As Marylanders, we are used to the fact that our politics don’t always register on the radars of people beyond our state lines (with one obvious exception being Governor Larry Hogan’s astonishing victory last November).
At least for me, it’s almost shocking to be getting alerts on my phone about updates our senate race.
So what has happened that makes this noteworthy, and where is it likely to head in the future?
By now, most people know that Senator Barbara Mikulski is retiring, creating a vacancy in that seat for the first time since 1987 (which is so long ago that the senator she replaced, Charles “Mac” Mathias, was actually a Republican).
To begin with, some thought that this opening would give former Governor Martin O’Malley a graceful way to bow out of his presidential campaign that is going absolutely nowhere.
As of now, the only announced candidate is my congressman, Chris van Hollen, who has already been endorsed by Harry Reid. His Maryland endorsers include my County Executive Ike Leggett and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. I had originally viewed his as not being overly likely to run given his status in the House, but what do I know?
Van Hollen is far from the only Democrat considering the race. Almost every single Democratic member of congress is looking at it. Congressmen John Delaney, John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger, Andy Harris, Donna Edwards, and Elijah Cummings are all considering it, at the very least.
As someone who has worked on the campaigns against van Hollen twice (with Ken Timmerman and Dave Wallace) and Edwards once (with Nancy Hoyt), I’m looking forward to a plethora of open congressional seats, if more members of congress do decide to run. Who will run for these seats this time around? That remains to be seen, but I am certain that we will have the kinds of quality candidates we need to make these races competitive.
Outside of our congressional delegation, Baltimore’s Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Heather Mizeur (who came in third in the Democratic gubernatorial primary last cycle), Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and former NAACP president, Ben Jealous, are also looking at the race.
Most amusingly, the only two Democrats in recent history who lost statewide runs for governor are both considering jumping into the race: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who lost to Bob Ehrlich in 2002, and Anthony Brown, who just lost to Governor Larry Hogan, have expressed interest in running.
Mikulski also succeeded John Sarbanes’s father, Paul Sarbanes in the House.
On the Republican side, Dan Bongino might run for the seat. He just formed a new PAC, but he may also choose to sit this race out.
If Dan doesn’t run, two other possibilities are former Governor Bob Ehrlich or Ben Carson. However, both seem focused on their presidential campaigns that have little to no chance of success (as Crystal Ball writes, Ehrlich “lost twice to…Martin O’Malley” and although Ben Carson has repeatedly outraised Ready for Hillary, his outrageous comments make him less than viable).
Since this is both my state and my district I’ll be writing much more about both of these in the future. Until now, I hope that this is an adequate starting point for what will assuredly be an interesting set of elections.