Dems tout Harris' missed vote, mum on Edwards

Maryland Democratic Party chair Susan Turnbull earned squeals of delight from the state's Dems on Tuesday when she revealed that freshman Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican, missed a vote on his first day on the job in Washington.

His dereliction of duty is one reason, she said, the party must try to replace him in the next cycle. She contrasted Harris' vote-skipping to Democrats who "do the right thing for the right reason."

But Turnbull didn't mention another person missed the exact same vote: Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards, who represents parts of Prince George's and Montgomery counties. The congresswoman was at the luncheon at which Turnbull spoke.

Turnbull said later that she was aware that Edwards had missed the vote when she made the quips about Harris. But she distinguished between two because the vote occurred on Harris' first day of being a sworn member. Edwards has already been in office for two years, she explained.

Asked whether it was appropriate to hold Harris to a different standard than Edwards, she said: "Standing in a room full of Dems who are unhappy that he's a new congressman for Maryland? Yes.


"Do I think this is worth a Baltimore Sun article? No," she said. "I think it was a throwaway comment."

The vote was on a procedural motion that came to the floor unexpectedly. Twenty House members missed it.

Harris, who represents the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford counties, took some time out of the House Republicans' retreat in Baltimore on Thursday to convey his frustration about not making it to the House floor on time.

He said his pager failed to go off and nobody heard the bells calling the vote. His office called to the floor to ask the vote to be held open, a common request for lawmakers of both parties. He said he burst into the House chamber yelling "one more vote, one more vote." But he was too late.


"I had a good voting record in the [state] Senate and I plan to have a good voting record in the House," he said.

Edwards declined to comment on why she didn't vote, though her press secretary said the congresswoman has an "exemplary" voting record.