Editorial Elections Talking Maryland Politics 

Democratic Dominos Set to Fall in Maryland

George Wenschhof

The announcement by Maryland U.S. Democratic senator Barbara Mikuski that she would not be running for reelection set off a momentous chain reaction among Democratic elected officials and activists.

On Tuesday April 26, primary election day in Maryland, voters will determine the outcome.

Democratic Representatives Chris Van Hollen (district 8) and Donna Edwards (district 4) are the front runners vying to become the heir apparent to Mikuski.  They are locked in a very tight primary battle with recent polling, when taking into account the margin of error, showing it is basically a tie.

There are still up to 18% undecided voters according to polls and they will determine who will win the Democratic primary. If past history is a good judge, the winner of the Democratic primary will easily go on to be elected the next U.S. senator in Maryland in November.

Both Van Hollen and Edwards would make an excellent U.S. senator and it is unfortunate Democratic voters will have to chose between the two of them and that one of them will no longer hold office.

The outcome may also be influence by voter turnout for Hillary Clinton who has been winning an overwhelming percentage of the African American vote, a strong voter demographic in Maryland.

My vote will go to Van Hollen who has been outstanding as a representative in Congress, leading me to once hope that one day with a Democratic majority he would become Speaker of the House.

An accomplished speaker, who is at ease in today’s 24 hour news cycle, his drive to be informed on all aspects of today’s politics with credibility in both domestic and foreign policy, makes him a perfect fit in the U.S. Senate.

Not surprisingly, the entry of Van Hollen and Edwards into the race for U.S. Senate, set off quite a chain reaction among Democrats aspiring to serve in Congress.

Today, I will look at the gerrymandered district 8 race that drew eight well qualified Democratic candidates battling to win the Van Hollen congressional seat.  Maryland state delegates, a state senator, a millionaire businessman, a former news broadcaster, and candidates with extensive government experience make up the Democratic field of candidates.

The winner in this Democratic primary will also very likely win the General Election.

Once again, this race is difficult for voters to decide from among such a well qualified field of candidates.

The front runners are state senator Jamie Raskin, David Trone and Kathleen Matthews. Although state delegates Ana Sol Guitierrez and Kumar Barve, David Anderson, Joel Rubin and William Jawando will each receive votes, none are expected to exceed a single digit percentage.

Raskin has the best grassroots organization among the candidates and his campaign fundraising in most races would be considered strong.  However the entry by Matthews and Trone has made this a contest between Potomac money and grassroots support.

David Trone, by his own admission has spent nearly $10 million of his own money in his self funded campaign and Kathleen Matthews who is the wife of political commentator Chris Matthews has also raised considerable funds for this congressional seat.

All three are well qualified and will be competitive. As a result, on Tuesday it is likely the winner will emerge from this race with a plurality of 35-40% and not a majority of the vote.

The get out the vote effort by the campaigns and how the undecided voters swing will also impact the outcome of this election.

While, I am concerned with the amount of money spent by Trone in this campaign and believe strongly in the need for campaign finance reform, I found him to be reasonable and sincere. I found myself mostly agreeing with his positions on pivotal issues when I interviewed him.

Matthew’s time spent as a television news anchor also has her well informed on the issues facing voters.

However, it is Raskin who has a proven record on supporting a pathway to citizenship, proposing effective gun safety laws, supporting renewable energy, fighting against fracking in Maryland and supporting an increase in the minimum wage to $12 an hour.

I am glad I do not vote in this district because the choice is so difficult.

Look to see Raskin emerge as the winner in this closely contested race.

As always, voters have the final say – If you have not already taken advantage of early voting, go vote on April 26th!

Stay Tuned.

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