Bartlett Buoyed By 'Anti-incumbent Mood' In 6th District

Republican In 2nd Bid To Unseat Rep. Byron

February 23, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

Roscoe G. Bartlett has run this race before. He lost, but a lot can change in 10 years.

Bartlett, a Republican from Frederick, is seeking the 6th District congressional seat held for the last 13 years byDemocrat Beverly B. Byron. In 1982, he won the Republican primary with 52 percent of the vote. He lost the general election to Byron, whoreceived 74 percent of the vote.

But attitudes have changed, making this a good time to try again,he said.

"The political climate has changed. Now there is a meaningful anti-incumbent mood out there," he said. "I am convinced we've got to have a change."

Some voters agree.

On a campaign stop atBaugher's Country Restaurant in Westminster last week, Bartlett approached a table where four older women were sipping coffee.

"We were just talking about politics," said Ruth Davis of Westminster. "We need a change." Davis took one of Bartlett's red- , white-and-blue pamphlets.

Bartlett, 65, is a retired teacher, researcher, inventor and homebuilder. He said he holds a number of patents, most on breathing support devices. He owns a 144-acre sheep, dairy goat and horse farm.

The candidate never has held public office, but says he is a descendant of Josiah Bartlett, who signed the Declaration of Independence.

He has two opponents in the March 3 Republican primary: Mike Downey of Frederick, Frederick County, and Frank K. Nethken of Cumberland, Allegany County.

Bartlett supports tax cuts, lowered health-care costs, an improved educational system and changes in the welfaresystem.

Bartlett says he supports President Bush in his re-election bid, but said he's glad Pat Buchanan is in the race because he forced Bush to discuss issues.

Bartlett has organized a contingent ofcollege students in Frederick who have been campaigning for him in the six counties that comprise the 6th District.

John Criswell, 21,a senior political science major at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, is coordinating the effort.

"We have a lot of energy, so we're going door-to-door," he said.

They've been distributing signsand pamphlets and making phone calls, Criswell said.

Fifty to 60 students from Mount St. Mary's, Hood College, Frostburg State University and Frederick Community College are working on the campaign, he said.

In Carroll, former Westminster Councilman Mark Snyder is coordinating Bartlett's campaign and said about 20 volunteers are actively working. They're making phone calls and putting up signs.

"We'retrying to create good name-recognition," he said.

Bartlett said some people say they remember him from 1982.

At campaign appearances, he consistently gets a laugh with a line that explains his opposition to a national health-care system.

Such a system would "combinethe efficiency of the post office, the costs of the Pentagon and thecompassion of the IRS," he said.

Health-care costs would drop if government limited the cost of malpractice insurance and put a $150,000 cap on malpractice awards, he said.

Also, people with unhealthyhabits, such as smoking, should pay more for health insurance because they're more likely to get sick, he said. More preventive care alsowould lower costs, he said.

Bartlett supports a cut in the capital gains tax to 15 percent. Other tax cuts, such as for the middle class, should be accompanied by spending cuts, he said.

Giving the president a line-item veto also would help reduce the budget deficit and eliminate "pork barrel" projects, Bartlett said.

Congress must find a way to eliminate depressed inner-city communities, which are "islands of subculture" divorced from mainstream America, he said.

The government created those areas and must eliminate them, he said. One way might be to offer people incentives to move out of the cities,he said.

To improve the educational system, teachers must receivemore recognition for their work, said Bartlett, who has taught at the University of Maryland, Frederick Community College, Howard University and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

"We need to pay them better, and we need a new appreciation of how important teachers are in our society," he said.

He also recommends reducing bureaucracy at the federal level. A third-grade teacher in Paducah, Ky.,probably would not notice if the U.S. Department of Education was eliminated, he said.

If elected, Bartlett said, he would give $60,000 of his $129,500 salary to award two $5,000 college scholarships to high school students in each of the six counties in the 6th District who want to study science, math or engineering.

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