Meet the candidates for the 2022 primary election
With his District 1 left intact after a redistricting challenge, Republican Rep. Andy Harris, who has represented the East Coast in the U.S. House since 2008, has attracted no primary GOP challengers this year.
However, on the Democratic side, Heather Mizeur and R. David Harden are vying to be the general election challenger for Harris, and Libertarian Daniel Frank Thibeault is also a candidate and will appear on the general election ballot.
Delmarva Now/The Daily Times in Salisbury sent out questionnaires to each of the candidates seeking the 1st District seat. Basic biographical questions have been included, along with opportunities to list websites and social media accounts so voters can learn beyond just answering the questions we posed. Replies were limited to 500 characters, the equivalent of more than two tweets. The answers are published without modification.
The questionnaire was sent out in mid-June and follow-ups were done with those who had not responded.
Below you will find biographical information followed by Q&A:
Meet the candidates
Heather R. Mizeur
Occupation: non-profit leader/farmer
Main residence: County of Kent
R. David Harden
Occupation: Managing Director, Georgetown Strategy Group, Retired Senior Foreign Service Officer, Deputy Administrator, Office of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (Appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate.)
Principal Residence: Carroll County
(without opposition to the primary)
Main residence: Cambridge
Daniel Frank Thibeault
(Nominated by party to run in general election only)
Age: 30 years old
Occupation: Utility worker
Main residence: Elkton
What makes you the best candidate for this position?
Mizer: We need a leader who will reject partisanship and increase problem solving. For a decade, Andy Harris has favored far-right talking points over showing up to get the job done. I am different: a bridge builder, a policy expert and a farmer-conservative with a comprehensive plan to improve our economy. I’m running on my record of bipartisan victories as a state legislator, like expanding access to health care and protecting the environment. I will bring my stamp of energetic leadership to Congress.
Harden: I have represented America overseas serving in the toughest places on the planet. I understand the threats to our national security, whether they come from home or abroad. As a small business owner, I recognize the challenges facing our economy – from high inflation and soaring gas prices to labor shortages. As a husband and father, I am deeply concerned about our Supreme Court’s assault on reproductive rights. Finally, as a son of Maryland and a moderate, I can defeat Andy Harris and end his destructive career.
Harris: My Congressional record of support for issues important to the Lower Coast economy – especially agriculture, poultry, seafood processing, education and tourism. My nomination as the top Republican on the agriculture subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee positions me to help the Shore.
Thibeault: I come from the lower middle class and understand the real issues that most Americans face, I would be able to connect better with those in my area than with career politicians.
What is the biggest problem facing this office and what are you planning to do about it?
Mizer: Our main issue is the one around which I have built my campaign: addressing the struggle of working families in the face of rising costs and economic insecurity. Voters tell me they want a leader who listens and understands what they are going through. That’s why I wrote EconomyFirst, a detailed, hyper-local plan to cut costs, boost manufacturing, match skills to jobs, make housing more affordable, and put more money in your pockets. Making sure the economy works for working families will always be my top priority.
Harden: Soaring costs for basic necessities, from gas and groceries to transportation and housing, have had a devastating impact on families and small business owners. I will work aggressively to increase near-term gasoline supplies while increasing our domestic production of solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. I will improve our supply chain by reinvesting in our aging highways, bridges and railroads, and unlike my opponent, I will never vote to raise your taxes.
Harris: The cost of gas, diesel, fertilizer, food at the grocery store and everywhere else is devastating our families. America must regain its position as the leading producer of oil and natural gas, so that we can drive down the cost of energy.
Thibeault: I think our biggest problem right now is the economy. We are feeling the repercussions of the COVID lockdowns and we are always creating more regulations to prevent our industries from thriving. If elected, I would push for less regulation in all areas to allow new businesses to start and fill the supply gaps we have.
What steps would you take to increase transparency in your office?
Mizer: Transparency and openness are key, and my campaign has been a model for how I govern. I use a web-based platform that allows me to answer questions from any voter who wishes to reach out, and I will continue this approach in Congress. All bills and votes will be easily found on my website, which will include a public comment portal. Another mark of transparency is to be a constant presence in the neighborhood, which shows people that I am accessible. This will be a huge change for this neighborhood.
Harden: Unlike Congressman Harris, I will call regular town hall meetings throughout the First District. The press and the public will be invited and these meetings will be broadcast live. Additionally, I will be holding regular virtual meetings with residents and media in our District, where I will share details on important Congressional issues and share my position. Finally, I plan to better educate First District residents about the revenue sources and expense categories that make up our federal budget.
Harris: During my tenure, I held dozens of in-person town hall meetings throughout the First District. Additionally, I have hosted dozens of town hall meetings over the phone so that people who cannot make it to a live town hall meeting have the opportunity to ask me questions about issues important to them.
Thibeault: I think in the age of technology, it should be easy for anyone to see what their reps are doing. If our law enforcement officers can record their entire days, politicians should go the extra mile and broadcast ours.
How do you plan to work across the aisle to bring federal dollars to the east coast?
Mizer: Here, the contrast between me and Andy Harris couldn’t be starker. He’s a far-right ideologue, while I’m building bipartisan consensus (just ask my former GOP State House colleagues). He is neglecting the district, making no request in the 2021 budget process to fix our aging roads and bridges. My EconomyFirst Plan identifies many opportunities to claim or compete for funds available in the Federal Infrastructure Act to improve transportation, water systems, broadband access and more.
Harden: Given the possibility that I will serve in an era of divided government, I will build positive relationships and shared goals with Republicans and Democrats. For example, I will be representing a rural district that relies heavily on agriculture, seafood, and defense. This is an opportunity to defend policies and projects often supported by Republicans. My other priorities, like investing in our local law enforcement and community colleges, transcend partisan differences.
Harris: As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, and in particular the Agriculture Subcommittee, I am able to help ensure that the East Coast receives its fair share of budget dollars.
Thibeault: As a libertarian, I wouldn’t be on one side or the other, I would stand in between and I could hunt what my neighborhood needs most.
What are the biggest challenges facing the East Coast? How do you plan to approach them?
Mizer: For many people, the economy just doesn’t work; my EconomyFirst plan (see above) offers detailed solutions in 10 key areas. Another big challenge is the threat that climate change poses to our environment and our livelihoods. My Agri-Climate plan brings together ecologists, farmers and boatmen around innovative ideas that benefit everyone. Finally, our civic life is torn apart by polarization. I’m good at building bridges, as evidenced by my long history of crossing the aisle to solve problems.
Harden: Too many of our children have to leave home to find well-paying jobs and build successful careers. I will work to bridge this “digital divide” by ensuring high-speed Internet access. Working with state and local governments, I will ensure that our colleges and trade schools have the resources to train our children for the economy of the future. Finally, I will work with the private and public sectors to attract remote workers with better schools, parks and other critical infrastructure.
- 1) The price of gasoline and diesel — we must once again become the world leader in the production of oil and natural gas.
- 2) Rampant inflation — hurting our families. We need to stop the spending sprees that result in the printing of trillions of dollars.
- 3) Workforce training — ensure our workforce has the skills needed to support our economy.
- 4) Give parents a voice in the school curriculum.
- 5) Stop the flow of fentanyl through our open southern border.
- 6) Support law enforcement.
Thibeault: I think one of the biggest things that needs to change on the Eastern Shore is our education policies. We need to open up school choice and allow parents to have a say in what a child is taught.