Dunn leans into pro-democracy agenda in CD-3, wins backing of political reform group - Maryland Matters (2024)

Dunn leans into pro-democracy agenda in CD-3, wins backing of political reform group - Maryland Matters (1)

He’s already got defender-of-democracy street cred from his time battling insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Now Harry Dunn, the former U.S. Capitol Police officer and Democratic candidate in the 3rd congressional district, is leaning into that narrative. He’s coming out with a legislative plan Friday designed to strengthen voting rights, political reform, and good government.

The Dunn campaign is also announcing that he has been endorsed by End Citizens United//Let America Vote, a national advocacy group seeking to eradicate big money from politics.

Both Dunn himself and End Citizens United noted that the candidate is seeking to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3rd), one of the leading political reformers in Congress.

“Harry Dunn defended the Capitol on January 6 from violent insurrectionists, and now he’s fighting to protect our democracy in Congress,” End Citizens United//Let America Vote President Tiffany Muller said in a statement. “Dunn’s experience as a Capitol Police Officer is driving his deep commitment to safeguarding our democracy, which makes him a natural successor to continue this critical work in Congress. At a time when Republicans are attempting to downplay the severity of January 6 and the ongoing attacks on our democratic process, Harry’s voice and leadership is the perfect counterpunch.”

The group’s endorsem*nt coincides with Dunn’s release of a 10-page political reform plan. Among other things, he has vowed to forgo donations from corporate political action committees and says he will co-sponsor a measure to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which would reverselegal precedents that have allowed unrestrained campaign spending and dark money to become far more commonplace.

If the campaign’s earlier declaration that Dunn raised more than $3 million in his first few weeks as a candidate is true —his first quarter fundraising reports are due to be released on April 15 —then he won’t need corporate PAC money.

Among Dunn’s opponents in the 22-candidate primary are five state lawmakers, all of whom have taken some degree of corporate and corporate PAC donations for their state campaigns through the years.

Dunn also vows to sign on to several Democratic bills that have languished in the past two Congresses, including the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would modernize and strengthen provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He also promises to co-sponsor measures to end voter suppression; provide states with resources to recruit, train and protect election workers; create a public financing system for congressional campaigns; and ensure online political ads are covered by the same rules as political ads on TV and radio while requiring online platforms to ensure foreign interests aren’t buying political ads.

In a statement, Dunn asserts that “protecting our democracy is the foremost challenge of our times.”

“I am committed to shoring up the foundations of our democracy in the House of Representatives because the future of our current system is in peril,” he said. “This moment requires our collective effort and attention and I won’t back down until we pass the reforms outlined in my democracy reform agenda. Congressman John Sarbanes has set a high standard for public service, and I am committed to carrying on his mantle of government reform.”

LCV backs Elfreth

Meanwhile, the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, the political arm of a leading national environmental group, has endorsed one of Dunn’s leading opponents in the Democratic primary, state Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel). The group cited Elfreth’s legislative record in Annapolis and more, noting her work as government affairs director at the National Aquarium in Baltimore before she took office.

“Sarah Elfreth has been a leader even before her service in the Maryland Senate to increase protections for clean air and water, land conservation, investments in clean energy and more resilient infrastructure, and for environmental justice in communities,” said LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld.

Elfreth said she is determined to protect 3rd District residents from “the profoundly damaging consequences of climate change.”

“In the Maryland Senate, I have worked to make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change and to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” she said. “On Capitol Hill, I will fight for climate justice, to speed our transition to clean energy, for a stronger democracy, and to protect the Bay and its watershed.”

The Democratic primary is set for May 14, though early voting begins earlier that month and mail-in ballots will be going out to voters who requested them in just a few weeks.

Dunn leans into pro-democracy agenda in CD-3, wins backing of political reform group - Maryland Matters (2024)
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