After teasing the Maryland public over the last week, 2010 gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy made it official: he’s not running for the U.S. Senate. Instead, he’s backing a first-time candidate who’s spent most of his professional career in law enforcement and who believes, “we did nothing wrong, government failed us.” If you look at this hopeful’s issue page it reads as a fairly conservative platform both economically and in foreign policy.
Daniel Bongino is a 36-year-old Severna Park resident who has no political resume, but instead has worked for both the Secret Service and the New York City police department over the last sixteen years. It would seem a curious choice for Murphy to be backing this neophyte, but Brian hasn’t played by the conventional wisdom yet and probably won’t be doing so anytime soon.
Of course, the obvious question is whether Bongino will be able to take advantage of Murphy’s backing to vault past the other contenders for the GOP’s U.S. Senate challenger slot. Most figure incumbent Democratic Senator Ben Cardin a virtual lock for re-election for a second term but Daniel joins a fairly diverse field of five Republican contenders; a field which includes 2010 GOP nominee Eric Wargotz. Other Republican aspirants are former District 31 State Senate candidate William Capps, political neophyte Rick Hoover, and perennial candidate Corrogan Vaughn.
Wargotz would have to be considered as the odds-on favorite, but it’s worth noting that Eric only garnered 38% of the vote in a 10-man race last year so a better, well-funded candidate could defeat Wargotz in the primary. (In that primary Jim Rutledge, who had a much smaller campaign war chest but considerable TEA Party backing, finished second with just over 30 percent of the vote.) In theory, the blessing from Murphy, also a TEA Party favorite, could allow Bongino a 25-point base in the primary based on Brian’s support.
If events run true to form, the Republican primary for U.S. Senate next year will attract between seven and ten candidates for the nomination. Some of these will be on the ballot for the umpteenth time and others won’t even file with the FEC because they don’t (or won’t) raise enough money to wage a serious campaign. Given that background and the high-profile support of Murphy, a candidate like Daniel Bongino – even as a first-time officeseeker in a statewide race – will be one to contend with as next April draws closer.