Filing deadline tonight for candidates; some get free ride

By Len Lazarick
Updated with noon list.

As tonight’s 9 p.m. filing deadline for candidates for state and local office draws closer, some incumbents look like they will coast to new terms, while others will face tough battles to retain their seats.

UPDATED: As of Tuesday at noon, when the State Board of Elections last updated its candidate list, Attorney General Doug Gansler and a dozenstate senators – a quarter of the Senate, 10 of them Democrats – have a “free ride” to re-election, with no opponent filed in either the party primary or general election.

That could change today if someone files against them. It could also change in the weeks ahead, because party central committees can name a candidate in races for which no one has filed.

There is an abundance of candidates for Congress, with all incumbents facing opposition in the primary or general elections.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, despite her record of winning 60% of the vote or more in every contest since 1976, has drawn 25 challengers: six Democrats – including two named Taylor – 13 Republicans, three unaffiliated candidates, and representatives of the Green, Libertarian and Constitution parties.

State Sen. Andy Harris, running again in the 1st Congressional District, gained a primary opponent last Wednesday in Rob Fisher. Harris seeks a rematch against Frank Kratovil, the freshman congressman who beat him by 2,852 votes in 2008 –  a less than a 1% margin. Party officials are already supporting Harris.

Kratovil faces no primary opposition, nor does Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County.

The other five members of Congress face opponents in both their party primaries and the general election.

It is easy for candidates to file for office in Maryland. Filing fees are low: $100 for U.S. House; $50 for the state Senate and House of Delegates; just $25 for local offices. There are no requirements for petitions signed by voters to get on the ballot, except for candidates not affiliated with a party.

UPDATED: The 13 senators without filed opponents before today are Republicans George Edwards, Allegany, and Barry Glassman, Harford; Democrats Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County; Jamie Raskin, Montgomery; Jim Rosapepe, Paul Pinsky and Ulysses Currie, all Prince George’s; Catherine Pugh, Lisa Gladden, Verna Jones, and Nathaniel McFadden and George Della, all of Baltimore City.

Perhaps the most noteworthy among these unopposed veteran senators is Ulysses Currie, chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee who has been under federal investigation for two years for his work for a supermarket chain.

Unlike the state Senate, few members of the House, which is three times as large, are getting a free ride. They include Del. LeRoy Myers, the man who helped House Speaker Michael Busch become speaker by knocking off Speaker Caspar Taylor.  Also facing no opposition as of this morning are Del. Marvin Holmes, Prince George’s County; and Republican Del. Susan McComas, Harford. CORRECTION: and the Republican delegate candidates on the Upper Eastern Shore, Michael Smiegel, Richard Sossi, and novice Jay Jacobs.

Senate Minority Whip Nancy Jacobs of Harford County filed today has yet to file for her seat, but she has said she is running again. as   as did the delegate who would be the oldest member of the legislature, Del. Hattie Harrison of Baltimore City, 82.

Republican Scott Rolle, the former Frederick County state’s attorney who lost to Gansler in 2006, is now running for the House of Delegates this year.

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