Democrat?s race for Congress under new management

Len Lazarick

Democrat Frank Kratovil Jr.?s campaign for the First Congressional District is touting a new "veteran campaign operative" to run the effort, an indication that the seat long in Republican hands could be up for grabs.

Tim McCann?s appointment to campaign manager, however, shows the Democrat?s campaign is in "obvious disarray," with hired guns from out of state being brought in to turn it around, said the manager of Kratovil?s opponent, Republican state Sen. Andy Harris, of Baltimore and Harford.

Kratovil?s hiring of McCann came a week after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Kratovil to its "Red to Blue" list,

giving the race priority for financial help and support services from the national party.

Rather than a campaign in disarray, "it?s the exact opposite," said McCann, who has worked in a number of races in Republican-held congressional districts.

"It?s a big sign of momentum," he said. "Fundraising is picking up," including a Capitol Hill event Thursday hosted by Maryland senators and representatives that raised about $80,000.

"This is going to be one of the biggest races in the country," said McCann, who has been a consultant for Sutter?s Mill Fundraising & Strategy in Washington, D.C.

Harris? campaign manager Chris Meekins, who helped engineer the Baltimore County senator?s wide victory over nine-term incumbent Wayne Gilchrest in the February primary, acknowledged that the DCCC "is going to do anything they can to help Frank Kratovil," the state?s attorney in Queen Anne?s.

Meekins said Kratovil has called himself "an ally of Martin O?Malley," and a fan of higher taxes and big spending.

"They don?t call it the red to purple program because the candidates on that list are going to be lapdogs of the liberal Washington Democrats," said Meekins, who added that he and his staff are all Maryland natives.

McCann, who was raised in New Jersey, as was Gilchrest, said the conventional wisdom that the race favors Harris will change as the energy and enthusiasm of Kratovil?s effort becomes apparent.

Harris is "not the type of moderate and independent voice of leadership" the district was used to under Gilchrest, McCann said.   

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