Whoever is elected to replace US Senator Barbara Mikulski in 2016 will be the 30th person to occupy that seat. Since 1789. The Presidency of the United States has been held by approximately fifty percent more people than that seat. It is a high honor and a seat of great power, despite what anyone may think about Congress. This being the case, the campaign to become the new junior Senator from Maryland is a once in a generation event, and will be contested hotly by many.
Good thing I waited twenty-four hours for this post, as Martin O'Malley has already taken himself out of the running for the seat. He's choosing instead to focus on his campaign for Secretary of..... errrr, Vice Pre....... errrrrr, President! Which is probably a good call. Given the state of the O'Malley political reputation when he left Government House, a bruising Democratic primary would likely result in a Republican in the Senate.
And speaking of Republicans, I don't see Ben Carson backing away from his quixotic quest to earn the Republican Presidential nomination by running for this US Senate seat. Though he probably should.
And former Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown seriously needs to stop the talk of running. He's not even the most qualified candidate from Prince Georges County, and certainly not the most qualified African American male candidate. I can't even think of the amount of destruction which would have to ensue for Brown to emerge as a Democratic front-runner.
And again on the Democratic side, I don't see the 2016 Democratic nominee, should they win, becoming the putative favorite for the 2016 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Much more likely that a successful Republican nominee uses that seat as a springboard to Government House, as the term expires in 2022, after a Hogan second term or in time to run against a Democrat who beats Hogan in 2018.
So here's my handicapping on the race as it stands, which I present with all the accuracy of your average NFL mock draft or snow forecast. Odds are to win the seat overall, and are for entertainment purposes only. Please, no actual wagering:
Chris Van Hollen (1-1): It all adds up for Van Hollen: balance of the Maryland Senators between the Baltimore and Washington areas, he has a ton of money in the bank, he has deep experience in Congress. His to lose.
John Delaney (2-1): The Congressman from Montgomery west has a ton of money and a record that will play well in a moderating state where the success of all Marylanders will be the defining issue.
Elijah Cummings (5-2): A strong base matters and Cummings has a geographically broad, ethnically diverse one.
Donna Edwards (3-1): Not a lot of money in the bank but passion, energy and a strong base in PG County. In a divided primary could slip in.
Ken Ulman (5-1): This could be the opportunity to run a statewide campaign as the top dog that he deserved. Universally recognized as not responsible for the Brown disaster, but can he talk foreign policy?
Heather Mizeur (8-1): Another candidate who could come up along the rail, due to a small yet committed statewide base.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (12-1): I believe what, there have been only two elected African-American female Senators in US history? A year ago I would have put Mayor SRB at the head of this list but 2014 was not a good year for her, thanks to the lackluster support Brown had in Baltimore City.
Off the board right now: Tom Perez, Dutch Ruppersberger, Kevin Kamenetz, Courtney Watson, Ike Leggett, Doug Gansler, Doug Duncan, John Sarbanes.
Bob Ehrlich (9-4): Not sure if he's up for another statewide campaign, but this opportunity may be too good to pass up. Still the icon among Maryland Republicans and would lap the field in the primary.
Laura Neuman (6-1): I think the former Anne Arundel County Executive and Howard County Economic Development Authority head would have a compelling story to tell and a strong record to stand on in two of Maryland's swing counties.
Boyd Rutherford (9-1): I don't think the Lieutenant Governor would run, but if he did, it would be interesting diversification of the Hogan brand.
Dan Bongino (10-1): His star is fading quickly and this race would be a last chance for him.
Michael Steele (15-1): I fear Maryland political history will not treat Michael Steele as well as it should. He is a bright man who would bring much to a political office, but never had the chance, except as RNC chair, to show what he could do. And in that role, his lack of deep RNC connections sank him.
Off the board: Larry Hogan, Allan Kittleman, Larry Craig, Sherman Lollar
So that's where we are. This will invariably change.
Why no John Sarbanes or Allan Kittleman on this list? I have had people tell me that John Sarbanes would love to be a Senator, but he wants to hold his father's seat. Which is currently held by Ben Cardin.
And as for Kittleman, I don't see federal office as his ambition, and I don't think the "free shot" for US Senate feels like the right move for him now. Were he to lose, a lot of credibility would be lost on the home front.
Let's be careful out there.
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