Kim Klacik, the conservative radio personality and MAGA provocateur, entered the Republican primary Tuesday for the 2nd congressional district seat.
Love her or hate her, this means the race to replace retiring 11-term U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-2nd) just got a lot more interesting.
Klacik turned up at the Maryland State Board of Elections office to submit her candidacy papers around midday Thursday, accompanied by Dels. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel), Matt Morgan (R-St. Mary’s), Ryan Nawrocki (R-Baltimore County) and Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County), and Kit Hart, chair of a local Moms for Liberty chapter.
On social media sites, Klacik on Thursday wrote that she was “excited” to make another congressional run.
“It’s currently an open seat & redistricted, making it competitive for a republican to flip,” she said.
Klacik, who hosts a show on WBCM Radio, was the high-profile GOP nominee for Congress in the 7th District in both the 2020 special election and the regular election. Although she was defeated handily in both races, she raised an eye-popping $8.2 million and attracted national attention after President Trump expressed his admiration and gave her a virtual speaking slot at the Republican National Convention.
While the 2nd District, which takes in most of Baltimore County and most of Carroll County, is definitely more competitive than the 7th, it isn’t all that competitive, even though it has several distinct conservative pockets. Ruppersberger defeated his 2022 Republican challenger, Nicolee Ambrose, 59% to 41%, and President Biden would have beaten Trump there 59% to 39% in 2020 based on the current district lines, according to a Daily Kos analysis.
If recent social media posts are any guide, Klacik isn’t likely to modulate her views. Earlier this week, as the House of Representatives was preparing to vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — a vote that ultimately fell short — Klacik wrote on X that the congressional investigation of Mayorkas ought to go further.
“I would like a full investigation to ensure he doesn’t have ties to the drug cartels at the border,” she said. “At this point, one can’t help but wonder…”
Klacik had $2,400 left in her campaign account as of Dec. 31, a sum she should be able to quickly replenish. She joins a Republican field that includes Dave Wallace, a frequent candidate for political office in the state, and John Thormann, an Army veteran and businessman who originally had entered the U.S. Senate race but switched to the 2nd District primary this week.
The Democratic field is led by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., whose frontrunner status was on display earlier this week when he picked up the endorsements of Comptroller Brooke Lierman (D), House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) in Annapolis. Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) and half a dozen state lawmakers were also on hand.
“I know Johnny is ready to take the next step,” said Jones, who recalled Olszewski joining the House as an idealistic 23-year-old in 2006. “I know Baltimore County is ready for him to take the step. I know the state is ready for him to take the next step. We need the next representative from District 2 to fight the toxic culture in Washington, D.C.”
Five other candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination so far, including Del. Harry Bhandari (D-Baltimore County) — whose district-mates in the legislature have all endorsed Olszewski.
The filing deadline for the May 14 primaries is Friday at 9 p.m.
3rd District updates
Harry Dunn (D), an ex-U.S. Capitol Police officer nationally known for his Jan. 6 heroics, filed his paperwork Thursday to formally join the 3rd District congressional race. Dunn only declared his candidacy to replace departing nine-term U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D) a month ago.
In social media posts this week, Dunn, who has cast himself as the candidate best equipped to defend democracy, said the support he’s received so far has been “overwhelming.”
“It shows me what I already knew: people believe in our democracy,” he wrote.
One of the other leading contenders in the multi-candidate contest, state Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel), countered Thursday by announcing she’d been endorsed by all five locals of the Professional Fire Fighters of Maryland in the congressional district.
The union cited Elfreth’s work in the legislature to ban the carcinogen PFAS from firefighting foam, rugs and carpet, and certain firefighting gear. She also championed increasing retirement benefits for first responders and veterans, and shoring up the Maryland Emergency Medical System Operations Fund.
“Sarah Elfreth has been a steadfast champion on health, safety, and working condition issues important to professional fire fighters and emergency medical services personnel across the State of Maryland,” said Jeffrey Buddle, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Maryland.
Eighteen Democrats and eight Republicans had filed for the District 3 seat as of Thursday evening.