It’s hard to believe from his recent voting record — against the Frederick Douglas Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act (which passed 401-20) and against the assault weapons ban passed by the House on Friday — but Rep. Andy Harris once cared about crime and criminality. I know: It seems impossible that a Republican lawmaker who met at the White House to discuss overturning the 2020 presidential election would be concerned about those who break our laws. You probably think I’m talking about some Andy Harris other than the one who sucks up to Trump and apparently thinks the fortunately-former president did nothing wrong.
But I discovered, in doing some reporting for my weekend column, that Andy Harris was once concerned about the criminal history of a Republican candidate for office in Maryland — so concerned that he apparently tried to talk him out of running.
My Sunday column is about Rick Impallaria, a longtime member of the Maryland House of Delegates who is now accused of corruption in office. Twenty years ago, when Impallaria first ran for the House seat, Andy Harris was among Republican officials who asked him to consider withdrawing. At the time, Harris was a state senator. He was one of four Baltimore County Republicans who took the unusual step of urging Impallaria to reconsider his candidacy because of concerns about his criminal record. (Impallaria had a checkered past, including an assault charge, as my column notes.) The others were Al Redmer, then the House minority leader; Jim Ports, a delegate, and R. Karl Aumann, who at the time was district director for Bob Ehrlich, the future Maryland governor. They apparently all thought a guy with a criminal record should not hold public office.
I don’t necessarily believe a criminal past should prohibit someone from seeking office, but it’s interesting to note that Harris was among those who once thought it was disqualifying.
Twenty years later, and six terms in Congress, he still supports Trump, ridicules the Jan. 6 hearings and ignores the committee’s findings. And remember: Harris voted against honoring the cops who defended the Capitol, suggesting his real sympathies are with the Trump mob.
I would say the voters of Maryland’s 1st congressional district deserve better, but so far they have given Harris six terms in the House, and nearly 68,000 of them voted for him in July’s primary, setting Harris up for the seventh term he once promised not to seek.
A majority of voters in the 1st District do not seem to have any interest in a Republican who exudes decency, who holds slightly more moderate views, who votes for what makes sense and who clearly understands right from wrong.