Candidates Experience Learning Curves in 1st District Primary Contest


Maryland’s primary election is coming right up on Tuesday, April 3, and early voting begins on March 24. In District One, incumbent Republican Andy Harris is running unopposed in the primary for his congressional seat. Three Democratic candidates will face off on April 3 for the opportunity to run against Andy Harris in the general election. The Spy could not reach candidate Kim Letke, but both John LaFerla and Wendy Rosen, as well as their respective campaign managers, Tom Martin and Dan Ford, spoke about the progress of their campaigns.

Both Rosen and LaFerla are raising money, but their campaign managers admit to running their campaigns on a “shoestring,” which forces them to be creative about reaching voters. Both have been interviewed by newspapers and they have participated in fairly well- attended candidates’ forums in every county in District One. Dan Ford remarked that democratic primaries are usually quite civil and these forums have been especially civil.

Wendy Rosen rented a booth at the Ocean City Home Show and met hundreds of Democrats and “disgruntled” Republicans there. She is also canvassing door-to-door and using various kinds of social media and mailing lists that she has developed over many years in her business as an advocate for artists, small business owners, and people in the “Made in America” movement. She has bought some print ads and has been interviewed on public access television stations.

John LaFerla is “going after every vote” and “burning the candle at both ends,” Tom Martin observed. Through get-togethers, Democratic Party functions, direct mail, phone banks, ads, and signs, John is trying to reach the 745,000 people who live in District One. “Traditionally, our district has been centrist and John is a common sense centrist,” Tom Martin added.

Both LaFerla and Rosen have extensive political and policy-making experience, but neither has run for elective office before, and they are experiencing some surprises. For Rosen, the sheer physical size of District One has been somewhat daunting. “This is the second largest congressional district in land area east of the Mississippi,” she says. She plans to bicycle all throughout the district during the summer, savoring the rural and small-town character of the place. She has also been surprised that many Republican women are showing a strong interest in her campaign.

John LaFerla, a medical doctor specializing in gynecology and obstetrics, has been surprised at the Republican opposition to contraceptives in the Obama health care plan. He has also been surprised that many people ask questions about things that are not in a congressman’s power to change, such as state and local issues.

LaFerla and Rosen have similar views on most social issues, so they have had to work hard to distinguish themselves in voters’ minds. LaFerla emphasizes his broad experience in life, his experience as a physician engaged in public health and health policy, as well as his experience as an effective leader in Maryland Democratic Party affairs. Rosen emphasizes her experience creating jobs in small businesses, as well as her experience advocating for small business on Capitol Hill.

Spy readers can learn more about each candidate by visiting their websites: or


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