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Andy Harris (politician)

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This article is about the politician from Maryland. For other uses, see Andrew Harris (disambiguation).
Andy Harris
Andy Harris, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Frank Kratovil
Member of the Maryland State Senate from the 7th district
In office
January 8, 2003 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Norman R. Stone, Jr.[1]
Succeeded by J. B. Jennings[2]
Member of the Maryland State Senate from the 9th district
In office
Preceded by F. Vernon Boozer
Succeeded by Robert H. Kittleman
Personal details
Born (1957-01-25) January 25, 1957 (age 59)
Brooklyn, New York
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sylvia "Cookie" Harris (died 2014)
Residence Cockeysville, Maryland
Alma mater Johns Hopkins University (B.S., M.D.)
Profession Anesthesiologist
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy Reserve Medical Corps
Years of service 1988–2010
Rank Commander Insignia of Commander, United States Navy
Battles/wars Operation Desert Storm

Andrew P. "Andy" 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. He is a member of the Republican Party and is currently the only Republican member of Maryland's congressional delegation; he previously served in the Senate of the Maryland General Assembly.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

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, was born in Poland.[3]

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 & Management and also Health Finance & Management.[3]

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.[3] 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.[3]

Maryland General Assembly[edit]

Harris was first elected to the Maryland Senate in 1998 for District 9 for Baltimore County.[4] He defeated his predecessor, Minority Leader F. Vernon Boozer, in the 1998 primary election.[5] 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.[6] In the general election he defeated Democrat challenger Anthony O. Blades.

His district was later redrawn to be District 7, representing Baltimore County and Harford County. He defeated Democratic challenger Diane DeCarlo in the general election in 2002,[7] and from 2003 to 2006 served as the minority whip.[3] In 2006 he won re-election, this time defeating Patricia A. Foerster.[8]

U.S. congressional campaigns[edit]


Harris defeated incumbent Republican Wayne Gilchrest and State Senator E.J. Pipkin in the Republican primary for Maryland's 1st congressional district.[9] Harris ran well to the right of Gilchrest, one of the leading moderate Republicans in the House. He explained that he was upset with Gilchrest's decision to support a Democratic 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,[10] which raised nearly $250,000 for him,[11] and by former governor Bob Ehrlich,[12] seven of 10 state senators who represent parts of the district, and House Minority Leader Anthony O'Donnell.[13] His general election opponent Frank Kratovil attacked the Club for Growth's policies, and Harris for having its support.[14] Gilchrest endorsed Kratovil for the general election.[15]

The November election was expected to be very close, even though the 1st is considered to be very Republican on paper. This was partly due to the district's geography. Harris is from the Baltimore suburbs, while Kratovil was from the Eastern Shore, which is home to half the district's population. 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 it would be nearly impossible for Harris to close the gap, most media outlets declared Kratovil the winner on the night of November 7.[16][17] Harris finally conceded on November 11. While Harris won the Baltimore suburbs handily, it was not enough to overcome his deficit on the Eastern Shore. John McCain won this district by 19 points, his best showing in the state.


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, the district reverted to form, and Harris defeated Kratovil by 14 percent.


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.[18] Instead, Roscoe Bartlett's district was redrawn so as to beat him.[19] Harris was a beneficiary of this remap, as the reconfigured 1st included several heavily Republican portions of Harford and Baltimore counties that had previously been in Bartlett's 6th district.

Harris skated 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 information about election-law violations. By the time she pulled out, however, 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.


Harris defeated Democrat Bill Tilghman in the 2014 congressional elections for Maryland's 1st district.


Harris has not yet announced a 2016 congressional bid. He is widely expected to run for re-election in his seat. He is expected to face opposition in a Republican primary from former Maryland delegate Mike Smigiel.[20]


Affordable Care Act[edit]

Harris's prominence as a medical doctor in opposition to government-run health care made him a lightning rod for attacks by supporters of the 2010 health care legislation. 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.[21][22] Through a spokesman, his defeated opponent, Frank Kratovil, seized upon this dialogue, characterizing the question as a "demand" for special treatment and for access to the benefits he opposed in the new law.[23] 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 he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.[24]

Debt ceiling[edit]

On October 16, 2013, Harris voted against the motion to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.[25]

DC cannabis reform[edit]

In 2014 Harris led the charge to block a recently adopted Washington D.C. cannabis decriminalization bill.[26] His 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 District,[27] as well as an online campaign requesting that D.C. area businesses refuse him service at their establishments.[28] In November 2014, D.C. residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis for adults with 68% in favor.[29] Despite this, Harris said he would use "all resources available to a member of Congress to stop this action".[30] 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 noted that "the Constitution gives Congress the ultimate oversight about what happens in the federal district."[31] Harris believes that cannabis is a gateway drug[32] and has no proven medicinal use.[33] Harris may face a 2016 Republican primary challenge based in part on his opposition to the District's marijuana law.[34]

Shortly after his success in blocking the District's decriminalization legislation, published an article claiming that Harris' action was tainted by a conflict of interest. According to, Harris' third largest campaign donor is the pharmaceutical corporation Emergent BioSolutions, based in Rockville, Maryland. One of Emergent's products is epsil, "a fast-acting treatment that reduces the pain associated with oral mucositis," which is a common complication of chemotherapy from cancer treatment. Marijuana has been recognized formally in a number of states as having immense therapeutic potential for cancer patients, and in states where medical marijuana has legalized, the number of pharmaceutical pain killers prescribed has dropped significantly. The congressman has not explicitly addressed this issue.[35]

Committee assignments[edit]

In October 2015, Harris was named to serve on the Select Investigative Panel on Planned Parenthood.[36]

Congressional Caucuses[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

Year Office Election Subject Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  %
1998 Maryland Senate, District 9[37] General Andy Harris Republican 24,814 61% Anthony O. Blades Democratic 15,780 39%
2002 Maryland Senate, District 7[38] General Andy Harris Republican 23,374 57.8% Dianne DeCarlo Democratic 16,991 42.1% Write-ins 44 0.1%
2006 Maryland Senate, District 7[39] General Andy Harris Republican 23,453 56.6% Patricia A. Foerster Democratic 17,972 43.3% Write-ins 35 0.1%
2008 United States House of Representatives, Maryland's 1st congressional district[9] Primary Andy Harris Republican 33,627 43.4% Wayne Gilchrest Republican 25,624 33.1% E.J. Pipkin Republican 15,700 20.3%
2008 United States House of Representatives, Maryland's 1st congressional district[40] General Frank Kratovil Democratic 177,065 49.1% Andy Harris Republican 174,213 48.3% Richard James Davis Libertarian 8,873 2.5% Write-ins 35 0.1%
2010 United States House of Representatives, Maryland's 1st congressional district[40] General Andy Harris Republican 155,118 54.1% Frank Kratovil Democratic 120,400 42.0% Richard James Davis Libertarian 10,876 3.8% Write-ins 418 0.15%
2012 United States House of Representatives, Maryland's 1st congressional district General Andy Harris Republican 212,204 63.4% Wendy Rosen Democratic 92,812 27.5% Muir Wayne Boda Libertarian 12,857 3.8% Write-ins 17,887 5.3%
2014 United States House of Representatives, Maryland's 1st congressional district General Andy Harris Republican 176,342 70.4% Bill Tilghman Democratic 73,843 29.5% Write-ins 233 0.1%

Personal life[edit]

Harris was married for 30 years to Sylvia "Cookie" Harris, who died suddenly on August 28, 2014 after a bout with a prolonged unknown illness.[41] He and Mrs. Harris have five children. Harris resides in Cockeysville, Maryland, and considers himself a "citizen-legislator," maintaining his medical practice while in the State Senate.[3]

Andy Harris has been an active member in the community as a member of the Knights of Columbus,[42] an officer in the Thornleigh Neighborhood Improvement Association (vice-president, 1984–85; president, 1985–86),[citation needed] a member of the Board of Directors of the Sherwood Community Association, 1987–91,[citation needed] and served as Vice President of St. Joseph's School Home-School Association from 1992 to 1994.[citation needed] 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),[3] and finally as a Delegate to the Republican Party National Convention, 2004.[42] 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.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Our Campaigns - MD State Senate 7 Race - Nov 05, 2002". Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Our Campaigns - MD State Senate 7 Race - Nov 07, 2006". Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Andy Harris for Congress: Biography. Retrieved August 6, 2007.
  4. ^ Maryland State Board of Elections. "1998 Gubernatorial Election". Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  5. ^ Maryland State Board of Elections. "1998 Gubernatorial Election". Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  6. ^ " 'Partial Birth' Ban Set to Pass in Md". The Washington Post. March 11, 1999. 
  7. ^ Maryland State Board of Elections. "2002 Gubernatorial Election". Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  8. ^ Maryland State Board of Elections. "Official 2006 Gubernatorial General Election results for State Senator". Retrieved September 13, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Representative in Congress Results". Maryland State Board of Elections. Archived from the original on April 9, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2008. 
  10. ^ Club for Growth Endorses Andy Harris Andy Harris For Congress Press Release. August 13, 2007. Retrieved August 17, 2007.
  11. ^ Center for Responsive Politics
  12. ^ Ehrlich supports Harris for seat ASSOCIATED PRESS October 19, 2007. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
  13. ^ Eleven Republican Incumbents Have to Watch Their Backs in House Primaries By CQ Staff. October 2, 2007. Retrieved October 19, 2007.
  14. ^ Anti-tax group’s support not paying dividends Politico
  15. ^ Gilchrest crosses party lines, endorses Democrat Kratovil, even cutting an ad for him Baltimore Sun
  16. ^ "AP: Kratovil Winner Of 1st District Seat". WJZ-TV. Archived from the original on November 13, 2008. Retrieved November 8, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Maryland's 1st District". CNN. Archived from the original on November 7, 2008. Retrieved November 8, 2008. 
  18. ^ David Wasserman and Julia Edwards (April 15, 2011). "Top 10 Republicans Most Vulnerable to Redistricting". Cook Political Report. National Journal. Archived from the original on May 1, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  19. ^ John Fritze, "Delaney Defeats Bartlett in the 6th District", Baltimore Sun, November 7, 2012.
  20. ^ Jacobs, Ben. "Washington DC's legal weed debate spills over into Maryland politics". The Guardian. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Republican Rep.-Elect Refutes Claim He Lost It Over Congressional Health Care Rules". Fox News. November 17, 2010. 
  22. ^ Condon, Stephanie (November 16, 2010). "House GOP Freshman Demands Gov't Health Care". CBS News. 
  23. ^ Paul West, "Rep.-elect Harris snagged in health care flap," The Baltimore Sun, Nov. 16, 2010.
  24. ^ Glen Thrush, "GOP frosh: Where's my health care?" Politico, Nov. 15, 2010.
  25. ^ Washington Post, October 16/17, 2013. "Votes to end the government shutdown".
  26. ^ "Andy Harris’s Reefer Madness: Amendment To Block DC Decrim Could Do The Opposite". The Daily Caller. 
  27. ^ DeBonis, Mike (2 July 2014). "D.C. residents urged to boycott Md. shore to protest congressman’s marijuana move". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  28. ^ "Blacklist Andy Harris – A District of Columbia Protest". Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  29. ^ Ferner, Matt (November 4, 2014). "Washington, D.C. Votes To Legalize Recreational Marijuana". Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  30. ^ Davis, Aaron (November 5, 2014). "House Republican vows to upend D.C. ballot measure legalizing marijuana". Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  31. ^ Davis, Aaron; O'Keefe, Ed (December 9, 2014). "Congressional spending deal blocks pot legalization in D.C.". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  32. ^ Raju, Manu; Topaz, Jonathan. "D.C. pot fight puts GOP in an awkward spot". Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  33. ^ "Rep. Harris Debates Medical Marijuana on House Floor (5/29/14) | Congressman Andy Harris". Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
  34. ^ Jacobs, Benjamin. "Washington DC's legal weed debate spills over into Maryland politics". The Guardian. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  35. ^ Matthew Segal (2014-12-11). "One Congressman Just Ruined Legalized Marijuana in DC For Everyone. Here's Why". ATTN:. Retrieved 2015-07-23. 
  36. ^ Paul Kane (October 23, 2015). "Boehner’s next select committee, focusing on Planned Parenthood, to be led by Marsha Blackburn". Washington Post. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  37. ^ "State Senate Results". Maryland State Board of Elections.  Retrieved on Oct 9, 2007
  38. ^ "State Senate Results". Maryland State Board of Elections.  Retrieved on Oct 9, 2007
  39. ^ "State Senate Results". Maryland State Board of Elections.  Retrieved on Oct 9, 2007
  40. ^ a b "Representative in Congress Results". Maryland State Board of Elections. Retrieved June 14, 2009.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "2008_General_Election_Results" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  41. ^ Fritze, John. "Sylvia 'Cookie' Harris, advocate, wife of congressman, dies unexpectedly". Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  42. ^ a b c Maryland Senate Archives Biography. Retrieved August 6, 2007.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank Kratovil
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 1st congressional district

January 3, 2011 – present
Succeeded by
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Richard Hanna
R-New York
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Vicky Hartzler