2010 Maryland 1st District Race: Democrat Frank Kratovil Playing Defense Against Republican Andy Harris

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Maryland's 1st Congressional District
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Maryland's 1st Congressional District

Frank Kratovil capitalized on Republican divisions in 2008 to unexpectedly take Wayne Gilchrist's district, and he's worked to demonstrate he deserves the seat. However, two years is a lifetime in politics, and it seems doubtful that in a rematch against Andy Harris, Kratovil will survive this year.

Candidates for Maryland's 1st Congressional District (two-year term)

(This district includes the entire Eastern Shore of Maryland and parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties. See a boundary map here.)

Candidate: Frank Kratovil

Party: Democrat

Political experience: After becoming a Representative in 2008, Kratovil was appointed to the Agriculture Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. He's a Blue Dog Coalition Democrat.

Professional experience: Kratovil was previously the state's attorney for Queen Anne's County. He held an appointment as a judicial law clerk for the Circuit County of Prince George's County and was later an assistant state's attorney in Prince George's County. He was then appointed assistant state's attorney in Queen Anne's County.

Key issues: Kratovil voted against the health care bill and received an "A" rating from the NRA in 2008, giving him his marks as a conservative Democrat. He wants to see a balanced budget and says he has voted against $6 billion in spending.

He thinks immigration should be an enforcement issue, not an amnesty issue, and he wants to make it easier for employers who play by the rules to hire, according to his website.

Endorsements: Kratovil has been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club. Rep. Gilchrest backed Rob Fisher, Andy Harris' competitor, in the 2010 primaries, and he had endorsed Kratovil in 2008.

Chances of maintaining his seat: Kratovil is considered one of the most endangered Democrat in the 2010 elections. There are several reasons for this. He was elected in a district that widely favors Republicans, with a Cook Partisan Index rating of R+13. Though he voted against the stimulus and health care reform, it hasn't helped him secure his seat. He has a slight funding advantage, according to OpenSecrets.org. Kratovil has $1,345,504 left while Harris has $944,197 left for campaigning as of late September.

Candidate: Andy Harris

Party: Republican

Political experience: Harris has been a state senator for 12 years and previously ran for Congress against Kratovil in 2008.

Professional experience: Harris served for 17 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve, including service during Desert Storm. He was a Commanding Officer of the Johns Hopkins Naval Reserve Medical Unit, and he reached the rank of commander. He is also a physician.

Key issues: Harris feels the health care insurance system is in need of repair by putting the focus on cost and competition, price transparency and tax credits along with expanded medical savings accounts. He favors tort reform, as he states in the issues section of his website.

He supports the traditional definition of marriage, feels terrorists are not entitled to the rights of American citizens and wants to open ANWR and more of the continental U.S. to drilling.

Endorsements: Harris is a National Republican Congressional Committee "Young Gun" and has been endorsed by former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold and Harford County Executive David Craig.

Chances of unseating Frank Kratovil: Unlike in 2008 when he lost by only a few percentage points, Harris stands a good chance of winning this district in 2010 and is favored to win. (Polling, so far, is tight and mostly partisan.) He still had to get through a tough primary, but won anyway and has the prevailing anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat mood in his favor. It's to his disadvantage that he lives in Baltimore County, a part of the district but not a part of the Eastern Shore that makes up the bulk of the district. But that probably won't dissuade too many Republican voters.

Key Differences between Andy Harris and Frank Kratovil

Protecting the Chesapeake Bay: Unique to most districts, voters in this region are very concerned about the ecological and economic health of the Chesapeake Bay, which provides tourist and seafood income. Kratovil feels protecting the bay must include protecting family farmers who would be impacted by mandates. He argues that if they are pushed out of business, more sprawl would take place and that would impact the bay just as badly. He supports oyster restoration programs and introduced supports legislation that would expand Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, create a new Harriet Tubman National Park and improve the Coastal Bays program. Harris says that bureaucratic red tape, along with over fishing, sediment runoff and excess nitrogen and phosphorus threaten the health of the bay. He'd protect forests in the watershed, address urban run-off, upgrade sewage treatment plants and investigate new ways to treat fishery diseases.

Jobs: Harris wants a complete change in course to restore prosperity. He'd like a fairer, flatter tax system and would cut capital gains and corporate income tax to achieve those goals. He'd end the marriage penalty and death tax and encourage tax cuts for small businesses. Kratovil worked to pursue solutions to a problem with crab processing involving federal guest worker programs, solutions he claims helped save hundreds of jobs. He also introduced a bill to quadruple the tax deduction for small business start-up costs and worked to protect auto dealerships that were targeted to close by GM and Chrysler.

Maryland's 1st U.S. Congressional District

Location: The Maryland's 1st District borders Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia, much of it rural. It includes all of the Eastern Shore and parts of the upper Chesapeake Bay counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford.

2008 results: Kratovil beat Harris 49.1 percent to 48.3 percent.

Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 83 percent of the district is white, 11.3 percent black, 2.5 percent Hispanic, 1.6 percent Asian and 0.2 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.

The Cook Partisan Index gives the Maryland's 1st District a rating of R+13, awarding a strong advantage to Republican candidates in this district.

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