Republican state party chairman Alex Mooney said Thursday he expects to run for Congress from Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, setting up a potentially messy GOP primary in the increasingly competitive district.
Mooney, a former state senator who represented Frederick and Washington counties from 1999 through the end of last year, said he filed paperwork Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission that will allow him to raise political cash. The filing had not yet posted on the agency’s website Thursday.
“We cannot let Congressman Bartlett's seat be taken by a tax-and-spend liberal like Rob Garagiola,” Mooney said, referring to the Democratic state senator who is formally seeking the seat. “Our economy is suffering and we need more jobs – not more government, more debt and more taxes.”
But before Mooney makes it to November’s general election, he’ll have to clear the April primary. The incumbent, Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, has said he will seek reelection but has so far not aggressively campaigned for the seat.
Bartlett’s longtime chief of staff, Bud Otis, is said to be considering a run if Bartlett decides to retire, according to item that appeared last month in the Red Maryland blog. Though Otis has not commented on the rumors, Mooney addressed it directly in his announcement.
“With the recent news about Congressman Roscoe Bartlett’s long time chief-of-staff preparing to run for Congress and the Democratic Party's cynical and corrupt redistricting plan to oust Congressman Bartlett, I felt it was time for me also to start an exploratory committee for Congress,” said Mooney, who is 40.
The 6th District has received national attention after Democrats in Annapolis redrew its boundaries this year to include more Democratic voters. The seat, which includes Western Maryland along with portions of Frederick and Montgomery counties, is one of the few pickup opportunities for House Democrats in the country.
In addition to Garagiola, a former Democrat on the Montgomery County Council, Duchy Trachtenberg, has announced her candidacy. A Montgomery County businessman, John Delaney, announced last month that he is also considering a run for the seat.
Republicans have been slower to enter the race as they waited for Bartlett’s next move. Five Republicans, including Bartlett, filed with the State Board of Elections to have their names placed on the 2012 ballot. One, Brandon Rippeon of Frederick, became the first candidate in either party to run a television advertisement on cable last month.
Mooney’s announcement appears to be more of a commitment to run than many other candidates forming exploratory committees. The statement says definitively that he “plans to officially file as a candidate for Congress in January” and notes that he plans to step down from his position as chairman of the Maryland Republican Party at that time.