Harden Rolls Out Endorsements From Former Diplomats, National Security Officials In 1st District Race

    R. David Harden, one of the Democrats aiming to unseat U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) in 2022, rolled out a slew of endorsements from former national security officials ahead of Memorial Day.

    The endorsers include former diplomats and officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where Harden served as the assistant administrator for the agency’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance under the Obama and Trump administrations before retiring in 2018.

    In an open letter, the diplomats — including several former U.S. ambassadors — praised Harden’s beliefs on defending democracy and protecting press freedom, and went on to echo Harden’s criticism of the Jan. 6 violence on Capitol Hill. Harden said in announcing his campaign earlier this year that Harris’ response to the insurrection motivated him to run.

    “With the challenges in our country today, our elected representatives must uphold the Constitution, protect our democracy, and respect the outcome of our elections,” the endorsers wrote. “Real leaders do not espouse baseless conspiracies, inflame division, and incite violence in our Capitol building.”

    Officials who signed the letter include:

    • James Bever, the former USAID mission director to Afghanistan, Egypt, the West Bank, Gaza and Ghana;
    • Gene A. Cretz, the former U.S. ambassador to Libya and Ghana;
    • Patricia M. Haslach, a diplomat who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and acting assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs during her career;
    • Elizabeth Hogan, the former assistant administrator for the USAID in Latin America;
    • James Kunder, a former platoon commander for the U.S. Marine Corps and former deputy administrator for the USAID;
    • Roberta Mahoney, the former assistant administrator for the USAID in Europe and Eurasia;
    • Luis G. Moreno, the former ambassador to Jamaica;
    • Gregory P. Noone, a longtime member of the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, including serving as the commanding officer for its international and operational law reserve unit;
    • Denise Rawlins, the former assistant administrator for the USAID in Asia; and
    • And Edward S. Walker, the former ambassador to Egypt, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations.

    Harden, the founder and managing director of the D.C.-based foreign policy consulting outfit Georgetown Strategy Group, called the endorsements “a great honor.”

    “It comes from Americans who served on the front lines, upholding American values, often in the face of danger,” Harden said. “They understand our democracy is at an inflection point and that their voices matter.”

    Harden has pledged to “run down the middle” and attempt to appeal to both parties in the leadup to the 2022 primary elections. He previously estimated that he’ll need to raise $2 million and sway 35,000 voters from Harris camp to take the six-term Republican’s seat.

    His Democratic competition includes former gubernatorial candidate and state delegate Heather Mizeur, who likewise said Harris’ response to Jan. 6 motivated her to run. Mia Mason, a veteran who racked up high-level endorsements from local, state and national politicians during her run against Harris in 2020, has also announced a 2022 bid.

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    Bennett Leckrone
    Leckrone is a December 2019 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He has interned at The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Columbus Dispatch, PennLive.com, The Dayton Daily News and The Troy Daily News. Leckrone is a Report for America corps member.