A Republican state senator from Baltimore County is aiming to take on longtime U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.
Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, who is in his second term representing the southeastern part of the county, began his campaign for the GOP nomination to challenge Ruppersberger with an event Wednesday at the Boulevard Diner in Dundalk.
“We really need to start working and making a difference and bringing results back to the area,” said Salling, a graduate of Sparrows Point High School who served in the Army and worked as a steelworker before entering politics.
Salling doesn’t have to give up his Senate seat to run for Congress.
Salling said that, if elected, he would focus on making America a more “pro-business” nation and having the federal government invest more in education, particularly expanding training in trades for students not bound for college.
Salling believes his candidacy represents a better chance for a Republican to win in the district.
“We need a good, strong candidate in our party to run. A lot of people I’ve talked to believe in me and I appreciate that,” he said. “It’s going to be an opportunity for us to try to get a seat back in Congress.”
Salling is not the first Republican to enter the race to take on Ruppersberger, but he’s the most politically experienced. Other GOP candidates are Genevieve Morris of Elkridge, who works in healthcare information technology; and Tim Fazenbaker of Sparrows Point, a former Baltimore County Council candidate.
Two Democrats have filed to take on Ruppersberger in the Democratic primary: Michael Feldman of Baltimore and Jake Pretot of Laurel.
Additionally, Jeff Northcott of Halethorpe has filed to run as an independent in the general election.
Ruppersberger, a former Baltimore County executive, has represented the sprawling 2nd District since 2003 and has won re-election each year with at least 61% of the vote. In the 2018 election, Ruppersberger bested Republican Liz Matory with 66% of the vote.
The district snakes across portions of the city of Baltimore and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard.
A majority of the district’s voters are registered as Democrats (58%), with 22% Republican and the remainder unaffiliated or belonging to third parties.
Jaime Lennon, a spokeswoman for Ruppersberger, said the congressman plans to run for re-election next year.
“Congressman Ruppersberger respects anyone willing to throw their hat in the ring. He looks forward to running on his record and not rhetoric,” Lennon said in a statement.
As of his latest federal campaign finance report in June, Ruppersberger had nearly $984,000 in campaign funds.