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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 58)
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 John LaFerla 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 voters' will, several media outlets revealed a serious conflict of interest involved in his stance on marijuana reform. It came to light that 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. In fact, 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, but it is now clear Harris has not disclosed an important conflict of interest surrounding his recent activity against marijuana reform.[35]

Committee assignments[edit]