Republicans in Maryland are accusing Del. Aruna Miller, a Democratic congressional candidate, of “rolling out the red carpet for criminals,” in a new mailing the party’s state organization sent to voters.
Miller (D-Montgomery) is among eight Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for the 6th District seat that Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) is vacating.
She accused the state GOP of trying to “demonize all immigrants.”
The mailing refers to support for state legislation that would bar Maryland and local authorities from questioning individuals about their immigration status.
Miller was among 58 lawmakers who signed on to the pending legislation, which was sponsored by Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez (D-Montgomery). Gutierrez introduced the legislation — Supporting All Families Everywhere (SAFE) — earlier this year. An identical bill passed the House 83 to 55 last year but died in the Senate.
“Delegate Aruna Miller is treating criminals like celebrities,” reads the Maryland state GOP’s mailer, which also claims that MS-13 gangs have “invaded neighborhoods” and “we are losing the battle against opioids.”
“And now, Aruna Miller wants to give criminals even more protection at our expense,” claims the mailer, which also appears in Facebook advertising. “Why would Delegate Miller prioritize criminals over us?”
The mailer shows a man in handcuffs, from behind, as he walks on a red carpet, past photographers. The mailer also includes a petition inviting respondents to “tell Aruna Miller that her bad bills jeopardize your family’s safety.”
Miller alerted reporters to the mailing and her campaign released a statement in which she characterized the mailer as “racist.”
“As an immigrant and proud American, I find the dog-whistle rhetoric used by Trump Republicans to be despicable,” Miller, who was born in India, said in her statement.
Dirk Haire, the state GOP’s chair, said in his own statement that voters “deserve to know about Delegate Aruna Miller’s voting record.” Haire associated Miller with the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, which he described as unconcerned with “community safety.”
Patrick O’Keefe, the state GOP’s executive director, did not respond to questions about how much the party paid for the mailer or the number of households to which it was sent.
Immigration reform has been the source of fierce debate between Democrats and Republicans nationwide, with both parties seizing on opportunities to portray each other negatively. In Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race, Republican Ed Gillespie sought to portray Democrat Ralph Northam as soft on MS-13. Northam won the election.
Miller is competing in a field of Democratic candidates that also includes wine magnate David Trone; state Sen. Roger Manno (Montgomery); Andrew Duck, a retired intelligence officer; Christopher Hearsey, a former aerospace executive; George English, a retired economist; Chris Graves, a businessman; and Nadia Hashimi, a pediatrician. The primary is June 26.
The Republican candidates include Amie Hoeber, a defense contractor, and Lisa Lloyd, a nurse practitioner.