GAITHERSBURG — For Democrat David Trone, the Tuesday night forum at Shaare Torah synagogue was about establishing a policy vision that was opposite of President Donald J Trump’s. For Republican Amie Hoeber, the forum was about showing that she is independent from the president.
For third-party candidates like Green Party nominee George Gluck and Libertarian nominee Kevin Caldwell, the forum was about showing that neither major party is capable of bringing the change that citizens are demanding.
Trone, co-owner of Total Wine and More, spent much of the night calling out Trump’s policies on immigration and healthcare and lack of civility.
Trone is running to replace Rep. John Delaney, who chose to forgo reelection in pursuit of a campaign to run for President in 2020. Trone, a wealthy businessman who has spent millions of dollars of his own money on his campaign, has called for doubling the National Institutes of Health’s budget, more funding to combat the opioid crisis and free community colleges and technical schools.
“Philanthropy can do a lot, but at the end of the day it can’t move the needle like government can. That’s why I’ve entered government,” Trone said.
Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District stretches from the Northern portions of Montgomery County, including Gaithersburg, Germantown and Poolesville, all the way to the Western Panhandle – grouping some of the most progressive and most conservative voters in the state together in one congressional district.
Trone, who previously ran for the Eighth Congressional District in 2016, but lost in the Democratic Primary to Rep. Jamie Raskin, has tried to portray himself as a self-made man, who went from a working-class farm to a net worth of almost a billion dollars.
During the forum, Trone admonished Trump for his incivility and incompetence, saying he would be one of 23 potential new Democratic representatives needed in order to place a check on Trump’s policies.
For Hoeber, former Deputy Undersecretary of the Army under President Ronald Reagan, Tuesday night’s forum was about showing she can remain independent as a Republican from Trump and his policies.
“I have never been a partisan. I have never been a partisan follower of any particular ilk,” Hoeber said. “I have stood up to presidents that I have worked for when I disagreed with them. I have stood up to other administrations when I disagree with them — both Republican and Democrat.”
Hoeber said she disagrees with the Trump administration’s policy of separating parents from their children when they illegally cross the U.S. border from Mexico, but said the United States is a country of laws that need to be enforced, including immigration laws.
For years, the Sixth District had been a Maryland Republican stronghold – a seat held by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett – until the Maryland Democratic legislature redrew the lines before the 2012 election, making it a much more favorable seat for a Democratic candidate.
While Trone took shots at Trump, Hoeber mentioned the President only a few times, crediting the recent economic growth to his administration and saying the voters of the Sixth Congressional District should not elect someone who will raise taxes.
On gun control, Hoeber said she respects the Second Amendment, but said there are limits to the Bill of Rights, and that there needs to be a way to limit guns getting into the hands of mentally-ill people and criminals by making sure states report their data on background checks.
Libertarian David Caldwell, a U.S. Army veteran, said that the focus on gun safety should center on securing schools and other buildings, saying that if politicians were really concerned with protecting children, they would have done that already.
“It’s a political game they’re playing with you. It’s another political lie to keep you supporting the status quo,” Caldwell said about gun control.
Caldwell spent much of his time Tuesday night admonishing both parties, saying that for years both Democrats and Republicans have cynically played the political game, with no benefit for the people. Caldwell said there is no “silver bullet” to fixing healthcare and that unrestricted immigration has hurt Germany – a country he used to live in – and that the U.S. needs to enforce its immigration laws.
George Gluck, the Green candidate running in the race, said that he, not Trone, is the true Democrat. In his opening remarks, Gluck said he joined the Democratic Party in 1968, because of the passage of several major pieces of civil rights legislation, but left the party in 1996 after then President Bill Clinton signed the North America Free Trade Agreement.
“Again, I ask you to vote for a Democrat on Nov. 6. – a Democrat that will have a ‘G’ after his name on the ballot,” Gluck said.
Gluck called himself a “small D” democrat and said the Green Party stands for things the Democratic Party used to push. Gluck backed a Medicare-for-all plan to provide universal coverage to all Americans and said the United States should be a more-honest broker for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.