Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington) said his near decade-long experience in the legislature and his independent streak set him apart from the other Republican candidates in the race for Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District.
The district is considered one of the most gerrymandered in the nation. Republican Roscoe Bartlett represented the district for 30 years. Bartlett was defeated by Democrat John Delaney in 2012 after a swath of overwhelmingly Democratic northern-Montgomery County was added to the exclusively western Maryland-based district.
Delaney decided not to seek re-election in 2018 and instead launched a campaign for president. He has since dropped out of the race. Democrat David Trone has held the seat since Jan. 2019. More than 50 percent of the district’s population lives in Montgomery County.
“I have experience. I’m in my third term now as a state delegate. And I have a proven record. Not just as a delegate. But a proven record of really trying to help people, even when Republican leadership would say: ‘Don’t do something,'” Parrott told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Friday.
Parrott illustrated an example of his independent streak.
“I helped lead three different ballot initiatives to get referendums on the ballot. It hadn’t happened in Maryland in over 20 years. When I told the minority leader I wanted to do that, he’s was like: ‘no, I don’t want you to do it.’ But I had to listen to the people and the people very much wanted to have some kind of voice in government.”
Parrott said one of the initiatives would have repealed legislation that provides in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. The initiative was placed on the ballot in 2012. The two other initiatives he was successful in getting on the ballot that year would have repealed same-sex marriage as well as the redistricting plan for the sixth district.
Parrott downplayed the importance of winning votes in Montgomery County.
“I don’t have to win in Montgomery County to win the race. I only need about 35 percent. We’ve done the numbers. Thirty-five percent of the vote in Montgomery County will get me over the top. I’ll win the race if I get that percentage. ”
The primary election is Tuesday, June 2. Parrott, a Hagerstown resident, faces IT professional Chris Meyyur and retired U.S. Army Sergeant Kevin Caldwell. Both Meyyur and Caldwell live in Frederick County.
Parrott has raised about $119,000 according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. However, Parrott told MarylandReporter that he has actually raised about $160,000 as the latest numbers do not include what he raised in 2019. Caldwell and Meyyur’s filings could not be located. Meyyur told MarylandReporter.com that he has not been able to raise any money due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Caldwell did not respond to phone calls seeking an interview by the deadline for this story.
Meyyur, who was born in India and has lived in the U.S. for three decades, said he is the best candidate to represent the district because he is a “uniter.”
“As a Republican, I am the one who can unite the base and get across to independent voters to vote for my candidacy,” he said.
Meyyur said if he is elected he would work to help pass legislation to wipe out “most of the student debt.” Meyyur said he would try to make “higher education [more] affordable” as well as bring more high-tech jobs to the district.
Sen. Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), who represents most of the Montgomery County portion of the Sixth District in Annapolis, said a Republican victory is highly unlikely.
“The way the district sits right now-and, more importantly, the national climate-President Trump I think is very unpopular in most of Montgomery County and quite frankly is not popular in the state of Maryland. And, so, I think any Republican trying to beat an incumbent congressman in Maryland — to me it seems highly unlikely. And I think that’s the basic landscape as it exists this year with President Trump at the top of the ticket.”
Feldman predicted Trone will win overwhelmingly. “And it’s hard to see how anybody on the Republican side, whether it’s Delegate Parrott or anyone else would be able to make up any difference at that point given the national climate and the Republican brand in this part of Maryland,” he said.
Feldman said Trone has done good work for the district.
“He’s been very responsive during the pandemic,” he said. “His office has been very responsive to our mutual constituents. A lot of calls I get in Annapolis are calls from constituents of both Congressman Trone and mine. And I think his constituent service has been very good. And he’s been really trying to work in a bipartisan way, which is very unusual right now on Capitol Hill.”