Maryland (Open Seat)
Outlook: Leans Democratic
November 6, 2006 Update:
Ben Cardin (D)
September 22, 2006 Update:
Race has played a large part in the senate race in Maryland recently. After a staff member for Democratic nominee Ben Cardin was found to have an online diary containing insensitive racial comments, the National Black Republican Association aired a radio ad that has caused quite a bit of controversy. The ad identifies Martin Luther King Jr. as a Republican and pins the KKK, Jim Crow and other issues on Democrats. After an initial luke-warm response by Republican nominee Michael Steele, his campaign has officially condemned the advertisement. Speculation among political scientists indicates that the ad may not help Steele and may end up hurting his chances because it was so offensive to many in the African-American community. The effects of the online diary and the advertisement have yet to be seen, and in this toss-up contest it could end up going either way.
Mr. Steele may be attempting to distance himself further from President Bush with new placards and bumper stickers which read: “Steele Democrat”. Democrats, however, claim that steel is Steele attempting to confuse the voting population of what party he is in and associate himself with the democrats. Whether it is political identity theft or simply a strategy to disassociate Steele from the president, no one can yet be sure how this one will play out.
Alexander Covington, Crystal Ball Mid-Atlantic Regional Correspondent
September 14, 2006 Update:
Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Congressman Ben Cardin each won their respective primary on September 12, amid a field of 28 total candidates between the Republican and Democratic Parties. This outcome makes Cardin a slight favorite early on in the Old Line State, but this is a race that is still worth a close look and a lot can happen befor November.
August 2, 2006 Update:
Everyone is having a good chuckle at Michael Steele‘s expense after his inexplicable discussion with a Washington Post reporter in which he dissed President Bush, and it’s a good bet he’ll be a lot more careful with his interviews in the future. Yes, maybe it helps him with Independents and moderate Republicans who are strongly anti-Bush this very Blue state, but it is a temporary embarrassment; our guess is that it will fade and won’t matter.
Steele’s fate will be determined in good part on the day of the Democratic primary. He is competitive if former Congressman Kweisi Mfume wins the Democratic nomination, and he is probably not a likely winner if Congressman Ben Cardin gets the nod.
June 22, 2006 Update:
This race has seemed so cut and dried for so long that it may be due for a shake-up. Congressman Ben Cardin has been tagged the favorite from the start, but in a low turnout primary–which may be very low-turnout now that there is no Democratic contest for the gubernatorial nomination–former Congressman Kweisi Mfume may do better than expected. After all, African-American Democrats will comprise perhaps four out of every ten votes. The wild card is businessman Josh Rales, who has promised to spend millions to get known. If his TV spots are clever enough, he could break through and make this a three-way contest.
March 27, 2006 Update:
This race is still a muddle–certainly no one has broken out of the Democratic party primary pack. Congressman Ben Cardin is still viewed as the leader, but the critical moments of the campaign are yet to come. One cannot rule out a surprise in this race, though virtually all of the betting people in politics have placed their money on Cardin to secure the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, Lt. Governor Michael Steele has had his ups and downs, but is considered a credible candidate in November. But can he overcome the sizeable Democratic edge in Maryland in a Democratic year?
December 31, 1969 Update:
Ben Cardin continues to lead the Democratic pack, though some eyes are on Joshua Rales, assuming he is willing to spend the millions of dollars he has pledged. It would be a major upset, though, if Rales even comes close–much less beats the heavily favored Cardin. Kweisi Mfume also has a chance, if the African-American vote is very high in the primary, but he has raised little money to this point. Republican Michael Steele is hoping to attract a sizeable portion of the African-American vote in the fall, so this contest still bears watching.
It finally happened. Maryland’s longest serving U.S. Senator ever, Democrat Paul Sarbanes, decided to quit on top. Undefeated after three House terms and five Senate terms, the quiet but effective legislator stepped down, reasonably certain that his seat would remain Democratic.
The early Democratic frontrunner in this Democratic state is Congressman Ben Cardin of Baltimore, who has gotten off to a strong start and raised a good deal of money. He is being opposed by former Baltimore congressman and ex-NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, who would be the second African-American Senator serving in the upcoming Senate, after Barack Obama of Illinois. Mfume’s chances will depend heavily on the proportion of the African-American vote in the primary, and thus he will have to spend much time and money to generate a huge landslide in black precincts. The problem for Mfume is that he has raised very little cash, and he has been dogged by reports of his alleged sexual indiscretions during his NAACP stint.
Wealthy businessman Joshua Rales, who can fund his own campaign to the tune of $5 million or more, has also decided to take a dip into the Chesapeake Bay political waters. Clearly a long shot, Rales will depend upon the voters’ desire for a new face and an outsider who has achieved success in the business community.
The sister of Fox News Channel commentator Greta Van Susteren, Lise Van Susteren, who is a forensic psychiatrist, is also running, and some other minor candidates may jump into the race.
The Republican nominee will likely be Lt. Governor Michael Steele. An Mfume-Steele contest would be only the second one ever with African-Americans as both major party nominees. The first was 2004’s one-sided battle between Obama and Alan Keyes; oddly enough, Keyes was really a Marylander who had moved to the Land of Lincoln to make the Senate bid. Steele will be hard pressed to win if the nominee is someone like Ben Cardin. But, he will have at least a decent chance of upsetting Mfume. Also of importance will be the margin of victory or defeat for Steele’s 2002 running mate, incumbent Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich. Feasibly
, if Ehrlich wins by a large margin, he could pull Steele in with him, yet this scenario will be a difficult one to play out.
Whatever the combination on the November ballot, the possibility is great that the Maryland Senate battle will be a national headliner.