Two of Harford County's state legislators are trying to balance their time in the Maryland General Assembly session with campaigning for a congressional seat – against each other.
Western Harford Del. Rick Impallaria and Southern Harford Sen. Nancy Jacobs, both Republicans, hope to win their party's nod in the April 3 primary to take on longtime U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat who is unopposed for his party's nomination, for the right to represent the Second Congressional District. Ruppersberger has been a member of Congress since 2002.
In order to win the nomination, however, Jacobs and Impallaria not only have to contend with each other, they have four other opponents in the primary race, Larry Smith, Howard Orton, Vlad Degan and Ray Bly.
Jacobs, an Abingdon resident, said she has been busy this week with the Senate Ethics Committee debating the fate of Prince George's CountySen. Ulysses Currie, who faces possible sanctions for not divulging his relationship as a consultant for a supermarket chain seeking state highway and other concessions for its stores.
She also said in a voice mail message she feels confident about the primary.
"I feel pretty good about the primary so far, especially given the endorsements I have received," she said, noting she has been endorsed by former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Harford County Executive David Craig and Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, among others.
She has raised at least $20,000, she added.
A top aide to Jacobs also made what could be construed as a campaign-related announcement Tuesday, in which the aide pledged she would no longer to refer to Penn State University in connection with a bill Jacobs is sponsoring to make it a crime for individuals who, by virtue of their position, are required to report incidents of child sexual abuse but do not.
Jacobs' chief of staff Suzanne Collins wrote in an e-mail: "Dear Reporters/Editors, I have referenced Penn State in relation to the bill that adds penalties for not reporting child abuse. This has upset some Penn State alumni. I apologize for that and will not be referring to it that way anymore. Instead I am referring to SB 140 as Child Abuse Reporting Penalties bill. Thought I would pass this on!"
According to a political blog by Michael Dresser published on http://www.baltimoresun.com Tuesday, Jacobs has received protests for the reference to their school from Penn State alumni who live in and outside Maryland, some 700,000 strong worldwide, in addition to 90,000 students enrolled at the university, a fair number who are also from Maryland.
Jacobs said prior to the current legislative session her bill was a response to the Penn State situation that became public last fall when it was revealed a number of university officials, including the legendary late football coach Joe Paterno, did not report allegations of alleged child abuse by one of Mr. Paterno's longtime assistants to law enforcement authorities.
Impallaria, who was interviewed Monday before the Penn State flap broke over Jacobs, said he plans to make a big campaign related announcement later this week and will hold a press conference, among other promotional events.
"I am going to try to get as much media attention as I can," Impallaria said about the campaign, adding he has also scheduled meetings with Republican organizations. "It's going very well so far."
Impallaria said he has started raising money and opened a campaign checking account, but he did not immediately know how much money he has going into the campaign.
One of his biggest concerns, he added, is "figuring out the district, because it's so gerrymandered... It's very narrow."
Impallaria, a Joppa resident, said he is "trying to make some connections in the Jewish community" in Pikesville and talking to people in the Pasadena area of Anne Arundel County. Neither of those areas, however, are technically inside District 2, which includes the southern tier of Harford County mostly south of Route 40; parts of eastern, northern, northwestern and southwestern Baltimore County; northwestern Anne Arundel County; northeastern Howard County and a small sliver of southwestern Baltimore City.
"It's impossible for anyone, in this short amount of time, to personally get into all these communities," he said. "Being in Annapolis these 90 days makes it even more difficult."
The legislative session won't end until April 9, six days after the primary election
Candidates can raise money while the General Assembly is in session, as long as it goes into a congressional campaign account, Impallaria said.
The one thing that ties his district, which includes the Route 40 corridor and the Port of Baltimore, is heavy industry and businesses that generate jobs, Impallaria said.
"It's a very commercial industry, on top of everything else," he said. "It's a real tie there, that one of the most important things to do is to make the industry that drives [jobs] – because of the Port of Baltimore, because of I-95."