Congressional candidate Dan Bongino stood at the front of the crowded room, as listeners nodded in agreement with many points he made.
Bongino, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for Maryland’s 6th District seat in Congress, stopped at the large, well-appointed home in Potomac on Dec. 3 to raise campaign money.
Bongino shook hands and chatted with more than 90 donors who had come to meet him.
A total amount will take a few days to tally, but by the time all the donations have come in, the campaign expects to have raised more than $20,000 from the event, spokeswoman Karla Graham said.
Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who lives in Severna Park, said he and his wife are looking to move into the 6th District as soon as possible.
He said he understands the argument that a candidate needs to run in the Congressional district where he lives to be more ideologically aligned with the voters there.
But he also argued that first-term Congressman John Delaney (D) of Potomac is “light years away” from the values of most voters in the district, which stretches from the Washington suburbs of southern Montgomery County to the mountains of Garrett County.
When he was elected, Delaney said his top priority was increasing America’s competitiveness in the global market to help create jobs.
His platform included creating an infrastructure bank to invest in communications, transportation and energy; instituting a federal carbon tax; implementing congressional term limits; and preserving the Affordable Care Act.
Delaney doesn’t live in the district either. His house is less than half a mile from the district line after it was redrawn in 2011.
According to the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress have to live in the state they represent, but not the district.
David E. Vogt III of Frederick County, a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, also is running in the June 2014 Republican primary.
In the front hallway of Arlene Hillerson’s Potomac home, a table was set up where people could buy copies of Bongino’s book “Life Inside the Bubble,” about his time in the Secret Service and his decision to leave the agency and run an unsuccessful challenge against Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) of Pikesville in 2012.
The book was listed on Thursday at number 13 on The New York Times’ list of bestselling e-books.
Writing the book was a delicate matter for him, because he didn’t want to damage the Service’s relationship with the president, Bongino said.
The main speaker on Dec. 3 was Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R), who addressed the crowd in front of a large stone fireplace with a yellow Bongino for Congress banner.
He said Bongino would guest host Sean Hannity’s radio show on Dec. 23, drawing an approving chorus of applause.
Gohmert, a regular guest himself on conservative radio and television shows, defended the Republicans’ decision to push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which led to a three-week government shutdown in October.
Gohmert asked: If you know that’s what is best for the country, why wouldn’t you try to do it?
Maryland needs Bongino in Congress, Gohmert said.
“Could we possibly do better than someone who’s willing to take a bullet for his country?” he said.
While he’s often associated with the tea party movement, Bongino said he doesn’t like to get into the semantics of who is in the tea party and who isn’t. He said he views the tea party as normal Americans tired of paying more in taxes.
He has nearly 42,000 “likes” on his Facebook page, and said a good portion of them identify themselves as Democrats.
Bongino said people want candidates who can take the edge off rhetoric while staying true to their principles.
“Don’t let anyone pigeonhole you as the angry Republican,” he said.