Capitol Riot

Harry Dunn, former police officer who defended Capitol on Jan. 6, defeated in Maryland House primary

State Sen. Sarah Elfreth, who was backed by a powerful pro-Israel group, won the primary in the heavily Democratic 3rd District.

Former U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn.
Julio Cortez / AP file

Maryland state Sen. Sarah Elfreth won the Democratic primary for an open House seat Tuesday, NBC News projects, defeating a former police officer who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and a slew of other candidates.

Elfreth will be a heavy favorite in the general election to succeed retiring Rep. John Sarbanes in Maryland’s 3rd District, which is solidly Democratic.  

Harry Dunn, a 15-year veteran of the Capitol Police force, became one of the public faces of the officers who battled rioters seeking to keep President Donald Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election. He became a fixture on the cable news circuit, testified at a televised House Jan. 6 committee hearing and wrote a book about his life, “Standing My Ground.” 

Dunn, a political newcomer, used his national platform to significantly outraise more than 20 other candidates, including Elfreth and four other state lawmakers.  

But the dynamics of the race shifted in the final weeks of the campaign as outside money poured in. United Democracy Project, or UDP, a super PAC tied to the powerful pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee spent more than $4 million to boost Elfreth. The bulk of that money was spent on TV ads in the Baltimore market.

Dunn aggressively pushed back against the outside spending.

“You look at the people that are funding UDP. There are a lot of big prominent MAGA donors, especially to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Lauren Boebert and several others. … And those are just the facts,” Dunn said in an interview before Election Day. “I’ve been very outspoken about how I feel against the MAGA faction of the Republican Party, including their leader, and I don’t have any regrets.”

Elfreth said that by law, she cannot coordinate with any super PAC and that she had no idea why UDP is backing her, arguing that her rivals’ positions on Israel are very similar to her own. She campaigned on her legislative record in Annapolis, pointing to the fact that many of her bills, including those on solar energy and Chesapeake Bay restoration, have been signed into law. 

She also spoke to voters about protecting women’s reproductive rights and combating climate change, including major flooding that has hit parts of the district.

“We’ve had tornadoes in this district. We’ve had gun violence. We’ve had flooding. We’ve had a whole bunch of issues that I’ve been able to be there for folks on their hardest days,” Elfreth said in an interview before Election Day. “And that’s a really important part of the job, that at the end of the day, folks really don’t care how I vote as long as they feel like they can turn to me when they need help.”

This story first appeared on More from NBC News:

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