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Harry Dunn's new assignment – Maryland Matters

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Harry Dunn's new assignment – Maryland Matters


Harry Dunn may not be joining Congress in January, as he had hoped.

But the former U.S. Capitol Police officer who battled insurrectionists on Jan. 6, 2021, is still an integral part of Democrats’ campaign to defeat former President Donald Trump in November and defend democracy.

Highly visible at 6-foot-9 and with a best-selling memoir under his belt, he’s become a celebrity surrogate for the president and other Democrats. And he’s involved in an array of political activities around the country and at home.

Last week, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that presidents have broad immunity from criminal prosecution for their official acts, Dunn was part of a hastily assembled press call that President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign put together to denounce the justices’ decision.

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“I don’t need nine Supreme Court justices to tell me that Donald Trump was responsible for Jan. 6 — I was there,” Dunn said on the call. “Those people that attacked us, they attacked us in his name, on his orders. I was there when Donald Trump encouraged a mob of supporters to march on the Capitol to try to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

“I remember it clearly while they were beating officers with flags. While they were there, they said they were there to ‘stop the steal.’ When we told them to leave they said, ‘The president told us to come,’” he said on that call.

The Capitol insurrection inspired Dunn to shed his law enforcement career and launch a political campaign of his own. But since losing the Democratic congressional primary in Maryland’s 3rd District in May, Dunn has been crisscrossing the country on Biden’s behalf. In fact, with Biden now struggling to convince party stalwarts that he should remain in the presidential race after stumbling badly in his recent debate with Trump, Dunn has become one of the president’s most prominent and vocal defenders.

“I don’t believe that we’re in trouble,” Dunn told a Democratic political club in Silver Spring Monday morning. “I’m not going to turn my back on him because of a 90-minute performance. I’m looking at what he’s done in his 3 1/2 years in office, in his 40-year, 50-year political career. I don’t think we need to throw in the towel on him because of a 90-minute speech.”

Even more emphatically, Dunn said: “I can’t imagine President Biden not being in office at this moment in time.”

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When he isn’t being dispatched by the Biden campaign, Dunn has been stumping for Democratic congressional contenders. He recently set up a political action committee, Dunn’s Democracy Defenders, to help candidates running against pro-Trump Republicans.

Dunn is also not abandoning Maryland after his first high-profile, if ultimately unsuccessful, foray into state politics.

He attended last month’s Maryland Democratic Party gala in Greenbelt, his first. And he spoke at the District 18 Democratic Breakfast Club, one of the most active and opinionated party groups in the state, on Monday morning.

Dunn is reflecting candidly about some of the lessons he learned — about the Maryland political scene and electoral politics more broadly — since finishing second to state Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) in the 22-candidate 3rd District Democratic primary.

Dunn lives in Wheaton, which is within the 18th District — a fact that did not go unnoticed at Monday’s breakfast. He is not a resident of the 3rd Congressional District — though by law, he didn’t have to be — which led to some grumbling during the primary that he was a carpetbagger.

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“You want to get engaged in District 18 and in Montgomery County, where you belong,” the president of the District 18 Democratic club, Susan Heltemes, told him Monday.

Dunn’s new PAC is actually not a new entity. He recently converted his congressional campaign committee, Harry Dunn for Congress, into Dunn’s Democracy Defenders.

Dunn raised more than $4.5 million for his congressional bid in five months — an astonishing sum for a first-time candidate in such a short period. But he said in an interview Monday that he essentially spent all of the campaign cash on his primary election and wasn’t sure how much he has raised since the May 14 primary.

The PAC must report its financial activities through June 30 to the Federal Election Commission by July 15 — a document that will also reflect the fundraising and spending of Dunn’s congressional campaign in the three weeks leading up to the primary. FEC spokesperson Myles G. Martin said that going forward, Dunn’s Democracy Defenders has the option of filing quarterly campaign finance reports or doing so every month.

Dunn said the PAC would soon be formally endorsing eight candidates in U.S. House and Senate races around the country and would also publicly release its criteria for making endorsements. Taylor Doggett, a young political strategist who was the manager of Dunn’s congressional campaign, has helped him launch the PAC and remains an adviser.

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Dunn said U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, the presumptive Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Arizona against MAGA celebrity Kari Lake, is a natural to receive the PAC’s support. But he emphasized that Dunn’s Democracy Defenders isn’t poised to drop huge sums of cash on its preferred candidates because it doesn’t want to be seen as putting its thumb on the scale.

“I learned a lot about that” during the congressional primary, he said. “I think elections need to come down to the people in the district.”

‘It’s clear I have a voice and a place now’

That’s a not-so-subtle reference to the influence AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel advocacy group, played in his congressional primary. The United Democracy Project, a PAC affiliated with AIPAC, dropped more than $4 million into the primary on Elfreth’s behalf.

Much of that money came in at a crucial time during that fast-moving campaign, when Dunn’s fundraising take was dwarfing Elfreth’s. His criticism of the super PAC spending became part of his pro-democracy message, augmenting the reminders that he had literally defended the Capitol on Jan. 6. But Elfreth was a good candidate with a history of toiling in local politics — “several candidates in the primary ran good races,” Dunn said Monday — and in the end, she took 36% to Dunn’s 25%.

Asked whether the AIPAC money was determinative in the primary, Dunn demurred, but did say, “Any time you’re able to amplify your message, it makes a difference.” And, he pointed out, “I thought I was going to win.”

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But Dunn also expressed no regrets about entering the race or the kind of campaign he was able to run.

“We ran our race,” he said. “We ran it the way we wanted to. Coming in second with more than 20,000 votes — I don’t think that’s an anomaly.”

And Dunn said he wasn’t too troubled by losing. “Honestly, the Supreme Court decision on [presidential immunity] was a bigger gut punch.”

Which is why he’s expecting to take to the road throughout the fall campaign to boost Biden and other Democrats. Heltemes, the District 18 Democratic club leader, said she hopes he remains visible at home during this period.

“I hope that we see you again in Montgomery County and around the district,” she said. “We could use some firing up.”

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Dunn is frequently asked about his political future and says he’s not ruling anything out. But he also told Maryland Matters he can’t see beyond Election Day 2024.

“I like to have a plan,” he said. “The only thing I’m focused on is Joe Biden. My mom would hate for me not to have a plan. I want to be effective. I want to be helpful.

“It’s clear I have a voice and a place now, but what that means down the line, I don’t know.”



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Alsobrooks, Hogan still considering FOX 5 debate at University of Maryland

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Alsobrooks, Hogan still considering FOX 5 debate at University of Maryland


The race for the seat held by retiring Maryland Senator Ben Cardin is shaping up to be a crucial battle for control of Congress. 

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The University of Maryland has been proposed as the host site for a debate between Larry Hogan and Angela Alsobrooks, sponsored by FOX 5 and the University’s Capital News Service. 

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks was campaigning in Columbia Wednesday, just over 100 days before the election. 

FOX 5 asked the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate whether she would accept the invitation to debate Hogan on Sept. 12.

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“I’m looking forward to debating Larry Hogan in the fall,” Alsobrooks responded. “I know that we’ve had a number of invitations that have come in. The team is looking through the invitations and will be responding to everyone right away, but I’m absolutely looking forward to debating him, and I think we all recognize the importance of holding the majority. This race is about who will have the 51st vote, whether it’s a caucus that’s empowered by Donald Trump or one that is soon to be empowered by Kamala Harris, and it’s a very important race.”

FOX 5 has reached out to the Hogan campaign for a response to the September debate invitation but has not yet received a reply. 

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When asked several weeks ago, Maryland’s former Republican governor said, “I’m not sure. We’ve already committed to two debates and we haven’t heard anything from our opponent. I think at this point she’s refused to accept any debates. It’s not for me to decide. We’re going to wait to see. We can’t be doing debates every week, but we’ve committed to a couple of them. One in the Washington area and one in Baltimore.”

Alsobrooks responded to Hogan’s comments, saying, “Well, you know what I say, bless his heart. Larry Hogan’s spending all this time talking about me; he should be talking to voters like I am. I am looking forward to debating Larry Hogan and I think he should spend his time talking to voters.”

FOX 5 also asked voters for their thoughts on the potential debate. 

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“I think debates are important, especially for new voters and especially for voters who are not sure who they’re going to vote for and don’t really know the candidates. It gives them a chance to see what the candidate is thinking about and understand their vision and platform,” said Howard County Councilmember Opel Jones.

“I think it would be important. I think there’s value in debate always,” added Maryland voter Lakey Boyd. “It really serves to illuminate maybe some pieces of the puzzle that we don’t always have media access to based on typical media coverage. So I think there’s value. I’m not sure it would completely influence my vote, but I think that’s actually part of the point… you don’t know until you know… until you hear the debate.”

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FOX 5 will continue to seek definitive answers from both Hogan and Alsobrooks regarding the proposed debate.



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MD Town Is Best Place In US To Live For Families, New Ranking Says

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MD Town Is Best Place In US To Live For Families, New Ranking Says


MARYLAND — The best place in Maryland to plant roots for a lifetime is Silver Spring, according to Fortune’s new ranking of the nation’s 50 Best Places to Live for Families.

In the analysis, Fortune said Silver Spring, which has a population of 81,977, moved up from the No. 3 spot on last year’s list to take the top seat this year. The Washington, D.C., suburb offers local charm with the convenience of city life, just six miles away from DC — a quick commute via the Washington Metro or MARC train.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said Fortune’s ranking reflects what many residents already know: It’s part of a community that supports families in every way possible.

“Silver Spring’s top ranking as a family-friendly home speaks volumes about the quality of life we offer. The ranking is based on the best place ‘where multigenerational families are most likely to have access to great schools, highly recommended hospitals, affordable housing, resources for older adults and a strong sense of community.’ We have excellent educational opportunities, safe neighborhoods and abundant recreational facilities, including our new Silver Spring Recreation and Aquatic Center,” Elrich said in a statement. “Additionally, the county’s outstanding public schools, well-maintained parks and community centers create a nurturing environment where children and their families can thrive academically, socially and physically.

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“For businesses, Silver Spring’s recognition as the best place to raise a family is a powerful testament to the area’s vitality and potential. Companies looking to relocate or expand will find a community that values education, safety and quality of life—key factors that attract top talent,” he said. “The diverse population offers a broad customer base and a workforce with a wide range of skills and perspectives, driving innovation and growth. Our community’s focus on inclusivity and support for families creates a stable and welcoming environment where businesses can prosper. “

Here’s what Fortune’s editors said about the city:

“Silver Spring stands out among its neighboring suburbs for its Arts & Entertainment District, home to 100-plus arts and humanities organizations, entertainment venues, and the like. Residents can watch an independent film at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center or see an artist perform live at the Fillmore, an iconic music venue that’s hosted everyone from Aretha Franklin to Janis Joplin. Colorful murals and vibrant community centers help bring the area to life.

“In the downtown business district, there are more than 150 restaurants boasting a variety of cuisines. There’s also plenty to do for the outdoors-inclined, like biking in Sligo Creek Park, hiking Rock Creek Trail, or playing a round of golf at the Sligo Creek course. In the winter, there’s an outdoor skating rink to enjoy.

“Families considering moving to the area may soon luck out with a slightly more affordable housing market; home prices are down 4% compared with last year, per Redfin.”

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Fortune said its list reflects qualities people look for when they decide where to raise families and retire.

“A great place to live not only supports families in the present but also serves them in the long term. With a growing portion of Americans caring for both children and aging parents, more people want to live where multigenerational families can thrive,” the news outlet said.

Fortune said it analyzed more than 2,000 cities and nearly 200 data categories, which included livability, financial health, resources for aging adults, education and wellness.

The cities chosen, one for each state, are sustainable for both their youngest and oldest residents and include fast-growing suburbs and edge cities that find creative ways to improve people’s well-being, Fortune said.



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