Maryland Politics: Five Maryland pols who are feeling better today - and two less so

September 15, 2010|By Paul West | Baltimore Sun reporter

As posted here earlier, Maryland's congressional delegation is virtually assured of re-election this fall, with the sole exception of Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil, who is fighting hard to keep his seat.

You can be certain, though, that the state's pols in Washington--all highly competitive, Type A individuals--are closely sifting the primary returns anyway. They're looking for signs: how happy--or not--their party's voters are with the job they're doing.

Here's a quick look at those who probably are feeling pretty good today..and a couple who might not be.

Interestingly, the "winners" include the most established and powerful Marylanders in Congress, plus a couple up-and-comers. That's not what you might expect to see in a year variously described as anti-establishment or anti-incumbent.

1. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. One of the safest Democratic Senate re-election bets in the country got 82 percent of the statewide primary vote against a half-dozen non-entities (all the figures here are from almost complete election returns). That's down from her 90 percent primary tally last time out; but that was 2004, a presidential primary with a much larger turnout. In her last mid-term primary run, in 1998, she pulled 84 percent.

2. House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer. The leadership job of the second-ranking member of the House is in serious jeopardy; Hoyer would be demoted automatically if Republicans take control of the House. But he looks stronger than ever with Democrats in his southern Maryland district, an indication that he hasn't neglected his home base while traveling the country to help fellow Democrats. He received 85 percent of the primary vote, up from 83 percent in the last two elections.

3. Rep. Chris Van Hollen. The Montgomery County congressman also has national duties, and mind-bending headaches, as chairman of the House Democratic campaign arm. But back in his liberal suburban district, he got 93 percent from party voters, up from 88 percent last time and 91 percent in the 2006 midterm.

4. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. The Baltimore representative was unopposed in the last midterm election and drew 93 percent in 2008. He received 91 percent on Tuesday; that's no worse than an "A-minus" on anybody's report card.

5. Rep. Donna Edwards. The delegation's most liberal member used the last two primaries to dispatch an entrenched Democratic incumbent, Al Wynn, to a new career as a D.C. lobbyist. This time, she scared away Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, who ultimately ducked the race, then brushed off a state delegate, Herman Taylor, to win an impressive 83 percent of the primary vote and cement her hold on the seat.

Go to the jump for a couple of Marylanders who might not have liked what they saw in the results.

1. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. The state's lone Republican congressman, at least for now, is in no danger of losing his seat. But the 84-year-old incumbent may have had his worst primary showing since 1992, the year he was first elected to Congress. Again, it's all relative. Bartlett drew a shade under 70 percent of the vote. He batted close to 80 percent in his last two runs, and his previous low as an incumbent was 70.3 percent in 2004. Bartlett's year has been marred by a fire at his farm outside Frederick, which put a number of tenants on the street and exposed potentially unsafe conditions. He also may have suffered some negative fallout from the political problems of his son, state Del. Joseph Bartlett, who abandoned his re-election run this summer after it was revealed that he used taxpayer funds to pay rent to his girlfriend's Annapolis house.

2. Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger. Somebody had to be the Democrat with the lowest share of the vote in the congressional primary, and the former Baltimore County exec was it. Ruppersberger received 74 percent, not a particularly bad showing but a personal worst for Dutch as an incumbent. He received 82 percent in the 2006 primary vote; the other two times, in 2004 and 2008, he was unopposed in the primary.

Like every member of the Maryland delegation, he will be closely watching the results of this fall's governor's race. If Republican Bob Ehrlich is elected, several Democratic incumbents could see their districts become much more competitive in 2012, including Ruppersberger, who was elected to Congress in 2002 in a district deliberately drawn for him.

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