Important Down-Ticket Primaries Tomorrow

While all eyes will be on the presidential primaries tomorrow, it is important to note that there are down-ticket primaries in Maryland and Pennsylvania also.

In Maryland, besides the eight congressional districts, there is a Senatorial primary to see who will run in November to replace the retiring Barbara Mikulski.  Most of the attention is on the Democratic side which features several candidates, but the two of interest are Barbara Edwards- a black female- and Chris Van Hollen- a white power broker representative.  Since the beginning of March, polling has indicated a close race between the two with the lead changing from week to week, although Van Hollen has the recent momentum.

Organized labor and feminist groups have been heavily involved in this primary arguing the case for either candidate.  Because Maryland is a reliably blue state, the winner of the Democratic primary has an edge going into the general election and is the preferred favorite to win in November.  This has been a good and at-time contentious race on the Democratic side so whoever wins comes out somewhat scarred and scathed.

On the GOP side, it is likely that state delegate and member of the powerful Maryland house appropriations committee Kathy Szeliga is the best chance for the GOP to make this race interesting come November.  She is considered by many to be the most powerful female politician in Maryland regardless of party.  Whatever the outcome, this has the potential, with the right set of circumstances, to be a race worth watching in November.  Remember that Maryland surprisingly elected a Republican Governor in 2014 and they would dearly love to replicate that feat at the Senatorial level.

At the congressional district level, the 4th and 8th are being vacated by Van Hollen and Edwards respectively.  They are both reliably Democratic districts.  If the GOP has any chance, it would be in the 8th district and a fierce Democratic primary between David Trone, Kathleen Matthews and Jamie Raskin is important to watch.  Trone has thrown huge amounts of his personal fortune into this race.  Matthews is the wife of MSNBC talking head Chris Matthews and Raskin is a well known entity in Maryland politics.

In the Fourth, this is a safely Democratic district so whoever wins the primary- Anthony Brown is favored- should win in November.  If Republicans have any chance of flipping a seat, it is in the Sixth currently occupied by Democrat John Delaney who won after the district was altered after the 2010 Census.  Delaney survived a scare in 2014 defeating his GOP rival by less than 3,000 votes.  The favorite for the GOP this year is Amie Hoeber, who has the backing of NRCC.

Before getting to the Pennsylvania Senate primary, let’s look at the congressional district races.  Although the GOP has no chance of winning the Philadelphia-based 2nd District, it will be interesting to see if Chaka Fattah, the Democratic incumbent who was indicted on racketeering charges (he claims race, of course) will survive a primary challenge from Dwight Evans.

Although there is little drama in the 6th, the Democrats have heavily targeted GOP incumbent Ryan Costello although their candidate Mike Parrish is of concern.  Originally, their person was Lindy Li (all of age 25) who had withdrawn from one district to here and was then disqualified over petition signatures.  Thus, the fate of Costello just got better.

The 8th which comprises a large chunk of Bucks County is being vacated by Republican Mike Fitzpatrick and his brother Brian is running in the GOP primary against Mark Duome and Andy Warren, a Bucks county commissioner.  Expect a Fitzpatrick victory.  The Democratic side has been nasty with local Democrats opposing the national committee preference in the battle between Shaughenessy Martin and Steve Santasiero.

Which brings us to the fight between Joe Sestak and Kate McGinty to see who will oppose Republican incumbent Pat Toomey in the fall.  Sestak lost to Toomey in 2010 after Sestak challenged Republican turncoat Arlen Specter and won the primary, thus ending Specter’s political career.  As a result, he is no favorite of the Democratic establishment.  That explains why anyone of importance in national Democratic politics (Obama, Biden, etc.) are endorsing McGinty this time out.

The DSCC has committed $1.1 million in advertising for McGinty in the primary leaving them only $800,000 to spend on her in the general election by law.  Despite the incredible amount of spending and the lopsidedness of endorsements for McGinty, polling indicates either a Sestak win or a very narrow loss.  Either way, a large chunk of McGinty’s war chest is being eaten up by the primary against a stubborn opponent.

There is no doubt that Sestak wants a chance at a rematch against Toomey given the narrow margin of victory in 2010.  However, with Toomey now established as the incumbent, national Democrats want a fresh face.  This will be a very important race to watch tomorrow.  Sestak is positioning himself as the outsider choice and could benefit by a large Bernie Sanders turnout.  Sestak would likely be the weaker opponent against Toomey which is why the Democratic Party is throwing so much support behind McGinty.