Wendy Rosen, the Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st Congressional District, withdrew from the race Monday amid allegations that she voted in elections in both Maryland and Florida in 2006 and 2008.
It was unclear, however, whether she could remove her name from the ballot with the election less than two months away. Under state law, a candidate has until 70 days before an election to remove his or her name from the ballot. The deadline for the Nov. 6 election passed on Aug. 28.
Rosen, 57, a Cockeysville businesswoman and Maryland voter, told The Baltimore Sun that she registered to vote in Florida several years ago in order to support a “very close friend” running for the St. Petersburg City Council and to vote on local issues there.
Rosen said she was able to register in Florida because she owned property there.
Under Maryland law, a voter here may not maintain registration in a second state if it allows the voter to participate in state or federal elections there, according to Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance at the State Board of Elections.
Asked by The Sun on Monday if she had voted in both states in the same elections, Rosen said she did not remember how she voted. Asked if she had voted twice in the 2008 presidential primaries, she declined to comment “due to possible litigation.”
Rosen was seen as the underdog to Harris, a 55-year-old physician from Baltimore County who is serving his first term in Congress. The district that has grown more solidly Republican since Harris ousted Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in 2010.
Still, she mounted a highly visible effort to promote her candidacy in July at the annual J. Millard Tawes crab feast in Crisfield.
At the time, she told a reporter she believed Harris was vulnerable to a challenge because of unpopularity among voters.
She traveled to Charlotte, N.C., last week for the Democratic National Convention. At a Maryland Democratic party luncheon at that city’s Mint Museum, she stood up to be recognized and receive applause.
Rosen edged Chestertown physician John LaFerla in the Democratic primary in April by just 57 of the more than 25,000 votes cast.
She withdrew from the general election in an email to party leaders.
“I have been proud to serve as the Democratic Congressional Candidate of Maryland’s 1st Congressional District for the last five months, so it is with great regret, and much sorrow that I must resign,” she wrote. “Personal issues have made this the hardest decision that I have had to make.”
The Maryland Republican Party said the allegations prove that voter fraud is real and that it was “happy to see Maryland’s Democrats publicly agree that voter fraud is wrong.” Republicans called on the Democrats to join the GOP in calling for reforms.
Democrats say voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, and describe voter ID laws as a pretext to make it more difficult for the poor, minorities and other traditionally Democratic-leaning groups to vote.