The 5 Democrats in the race are hoping to defeat GOP Incumbent Roscoe Bartlett in November.
A large crowd was on hand at the Bernard Brown Community Center in Frederick for a congressional candidates forum. All five Democrats who want to be the one to defeat long time Republican Incumbent 6th District Representative Roscoe Bartlett showed up to discuss the issues. The Maryland Primary is April 3rd.
The candidates talked about topics such as immigration, job creation and energy. But Malid Pooran took a swipe at fellow Democrats State Senator Rob Garagiola and John Delaney. He said they both debate which one is a more of a lobbyist than the other, and that won't defeat Congressman Bartlett. Pooran also said the government in Washington is beholden to special interests, and heavily influenced by money. "These two gentlemen are two sides of the same tarnished coin of American politics, and they'll plug and play in the same broken system in Washington," Pooran said.
"I've spent ten years working for the voters of my senate district," Garagiola responded. "And I put them first every single time I vote on every single issue."
Delaney noted that his business, which helps finance small companies, won the Bank Enterprise Award in 2009 from the Obama Administration's Treasury Department for lending in disadvantaged communities in a fair and equitable manner. "I'm incredibly proud of the 5,000 businesses that I've financed, of the entrepreneurs that I've sat across the table from, of the startup companies who had dreams," he said.
The candidates also discussed "Obamacare." They were asked what they would do, if elected, to help protect the Affordable Health Care Act from Republicans who vow to defeat it. "I don't think the Affordable Health Care Act will work unless we drop the other shoe, and provide a public option," said Charles Bailey. Delaney said reforms are needed, especially in the health care delivery system. "We need to have more efficiency in the system. We need to embrace technology. We need to organize the health care delivery system so we can manage our costs more efficiently," he said.
Immigration is always a hot-button issue, and that was brought up during the forum. Most of the candidates support a path to citizenship for those in the US illegally. "What we need to do is to focus on what we can do to expedite making everyone that wants to be here whose productive and contributing, and expedite that process," said Ron Little, who said law enforcement should go after those here illegally who are not productive and contributing to society. Pooran, who immigrated to the US with his parents when he was six years old, said don't blame the immigrants. "Where the blame really falls is on the people who hire illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, for a fraction of the salary that is minimum wage, and don't offer them the basic security and safety on the job," he said. "Let's get these guys documented. Let's put them into fair-paying jobs. Let's make it a competitive market."
The controversial issue of women's access to contraceptives and abortion services, as well as their right to choose, came up during the forum. All candidates agree that a decision such as this should be left to women themselves, and not the government. "I do not want the government telling me what choices my patients have. I don't want them telling me that I should do an ultrasound, or that I should wait to offer them a procedure that they want," says Pooran, whose also a physician. "It's frankly disrespectful, and we have to respect our women more than that."
Charles Bailey called for reviving the Equal Rights Amendment, which was approved by Congress during the 1970's, but failed to get enough support from the states to be added to the US Constitution.