Every State. Every race. Right here.
This is number twelve in a planned series of 50 entries between now and November, looking at each of the 50 states in terms of every race on that state's ticket--Presidential, Gubernatorial, Senate, House, State legislatures--the whole soft-shell crab kettle. Special attention paid to identifying and promoting the most important contests per state.
Today, we will explore the wonderfully blue state of MARYLAND!
The good news is, Maryland is a solid blue state. The Democrats in Baltimore and Prince Georges Counties alone are enough to outnumber all Republicans, and the rest of the corridor between Philadelphia and DC is solidly Democratic as well. The mixed news is that what Republicans there are are concentrated in comparatively thinly populated but geographically large pockets hugging the Pennsylvania and Delaware borders. The Congressional map was drawn by Democrats to elect six Democrats and two Republicans, and you can easily see the Republican parts of Maryland outlined in the two largest Congressional districts:
East bay voters are slightly closer to Dixie and less socially conservative than panhandle voters, who are closer to Appalachia. Also, those two large districts are where the action is at in Maryland 2008.
BLOGS: Free State Politics provides in depth discussion on all things Maryland: http://www.freestatepolitics.us/
PRESIDENT: Safe Obama. An easy ten electoral votes.
SENATORS, GOVERNORS AND OTHER STATEWIDE: They’re all Democrats, all safe, and none of them facing the voters in 2008. What could be better?
STATE LEGISLATURE: Maryland has a safe supermajority in both houses, at 33D, 14R in the State Senate and 104D, 37R in the lower house. The Wikipedia entry for both houses even has a legislative map showing party breakdown by district, which is useful in showing the political makeup of the state (predictably, the Republicans are almost all in few but geographically large districts along the PA and DE border) and in forming redistricting strategy. I’ve included links to both pages here.
District 1—Frank Kratovil (D) v. Andrew Harris (R). THIS IS MARYLAND’S BIG ONE FOR 2008. The Club for Cancer Growth managed to primary veteran incumbent Wayne Gilchrest, leaving this seat open. Although the district was drawn to concentrate Republicans, and Maryland progressives complain about how conservative the 1st and 6th districts are, remember that "conservative for Maryland" is not the same thing as "conservative for America". Put East Maryland in the middle of west Texas, and they’d look like a dangerous bunch of radicals. Besides this, and in addition to the benefits of a Democratic wave year with heavy Obama coattails, I’m calling this race for Kratovil for the following reasons:
- Maryland doesn’t have anything better to do. With all the other Democrats safe, and Obama likely to get a landslide, Maryland’s many activists, as well as the Governor, two Senators and six representatives, plus the state government system, should go to the mat for Kratovil. The State GOP is in a shambles, with nothing to compete with Maryland’s Democratic machine, while the national GOP has other fish to fry. Of course, there’s always Club for Growth money on Harris’s side, but we’ll counter that with some Kos love, right?
- Gilchrest, a popular moderate who has been in office since 1988, is somewhat ambivalent about endorsing the guy who primaried him. Go figure. The BEST Harris can hope for is that Gilchrest remains silent. If Gilchrest actually endorses Kratovil—which isn’t unlikely—Kratovil wins.
- More than half the population of the district—and a good percentage of the Republicans--is in Maryland’s East Bay, which hates Baltimore the way upstate New York hates NYC, or pretty much the way any rural section of America hates the nearest big uppity city. Now guess where Kratovil is from. Right, he’s East Bay, and well known there as a favorite son. Now guess where Harris is from. C’mon...begins with a "B"... People from this part of Maryland tell me the East-West divide is going to sink Harris, and I trust them. But help make it so by contributing to Maryland’s seventh Democratic Congressman:
District 2—Dutch Ruppersburger (Inc. D). Safe Dem. How can anyone whose name is so fun to say NOT be safe?
District 3—John Sarbanes (Inc D) Safe Democrat. Sarbanes got in easily last election when Ben Cardin moved up to the Senate, and he’ll win even more easily as an incumbent.
District 4—Donna Edwards (D). OK, I lied, sort of. The 1st district isn’t the only big contest in Maryland for 2008. There was one here, too, but we already won it by trading up corrupt DINO Al Wynn for the wonderful Donna Edwards in the primary. A real victory for the More and better Democrats strategists in a district that could safely primary a Democratic incumbent—and did. Edwards makes me think of Susan from the Sesame Street episodes I imprinted on in my formative years, and it’s hard to imagine a more trustworthy face for my generation.
District 5—Steny Hoyer (Inc D), the House Majority Leader. He’s safe.
District 6—Jennifer Dougherty (D) v. Roscoe Bartlett (Inc R). The panhandle and Pennsylvania border, this district was redrawn in 2002 to concentrate Republicans and make the 8th super-safely blue. Democrats do have a chance here and should keep fighting; however, in 2008, the consensus in Maryland seems to be to focus on the 1st district and wait for what will surely be an easier shot in another year. Bartlett is nearing retirement age, and after 2010 Democrats will have a chance to redistrict again, possibly combining the 6th and 8th districts into two blue-leaning districts. If that happens, Bartlett is likely to call it quits, giving us an open blue seat during Obama’s re-election year.
For those reasons, this one isn’t on the map for now. We do have a candidate in case lightning strikes.
This district is Carnacki’s turf, and he is the one to consult on all things related to Maryland’s panhandle.
District 7—Elijah Cummings (Inc. D) Another super-safe minority district, this one centered in Baltimore.
District 8—Chris Van Hollen (Inc. D), the DCCC chair who has done so much to expand our map, and a safe Democrat himself.
REDISTRICTING MARYLAND: I first became interested in aggressive redistricting due to a Kos diary by Silver Spring, on the subject of redistricting Maryland to produce one solid GOP district and a seventh Democratic district. That diary was so thorough that instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m just going to link to it here:
However, if Kratovil wins the first district, we can even do better than that. Kratovil can be made safer by simply swapping the red Baltimore/Ann Arundel county (west bay) parts of the 1st with blue territory in the 3rd and 5th districts (Hoyer and Sarbanes are super-safe no matter what you do to their districts). The 3rd district should also extend south of Baltimore into Howard County to take in the white parts of the existing 7th. Afterwards, the remaining five districts (2, 4, 6, 7 and 8) may be redrawn like the spokes of a wheel, with each district starting in Republican sixth district territory and extending deep into the Atlantic corridor. Specifically, the existing 2nd should take in Harford county, and possibly exchange Cecil (the northeast literal corner of the state) with the 1st; the 7th take in north Baltimore; the 4th Caroll, the 8th Frederick, and the 6th the thinly populated panhandle counties of Washington, Allegany and Garrett before taking a sharp southward turn at Hattiesburg and adding the partisan Democrats of Montgomery. (This is a rough model, and should be designed more by population factors than county borders, but it works). And that would create eight blue-leaning districts.
Doing this does mean the risk that, in a Republican wave year, some of these seats might be vulnerable to flipping. But the risk is not as great as it might be in other, less partisan states. In a state that elects 104 Democrats to a 141 member legislative body, it seems to me that the population can be arranged to elect eight out of eight Democrats.
Previous diaries in this series:
Texas, Part One: http://www.dailykos.com/...
Texas, Part Two: http://www.dailykos.com/...
North Carolina: http://www.dailykos.com/...