Del. Neil Parrott speaking on the floor of the House of Delegates.(MarylandReporter.com file photo)
Maryland’s sixth congressional district is considered one of the most gerrymandered in the nation.
But it wasn’t always that way.
Republican Roscoe Bartlett represented the then-predominantly conservative exclusively western Maryland district for 30 years. But Bartlett was defeated by Democrat John Delaney in 2012 after a swath of overwhelmingly Democratic northern-Montgomery County was incorporated into the district. Now more than half of the district’s population lives in Montgomery County.
Delaney held the seat until 2019 at which time he left Congress to launch an unsuccessful campaign for president. Delaney was succeeded by another Democrat-wine magnate and philanthropist David Trone. Trone, 65, a moderate Democrat and frequent critic of President Donald Trump was elected to Congress with 59% of the vote in 2018 and is seeking re-election this year.
But Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington) is hoping to upset those plans.
Parrott, 50, a staunch conservative who has served in the House Delegates for nearly a decade, told MarylandReporter.com that he has a reasonable chance of pulling an upset and ousting Trone.
“When you look at the Cook Report, D+6 (Democrat favored by six points), it’s the most competitive congressional race in Maryland. Nothing else even comes close. It’s all double-digits. So, if there’s going to be one race to watch in Maryland, it’s this race,” Parrott said Thursday.
He added: “In this race, if you look at 2014, [Republican] Don Bongino almost won. He wound up losing by just under 3,000 votes. And then in 2014, in District 6, Larry Hogan won. In 2018, he (Hogan) also won-but with greater numbers than 2014 in District 6…So a Republican can and has won the district with the current map.”
The fundraising gap between Parrott and Trone could not be starker.
Still, Parrott said he does not feel discouraged.
“He (Trone) has a large amount of money to spend. So he’s able to do a couple of things that I can’t do. But one thing he can’t do, that I have been able to do is have a lot of grassroots support. If you look at my $300,000, the average donation is a low amount. It’s not like I’m getting a $1,000 here and there. It’s a low amount. And if you look at those donations, they are mostly from people in District 6. ”
Parrott, a Hagerstown resident, criticized Trone for living outside of District 6 and for having self-financed a sizable portion of his 2018 and 2020 campaigns. Trone lives in Potomac which is in District 8. Trone ran for Congress in that district in 2016 and lost the primary to now-Rep. Jamie Raskin (D). Federal law only requires that candidates for the House of Representatives live in the same state of the district that they represent.
“I think a lot of people in western Maryland, Frederick, Montgomery-that they are seeing that District 8 has actually has two U.S. congressmen right now. And District 6 really doesn’t have good representation in D.C.”
A spokesperson for Trone downplayed the significance of the congressman’s residence.
“The Founders recognized that your ability to lead does not depend on where in a state you live. Rather, it depends on your compassion, competence, and civility. Congressman Trone has worked tirelessly over the last two years to make sure that he is living up to those values, and he is eager to continue that mission in his next term.”
And Trone told MarylandReporter.com in a statement: “Being elected to represent the people of the Sixth District is one of the highest honors anyone could receive. My team and I work every day to serve them and earn their trust. We hope they will endorse our efforts in the election.”
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