One is a fourth-term state senator. The other, a small business owner. Though their political experience varies greatly, the two Republicans share the same goal: Unseat the Democratic incumbents in their congressional districts and make changes in the Capitol.
State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, of Harford County, is running against District 2 Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, of Baltimore County. A portion of Howard County, located along the southeastern edge of Howard from Elkridge to North Laurel, was added to District 2 in the redistricting process conducted last year.
"I feel like I'm on even footing with Dutch Ruppersberger in Howard County because he's never represented Howard County before," Jacobs told a crowd of about 40 at a Howard County Republican Club picnic/candidate rally Sunday, Sept. 16, held at Rockburn Branch Park in Elkridge.
Frank Mirabile, a Woodbine resident who owns a commercial services landscape company, is running against District 7 Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Baltimore. Mirabile said the addition of a large chunk of northern Baltimore County to District 7 gives him a much better shot at beating Cummings than he had when he unsuccessfully ran against him in 2010.
"The gerrymandering actually benefited us," Mirabile said, noting the Republicans picked up 54,000 "new favorable votes" in Baltimore County alone.
"What's really great is most of the Democrats in northern Baltimore County, they're Reagan-style Democrats," or they don't like Cummings, he added.
Both candidates gave short speeches in which they took several jabs at their Democratic opponents and promised to bring change to Washington.
Jacobs said she has attended several community meetings and has heard from people that they've seen more of her in the past six months than they've seen of Ruppersberger in the past 10 years.
"He should hold town halls; he doesn't hold town halls," Jacobs said of Ruppersberger.
Ruppersberger, she said, is only spending time in the district now that he is running for re-election against an opponent with name recognition — something she said he hasn't had since his first campaign for Congress in 2002.
"I'm seeing him places I don't think he knew existed before now," Jacobs said.
Touting her base of support, Jacobs said she has raised twice as much in contributions as Ruppersberger among Maryland donors.
"Problem is he gets all his money from out-of-state PACs and special interests, where I get mine from citizens like you all," she said.
Ruppersberger's campaign manager, Jahantab Siddiqui, discounted Jacobs' claims. In an emailed statement, he said Ruppersberger believes that "elections should be run on record, not rhetoric. Any claim that Congressman Ruppersberger is unfamiliar with any part of his district is absolutely outrageous.
"He has been representing this region for more than two decades and routinely attends and hosts community meetings such as foreclosure workshops and small business seminars. Congressman Ruppersberger prides himself on second-to-none service to his constituents and is humbled by their support at the polls. In fact, the vast majority of individual donors to Congressman Ruppersberger's campaign this election cycle are Marylanders."
Addressing the issues, Jacobs talked about the need to create jobs and turn the economy around.
"A lot of businesses right now if they have any money at all, they're afraid to invest it in their business," she said.
Jacobs said Congress needs to work to get rid of the "stranglehold" government has on small businesses through laws and regulations.
"You have no idea how much damage can be done to a business through regulations," she said.
Mirabile also talked about the need to help small business owners, like himself.