Andrew Peter Harris (born January 25, 1957) is an American politician and physician who has been the U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 1st congressional district since 2011. The district includes the entire Eastern Shore, as well as several eastern exurbs of Baltimore. He is currently the only Republican member of Maryland’s congressional delegation. Harris previously served in the Maryland Senate.

Early life, education, and career

Harris’s father was Zoltán Harris, an anesthesiologist who was born in Miskolc, Hungary, in 1911 and emigrated to the United States in 1950; his mother, Irene (Koczerzuk), was born in Zarice, Poland.[2][3][4] Harris was born in New York, grew up in Queens, and attended Regis High School in Manhattan.[5]

Harris earned his B.S. in biology (1977) and his M.D. (1980) from The Johns Hopkins University. The University’s Bloomberg School of Hygiene and Public Health conferred the M.H.S. in 1995 in Health policy and management and also Health Finance & Management.[2]

Harris served in the Navy Medical Corps and the U.S. Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander on active duty during Operation Desert Storm and currently serves as a commander.[2] He has worked as an anesthesiologist, as an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, and as chief of obstetric anesthesiology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Harris also served as commanding officer for the Johns Hopkins Naval Reserve Medical Unit from 1989 to 1992.[2]

Maryland General Assembly

Harris was first elected to the Maryland Senate in 1998 for District 9, including part of Baltimore County.[6] He defeated his predecessor, Minority Leader F. Vernon Boozer, in the 1998 primary election.[7] A major factor in the race was Boozer’s role in derailing an attempt to ban partial-birth abortion a year earlier; the bill’s sponsor, fellow state senator Larry Haines, supported Harris’s primary bid.[8] In the general election he defeated Democratic challenger Anthony O. Blades.

His district was later redrawn to be District 7, representing parts of Harford counties, succeeding Norman Stone.[9] He defeated Democratic challenger Diane DeCarlo in the general election in 2002,[10] and from 2003 to 2006 served as the minority whip.[2] In 2006, he won re-election, this time defeating Patricia A. Foerster.[11] He was succeeded by J. B. Jennings.[12]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2008

Harris defeated incumbent Republican Wayne Gilchrest and State Senator E.J. Pipkin in the Republican primary for Maryland’s 1st congressional district.[13] Harris ran to the right of Gilchrest, one of the moderate Republicans in the House. He explained that he was upset with Gilchrest’s decision to support a Democrat-sponsored bill setting a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq and suspected that many of his constituents also felt that way. He was endorsed by the Club for Growth,[14] which raised nearly $250,000 for him,[15] and by former governor Bob Ehrlich,[16] seven of 10 state senators who represent parts of the district, and House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell.[17] His general election opponent Frank Kratovil criticized the Club for Growth’s policies, and Harris for having its support.[18] Gilchrest endorsed Kratovil for the general election.[19]

On paper, Harris had a strong advantage in the general election due to its Republican lean. Although Democrats and Republicans are nearly tied in registration, the district has a strong tinge of social conservatism that favors Republicans. It had been in Republican hands for all but 14 years since 1947, although Kratovil received a significant boost when Gilchrest endorsed him over Harris.[19]

On election night, Kratovil led Harris by 915 votes. After two rounds of counting absentee ballots, Kratovil’s lead grew to 2,000 votes. Forecasting that there was little chance for Harris to close the gap, most media outlets declared Kratovil the winner on the night of November 7.[20][21] Harris conceded on November 11.

Harris dominated his longtime base in Baltimore’s heavily Republican eastern suburbs, which account for most of the district’s share of Baltimore County. However, he failed to carry a single county on the Eastern Shore. Proving just how Republican this district still was, John McCain carried it with nearly 60 percent of the vote, which was his best showing in the state.

2010

Harris ran again in the 1st District in 2010. He defeated Rob Fisher, a conservative businessman, in the primary.

Harris’s primary win set up a rematch against Kratovil. Libertarian Richard James Davis and Independent Jack Wilson also ran. In the November 2 general election Harris defeated Kratovil by 14%.

2012

The National Journal‘s Cook Political Report named Harris one of the top 10 Republicans most vulnerable to redistricting in 2012, noting that Maryland Democrats could redraw Harris’s home in Cockeysville out of the 1st.[22] Instead, Roscoe Bartlett‘s 6th District was redrawn.[23] Most of Bartlett’s shares of Harford and Baltimore counties were drawn into the 1st, making this already strongly Republican district even more so.

Harris was re-elected to a second term, defeating Democratic challenger Wendy Rosen with 67 percent of the vote. Rosen had withdrawn from the race after being confronted with evidence that she’d voted in both Maryland and Florida in the 2006 and 2008 elections.[citation needed] Rosen had property in Florida, and Maryland law allowed property owners to vote in local elections even if they live elsewhere. However, her Florida voting registration reportedly also gave her access to state and federal elections there, which was not allowed by Maryland law.[24][25] However, at the time she withdrew, ballots had already been printed. John LaFerla, who had narrowly lost to Rosen in the primary, was endorsed as Rosen’s replacement, but could only be a write-in.

2014

Harris defeated Democratic nominee Bill Tilghman for a third term, taking over 70 percent of the vote.[26][27]

2016

Harris ran for reelection in 2016. In the Republican primary, he faced three challengers and won 78.4 percent of the vote.[28][29] Former Maryland state delegates member Mike Smigiel came in second place with 10.8 percent of the vote.[29][30] Smigiel ran because he opposed Harris’ strident opposition to marijuana decriminalization in the District of Columbia.[30][31]

In the general election, Harris won another term with 229,135 votes (67.8%),[32] defeating Democratic nominee Joe Werner, a “little-known Harford County attorney and perennial candidate”[33] who received 94,776 votes (28%).[32] Libertarian candidate Matt Beers received 14,207 votes (4.2%).[32] In February 2016, Harris was the first congressman to endorse candidate Ben Carson for the Republican nomination for president.[34] Carson dropped out two weeks later following a poor performance in the Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 primaries.[35]

2018

While Harris was running for reelection, the Washington Post ran a story accusing him of ethics violations.[36] In a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics, Maryland Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews alleged Harris might have violated ethics rules requiring members to report the source of spousal income and assets.[36] In the statement, Matthews said that it appeared that Andy Harris paid his wife thousands of dollars from his campaign, then tried to hide it from government ethics regulators.[36]

In response, the Harris campaign said the omission was a mistake and the congressman amended his filing once he became aware of the error.[36]

In the general election, Harris ran against Jesse Colvin and won with 60 percent of the vote.[37][38]

2020

Harris defeated Democratic nominee Mia Mason for a sixth term, taking over 63 percent of the vote.[39]

Committee assignments

In October 2015, Harris was named to serve on the Select Investigative Panel on Planned Parenthood.[40]

Caucus memberships

Political positions

According to Baltimore Magazine, Harris holds far-right political positions on many issues.[43]

Affordable Care Act

Harris opposes the Affordable Care Act and voted to repeal it.[44]

At a closed-door employee benefits briefing for new congressmen during the November 2010 freshman orientation, Harris was surprised to learn that the Federal employee health benefit plan would leave the new congressmen and their staffers without coverage until the following pay period, 28 days after inauguration. Concerned about this gap in coverage, he asked whether new government employees could purchase temporary coverage to fill this gap. “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” he said through his spokeswoman, Anna Nix.[45][46] Through a spokesman, his defeated opponent, Frank Kratovil, re-phrased the statement, characterizing the original question as a “demand” for special treatment and for access to the benefits he opposed in the new law.[47] Furthermore, “Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added an aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option that he called “a gateway to socialized medicine“.[48]

Debt ceiling

On October 16, 2013, Harris voted against the motion to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.[49]

2020 presidential election

After Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election and President Donald Trump refused to concede while making false claims of fraud, Harris defended Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.[50] Harris falsely claimed there were “large-scale voting irregularities” and “secret, unobserved vote counting in the swing states.”[50]

In December 2020, Harris was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives who signed an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election.[50] The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of the election held by another state.[51][52][53]

Storming of the Capitol

In an interview with WBAL-TV just after evacuating the Capitol after it was stormed, Harris downplayed the violence of the riot, saying “Obviously, later we heard there was a gunshot, but other than that, there was no indication that this was a truly violent protest, as violent as one as you would worry about.” Harris also said he understood the frustrations of the rioters and repeated false claims of election fraud.[43]

On January 6, 2021, after 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Harris was involved in a verbal altercation with Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL) on the House floor after taking offense to Rep. Conor Lamb’s criticism of House Republicans for pushing unfounded conspiracy theories.[54] During an interview the next day, Harris falsely claimed that Leftist provocateurs were behind the storming of the Capitol.[43]

Foreign affairs

Harris has defended Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, an authoritarian EU leader[55] and Vladimir Putin ally[56] who has pledged to turn his country into an “illiberal democracy“. Harris criticized the State Departments’ efforts to support free and independent media in the country.[57]

Opposition to D.C. cannabis reform

In 2014, Harris was the leading congressional critic of marijuana decriminalization in the District of Columbia bill, and led efforts in Congress to block decriminalization from taking effect.[58] Harris’s amendment led to a call from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to boycott tourism to Rep. Harris’s district and the boycott of Maryland’s 1st congressional district,[59] as well as an online campaign requesting that D.C. area businesses refuse him service at their establishments.[60] In November 2014, D.C. residents voted in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis for adults with 68% in favor.[61] Despite this, Harris said he would use “all resources available to a member of Congress to stop this action”.[62] On December 9, 2014, congressional leaders announced a deal on a spending bill that included language that will prohibit the D.C. referendum from taking effect. Harris said that “the Constitution gives Congress the ultimate oversight about what happens in the federal district.”[58] Harris says that he believes that cannabis is a gateway drug[63] and that it has no proven medicinal use.[64]

The online publication ATTN: wrote that one of Harris’ campaign contributors had a financial interest in keeping marijuana illegal. Harris’ third largest campaign donor is the pharmaceutical corporation Emergent BioSolutions, based in Rockville, Maryland. One of Emergent’s products is Epsil, advertised as “a fast-acting treatment that reduces the pain associated with oral mucositis,” which is a common complication of chemotherapy from cancer treatment. ATTN: wrote that according to medical studies, marijuana can reduce the adverse effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients, and substitute for the more dangerous opioids. In states where medical marijuana has been legalized, the number of pharmaceutical pain killers prescribed has dropped significantly.[65]

Maya Angelou

In 2016, Harris opposed legislation to rename a North Carolina post office in honor of poet Maya Angelou.[66] Harris said that her support for communism disqualified her for the honor. “She supported the Communist revolution in Cuba, and my parents escaped a communist country,” Harris explained.[66]

QAnon

In 2020, Harris voted “present” on a bipartisan bill to denounce QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory. The bipartisan resolution passed 371–18 with Harris being the only “present” vote.[67]

Roy Moore

During the primary race of the 2017 special election to fill the vacated Senate seat of Jeff Sessions, Harris endorsed Roy Moore in his successful bid to defeat incumbent Sen. Luther Strange. Following the news of Moore’s sexual abuse scandal, Harris did not withdraw his endorsement, saying that he would continue to support Moore unless the allegations were proven to be true.[68]

COVID-19 response

Harris opposed stay-at-home orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 2, 2020, he addressed protesters in Salisbury attempting to pressure Maryland governor Larry Hogan to lift restrictions, saying, “I am a physician. Let me tell you something: It is safe to begin to reopen Maryland.”[69]

Harris opposed prohibitions on indoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic.[50]

Net neutrality

Harris does not support net neutrality, characterizing the FCC vote to remove net neutrality as “eliminating burdensome and unnecessary regulations.”[70]

Second impeachment of Donald Trump

Harris was one of four representatives who did not cast a vote regarding the second impeachment of Donald Trump on January 13, 2021.[71]

Foreign policy

In 2021, during a House vote on a measure condemning the Myanmar coup d’état that overwhelmingly passed, Harris was among fourteen Republican Representatives who voted against it, for reasons reported to be unclear.[72]

U.S. Capitol Police

In June 2021, Harris was among 21 House Republicans who voted against a resolution to give the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on January 6.[73]

Electoral history

YearOfficeElectionSubjectPartyVotes%OpponentPartyVotes%OpponentPartyVotes%
1998Maryland Senate, District 9[74]GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican24,81461%Anthony O. BladesDemocratic15,78039%
2002Maryland Senate, District 7[75]GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican23,37457.8%Dianne DeCarloDemocratic16,99142.1%Write-ins440.1%
2006Maryland Senate, District 7[76]GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican23,45356.6%Patricia A. FoersterDemocratic17,97243.3%Write-ins350.1%
2008U.S. House of Representatives, MD-1[13]PrimaryAndy HarrisRepublican33,62743.4%Wayne GilchrestRepublican25,62433.1%E.J. PipkinRepublican15,70020.3%
2008U.S. House of Representatives, MD-1[77]GeneralFrank KratovilDemocratic177,06549.1%Andy HarrisRepublican174,21348.3%Richard James DavisLibertarian8,8732.5%Write-ins350.1%
2010U.S. House of Representatives, MD-1[78]GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican155,11854.1%Frank KratovilDemocratic120,40042.0%Richard James DavisLibertarian10,8763.8%Write-ins4180.15%
2012U.S. House of Representatives, MD-1GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican212,20463.4%Wendy RosenDemocratic92,81227.5%Muir Wayne BodaLibertarian12,8573.8%Write-ins17,8875.3%
2014U.S. House of Representatives, MD-1GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican176,34270.4%Bill TilghmanDemocratic73,84329.5%Write-ins2330.1%
2016U.S. House of Representatives, MD-1[79]GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican242,57467.0%Joe WernerDemocratic103,62228.6%Matt BeersLibertarian15,3704.2%Write-ins5310.1%
2018U.S. House of Representatives, MD-1[80]GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican183,66260.0%Jesse ColvinDemocratic116,63138.1%Jenica MartinLibertarian5,7441.9%Write-ins1490.0%
2020U.S. House of Representatives, MD-1[81]GeneralAndy HarrisRepublican250,90163.4%Mia MasonDemocratic143,87736.4%Write-ins7460.2%

Personal life

Harris was married for 30 years to Sylvia “Cookie” Harris, who died of a heart attack on August 28, 2014.[82] He and the late Mrs. Harris have five children. He remarried in July 2017 to Nicole Beus, a Baltimore County political and marketing consultant.[50][83]

Harris resides in Cockeysville, Maryland, and considered himself a “citizen-legislator,” having maintained his medical practice while in the State Senate.[84]

Harris has been an active member in the community as a member of the Knights of Columbus, an officer in the Thornleigh Neighborhood Improvement Association (vice-president, 1984–85; president, 1985–86), a member of the Board of Directors of the Sherwood Community Association, 1987–91, and served as Vice President of St. Joseph’s School Home-School Association from 1992 to 1994. Also, he has been on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Leadership Council, 1995–98, a member of the North Central Republican Club (treasurer, 1997–98; vice-president, 1998), and finally as a Delegate to the Republican Party National Convention, 2004. Harris has received the Dr. Henry P. and M. Page Laughlin Distinguished Public Officer Award from the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland in 2001.[84]

2021 gun incident

On January 21, 2021, Harris tried to covertly enter the floor of the United States House of Representatives with a gun, setting off a metal detector on his way in. This was in violation of new security measures adopted after the storming of the U.S. Capitol. Harris was not allowed to enter and returned 10 minutes later without a gun, at which point he was allowed entry.[85] U.S. Capitol Police began an investigation into the incident.[86]

Ivermectin prescriptions

In October 2021, Harris said on a radio show he prescribed ivermectin to constituents for treatment of COVID-19.[87] Currently, ivermectin is used to treat parasites in livestock and river blindness in humans. It is not approved by the FDA for treatment of COVID-19. During a discussion of vaccine mandates by the House Freedom Caucus in November 2021, Harris said that a complaint was filed against him with a physicians board for prescribing ivermectin.[88]

See also

References

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  4. ^ “Irene Koczerzuk Harris”.
  5. ^ Memoli, Mike. “Mr. Harris Goes to Washington”. Regis Alumni News. 75 (2 (Winter 2011)): 10–11. Archived from the original on December 1, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
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  8. ^ Partial Birth’ Ban Set to Pass in Md”. The Washington Post. March 11, 1999.
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  84. ^ a b Maryland Senate Archives Biography
  85. ^ “GOP Rep. Andy Harris Tries to Bring Gun into House Chamber”. January 21, 2021.
  86. ^ Barker, Jeff. “U.S. Capitol Police investigate after report Rep. Andy Harris brought gun to House chamber checkpoint”. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  87. ^ https://www.baltimoresun.com/coronavirus/bs-md-20211021-a5di4kfddfetdfqa37u2pvzrfe-story.html
  88. ^ Barker, Jeff (November 16, 2021). “Rep. Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist, says complaint was filed against him for prescribing ivermectin to treat COVID-19”. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 16, 2021.

External links

Maryland Senate
Preceded by

Member of the Maryland Senate
from the 9th district

1998–2003
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of the Maryland Senate
from the 7th district

2003–2011
Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland’s 1st congressional district

2011–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
138th
Succeeded by