Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Jan. 6 police officer faces off with veteran legislators in big House race

By 37ci3 May11,2024

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Democratic voters in Maryland’s state capital and in the affluent suburbs south and west of Baltimore face a difficult decision Tuesday as they choose their likely next members of Congress.

They can choose a former police officer who gained national notoriety after defending the Capitol during deadly riots on Jan. 6, 2021, or a state legislator who has passed bills focused on local bread-and-butter issues like health care and greening. jobs, flooding and Chesapeake Bay restoration.

After Jan. 6, Harry Dunn became one of the hundreds of police officers who risked their lives to protect the Capitol when he was attacked by supporters of then-President Donald Trump who wanted to block Joe Biden’s 2020 certification. electoral victory. Dunn gave an emotional expression He became a fixture on the cable news circuit during the televised committee hearings investigating Jan. 6, and wrote a book about the trial and his life last fall.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was worried and a little stressed about the whole process. I mean, I literally walked away from my long career in the federal government,” Dunn, 40, said in an interview with NBC News on Friday.

Yard signs.
Campaign signs at the Broadneck Library in Annapolis, Md.Scott Wong/NBC News

“But at the end of the day, if I had the opportunity to try to do something to stop Donald Trump’s agenda, I couldn’t live with myself,” Dunn said, adding, “He’s said he wants to be a dictator, and you have members of Congress who will support him in that. So I think , we need fighters right now, and I think I’m the right person for this job.”

Dunn, a Maryland native, doesn’t live in the state’s deep-blue 3rd Congressional District — he says he lives about 9 miles outside and has family there — but the former cop’s national fame and notoriety has helped boost his fundraising efforts. amazing levels. The political newcomer has since earned nearly $4.6 million announced the tender in January The nine-term Democrat will replace retiring Republican John Sarbe, dwarfing the money raised by his two main rivals, state Sens. Sarah Elfreth and Clarence Lam.

As Trump seeks a political comeback this fall, Democratic voters here are grappling with the question of whether they want to be represented by a man who is literally fighting the riots that want to keep Trump in power. district.

Elfreth has “very good intentions. He’s worked really hard in the General Assembly, so he’s kind of an insider,” said former Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md. “And then you have Harry Dunn, who has captured the national imagination. And he should think how to turn it into a political victory.”

“I voted for him, not against him”

Outside an early voting site at the Broadneck Library in Annapolis, Kathryn Schulke said she and her husband voted for Elfreth, who is trying to help her family find a vaccine during the pandemic.

“I actually called one day and he actually answered the phone, which totally surprised me,” Schulke, a retired registered nurse, said Thursday. She was having trouble getting vaccines for her son, who has cystic fibrosis.

Sarah Elfreth.
Maryland Sen. Sarah Elfreth speaks with a voter and her daughter outside an early voting location in Annapolis.Scott Wong/NBC News

“She couldn’t actually solve the problem for me,” Schulke continued, “but her compassion and her ability to listen and her ability to understand and her ability to explain to me what she did next, I’m probably a Sarah Elfreth voter for life.”

“I voted for him, not against him,” he said.

Moments later, Elfreth arrived at the library with a campaign aide and thanked voters for coming. There was little foot traffic at the early voting station, but a mother and her two young daughters saw Elfret and went. Ana noted that one of Elfreth’s priorities is protecting the environment, and the state senator noted that Democratic Gov. Wes Moore signed a bill that day expanding solar power in Maryland.

“People I’ve talked to on the road … really want someone who has experience getting things done. Legislation is not easy. It’s an art form of negotiating and working with others who oppose you,” Elfreth, 35, said in an interview.

These are “people on opposite sides of an issue and how you bring them together and work through the details and find common ground and get things done on behalf of your constituents. It’s not an easy job and I love this part of the job; I do it well. “I pass more bills than my colleagues in the state house.”

Clarence Lam.
Maryland State Sen. Clarence Lam, Howard County Democrat, March 11, 2020.Pamela Wood/TNS via Getty Images file

Lam, 43, a physician on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, is the only doctor and the only Asian American in the state Senate. She also highlights her legislative record, particularly her work on health policy, including lowering the cost of insulin and expanding Medicaid to ensure all mothers have greater access to prenatal and postpartum care.

“When it comes to a lot of the work I’ve done, a lot of it has been in healthcare and public health,” Lam said.

The pro-Israel group spends big

Elfreth earned about $1.5 million and Lam about $736,000 by the end of April. The 19 other candidates in the crowded field, including state Reps. Mark Chang, Terry Hill and Mike Rogers, are far behind.

Despite Dunn’s huge fundraising lead, the spending dynamic has changed in recent weeks. The United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel group, poured more than $4 million into the race to endorse Elfreth — much of it in television ads in the Baltimore market.

“Frankly, it’s bad,” said Dunn, who has repeatedly expressed support for Israel. “Because, yes, I’ve been busy. I’ve been there [getting] mass support”.

Lam added: “It’s disappointing to see our democracy now being put up for sale by whatever vested interests can throw millions of dollars behind a candidate of their choice.”

Harry Dunn.
Harry Dunn on Capitol Hill in 2022.Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

Under federal law, Elfreth cannot coordinate with a super PAC, and he said he had no idea why he would receive air cover from the UDP, which did not respond to a request for comment.

He said that his and Dunn’s positions on the Israel-Gaza war are not very different: “I believe in a long-term, two-state solution, a permanent two-state solution, an end to violence, the return of hostages. it’s very similar to everyone.”

One final announcementDubbed “The Choice,” Dunn’s campaign defeated Elfret because it received support from a “right-wing super PAC funded by Trump donors” and “voted with Republicans 44 times.” Some UDPare the biggest donors typically gives to GOP campaigns and groups.

Elfreth said he made no apologies for his bipartisan record and work across the aisle. “It’s funny because I’ve been called a lot of names in my life,” she said. “But MAGA Republican is not one of them.”

Sarah Elfreth.
Sarah Elfreth in Annapolis in 2018.Washington Post via Sarah L. Voisin/Getty Images file

“Is this America?”

For 15 years, Dunn was a familiar face in the halls of the Capitol and, at 6-foot-7, it was difficult to stand. But he rose to national prominence after his powerful testimony in Congress on January 6.

The bipartisan panel investigating the riots held a preliminary hearing with four law enforcement officers, including Dunn, to mark the start of the fact-finding mission.

“I sat on a bench with a friend of mine who was a Black Capitol police officer and told him about the racial slurs I endured,” Dunn said, recalling his experience during the Capitol riots. “I got very emotional and started shouting:” How [expletive] can such a thing happen? Is this America?’

Dunn continued to attend almost all of the committee’s hearings. Throughout the process, he grew closer to panel members and House leadership Democrats — several of whom endorsed his nomination, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland.

But Dunn said there is more to his candidacy than his actions on Jan. 6.

“I care about, you know, affordable health care. I care about affordable housing, I’m thinking about banning assault rifles, AR-15s. I am interested in those things. I care about voting rights. I am referring to Roe v. “I’m interested in codifying Wade into federal law,” he said. There’s more to it than “just” January. 6 Harry Dunn.’”

Dunn added that he surprised “a lot of people” on the campaign trail. “When they say, ‘Oh, wow, you’re just a Trump hater,’ I mean, I wear that as a badge of honor,” he joked.

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