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Maryland Rep. Andy Harris becomes accessory to Trump’s sedition | COMMENTARY

In this image from video, Rep. Andy Harris speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania.
In this image from video, Rep. Andy Harris speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania. (AP)

Maryland has the distinction of being one of four states that gave Joe Biden at least a million more votes than it gave Donald Trump in November’s election. Ours is among the bluest of blue states, and it’s getting even bluer, with more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans.

Maryland’s deep hue of blue is reflected in Congress. Our two senators are Democrats. Of eight House members, only one is a Republican. His name is Andy Harris and, while he’s always been extremely conservative and kind of strange, this week Harris earned a new descriptor — accessory to sedition.

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Harris is deep in the tank for the worst president in history. He “vigorously” supports Donald Trump and his bogus claims of election irregularities and fraud that led to Wednesday’s despicable attack on the U.S. Capitol, a shocking act of sedition.

Even after Trump supporters raided the building to disrupt Congress as it started to confirm Biden’s victory, Harris persisted in supporting Trump’s baseless, mob-inciting assertions of a stolen election.

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He was not among the members who stood up for democracy.

Rather, Harris and more than 120 other Republicans stood up for Trump by challenging electoral votes in a handful of battleground states that Biden won. They did this without proof of fraud or irregularities. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a fellow Republican, said he was embarrassed that Harris was “part of such an act of sedition.”

The unsuccessful effort to overturn Biden’s resounding victory was an act of extreme partisanship that harms our democracy at its core. The Trump campaign to attack the integrity of our elections, starting months before we went to the polls, subverted confidence in the system. It’s incredible that more people don’t see what Trump and his surrogates did — they lied that the election was rigged and kept lying until they convinced millions of Americans to believe something that is not true.

And then they argued that these cooked-up allegations must be investigated or the heavens fall.

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You’d think a serious conservative with a discerning mind would see this whole thing as a contrived controversy and want nothing to do with it — especially after it became the cause of a violent mob.

Not Andy Harris. He and his collaborators in the House pressed their case through the night.

After Wednesday’s attack in Washington, Harris condemned the mob in an interview telecast on WMDT-TV in Salisbury. He called Trump’s supporters “patriotic Americans” concerned about election integrity. He expressed confidence that Trump would accede to the peaceful transfer of power to Biden on Jan. 20 — that’s some blind deference for you — but expressed concern that the “patriots” who broke into the House chamber might not be satisfied.

In other words, Harris suggested, we could be in for more acts of violent insurrection.

And how do we avoid that?

Just investigate the allegations of election fraud that Trump and his surrogates made up and that courts across the country threw out.

Harris said the same thing a few years ago when Trump assembled an election integrity commission to investigate claims of illegal voting in the 2016 election. In fact, Harris suggested that the Trump administration withhold federal funds from Maryland unless the state cooperated with the investigation. Trump’s commission later disbanded after finding no evidence of widespread fraud.

Andy Harris has said and done some strange things. He’s a doctor, an anesthesiologist, who voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act that benefited thousands of his constituents. The Chesapeake Bay is central to his district, but he has a career environmental score from the League of Conservation Voters of just 3%. He claimed that proposed wind turbines off Ocean City would pose a threat to national security. He expressed support for Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, whose violations of democratic norms have been condemned by other European nations. As the pandemic broke out and took hold last spring, Harris compared Gov. Larry Hogan’s business and church closures to totalitarian measures one might see in North Korea.

The other day, Harris defended Trump’s outrageous phone call to the Georgia secretary of state, asking that he “find” enough votes to give Trump victory there. Harris claimed there is lingering “widespread belief” in Maryland that the gubernatorial election of 1994 was a “stolen election” when such allegations never held up, and I haven’t heard mention of the matter in years.

Harris deserves a formal rebuke by the Maryland General Assembly for his support of Trump’s campaign to overturn Biden’s victory. It would be the best way for Marylanders to announce their displeasure.

I frequently hear people question how a guy like this manages to keep getting reelected in this deep blue state.

It’s because his congressional district is deep red. Democrats made it that way when they drew new district maps after the census of 2010. A district that for 18 years had Wayne Gilchrest, a moderate Republican, as its representative in the House became more conservative, and no one has come close to beating Harris since. He got 63% of the vote in November.

So, in a district gerrymandered to give insurmountable advantage to a Republican, Harris can be as extreme as he likes. Most of the state’s Democratic representatives have the same advantage in their districts (though they’re neither as strange nor as extreme). Congressional races in Maryland will not be competitive unless they are made competitive in the next round of decennial redistricting. But with Democrats dominant in the state legislature, it’s hard to see that happening.

As for Harris, he pledged when he first ran for Congress that he would serve six two-year terms and be done. If he keeps his word, that would make his present term his last. I don’t know how he’s planning to make his mark in these next two years, but I can’t imagine anything that would top what he achieved this week — lasting contempt for having supported Trump’s sedition.

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