Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a leading proponent of women’s issues, waded into the race to succeed Democratic Rep. John Delaney in Maryland on Wednesday by offering her endorsement in the crowded field of candidates.
Gillibrand is backing state Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery), describing her as a defender of “women and children from their abusers” and an advocate for providing paid sick leave “for all Maryland workers.”
“I can’t wait to see what she’ll do in Congress,” Gillibrand said in a statement released by Miller’s campaign.
Miller is among eight Democrats running in the June primary to replace Delaney, a three-term congressman who is relinquishing the 6th District seat to campaign for the 2020 presidential election.
The Democratic candidates also include state Sen. Roger Manno (Montgomery), Andrew Duck, a retired intelligence officer, and David Trone, the wine magnate who spent $13 million of his own money in 2016 on a losing campaign in Maryland’s 8th District.
The Republican candidates include Amie Hoeber, a defense contractor who challenged Delaney in 2016, and Lisa Lloyd, a nurse practitioner.
The 6th District stretches from the Washington suburbs of Montgomery County to the farthest reaches of Western Maryland, and is a mix of conservative, moderate and liberal voters. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) captured nearly 60 percent of the district in 2014, while Hillary Clinton (D) won it in 2016.
By December, Trone had spent more than $1.6 million on the race and still had around $787,000 in the bank, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which collates campaign finance records. Miller had spent $107,000, though she had $752,000 left in her campaign account. Manno had $284,000 in the bank. Another Democratic candidate, Nadia Hashimi, a pediatrician and novelist, reported that she had $348,000 in the bank.
During her tenure in the Senate, Gillibrand has emerged as a leading voice for ending sexual assault in the military and is often mentioned by Democrats as a potential presidential contender in 2020.
The senator provoked the ire of President Trump last year when she demanded his resignation and called on Congress to investigate womens’ allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
In recent years, Gillibrand started a political action committee, Off the Sidelines, to encourage women to run for public office. The PAC has supported dozens of women seeking seats in the House and Senate. The PAC has contributed $5,000 to Miller’s campaign.
A spokesman for Miller said the delegate has no plans to campaign with Gillibrand.
The senator’s endorsement is the second high-profile show of support for Miller, who was recently backed by Emily’s List, an advocacy group that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.
Trone also has collected several endorsements, including from Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D), Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and former Montgomery county executive Doug Duncan (D).
Maryland’s congressional delegation has been all-male since the recent retirement of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) and Rep. Donna F. Edwards lost her campaign to succeed Mikulski.
The Democrats seeking to succeed Delaney also include Christopher Hearsey, a former aerospace executive; George English, a retired economist; and Chris Graves, a businessman.