WASHINGTON — Voters from Western Maryland through Frederick to parts of Montgomery County will choose a new member of Congress Nov. 6 in what has turned into a big-money race to replace retiring Democrat John Delaney.
Democrat David Trone and Republican Amie Hoeber are joined on the ballot by Green Party nominee George Gluck and Libertarian Kevin Caldwell.
Like Delaney, Trone and Hoeber live in Montgomery County, but outside the 6th District’s lines. Trone and Hoeber have each spent millions of their own money running for Congress.
Delaney is leaving office to line up a run for president in 2020.
Why vote for me?
Hoeber lost to Delaney two years ago 56 percent to 40 percent, but said she believes she has a better chance this time since it is an open seat and one that she has effectively been running for four years.
She was a deputy undersecretary of the Army in the Reagan administration, and has since worked as a national security consultant.
“People should vote for me because I have the right experience in the federal government to understand how their processes work and how the federal government can help this district, because I have the right attitude about bringing civility back to our political process, and because I know the district well and I have loyalty to this district,” Hoeber said.
Hoeber promises to work on economic development and transportation improvements with Gov. Larry Hogan and also on the opioid crisis.
“Unfortunately, I have more experience dealing with that than I want,” Hoeber said of the opioid crisis. She said she put one family member in a rehab facility and lost another family member recently to a heroin overdose.
Trone also has personal experience with the opioid crisis in his family, after a nephew died of a fentanyl overdose.
“It’s the No. 1 issue in the country right now and we’ve got to work across party lines,” Trone said.
He said he supports a 10-year $100 billion bill to help address the crisis.
“This isn’t a one-year problem, it’s a decade problem,” Trone said.
Trone is the co-owner of Total Wine & More.
“America needs change right now. We need a check on Donald Trump. We need to bring compassion, competence and civility to government,” Trone said.
“The key difference between us and our opponent is long-term thinking,” Trone said. “Investing in people and things like infrastructure, education, the opioid catastrophe we’re facing [in] America right now, and of course the unjust criminal justice system.”
He said he also supports universal health care, a need he said was highlighted for him recently after cancer surgery. He is now cancer-free, he said.
“I support universal health care. All through Europe, everybody else has figured out how to have health care for everybody,” Trone said.
Trone lost a 2016 Democratic primary for the 8th District seat now held by Rep. Jamie Raskin by about 5 percent.
For George Gluck, the Green Party nominee, it’s a sixth try for office in the last decade. In the 2016 race against Hoeber and Delaney, he got 1.8 percent of the vote.
Gluck said he’ll be the only progressive on the ballot.
“My hope is that in this year of the blue wave or blue tsunami, possibly, it’s clear that progressives are coming to the fore,” Gluck said in an interview with WTOP after he spent a day substitute teaching at Wooton High School.
He said he is concerned that Trone has promised to follow in the footsteps of Delaney, who has sometimes crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans. Gluck left the Democratic Party in the mid-90s after NAFTA was signed.
“I’m running for my grandkids,” Gluck said. “The Green Party … as far as I’m concerned, are the 1968 Democrats.”
Gluck said he wants public financing of elections.
“We can’t make any headway with most of those until we get money out of politics,” Gluck said. “The Republicans in Congress are all lockstep behind President Trump.”
Caldwell, the Libertarian, was the only one of the four candidates not to respond to an interview request.
At a recent debate though, the Brunswick resident said he is a former Army sergeant who wants to dramatically limit the role of the federal government.
Caldwell said he wants to remove economic regulations and end Medicare as we know it.
“The reason that I have stepped up and run for Congress is for decade after decade, the ruling class, the establishment of D.C., both Democrats and Republicans, have bent their wills not to serve you and I, or our interests, what they’ve bent them to serve is the agendas of their true paymasters: from Wall Street, K Street, Defense Street, every street in the nation but Main Street,” Caldwell said.
He has no elected experience either.
“One thing, however, I am not is one of the millionaires from outside the district who can afford a multimillion dollar Madison Avenue-style advertising campaign to sell you a political image or product, and that’s exactly what you’re being sold,” Caldwell said.
In 2016, the Libertarian candidate in the district David Howser got 2.1 percent of the vote.
Gluck, the Green candidate, said he hopes people get rid of the thought that a vote for someone other than a Democrat or Republican is somehow wasted.
“People should not vote their fears, they should vote their conscience,” Gluck said.
Why Trone, Hoeber pour their own money into the race
Trone said he believes public office is the best way to make a difference.
“There’s a lot we can do to help other folks with philanthropy … but at the end of the day, the only way we can really help people [is if] you really move the needle, and that’s in areas like medical research, the catastrophe of opioids that’s destroying America, the opportunity to think long-term about education for the next generation,” Trone said.
He said he would like to see free community college and technical education and expanded Pre-kindergarten programs.
“We ought to be able to figure those things out,” Trone said.
“We need a system in Congress that thinks about the middle class and the lower class, not just thinking about the Fortune 500s. Not a tax cut of $1.9 trillion that did nothing but help the ‘1 percent’,” he said.
Hoeber has attacked Trone though for first running for the 8th District seat where they both live.
“I will do what’s best for my district, I think my opponent will just vote in a partisan fashion all the way through,” Hoeber said.
“I’m the right person for this district … I care about this district. My opponent doesn’t care what seat he buys,” she said.
The 6th District is extremely varied — from the mountains of rural western Maryland all the way to the top side of the Capital Beltway near the Legion Bridge.
“There’s a tremendous amount of needs throughout the district from Montgomery County the whole way to Garrett County,” Trone said.
He said he is listening to people across the district, and would continue to if elected.
“I know the people there. I know all of the officials,” Hoeber responded in a separate interview. “I know the district in depth.”
She said she believes the main roles for a member of Congress are to make appropriate decisions on national issues, represent the district and help the district.
Trone said the key is working with others across the aisle and across state, federal and local levels with civility, compassion and competence.
Hoeber said she is confident she can win.
“I certainly expect to. I wouldn’t be putting my heart, soul and money into it if I didn’t expect to win,” Hoeber said.
Hoeber said she believes her experience in the federal bureaucracy could help her push transportation and other grants through for local jurisdictions, or at least draw more attention and focus to key issues.
“I know who to call, I know how to submit things, I know how to review them, and this is experience that my opponent has no idea what to do,” Hoeber said.
“What I would do in Montgomery County is primarily focus on the I-270 problem and work with Gov. Hogan on that, and also some of the interchanges in Frederick County,” she said.
That would mean support for Hogan’s plan for toll lanes on the Beltway and Interstate 270.
Hoeber also supports expanding MARC train service.
Trone said he believes federal and state cooperation is critical to Interstate 270 improvements.
“Infrastructure right now in America has been put off and put off, and we’ve got to fix the problem with I-270 and I-81 where people are spending hours and hours of their time sitting in traffic, listening to WTOP — which is great — but at the same time they could be home with their families,” Trone said.
While the Hogan plan would only put any new toll lanes or other changes on the southern half of I-270, leaving chances of an extension to Frederick for later, Trone supports a broader combination of Interstate 270 and transit improvements “the whole way from Frederick down to the American Legion Bridge,” he said. “And of course we’ve also got to help drive Metro, because if we don’t take care of Metro we’re never going to be successful,” Trone said.
Trone said he believes controversies surrounding President Donald Trump boost his odds in the race.
“The president has an awful lot to do with the election,” Trone said.
“We need a check and balance system,” Trone said. “With Democratic control of the House of Representatives — and perhaps even the Senate after the recent Kavanaugh disaster — we need that balance in government. And, so yes, it’s local, it’s about constituent services, absolutely, but, from a national scale, it’s time to get off the sidelines and step up and be part of what’s happening.”
Hoeber is trying to focus less on national issues, and said she does not think the president has a major role in the race.
“I’m viewing it as neutral,” Hoeber said. “I’m running to represent the district. I am happy to stand up to the president when I think he’s wrong, I’m happy to support him when I think he does things that are right for the district.”
All 8 House districts on the ballot
Along with the 6th District, races for Maryland’s seven other congressional districts are also on the ballot. In Maryland’s 1st Districts, Democrats are hoping to defeat Maryland’s lone congressional Republican. In all the other races, Republican candidates are challenging Democratic incumbents. See a rundown of the race below.
- Republican — Andy Harris, incumbent first elected in 2010.
- Democratic — Jesse Colvin
- Libertarian — Jenica Martin
- Republican — Liz Matory
- Democratic — C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, incumbent first elected to the seat in 2002.
- Libertarian — Michael Carney
- Green — Guy Mimoun
- Republican — Charles Anthony
- Democratic — John Sarbanes, incumbent first elected in 2006
- Libertarian — David Lashar
- Republican — George McDermott
- Democratic — Anthony Brown, incumbent who first elected to the seat in 2016
- Libertarian — Dave Bishop
- Republican — William A. Devine, III
- Democratic — Steny H. Hoyer, incumbent first elected in 1981; No. 2 Democrat in the House
- Libertarian — Jacob Pulcher
- Green — Patrick J. Elder
- Republican — Richmond Davis
- Democratic — Elijah Cummings, incumbent first elected in 1996
- Libertarian — David R. Griggs
- Republican — John Walsh
- Democratic — Jamie Raskin, incumbent first elected in 2016
- Libertarian — Jasen Wunder
Editor’s note: WTOP is owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, owners of which have donated to Amie Hoeber’s’ campaign for Congress. Hubbard Broadcasting gives WTOP and WTOP.com complete editorial independence and does not exert influence over political coverage.