Harry Dunn looms large physically and financially in race for 3rd Congressional District

Harry Dunn looms large physically and financially in race for 3rd Congressional District

At an interviewer's request, congressional candidate Harry Dunn shows his 'Good trouble' tattoo, a reference to the late Rep. John Lewis who advocated causing 'good trouble' in the cause of civil rights. MarylandReporter.com photo by Len Lazarick

Harry Dunn is large – 6-foot-7, 300 pounds. He looks like the professional football player he once aspired to be.

Dunn is the largest figure in the Democratic race to succeed retiring Rep. John Sarbanes in Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District – not just because of his size, but the size of his fundraising haul.

His campaign has raised $3.774 million from 100,000 donors, a remarkable figure for a candidate who had never run for anything but the goal line. It is more than the combined total for all the other 21 candidates in the race.

On the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, he was just another veteran cop of the U.S. Capitol Police. But after fighting off an angry, violent mob that tried to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president, Dunn became one of the key faces of the police force that beat back the rioters. He testified at hearings of the House Jan. 6 committee and appeared repeatedly on broadcast and cable news, particularly MSNBC, the channel that favors progressive Democrats.

Last October, he came out with a book “Standing My Ground,” a short memoir that in plain — even sometimes vulgar –language explains his stand as an anti-Trump, anti-MAGA, traditional progressive Democrat. It became a New York Times bestseller and ranks in the top 50 biographies on Amazon.

He insists he had no plans to run for Congress. “It wasn’t on my radar,” Dunn said in an interview. But he was committed to fight the forces that tried to overturn the election.

His campaign millions have allowed him to run several TV ads and send out multiple mailers to Democratic voters. Despite his almost celebrity status in the race, on Sunday he was doing a little retail politics in the backyard of a home in north Laurel, speaking to about 30 mostly senior citizens.

Lots of qualified candidates

“There’s a lot of qualified candidates in this race right now. Fantastic. If I wasn’t running, that would be great to watch and see how that plays out.

“I’m not a politician, but I am a servant. I’m a career public servant. The last 15 years I dedicated my life to public service. I’m a lifelong Democrat. I have democratic values. I have democratic principles. And those are going to be the driving forces that help decide my decisions and my vision on things.

“However, I have been asked, what’s your agenda when you go to Congress? It’s not about me. My agenda. What do you want? The job of a congressman or woman is to be the voice for their constituents in the halls of Congress, not push your agenda, not be out there looking for soundbites to get on Hannity or to get a tweet of support, praised by Donald Trump. That’s not your job. Your job is to be a voice for the people. And I believe that I am the one who can do that the most in this moment right now.

“Democracy is on the ballot right now. It is. There’s so many issues right now that all 22 of us agree on all of it. Voting rights, lower health care costs, women’s right to choose. We all agree on those issues. However, if we do not have a functional democracy, what do those issues matter? We don’t even have a say right now.”

Dunn touted his friendship with members of Congress he had gotten to know over the years. He said they would help him navigate his new duties on Capitol Hill. His book features laudatory cover blurbs from Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. 8th, and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He has been endorsed by Rep. Adam Schiff, running for Senate in California, and other members of the House.

Nadine Bernard hosted the party for Dunn. She said Dunn is “the right man for this time… He’s the right man to negate a lot” of the MAGA politics in the House.

Four weeks from the primary with mail-in voting already starting, Dunn has already raised and spent more than all the other candidates in the race, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, April 15.

His closest competitor in the money game is Sen. Sarah Elfreth of Annapolis, who has raised $915,685 and has $568,660 cash on hand. But Elfreth is being helped with over $1 million in independent expenditures from the United Democracy Project, which is running TV advertising and sending out mailers that are hard to distinguish from Elfreth’s own campaign ads.

UDP is a pro-Israel super PAC (political action committee) which does not have to follow the same fundraising limitations and disclosure rules as candidates do. This has led to charges from Dunn and other candidates in the race that Elfreth is being funded by “dark money.”

From the Federal Election Commission:

Raised                    Cash on hand

Harry Dunn                                $3,774,045             $1,689,909

Sen. Sarah Elfreth                      $915,685                $565,660

Sen. Clarence Lam                     $639,868                $505,046

Juan Dominguez                         $365,997                $9344

Del. Michael Rogers                  $294,390                $171,222

Michael Coburn                         $229,985                $136,932

Del. Terri Hill                            $134,456                $70,983

Del. Mark Chang                        $134,456                $101,346

John Morse III                            $115,587                $94,156

Abigail Diehl                              $35,925                  $35,925

Aisha Khan                                 $26,554                  $20,480

Donald Quinn                             $19,188                  $6,655

Bernard Flowers (Republican)   $35,912                  $8,159

From the Federal Election Commission website

About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.