It’s quite likely that most Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot County residents will have little enthusiasm in casting their votes for the 1st Congressional District next Tuesday.
Democrats, still recovering from the sudden withdrawal of Wendy Rosen amid charges of voter fraud, have lost a critical opportunity to formally challenge Representative Andy Harris. They must now rely on a write-in campaign which makes it almost impossible for their party to defeat the incumbent.
And many Upper Shore Republicans, who have remained steadfastly moderate in thought and disposition in a party which has moved to the far right, are now resigned to the fact that the days of a Rogers Morton, or more recently a Wayne Gilchrest, have come to a sad end.
In short, the district finds itself having no choice but to accept that Dr. Harris, and his brand of Western Shore conservative ideology, will represent the Eastern Shore for another two years.
Dr. Harris’ extremism should give every voter in the district pause. He has been a proud and non-questioning foot solider for the Republican House leadership as they perfected a “scorched earth” budget strategy that has ultimately damaged the good faith and credit of the United States. This high risk game of “chicken” is contrary to the historic character of the Eastern Shore or its legacy of thoughtful leaders.
There is no purpose served in demeaning Dr. Harris for his passionate commitment to conservative principles. The Congressman has misled no one in his desire to radically diminish the role and expense of the federal government. He has presented these views to his constituents honestly throughout his first term with countless town meetings and powerpoint presentations. Nonetheless, there should be no doubt that Dr. Harris’ budget reform strategy, and those of the radical right in the House of Representatives, is an extremely dangerous one for this country.
The Eastern Shore has been historically apprehensive in applying radical solutions to big problems. From Dorchester’s Governor Tom Hicks refusing to let Maryland separate from the Union in 1861 to Kent County’s Wayne Gilchrest’s courageous public doubts about a preemptive war against Iraq in 2003, reason and common sense is at the core of the Eastern Shore’s DNA. Dr. Harris’ words and deeds in his first two years lack those values.
Dr. John LaFerla, who the Chestertown Spy endorsed in the Democratic primary earlier this year, is waging a serious write-in candidacy with the full endorsement of the Maryland Democratic Party. Dr. LaFerla’s political views of compromise and moderation are far more in step with the Shore’s long developed inclination of reason in the face of a crisis or war.
The voters of the Eastern Shore should write in Dr. LaFerla’s name to be the 1st District’s Representative to Congress.