The Maryland Democratic Party has endorsed the write-in candidacy of Eastern Shore physician John LaFerla to challenge freshman Republican Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st Congressional District.
“Dr. LaFerla has resounding grassroots support and the full confidence of the Party’s Executive Committee and Democratic leaders,” Democratic State Chairwoman Yvette Lewis said in a statement Monday.
LaFerla replaces Wendy Rosen, who won a party primary in April but withdrew from the race last week amid allegations that she was registered and had voted in two states in 2006 and 2008.
Her name will remain on the Nov. 6 ballot because the deadline to remove it has passed.
The 1st District includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Harford, Carroll and Cecil counties. Lewis spoke following votes of the 12 Democratic central committees in the district and the party’s executive committee.
“Democrats cannot stand on the sidelines in this election, and John will fight for the Democratic values we believe in,” she said in a statement. “John understands we must create jobs, expand opportunity and grow an economy for the middle class by investing in manufacturing, innovation and education.”
LaFerla had been seen as the favorite to win the party's support after losing the primary to Rosen by only 57 of the more than 25,000 votes cast.
LaFerla said voters in the district “deserve an alternative to Andy Harris.”
“As a doctor specializing in women’s health, a life-long Democrat, and a resident of the Eastern Shore, I am that alternative,” he said in a statement. “My experience on the campaign trail and the connections I’ve made give me a head start, but an uphill battle remains to make voters aware of my positions and the need to write my name in.”
The race pits physician against physician. LaFerla, 63, of Chestertown, is an obstetrician and gynecologist. Harris, 55, of Cockeysville, is an obstetric anesthesiologist.
Even before Rosen withdrew, Harris was favored to win reelection in the district, which became more Republican last year when lawmakers in Annapolis redrew the state’s political map.
LaFerla is a past chairman of the Kent County Democratic Central Committee and a former president of the Democratic Club of Kent County. According to a campaign biography, he served as chief of surgery at Chester River Hospital Center, delivered more than 700 babies in Chestertown, and volunteered with Planned Parenthood of Maryland and Habitat for Humanity, among other organizations.
Rosen, who is accused of registering and voting in both Maryland and Florida, withdrew from the race last week after she was confronted with the allegations by the Maryland Democratic Party.
Lewis said an examination of voting records in Maryland and Florida showed that Rosen participated in the 2006 general election and the 2008 primaries in both states.
Rosen told The Baltimore Sun that she had registered to vote in Florida, where she owns property, in order to support a friend running for the St. Petersburg City Council.
Asked whether she had voted in both Maryland and Florida in the same elections, she said she did not remember how she voted. Asked whether she had voted twice in the 2008 presidential primaries, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton competed for the Democratic nomination, she declined to comment “due to possible litigation.”
The Maryland Democratic Party referred the matter to state prosecutors; elections officials in Florida said they would do the same there.