With his District 1 left intact after a redistricting challenge, Republican Rep. Andy Harris, who has represented the Eastern Shore in the U.S. House since 2008, has drawn no GOP primary challenger this year.
However, on the Democratic side, Heather Mizeur and R. David Harden are facing off to be the general election challenger for Harris, and Libertarian Daniel Frank Thibeault is also running and will appear on the general election ballot.
Delmarva Now/The Daily Times in Salisbury sent questionnaires to each of the candidates seeking the 1st District seat. Included were basic biographical questions, as well as opportunities to list websites and social media accounts so voters can learn beyond just answers to the questions we asked. Responses were limited to 500 characters — the equivalent of more than two tweets. Responses are published unedited.
The questionnaire was sent in mid-June, and follow-ups were made with those who hadn't responded.
Below, you will find biographical information followed by Q&A responses:
Meet the candidates
Heather R. Mizeur
Occupation: Non-profit leader/farmer
Primary residence: Kent County
R. David Harden
Occupation: Managing director, Georgetown Strategy Group, retired Senior Foreign Service Officer, assistant administrator, Bureau Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (Presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed.)
Primary residence: Carroll County
(unopposed in primary)
Primary residence: Cambridge
Daniel Frank Thibeault
(Nominated by party to appear in the general election only)
Occupation: Utilities worker
Primary residence: Elkton
What makes you the best candidate for this office?
Mizeur: We need a leader who will turn down the partisanship and turn up the problem-solving. For a decade, Andy Harris has preferred far-right talking points over showing up to do the work. I’m different: a bridge-builder, policy expert and farmer-conservationist with a comprehensive plan to improve our economy. I am running on my record of bipartisan wins as a state legislator, like expanding health care access and protecting the environment. I will bring my brand of energetic leadership to Congress.
Harden: I represented America abroad serving in the toughest places on earth. I understand threats to our national security whether from home or abroad. As a small business owner, I recognize the challenges facing our economy — from high inflation and soaring gas prices to a shortage of workers. As a husband and father, I am deeply concerned with the assault by our Supreme Court on reproductive rights. Finally, as a Maryland son and moderate, I can defeat Andy Harris and end his destructive career.
Harris: My record of support in Congress for the issues important to the Lower Shore economy — especially farming, poultry, seafood processing, education and tourism. My appointment as the highest ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee Agriculture Subcommittee puts me in a position to help the Shore.
Thibeault: I come from the lower middle class and understand the real problems most Americans are facing, I would be able to connect better with those in my region then career politicians.
What is the top issue facing this office, and what are your plans to address it?
Mizeur: Our top issue is the one I’ve built my campaign around: addressing working families’ struggle with rising costs and economic insecurity. Voters tell me they want a leader who listens and understands what they’re going through. That’s why I wrote EconomyFirst, a detailed, hyper-local plan to lower costs, boost manufacturing, match skills to jobs, make housing more affordable and put more money in your pocket. Ensuring that the economy works for working families will always be my top priority.
Harden: The soaring costs of daily essentials, from gas and groceries to transportation and housing, have taken a devastating toll on the families and small business owners. I will work aggressively to increase the short-term supply of gasoline while increasing our domestic production of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. I will improve our supply chain by reinvesting in our aging highways, bridges and railroads, and unlike my opponent, I will never vote to raise your taxes.
Harris: The cost of gasoline, diesel, fertilizer, food in the grocery store and everywhere else is devastating our families. America has to regain its position as the leading producer of oil and natural gas — so that we can bring down the cost of energy.
Thibeault: I feel our current major issue is the economy. We are feeling the repercussions of the COVID lockdowns and we are still creating more regulations to prevent our industries from thriving. If elected I would push for less regulations across the board to allow new businesses to start up and fill the supply gaps we have.
What steps would you take to increase transparency in your office?
Mizeur: Transparency and openness are critical, and my campaign has been a template for how I will govern. I employ a web platform that lets me answer questions from any voter who wants to reach out, and I will continue this approach in Congress. All bills and votes will be easy to find on my website, which will include a portal for public input. Another mark of transparency is being a constant presence in the district, which shows people I am accessible. That will be a huge change for this district.
Harden: Unlike Congressman Harris, I will convene regular town hall meetings throughout the First District. The press and public will be invited, and these meetings will be live-streamed. In addition, I will hold regular virtual meetings with our district’s residents and media, where I will share details about important congressional issues and share my position. Finally, I plan to better inform First District residents about the revenue sources and spending categories that comprise our federal budget.
Harris: While in office, I have held dozens of in-person town hall meetings throughout the First District. In addition, I have held dozens of telephone town hall meetings so that people who can't get to a live town hall meeting get a chance to ask me about issues important to them.
Thibeault: I feel in this day in age with technology it should be easy for anyone to see what their representatives are doing. If our law enforcement members can have their whole days recorded, the politicians should take it a step further and have ours streamed.
How do you plan on working across the aisle to bring federal dollars to the Eastern Shore?
Mizeur: Here, the contrast between me and Andy Harris could not be more stark. He is a far-right ideologue, while I build bipartisan consensus (just ask my former GOP State House colleagues). He neglects the district, making not a single request in the 2021 budget process to repair our aging roads and bridges. My EconomyFirst plan identifies many opportunities to claim or compete for funds available in the federal infrastructure law to improve transportation, water systems, broadband access and more.
Harden: Given the possibility that I will serve in an era of divided government, I will build positive relationships and shared goals with both Republicans and Democrats. For example, I will represent a rural district that is heavily reliant upon agriculture, seafood and defense. This provides an opportunity to advocate for policies and projects often supported by Republicans. My other priorities, like investing in our local law enforcement and community colleges, transcend partisan differences.
Harris: As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, and especially on the Agriculture Subcommittee, puts me in a position to help make sure that the Eastern Shore receives its fair share of budget dollars.
Thibeault: As a libertarian, I wouldn't be on one side or the other I would stand between the two and be able to chase whatever my district needs the most.
What are the biggest challenges facing the Eastern Shore? How do you plan on addressing them?
Mizeur: For many people, the economy just isn’t working; my EconomyFirst plan (see above) offers detailed solutions in 10 key areas. Another big challenge is the threat to our environment and livelihoods from climate change. My Agri-Climate plan brings conservationists, farmers, and watermen together around innovative ideas that benefit all. Finally, our civic life is torn by polarization. I am skilled at building bridges, evidenced by my long history of reaching across the aisle to solve problems.
Harden: Too many of our children must leave home to find good-paying jobs and build successful careers. I will work to eliminate this “digital divide” by ensuring access to high-speed Internet. By collaborating with state and local governments, I will ensure that our colleges and trade schools have the resources to train our children for the future economy. Finally, I will work with the private and public sectors to attract remote workers with better schools, parks and other essential infrastructure.
1) The price of gas and diesel — we have to once again become the world leader in oil and natural gas production.
2) Runaway inflation — which is hurting our families. We have to stop runaway spending that results in the printing of trillions of dollars.
3) Workforce training — make sure that we have the skills in our workforce necessary to support our economy.
4) Give parents a voice in school curriculum.
5) Stop the flow of fentanyl across our open southern border.
6) Support law enforcement.
Thibeault: I feel one of the biggest things that needs to change in the Eastern Shore is our education policies. We need to open up school choice and allow parents to have a greater say in what a child is taught.
This article originally appeared on Salisbury Daily Times: U.S. House, District 1: Meet candidates in primary election 2022