Today, the number of women in Maryland’s congressional delegation is down to two – and after Tuesday’s balloting, it could be zero. Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s career as the longest-serving woman in Congress is set to be followed by Maryland’s first all-male congressional delegation since 1973.
The only TV debate between the two major party candidates for U.S. Senate Wednesday night was what campaign debates used to be in the good old days before 2015. In an hour of crisp questioning, Republican Kathy Szeliga, minority whip of the House of Delegates from Baltimore County, and Democrat Chris Van Hollen, a seven-term congressman from Montgomery County, discussed a dozen different issues without rancor, interruptions or personal insults.
They are equal on the November ballot, but the three candidates for U.S. Senate sat together on the same stage for the first and possibly last time Saturday at a forum in Columbia sponsored by an African American coalition. Dr. Margaret Flowers, a physician representing the Green Party, appeared with Republican nominee Kathy Szeliga, the House of Delegates minority whip, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Democratic nominee to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
Instead of traveling to her party’s gathering where Donald Trump claimed the GOP’s presidential nomination Wednesday, Maryland House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga decided to remain in her own state to focus on her campaign against Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County for the open U.S. Senate seat. “I am a little sorry I couldn’t be there,” said Szeliga, who represents Baltimore County in the Maryland House of Delegates. “But I should be here (in Maryland) meeting voters.”
“The stakes are very high” in this race for the seat Sen. Barbara Mikulski is retiring from, Van Hollen told the Columbia Democratic Club. “There is no way Democrats win back the U.S. Senate without winning the Maryland senate seat. We cannot take anything for granted.”
What in the world was Emily’ List thinking when it threw $1 million into the Maryland Senate primary race for a candidate who could be an easy mark for Republicans next November? Why would the women’s political empowerment group try to defeat a much stronger Democratic candidate who has an unblemished pro-choice record and strong support from elected female leaders in Maryland and women’s rights advocates? It’s a baffling call, writes columnist Barry Rascovar.
Maryland Rep. John Delaney was among 47 Democrats to join with almost all House Republicans, including Rep. Andy Harris, Thursday in blocking further admissions of Syrian refugees into the United States pending tougher vetting. The restrictions, in a bill called the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, passed on a 287-137 vote, despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Timonium, was recovering from surgery and was one of only eight representatives who did not vote.
Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen have tried hard to draw distinctions between themselves in the race for U.S. Senate, but Edwards conceded, “We have very, very similar voting records.” “The question is what kind of fighter do you want in the U.S. Senate,” Edwards said, linking herself to Mikulski’s feisty reputation in which “fighting” for something was a staple of many press releases. “You want someone in the Senate who is fearless to take them on.”
Although Maryland will not elect its next senator until November 2016, the party primaries are only 230 days away on April 26. Since incumbent Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced her retirement plans in March, the primary is shaping up to be a clash between two of the state’s best-known politicians, though four lesser-knowns have filed. On Tuesday, Rep. Donna Edwards, who represents Maryland’s 4th District, took another important step in her campaign, filing her certificate of candidacy, and officially placing her name on the ballot as a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Professor Todd Eberly writes: In response to Gov. Hogan’s call for redistricting reform, Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation have argued instead for national reform. Forgive me for not placing much stock in Maryland Democrats’ new found redistricting faith. Rather I think they are calling for national reform in an effort to provide cover for state Democrats who don’t want to give up the power to pick and choose their voters.