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Maryland’s 4th District: George McDermott runs again for sixth time, challenges Rep. Anthony Brown

Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., testifies during a House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, on H.R. 970 H.R. 4135 H.R. 7550, as they consider bills to remove Confederate statues. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., testifies during a House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, on H.R. 970 H.R. 4135 H.R. 7550, as they consider bills to remove Confederate statues. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Prince George’s native George E. McDermott is making his sixth bid for Congress this fall, challenging Rep. Anthony Brown, the two-term incumbent in Maryland’s 4th District.

The two have faced off before — in 2018, Brown received 78% of the vote, defeating McDermott, who received 20%. In 2016, Brown received 74%, and McDermott received 21%.

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McDermott, 75, of Forest Heights, worked for many years in contracting and development. He is also an advocate for judicial transparency and accountability.

Brown previously served in the Maryland General Assembly and as Maryland’s lieutenant governor before winning a congressional seat in 2018 after a failed bid for governor. Brown is 58 and lives in Bowie.

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Census data shows the district has about 758,000 residents, and data from the Maryland State Board of Elections indicates roughly 486,000 were registered to vote as of 2018.

About 68% of voters are registered Democrats, and about 15% are registered Republicans, according to 2018 voter registration data. About 14% of voters were registered as unaffiliated, and other voters identified with the Green Party, Libertarian Party or other groups.

In this year’s primary, McDermott received 56% of the Republican vote, beating out two other candidates, and Brown beat out two Democratic challengers, receiving about 77% of the vote.

The Capital spoke to McDermott and Brown to get their stances on critical issues. Here’s what they said:

Republican candidate George McDermott answers questions during Wednesday night's 4th Congressional District debate held at Anne Arundel Community College.
Republican candidate George McDermott answers questions during Wednesday night's 4th Congressional District debate held at Anne Arundel Community College. (Matthew Cole / Capital Gazette)

COVID-19 response

McDermott said he thinks Congress' next coronavirus relief package should benefit private citizens and aid state and local governments.

“Local governments are the ones that are now bearing the brunt of economic damages," McDermott said.

He also said a federal face-covering mandate is “only common sense” for fighting the virus.

Brown said the fact that another relief package hasn’t been passed is “a huge disappointment not only to me as a member of Congress but a huge hardship for the people I represent."

He said robust aid for state and local governments is a priority for him in any relief package.

Police reform

McDermott supports legislation providing more transparency within law enforcement agencies and greater accountability for officers, he said.

Brown said that George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis prompted a heightened understanding of race relations. He said, “it demonstrates that in police departments across the country, structural racism exists.”

He said he supports banning chokeholds and other fatal restraints, as well as establishing a national database of police misconduct.

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Health care

McDermott said he thinks that all Americans should be guaranteed health care and that it is the duty of “any civilized country around the world” to ensure it. He said he is especially concerned about how high pharmaceutical prices are impacting Americans.

Brown said he supports the Affordable Care Act and advocated for strengthening it by offering an optional public health insurance plan competing against private health companies. Any plan must protect Americans with preexisting conditions.

Income inequality and the economy

McDermott referred to income inequality as a “massive problem” and said he thinks the 2017 tax cuts didn’t benefit most Americans.

“Every citizen has had to pay the price through higher prices overall for everything,” he said. Though he shares a party affiliation with President Donald Trump, McDermott said he never has and will never endorse him.

Brown said the United States government has a “moral imperative” to address income inequality and noted racial disparities in income are also a problem. He suggested raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, investing in pre-kindergarten, expanding employment training and offering universal paid family leave, among other things.

He did not support the 2017 tax cuts, which he said only benefited the wealthiest Americans.

Climate change and the environment

McDermott said he fears the United States has reached the point of no return with climate change. “If we don’t do something very, very soon, we are going to be in a climate crisis we cannot recover from.” The actions listed in the Green New Deal are a start, he said.

He said he worries his grandchildren won’t experience the same world he did in the ’50s and ’60s and hopes something can be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate the need for fossil fuels.

Brown said he supports the Green New Deal and is specifically interested in methods providing a better and more fair quality of life for workers, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities and young people, among others. He said he has been fighting for these causes throughout his entire career as a civil servant.

Absentee voting has begun in Maryland, and early voting at polling places will start Oct. 26. Election day is Nov. 3.

Residents can text “VOTE” or “VOTA” to 77788 to be sent a link to register to vote online. The deadline to register to vote in Maryland has passed, but there are also options for same-day registration at the polls during early voting and Election Day with the correct identification and materials.

Residents who are already registered to vote and would like to request an absentee ballot can text “VBM” or “VPC” to be sent a link to the online request form. The deadline to request an absentee or mail-in ballot is Oct. 20.

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