Democrat drops challenge to Harris after allegations she voted in two states

Wendy Rosen, the Democratic nominee running against Republican Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st Congressional District, withdrew from the race Monday.

Wendy Rosen, the Democratic nominee to challenge Republican Rep. Andy Harris in the First Congressional District, withdrew from the race Monday amid allegations that she had voted in elections in both Maryland and Florida in 2006 and 2008.

Rosen, a Cockeysville businesswoman and Maryland voter, told The Baltimore Sun on Monday that she had registered to vote in Florida several years ago in order to support a "very close friend" running for the St. Petersburg City Council and to vote on local issues there.

Rosen said she was able to register in Florida because she owned property there.

But the Maryland Democratic Party said Monday it had urged Rosen to withdraw from the race after learning that she had voted in both states in the 2006 general election, and again in the 2008 primaries.

Maryland and Florida both held gubernatorial and congressional races in 2006, and presidential primaries in 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton competed for the Democratic nomination.

Asked by The Sun if she had voted in these contests in both states, Rosen said she did not remember.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Yvette Lewis said the information was based on an examination of voting records in Maryland and Florida. She referred the matter Monday to Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and State Prosecutor Emmitt C. Davitt.

"We believe that this is a clear violation of Maryland law and urge the appropriate office to conduct a full investigation," she wrote to Gansler and Davitt. "The Maryland Democratic Party strongly believes in upholding and expanding the right to vote but, at the same time, believes there should be zero tolerance for voter fraud of any kind."

Rosen edged Chestertown physician John LaFerla in the Democratic primary in April by just 57 of the more than 25,000 votes cast. She withdrew from the general election in an e-mail Monday to party leaders.

"I have been proud to serve as the Democratic Congressional Candidate of Maryland's 1st Congressional District for the last five months, so it is with great regret, and much sorrow that I must resign," she wrote. "Personal issues have made this the hardest decision that I have had to make."

Rosen was seen as the underdog in a district that has grown more solidly Republican since Harris ousted Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil there in 2010.

As redrawn last year by lawmakers, the First District includes the entire Eastern Shore, plus parts of Baltimore, Harford, Carroll and Cecil counties.

The Maryland Democratic Party will organize a vote among the central committees in the district to select a new challenger.