Foerster to challenge Harris for state Senate


Patricia A. Foerster, the departing president of the Maryland State Teachers Association, announced yesterday that she is running for the state Senate seat in Maryland's 7th District.

The Democrat is running for the seat held by state Sen. Andrew P. Harris, a Republican in the final year of his second term, who has filed to run for re-election.

The district includes Timonium and Cockeysville and stretches through northeastern Baltimore County and southwestern Harford County.

"I have spent the last 13 years in full-blown advocacy, and I think this is a natural transition," said Foerster, 66. "I think the biggest issue that I'm hearing from folks is they're concerned about how well they've been represented."

Reached at his Cockeysville home last night, Harris, 49, predicted that Foerster's past lobbying efforts on behalf of the MSTA - including support for higher income and property taxes for school funding and opposition to the recent proposed state takeover of 11 poorly performing Baltimore schools - would not play well with voters in the district.

"I'm not sure the district is ready for an ultraliberal special-interest lobbyist representing them in Annapolis," said Harris, an obstetrics anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "I just don't think she's a good fit for the district. An ultraliberal just doesn't fit in in Baltimore and Harford County."

In 2002, then-Del. Diane DeCarlo, a conservative Democrat, ran against Harris unsuccessfully. Harris won 58 percent of the vote.

In 1998, Harris trumped Democratic challenger Anthony O. Blades, a former parole officer and military retiree, garnering 61 percent of the vote.

Foerster is set to challenge Harris, a conservative, in a district where Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. represented voters for four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Foerster has sparred with Ehrlich on education issues, including the proposed takeover.

David Paulson, a spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party, hailed Foerster's candidacy and called Harris "one of the most right-wing legislators in Annapolis."

"His politics don't reflect anyone's views, much less his own district," Paulson said. "Andy Harris' mode of operation is to spend a lot of money and hide his record."

Sun reporter Josh Mitchell contributed to this article.

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