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With Rosen out, LaFerla says he would challenge Andy Harris in 1st District

John LaFerla, who lost a close Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District to Wendy Rosen, said Tuesday that he is available to challenge Republican Rep. Andy Harris as a write-in candidate.

Rosen withdrew from the race Monday amid allegations that she was registered and had voted in both Maryland and Florida. The Maryland Democratic Party has referred the matter to state prosecutors; elections officials in Florida say they are doing the same there.

Under state law, it is too late for Rosen to remove her name from the ballot, so Democrats now are looking for someone to support as a write-in candidate.

“If I’m asked to do it by the state party, I will step up to the plate and take that responsibility to kind of salvage what’s left of this campaign,” LaFerla, a 63-year-old Chestertown physician, said Tuesday. “I think that somebody has to give it a try. I’m willing to do it because I think it’s the right thing to do.”

A spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party said leaders were consulting with elected Democrats and central committee members througout the district, which includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Harford, Carroll and Cecil counties, to identify a candidate all could support.

“The time frame really was yesterday, to be honest,” spokesman Matthew Verghese said. “It’s really as quickly as we can. The party understands the challenges of waging a write-in campaign for any office, but we definitely want to make sure we’re hitting the ground running.”

LaFerla lost to Rosen by just 57 of the more than 25,000 votes cast in the April primary. He said he had been speaking with central committee members and state party leaders.

“Some of my colleagues have been approaching others to try to get the network going here,” he said.

Verghese said an announcement could come within days.

“It is our intention that as soon as there’s a consensus behind one person, we will make that person official, we will announce our support for him, people will start to endorse him, and we’ll move forward,” he said.

Even before Rosen withdrew, Harris, a 55-year-old physician from Baltimore County, was favored to win a second term in the district, which has grown more Republican since he defeated Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in 2010.

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