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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Teachers’ union backs three Maryland officials for Congress

A biker rolls past the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. Photo by Jennifer Shutt/States Newsroom.

Two Maryland state lawmakers and a county executive picked up the official and potentially consequential endorsement Tuesday of the National Education Association for their congressional bids, based on a recommendation from the Maryland State Education Association.

The teachers’ union has decided to endorse three Democrats running for open seats — Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth of Anne Arundel County in the 3rd District; Del. Joe Vogel of Montgomery County in the 6th District; and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. in the 2nd District.

The endorsements put the political muscle of the union’s 3 million national members behind the candidates, along with the state’s 75,000 educators in Maryland.

“Sarah Elfreth, Johnny Olszewski and Joe Vogel are proven champions for America’s students and Maryland’s working families. They know how critical it is to ensure that every student — no matter their race, place, or background — has access to quality public schools,” Becky Pringle, president of the association, said in a statement.

“In a time when some extreme politicians are focused on banning books and taking away learning opportunities for students, these leaders have partnered with parents and educators to ensure students can get the one-on-one support they need, keep students and educators safe from gun violence, expand school-based mental health programs, and address educator shortages.”

Union leaders were supposed to appear with the candidates outside an elementary school in Annapolis Tuesday to announce the endorsements, but the public event was canceled due to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge outside Baltimore early Tuesday morning. Olszewski’s administration has been an integral part of the emergency response.

Olszewski appears to be the leading candidate in the May 14 primary for the 2nd District seat, which includes most of Baltimore and Carroll counties, and the teachers’ union endorsement only reinforces that perception. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) announced earlier this year he wouldn’t seek a 12th term.

Five other Democrats, including Del. Harry Bhandari of Baltimore County, and three Republicans are running for the seat.

The union endorsement could be especially significant in the 6th and 3rd districts, where there are crowded Democratic primaries and the teachers could make a difference.

Vogel is one of 16 Democrats seeking the nomination in the 6th District, which includes Western Maryland and portions of Montgomery County. The incumbent, Rep. David Trone (D), is running for U.S. Senate to replace longtime Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who announced last year he wouldn’t seek reelection. His principal opponent in the primary appears to be former U.S. Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney, wife of former Congressman John Delaney (D), who once held the 6th District seat.

Seven Republicans are also seeking the 6th District seat, including former Dels. Neil C. Parrott, Brenda J. Thiam and Dan Cox. Cox was the GOP nominee for governor in 2022 and Parrott was the two-time Republican nominee against Trone.

Elfreth is one of 22 Democrats seeking to represent the 3rd District and replace Rep. John Sarbanes (D), who decided not to see reelection this year. Four other state lawmakers are competing in the Democratic primary, and so is Harry Dunn, the former U.S. Capitol Police officer.

There are also nine Republicans in the field to represent a district that includes Howard County and parts of Carroll and Anne Arundel counties, including Annapolis.

Elfreth, Olszewski and Vogel “understand what is happening in our schools and classrooms because they listen to educators and fight for the programs and supports that all students need and deserve,” state teachers’ union President Cheryl Bost said in a statement.

The teachers’ union announced in November that it is supporting for Trone in the Senate.

Olszewski supports Trone’s leading opponent, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who announced a major endorsement Monday from Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8th).

The teachers played a vital role in electing Gov. Wes Moore (D) in 2022.


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Teachers’ union backs three Maryland officials for Congress