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Olszewski, Klacik, to square off in 2nd District race

John Lee
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski declaring victory in the Democratic Primary in the 2nd Congressional District race.

The race for Maryland’s Second Congressional District seat will be between a progressive Democratic county executive and a conservative radio talk show host and supporter of former President Donald Trump.

Republican Kim Klacik is making her second run for Congress after losing in a lopsided race in 2020. Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is running for the seat after considering, then backing away from races for governor in 2022 and the United States Senate this year.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday night, Olszewski had nearly 79% of the vote in a six-way race for the Democratic nomination, Klacik had nearly 64% in a three-way GOP contest

Speaking to a packed room of supporters at Union Craft Brewing, Olszewski acknowledged the challenges ahead.

“From health care to housing, from economic empowerment to infrastructure, our nation faces issues that demand bold and decisive action, and come November we must elect leaders who are prepared to confront these issues head on,” Olszewski said. “I’m ready.”

Klacik did not return requests for comment about her win in the Republican primary. In a February interview with WYPR, Klacik said she was ready to take on Olszewski.

“When it comes to schools, when it comes to crime and violence, things have gotten worse on his watch,” Klacik said.

Olszewski declined to talk about his matchup with Klacik, saying Tuesday night was for celebrating his primary win with his supporters.

Retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin was asked if Klacik’s connection to Trump would hurt her in the Fall campaign against Olszewski.

“I believe that Maryland will vote overwhelmingly for Joe Biden for President, and I think the second congressional district will be one of those congressional districts that will be voting for Joe Biden,” Cardin said. “I think they’ll be voting for Johnny Olszewski because of Johnny Olszewski and his qualifications.”

During the primary, Olszewski said he was concentrating on winning the Democratic nomination, but that didn’t keep him from attacking Klacik.

In February a Democratic political action committee, ActBlue sent out a fundraising text that said, “Far right Republican Kimberly Klacik raised more than $8 million dollars in her 2020 campaign, and we can’t take anything for granted.”

It continued, “We know that hardline GOP mega-donors are going to pour millions of dollars into this race. Democrat Johnny O needs your help to fight back and keep the seat blue in November.”

Asa Leventhal, Olszewski’s campaign manager, confirmed that the message was from the Olszewski campaign.

They also have sparred on X over the government helping out college graduates with student loan debt.

In 2020, Klacik ran unsuccessfully for Maryland’s seventh congressional district seat, losing to Kweisi Mfume and receiving only 28% of the vote. She had former President Donald Trump’s backing and was able to use that to raise millions for her campaign.

Olszewski currently has an overwhelming fundraising advantage over Klacik.

According to campaign finance reports filed April 24, Olszewski has raised more than $830,000 and has nearly $344,000 cash on hand. Klacik has raised just over $38,000 with just over $12,000 available to spend. She also has loans totaling more than $170,000.

The seventh district, which is comprised mostly of Baltimore City, is far more Democratic than the second, which includes most of Baltimore and Carroll Counties and a small portion of the city. However, the second is a Democratic-leaning district.

It is an open seat because Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger decided to retire.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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