State Sen. Andy Harris (R), who is eyeing a rematch with Rep. Frank Kratovil (D), will host former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) at a roundtable discussion and fundraiser in early June ahead of Gingrich’s appearance at the state Republican party’s annual Red, White and Blue Dinner.
Proceeds from Harris’ $1,000-per-person event will go toward the state Senator’s 2010 Congressional campaign, but the fundraiser is also notable because Harris is charging four times as much for his event as the state party is charging for a VIP reception with Gingrich on the same day.
According to the Gazette of Politics and Business, some critics have said that Harris’ high-dollar event is draining away money that could be going to help build the state party.
Harris said Wednesday that the event is simply a way to maximize the fundraising potential of Gingrich coming into the state.
The state’s GOP chairman told the Gazette that Harris’ event was separate from the Red, White and Blue Dinner and that the party has not endorsed Harris for the 1st district race.
Other possible GOP contenders include state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who finished third in the 1st district GOP primary in 2008, state Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, whose district lies on the Eastern Shore, and Del. Steven Schuh, from Anne Arundel County.
Harris knocked off moderate Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in the 2008 GOP primary, and he went on to lose by a razor-thin margin in the general election. During the heated GOP primary, Gilchrest earned the endorsement of Gingrich.
Harris reported $117,000 in cash on hand at the end of the first-quarter Federal Election Commission reporting deadline. Kratovil had nearly $252,000 in the bank.