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Politics

Melissa Etheridge performing in Harford County to raise money for friend Heather Mizeur’s congressional campaign against Andy Harris

Congressional candidate Heather Mizeur, a Democrat who doesn’t accept contributions from corporate political action committees, is again counting on an old friend — singer Melissa Etheridge — to help her keep pace financially with U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in their race to represent Maryland’s 1st Congressional District.

Etheridge, a Grammy winner who has helped Mizeur raise campaign money in the past, is to perform Oct. 8 at the STAR Centre in Havre de Grace, with the proceeds to benefit Mizeur’s campaign against Republican Harris. The Republican-oriented district covers Harford County, a piece of Baltimore County and the Eastern Shore.

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“I am up against an incumbent who has a large war chest that comes from a lot of corporate money, especially pharmaceutical money,” Mizeur said in an interview Thursday.

The former state delegate and 2014 gubernatorial candidate said it was too soon to say how much might be raised at the venue — formerly part of Havre de Grace High School — that she said seats about 1,000 people.

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In a statement to The Baltimore Sun, the Harris campaign said he is “in no way beholden” to the pharmaceutical industry, citing a vote last March in which he was one of 12 Republicans backing legislation to limit the cost of insulin. The measure passed the Democratic-controlled House. It stalled in the Senate, although a limited version was approved last month as part of a large spending bill.

Harris, an anesthesiologist and the only Republican in Maryland’s 10-man congressional delegation, reported raising $1.5 million during 2021 and the first six months of 2022, and had $1.8 million on hand as of June 29, according to the latest Federal Election Commission records. The contributions included $315,640 from political action committees, many representing health professional groups and conservative causes.

Mizeur raised $1.9 million during the same period and had a cash balance of $1.1 million. She was a member of the House of Delegates representing Montgomery County from 2007 to 2015, and finished third in the 2014 gubernatorial primary, collecting 22% of the Democratic vote statewide.

She often has railed against corporate PAC money, saying earlier this year that corporations shouldn’t be able “to buy politicians and elections.”

She does accept money from various advocacy PACs such as those representing progressive causes.

In its statement, the Harris campaign alleged Mizeur “is beholden to Black Lives Matter ... and even accepts money from partisan, one-sided PACs, including those tied to labor unions.”

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Her contributors have included PACs representing the Communications Workers of America, the National Organization for Women and various Democratic lawmakers, according to FEC records.

Mizeur, 49, has long known Etheridge, 61, who performed an online show benefiting the candidate before the July 19 primary.

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Mizeur said the October concert will coincide with the Upper Chesapeake Bay Pride Festival in Havre de Grace on the same day. Etheridge came out as a lesbian in 1993. Mizeur lives with her wife, Deborah, on their Kent County herb and chicken farm.

Harris, now in his sixth term on Capitol Hill, ran unopposed in the primary, while Mizeur defeated former Foreign Service officer Dave Harden.

Mizeur’s campaign hopes to maximize turnout among women opposed to the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right. The decision shifted the onus to states such as Maryland to decide whether such services are legal.

Harris tweeted that the court “got it right.” In 2021, Harris voted against legislation that would guarantee abortion protections nationally.

“We’re definitely relying on motivated women who are ready to speak their voice and their values in what we’re calling ‘Roe-vember,’” Mizeur said. “But that wasn’t a calculation related to this concert. Melissa Etheridge is a Grammy Award-winning rock star with male and female fans.”


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