A committee that aims to elect Democrats to congress added Maryland’s newly redrawn 1st District to its 2022 target list this week.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added the state’s 1st Congressional District to its “districts in play” list Thursday. The announcement comes after Maryland lawmakers redrew the solidly Republican district’s boundaries to be more competitive for Democrats in future elections.
The 1st District now crosses the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to include a portion of central Anne Arundel County with the Eastern Shore rather than looping up into Baltimore and Carroll counties. According to the political analysis website FiveThirtyEight, the new 1st District will still lean Republican, but less so than it previously did.
The 1st District is currently represented by Rep. Andrew P. Harris, the state’s lone congressional Republican. Harris handily won reelection in the previous district lines, but Democrats vying to unseat him hope the newly drawn district will make him vulnerable this year.
“The DCCC just confirmed what we’ve known all along: Andy Harris is one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Congress, and we will defeat him in 2022,” Heather Mizeur, one of the Democrats running for the 1st District seat, said in a statement. “The First District is the DCCC’s newest target because of the powerful grassroots movement that our campaign has built. Harris is running scared, and it’s because this is the strongest challenge he’s ever faced. We know it, and now the DCCC has confirmed it.”
Yearly campaign finance reports for federal races aren’t due until Monday.
Mizeur, a former state delegate from Montgomery County who now lives in Chestertown, reported raising more than $1 million as of Sept. 30, a record for early fundraising in the 1st District.
R. David Harden, a foreign policy consultant and another Democratic contender for the 1st District, reported raising more than $200,000 as of Sept. 30.
“The DCCC has made beating Andy Harris a top national priority,” Harden said in a social media statement. “I’m the only candidate in the Dem field who can do it. I’m independent. A political outsider. Born and raised on a Farm. Deep ties to the Eastern Shore. I know what matters to waterman and rural voters.”
The DCCC recently filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit challenging Maryland’s new congressional maps. That lawsuit, brought by Republican voters from all eight of the state’s congressional districts, charges that the new map violates the state’s constitution by intentionally diluting their votes.
While the new district will be generally more competitive for Democrats in 2022, one proposal that was considered by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, a panel convened by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) would have included a larger portion of Anne Arundel County and was generally more favorable for Democratic challengers in the 1st District.
Eastern Shore residents who testified at a November Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission hearing urged panelists to adopt that proposal, citing Harris’ vote against certifying the 2020 presidential election results after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Commission members eventually opted not to pursue that draft after Cecil County residents objected to not being included in the 1st District with the rest of the Eastern Shore in that proposal.
The final map adopted by lawmakers during a special session in December included a smaller portion of Anne Arundel County, similar to previous maps that cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
The U.S. Constitution requires representatives to live in the state they represent, but not the same district. Harris, who lives in Cockeysville, was drawn out of the 1st Congressional District. Harden was also drawn out of the district, although he previously said he’s weighing a move to the Eastern Shore.
The DCCC’s “districts in play” are 38 districts across the country that are either open or held by Republicans that the committee believes will be competitive in 2022.