Alex Mooney

Alex Mooney

The head of the state’s Republican party announced Tuesday he will not run for Congress in Maryland’s competitive 6th congressional district and instead will support the GOP incumbent, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett.

Alex Mooney said he made his decision based on recent signs of life from Bartlett’s campaign. “It is now apparent to me that Roscoe Bartlett not only intends to seek re-election to Congress, but that he also plans to work hard to put a team in place and have the financial resources to beat the Democrats,” Mooney said in an e-mail to supporters.

Mooney said he raised more than $100,000 in his short-lived bid for the seat – roughly the same amount Bartlett is expected to report raising over a three-month period at the end of 2011. But the party chairman faced criticism for the unusual decision to mount a challenge to a sitting incumbent of his own party.

“While I do plan to keep my options open to consider a run for Congress in the future depending on several factors, now is not the time for a hotly contested Republican primary,” Mooney said in the e-mail. “Frankly, that is exactly what the Democrats wanted us to do when they carved up the district to attack Congressman Bartlett.”

Seven Republicans have filed to be on the ballot for the state’s April 3 primary, including Bartlett, State Sen. David Brinkley and businessman Brandon Rippeon. The filing deadline is Wednesday.

Both Democrats and Republicans will have primaries in the race. Interest is high because the district is expected to be competitive in the general election for the first time in years.