ROCKVILLE, Md. - Democratic congressman-elect John Delaney emphasized his pursuit of political togetherness Wednesday by invoking both Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Bill Clinton as leaders he hopes to emulate while representing Maryland's 6th District.
The 49-year-old commercial banking entrepreneur easily defeated 10-term Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Tuesday in a race made competitive by redistricting. Delaney, in his first run for elective office, got most of his votes from the Democrat-heavy Washington suburbs of Montgomery County, his home.
But his themes of job creation and cooperation also helped him carry two of the four counties in conservative western Maryland: Frederick County, where Bartlett lives, and Washington County.
In a telephone interview Wednesday from his home in Potomac, Delaney said that after taking office in January, he hoped to help build bipartisan consensus on plans for reducing the federal deficit and improving America's roads and bridges through a public-private "infrastructure bank" proposed by President Barack Obama.
"I think something like that is a specific example of something I'd like to put my shoulder against," Delaney said, citing his own banking background.
But he said that with much to learn from experienced lawmakers, including Bartlett, he doesn't want to be presumptuous about his role in the 113th Congress.
"I always subscribe to the Lincoln theory, which is, like, paddle to the next bend in the river," Delaney said.
He said he admires Clinton, who campaigned for Delaney, for grasping what Delaney called the "inherently interwoven" relationship between a vibrant economy and federal entitlement programs.
Clinton "cares deeply about making the social programs that define us as a country but he explains to people that unless we have a thriving private sector, we actually can't afford these things," Delaney said.
Frederick County businessman Jim Racheff, who campaigned for Delaney, said his moderate message resonated with some Republicans.
"In the primary, we had an event in Frederick for John Delaney and a couple of my neighbors who are Republicans knocked on the door and said, `Can we come, too? Because we've heard a couple things about this guy and he's really interesting to us. He's not the usual guy that we see show up on the ballot,'" Racheff said.
Bartlett declined to comment Wednesday on the election. Spokeswoman Lisa Wright said Bartlett's main concern about the transition was that pending requests for constituent service not fall through the cracks.
She said Bartlett, 86, has no plans to retire.
"He's looking forward to continuing his work on the things he passionately cares about _ energy, stability in government, helping war fighters and wounded warriors, and serving others in a different capacity," Wright said. "He's a scientist and an engineer and a practical man by nature, and he's always interested in inventing a better future."
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