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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Congressional Candidate Shuffle, AG Candidates Add Endorsements

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Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) signed the state’s new congressional district map into law on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday morning, Yuripzy Morgan, a former WBAL Radio personality who had been seeking the Republican nomination in the 2nd congressional district, went on her former radio station to say she was switching races and would run instead in the newly-drawn 3rd District, where she now lives.

“Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, you take a breath,” Morgan told morning hosts C4 — Clarence Mitchell IV — and Bryan Nehman. “John Sarbanes, I’m looking at you.”

Morgan’s decision was the first domino to fall since the new map went into effect, but it won’t be the last. With the 2nd District now more competitive than it has been in two decades, several Republicans, including entrenched officeholders, are at least thinking about challenging Ruppersberger, a Democrat who was first elected in 2002. The district as newly-drawn contains most of Carroll County, most of Baltimore County, and a sliver of Baltimore City.

The filing deadline for candidates is April 15 for now — though it could be extended for a third time. The primary is set for July 19, though that date too could be pushed back.

New potential opportunities present a dilemma for some Republicans, especially those who would have to sacrifice a safe seat to run for Congress this year. On the one hand, 2022 is shaping up to be a good year for Republicans nationally, and that puts Ruppersberger’s seat in play. On the other hand, if state lawmakers or county officials wait until 2024, they won’t have to give up their seats to make a congressional run. But then the political dynamic could be more favorable for Democrats.

“On the Republican side, a lot of us feel like there’s three competitive congressional districts (the 2nd, 3rd and the 6th), but the election is too close,” said Baltimore County Councilmember David Marks (R), who said he has been encouraged to challenge Ruppersberger but is much more likely to seek a fourth term on the council. “Too much would have to happen in too short a time.”

Sarbanes and Ruppersberger have million-dollar war chests, and in the 6th District, Rep. David J. Trone (D) is personally wealthy and has spent millions of dollars from his own pocket on his congressional races.

Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County) said she is also contemplating running for the 2nd District seat, though she lives “mere blocks” outside it in the 1st District. Szeliga is close to her former boss, U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R-Md.), and was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2016.

“I’m looking at all kinds of opportunities,” she said Tuesday. “I’m waiting for the legislative maps to be redrawn, which I’m anticipating as a plaintiff in that lawsuit. I’ve told everybody keep your powder dry until the end of April. I think we’ll have answers by the end of April as to how it’s all going to shake out.”

Szeliga predicted that the filing deadline would be extended again and said that would give her and other potential candidates an opportunity to assess the political landscape.

“I wouldn’t discount it,” she said of a congressional run. “I’m going to wait and look at all the options when all of the facts are in place.”

According to GOP strategists, other potential 2nd District Republican candidates — this year or in 2024 — include Del. Lauren C. Arikan of Harford County and Sens. Jason C. Gallion of Harford County, Justin D. Ready of Carroll County and Christopher R. West of Baltimore County.

Some other Republicans mentioned Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R) as a possible candidate, but through an aide Glassman said Tuesday that he’s sticking with his plan to run for state comptroller this year.

On WBAL Tuesday, Morgan said the decision to switch races and target Sarbanes in the 3rd District, which as now drawn takes in a piece of Carroll County plus all of Howard County and more than half of Anne Arundel County, “was a no-brainer.”

Morgan, who is Latina, said several things appealed to her about the new 3rd District boundaries: Howard County has a majority-minority population, she said, and debates over parents’ rights are gaining traction in the district, issues she discussed regularly on the airwaves. What’s more, Sarbanes does not live in the district, though that does not prevent him from running there.

“I live there…and it’s an area I know I can win,” Morgan said.

AG Candidates Add Endorsements

Katie Curran O’Malley netted two endorsements from high-profile women leaders in Maryland this week: former U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the state’s first female senator, and former Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, the first woman to lead the state’s highest court.

News of the Mikulski endorsement broke in The Washington Post on Wednesday morning.

In a statement, Mikulski said she believes O’Malley is “uniquely qualified to be the first woman to serve as Maryland’s Attorney General.”

“The Attorney General’s office deals with so many issues that affect Maryland women and their families — with reproductive rights under attack and still more to do to guarantee equal pay for equal work,” Mikulski said. “It’s time that we elect an Attorney General who understands those issues firsthand and who has the experience to move our state forward. I believe that Katie is the right person — and the right woman — to do that.”

Barbera’s backing of O’Malley marks her first public endorsement since her retirement in September 2021.

“Katie Curran O’Malley will be ready to serve as Attorney General on day one,” Barbera said in a statement. “During her 10 years as an assistant state’s attorney and 20 years as a judge, she demonstrated all the attributes needed to effectively serve as Maryland’s Attorney General.”

Barbera was chief judge on the Maryland Court Appeals for eight years, starting in 2013. Prior to becoming a judge, Barbera worked in the Office of the Attorney General Criminal Appeals Division, serving as Deputy Chief of the Division from 1989 to 1998, where she first worked with O’Malley.

“Katie is the leader who will build on the legacy that Maryland is fortunate to enjoy with decades of brilliant, ethical, and courageous Attorneys General,” she said. “As women’s rights come under attack across the country, it is past time for Maryland to elect an exceptionally qualified woman like Katie to the office.”

Meanwhile, two unions that represent more than 30,000 property services workers and health care workers in Maryland — 32BJ SEIU and 1199SEIU — announced their endorsement this week of Rep. Anthony Brown (D) in the primary race.

“Anthony Brown has fought for workers’ rights throughout his career in Annapolis and Washington, D.C.,” Lisa Brown, executive vice president for 1199 SEIU Maryland said in a statement. “In Congress, he has been an important ally of organized labor, making it a priority to give workers more power to organize, while holding employers accountable for violating their employees’ rights. As attorney general, he will be a strong supporter of our efforts to protect and expand workers’ rights and build a stronger economy for all Marylanders.”

With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, including over 10,000 in Maryland among the 20,000 in the D.C. Area, 32BJ SEIU is the nation’s largest property service workers union.

1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which includes 450,000 members, is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in the nation. The union’s Maryland/DC Division represents more than 10,000 members who work in medical centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community-based organizations in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and throughout Maryland.

Union volunteers will knock on doors, make phone calls and speak out within their communities in support of Brown’s campaign.

Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include Wednesday’s endorsement of Katie Curran O’Malley by Barbara Mikulski.