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Maryland

Heather Mizeur: Andy Harris a ‘traitor’ for attending pre-Jan. 6 meeting

Former delegate challenging Republican congressman in 1st Congressional District

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Heather Mizeur (Photo by Joanna Tillman Photography)

Heather Mizeur on Wednesday called U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) a “traitor” after the Jan. 6 committee disclosed he attended a meeting with former President Donald Trump that focused on how he could stay in office after losing the 2020 presidential election.

“I was completely flabbergasted,” Mizeur told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview. “It should surprise us, and yet what we know from Andy Harris it wasn’t so surprising after all.”

“This proved that he wasn’t just one of 147 that voted against democracy on Jan. 6, he was one of 10 in the room with the Trump administration in the White House plotting the overthrow of the peaceful transfer of power,” she added, referring to the Dec. 21, 2020, meeting at the White House that Harris and other Republican members of Congress attended. “He’s a traitor to our nation. Andy Harris has betrayed his oath of office, and I believe he’s unfit to serve.”

Mizeur was at an early voting center in Edgewood in Harford County on Tuesday when the committee disclosed Harris participated in the White House meeting with Trump. Mizeur later in the day held an event in Bel Air.

“It was the number one thing everyone wanted to talk about,” she said. “It has just ignited a renewed passion for getting rid of this horrible, lousy congressman that has not just failed at doing his job.”

Harris’ spokesperson on Thursday did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Victory Fund, LPAC have endorsed Mizeur

Mizeur served on the Takoma Park City Council before she served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007-2015. Mizeur ran for governor in 2014.

Mizeur, who now lives on the Eastern Shore with her wife, announced her campaign against Harris in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District less than a month after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Mizeur would be the first openly lesbian member of Congress from Maryland if she defeats Harris in November.

“I’m the patriot and the woman who’s going to hold him accountable and defeat him in November,” Mizeur told the Blade.

Harris has represented the 1st Congressional District — which currently encompasses the entire Eastern Shore and portions of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties — since 2011. Mizeur is running against David Harden in the Democratic primary that will take place on July 19.

The Cook Political Report currently ranks the district as R +11.

Campaign finance reports indicate Mizeur raised $1,954,881.08 from Jan. 1, 2021, through June 29 compared to the $1,493,411.83 that Harris raised during the same period. Campaign finance reports indicate Harris’ as of June 29 had $1,849,850.56 on hand, compared to Mizeur’s $1,103,317.43.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day, Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, state Del. Lisa Belcastro (D-Baltimore County), House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) are among the elected officials who have endorsed Mizeur. The Victory Fund, LPAC, Emily’s List, the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, SEIU and other groups have also backed her campaign.

“Money is energy, and people are putting their energy behind this race,” said Mizeur. “There’s a grassroots urgency to this campaign and excitement. People are equal parts excited to fire Andy Harris and to hire Heather Mizeur.”

Roe decision ‘sent shockwaves everywhere’

Mizeur spoke with the Blade less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

She said the decision “sent shockwaves everywhere.”

“It didn’t matter that they telegraphed that it was potentially happening,” said Mizeur. “It still felt differently when it landed. None of us anticipated there would really be a day where the court would turn over 50 years of settled law and precedent that many of those justices themselves said that they would uphold when they were being questioned in their confirmation hearings.”

Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion said the Supreme Court should also reconsider the decisions in the Obergefell and Lawrence cases that extended marriage equality to same-sex couples and the right to private, consensual sex. Mizeur said the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling that overturned Roe “has huge implications for the LGBTQ community as well.”

“We’re next in line for those rights to potentially be overturned,” she said.

“Now in Maryland, we’re okay because we have abortion rights enshrined in law here and we’ve passed marriage equality and it was affirmed in a citizen referendum here,” added Mizeur.

Mizeur said she supports the codification of abortion rights in federal law.

“I absolutely refuse to sit back and allow coat hanger and back alley abortions to threaten women’s lives again,” she said. “This is serious stuff, and democracy dies with complacency. And I think that’s what had been happening for a really long time. This has all just been a giant wake up call. For those who believed it didn’t matter whether or not they were involved in the process, that they absolutely have to consistently be engaged involved, voicing their concerns, and voting their values at the ballot box.”

President Joe Biden has said he supports calls to end the filibuster to codify federal abortion rights. Mizeur told the Blade that she too backs such a move.

“It is such a challenge because of the makeup of the Senate right now,” she said. “All we can do is to continue to grab our pitchforks and take to the streets and commit and continue to demand this, but I absolutely am somebody is in support of that.”

Mizeur also spoke about her support of the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights law.

“I would like to think that it has even more energy and momentum behind it now,” she told the Blade. “Because similar to how we’re sitting here, dealing with a post-Roe world, we have to be worried about the LGBTQ community what it means to potentially be in a post Obergefell world and get in front of that and in law protections, not just for marriage equality, but for all the other issues that are encompassed in the Equality Act.”

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Maryland

Two new gay Md. delegates outline agenda

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From left, Kris Fair and Joseph Vogel (Photos courtesy of Kris Fair and Joseph Vogel)

The two openly gay men who were elected to the Maryland House of Delegates last week spoke with the Washington Blade about their campaigns and what they plan to do once they’re in office.

State Del.-elect Joseph Vogel will represent District 17 in Montgomery County. He said he is ready to bring a new direction to Annapolis.

“In this campaign, we listened,” Vogel said. “Now I’m bringing their voices to Annapolis and gonna fight for the issues that are most important to the folks here in my district.”

Vogel attended community events, held house parties and even went door to door to understand what his voters wanted out of him. 

One of his most memorable moments from the campaign came after his election.

He was immediately overwhelmed with messages from people across all of Maryland and across the U.S., saying how much his election means to them. Having an openly gay Latino elected official — Vogel was born in Uruguay and came to Maryland with his family when he was 3-years-old — has brought representation into politics that hasn’t previously been there. 

“I think now people are really excited and really hopeful about my time in office, I’m just committed to making sure that I don’t let them down and that I work hard and really fight the good fight,” Vogel said.

Now that he’s been elected to office, Vogel’s agenda includes addressing mental health issues in school, especially the lack of mental health professionals. He also hopes to address climate change.

Vogel hopes that, along with the issues he’s tackling first, he leaves office as a delegate who was known to be accessible and approachable.

“I’m going to fight for you, no matter your age. I’m going to fight for you, no matter your sexuality,” he said. “I’m going to fight for you regardless of your race, religion, ethnicities, where you live. I’m in this to fight for our entire community.”

Kris Fair is first openly gay lawmaker from Western Md.

State Del.-elect Kris Fair has had a long career in the world of politics and nonprofits, including as executive director of Frederick Center, an advocacy and support organization for LGBTQ people. His campaign to represent District 3 in Frederick County proved successful.

This victory did not come without hard work. 

Fair knocked on 11,500 doors with now state Sen.-elect Karen Lewis Young during the primaries and then turned around to hit another 5,000-6,000 once the general election campaign began. 

“There are so many people that are at the door that are just like ‘I feel so disconnected from the process, I feel like there’s nobody here to represent me,’” Fair told the Blade. “So instead of shoving the issues down and trying to force them to tell me whether or not they’re going to vote for me, which is an incredibly awkward 30 seconds, instead of just trying we tried to open up dialogue and we had an incredible response rate.”

Fair did not have the same response to his sexual orientation as Vogel. 

While Vogel saw the conversation around it as an addition to his campaign, Fair’s sexual orientation became a major talking point during his conversations with parents about the Frederick County Board of Education. Discussing things like the LGBTQ-specific curriculum with which that parents have an issue became a big pill for Fair to swallow because he had to repeatedly hear attacks against his sexual orientation. 

Luckily, not all moments on Fair’s campaign were as solemn. 

Returning from an LGBTQ conference in Dallas, Fair sat next to an Indian man on the plane and began to talk with him. He learned this stranger’s life story: He was in the U.S. on a work visa and was visiting his sister in Frederick.

Fair offered the man a ride once they landed. 

“His sister heard that and said, ‘You’re about to get in some psycho’s car’ and my husband heard that and said, ‘You’re about to put a psycho in your car,’” Fair said.

Arriving at his new friend’s home, Fair unknowingly walked into a 60th birthday celebration for the man’s grandfather. He was invited inside. After standing around and chatting for some time, he really started to understand how much he was missing by not having constant communication or conversations with his voters, he never had the opportunity to create the vulnerability or break down the walls. 

Moving past elections, Fair is ready to tackle hard issues like having a comprehensive constituent service system, giving citizens access to government funded entities like the DMV and help these people get what they need. He also hopes to implement an output treatment model in Maryland, giving those struggling with mental health issues an option to remove themselves from their current home and move into a treatment center. 

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Maryland

Two gay men elected to Md. House of Delegates

LGBTQ incumbents across state won re-election

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From left, Kris Fair and Joseph Vogel (Photos courtesy of Fair and Vogel)

Two openly gay men won their Maryland House of Delegates races on Tuesday.

Kris Fair won his race in District 3 in Frederick County with 22.78 percent of the vote. He is the first openly gay man from Western Maryland elected to the General Assembly. 

Joseph Vogel will represent District 17 in Montgomery County after he won with 26.59 percent of the vote.

State Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore County) and state Dels. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County), Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery County) and Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery County) won their respective races.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk Karen Bushell, who is a lesbian, won re-election. Montgomery County Council Vice President Evan Glass won an at-large seat with 19.33 percent of the vote.

Bisexual woman makes history in Prince George’s County

Krystal Oriadha on Tuesday became the first openly bisexual person elected to the Prince George’s County Council when she won her District 7 race with 95.33 percent of the vote. Pamela Boozer-Strother, a member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, won re-election with 79.16 percent of the vote.

Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane won re-election.

April Christina Curley lost her race for the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. She would have been the first openly genderqueer person elected in the city if she had won.

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Maryland

Md. to legalize recreational marijuana

Question 4 passed by 65.51-34.49 percent margin

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(Photo courtesy of NORML)

Voters in Maryland on Tuesday approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

Question 4, which sought to amend the Maryland Constitution, passed by a 65.51-34.49 percent margin.

Maryland will join Virginia, New Jersey, California, Colorado and more than a dozen other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The nation’s capital has also legalized recreational marijuana.

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