To the Editor:
On Sunday, Oct. 21 the Leagues of Women Voters of Kent, Queen Anne's and Upper Shore held a candidate forum to which all candidates for Congress from the First Congressional District were invited. Conspicuous by his absence was Congressman Andy Harris, the incumbent and candidate of the Republican Party. The participants were Muir Boda (Libertarian Party), Michael Calpino (Unaffiliated) and Dr. John LaFerla the officially designated candidate of Maryland's Democratic Party (following the withdrawal of Wendy Rosen on Sept. 10 - too late for her name to be removed from the ballot). Hence Dr. LaFerla must run as a write-in candidate.
Congressman Harris seems to be engaging in ridiculous games with the 1st District electorate when he claims that Wendy Rosen is still the Democratic nominee. Furthermore he based his withdrawal from the forum on the grounds that he would not debate a write-in candidate. First of all the forum is not exactly a debate. It is simply the opportunity for all the candidates to present their views on the issues and to answer questions from the public. The fact is, however, as Mr. Boda pointed out during the forum, his name is on the ballot, as is Mr. Calpino's. No doubt Dr. Harris does not take their candidacy seriously any more than he does that of his Democratic opponent,
In my view Harris's refusal to enter into a debate with any candidate, write-in or otherwise, shows his contempt for the democratic process, as well as for the work of the Leagues of Women Voters of Kent County, Queen Anne's County and the Mid-Shore, who work very hard and conscientiously during each election cycle to provide forums at which the public can hear the views of candidates and ask them questions in person.
I hope that the voters in this district, whatever their political party (and that includes Republicans!) will finally recognize that Dr. Harris is not an adequate representative of District 1. This district for many years was represented by Wayne Gilchrest, a Republican, yes, but a man of more moderate views and more in touch with the needs of his constituents. It is significant, I believe, that Mr. Gilchrest is actively supporting John LaFerla in this race. Congressman Harris represents the extremist views espoused by the Tea Party, whose representatives elected in 2010 from across the country, have made the current Congress no more than an obstructionist body intent only on one goal, to ensure that Barack Obama will be a one-term president. I encourage all voters in District 1 to sent Dr. Harris back to his medical practice in November, with the hope that he is more effective there than he has been as our "representative" (I use the term very loosely!) in Congress. Further, I urge voters, whatever your political affiliation, to write-in the name of John LaFerla on the ballot. Dr. LaFerla is a long-time resident of the Eastern Shore, residing in Kent County. He is a talented medical professional, and has experience in the political arena in the Democratic Party in Kent County. He understands the needs of our District, is not tied to any extremist ideology and will represent us well.
George R. Shivers