Pipkin May Decide to Run Against Harris

The 2010 election already has set up one rematch from 2008 as state Senator Andy Harris, R-7-Baltimore and Harford counties, prepares to run against incumbent U.S. Representative Frank Kratovil, D-Md., in the state’s First Congressional District. But a second rematch could be in the making, as state Senator E.J. Pipkin, R-36-Upper Shore, also considers a run for the congressional seat.

While he likely will continue serving in the Maryland Senate, Pipkin said in a recent interview, he is “looking at all [his] options at this point.” Pipkin’s entrance into the race would create a partial replay of the 2008 primary, when Harris defeated Pipkin and incumbent U.S. Representative Wayne Gilchrest for the Republican nomination. In that election, Harris won with roughly 43 percent of the vote, and Pipkin finished third with about 20 percent.

If he does decide to run, Pipkin would not only pull votes but also volunteers and money away from Harris, according to Paul Herrnson, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. Herrnson said it was unclear as to how a Republican primary could affect Kratovil’s chances of keeping his seat. On one hand, political attacks and criticisms by both candidates in the primary could be used again by Kratovil when he faces the winner. On the other hand, an exciting primary could mean more media coverage, giving the Republican nominee increased notoriety with voters in the general election.

Pipkin said he has not “made any decisions” on his run, and did not give a timetable as to when a decision would be made. He did, however, say that a significant factor in his decision-making process would be if former Governor Robert Ehrlich challenges sitting Governor Martin O’Malley.