WASHINGTON -- Maryland's controversial congressional redistricting scheme will be put to the test in at least two distinct ways on Election Day.
First, the Democratic-designed redistricting plan, which has been derided by critics as an overly partisan remapping of Maryland's congressional districts, will be up for a veto referendum as Question 5.
Second, one of the targets of the redistricting scheme, Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, is in for the biggest fight of his political life.
Bartlett's 6th Congressional District, which includes western Maryland and north-central sections of the state west of Baltimore, was redrawn to include more Democratic-leaning portions of Montgomery County closer to the nation's capital. Although the new district isn't a shoe-in for Democrats, it's certainly much more competitive than the former 6th district.
Bartlett, who "pursued careers as a professor, research scientist and inventor, small business owner, and farmer" and was first elected to Congress in 1993, is facing Potomac financier and self-made "progressive businessman" John Delaney in the redrawn district, where the two have been deadlocked in a recent poll.
As Capital News Service details, the results of the race could rankle the national Republican and Democratic parties:
Regardless of who wins, the result will, in some ways, defy party expectations. A Bartlett win would send a powerful message to the national Republican Party, which has provided little support for his 10th re-election bid. Delaney’s election would be a slight comeuppance for Maryland Democrats, who backed state Sen. Rob Garagiola, D-Montgomery, in the primary.
Delaney, who has held a fundraising edge heading into Election Day, was endorsed by former President Bill Clinton, who recorded a robocall for the Democratic candidate.
As MarylandReporter.com details, voter turnout will be critical:
"It is a very tough election, I recognize that," Bartlett said. "It's going to depend on turnout. For me to win it has to be a very robust Republican turnout, very robust. It’s a very Democratic district."
Early voting was not promising, with Democrats outvoting Republicans statewide 3 to 1, and turnout in the Republican western parts of the 6th district below average. Delaney outraised Bartlett six-to-one in the early part of October.
With campaign offices in Hagerstown, Frederick and Gaithersburg, Delaney has an army of over 1,500 volunteers that will place phone calls and knock doors through the election.
National political analysts have named Bartlett as one of the most vulnerable House Republican incumbents this election cycles. And as The Washington Times reported recently, Bartlett "talks like a man who knows his days in office might be numbered."
Of any U.S. House race in the D.C. region to watch, the race in Maryland's 6th Congressional District is the one to watch.
UPDATE, Tuesday, 10:20 p.m.: As Roll Call reports, Delaney has been declared the victor in the 6th Congressional District.