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1st Congressional District Democratic Candidates Criticize Mizeur on Redistricting

Two Democratic contenders for Maryland’s 1st Congressional District criticized their common rival Heather R. Mizeur (D) on Monday for weighing in on the redistricting process and encouraging her supporters to do so.

Mizeur, a former state delegate, has supported a more competitive 1st Congressional District, and her campaign has also encouraged her supporters to participate in the process.

But Mizuer’s Democratic opponents R. David Harden, a foreign policy strategist, and Jennifer Pingley, an Upper Shore resident and registered nurse, criticized Mizeur for weighing in on redistricting.

“We are concerned regarding Democratic candidate Heather Mizeur’s attempts to try to manipulate the redistricting process for her sole benefit,” the pair wrote in the statement. “As a former Takoma Park delegate, Mizeur voted for the current gerrymandering of the First District, which has enabled the [U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R)] campaign for the last decade. Now that she is running for Congress in this district, Mizeur is attempting to influence the redistricting process again.”

Harden and Pingley also said they “believe that candidates and elected officials are charged with avoiding conflicts of interest as well as avoiding the appearance of conflicts of interest.”

Harden, who has said he wants to “run down the middle” in the congressional race, declined to weigh in on a specific redistricting proposal in a Monday interview.

“I primarily want fairness and integrity in the process,” Harden said. “I don’t have a particular district that I’m trying to angle for.”

Noah Habenstreit, Mizeur’s campaign manager, said in a Wednesday statement that Mizeur hopes the General Assembly “will approve a map that takes voices from the Shore – many of whom have not had a voice under Andy Harris – into account.”

“Heather is focused on representing all of the district’s voters and defeating Andy Harris in 2022, no matter what the First District map looks like,” Habenstreit said in a statement. “Democracy depends on people speaking up, so we encourage all Marylanders — no matter their affiliation — to make their voices heard throughout this process.”

At a statewide virtual Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission (LRAC) meeting in November, many Eastern Shore residents urged panelists to draw a more competitive 1st District, citing Harris’ vote against certifying the 2020 election results earlier this year after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. While LRAC members opted for a 1st District that includes a swath of Anne Arundel County, they decided against proposing a map that would’ve included more of the county and further boost Democrats’ advantage.

Harris has handily won reelection in the current 1st Congressional District, which was redrawn to be more solidly Republican in 2012 after Democratic lawmakers opted to draw a Democratic-leaning 6th District in Western Maryland to achieve a 7-1 advantage.

Some Eastern Shore residents renewed calls to draw more of Anne Arundel County into the 1st District at a Monday General Assembly hearing on redistricting, although lawmakers opted to move forward with the LRAC proposal.

The draft conceptual LRAC map that would have included more of Anne Arundel County would’ve stopped the 1st Congressional District at the southern border of Cecil County on the Eastern Shore. Under that proposal, neither Harden, who lives in Carroll County, nor Pingley, a Cecil County resident, would’ve lived in the district.

Cecil County residents asked members of the LRAC to include their jurisdiction with the Eastern Shore at a hearing following the statewide virtual meeting.

The U.S. Constitution requires candidates to live in the state they represent, but not necessarily the same district.

Harris is a resident of Cockeysville in Baltimore County. Mizeur lives in Chestertown in Kent County.

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1st Congressional District Democratic Candidates Criticize Mizeur on Redistricting