Sabato's Crystal Ball

Maryland (01) House 2010

 

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidate: Frank Kratovil

Republican candidate: Andy Harris 

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: September 28, 2010

Upon recent analysis, this race is Leans Republican.

Background:

The Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore counties of Maryland’s first congressional district have grown to become heavily populated, yet residents in these areas are consciously aware of the notoriously polluted water and remain for the most part on dry land. The congressional race of 2008 between Frank Kratovil (D) and Andy Harris (R) proved to be a lot fishier than the Chesapeake Bay however, waters where the harvest of Maryland’s famous blue-crab has fallen two thirds in the last twenty years. In a surprising turnout, Kratovil, the freshmen Democratic congressman from Lanham, defeated Harris by a margin of about 2,500 votes. Oddly, in the same year, Republican Presidential candidate John McCain made sushi out of Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama in this district winning 59 percent of the vote.

The cause for a Democratic congressional victory can largely be attributed to the Republican primary. Fortunately for Kratovil, the Republican Party unintentionally filleted their stronghold over the sate during the primary, chopping apart support that eventually landed Harris the nomination over the incumbent Wayne Gilchrest. Foreshadowing future political ties, Harris picked to the bone Gilchrest’s congressional voting record that was scaled with Democratic support. To add to the effect, Republican Junior Senator E. J. Pipkin also hooked nearly 20 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, netting many voters who had previously supported Gilchrest.

It was Kratovil who brilliantly recognized the split in voters on the right, and to gain the support of middle-of-the-road voters, he portrayed himself as a “Gilchrest Moderate”. At the same time, with Pipkin out of the race, Gilchrest, in an unprecedented move, swam through unchartered waters and actively campaigned against the members of his own party in support of Democratic candidate Kratovil. In the end, although Republican candidate Andy Harris garnered nearly triple the amount of campaign finances that Kratovil had, the damage had clearly already been done in the Republican primary.

Andy Harris has already announced that he will seek a rematch against Kratovil in 2010, and without the fishiness of last year’s Republican primary, he believes his chances are strong. Nonetheless, Kratovil this year proved to be the moderate candidate he promised to be, becoming one of four Democrats to join the conservative Blue Dogs, a coalition of congressmen less enthusiastic about President Obama’s health care reform and economic stimulus package.