Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino picked up two high-profile conservative endorsements Monday: former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.
Bongino, a former New York City police officer and Secret Service agent, won the Republican primary in April and is running against Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin. Both Palin and DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund announced their support Monday morning.
“They have a history of taking a chance with outsiders who stand on principles. We’ve always known in this state that we’ve had a shot,” Bongino told The Daily Caller. “Ben Cardin is an unpopular statewide politician with name recognition that’s not commensurate with the 45-year-plus career in politics. I think the governor knew that and Sen. DeMint’s PAC saw that, and we are really honored to have their support.”
“I think it’s a game-changer for us,” he said.
Bongino said name recognition has been the biggest challenge for his campaign, but predicted that Palin and DeMint will help get the word out about an alternative to Cardin, whom National Journal rated the 10th most liberal senator in 2011.
“There isn’t a candidate in the country who has more passion for conservative principles than Dan Bongino,” wrote Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, in a fundraising email. “He’s fearless when it comes to articulating how liberal policies have destroyed inner cities, and he’s unwavering is his support for the principles of freedom that make this country the best the world has ever known.”
The Fund has backed Republican challengers including Ted Cruz in Texas and Richard Mourdock in Indiana.
“In supporting Dan Bongino, we are offering Maryland voters a clear choice either to continue with the failed policies and crony capitalism of the permanent political class, or to shake things up with Dan Bongino and cast a vote that helps put our country back on the path to prosperity,” Palin said in a statement Monday.
Both Palin and DeMint acknowledged the tough fight Bongino faces in running against an incumbent in traditionally Democratic Maryland. Cardin was a speaker of the state House of Delegates who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years before winning his Senate seat in 2006.
“Though political pundits often dismiss conservative candidates running in deep blue states, I don’t believe in ignoring good candidates simply because they’re fighting uphill battles against the odds,” Palin wrote. “In fact, I find such candidates incredibly brave and especially worthy of encouragement.”
Bongino said that he has rejected thoughts of running in a more traditionally Republican state because “the real fight is here.”
“The folks in Maryland deserve a diversity of political thought.”
He added that Maryland’s high taxes are hurting the state’s job growth and driving residents to Virginia and other nearby states.
“We have I-95 running right through the state. We have proximity to Washington, D.C. We have Baltimore, we have Annapolis, two great cities. We have the mountains, we have the [Chesapeake] Bay, tourists locations, an educated workforce,” he said.
“How Maryland is losing jobs is an absolute absurdity, reflective of a one-party monopoly that is not at all accountable to the people of Maryland anymore.”