Salisbury’s Jim Ireton formally announces bid for Congress

Putting speculation to rest, Salisbury City Councilman Jim Ireton this morning announced he will run for Congress, representing District 1 and competing with incumbent Andy Harris.

He made the announcement in Crisfield because Harris, he said, did not support federal funding for flood relief after Hurricane Sandy.

During his speech, Ireton used strong words to compare Harris to a bigoted landlord from the last century.

Harris voted more than four dozen times against affordable health insurance and wants to see it repealed, Ireton said.

“He wants to return us to the days of insurance companies legally discriminating against Americans. Just like landlords in the 1950s could tell a black family no, and do so legally, Andy Harris wants to give insurance companies the legal right to say no to people with pre-existing medical conditions,” Ireton said.

“In Andy Harris’ America, people with conditions like diabetes, with physical disabilities, with mental health issues, they could all be denied the ability to buy health care by insurance companies,” he said.

Ireton said District 1 needs a congressman “working on problems, not just voting no.”

“We need a congressman who will find solutions, not pick fights. We need a congressman who will go to Washington to make a difference, not just to make a point. And that is why I want to be your next congressman of Maryland’s first district,” the 45-year-old Democrat and former Salisbury mayor said.

“The 1st District needs a congressman who won’t just say no and vote no. In just six years in Washington, Andy Harris has done nothing for the people of the first district. It’s hard to say what he’s for, but we sure know what he’s against. He’s voted against crucial aid to Crisfield to help families and businesses after Hurricane Sandy. He voted against farmers and he voted against health care,” Ireton said.

“I’m here right now in Crisfield because Andy Harris was not. He turned his back on this city when its people needed him the most. Countless homes and businesses were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and Andy Harris voted against hurricane relief for people in his own district.

“As everyone in Crisfield knows, Andy Harris, voted against federal relief funds to help this city recover. He voted against $9.7 billion in hurricane relief – taxes that you have paid to the federal government. And, in your time of need, he refused to approve the aid needed to help Crisfield rebuild,” Ireton said.

Now, more than three years later, Crisfield continues to struggle, he said.

Ireton would face Harris, a 58-year-old Republican and physician, if the two are the winners of an April 26 primary. Voters have until April 5 to register.

If Ireton wins the primary, and then the congressional race in November, he will be required to resign from the City Council, although he may remain on the Council as he campaigns. If he loses, he will continue to serve on the City Council.

District 1 encompasses Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset, Dorchester, Talbot, Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties, as well as parts of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties.

Ireton also charged that Harris voted against helping farmers when, two years ago, he opposed the $950 billion farm bill.

“Well, those concerns don’t help farmers on the Eastern Shore and Harford and Baltimore Counties,” Ireton, a teacher, said.

He predicted an “ugly” race, with Harris attacking him as a person as well as issues voters care about.

He said he believes the congressman will “issue dire warnings about taxes, even though I have a record of cutting fees as the mayor of Salisbury.’

“He will issue dire warnings about crime, even though Salisbury’s Part I Violent Crimes dropped every year I was in office, and dropped almost 50 percent over my six years as mayor.

“He will try and scare farmers, even though the Wicomico River is now healthier than it’s been in decades due to the work of the city while I was in office. And I can only imagine what he will make up to say about me personally. He will try and pit group against group, making this an us against them fight,” Ireton said.

During his travels through the Maryland, Ireton said he has been told repeatedly that residents want “a congressman who will do his job.”

“I will be a congressman who does the work for you, the people of the first district,” he said.

“Send me to Congress and I will do just that.”


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