by Katie Pohlman
Special to The Gazette
In his speech at the Maryland Young Republicans’ convention on Saturday, Daniel Bongino — who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year — announced he will forgo the gubernatorial race to run for Congress in the Sixth District in 2014.
After looking at the benefits of running in both races, Bongino said he and his campaign decided the best path was the congressional one.
He will officially announce his campaign on June 18.
“The Sixth District would allow us to make the most difference,” Bongino said.
He added that his race is part of the party’s long-term fight to gain control of the state government, flipping the state from blue to red, and to “make Maryland home.”
The Sixth District consists of Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties, as well as the western parts of Montgomery and Frederick counties.
The district is currently represented by Rep. John Delaney (D), who took the seat from Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) in the 2012 election after the state was redistricted in 2011.
Bartlett had held the seat since 1992. Bongino said he wanted Republicans to take back the seat.
Although Bongino lives in Anne Arundel County, which is in the Fourth District, members of Congress are not required to live in the districts they represent.
Last year, Bongino, a former U.S. Secret Service agent, lost a bid for U.S. senator to incumbent Ben Cardin by almost 30 points.
Bongino made his unofficial announcement Saturday, at the convention, which was held at The Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, in front of a group of 40 people.
Attendees heard from several potential gubernatorial candidates and from Katie Nash and Hayden Duke, who are two Frederick alderman candidates.
The list of potential Republican gubernatorial candidates includes Frederick County Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young, Montgomery County Central Committee member Meyer Marks, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Brain Vaeth, New Day Maryland Chairman Charles Lollar and Howard County Executive David Craig.
Craig officially announced his campaign on June 3.
A straw poll for gubernatorial candidates was held at the end of the convention after all had spoken. Craig won with 43 percent of the vote. Lollar finished second with 22 percent and Young came in third with 17 percent.
During the convention, potential candidates spoke of the reform they would bring to the state, as well as the importance of winning seats in the Maryland General Assembly and keeping current ones.
The Republicans could obtain the majority in the legislature if they gain seven more Senate seats, bumping them from 12 to 19, and 14 more seats in the House, moving them from 42 to 56. Speakers at the convention called that an attainable goal.
The key is to mobilize Republicans and sway voters, Bongino said.
That attitude runs throughout the party, especially to the potential gubernatorial candidates.
“It’s not a Democratic state. It’s a Maryland state,” said Craig, who formally announced his candidacy for governor on Monday.
But Craig said the party’s long-term goal could not be achieved without internal unification and support.
That message rang loud and clear in speeches from all of the 2014 potential gubernatorial candidates who attended the conference.
Young said Republicans need to avoid a “bloody primary” in which every man is for himself. But it is even more important to unify after the primary and throw all of the support behind the chosen candidate, he said.
Marks agreed that without the full support of the party, a Republican candidate cannot run a successful race.
“When we work together, we win together,” he said.
The candidates acknowledged that having the political minority in this state means the odds are stacked against them, but they all displayed a fighter’s mentality.
“If you don’t run, you can’t win,” Craig said.
The primary election will be held June 24, 2014.