WESTMINSTER -- Amid loud cries of "Vote Republican!" from the captive listeners, congressional hopefuls Alan Keyes and Roscoe Bartlett toured the Carroll County Detention Center Friday.
"Well, you sure do get support from some unusual places," said Mr. Bartlett, the Republican contender for the 6th District seat in the House of Representatives.
"Yeah, too bad they can't vote for you, Roscoe," joked one of his campaign workers.
The stop, part of the Republican duo's campaign visit to Carroll, was to get a first-hand sense of law enforcement in the counties, said Mr. Keyes, who is competing for a seat in the Senate.
"This is something I'm trying to do everywhere I go," he said. "The problems the sheriff is facing here are similar to those all over the state, although they are more severe in the urban areas."
The two candidates lunched with county Realtors Friday and visited Carroll County General Hospital. Mr. Keyes later campaigned at the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair, while Mr. Bartlett returned to Frederick.
Throughout the tour, Sheriff John Brown stressed how his department is understaffed, underpaid and inadequately uniformed.
Sheriff Brown said he returns money to the county every year from the $70 per week he collects for room and board for each work-release inmate, and has prisoners pay for their own drug testing. But he said his financial requests are usually not honored.
"It's just a shell game," he said of the money he shuffles between departmental needs. "I can't get raises for my people or proper uniforms. The priorities aren't in order."
Mr. Keyes agreed.
"We talk about the big government, but if it falls apart [on the local level], we're in real trouble."