Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: June 3, 1926, Moreland, KY .
Education: Columbia Union Col., B.A. 1947, U. of MD, M.S. 1949, Ph.D. 1952.
Religion: Seventh Day Adventist.
Family: Married (Ellen); 10 children.
Professional Career: Farmer; Prof., U. of MD, 1948–52; Asst. prof., Loma Linda Schl. of Medicine, 1952–54; Asst. prof., Howard U. Medical Schl., 1954–56; Research scientist, N.I.H., 1956–58; Research scientist, U.S. Naval Aerospace Medical Inst., 1958–62; Research scientist, Johns Hopkins U., 1962–67; Research mgr., IBM, 1967–74; Pres., Roscoe Bartlett & Assoc., 1974–86.
The congressman from the 6th District is Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican first elected in 1992. In his early 80s, Bartlett is the second-oldest member of the House after Republican Ralph Hall of Texas. He is a curious character, a descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a Seventh Day Adventist with 10 children (he and his wife each have four children from previous marriages). He was born in Kentucky and grew up in poverty in Western Pennsylvania, where his father was a tenant farmer. After getting a bachelor’s degree in theology and biology, he earned a Ph.D. in physiology at the University of Maryland, where he also taught and wrote more than 100 scientific articles. Over the years, he has also operated a 145-acre dairy farm, where he still milks goats. He was awarded 20 patents for inventing life-support equipment for pilots, astronauts, firefighters, and respiratory patients. In 1999, the Aeronautics and Astronautics Institute gave him an award for his career contributions to the advancement of medical knowledge and technologies. When Bartlett first ran for the House, he was a 65-year-old retired professor who seemed to have no chance of winning. Democrat Beverly Byron had represented the district for 14 years and had a conservative voting record. Bartlett lost to her in 1982, 74%-26%. But in 1992, Byron was upset in the primary by a liberal who favored national health insurance and abortion rights. Bartlett’s conservative views and his attacks on his opponent’s record in the state Legislature drove him to a 54%-46% victory.
|Roscoe Bartlett (R)||190,926||(58%)||($204,443)|
|Jennifer Dougherty (D)||128,207||(39%)||($172,381)|
|Gary Hoover (Lib)||11,060||(3%)|
|Roscoe Bartlett (R)||51,635||(78%)|
|Joseph Krysztoforski (R)||5,686||(9%)|
|Tom Croft (R)||4,895||(7%)|
|John Kimble (R)||3,433||(5%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (59%), 2004 (67%), 2002 (66%), 2000 (61%), 1998 (63%), 1996 (57%), 1994 (66%), 1992 (54%)
Bartlett has proved a surprisingly durable, if quirky, politician. Profiled in The Washington Post as Maryland’s “Mr. Right,” he described a 2004 visit to Iraq, where he visited the “spider hole” where Iraqi Leader Saddam Hussein was captured after the U.S. invasion. “I was probably the only congressman who laid down there. It’s very interesting dirt. It doesn’t collapse. The water table is at 17 feet throughout most of Iraq.” Bartlett is the only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation, but his conservative views have not always followed Republican orthodoxy. “I’m not interested in politics,” he says. “I am a conservative who wants to help restore the limited federal government envisioned and established in the Constitution by our nation’s founders.” He sometimes objects to his party’s big spending, including President Bush’s No Child Left Behind education law that mandated testing in public schools as a requisite for continued federal funding. But Bartlett voted for the 2003 bill creating a prescription drug benefit in the Medicare program. He also voted against renewal of the Bush administration’s USA PATRIOT Act because he saw the anti-terrorism law as a threat to civil liberties. His fiscal conservatism was reflected in his opposition to expanded federal funds for a local Interstate highway. He was one of 33 House Republicans to oppose renewal of the Voting Rights Act. “He believes that when a disease is cured, you don’t have to keep taking the same medicine,” his spokeswoman said.
In the 110th Congress (2007-08), Bartlett was the only member of the Maryland delegation to oppose the $700 billion bailout of the financial markets, as well as the proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. He is also the only member of the delegation who opposes abortion rights. The first member of Congress to drive a hybrid car, Bartlett purchased a Toyota Prius in 2000. He has been a passionate advocate of alternative energy sources, and he powers his home with solar energy and a wood stove. When fellow Republicans voiced skepticism about former Vice President Gore’s warnings about climate change, Bartlett chided them, saying, “It’s possible to be a conservative without appearing to be an idiot.”
On the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee, he has called on the Navy to build smaller, cheaper ships. He believes that the Navy needs more attack submarines and has urged a shift to nuclear power for surface ships because of concern about oil supply. And in 2006, Bush signed his bill to prohibit condominium associations and other residential group from barring members from displaying the American flag.
Bartlett has been re-elected by solid margins. In 2004, he faced an unusual primary challenge from Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott Rolle, who criticized Bartlett for not supporting the Bush administration strongly enough. Bartlett responded by getting Vice President Cheney to make an appearance in his behalf before more than 700 people at a breakfast in Hagerstown just four days before the election. Bartlett won 70%-30% and carried Rolle’s Frederick County base, 60%-40%. In 2008, against modestly funded Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty, a Democrat, Bartlett won 58%-39%, his lowest percentage since he was first elected. But he won all eight counties, including 52%-44% in his opponent’s home area. Maryland Democrats seem unlikely to take this final Republican outpost any time soon. In 2008, Slate magazine named him one of “America’s silver lions,” a list of the country’s most influential people over the age of 80.