US Rep. Andy Harris joined 16 other Republicans in voting against a House Resolution “expressing support for Moldova’s democracy, independence and territorial integrity and strengthening United States and Moldova relations.”
Moldova is a small nation just west of Ukraine where Russia carved out another pseudostate, Transnistria, much as it did in the Donbas and Luhansk regions in Ukraine, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. Russia is now menacing it again. Transnistria has a mixed, Moldovan, Russian and Ukrainian population with many now fleeing to Moldova proper fearing violence.
Moldova recently elected a strongly pro-EU president and prime minister who are trying to reform and bring economic growth to one of Europe’s poorest countries. It has taken in more Ukrainian refugees per capita than any other country.
In Harris’s company in opposition to showing even moral solidarity with Moldova were Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene—all extremist anti-democratic members of the Republican Caucus.
This is a pretty concise list of what has been on the minds of MoCo’s political community: the attack on the Capitol, Jamie Raskin, vaccines and the movement to throw out Andy Harris. The story on the solar zoning text amendment reflects a split among environmentalists that is bound to resurface on future issues. As for White Flint, which was also the top story in December, that article demonstrates a major challenge that MoCo will face as it emerges from the pandemic: how to rebuild its economy and not lose any more ground to the rest of the region. Economic competitiveness was a big issue before COVID and it will return to that pedestal as the next election approaches.
The key to answering that question lies in examining Harris’s district. Maryland’s first congressional district has historically contained the Eastern Shore. Variations in its composition have depended on which other jurisdictions have been added. In the 1970s and 1980s, the district contained Harford County and the three southern Maryland counties (Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s). In the 1990s, it contained a large piece of Anne Arundel County and a tiny piece of Baltimore City. In the early 2000s, it contained parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties. Since 2011, it has contained parts of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties as it has been stretched out along the Pennsylvania border.
In the 2011 redistricting round, General Assembly Democrats had two goals: fortify their congressional incumbents and flip Western Maryland’s sixth district from red to blue. They accomplished both but the price of doing so was packing Republican precincts in the Baltimore suburbs into the first district. That greatly benefited Harris, who was first elected in 2010 when he defeated a one-term Democratic incumbent. Harris has not been seriously threatened since.
The table below shows the history of general elections in the first district since 1986.
Since Democratic incumbent Roy Dyson was defeated in 1990, the Democrats have gone an abysmal 1-15 in the district’s general elections. The sole exception was in 2008, when GOP incumbent Wayne Gilchrest was defeated by Harris in the primary and Queen Anne’s County prosecutor Frank Kratovil squeaked in during Barack Obama’s first election to the presidency. Harris defeated Kratovil two years later during the tea party revolt. It’s worth noting that in the last 30 years, only three incumbents have been defeated here: Dyson and Kratovil, both Democrats, and the Republican Gilchrest who was beaten in a primary by the more conservative Harris.
The first district is now the most heavily Republican congressional district in the state. The table below shows its turnout by party in the 2020 election. Republicans accounted for 46% of eligible voters and 49% of actual voters. Democrats accounted for 34% of eligible voters and 33% of actual voters and turned out at a lower rate than Republicans.
Harris won the 2020 general election with 63% of the vote, about average for his tenure as an incumbent. The table below shows the breakdown of his votes against challenger Mia Mason by county. Harris pulled a margin of nearly 50,000 votes from the Eastern Shore and almost 58,000 votes from the non-Shore counties, illustrating just how much GOP votes in the Baltimore suburbs are helping him win.
Put together the above two charts and a successful Democratic challenger would have to get votes from all the Democrats, almost all the unaffiliated voters and a smattering of Republicans. That is a LIFT.
How would the Democrats have made up the 107,000 vote margin that elected Harris last November? Getting a top-notch candidate would help; Harris had a cash on hand advantage over Mason in October of more than $1 million to roughly $2,500. Mizeur won’t have any problem raising money against Harris. She is an able politician who surprised people in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary, but is the former Takoma Park progressive a good fit for the first district?
Mizeur doesn’t hold back when discussing Harris.
It’s hard to see a scenario in which the Democrats could defeat Harris without changing the district’s boundaries. Here’s where it gets difficult. Let’s suppose that the Eastern Shore remains at the heart of the district. The shore gave Harris a 50,000 vote margin last time. The Democrats would have to rearrange the rest of the district from a plus-58,000 vote margin for Harris, as it was in 2020, to a negative-51,000 vote margin. A great candidate could make up some of those votes, but this is still tough.
Where would the new precincts come from? The Democrats could draw a line across the bay bridge and up into Baltimore City. There’s a bit of precedent for that as the district contained a handful of city precincts in the 1990s. But the number of precincts would have to be far greater than a handful to overturn Harris’s advantage on the shore. And this would create a truly odd district, combining inner city Baltimore with some of the most rural areas in Maryland.
The Democrats could also add left-leaning precincts around Annapolis and in Howard County but would it be enough? If they added in Southern Maryland, as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, it’s not clear that the district would be much bluer.
Complicating the issue is the effect of altering the first district on other nearby districts. While Harris is protected by keeping Republicans in his district, Democratic incumbents in the second, third, seventh and eighth districts are protected by keeping Republicans out. What will they say if they are told to swap their blue precincts with Harris’s red precincts? I might speculate but this blog prohibits profanity!
Getting rid of Harris will require a historically great opponent, an investment of huge financial resources and redistricting changes that will generate resistance with no guarantee of success. Additionally, the Democrats could get lucky if a primary challenge from a credible candidate like Harford County Executive Barry Glassman drains some of Harris’s war chest. Nothing is impossible in politics. But this is a BIG mountain to climb. Let’s see just how badly the Democrats want Harris out of Congress.
As you know, the events of January 6th made me consider a challenge to Congressman Andy Harris for his role in the treasonous insurrection against our government. Rather than try to unify our nation after such an attack, he stoked the division by attempting to pick a fist fight with a colleague on the House floor later that night. Days later, he was cavalier about skipping the second Trump impeachment vote entirely. Then Harris announced he was breaking his promise on self-imposed term limits. Adding to his January resume of conduct unbecoming, he attempted yesterday to bring a gun on to the floor of the House of Representatives, where wounds are still raw from the violent siege we all witnessed in those hallowed halls. My community deserves better representation.
This behavior has stirred something deep within me. Yesterday’s episode was a tipping point, pushing me to think even harder about a run. I’ll have more to say in the coming days.
If this possibility excites you, please comment and make encouragements with that energy of love and joy in your heart. Make your action be about the positive we can do together. We can unseat Harris and bring dignified leadership to Maryland’s 1st District without serving our darker impulses to call names at his behavior. As Amanda Gorman so beautifully summoned us this week: See the light. Be the light. Brave must we be.
A group of state legislators including 13 State Senators and 71 Delegates has called on District 1 Congressman Andy Harris to resign. In a letter addressed to Harris, the legislators tell him, “You have for months joined in cynical, politically motivated attempts to undermine the legitimate, free, and fair election that selected Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. You have joined with those who have trafficked in lies and conspiracy theories, who have incited division and hate, in the furtherance of a political agenda.” They conclude, “You have done enough harm to our country and our state, Representative. It is time for you to go, and for a person who will serve Marylanders with honor to take your place.”
Every member of MoCo’s state delegation except for Senator Craig Zucker (D-14), Senator Susan Lee (D-16), Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17), Senator Nancy King (D-39) and Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17) signed the letter.
The letter is reprinted below.
Representative Andrew P. Harris Maryland’s 1st Congressional District 2334 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
The foundational principle of our nation is democracy. The right of Americans to select their leaders is and should be inviolate. It is a right that all of us who serve in public office are sworn to uphold and protect in our oaths of office.
That oath is a sacred commitment to all Marylanders, and all Americans. It is an oath that requires us to support the democratic process in both words and actions. It is an oath that requires that we always put loyalty to our Constitution and our country above loyalty to any political party, candidate, or elected official.
Representative Harris, we believe that you have violated that oath. You have for months joined in cynical, politically motivated attempts to undermine the legitimate, free, and fair election that selected Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. You have joined with those who have trafficked in lies and conspiracy theories, who have incited division and hate, in the furtherance of a political agenda.
Our nation watched in horror on January 6th as a seditious mob, riled up and fueled by Donald Trump and his loyalists, assaulted the very seat of American democracy. As they tore into the marble halls that have been worn by the steps of our greatest leaders, the walls that have borne witness to our most profound national debates. As one of America’s most sacred spaces was desecrated, and as a member of the United States Capitol Police who was defending it was murdered.
These insurrectionists were motivated by the very rhetoric and disinformation that you and far too many of your colleagues have been trafficking in for months. Any student of the history of the United States knows that words have the power to move nations and citizens. Words like, “We the people.” Words also like, “Stand back, and stand by.”
Rather than recognizing that your words and behavior in office have damaged our democracy, have threatened our Constitution, and have undermined the nation you are sworn to, your response to the attack on our Capitol was to continue to use the same words and behavior. To vote with too many of your colleagues to undermine a free and fair election. To give comfort to the enemies of democracy within our borders and around the world.
We, the undersigned members of the Maryland General Assembly, believe that you have disgraced yourself, your state, and your country. We have heard from constituents who would like us to pass a resolution of censure against you. As our censure process is reserved for members of our body, we are not able to do so. But we add our voices to the chorus of your constituents who have called for you to resign.
You have done enough harm to our country and our state, Representative. It is time for you to go, and for a person who will serve Marylanders with honor to take your place.
Delegate Carol Krimm Delegate Karen Lewis Young Delegate Ken Kerr Delegate Carl Jackson Delegate Harry Bhandari Delegate Benjamin Brooks Senator Delores Kelley Delegate Jon Cardin Delegate Lisa Belcastro Delegate Dana Stein Senator Shelly Hettleman Delegate Jessica Feldmark Delegate Eric Ebersole Delegate Terri Hill Senator Clarence Lam Delegate Shane Pendergrass Delegate Jen Terrasa Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary Delegate Eric Luedtke Delegate Pamela Queen Delegate Anne Kaiser Delegate Kathleen Dumais Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo Delegate Lily Qi Senator Brian Feldman Delegate Marc Korman Delegate Sara Love Delegate Ariana Kelly Delegate Julie Palakovich-Carr Delegate Jim Gilchrist Delegate Emily Shetty Delegate Al Carr Delegate Jared Solomon Senator Jeff Waldstreicher Delegate Bonnie Cullison Senator Benjamin Kramer Delegate Vaughn Stewart Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins Delegate Lorig Charkoudian Delegate David Moon Senator Will Smith Delegate Ben Barnes Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk Delegate Mary Lehman Delegate Alonzo Washington Delegate Nicole Williams Senator Paul Pinsky Delegate Marvin Holmes Delegate Andrea Harrison Delegate Jazz Lewis Delegate Kriselda Valderrama Delegate Michael Jackson Delegate Edith Patterson Delegate Debra Davis Delegate Brian Crosby Delegate Shaneka Henson Delegate Dana Jones Senator Sarah Elfreth Delegate Mark Chang Delegate Mike Rogers Delegate Sandy Bartlett Senator Pamela Beidle Delegate Heather Bagnall Delegate Kirill Reznik Delegate Gabriel Acevero Delegate Lesley Lopez Delegate Melissa Wells Delegate Marlon Amprey Delegate Michele Guyton Delegate Regina T. Boyce Delegate Maggie Mcintosh Senator Mary Washington Delegate Pat Young Delegate Sheila Ruth Senator Charles Sydnor Delegate Stephanie Smith Senator Cory McCray Delegate Luke Clippinger Delegate Brooke Lierman Delegate Robbyn Lewis Delegate Diana Fennell Delegate Julian Ivey Delegate Wanika Fisher
Former District 20 Delegate Heather Mizeur, who once represented Silver Spring and Takoma Park but now lives on the Eastern Shore, has told District 1 Congressman Andy Harris to resign or face a possible challenge. Mizeur wrote on Twitter, “You must resign immediately – or I will consider retiring you myself in 2022.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (MD 1) was among the 18 representatives who didn’t support a resolution condemning QAnon, a dangerous whackadoodle pro-Trump conspiracy theory. As the Washington Post explains:
QAnon, which took root on anonymous message boards in 2017, holds that Trump is battling a cabal of deep-state saboteurs who worship Satan and traffic children for sex.
The baseless worldview has been identified by the FBI as among the extremist views “very likely” to motivate violence. Its adherents, according to law enforcement, have been arrested in numerous incidents, including two murders, a kidnapping, vandalism of a church and a heavily armed standoff near the Hoover Dam.
Harris didn’t vote no, but instead chose to vote “present.” This makes him different but no less absolutely bonkers.
Republican Rep. Andy Harris (MD 1) voted to allow tax cuts of $1.5 trillion dollars without requiring any offsetting spending, increasing the deficit and debt dramatically.
The proposal is particularly anti-Maryland as it would “doom the current deduction for state and local taxes,” which benefits Marylanders disproportionately, as it does residents in New York and New Jersey. Other tax deductions up for elimination that might spread the pain more evenly, such as the home mortgage interest deduction, or closing corporate loopholes, have been ruled out by tweet or as sacred cows. Nevertheless, unlike the bulk of Republicans from those states, Harris still voted yes.
His budget never solves the deficit problem, much less begins to pay down the exploding national debt we will leave to our grandchildren. . . . Once again, the House will have to take leadership on reining in the debt and deficit by proposing a budget that makes the tough choices that are necessary to head off a Greek-style federal bankruptcy.
Harris logic says that ballooning the debt by much less than the Republican budget is madness that will cause rack and ruin associated through “a Greek-style federal bankruptcy” when it’s proposed by Obama but not when Trump-Ryan want it.
Even leaving aside the unfunded giveaway to the wealthy that is done in a way that limits benefits to Marylanders, especially more middle-income residents who still deduct, the complete shift on the debt and importance of balancing the books shows the situational ethics and moral bankruptcy of Andy Harris–and the many other Republicans who said more or less the same thing.