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Roscoe Bartlett Ready to Fight for His Seat

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

A few years ago, a website chronicling "100 Things Younger Than Roscoe Bartlett" surfaced. Included among the items that came to be after the octogenarian Maryland Republican's birth are penicillin, Scotch tape, talkie movies, Fidel Castro and the "American Gothic" painting.

Also on the list: the car radio and Model A Ford.

But in the year 2012, the 85-year-old lawmaker drives a Toyota Prius and often gets his morning news on a staffer's iPad, not the radio, as he rides to work.

The headlines regarding re-election have been grim for the 10-term incumbent. Thanks to redistricting, ambitious challengers and poor fundraising last year, Bartlett is in about as dire a situation as any incumbent can find himself.

Yet he takes umbrage with the notion that he's not up to the fight.

"Fire in the belly? Do actions speak louder than words?" he said. "I feel very good about [the campaign]. ... We're going to win this race."

Bartlett is not merely in the race of his career, he is tasked with creating a modern campaign from scratch.

A lot has changed since Bartlett first won in 1992. Back then, campaign technology consisted of one or two computers and land line telephones. Most homes did not have the Internet or caller identification, and video cameras were analog.

Twenty years later, Bartlett is embracing the latest in technology and social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

He is a walking encyclopedia of his campaign's internal polls and their crosstabs. He talks strategy and brags on his California-based consultant, Bob
Wickers. And he throws verbal darts at his challengers with mischievous glee.

There is no doubt, if Bartlett goes down in this race, he'll go down swinging.

Crossover Appeal?

Happily married with 10 children and a farm in western Maryland, the Congressman could have just walked away from it all.

At one point last fall, he asked National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) to name the Republicans who could hold the seat if he retired. Sessions presented with him Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney and Bartlett's now-former chief of staff, Bud Otis.

Bartlett decided then that he was the only Republican who could win the 6th district which was made 16 points better for Democrats in redistricting, based on the 2008 presidential results.

Bartlett was quickly placed in the NRCC's incumbent protection Patriot program, a move that an NRCC spokesman said reflected the committee's belief that Bartlett is the best Republican candidate.

When he committed himself to re-
election, one of his first acts was to spend several long December days at the NRCC on the phone, dialing for dollars. His fourth-quarter Federal Election Commission report was an improvement, with about $120,000 raised.

Bartlett can't change the district lines, however. By statehouse Democrats' intention, almost half of the residents in the redrawn 6th are new to him. They are suburban voters from liberal Montgomery County.

Bartlett insists he is "not unattractive" to Democrats.

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