Top State Official Seeking Libertarian Nomination to Run Against Sarbanes

A high-ranking official of the Maryland Health Department is seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party to challenge U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D).

J. David Lashar, the agency’s former chief of staff who is currently working as its senior transformation executive in the Office of Enterprise Transformation, is competing for the nomination at the Libertarians’ March 10 state convention. He is the only candidate in the race so far.

In an email to Maryland Matters, Lashar confirmed that he is seeking the Libertarian nod but said he was hesitant to discuss his candidacy until he wins the nomination. He said he has told higher-ups in the Hogan administration about his plans to run.

J. David Lashar

On his campaign website, Lashar, a technology executive who joined the Health Department in January 2016 after years in the private sector, describes himself as a “technology and transformation executive with business and government experience who is appalled at prevailing politics.”

“Why am I running?” Lashar asks elsewhere on his website. He then attempts to answer the question:

“1. Concerned that our liberty and prosperity are in jeopardy due to encroaching government and mounting debt…

  1. Appalled by the intolerance of politics as being practiced in the established national parties; in the mainstream and social media; and on college campuses; and…
  2. Committed to the libertarian ideas of protecting individual freedom and dignity; promoting personal and institutional accountability; and sustaining a civil American society…”

Lashar served as the health department’s chief of staff for a year under Acting Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. When Schrader became the agency’s chief operating officer earlier this year, under the newly nominated secretary, Robert R. Neall, Lashar moved with him.

Sarbanes is heavily favored to win a seventh term representing the 3rd Congressional District – a controversially shaped, serpentine district that runs from north of Baltimore City, east to Annapolis and west to portions of eastern Montgomery County.

Lashar rails against gerrymandering frequently on his campaign website.

He promises to “promote political competition by putting an end to gerrymandering, a chilling practice of which the contorted 3rd Congressional District in Maryland is one of the most egregious examples in the United States. In the absence of Supreme Court decisions to prohibit gerrymandering, we need a constitutional amendment to bring about reasonably compact and competitive districts that neither favor nor disfavor any particular racial group.”

Republicans are not expected to heavily contest the district this year. A political unknown, Charles Anthony of Silver Spring, who doesn’t even have a campaign website, is the only candidate seeking the GOP nomination so far.

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.


  1. It is impossible to create districts which are both fair and competitive at the same time. If Lashar really wants to improve things I suggest he would do better to focus on electoral reforms like Ranked Choice Voting and Proportional Representation. For more information on these and other reforms please visit


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