A Maryland State Police commander and Marine veteran from Harford County said Thursday he will run against incumbent Rep. Andy Harris in the GOP primary for the state's 1st Congressional District.
Sean Jackson Sr., a Forest Hill resident who is the commander of the State Police Bel Air Barrack, touted his years in law enforcement and said he would be a more outspoken voice on conservative principles for the district.
"I'm not a career politician," Jackson said in an interview, "and I think a lot of people are gravitating toward that now."
Like most Republicans, Jackson opposes the recent multi-national nuclear agreement brokered with Iran as well as the 2010 national health care law. He is also the second GOP candidate challenging Harris to raise marijuana as an issue in the race.
Harris, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, gained national attention last year by holding up an effort to legalize pot in Washington.
Jackson writes on his website that "the laws concerning the selling and use of marijuana are outdated and a distraction" to dealing with more dangerous drugs. He acknowledged the unusual position of being a law enforcement official who is simultaneously championing less stringent pot laws.
Jackson stressed he was making the argument as a candidate, not as a trooper.
"We have spent so many years combating marijuana," he said. "I just think we need to concentrate on the hardcore drugs."
Former Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr. has also made an issue of Harris' marijuana stance in his campaign for the GOP nomination.
Harris, first elected in 2010, has been rising in the Republican caucus, and will have the advantage of incumbency and campaign money in the primary. He has also protected his right flack, repeatedly voting to the right of Republican leadership -- most recently on a short-term funding bill last week.
Jackson is married and has three children. Before joining the state police he served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1994, leaving the service as a sergeant. He holds a degree in public safety management from Johns Hopkins.
The 1st District, reliably Republican in the general election, includes the Eastern Shore and portions of Harford, Baltimore and Carroll counties.