[Baltimore Sun] Sarah Elfreth credits constituent work for primary win in 3rd Congressional District, will face Rob Steinberger in November

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After being declared the winner in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, state Sen. Sarah Elfreth thought about all the work that brought her to this moment — on the campaign trail and in the state Senate.

People said “they were voting for me because of the way I’ve represented my Senate district and that’s what they’re looking for in someone representing their congressional district,” Elfreth said Wednesday. “I was really blown away by that.”

Elfreth said voters appreciated her efforts to get residents access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the early days of the pandemic, facilitate grants for small businesses when they were floundering during the pandemic, and replace damaged roofs on homes in the Annapolis area after tornadoes.

Next, Elfreth will face Republican nominee Rob Steinberger, an Arnold resident and business management and corporate law professional who has never held elected office. Steinberger defeated eight opponents Tuesday night for the GOP nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat representing the 3rd District, which includes Howard County and parts of Anne Arundel and Carroll counties

“I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to represent the Republican Party in Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District election this November,” Steinberger said in a statement Wednesday. “It is time to get to work and stop the partisan bickering and get things done in Washington, DC.”

Elfreth said she centered her campaign on her record representing part of the district in the State House while her main opponent, Harry Dunn, leaned on his national profile. The former Capitol Police officer portrayed himself as a defender of democracy when he protected the U.S. Capitol building during the violent Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

Despite his loss, Dunn said he’s glad he ran and was able to put a spotlight on this part of the state.

There is “national attention on Maryland’s 3rd District right now and, as humbly as I can say it, that wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t in this race,” Dunn said.

Tuesday wasn’t only a historic night for Elfreth but for Maryland women in politics, she noted.

“Maryland hasn’t sent a woman to Congress in 10 years and, after last night, we are hopefully going to send three, which is an incredible feat,” she said, referencing two fellow Democrats who also won primaries — Angela Alsobrooks running for U.S. Senate and April McClain Delaney running in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

Not only were Elfreth and Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County executive, up against nationally known figures in Dunn and U.S. Rep. David Trone, but they both also trailed their opponents in fundraising.

As of the late April reporting deadline, Dunn had raised $4.6 million while Elfreth had $1.5 million. Meanwhile, Trone, drawing upon his personal fortune, outraised Alsobrooks, $55 million to $7.8 million during the same period. The race became the costliest Senate primary in state history.

However, Elfreth received a boost from United Democracy Project, a pro-Israel group affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, which contributed $4.2 million to her campaign, according to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that tracks election funds.

As Elfreth begins to focus on the general election race she will also be devoting the next few months to ensuring Democrats are elected from the local level all the way to the presidency by traveling to swing states.

“I’m a big believer in a rising tide lifting all boats,” Elfreth said. “It’s always worked for me in the past and I think that’s going to be our key to success in November.”

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