U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, the 65-year-old anesthesiologist and former Baltimore County state senator who backs Donald Trump’s fraudulent election claims, once pledged to serve no more than six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Given that he is winding up that sixth term in the 1st Congressional District, it’s time to hold him to that long-ago promise.
Fortunately, voters have an outstanding choice to replace Harris. Heather R. Mizeur, the Democratic nominee, has campaigned on a trait wholly foreign to her opponent: She has promised to listen, and she has our endorsement.
The 49-year-old, Kent County farmer and former member of the Maryland House of Delegates has pledged to “show up and deliver” on issues that matter to families living in the district. Among her priorities are lowering the cost of living, improving housing, bringing better jobs to the district, supporting farmers while addressing environmental concerns and expanding health care access and coverage.
Mizeur married her wife, Deborah, in 2005 before same-sex marriage was legalized in Maryland eight years later. Such formidable courage, along with a willingness to tackle tough challenges, have proven to be an effective calling card even in a district long held by Republicans. Nor does it hurt that she is deeply knowledgeable on a host of issues, having once served as domestic policy director to U.S. Sen. John Kerry, and has advocated on Capitol Hill for causes dear to rural families, including health care. Looking for a personable but determined underdog always willing to reach across the aisle? She is your candidate.
Harris has dispatched his Democratic foes routinely in the past, however, and we fear this time will be no different. The last time he received less than 60% of the district’s vote in the general election was when he first ran in 2010 against U.S. Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr., whom he bested by double digits. But there are also signs that the politically conservative district, only modestly changed through the redistricting process after the 2020 census, may finally be finding Harris’ act tiresome. Mizeur’s endorsers include Wayne Gilchrest, who represented the 1st District as a Republican from 1991 to 2009, and Jeff Powell, a former Dorchester County commissioner who assures viewers in the latest Mizeur TV ad that he almost always votes Republican but not this time around. “Heather’s the real deal,” he says.
Harris is not. He has shown himself to be ill-informed and disinterested in the concerns of his sprawling district, which extends from the Eastern Shore over the top of the Chesapeake Bay to Harford County and a portion of Baltimore County. He has cost his constituents greatly through his chronic underachievement in Congress and his blind support of Donald Trump (including his vote to overturn the 2020 election on Jan. 6).
Rather than work to improve the lives of farmers and watermen, small business owners or retirees, the incumbent tends to spout the tiresome partisan talking points, from border security to banning abortion, while underscoring his support for gun ownership. Last year, the nonpartisan Lugar Center ranked him among the least bipartisan members of Congress (10th from the bottom to be precise). He almost never collaborates with those in the opposing party. And when it’s time to debate his foes, he’s not especially happy about that opportunity either, pulling out of one forum before being embarrassed back into it. Observed one plucky letter writer in the (Easton) Star-Democrat recently: “It’s better for Harris, the less we know about him.”
Voters in the 1st District shouldn’t oust Andy Harris because he angers Democrats. They should show him the door because he’s accomplished so little for their sake. It’s time for a change for the better. Heather Mizeur is the right choice.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board endorses political candidates in races that are of particular importance to our readers for reasons such as the critical nature of the work, the tightness of the election contest and the dearth of available information that occurs when an office has no incumbents competing for it. We make our conclusions after reviewing a range of data, including: the candidates’ campaign materials and responses to The Sun’s voter guide questionnaire, news stories written about the candidates, debates they’ve participated in, and interviews we’ve conducted with community leaders or the candidates themselves.