Career foreign service officer set to enter 1st congressional district Dem primary

Dave Harden for Congress

Heather Mizeur won’t be the only high-profile Democrat eyeing a 2022 general election matchup with Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) in Maryland’s 1st congressional district.

Retired career foreign service officer R. David Harden of Westminster will soon enter the 1st congressional district’s Democratic primary, according to sources close to Harden’s impending campaign.

Harden, 58, retired in 2018 as a career U.S. Senior Foreign Service Officer (SFS) after serving 17 years overseas in the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia, including as Minister Counselor for Yemen, Mission Director in the West Bank and Gaza, and Deputy Mission Director in Iraq.

After retirement from the U.S. Foreign Service, Mr. Harden founded The Georgetown Strategy Group, where he serves as its managing director.

The group operates as a global consulting firm that advises governments, the private sector and policymakers worldwide on foreign policy strategy while promoting trade and investment and security and stability. According to the organization’s website, Harden’s firm develops “economic opportunities and facilitates the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the most complicated political contexts in the world today.”

Mr. Harden was awarded the President’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2019 by former President Donald J. Trump for “sustained extraordinary accomplishment in the conduct of foreign policy.”

Former President Barack H. Obama nominated Harden in 2016 to serve as the Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Democracy Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. The U.S. Senate bipartisanly and overwhelmingly confirmed Harden’s nomination.

Mr. Harden spearheaded all USAID efforts to respond to global crises and stabilization efforts, including responses in Haiti, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, the West Bank/Gaza, and Yemen.

Harden and his wife, Sharon – a State Department official with whom he has three grown children – live on a farm in Westminster.

He earned a law degree from Georgetown University, a Master of Arts in Political Science from Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Franklin and Marshall College.

Congressional Redistricting 

This year, the Maryland General Assembly was originally expected to meet for a special session during the summer or fall months to take up congressional redistricting, redrawing Maryland’s nine congressional boundaries using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

But the Census Bureau says it will not release the population data that state legislatures use to redraw congressional district boundaries until Sept. 30 – a six-month delay – because of the ongoing COVID-19 global health pandemic, leaving the country’s state lawmakers scrambling to meet the constitutionally mandated deadline in time for the 2022 midterm elections.

Redistricting occurs every 10 years in the U.S. under the Reapportionment Act of 1929.

It’s unclear whether Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will call a special session this fall after the census data is released, potentially forcing Maryland lawmakers to confront legislative and congressional redistricting during the 2022 90-day legislative session.

Nobody knows for certain what’s in store for Maryland’s 1st congressional district, or for that matter, all nine of Maryland’s congressional districts, some of which are heavily gerrymandered.

The General Assembly’s Democratic super-majority has its sights firmly set on ousting one of former President Trump’s staunchest Republican congressional allies – Andy Harris, the 64-year-old six-term incumbent, now running for a seventh term, breaking his own self-imposed term limits pledge not to serve any more than 12 years in Congress.

Mr. Harris is Maryland’s lone Republican congressman, which is all the more reason for Maryland Democrats to rectify the General Assembly’s 2011 redistricting process that left the 1st congressional district with a heavy concentration of registered Republicans.

As of 6:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25, no candidate has officially filed to run in the 1st district, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections website – though four other Democrats, including Mizeur, say they plan to run for the congressional seat.

Mia Mason, the 1st district’s 2020 Democratic primary victor, says she plans to run again in 2022. Businessman and music artist Matt Talley announced in January his entrance into the Democratic primary. Jennifer Pingley was defeated in the 2020 Democratic primary; she confirmed her plans to run again for the seat.

The 2022 primary election is set for June 28. All candidates must file their certificate of candidacy by Feb. 22 to be included on the June primary ballot.

Ryan Miner is the Editor of A Miner Detail, a leading Maryland politics blog and multimedia news hub. He is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast. News tips and feedback:

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Ryan Miner Administrator
Ryan Miner is the Editor in Chief, Founder, Senior Political Reporter and Publisher of A Miner Detail. He is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.
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