Though he was the early favorite to win Tuesday’s primary for the chance to take on Maryland’s senior Republican in the 6th District, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Garagiola now faces a real fight. Delaney’s campaign released a pair of internal polls Thursday showing Delaney with a double-digit lead. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) also jumped into the fray, endorsing Garagiola.
Garagiola is proud of his record. “I’m sure someone can find one vote and say ‘well would you vote for this again,’ or ‘would you vote for that again,’” he said Thursday. “But you know, on balance, I’ve really rolled up my sleeves on a lot of issues.”
Delaney, meanwhile, has sought to paint Garagiola has an “Annapolis insider” in the thrall of special interests. Garagiola’s ability to survive Tuesday’s balloting may depend on which version of the story voters choose to believe.
Help along the way
These are the things most friends and foes of Garagiola agree on: He is ambitious, hard working and a savvy politician.
Garagiola, 39, was born in Michigan. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and law degree from George Washington University before going to work on Capitol Hill. Garagiola then worked as a lobbyist — a fact which he rarely discusses but his opponents have seized upon — before being elected to the Maryland Senate. He is married with three children and lives in Germantown.
Garagiola pulled himself up into politics. He defeated an incumbent Republican a decade ago nearly on his own. He carries a rare pedigree for a Democrat: A polished D.C. lawyer, but with an airborne badge for jumping out of airplanes as an Army reservist.
Just as he had with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) saw potential and put Garagiola on a fast track when he arrived in Annapolis in 2003. Miller placed Garagiola on the Senate’s judiciary committee, and then switched him at the candidate’s request to finance. There, Garagiola excelled at writing laws and navigating compromises on complex regulatory issues involving health-care and energy policy.
The position also put Garagiola in regular contact with some of the state’s most well-lobbied and moneyed interests. Meanwhile, Miller pushed him up the ranks of party leadership.
“He’s talented, he’s driven,” said Miller, who helped redraw the district that has allowed Garagiola to run. “You know, I’m a historian, I love this state, I want the very best and brightest from Maryland in Congress.”
In the state senate, Garagiola has authored 198 bills, co-sponsored more than 1,000, and voted well in excess of 20,000 times.