We don’t have a representative from all eight districts quite yet, but the news that Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell is going to challenge entrenched Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer brings up the question of who will be minding the store?
Let’s look at it district by district:
- Obviously the First District has been made more safely Republican, as former State Senator Andy Harris won the seat in 2010 and hasn’t seen any significant Democratic opposition yet. At one time State Senator Jim Mathias was thought to be interested in running, but that may not be in the cards due to a increase in the GOP base there.
- In the Second District, where Dutch Ruppersberger has been in office for several terms, the name originally linked to a run was Delegate Pat McDonough. But he’s been waffling over the last months over whether to run for that seat or a statewide U.S. Senate seat; meanwhile former Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs stepped down from that post in order to explore a Second District run.
- In the Third and Fourth Districts – John Sarbanes and Donna Edwards, respectively – no member of the General Assembly has stepped forward to make a challenge. In those cases, we’ll probably have to wait until they retire.
- As noted above, Tony O’Donnell is challenging Steny Hoyer in the Fifth District.
- The Sixth District is a bipartisan circus as Democrats gerrymandered the district into being much more Democrat-friendly than the previous rendition, presumably as a favor to State Senator Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola to run. But the GOP has its share of politicians doing battle, with current State Senator David Brinkley being joined by recently-deposed former Senator Alex Mooney in the fray – a challenge which also leaves the state GOP scrambling for a Chair during an election year. All of them will have to deal with longtime incumbent Roscoe Bartlett.
- So far the Seventh and Eighth Districts, represented by Elijah Cummings and Chris Van Hollen, have also been quiet.
- Along with the possibility of Delegate McDonough seeking a Senate seat against incumbent Ben Cardin, some have also spoke about a primary challenge from State Senator C. Anthony Muse of Prince George’s County.
Obviously some of these running will survive the primary, but it will be an interesting exercise in time management to see how they juggle the prospect of a primary battle with the demands placed on them by the “90 Days of Terror” known as the annual General Assembly session. It so happens the filing deadline is also the opening day of the 2012 session and the primary itself will occur just a few days before sine die. Particularly in the Sixth District, this fact may handicap those serving in the Maryland legislature who face opponents which can devote more time to the race.
There’s no question that serving in legislative office at a local level is considered the best training for higher office: many of those who serve in a local Council or Commission graduate to become Delegates or Senators, and in turn they gain the experience voters seek in electing Congressmen and Senators. Fully half of Maryland’s Congressional delegation once served in the Maryland General Assembly.
Obviously those who are seeking election this time, with the cover of incumbency to protect them if they should lose, hope to add to that total.