Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch endorsed Del. Aruna Miller on Wednesday in her campaign for the state's 6th Congressional District, weighing into a nascent race that will become one of the most closely watched in the state next year.
The endorsement, which marks the first time a Maryland political leader has backed a candidate in a 2018 federal race, comes weeks after Miller received the support of Emily's List, the Washington-based group that helps Democratic women.
"In her time in Annapolis, Aruna has taken on some of the most difficult and sensitive issues we face," Busch said in a statement. "She's built consensus and forged commonsense, progressive solutions."
Miller, who has served in the General Assembly since 2011, is one of four Democrats running in the Montgomery County-based district. Incumbent Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat, announced in July that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president.
The 6th District, which also covers Frederick, and the state's westernmost counties, was competitive in 2012, when Delaney unseated a veteran Republican, and again in 2014. Democratic turnout is expected to be higher next year than it was in 2014, and so the Democratic nominee would likely have an advantage in November.
But if any district in Maryland has the potential to become competitive in next year's general election, it's the Sixth. Last year's GOP nominee, national security consultant Amie Hoeber, has said she may take another shot at the seat this cycle.
Miller, a 52-year-old Darnestown woman who was born in India, was an architect of this year's successful effort to require the governor to include at least $3 million in the budget annually for sexual assault crisis programs. She was the lead sponsor of a measure to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, legislation then-Gov. Martin O'Malley signed into law in 2012.
Miller is running against businessman David Trone, state Sen. Roger Manno and retired intelligence officer Andrew Duck. She is one of two female candidates in the race at a time when her party has faced internal criticism for fielding an all-male congressional delegation. Nadia Hashimi, a pediatrician and author from Potomac, is also running for the nomination.
Trone, co-owner of national liquor retailer Total Wine & More, blasted radio and television airwaves in his 2016 bid for the 8th Congressional District — spending more than $13 million of his own money on the campaign. If Trone takes a similar approach in the 6th it will be a challenge for other candidates to be heard.
Maryland House Majority Leader C. William "Bill" Frick, who had been raising money for the 6th District, announced last month that he would run for Montgomery County executive, instead.