Maryland has long been a Democratic stronghold. Since 1960 the state has supported the Democratic presidential candidate ten times while only voting for the Republican candidate three times. In 2008 Barack Obama defeated John McCain by a margin of 25.4%, one of his largest margins of victory. Maryland’s House of Representatives delegation of eight currently has only one Republican and while the delegation has been split at several points in the past, the GOP has not been in the majority since the 1950s. More than twice as many Democrats are registered in Maryland as Republicans. While things look bad for Democrats in other parts of the country, polls suggests it is unlikely that things will change significantly in Maryland.
Barbara Mikulski has represented Maryland in the Senate since 1987. She has never won a senate election by less than 20 percentage points and if reelected she will become the longest serving female senator in American history. Her reelection is almost a certainty.
Republicans clearly have no expectations of unseating Mikulski. A leaked Republican National Committee (RNC) fundraising document did not include Mikulski’s seat among those that the RNC should work hard to take. As of now there is no serious Republican opponent for Mikulski. The only well known Republican who planned to her on was Carmen M. Amedori, who was elected to the House of Delegates in 1998, serving until 2004 before being placed on the Parole Commission by then Governor Robert Ehrlich. Amedori has decided to drop out of the senate primary race and focus on being the running mate of Brian Murphy, a candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary. The only other Republican with political experience planning to take on Mikulski is Eric Wargotz, who serves as a County Commisioner in Queen Anne’s County, which contains less than 1% of the state’s population. As of the last filing period Mikulski’s campaign had $2,711,620 cash on hand compared to Wargotz’s $118,321. No other Republican even comes close to Wargotz either.
Because most believe that Mikulski’s reelection is assured there have been few recent polls of the race. The polls that have been conducted, however, heavily favor her. In late February a poll between Mikulski and a generic Republican opponent gave Mikulski 54% to the GOP’s 36%. A Washington Post poll conducted in May showed that Mikulski has a 58% approval rating, with 37% of respondents strongly approving her job performance. Only 26% disapprove. 52% of independents expressed approval of Mikulski.
The same RNC fundraising document that did not include Mikulski in a list of targets also omitted O’Malley. Although this was before Ehrlich officially declared his candidacy he was already expected to run.
The Washington Post poll mentioned above found that amongst likely voters (those saying they’re absolutely certain they’ll vote), Ehrlich and O’Malley were tied with 47% each. Amongst the larger group of registered voters, O’Malley led Ehrlich 49% to 41%. When asked regardless of how they planned to vote whether they approved of O’Malley’s performance as governor compared to Ehrlich’s performance as governor, 55% of likely voters expressed approval. In a poll by Rasmussen Reports released on April 20, O’Malley led Ehrlich 47% to 44%.
While Ehrlich certainly has a genuine chance, considering Maryland’s track record as blue state and O’Malley’s slight lead in polls, it seems likely the current governor will be reelected.
Maryland’s 1st Congressional District is the most completive this year. In 2008, after holding the seat for 18 years, Republican Wayne Gilchrest was unseated by more conservative Republican Andy Harris in a primary. Gilchrest went on to endorse Democratic candidate Frank Kratovil, who defeated Andy Harris by less than 1%. In office Kratovil has been one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, voting against the health care reform bill. Many in his conservative district are angry over his support for the 2009 Federal Stimulus and voters seem likely to elect Harris in a rematch. A recent poll has Harris ahead 39% to 36%. That is an improvement over Kravotil’s dismal showing Harris leading 52% to 39%.
None of the other seats seem likely to change hands. Of the other seven Maryland seats in the House, six are held by Democrats while one is held by a Republican. Interestingly a corporation called Murray Hill Incorporated is attempting to run for Congress in Maryland, presumably to protest the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
—Peter Sicher, Magazine Editor