Rep. Frank Kratovil (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: May 29, 1968, Lanham .
Education: W. MD Col., B.A. 1990; U. of Baltimore, J.D. 1994..
Family: Married (Kimberly); 4 children.
Elected office: State's attorney, Queen Anne's County, 2002-08.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1994-present.
The new congressman from the 1st Congressional District is Frank Kratovil, a Democrat elected in 2008. After state Sen. Andy Harris ousted incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in the Republican primary, Kratovil upset Harris in a close November contest, becoming the first Democrat in 18 years to represent the Republican-leaning district.
|Frank Kratovil (D)||177,065||(49%)||($1,994,553)|
|Andy Harris (R)||174,213||(48%)||($3,024,144)|
|Richard Davis (Lib)||8,873||(2%)|
|Frank Kratovil (D)||28,566||(40%)|
|Christopher Robinson (D)||21,892||(31%)|
|Steve Harper (D)||11,904||(17%)|
|Joseph Werner (D)||8,753||(12%)|
Kratovil (KRAT-o-vill) was born in Lanham, Md. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College, northwest of Baltimore, then went to law school in Baltimore. He worked in the city’s public defender’s office during school and after his graduation in 1994, then clerked for the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. In 1997, he was appointed assistant state’s attorney in Queen Anne’s County. In 2002, he was elected state’s attorney for the county, becoming one of the youngest state’s attorneys in Maryland history. He was re-elected in 2006. During his tenure, he was also appointed by Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich to the Maryland State Board of Victim Services.
After a brutal Republican primary in February 2008, nine-term incumbent Gilchrest was defeated by Harris. In that campaign, Harris had attacked Gilchrest, a Republican moderate, for voting with Democrats to support a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. He painted Gilchrest as an economic liberal, a claim that was reinforced in advertising by the deep-pocketed Club for Growth, a national anti-tax group. Former Gov. Ehrlich also endorsed Harris over Gilchrest. Harris defeated Gilchrest 43%-33%. The presence of state Sen. E. J. Pipkin, one of three other Republicans in the contest, also worked against Gilchrist, as Pipkin carved out 20% of the vote. Gilchrest called his defeat “a clear sign the party is split between dogma and tolerance,” and refused to call Harris to concede.
Kratovil bested three other candidates in the February Democratic primary, taking 40% of the vote. He entered the general election lagging in the polls and in fundraising, but got considerable help from the Democratic Party and unions. Kratovil portrayed himself as a Gilchrest moderate, campaigning on the need to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and expand access to health care. Gilchrest crossed party lines to use his considerable influence and name recognition in the district to help Kratovil, calling him “a man after my own heart.” He campaigned actively for the Democratic nominee, even appearing in an ad for Kratovil.
Kratovil attacked Harris as a “just way out there” conservative, emphasizing his unwillingness to work with Democrats in the state Senate. The national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent more than $2 million, mainly on ads attacking Harris for his ties to oil and banking interests and highlighting campaign contributions he’d received from insurance companies. The League of Conservation Voters and the Service Employees International Union also spent money on Kratovil’s behalf. For his part, Harris worked to tie Kratovil to Democratic liberals such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and presidential nominee Barack Obama, calling Kratovil in one ad “clueless, liberal and very wrong.” Harris also labeled him a “big spender.”
On Election Night, Kratovil had a narrow lead of 916 votes, with absentee ballots yet to be counted. A week later, his lead had expanded to 2,852 votes, and Harris conceded. The final result was 49.1% for Kratovil to 48.3% for Harris. The Republican handily won the district’s portions of Baltimore and Harford counties, which he had represented in the state Senate; he also carried Anne Arundel County. Kratovil carried the rest of the district’s counties, with heavy support along the Eastern Shore.
In Washington, Kratovil pledged to be a moderate voice in the Gilchrest mold. On the first major issue before the 111th Congress in 2009, he was one of 11 Democrats to vote against President Obama’s economic-stimulus bill. Kratovil later voted in favor of the revised bill that had passed the Senate, citing its spending cuts and increased focus on infrastructure development. He was one of four Democratic freshmen to join the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, and he received appointments to the Agriculture, Armed Services and Natural Resource committees. In what could shape up to be another close race, Harris announced in March 2009 that he would seek a rematch against Kratovil in 2010.