Raskin and Brown win Maryland Democratic primaries in contested congressional seats

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By Josh Magness and Jessica Campisi 

Capital News Service

A pair of longtime Maryland politicians — former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and state Sen. Jamie Raskin — defeated several strong challengers to become the Democratic nominees for the 4th and 8th U.S. Congressional Districts, respectively.

U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards from the 4th District and Chris Van Hollen in the 8th did not seek reelection their positions in the U.S. House to duel for the seat of Democrat Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who is retiring at the end of her term. Van Hollen won that contest.

8th Congressional District

The 8th Congressional District, a contentious race among nine Democratic candidates vying for Van Hollen’s vacancy, witnessed perhaps the highest level of competition and money poured into a Democratic primary race.

State Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, was the winner of this contest late Tuesday night.

“My voice is tired tonight but my heart is on fire,” Raskin said late Tuesday evening to a crowd of cheering supporters in Silver Spring. “We raised more than $2 million … 80 percent of the contributions coming from amounts of $100 or less.”

Challenger David Trone — the owner of Total Wine & More, a chain of wine superstores — funneled $12 million into his campaign, shattering the record for the most money a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives has ever put into his or her own political bid, according to The Washington Post.

Trone faced stiff competition from Raskin and Kathleen Matthews, a 25-year reporter and later a corporate spokeswoman who received the endorsement of the Washington Post editorial board. Matthews was expected to finish in third place late Tuesday night.

Josh Kurtz, an analyst with the Center Maryland political news site, said earlier Tuesday that each candidate in the 8th District could win depending on the turnout. Raskin, Kurtz said, was expected to prevail if voter turnout was filled with party-line Democrats.

Gina Angiola, a 52-year-old retired physician from Olney, Maryland, said she supported Raskin because of his years of fighting for his constituents in the Maryland General Assembly.

“Public service is not something that can be bought — it’s got to be earned,” said Angiola, who was electioneering for Raskin Tuesday at Springbrook High School in Montgomery County. “When you have someone like him with a record of public service, that counts.”

4th Congressional District

In the race for the 4th District to replace Edwards, onetime Democratic candidate for Maryland governor Anthony Brown fended off contenders State Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk — who was endorsed by the Washington Post — and former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey. Other Democratic candidates — all of whom drew relatively few votes — included Terence Strait, Matthew Fogg and Warren Christopher.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of resources,” Brown told supporters after he was declared the winner Tuesday night, “but we had the power of the people.”

Brown noted that “this isn’t over, (and) we’ve got some work to do” before he takes on Republican nominee Dan Cox in November.

Peña-Melnyk’s strong advocacy for liberal causes is the main reason why Ben Simasek, a 28-year-old information technology specialist for the federal government, said he decided to support her bid against Brown and Ivey.

“She’s supporting the fight for (the $15 minimum wage), she’s supporting a woman’s right to choose, (she’s) protecting Social Security,” Simasek said, “and pretty much providing a very strong progressive alternative to the conservative attacks on the middle class and the poor.”

If Peña-Melnyk won, she would have been the first Dominican American in Congress, said her campaign’s communications director Michelle García. However, after Peña-Melnyk’s strong start against Brown and Ivey earlier in the day, she dropped into third place later in the night.

“(Peña-Melnyk) defied the odds. Usually, it’s a man’s job. The political world, it’s a man’s career. It’s just amazing that being a woman and a woman of color that she’s competing with all men,” said Dalena García, 15, Michelle’s daughter.

In Maryland, Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1. But that didn’t stop some Republicans from jumping into the race.

Republican contests

Among Republicans in the 4th District, George McDermott won over fellow GOP candidates Robert “Bro” Broadus, Rob Buck and David Therrien.

Dan Cox — the winner on Tuesday night — Jeffery Jones, Liz Matory, Aryeh Shudofsky and Shelly Skolnick were the five candidates sparring to secure their party’s nomination in the 8th Congressional District.

Incumbents win easily

As expected, incumbent candidates Democratic candidates C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger — who ran unopposed, John Sarbanes, Steny H. Hoyer, John K. Delaney and Elijah Cummings clinched five of the remaining six congressional districts. Republican incumbent candidate Andy Harris won in the 1st Congressional District.