With the Maryland Primary Election just less than 2 weeks away, here is part two on my summary on some of the biggest races here in the Free State. Expect a part three as there are more competitive primary races to cover. Part one can be found here
US Congress MD-03
This race is a very competitive one with a number of good Democratic candidates. The question is will this one stay in the family, so to speak, and go to John Sarbanes, the son of retiring Senator Paul Sarbanes. Or will State Senator Paula Hollinger, a former nurse and long time legislator get the nod. Or will Dr. Peter Beilensen, former Baltimore Health Commissioner, edge past both. These three are easily the frontrunners in terms of money and name recognition.
The sleeper candidates include former MD Dems treasurer and anti-war activist Oz Bengur
, Fighting Dem Mishonda Baldwin
, and TV reporter Andy Barth
Because there are so many candidates, the winner will be whoever can get the most voters to the polls. Progressives take issue with Hollinger due to her flip-flopping on the voting machines issue that caused her bill to stall in the State Senate where an identical House bill passed unanimously. Questions remain whether Mike Miller had anything to do with her indecisiveness on the issue. Ironically this may be a race where a recount could potentially be necessary given the number of viable candidates. With the Diebold machines in use, such a recount will be impossible.
Ben Cardin, who is vacating this seat to run for Senate has not endorsed any candidate in this race. But word is Elijah Cummings (MD-07) is set to endorse Paula Hollinger, which is upsetting to those who worked so hard to get paper ballots passed.
The winner will likely face Republican Dr. Gary Applebaum who currently has the most money raised of the GOP candidates.
State Senate, District 21
State Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr. is facing a tough re-election battle on September 12th. After blocking the assault weapons ban in Maryland, he has made himself the target of many progressives in his district and throughout the state, as well as a target of Stop the NRA, the group started by Sarah Brady to stiffen gun laws throughout the country. Giannetti is being challenged by a former Delegate and Ambassador to Romania, Jim Rosapepe.
Within the last week, Giannetti has come under fire for "overstating the size of political contributions made to his campaign since 2005, artificially boosting his fundraising total by at least $30,000, according to campaign finance reports."
This combined with his stance on gun control may be enough to tip the scales in Rosapepe's favor.
Jim Rosapepe may be a familiar name to Howard Dean supporters in Maryland as he supported the Dean candidacy in 2004.
District 21 includes portions of Prince George's and Anne Arundel Counties and includes College Park, home to the University of Maryland.
State Senate, District 20
State Senator and Senate President Pro Tem (2nd in command under Mike Miller) Ida Ruben is facing the challenge of her 32 year career in the September primary. Progressive Jamie Raskin, a professor of constitutional law at American University and a public-interest attorney, has gotten national attention in his bid to unseat the Maryland icon. (She's known for having the same hairstyle for many years....her signature bun.)
During a debate in Takoma Park, Ms. Ruben became quite testy with Mr. Raskin, stressing that she had brought home lots of money for her district and that getting things done in Annapolis is "hard work". (Where have we heard that phrase before?) She insisted that Jamie would be unable to get things accomplished because he lacked her experience and her relationships within the Senate and General Assembly. Meanwhile, Jamie presented examples of his own experience as a defender of civil rights and as a public servant, being appointed by Parris Glendening and Bill Clinton to serve on various committees. (In other words, Jamie is a no lightweight as Ms. Ruben has suggested.)
This one got ugly a few weeks ago when Ida Ruben's campaign sent out a Karl Rove style flyer spreading lies and distortions about Jamie's record. However, this move backfired on Ms. Ruben when Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-08) came out and defended Jamie and condemned her attacks on him. (Van Hollen and Ruben have butted heads in the past and Ruben had endorsed Mark Shriver over Van Hollen when he ran for Congress in 2002.)
This is a race between a progressive visionary and a machine politician who was endorsed by another machine politician Rep. Al Wynn (MD-04)
State Delegate, District 20
District 20 covers Takoma Park and a portion of Silver Spring. This district is also has an open delegate's seat, vacated by Peter Franchot who is running for Comptroller. Progressives have more than enough choices in this race. While Del. Sheila Hixson should easily win re-election, Del Gareth Murray's fate isn't so certain. It is possible that this district will have two new delegates when all is said and done.
The candidates include a number of Capitol Hill staffers. They are Kerry staffer Heather Mizeur, who has by far the most impressive candidate's website, Sarbanes staffer Aaron Klein, and Cummings staffer Lucinda Lessley. Progressive Maryland's Tom Hucker is also a big name candidate, but has lost some support of progressives for his perceived support for Ida Ruben. The field is rounded out by lesser known candidate Diane Nixson.