WASHINGTON – The odds are against him, but Republican Michael Hargadon is taking on longtime Rep. Elijah Cummings — and three others — for the 7th Congressional District seat.
The Woodstock resident is the only one of Cummings four opponents able to raise a reportable amount of money for his campaign, but Cummings has all of the beat in cash, voter registration and name recognition.
The “Hargadon for U.S. Congress” campaign has raised “about $20,000,” Hargadon said Tuesday. As of Oct. 15, Hargadon, a dentist, has $1,460 on hand for his campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission’s Web site.
Cummings has collected $851,800, with $648,209 on hand, according the Web site.
On his Web site, Hargadon said he is against amnesty, welfare, and benefits for illegal immigrants. Hargadon is in favor of more civil liberties, especially when it comes to wiretaps.
The economy is the “No. 1” key issue of the campaign, Hargadon said, and it’s where he and Cummings show some clear differences.
Hargadon backs free markets and thought the $700 billion economic bailout package passed recently was “wrong.” He also disagreed with Cummings’ vote switch on the issue.
Cummings joined Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, in creating an alternative bailout package and voting against the original proposal because it failed to help homeowners, according to a Sept. 29 press release from Cummings’ Web site.
Both Cummings and Edwards voted for the proposal the second time, with Cummings promising that his constituents “will not be forgotten.”
“I think it just shows how weak he was,” Hargadon said, who said he thinks Cummings was pressured by House leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to vote in favor of the package.
The second bill, Hargadon said, was worse than the first because it had “over $150 billion worth” of more pork.
“I don’t think big government should be involved with big business, and I definitely don’t think they should of spent $700 billion of our money and giving it to Wall Street,” Hargadon said.
The married father of four and grandfather of two is also running a platform based on “economic freedoms,” “individual liberty,” and fiscal responsibility.
Calls to Cummings’ offices were not returned.
Hargadon said he’s got another thing going for him in the district dominated by Democratic registration. He’s “not a politician,” and is not beholden to special interests.
“I just want to be obliged to the people of the 7th District,” Hargadon said.
The district is heavily Democratic. As of Oct. 25, there were 406,515 registered voters, with 287,235 Democrats and 65,361 Republicans, according to online records from the Maryland State Board of Elections.
In 2006, Cummings won with 98.1 percent of the vote against write-in opposition. The last time he faced a Republican — Tony Salazar in 2004 — Cummings won 73 percent to 25 percent.
Also running in the 7th is Ray Bly, a write-in candidate and Jessup resident who owns a used appliance store. Bly’s autobiography “Born, Screwed in the U.S.A.,” has been posted on his official Web site.
“We need to take our country back,” Bly said. Even though “a couple hundred” people have given him $25 to $50, Bly said he has refused to take contributions for his campaign, and the FEC Web site said he has no contributions or expenditures.
“I do not want to take any money, because once you start taking money, the people figure you owe them something, and I do not want to owe anybody anything,” Bly said.
The Libertarian candidate is Ronald Owens-Bey. He could not be reached.
The final candidate is Charles Ulysses Smith, a Democratic write-in candidate who said he got his start in public service as a nonprofit associate.
No matter what happens on Nov. 4, Smith said he still wants to work in public service.
“I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing,” Smith said, citing his long association with public officials.
With more funds at his disposal, Cummings has been able to help out Sen. Barack Obama’s, D-Ill., presidential campaign. Cummings was an early supporter of Obama.
The 7th District includes downtown and West Baltimore, parts of west Baltimore County, and a swath of Howard County. Cummings and Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, both share parts of Columbia and Ellicott City.
There are stark contrasts among the district’s constituents. According to a 2006 American Community Survey on the U.S. Census’ Web site, Howard County’s median household income was $96,260, compared to $36,031 in Baltimore city and $59,995 in Baltimore County.
While 15.8 percent of Baltimore’s families live below the poverty level, the same is true for only 5.5 percent of Baltimore County’s families, and 3.2 percent of Howard County’s families, according to the survey’s findings.