A politically savvy friend here in Anne Arundel County asked me last week if Heather Mizeur had a chance to beat Rep. Andy Harris in the upcoming 1st District Congressional race. I hemmed and hawed.
About this column, I have no hesitation.
We both understood that a redistricting configuration more favorable to Mizeur, overruled by the court, would have provided a more likely road to victory for the energetic Democratic candidate against Harris, a right-wing extremist. Such an advantageously redistricted 1st would possibly have spelled the end of Harris’ ineffective career in the House of Representatives.
Mizeur, a former state delegate, is intelligent, astute, determined and competent. The district needs her common sense and listening skills. She would serve in a way that would reflect responsibly on a district that for too long has tolerated and re-elected six times a person who has accomplished little and continues to support the past president’s insane denial of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
The conventional wisdom that Harris cannot lose in the 1st District is only as true as the current election. He has accomplished little for a district yearning for respected leadership.
Mizeur would offer a large dosage of bipartisanship, a willingness to collaborate with her Republican colleagues. Her lack of doctrinaire stridency would invite conversation and compromise. Her instinctive impulse would be to support programs beneficial to the Shore and the district in contrast to Dr. No.
I ask that non-MAGA Republicans, Independents and Democrats turn out and elect a person who knows well the needs of the Eastern Shore and is poised to represent it (as well as parts of Harford, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County) in a fashion that would re-enfranchise thousands of citizens who consider Harris a Republican nut job.
Instead of a congressperson who believes that his conservative supporters will continue to tolerate his political positions and outlandish behavior. Mizeur would serve with a heart and a brain. She would be sufficiently independent to ignore the absurd—and never carry a gun into the U.S. Capitol, nor declare a legitimate election a sham.
Opponents portray Mizeur as a progressive unsuited for the conservative 1st District. Hogwash! She is a level-headed candidate who owns a farm outside Chestertown, supports veterans’ programs and understands complicated health care matters.
As our nation confronts inflation and attacks on our democracy, the 1st needs and deserves a representative in Congress who will imbue her position with passion and persistence. She will behave honorably, studying difficult issues with a thoughtful perspective, not an extreme point of view. She would leave no constituent unrepresented. She would not commend the actions of an anti-Semitic and autocratic leader in Hungary.
My benchmark in judging Harris is former Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, a Vietnam veteran, environmentalist and good person. Harris defeated Gilchrest in a primary in 2009, successfully claiming that Gilchrist was not Republican enough. Hogwash, again! First District Republicans accepted this political sorcery. Gilchrist had the audacity in the minds of many GOPers to oppose the invasion of Iraq by President George W. Bush.
Just imagine. Gilchrist was guilty of principle over party.
Though a New Jersey native, Gilchrist loves the Eastern Shore, settling in Kent County. In retirement, he ran an environmental program on the Sassafras River under the auspices of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.
Back to the race. I urge 1st District voters to allow Harris, an anesthesiologist, to return full-time to his medical practice. Heather Mizeur would be a reliable, sensible advocate for the Shore and the rest of the sprawling district. She would be an effective advocate for the Shore.
Incumbency can be unhealthy. Dr. Harris has inflicted sufficient pain and discomfort. Mizeur will breathe new life into the 1st Congressional District.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. After 44 years in Easton, Howard and his wife, Liz, moved in November 2020 to Annapolis, where they live with Toby, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel who has no regal bearing, just a mellow, enticing disposition.