Harford County Councilman Andre Johnson joined the growing number of Maryland voices calling on Rep. Andy Harris to resign in the wake of him continuing to oppose the results of the presidential election following the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.
In a letter sent to Harris and posted to Johnson’s Twitter account on Saturday, Harford County’s only Democratic councilman asked Harris to “please do the people of this great state a favor and resign so they can have an honorable representative.”
“By supporting lies and conspiracy theories, you have created division instead of unity as a means to further a political agenda,” he wrote.
Around 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, Harris responded to Johnson on Twitter, writing that he would not resign. “It’s hypocritical of you to say I should when you didn’t say so in 2017 to other members of Maryland’s delegation,” Harris posted, in reference to objections to President Donald Trump’s election. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, was among them.
“The ‘tolerant’ left is at it again with their cancel culture politics,” Harris continued.
Johnson’s letter was posted the same day Harris, a Republican, said he planned to seek a seventh term — a decade after pledging to voters that he would serve no more than six terms if elected to Congress.
“Look, the situation is very different from then. No one would have anticipated that we have the pushback from liberals and socialists that we had then,” said Harris, in an interview on WBAL radio.
Harris represents Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, which encompasses the Eastern Shore and includes parts of Harford, Baltimore and Carroll counties.
Councilmanic District A, which Johnson represents on the county council, is part of Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District, represented by C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.
Though Harris does not represent his district, Johnson said he felt the need to say something because Harris represents part of Harford County. It is not an issue of partisanship, he said in a phone interview Tuesday, but an issue of right and wrong. Those who were at the Capitol simply there to exercise their first amendment rights, he said, are distinct from those who stormed the building.
“This is not an indictment on a political party ... this is just being honest,” he said. “This is our country and we can argue and disagree about things and about policy issues, what have you, but when it comes to storming the Capitol, we have to draw a line.”
Johnson wrote that he believes Harris violated his sworn oath by participating in attempts to undermine the results of “the free and fair election to which Joe Biden was legitimately selected to be the next United States President.”
The councilman also criticized Harris for not being more sharp in his rebuke of the people that stormed the Capitol building, which left one U.S. Capitol Police officer dead.
“You had the opportunity to come out and denounce this attack on our democracy, but instead of recognizing how your words and actions in office have contributed to the damage done to our democracy, you continue with the same rhetoric,” Johnson wrote.
“By voting to undermine the Presidential election, you give heed to those very people that charged the Capitol that same day and those around the world who have always questioned democracy as a legitimate form of government.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 protests and storming of the Capitol building, Harris released a statement saying he “routinely and consistently rejected violent protests.” He also stated he would not resign.
“My colleagues and I held legitimate Constitutional concerns about how the November election was conducted in certain states and felt compelled to highlight those concerns during the formal vote count,” he said in the statement.
Harris was a conservative state senator and congressional candidate in 2010 when he first promised to serve no more than six terms, or 12 years, if elected. He made the pledge during a period of voter anger against government and “career politicians.”
The pledge would have meant Harris needed to step down at the end of the current two-year term in January 2023.
“The bottom line is this fight is not over,” he told WBAL host Andrew Langer. “We have serious threats and in the end, it’s going to be up to the people in the 1st Congressional District.”
The congressman has continued to raise campaign money. His campaign committee accumulated nearly $1.5 million during 2019 and most of 2020, according to Federal Election Commission records. The committee had about $1 million remaining as of Nov. 23, according to a recent summary filed with the FEC.
Harris adopted a popular Republican position in 2010 when he pledged, if elected, to leave after 12 years. He unseated Democratic Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr. in the election. Harris’s pledge was reported by The Baltimore Sun, which called it “an expiration date,” as well as by CNN and in media outlets around the district.
As recently as 2015, the Cecil Whig reported Harris told a high school government class in North East that he “planned to retire after 12 years in Congress, if voters elected him to do so, noting he was in favor of 12-year term limits.”
“If you’re there for 20 or 30 years, I believe you tend to get inside the Beltway and you see everything with Washington blinders on,” the newspaper quoted Harris as saying. “But believe me, Washington is not the real world. Cecil County is the real world.”
Harris told WBAL Saturday: “I view this as when I was in the military. You sign up for a certain amount of years. At the end of that, you look and, if the job’s not done, I’m re-upping. So at this point in time, I’m re-upping.”
Harris was re-elected in November, capturing 63.4% of the vote in defeating military veteran and transgender rights activist Mia Mason.
Harris could face a primary challenge in 2022. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a Republican, told The Baltimore Sun last week that he is considering running for the seat. Glassman said he also is looking at running for governor or comptroller.
In an emailed statement to The Aegis Jan. 6, following the incidents at the Capitol, Glassman wrote “I am embarrassed that our Congressman Harris was part of such a(n) act of sedition.”
Harris, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, was enthusiastically endorsed by President Donald Trump in June. He has continued to back Trump and the Republican’s president’s claims that Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden’s election victory should not have been certified because of election fraud or other irregularities. A number of courts and state election officials of both parties denied the president’s challenges.