Con­gres­sional can­di­dates gear­ing up to face Hoyer

The Calvert Recorder - - News - By TAY­LOR DEVILLE tdev­ille@somd­ Twit­ter: @Tay­lorEn­tNews

Some of the can­di­dates chal­leng­ing Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) in his bid for an­other term in Congress are not hope­ful about their chances, but each has his own rea­sons for launch­ing a cam­paign.

Pat Elder, the Green Party nom­i­nee from St. Mary’s County, said he de­cided to en­ter the race af­ter Hoyer’s de­fense of Is­raeli mil­i­tary ac­tion in Gaza. Elder said he is seek­ing to draw at­ten­tion to a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing cam­paign fi­nance re­form, shut­ting down the coal-fired plants at Mor­gan­town and Chalk Point, which ac­count for “47 per­cent of the coal be­ing burned in the state,” “ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic on the Navy’s dis­re­gard of the en­vi­ron­ment,” cut­ting “bloated mil­i­tary bud­gets,” rais­ing taxes on the wealthy and pro­vid­ing Medi­care for all.

These “is­sues would never be dis­cussed if you didn’t have a third-party” can­di­date, Elder said.

Al­though he has never run for of­fice, Elder is not a stranger to pol­i­tics. He founded the Na­tional Coali­tion to Pro­tect Stu­dent Pri­vacy and pre­pared two leg­isla­tive bills that were passed into law in 2009 and 2010, one re­quir­ing parental con­sent be­fore pub­lic school stu­dents are given the Armed Ser­vices Vo­ca­tional Ap­ti­tude Bat­tery test, and the other pro­hibit­ing mil­i­tary re­cruiters from ob­tain­ing per­sonal stu­dent in­for­ma­tion un­less their par­ent gives ex­plicit con­sent to do so — the first bill of its kind in the coun­try, Elder said.

He has also worked as an or­ga­nizer for mass protests in Wash­ing­ton, with the DC An­ti­war Net­work, United for Peace and Jus­tice and Code Pink Women for


Al­though Elder does not ex­pect to win, he said “the Greens are grow­ing.”

“The thing is, we have Trump, so peo­ple are scared to death that if you vote Green, you’re go­ing to help Trump and the Repub­li­cans get elected,” he said. “Of course, there’s truth to that, but in my case, [Hoyer’s] got it sewn up.”

Elder has been per­haps the most out­spo­ken op­po­nent of Hoyer, with a page on his cam­paign web­site crit­i­ciz­ing Hoyer’s top donors, which in­clude de­fense com­pa­nies Lock­heed Martin and Northrop Grum­man, health in­sur­ance providers such as Blue Cross/ Blue Shield and MedS­tar Health, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers like Bayer AG, and Ex­elon, the owner of the Calvert Cliffs Nu­clear Power Plant. Elder notes on his web­site that Hoyer has raised a to­tal of $6 mil­lion in this elec­tion cy­cle. For his part, Hoyer said he agrees; there is too much money in pol­i­tics.

Elder is “right. We need to get a han­dle on it,” Hoyer said, adding that he uses his do­na­tions to “try to help” other Demo­cratic can­di­dates vy­ing for seats in Congress.

Hoyer co-spon­sored the Gov­ern­ment by the Peo­ple Act, de­signed to in­cen­tivize small do­na­tions for cam­paigns, and touted the Dis­close Act dur­ing a speech given at Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity, a bill that would re­quire pub­lic dis- clo­sure of su­per PAC donors and could be pushed for­ward in the next leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

“If he wanted to, [Hoyer] could drown me with the amount of money he takes in,” Ja­cob Pulcher, the Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date to rep­re­sent the fifth district, said.

An Anne Arun­del County res­i­dent, Pulcher said he is run­ning be­cause he’s “fed up with the sys­tem in gen­eral.”

Pulcher was spurred to throw his hat in the race af­ter he was fined $1,000 for own­ing three chick­ens, which Anne Arun­del rep­re­sen­ta­tives said vi­o­lated county zon­ing reg­u­la­tions. Al­though Pulcher beat the fine, he lost his chick­ens, even af­ter reach­ing out to “sev­eral dif­fer­ent law­mak­ers,” he said.

Pulcher’s main goals, if elected, would be to “limit gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence in the aver­age tax­pay­ing cit­i­zen’s life,” in­sti­tute term lim­its, end the “point­less” war on drugs, re­duce for­eign en­gage­ment in war, and pur­sue cam­paign fi­nance re­form, he said.

“If we have a sys­tem where the aver­age cit­i­zen can’t run for of­fice and win, we have a bro­ken sys­tem,” Pulcher said.

But, he added, “The odds are not good.”

Hoyer “has been in the same of­fice for nearly 40 years. As long as I’ve been alive, he’s been my con­gress­man in this district,” Pulcher said.

“I needed to start some­where,” he con­tin­ued. “I needed the ex­pe­ri­ence and the train­ing … you don’t feel so pow­er­less if you’re at least try­ing.”

In re­sponse to crit­i­cism of his length of time in of­fice, Hoyer said that he serves two-year term lim­its and feels priv­i­leged that con­stituents have cho­sen him as their rep­re­sen­ta­tive “19 times.”

Hoyer, who lives in Me­chan­icsville, added that he is run­ning for re-elec­tion be­cause “I love work­ing for the peo­ple of South­ern Mary­land, and I think I do it well.”

If re-elected, Hoyer said he is com­mit­ted to see­ing the ad­di­tion of a third build­ing at the South­ern Mary­land Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Hol­ly­wood, and con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to bring the FBI build­ing to Prince Ge­orge’s County. He cites his in­volve­ment in Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent River dur­ing mul­ti­ple base re­align­ments and clo­sures as one of his ma­jor lo­cal ac­com­plish­ments.

On a na­tional scale, Hoyer said he, along with his Demo­crat col­leagues, are “try­ing to achieve a Congress that works,” out­side of a “cul­ture of cor­rup­tion,” to “make Congress work across the aisle.” Hoyer also said he wants to en­sure cit­i­zens’ ac­cess to af­ford­able health care.

Wil­liam Devine III, the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for Congress who eas­ily beat his op­po­nent Johnny Rice in the pri­mary, is more con­fi­dent about his chances of win­ning than his Green and Lib­er­tar­ian coun­ter­parts.

“I have a very, very slight chance,” Devine said, adding that he feels pos­i­tive about his chances to win Calvert, St. Mary’s and Anne Arun­del coun­ties. The district also in­cludes Charles County and a por­tion of Prince Ge­orge’s County.

Devine, a Prince Ge­orge’s County res­i­dent, has pre­vi­ously served on the Capi­tol Heights City Coun­cil and Prince Ge­orge’s County Coun­cil. If elected, Devine would fo­cus on com­bat­ting the opi­oid epi­demic, ex­pand­ing ac­cess to men­tal heath ser­vices, pur­sue more fund­ing of pub­lic schools and school safety ini­tia­tives through the use of casino rev­enue.

Help­ing those strug­gling with men­tal health is a pub­lic safety is­sue, Devine said. When “men­tal health is be­ing over­looked,” those strug­gling will “find a way to act out,” with or with­out guns, he said.

Not­ing that he is “pro­gun, pro-NRA,” Devine wants to see “bet­ter back­ground checks” and wants to ad­dress “loop­holes” that al­low res­i­dents to pur­chase firearms at gun shows with­out ad­e­quate back­ground checks, he said.

“Even though the econ­omy is do­ing well,” Devine said he wants to bring more jobs and pro­vide tax in­cen­tives to bring in new busi­nesses to District 5, he said.

Ini­tially in­tend­ing to run for gov­er­nor, Devine de­cided to make a bid for Congress close to the “last minute,” he said.

If he doesn’t win, Devine said “on Nov. 7, I’m go­ing back into the elec­tion board and sign­ing back up” to run again.

Un­like his op­po­nents, Devine is not a pro­po­nent of term lim­its.

“You’re not sup­posed to stay in of­fice un­til you die,” Devine said. “I’m not re­ally for term lim­its, but at a cer­tain point it’s too much.”

Run­ning as an in­de­pen­dent in the race against Hoyer, Johnny Rice of Capi­tol Heights is a self-pro­fessed street evan­ge­list who boasts prior mis­sion­ary work around the world and is in­volved in prayer min­istries around Wash­ing­ton. He told The Calvert Recorder in 2017 he was run­ning as a so­cial con­ser­va­tive but fis­cal lib­eral, call­ing the war on drugs “ter­ri­ble pol­icy” but ad­vo­cat­ing for free gov­ern­ment health care. Rice be­lieves his health care goals could be achieved by slash­ing de­fense spend­ing by half and pulling Amer­ica’s in­volve­ment out of the Mid­dle East.

“I want to lift up prayer and Chris­tian val­ues” in poli­cies, Rice said. He ad­vo­cates for a trans­gen­der mil­i­tary ban and for gov­ern­ment to fund adop­tions in­stead of Planned Par­ent­hood.






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