said the government should not be flying the children to California, “they should be flying them back to Central America.”
Paul said he favored “an in-between solution” on immigration reform, but “you have to have a secure border first.”