WASHINGTON — He said he was a “hardcore opiate addict.” Now, he’s running to represent Maryland in Congress.
Fifty-year-old Republican Matt Mossburg didn’t plan on running for the 6th District seat that is being vacated by Democrat John Delaney. He had his eye on the Maryland State Senate seat held by Democrat Ron Young.
But when Delaney announced his plans to run for the White House in 2020, Mossburg, who lives in Frederick County, said he knew what he wanted to do. He announced his candidacy this week.
Mossburg’s not a political newcomer. In 1994 he was a successful Maryland State Delegate, winning the seat as a Republican in heavily Democratic Montgomery County. But then came his 1998 loss, which he said knocked him off course.
Mossburg already showed signs of trouble in his personal life during his tenure in the State House — trouble that included heavy drinking and missing votes. He felt rudderless after his defeat. “I never considered myself an addict. I never thought it was a disease or a problem,” Mossburg said. Still, he was depressed and sought medical help. That led to a prescription for painkillers. “And that led to a four-year run of addiction for me,” he said.
There was a yearlong period of sobriety, but that wasn’t the end of the story. He had a relapse and a stretch of homelessness.
In 2014, Mossburg was back in recovery. In 2016, he testified in Annapolis on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s package of bills on the opioid crisis. He said after that, “One door after another just started opening. Folks started asking me to run again.”
Mossburg feels passionately that as a person who had substance use disorder who went through recovery, he can help others. He said running for Congress is the right thing at this time. He is aware that the immersion into politics could be seen as a threat to his sobriety.
”We learn in recovery that we live one day at a time. It is good for an addict to be concerned about their recovery. That fear is actually very helpful,” Mossburg said.
Politics means long days and nights. Mossburg knows that but said, ”As long as we stay plugged in and involved and active in our recovery, then rarely do we see somebody fail.” He added, “I have a strong sponsor and a good accountability group around me.”
As passionate as Mossburg is about tackling the opioid crisis, he wants to make it clear that he is not a one-issue candidate. As a delegate in the Maryland’s State House, “I have a record of legislative success and accomplishment. I was the sponsor of the Maryland prepaid tuition program 20-some years ago, which are now the 529 programs,” Mossburg said.
He favors a repeal of the current health care law, contending that states can do a better job of administering.
In the current political climate, Mossburg said there needs to be “an open, honest dialogue without attacking people personally.”
Maryland’s 6th District spans a large swath of the state, from the heavily Democratic D.C. suburbs to Western Maryland, where Republicans do well.
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