CHESTERTOWN - John LaFerla is back. He will file as Democratic candidate in the 1st District congressional race, Wednesday. The last-minute candidate for Congress in last year's election is looking ahead to 2014. He will sign the papers at the Maryland State Board of Elections in Annapolis at 1 p.m.
LaFerla said Monday he's acting now because he learned “when you start late you don't have enough time.”
LaFerla ran for Congress in 2010, but lost by a narrow margin to Wendy Rosen in Democratic primary. When Rosen dropped out of the race later in the year due to voter fraud allegations, LaFerla stepped back in as a write-in candidate.
It takes time, he said, “to get my positions known, for meeting voters, for getting the ideas out there.” While Wednesday's visit to Annapolis marks the starting date of record, he said, “I started several months ago developing the organization to run.”
Like so many campaigns, it's volunteers to start with.
“I've been meeting with people all over the district,” he said, rattling off appearances in recent weeks to groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Northwest Democratic Club in Carroll County.
The district incorporates the nine counties of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and parts of three more.
A visit to his website shows that he's already lined up most of the county coordinators on which his grassroots campaign will depend. They are ready in Wicomico, Carroll, Kent, Queen Anne's, Caroline, Talbot, Harford, Cecil and Worcester counties. He is looking for someone for Dorchester and Somerset counties and to handle the small part of Baltimore County attached to the 1st.
“We have a formidable opponent,” said LaFerla.
Nevertheless, LaFerla thinks Andy Harris, the Republican incumbent, is not the congressman 1st District voters want.
“Andy Harris is an extremist. He's a Tea Party Republican like Michelle Bachmann. He voted against the Violence Against Women Act. He voted against the Farm Bill. I don't have to tell you what that means in this district.
“He even opposed funding the Harriet Tubman national park.”
In short, LaFerla thinks Harris votes to advance his career.
“I'm here for the people and not the politicians,” LaFerla said. “Politicians are in it for themselves.”
LaFerla said he began fundraising among friends and previous donors. He has reached out to Democrats in Kent County. He plans to travel outside the state, too. In June, he will be in Louisville, Ky., where U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth will help with a fundraiser. Yarmuth, first elected in 2006, is regarded as a progressive Democrat.
In conjunction with a college reunion in Albany, N.Y., LaFerla said he has another fundraiser set in July. There have been “preliminary discussions” with the Democratic National Campaign Committee, which funnels money to key campaigns. “Their goal is to change 17 seats” in the House, but “we're not in the close race category.” He said he's heard from supporters in the Baltimore area who remember Harris as a state senator, “and they would like him out of government.”
Harris “continues to harp on the deficit like it's the country's biggest problem,” LaFerla said. “I talk to economists and they say the middle class jobs situation is the biggest problem.
“He has no complaint about the George W. Bush years, where the deficit was created by two unfunded wars. That's outright hypocrisy,” LaFerla said.
“I appreciate all the support I've received from local Democrats. Now I have to get myself known in the far-flung places like Wicomico County, and Baltimore and Carroll counties,” he said.
A reception follows Wednesday at the Maryland State Democratic Party Headquarters at 33 West St. in Annapolis. LaFerla lives in Kent County and works in Queen Anne's, Caroline, and Talbot counties.
His website is www.JohnLaFerla.com.