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Md. congressional candidate voting case probed

EASTON, Md. — Flabbergasted voters on Maryland's Eastern Shore expressed a mix of surprise and disappointment on Tuesday that a Democratic candidate for Congress dropped out of the race after voting in two states at the same time.

Elections officials in Florida said voting information in the matter relating to Wendy Rosen has been referred to the state attorney's office of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida, which is in the central part of the Gulf Coast.

Rosen dropped out of the race for Maryland's 1st Congressional District on Monday. Maryland Democratic officials said they believed Rosen had voted in both Maryland and Florida in 2006 and 2008 and demanded she step aside once they were alerted and verified the accusations.

Julie Marcus, deputy supervisor of elections in Florida, said Rosen provided written notification on Aug. 4 to be removed from the Pinellas County voter file.

Rosen's departure leaves Republican Rep. Andy Harris without a Democratic challenger for now. The Maryland Democratic Party said it will work with the Central Committees in the district to identify, designate and support a write-in candidate in November.

John LaFerla, who lost the Democratic primary to Rosen by a margin of less than 1 percentage point, said he is waiting to hear from the party about whether he will enter as a write-in.

"I am willing and prepared to run against Harris," LaFerla, of Chestertown, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Rosen's name would still be on the ballot while the write-in candidate's wouldn't. That, LaFerla said, presents an obviously daunting challenge. Still, he said he was eager to run.

"What options do you have? And I'm going to give it my best and I think with a lot of help, we actually have a chance of succeeding," LaFerla said.

For some voters on the Eastern Shore, though, a long-shot to unseat the incumbent likely just got a lot longer.

"I mean, all he has to do is jump on Route 50 and drive back to D.C.," said Tim Quinn, a 62-year-old Democrat who lives in Easton, referring to Harris and the road connecting the nation's capital to the Eastern Shore.

Voters who spoke a day after Rosen's withdrawal said they were astonished she decided to make a run for Congress with the alleged voting irregularities in her background.

"I was so surprised that a lady that intelligent would do that — vote in two states — and put herself to risk and her future to risk, you know, and I was just totally surprised. I could hardly believe it," said Buddy Harrison, Sr., a 79-year-old Democrat from Tilghman Island.

While Rosen's departure with less than two months before the election leaves Democrats without a candidate for now, Harrison said he doubted Rosen could have defeated the incumbent, anyway.

"Even if they find someone to run, you know, it's going to be difficult — very, very difficult — to defeat Andy Harris," he said.

Maryland's 1st Congressional District includes all of Maryland's Eastern Shore and parts of Carroll, Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties.

Associated Press writer Gary Fineout contributed to this report from Tallahassee, Fla.