Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eight for Eight: Casey Clark for Congress, Part Two

By Marc Korman.

Last time we discussed the Maryland 6th Congressional district and its incumbent, Roscoe Bartlett. Today we will look at one of the candidates trying to take him on.

Thus far, there are two announced Democratic candidates in the 6th District: 2006 nominee and 2008 primary candidate Andrew Duck and first time candidate Casey Clark. I recently spent some time talking to Casey Clark about the race and his candidacy.

Clark sees vulnerability in Roscoe Bartlett for a few reasons. First, although it looks to be a good election season for Republicans, Clark believes it will be a poor one for incumbents. That is especially true in economically stagnant communities like those throughout the 6th District. Second, Bartlett has had declining vote totals, fundraising, and political activity over the last few years. According to Clark, Bartlett has indicated he wants to be reelected but does not want to spend too much money, time, or energy on it.

Clark believes that a concerted effort by Democrats all over Maryland, famous for providing national political dollars, could help him oust Bartlett. He has already raised $150,000, almost as much as Jennifer Dougherty raised during the entire 2008 cycle. Clark has also been working the district through dozens of meetings a week with local elected officials, union leaders, school officials, and business owners. His campaign is being run by a professional campaign manager, a former executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party.

Casey Clark’s background is unconventional for a politician. For most of his professional career he has been a TV journalist. Clark views his TV journalism career as a type of public service and he cites several experiences he had at exposing crime or fraud. These include exposing a drug laundering operation at a hospital in Fort Meyers, Florida and finding poor maintenance at the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant in a scenario that sounded like The China Syndrome. Closer to his district, Clark helped expose massive pollution in the Chesapeake Bay coming from a Centreville sewage treatment plant, a story WBAL-TV in Baltimore won a Peabody Award for in 2004.

Since 2005, Clark has worked at his family business, The Three Amigos, a clothing label manufacturer. The small business is based in the 6th District.

The issues Clark is highlighting are jobs and energy.

According to Clark, the further north and west you go in his district the farther back in time you go from a retail oriented economy, to extraction industries in the western counties, to almost no economic activity besides tourism. Clark believes that as a Congressman he can work with state and local officials to draw businesses to the district. He says he would have supported the stimulus if he had a vote because he believes the government must turn on the spigot when no one else is spending. TARP would have also received his support because the economy was on the verge of collapse.

Energy is one of Roscoe Bartlett’s major issues. He founded the Peak Oil Caucus in Congress and holds an annual event to highlight green jobs and development. But Bartlett voted against the cap and trade bill that passed the House of Representatives last summer. Casey indicated he would have supported the bill and that Bartlett failing to do so showed he picked political pandering over his own beliefs.

In Part Three, we will discuss Casey’s chances of taking down the Republican incumbent.