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.
Republican Rep. Andy Harris endorsed serious allegations regarding fraud in the presidential election. But by his own standards, his own election was far more fraud prone than the presidential contest in either Georgia or Pennsylvania.
Applying the Harris standard, it is clear that there are grave questions surrounding his election.
Mail ballots applications were mailed out statewide in Maryland but neither in Georgia nor Pennsylvania.
There were signature checks on all mail ballots in Georgia and Pennsylvania but none in Maryland, where the law prohibits this ballot-security measure.
The election in the First District was overseen by partisan Republican county governments. Though there is no evidence of bias and vote rigging, Harris didn’t provide any when he cast suspicion on vote counting in Philadelphia.
Maryland accepted mail-in ballots after election day—and not just from the armed forces or people living abroad.
Maryland took a very long time to finalize its count.
Harris needs to step down until a lengthy investigation can take place and we review the process. No matter how many recounts we conduct, I know he understands that we cannot trust the results based on his stance on the Georgia electoral votes. The voters deserve answers. We can hold a special election sometime late in 2022.
Or we could just acknowledge that this is all hogwash. Rather like Harris’s specious challenges to the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory that attacked our democracy and stoked violence at the Capitol resulting in the death of five people, including the murder of a police officer.
Andy Harris seems to have a penchant for going full-blown Trump but always doing it a slightly different way. If he had a tinfoil hat, he’d fold it using a different origami pattern. At any rate, he issued a sanctimonious statement about why he didn’t deign to vote on impeaching Trump after the insurrection at the White House:
The imperative of being in the operating room rings hollow because, thanks to COVID-19, the House is currently allowing members to cast proxy votes. If you watched the proceedings yesterday, you would have seen that many members on both sides of the aisle did just that. Perhaps Harris didn’t want to be there because this mask-skeptic physician would have had to wear one.
Notice that, even as he issues the now standard drive-by call for unity after months of claiming that Biden stole the election, Harris has to insult the Democrats and cannot bring himself to even use “Democratic majority” in place of the childishly denigrating “Democrat majority.”
While he condemns the Democrats, he says nothing about the violent mob, Trump’s encouragement of it, and failure to act to suppress it once it got out of control. Nor have his press releases included a word of criticism for Trump. Instead, Harris followed him in equating this attempt to overthrow the government and kill public officials with this past summer’s protests.
One might contrast Harris’s lack of concern over violent white supremacist seditious Republicans and condemnation of a “hasty” impeachment as “politically motivated” with his support for endless investigations into the facially absurd idea that Hillary Clinton wanted American diplomats dead in Benghazi and his willingness to support rushing through the appointment of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court.
While Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford stood firm for democracy even as the crisis unfolded, Rep. Andy Harris has joined Del. Dan Cox in the sedition caucus.
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.”
After a day in which a mob of domestic terrorists committed insurrection at the behest of the sitting president, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) attempted unsuccessfully to start a brawl on the floor of the U.S. House chamber according to the AP pool reporter:
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.