A Baltimore County activist is hoping to break the all-male makeup of Maryland’s congressional delegation.
Brittany Oliver, the founder of an advocacy group called Not Without Black Women, is starting a campaign Tuesday as a Democrat in the 2nd District, which sprawls across parts of Baltimore City and the counties of Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard.
The seat has been held by Democratic U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger since 2003.
Oliver said many voices in the district aren’t being heard in Washington.
“The district is diverse and the representation on the Hill needs to reflect that,” she said.
Oliver said Maryland’s eight-member House delegation needs gender diversity. The state’s two U.S. Senate seats are held by men, as well.
“It matters a great deal, especially being a Black woman,” she said. “We turned out to vote to get Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into office. When Black women vote, the world changes.”
Oliver said her top issues are inequality, climate justice, universal health care and the needs of children and families.
Oliver, 33, started Not Without Black Women as a social support group in the Baltimore area and grew it into a volunteer public advocacy organization. She’s contributed to campaigns ranging from harassment protections in the Maryland General Assembly to better access to menstrual products for women in prison.
Oliver got her start in activism as a student at Patapsco High School in Dundalk, organizing a petition campaign and pushing the school to offer a Black history course that was on the books but had never been taught.
Maryland Policy & Politics
She’s planning to work full-time on her congressional campaign.
Ruppersberger, 75, has faced little serious competition since he first won his congressional seat in 2002. That year, he beat Republican Helen Delich Bentley, 54% to 46%. He has routinely won reelection with more than 60% of the vote.
He serves on the House Appropriations Committee and previously was the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
Earlier this year, Ruppersberger reported having more than $1.2 million in his campaign account.
Oliver said she’s not intimidated by Ruppersberger’s money or experience.
“I’m going to fundraise enough money to have the resources I need to build an unstoppable, people-focused ground game,” she said.
Two Republicans have filed paperwork to run for the seat: Joe Kelley of Severn and Lorrie A. Sigley of Dundalk.