Plenty of Philosophical Overlap as 6th District Democratic Candidates Try To Distinguish Themselves

Hood College in Frederick hosts congressional forum


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David Trone, right, makes a point during Wednesday's forum in Frederick for Democratic candidates for Maryland's 6th congressional District. Other candidates are, from left: Andrew Duck, Dr. Nadia Hashimi, Chris Hearsey, Roger Manno and Aruna Miller.

ANDREW SCHOTZ

This story was updated at 2:55 p.m. Jan. 19 to correct the total number of employees for Total Wine & More and the number of states where it has stores.

There was strong agreement and overlap among the candidates at Wednesday’s 6th District Democratic congressional forum in Frederick, with health care the dominant topic.

Near the end of the event, moderator Kai Hagen commented on the similar viewpoints of the six Democrats in this year’s race. He told the crowd that there probably wouldn’t be any sharp philosophical disagreements until the general election, with a Republican in the race.

Common themes for the candidates were support for single-payer health care, an increased focus on opioid addiction treatment and treating climate change as a crisis.

Rather, the candidates tried to distinguish themselves with their personal stories.

Dr. Nadia Hashimi of Potomac said her work as a pediatrician has given her firsthand, intimate knowledge of critical health issues. She also talked about her parents leaving Afghanistan in the 1970s for the United States, where they owned small businesses.

Andrew Duck of Brunswick in Frederick County said he has a long history of service to the country, including three deployments with the U.S. Army in Bosnia and one deployment Iraq. Duck now is the director of operations for Avertica, a green energy research company.

David Trone of Potomac said bankruptcy took away the farm where his father raised hogs and chickens. Trone went on to build, with his brother, Total Wine & More, which has 6,000 jobs in stores in 22 states.

Aruna Miller of Darnestown, a state delegate, said she has been a public servant all of her life, including 25 years as an engineer with different governments, after coming to the U.S. from her native India.

Roger Manno of Silver Spring, a state senator, said his father died of heart disease at age 50 because he didn’t have health insurance. Manno said he turned loss into action by going to law school and working on health care issues in Washington, D.C., and Annapolis.

Christopher Hearsey of Gaithersburg said he had pre-existing health conditions while growing up and it took 10 years to pay off his medical bills.

Hearsey and other candidates also shared their connections to opioid addiction. Hearsey’s father overdosed and nearly died.

Trone’s nephew died at age 24 after overdosing on fentanyl. Miller said she also lost a relative to addiction.

Asked for their three top priorities on health care, their choices included:

  • Trone: Doubling the National Institutes of Health budget
  • Miller: Dedicated funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Manno: For emphasis, universal single payer would be all three of his choices
  • Hearsey: Using technology to advance telemedicine
  • Hashimi: Better access to doctors in health networks
  • Duck: Allow drug importation from Canada.

The forum was held at Hood College. It was presented by the Women’s Democratic League of Frederick County, the United Democrats of Frederick County, as well as Hood College’s Democrats, Department of Political Science and African American studies program.

The questions were mostly about health care, but some candidates wove in their views on other topics.

Duck advocated statehood for Puerto Rico, much of which remains without power nearly four months after it was hit by a hurricane.

Miller called for President Donald Trump to be impeached. Hearsey spoke in favor of net neutrality, or blocking internet providers from having additional control.

The website A Miner Detail posted video clips of the forum.

The primary will be held June 26.

Three candidates are competing for the Republican nomination—Amie Hoeber of Potomac, Lisa Lloyd of Potomac and Bradley Rohrs of Germantown.

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