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Harris Files Paperwork for Possible Md. Rematch

Following his razor-thin loss in Maryland’s 1st district race last month, state Sen. Andy Harris (R) appears to be laying the groundwork for another Congressional bid, but a source close to Harris caution that no final decision on seeking a rematch has been made.

Harris, whose race against Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Frank Kratovil (D) wasn’t decided until a week after Election Day, has officially filed his statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission designating Andy Harris for Congress his principal campaign committee for the 2010 election cycle.

But even if Harris’ filing is more than just a precautionary step, the state Senator wouldn’t automatically be guaranteed a rematch against Kratovil, who won the seat by less than 3,000 votes.

Several other Republican names are already being mentioned as potential GOP contenders in what has been generally viewed as one of the two most conservative districts in the state. They include former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who spent eight years in Congress representing the 2nd district, as well as state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who finished third in the 1st district GOP primary this year after jumping into the race at the last minute. Other names include 31-year-old state Del. Jeannie Haddaway and Ehrlich’s wife, Kendel, an attorney who has hosted a local Baltimore radio show and was active in policy matters during her four years as Maryland’s first lady.

Although the 2008 primary was held in February and was followed by a long period of fundraising leading up to the general election, the 2010 primary in Maryland will take place in September with a relatively short turnaround time before the midterm election. That being the case, a strong fundraising ability will certainly be key for any GOP candidate going up against Kratovil this cycle.

Republicans can be sure that Democrats will be very interested in keeping the 1st district in the Democratic column, especially with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen both hailing from Maryland.

With Harris back in the mix, it will be interesting to see whether the powerful anti-tax group Club for Growth decides to play heavily in the race again this cycle. The political arm of the club spent massive amounts of money on the 2008 race supporting Harris in his bid to knock off moderate Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in the GOP primary. Gilchrest had been a club target for years, and Harris knocked off the nine-term Congressman by touting his own strong conservative credentials.

“We thought he was a great candidate. We thought he did a good job,” Club for Growth spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said of Harris. But when asked whether the group would get behind Harris in 2010, Soloveichik said “we never blindly say ‘oh yes, we’re getting involved.’ … We think very favorably of him but we would look at the race like we look at every other race.”

Kratovil’s camp says it isn’t concerned with speculation on the GOP primary race right now.

“Frank is much more concerned with being an independent and effective Congressman for his friends and neighbors in the 1st district than who will be running against him two years from now,” spokesman Kevin Lawlor said on Thursday.

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