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Former US Capitol police officer Harry Dunn running in competitive Maryland congressional primary

Who is running for Mayor in Baltimore? Here's who's on the ballot for the 2024 Primary
Who is running for Mayor in Baltimore? Here's who's on the ballot for the 2024 Primary 02:36

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Harry Dunn, a former police officer who defended the U.S. Capitol against rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, is running in a crowded Maryland Democratic primary along with several state legislators including state Sen. Sarah Elfreth in a competitive race for an open seat in Congress.

Dunn's celebrity has helped draw national attention to the 22-candidate primary to replace outgoing Rep. John Sarbanes. The Democrat announced in October he would not seek a 10th term.

Supporters in the heavily Democratic 3rd Congressional District that runs between Baltimore and the nation's capital praise Dunn as a defender of democracy. He testified at a hearing of the House committee that probed the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol.

"It took a lot of guts for him to do what he did," said Cathy Dixon, who has hosted Dunn at her home with other supporters in Severna Park. "He's a brave person, and that's what we need, brave people."

A crowded, competitive race 

Five state legislators who are familiar to voters in the district are also receiving support in Tuesday's primary.

Alex Miletich said his familiarity with his state senator was a big reason he voted early for Elfreth, who is in her second term in a district that includes the state capital.

"It's a wide open field," Miletich said after voting early at a recreational facility in Annapolis. "It's hard to get a sense of all the different candidates' positions, but she's been my Maryland senator. I feel like she's represented my district well, and so I went with that history and name recognition."

Everett Bellamy said he voted for Del. Terri Hill, who is a doctor, because he liked what the Howard County legislator had to say at a candidate forum.

"I was impressed with her, and I think having some diversity in Congress is a good thing, not all former student government presidents, political science majors and lawyers," Bellamy said after voting early in Annapolis. "Let's mix it up some."

Dunn, who announced his candidacy in January, a day before the third anniversary of the violent attack at the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters that disrupted the certification of the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden, said voters regularly thank him for serving as a police officer. He has campaigned on being on the front lines defending democracy.

"I believe that I'm the best candidate for this moment in time that we're in right now, and that's been my message to people," Dunn said in a recent interview, noting he expects the primary to be a close race.

Elfreth has been highlighting her work as a state legislator and helping constituents. She also has won endorsements from the state's teachers union, environmental groups and unions.

"This has been a campaign focused on the fundamentals of how do we build the biggest tent and talk to as many voters as possible," Elfreth said.

$4.6 million raised 

Dunn, who is making his first run for office, has been highly successful at raising money for his campaign, with about $4.6 million from donors across the country. Elfreth has raised about $1.5 million, though she also has received more than $4 million from a super political action committee.

The money from United Democracy Project, which is affiliated with a pro-Israel group known as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has grabbed headlines and is funding television ads and mailings supporting Elfreth. In an interview, Elfreth said she did not have any advance notice about the donation.

"I found out about it when everybody else did, when the commercials starting airing and mail started dropping," Elfreth said.

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