Capitol police officer who protected Congress on Jan. 6 launches bid to join it

Retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn announced Friday that he was joining the busy Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring Rep. John Sarbanes, a declaration that came one day ahead of the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack.

“I swore an oath to protect our constitution, to protect our democracy,” Dunn says in his launch video, which features a recreation of the riot.

The candidate, who is Black, continues by describing how he “protect[ed] some members of Congress who I knew were bigots, who helped fan the flames that started all of this. I put country above self.” He goes on, “Some of the same people who stood behind us when we protected them went back on the floor of Congress and stood behind Trump.”

In 2021, Dunn attracted national attention when he testified before Congress that rioters hurled racial slurs at him during their confrontation. “Jan. 6 still isn’t over for me,” he told lawmakers. The former officer, who received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Joe Biden, published a memoir last year shortly before leaving the force.

Dunn, though, doesn’t begin the race with strong ties to the suburban Baltimore turf he wants to represent. The candidate grew up in Prince George’s County, which is in the Washington, D.C., area, and he currently lives just outside the district in Montgomery County. Sarbanes’ 3rd District, by contrast, which is largely split between Anne Arundel and Howard counties, sits to the north, though it does border Montgomery.

Prior to Dunn’s entry, five local Democratic legislators were competing in the May 14 primary for the 3rd, a reliably blue seat that favored Biden 62-36. That group includes state Sens. Sarah Elfreth and Clarence Lam, as well as Dels. Mark Chang, Terri Hill, and Mike Rogers.

The Democratic field also expanded earlier in the week when attorney Don Quinn, who lost a tight 2014 state Senate race as a Republican, launched his campaign. “The most important lesson I learned is that I wasn’t a Republican,” Quinn told Maryland Matters of that first run for office, adding that he joined the Democratic Party the following year. Businessman Juan Dominguez, who has spent months waging a longshot bid for the Senate, also recently filed FEC paperwork to switch to a House bid. Maryland’s filing deadline is Feb. 9, so more hopefuls could still enter over the next month.

P.S.: CNN notes that Dunn would be the second Capitol Police veteran to join Congress—and the first was also a Democrat named Harry. “The late Harry Reid was a Capitol Police Officer,” Dunn said of the late Senate majority leader. “So, I guess I don’t mind being second to him.”

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