Monday, June 22, 2015

Van Hollen and Edwards Go To Baltimore

With the retirement of longtime legend Barbara Mikulski (D), Maryland is facing a true rarity: a competitive Senate race. Well, competitive on the Democratic primary side, and right now it pits Montgomery County-based Rep. Chris Van Hollen against her Prince George's County counterpart Rep. Donna Edwards. Since both represent the DC suburbs, both are looking to reach out into the other big MD Democratic hotspot -- Baltimore (incidentally, the elephant in the room for this race continues to be whether Baltimore-area Rep. Elijah Cummings will jump in. But so far it looks like the answer will be no). But reports seem to be that Van Hollen is making more inroads.

This doesn't really surprise me. Chris Van Hollen is an extraordinary campaigner -- he came to office with an upset win over a Kennedy in a Democratic primary, followed by knocking off a popular 8-term Republican incumbent in a GOP wave year (2002). Edwards, for her part, rose to prominence by primarying out ex-Rep. Albert Wynn -- which, while not nothing, is less impressive given that Wynn was basically an uninspired party boss type and way out of line with the views of his very liberal district. Since then, Edwards has maintained a relatively prickly relationship with a lot of her constituents and various powers-that-be. Van Hollen, by contrast, is well-liked amongst his colleagues and has experience and connections from his successful tenure as head of the DCCC.

Edwards' main strategy has been to present herself as the progressive hero in the race. But while her lefty-bona fides are strong, Van Hollen is certainly no blue dog either, and I think it will be tough to substantially outflank him from the left. Given that, and given Van Hollen's superior skills as a politician and fundraiser, I think that he'll be the decided favorite to win the primary.

Also, while we're on the subject of Maryland, best wishes to Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who was recently diagnosed with an advanced and aggressive form of cancer. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

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