Q&A with Congressional Candidate Dr. Mark Plaster

| October 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

Republican Dr. Mark Plaster is running for Maryland’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Maryland’s 3rd District includes the South Baltimore Peninsula, Southeast Baltimore, and parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, and Montgomery County.

The General Election is on November 8th. Dr. Plaster will be running against incumbent Representative John Sarbanes from the Democratic Party and Nnabu Eze from the Green Party.

SouthBMore.com spoke with Dr. Plaster as he was visiting his daughter, son in-law, and granddaughter in South Baltimore to learn more about his career and campaign.

About Dr. Plaster

Dr. Plaster grew up as a pastor’s son in the midwest and went to college on a basketball scholarship. After graduation, he went to medical school and entered emergency medical training. He came to the region when he got a job in Wilmington, DE as emergency room director at St. Francis Hospital. While in Delaware, Dr. Plaster went to law school at Widener University and obtained his law degree. He began writing about healthcare policy and launched Emergency Physicians Monthly, which now goes out to 35,000 physicians. He later launched several other publications.

In 2001, while his son was attending the Naval Academy, Dr. Plaster saw a poster for the Navy Reserve Medical Corps. He signed up and was commissioned at age 50 for the Navy Reserves. “When my son graduated the Twin Towers fell so we both knew that we were probably going to war,” Dr. Plaster told SouthBMore.com. “He and I are kind of an unusual father and son in American history given that we both fought in the same war at the same time.”

Dr. Plaster was the officer in charge of the shock trauma platoon with the Marine Corps.

“It really changed my life. I had all this understanding of government and healthcare policy. I came home and saw a Veterans Affairs (VA) system that was absolutely in shambles” he said. “The bureaucracy of the VA is just an example of the massive bureaucracy that is weighing down everything.”

Dr. Plaster is also a member of StartUp Maryland, which works to get new businesses started in the state.

Why are you running?

“When Larry Hogan won, and all the calculus in Maryland changed, we all circled and said maybe Maryland is willing to look at people outside the box.

When I look at our Congressman, he is probably one of the most liberal in the country when it comes to veteran-related issues and small businesses. He voted in the bottom 1% in the entire House with veterans-related issues and he scored a zero with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

I decided with Larry Hogan’s win that people in Maryland are ready for a change. I told my wife we are going to bite the bullet and try to do this. I declared that I would be running in early 2015.”

How has your campaign been received?

“Very, very well. We (Republicans) haven’t been competitive in this state in a very long time. This is the first time we’ve had a candidate face Sarbanes who has an educational background on policy and we’ve raised 100 times as much as the last candidate. We’ve raised more than $400,000. We have staked out issues that are mainstream issues that people have indicated are the most important for them. Taking care of veterans, getting our economy back on track, making sure we have a national security capability that can make us safe. The world is not safe.”

Maryland’s 3rd District has been called one of the most gerrymandered districts as it covers parts of South and Southeast Baltimore, as well as slivers of Howard, Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties. What challenges come with representing such a geographically diverse district?

“This district was the poster child for a PBS News Hour special. They actually rode around in our campaign bus because it is the most gerrymandered district in the country.

There are two aspects of that. How do you campaign? They drew it so it would be very difficult, expensive, and time consuming to campaign in a district like this. And the district represents a very different collection of people with very different concerns. There are certainly things that are more important in the Jewish community like the Iran deal. People in Pikesville were furious John Sarbanes voted for the Iran deal. Anne Arundel County is in four districts and not a single representative lives in Anne Arundel County, which is typical of the lunacy this district represents.

Getting things back on track economically is a concern everyone has. Politicians find wedge issues that drive people apart instead of finding issues that will benefit everyone and concentrating on that. You try to focus on the issues that are important to the most people.”

How do you hope to make things work better in the House of Representatives?

“I’m 64 going on 65, and I’m not interested in a congressional career. I can sit down and talk to anyone and it’s nice to go there and get stuff done, and I’m not likely to be a pure partisan. 99.8% of the time, John Sarbanes votes with the party leadership. It’s clear that partisanship doesn’t help the country, it helps the individual congressman, but it doesn’t help the country.

I’m a Republican but I can still sway people in my own party and listen to people across the aisle. I have the kind of personality which generally likes people. I like to communicate with people and I’m not afraid to listen to opposing views.”

What do you love about South Baltimore?

“As I’m talking to you I’m standing on the corner of Fort Ave. and Henry St. I’m a member of the VFW here, where we just had a street party.

This area represents in essence the best and the future of Baltimore and the nation. We are looking at young people who want opportunity, who want to get out and build a life for themselves. When I talk to people in South Baltimore and Fed Hill and Butchers Hill and Canton, I love this area. I love it, it’s beautiful and it’s vibrant, but everywhere I turn I find people talking about how the city and federal government has regulated things and made things difficult for them.

I’m here (in South Baltimore) visiting my granddaughter and I see the debt, insecurity, and dying opportunity and I want to restore that for her.

When we’re with our granddaughter, we’re either in Riverside Park or Federal Hill Park, or at Light Street Café getting her favorite strawberry banana smoothie.”

Photos courtesy of Plaster for Congress

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Veteran Mark Plaster during a deployment

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About the Author:

Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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