By Len Lazarick
Four years ago, Liz Matory was a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates in Montgomery County. After coming in seventh and dead last in a race against three incumbents in District 18, she became a field organizer for the gubernatorial campaign of Democrats Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman.
This year, Matory handily won her primary against three men and is now the Republican nominee for Congress, running against eight-term Democratic incumbent Dutch Ruppersberger in the 2nd Congressional District.
How did this 38-year-old African American woman who grew up in D.C. — the daughter of two surgeons, a graduate of Sidwell Friends a year behind Chelsea Clinton, a Columbia University alumna and then Howard University Law School with classes from Ike Leggett before he became the Montgomery County executive — go from being a liberal Democrat to being a conservative Republican?
“I left the party three years ago because of my experience as a field organizer. You know you’re pretty much born a Democrat. You think that this is what you have. I never considered being a Republican; I’d never considered the Republican Party at all because that’s not how I grew up. But when I was working in Randallstown you know you connect with voters.”
She found African American voters who were still suffering from the Great Recession.
“So when I did my homework I learned about conservatism. I was like: ‘Wait I’m a conservative.’ I grew up in a very conservative way. The only difference was the party affiliation. Another reason why I left the Democratic Party is because they have pushed black women to the side.”
She recently moved to Baltimore County to run against Ruppersberger, the former county executive there.
“Dutch is the lowest hanging fruit. He’s been there forever,” said Matory.
“Basically he owns the seat and nobody should own the seat. He feels like he owns Baltimore she feels like he owns Baltimore County.”
Matory’s race is less about Dutch Ruppersberger than the move of the Democratic Party to the far left and toward atheism. She sees this typified in the ascent of Congressman Jamie Raskin and Attorney General Brian Frosh.
“I’m a Catholic Christian. And a lot of us Democrats who are still Christian really felt like we didn’t have a place in the party. I was pro-choice but I am pro-life now.
“You used to have diversity of thought in the Democratic Party. But by 2016 it’s all or none. You know you have to be a thousand percent for transgender rights. You can’t just be a thousand percent for gay marriage; you can’t question it.”
“When I left the Democratic Party I was considered a moderate. Because I was focused on the economy even four years ago.”
There’s more about Matory’s conversion in a thin, 110-page book she published two years ago, “Born Again Republican.”
In all likelihood, if you’re reading this, you’re learning about Liz Matory for the first time. She blames that on the media failing to take her seriously, but she also lacks the money to get her message in this district which includes parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard Counties and a slice of Baltimore City as well.
The June 30 campaign finance report showed Ruppersberger had $1.1 million cash on hand after spending $700,000 this election cycle, and Matory had a mere $4,400, after raising about $10,000.
Ruppersberger has fended off better known and better funded Republican challengers in previous elections. In 2016, he got 62% of the vote against Del. Pat McDonough, who ran and lost for Baltimore County executive this year. In 2012, he got 65% of the vote against Harford County State Sen. Nancy Jacobs.