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Pat McDonough considers U.S. House and Senate runs, too

Del. Pat McDonough, one of the most vocal Republican lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly, announced Thursday morning his aspirations to higher office have expanded.

McDonough, of Baltimore and Harford counties, said he would seek the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin if a run in the 2nd Congressional District looks too challenging.

“Radio and television exposure over many years and support for issues such as opposition to illegal immigration have provided me with high name recognition and voter approval,” McDonough said in a press release. “Despite these advantages, that district still remains a challenge. Of course, the re-districting and the new district will not be revealed until October. At that time, if the 2nd Congressional District transforms from ‘uphill to impossible,’ my personal decision will become clear.”

McDonough has been most outspoken in Annapolis on the subject of illegal immigration, and he has been the leading opponent of legislation that would expand rights for undocumented workers and their families in Maryland. More recently, he has taken on the state’s proposed toll increases and even Kegasus, the 2011 Preakness mascot. That effort landed him in prime real estate in a New York Times story on the spokescentaur.

McDonough has been talking about a run for the U.S. House since at least February. That would pit him against Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat and popular former Baltimore County executive who took 64 percent of the vote in last year’s election.

The 2nd was built for Ruppersberger, but the legislature will return to Annapolis in October to redraw congressional boundaries. Democrats have talked about both the (mostly) Eastern Shore district of Andy Harris and Roscoe Bartlett in Western Maryland as targets in that process.

Squeezing Bartlett out would likely mean pushing more northern Montgomery County Democrats into his district, but Ruppersberger’s district borders both Harris and Bartlett, and he could lose some of his voters in the process, too.

The 2nd District “is a difficult challenge and an uphill fight for a Republican,” McDonough wrote in his email to supporters. “However, polling results and reaction from the voters during the last 6 months, including a powerful show of support in the annual popular July 4th Dundalk parade indicate my chances are good.”

And if it turns out they’re not that good, there’s always the Senate, of course.