Retake the 1st District -- and the House

Baltimore Sun

The 2010 election is shaping up to be one of the most important congressional elections of our lifetime. It may be our last and best chance to stop the Pelosi-Reid- Obama agenda of soaring deficits, crippling taxation, the takeover of the entire American health care system and much of the U.S. economy. Not since 1994 has there been such a historic opportunity to take back the House of Representatives and change the direction of America.

Maryland's contribution to that effort will be to reclaim the First Congressional District seat.

In 2008, historically unusual demographic turnout in the general election and disunity among Republicans set the stage for a Democrat to win the seat. Since then, the political landscape has undergone tectonic change. After an early spring of apparent acceptance of the new administration, Americans are now both afraid and angry. The late spring and summer "tea parties" saw ordinary citizens turning out as never before to protest. These protests of energy taxes and wasted "stimulus" spending changed into late-summer protests and town hall meetings about the impending government takeover of health care and the "public option."

Protests are great, but elections matter most. Nothing will change if we don't change the politicians making public policy on Capitol Hill. Maryland's First District is a conservative-leaning district that should be represented by a conservative-leaning congressman, committed to replacing Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House.

State Sen. Andy Harris, who came within a hair's breadth of winning the seat in 2008, is clearly running again. He has a well-established name, solid conservative credentials, a track record of fighting inefficient government and higher taxes, a fundraising network, and a new campaign team. He has been tirelessly crisscrossing the huge district.

The nationally respected Tarrance Group conducted a poll of likely voters in the First District last week and found that if the election were held today, Andy Harris would not only win, but win handily. But we will need a united party to ensure this outcome next November. Now is the time for all of us to get behind the candidate who can win - and we have just that candidate.

I know from firsthand experience how closely contested primaries drain resources. An expensive and perhaps self-defeating primary in the First Congressional District would only further the Pelosi-Obama agenda. The last thing we need to do is waste limited resources.

GOP opportunities will be historic in 2010, and precious cash will be scarce. In 2010, we should spend our money winning back our seat, not fighting each other.

At an Arizona fundraiser, Vice President Joe Biden told Democratic donors that the end may be near if Republicans take back seats lost in the 2008 election in traditionally Republican districts. "If they take them back, it's the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do ... This [the 2010 election] is their one shot. If they don't break the back of our effort in this upcoming election, you're going to see the things we said we're for happen. ... It will break the dam."

Mr. Biden summarizes the importance of putting Congress firmly in the grasp of Republicans who can block the Pelosi-Obama march to the left. Even though Maryland as a whole remains a blue state, we can help achieve that national goal by putting the First Congressional District in Republican hands.

Ellen Sauerbrey was twice the Republican Party's nominee for governor of Maryland. Her e-mail is ellensauer

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