Heather Mizeur, the former state delegate who ran a surprisingly strong bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014, announced Thursday morning that she plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris, the lone Republican in the state’s congressional delegation, in 2022.
In a four-minute video announcement, Mizeur said she felt compelled to run following the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The events of Jan. 6 have forever changed us, Mizeur said in the video. “Witnessing a treasonous insurrection against the citadel of our democracy, with the express encouragement of those bound by a Constitutional oath to protect it, is an unforgivable betrayal.”
Mizeur went on to condemn Harris’ actions that night ― when witnesses say he almost got into a fistfight with a Democratic colleague ― and more recently, when he attempted to bring a gun onto the U.S. House floor. Capitol police say they are investigating that incident.
“These behaviors have stirred within me a conviction that we must present an alternative choice,” Mizeur said. “We deserve representation that reflects the very best qualities of who we are and where we are from. That is why, today, I am launching my campaign for Congress.”
Following a stint on the Takoma Park City Council, Mizeur spent eight years in the House of Delegates, launching a longshot, grass-roots campaign for governor that became a sensation in many progressive circles. Despite being heavily outraised by her two better-known opponents, who already held statewide office, Mizeur finished a surprisingly strong third in the 2014 Democratic primary.
Mizeur then largely faded from public view, moving with her wife Deborah to a farm in Chestertown and eventually launching a nonprofit called Soul Force Politics, a political training organization that seeks to bridge the divide in political and civic life.
Prior to her own career in politics, Mizeur worked on Capitol Hill, as a policy adviser on health care to then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
In her announcement video, Mizeur said her experience “has prepared me for this unique moment in history.”
Challenging Harris could be quite the undertaking, however. The 1st District, which covers the Eastern Shore plus portions of Harford, Baltimore and Carroll counties, is mostly conservative territory, and Harris, who is seeking his seventh term, has never had to sweat reelection.
But the district lines could change before the 2022 election ― and Harris could potentially face a tough Republican primary challenge next year, possibly from Harford County Executive Barry Glassman or state Sen. Stephen S. Hershey Jr.
In her announcement, Mizeur did not offer specific policy prescriptions, but promised to deliver “dignified, heart-centered collaborative leadership” along with “smart and innovative policy thinking.”
“I ask one thing of all the people who join me in this journey ― that you bring your best self to this race,” she said. “We are not running against someone. We are running for our dedication to a better tomorrow.”