Around the U.S. in 50 Days: Delaware, DC and Maryland

There is another Senatorial race in 2012 in Delaware. Democratic incumbent Tom Carper, to read the liberal press in the First State, is not particularly popular. However, this seems to be the mantra every year in Delaware when it comes to a Senate race. The problem for the GOP is that there are few viable candidates to take on these “substandard” Democratic opponents. Thus far, the only Republican to step forward is businessman Kevin Wade. His website sounds great and he has begun a “get acquainted” tour of Delaware. Most likely, however, this will not be that close of a race. The same can be said of their lone House seat as the Democrats should win that one also. And in keeping with the blue nature of Delaware, look for them to take Delaware’s three electoral votes.

The District of Columbia gets no representation in Congress, but they do get three electoral votes. Considering that they gave Obama greater than 80% of the vote in 2008, I think we can safely assign those three electoral votes to Obama in 2012 also.

Obviously, the main focus of this entry is Maryland. Considered deeply blue, this is a state that has elected exactly two Republican governors since 1960, and only one of them served a full term. There is a Senate race as incumbent Ben Cardin will likely win another term to the Senate over Tom Mangione, a former police officer and Secret Service Agent.

Instead, the House races and redistricting is where all the action is in Maryland. There are three dominant themes here among the House races: Baltimore, Roscoe Bartlett, and John Sarbanes. In 2010, Andy Harris defeated Democrat Frank Kratovil to win Maryland’s Eastern Shore area with 54% of the vote. His district, inadvertently, became a little safer as the Democratic legislature obviously had other ideas in mind- Baltimore, John Sarbanes and Roscoe Bartlett. However, Harris may be vulnerable to a challenge later in the decade.

The safe Democratic seats are the 2nd represented by Dutch Ruppersberger who won with 64% of the vote in 2010. His new district takes in parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties as well as part of the city of Baltimore. The GOP has a 4-man field in the primary led, probably, by state senator Nancy Jacobs, although any of the others (Larry Smith, Richard McDonough, and Richard Impallaria) could emerge. The 4th, although losing parts of Democratic Montgomery County, should be safe in the hands of Donna Edwards. She opposed this redistricting plan that went into effect, but bit the bullet for the good of the party. Regardless, she should win easily, although not with 83% of the vote as she did in 2010.

Steny Hoyer- Nancy Pelosi’s water boy- should be safe in the 5th which extends north into parts of Anne Arundel County although don’t discount a strong run by Anthony O’Donnell for the GOP. He is the minority leader in Maryland’s house of delegates. Elijah Cummings in the 7th- basically Baltimore proper- also is a shoo-in. Finally, Chris Van Hollen’s 8th District becomes a little more Democratic by taking in the bulk of Montgomery County at the expense of Edwards.

The key changes are the 3rd District held by John Sarbanes and the 6th District held by Republican Roscoe Bartlett. Generally speaking, the 3rd District expanded outwards and enlarged to take in as much physical territory as humanly possible. In essence, it becomes sort of a statewide district without encompassing the entire state. The reason is that the Democrats are clearly attempting to expose incumbent Democrat John Sarbanes to a larger segment of the population. Sarbanes is the son of a former Governor and Senator from Maryland, Paul Sarbanes. He is frequently mentioned by Maryland Democrats as a future Senate or Governor candidate for the party. Unfortunately, by enlarging his district, they created some odd looking districts that would have 6th grade civics students screaming “gerrymander!” But, such is the nature of politics in Maryland. And surprisingly, no lawsuits. Hmmmm….

Which brings us to the 6th District represented by Roscoe Bartlett. Originally, this district encompassed rural and conservative areas in the western part of the state along the West Virginia and Pennsylvania borders. However, with redistricting, in addition to the existing Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties, parts of Montgomery and Frederick counties, traditionally Democratic areas that skirt the DC suburbs, were added. Bartlett is a trooper however and has stated that he will seek reelection in this district despite having an obviously large target on his back. Additionally, this was done to the benefit of state senator Robert Garagiola who intends to run against Bartlett should he survive the GOP primary. Because new areas were drawn into the district, it opened Bartlett to primary challengers chief among them state senator David Brinckley. Assuming Bartlett survives, he will be a somewhat weakened candidate against a rested and funded Democratic opponent. If Bartlett defeats Garagiola, then it would be one hell of a Republican stand.

So, what does this all have to do with Baltimore? Over the decade, the city has seen population loss. Other areas, mainly Montgomery County and the general area around the DC suburbs has shown population increases. Yet, Baltimore or its immediate surroundings is represented by four different districts. This may be a future talking point as the population shifts further. The Democrats in the Maryland legislature may have settled some scores and may have increased Democratic chances this year and maybe through this decade. But, they, by ignoring demographic reality, may have sown the seeds of discontent later in the decade, especially if Baltimore continues to lose population.

Between all three entries here, there will be no change in the Senate and the Democrats will likely take Maryland’s 6th District, which is unfortunate. Still, I expect Bartlett to make a concerted stand against Garagiola and it should be close. If he loses, he is not going down without a fight. Plus, all the electoral votes from this area go to Obama.

Running totals thus far:
Obama with 233 votes to 223 for the GOP
Net gain of 2 Governors;
Net gain of 4 Senate seats;
Net loss of 7 House seats.

Next: Virginia