ANNAPOLIS — He doesn’t live in Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District. Neither does the incumbent.
But what makes Republican Dan Bongino’s run for the 6th district U.S. House seat interesting is that unlike Democratic Rep. John Delaney, who lives just outside the district in Potomac, Bongino lives almost 40 miles away from the closest point to the district, all the way in Anne Arundel County.
Constitutionally speaking, all Bongino and Delaney need to be at the time of the election is 25 years old, a citizen for seven years, and, come election time, an inhabitant of the state they decide to run for office in, said Jared DeMarinis, director of Candidacy and Campaign Finances at the State Board of Elections.
Check. Check. And check.
Bongino of Severna Park said the decision to run was an “obvious choice” for him and the campaign. After all, he argued, his 2012 Senate campaign “performed really well up there.”
“The folks like us,” Bongino said. “ I like the people.”
Maryland’s 6th district comprises of all of Washington County, Allegany County, Garrett County and only parts of Frederick and Montgomery County.
In his failed bid for U.S. Senate, Bongino defeated Sen. Ben Cardin, D, by more than 5,000 votes in Allegany County, over 8,000 in Washington County, and almost 5,000 in Garrett County.
Working seven days a week, Bongino said the campaign would spend three or four in the 6th district during that race against Cardin and independent Rob Sobhani.
“We spent a lot of time getting our message out to those folks,” Bongino said.
Stephen Showe, the chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, believes that people in Washington County “will step up to the plate” to volunteer for Bongino.
“He’s well-connected. He knows the issues inside and out and the guy’s education astounds me,” said Showe. “He’s no dummy.”
Bongino, who holds a master’s degree in psychology and an Master’s of Business Administration, is a former Secret Service agent who protected President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and George W. Bush, a Republican. He has shared some of his Secret Service experience to Showe. That, too, astounded him.
“He’s a good candidate for our district and he had a good chance then,” during his U.S. Senate run in 2012, and “he has a good chance now,” Showe said.
“I mean who are you going to relate to,” said Bongino, noting the size of the middle class in the 6th district. “A $200 million Potomac banker or a middle class guy from Anne Arundel County who will put it on the line to run to represent you.”
It’s Bongino’s ideology, not his geography, that he said makes him closer to 6th district residents than Delaney.
“It doesn’t matter. He’s not close,” Bongino said. “He’s a million miles away when it comes to representing the people of the 6th district. He might as well be measured by distance in light years.”
Bongino also notes having a strong volunteer base in the region, and speaking about regional issues such as farming and economic issues, that “apply in Western Maryland that don’t apply everywhere else.”
Showe said he doesn’t believe that his geographical distance will pose a problem to him while running. It’s not like Delaney lives there either.
“As long as he maintains a satellite office,” he said. He doesn’t know which Republican might arise to run against Bongino, but he said competition is a healthy thing.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Delaney raised $4.4 million in his successful 2012 race for the House seat. More than $1.6 million of that came from individual contributions. Fifty-four percent of his campaign was self-financed ($2.37 million) and only 1 percent of it was financed by small contributors.
Two out of the top five industries to contribute to his campaign were people from the “Securities and Investment” sector and “Finance and Credit Companies.” The other two top contributors were “Lawyers/Law Firms” and “Real Estate.” However, commercial banks are ranked 13th ($31,750) in the group of contributors.
In his statewide Senate race against Cardin, Bongino raised $1.8 million. Self-financing for the campaign only amounted to $3,000. Also, 47 percent of his campaign’s cash came from small contributions ($854,000) and 49 percent came from large contributions ($886,000).
While the Senate race was statewide race and the other was local, Bongino’s PAC contributions amounted to $52,000. Delaney’s House race contributions from PACs totaled $381,290 — more than seven times Bongino’s statewide Senate race.
In May, Delaney introduced the “Partnership to Build America Act,” which would create the American Infrastructure Fund to fund state and local government infrastructure projects across the country in transportation, education, energy, communications, and water. There are no start-up appropriations, although Delaney has said he wish there were.
Rather, the idea is to use special tax credits to encourage multinational corporations to bring their money from overseas and into the United States and buy $50 billion worth of fixed low-interest bonds. The bonds are not guaranteed by the federal government. A quarter of the funds would have to come from public-private partnerships.
The bill currently has 29 sponsors in the House. At least 14 of the co-sponsors are Republicans.
This, Bongino slammed as “another crony bank,” and called it “more big government.”
“I can guarantee you, it will have nothing to do with infrastructure,” Bongino said. “It will be a payout to the biggest lobbyists on K street whose corporations, energy companies, whoever has the largest legal side of their lobbying firm is going to get the payouts just like Solyndra did.”
Will McDonald, Delaney’s communications director, responded in a statement that Bongino is “simply factually incorrect.”
“The Partnership to Build America Act is taxpayer-friendly and empowers state and local governments with additional financing options for infrastructure,” McDonald said. “It’s the opposite of big government, it’s smart government using a public-private model.”