'Save Democracy' Democrats look to win primaries due to anti-Trump sentiment – Top Stories (Trending Perfect)


Harry Dunn, the former Capitol Police officer whose pitched battles with supporters of former President Donald J. Trump on and after January 6, 2021, catapulted him to political stardom, was welcomed Tuesday evening in Annapolis, Maryland, like a celebrity.

But there was also an undercurrent of skepticism among those attending the Beacon Waterfront restaurant, where he appeared at a campaign event to support his bid for the US House of Representatives.

“We have someone here with a proven legislative record,” Jessica Sunshine, a Democrat from Annapolis, told Mr. Dunn, referring to the state senator. Sarah AlfrithHe is his main opponent in next month's Democratic primary. But, she added, “You have a heart.”

But it's Mr. Dunn, the imposing former offensive lineman who stands up 6 feet 7 inches and 325 poundsHe has not been shy about why he is running: saving what he sees as a democracy on the brink. “This moment, now? It calls for a fighter,” he said.

He is not the only one raising this issue before Democrats.

Over the next three months, primaries in three Mid-Atlantic regions — from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — will test how powerful memories of January 6 are and whether the battle cry of “save democracy” will be applicable. Enough even for Democratic voters who have many other concerns.

For many voters, partisan prominence is almost the only factor in their support for candidates like Mr. Dunn, who starred in the Jan. 6 hearings, and Yevgeny Vindman, who goes by the nickname Eugene and his identical twin brother, Alexander. , played a key role in highlighting Mr. Trump's efforts to force Ukraine to dig up corrupt information about Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Margaret Pippin, 71, couldn't believe it when Mr. Vindman rang her video doorbell Tuesday afternoon in Occoquan, Virginia, and his unmistakable face, made famous during Mr. Trump's first impeachment, appeared on the private security screen. With it. She looked at my ring. “Is it really him?” she said, admitting that she might have confused him with his more famous twin brother. “I’m so happy.”

The celebrity candidate factor has allowed “Save Democracy” candidates to raise so much money nationally that even these less experienced Democrats will dominate the airwaves. But with issues like abortion, guns, inflation and immigration vying for attention, their victories are far from assured — even in the Democratic primaries, where the threat to democracy will be a major issue in a year with Mr. Trump on the ballot.

“There's definitely a small subset of people for whom that's not enough,” Mr. Vindman said of his campaign's focus. “But the vast majority of people think democracy is the most important issue, because they see it pretty much the way I see it. And every other issue comes into play.”

In Pennsylvania, Democratic voters go to the polls on April 23 to choose from the main candidates. Janelle Stilson And Mike O'Brienand four others, all hoping to take on Rep. Scott Perry, a conservative Republican who was deeply involved in Mr. Trump’s efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election.

Mr. O'Brien, a former Marine officer and fighter pilot, has made preserving democracy central to his candidacy. Ms. Stillson, a former television news anchor with a household name, made this case one of many.

Mr. Dunn is one of 22 Democrats vying to succeed Rep. John Sarbanes, who is retiring, in Maryland's May 14 primary that will almost certainly decide the next member of the House of Representatives for the state's heavily Democratic 3rd District. His opponents include Ms. Elfreth, a state senator backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, two veteran members of the Maryland House of Delegates, and a prominent gun control activist.

Mr. Vindman — another new candidate — is seeking to replace Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is running for governor and hopes that primary voters in her marginally Democratic district will side with him on June 18 over seven other Democrats.

Mr. Vindman, the Army colonel who was removed from Mr. Trump’s National Security Council over his connection to the first impeachment inquiry into the president, and Mr. Dunn, a former Capitol Police officer, have become darlings of the Democratic activist group, parlaying fame into huge gains. Advantages of fundraising.

Mr. Vindman had raised more than $2 million through the end of last year, including $1.5 million from donors whose contributions were too small to require disclosure. Among those with greater talents are Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader, and actor Mark Hamill, widely known for playing Luke Skywalker and more widely as an ardent foe of Mr. Trump.

His closest fundraising rival, Prince William County Supervisor Margaret Franklin, raised $122,894.

Because Mr. Dunn does not officially launch his campaign until January, he has not yet had to reveal fundraising numbers, but campaign officials say he will announce first-quarter fundraising totals next week that are closer to $3.7 million. His closest competitor, Ms. Elfrith, raised just over $400,000 last year, but has received significant financial support from outside groups.

Not surprisingly, the celebrity nominations of Mr. Vindman and Mr. Dunn sparked some anger among elected Democrats who served in local offices waiting for a chance to run for the House. In both races, women, most of whom are minorities, feel particularly oppressed.

“Yes, this campaign is about saving democracy, but it is also about restoring the civic, humanitarian and women's rights gains that people fought and died for, and that have been lost,” said Terry L. Hill, a physician who served in Maryland. House of Delegates for nearly a decade.

“I have great respect for his heroism,” she said of Mr. Dunne. “I really respect what he did on January 6, 2021, but I'm really focused on January 6, 2025,” when the next Congress takes office.

The race for Maryland's 3rd District may be the purest version of celebrity-to-worker tension, with Mr. Dunn, a political newcomer, facing off against Ms. Elfreth, an experienced lawmaker who has carried 84 bills since being elected as the youngest woman. Maryland State Senator in History 2018.

Mr. O’Brien described Mr. Perry’s role in the 2020 effort to overturn the election as “number one.” “One issue,” and he thinks voters agree. “In primaries, Democrats care first and foremost about democracy itself,” he said.

But with the April 23 primary just weeks away, Mr. O'Brien is considered the underdog against Ms. Stillson, who is more precise when she talks about women's rights, access to abortion and the price of gasoline and groceries.

“It's definitely a big part of the story,” she said of Jan. 6 and Mr. Perry. “It's not the whole story.”

But for national Democrats, the district most at risk may be Virginia, because the party cannot afford to lose the seat it now holds. Democratic opponents worry about Mr. Vindman's vulnerabilities — he is a relative newcomer to Northern Virginia, and will vote for the first time there in 2022.

He said his 25 years of service as an Army lawyer should serve him well even with some Republican voters in a district with four military installations. But it sometimes slips into the language of Trump's ardent enemies who have embraced him.

“Will there be people who hate my guts because of what I did to their Orange Prophet?” he asked, referring to Mr. Trump. “Undoubtedly.”



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