Former Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr., a leader of the libertarian wing of the Maryland Republican Party, said Tuesday that he's considering a run for the GOP nomination for the 1st District seat in the U.S. House.
Smigiel's statement, which came in an interview with The Baltimore Sun, follows incumbent Republican Rep. Andy Harris' statement last week that he was looking into running for the U.S. Senate seat Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski plans to leave after the 2016 election.
Mikulski's announcement has set up a scramble in both parties as incumbent U.S. House members set sights on her seat and state-level officials and others consider running to replace those representatives. At least two Democratic members of the House delegation have jumped into the race and more may join.
Smigiel, who was defeated for-re-election to a fourth term in last year's Republican primary, said he might run whether or not Harris chooses to go for the Senate. The two are longtime intra-party antagonists who have tangled over the control of central committees in the 1st District and other matters. Harris and his allies are believed to have been instrumental in blocking Smiegel's effort to win appointment to the state Senate after Smigiel ally E. J. Pipkin resigned his seat in 2013.
Both potential Republican candidates have conservative voting records but Smigiel's comes with a pronounced libertarian streak that sometimes led him into alliances with liberal Democrats.
Smigiel said that if he ends up in a primary against Harris, marijuana will be a significant issue. The three-term delegate noted that he was one of the few Republicans to sponsor both the marijuana legalization and decriminalization bills in the General Assembly last year. Harris, in recent months, has been waging a high-profile campaign against the decision by District of Columbia voters to legalize personal possession and consumption of small amount of the drug.
The former Cecil County delegate spoke with a reporter as he waited to testify on pro-gun legislation being heard by the House Judiciary Committee. An outspoken Second Amendment advocate, Smigiel expressed confidence that if he runs he will have the support of gun rights groups.