Maryland Primary: Winners and Losers

It’s all over but the shouting – and the counting of absentee and provisional ballots. And the recounts. And the finger-pointing. With the Maryland primary now behind us, it’s time to consider the winners and losers of the day – and those who fell somewhere in between. WINNERS Ben Jealous The new Democratic nominee for governor has eyed a political career in Maryland for a long time, and now it’s his moment. His margin of victory in the nine-way primary surprised even his own team, and his general election fight with Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) will attract national attention – and even more national progressive support and financing than before. It’s easy to imagine he’ll have a national profile if he wins. And he just may be able to remake the creaking Democratic establishment along the way. Larry Hogan He continues to prove himself as one of the most skillful and lucky politicians in the land. He used his vast political resources and the bully pulpit of his office brilliantly leading up to the primary, and has already begun his assault on Jealous as a “tax-and-spend” liberal who is too risky a choice for our state – a theme he and his team will repeat 10 times a day. Additionally, Hogan decided to play in two Republican primaries, and he won both of them: Retired police officer Jack Bailey ousted state Sen. Stephen L. Waugh in St. Mary’s County, and state Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr. defeated Del. Patrick L. McDonough in the race for Baltimore County executive. The latter is especially important for Hogan’s reelection strategy, since he must run up the score in Baltimore County in the fall, and he did not want to be sharing a ticket with McDonough, Maryland’s version of President Trump. Unions and progressive groups that supported Jealous Most did, and they have helped move the center of gravity in the Maryland Democratic Party – both toward the left, and away from the Old Guard of party leaders who have been in charge for a very long time. Republicans in Senate districts that Hogan is targeting Hogan proved in the primary that his blessing is a blessing to the Republicans upon whom it was bestowed, and the GOP is now set to intensify its “Drive for Five” state Senate seats – the number of seats Republicans need to flip to deny Democrats a veto-proof majority, should Hogan win a second term. Hogan will be a major part of the GOP’s strategy and is sure to appear regularly in the districts Republicans are hoping to capture. Angela Alsobrooks One word for the Prince George’s County state’s attorney who will become county executive in the fall, especially after her stunning 38-point victory against formidable opponents in the Democratic primary: Superstar. John Olszewski Jr. Largely written off by pundits and political professionals in the three-way Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive, the former lawmaker with the boy-next-door persona, who was the only candidate offering thorough (and liberal) policy prescriptions, finished first on primary day – though whether that lead will hold following the count of absentee and provisional ballots is anybody’s guess.     Dalya Attar Who? The 27-year-old former prosecutor and Orthodox Jew won a strategic and well-run campaign for a House seat in Baltimore City’s majority-black 41st District, finishing first in the Democratic primary and taking out two incumbents (Bilal Ali and Angela Gibson) along the way. Her victory also increases the clout in that neck of the woods of young Jewish leaders like Baltimore City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer (D).    The Republican Establishment A political committee established by state House Republican leaders and substantially funded by Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh (R), paid for mailers attacking fellow Republicans in targeted districts, most notably Anne Arundel Councilman Jerry Walker. They all lost. House Minority Leader Nic Kipke (R) put out the word that he did not want to share a district with former Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, who was attempting a political comeback in Kipke’s district, and Leopold lost, badly. Also in Anne Arundel, attorney Jessica Haire, wife of state GOP Chairman Dirk Haire, narrowly won a primary for a county council seat. The Iveys The politically potent Prince George’s County family has had its ups and downs, but on Tuesday former Del. Jolene Ivey won a landslide in a County Council primary, and her 22-year-old son, Cheverly Town Councilman Julian Ivey, took out Del. Jimmy Tarlau in the District 47A House primary and is poised to take the seat his mother once held. Jolene and Glenn Ivey did cast their lot with Donna Edwards over Alsobrooks in the county executive primary, but will that come back to bite them? Albert Peisinger Former Baltimore City prosecutor won a contentious four-way GOP primary for Harford County state’s attorney and is almost certain to win the general election to replace incumbent Joseph Cassilly, who is retiring after 36 years. Peisinger withstood vicious attacks that attempted to link him to Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her unsuccessful attempts to prosecute police officers in the Freddie Gray case. Obie Patterson Someone please explain to us how, in an era of insurgency and with an abundance of ambitious young progressives all over the state, an 80-year-old politician who is a nice guy with a long tenure in state and local office, but has few measurable accomplishments, is allowed to waltz into a state Senate seat in Prince George’s County.   BEST Democratic Club and its allies Continues to gain power and influence in Baltimore City politics, and across the state, despite the fact that City Councilman Brandon Scott won’t be the next lieutenant governor and that Terrell Boston Smith, a former top aide to Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), fell short in his bid for a House seat in District 40. The club is the home base for two first-term delegates who ousted veteran lawmakers in state Senate primaries, Cory McCray and Antonio Hayes. LOSERS The Democratic Establishment What is the Democratic Establishment these days? Depends on your definition. Is it the unions, progressive organizations and other activist groups that often set the agenda and drive voter turnout? Or is it the veteran elected officials who have defined the party for so many years and largely move in the same direction when it comes to endorsing candidates in key races? If you believe it’s the latter, then the establishment took it on the chin, losing to Jealous in the gubernatorial primary and seeing several of its leading members losing or being taken down a few pegs. Change is afoot. Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus Two of its six members – Dels. Marice Morales (D-Montgomery) and Carlo Sanchez (D-Prince George’s) – lost on Tuesday night, and two others – Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-Prince George’s) and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery) lost bids for other offices. Vulnerable Democrats in Senate districts that Hogan is targeting See above. If you’re a vulnerable senator seeking reelection – that’s Kathy Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County), Jim Mathias (D-Lower Shore) or Ron Young (D-Frederick), Hogan and the Republicans are coming after you. And whatever energy Jealous at the top of the ticket brings, he could be a liability to endangered Democrats in conservative districts.   Ron Young See above. But not only is he a top Republican target in November, but the 77-year-old lawmaker, whose political career dates back to 1970, had a lackluster performance in a lackluster Democratic primary field. The Youngs, long a force in local politics, may be overstaying their welcome. And some Democratic strategists privately grouse that their chances of holding on to this Senate seat would be greater with someone other than the incumbent as their nominee. Republicans are high on his opponent, business Craig Giangrande. Donna Edwards A 38-point lost in the Democratic primary for Prince George’s County executive – ouch! Edwards is a dynamic figure and a passionate progressive leader with a quick mind, frequently sought after for TV commentary. But county executive, a job that requires attention to the hyper-local and picayune, seemed like the wrong fit for the former congresswoman as she plotted her political comeback – and voters apparently got that. Since the primary, Edwards has been tweeting and appearing on TV, discussing the Supreme Court. That seems says a lot. Mac Middleton The powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee saw his long political career come to an end in a racially-tinged primary that reflected the rapid demographic and political changes in Charles County. Did anyone see it coming? Joe Vallario It’s the end of the line for the man who held the gavel at the House Judiciary Committee for a quarter century and became a scourge of women’s groups criminal justice reformers. John Leopold Is this the end? The voting process It seemed like one fiasco after another: Questions over who could be on the primary day ballot and who should come off it, followed by the stunning news that a computer glitch at the Motor Vehicle Administration had left the status of 80,000 voters in limbo. They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t replace a dead candidate’s name with another’s on the ballot with several weeks’ notice, or remove the name of a candidate who is likely headed to federal prison? Is this the first time in Maryland that a candidate has died or gone to jail? And why couldn’t computers at the MVA communicate with computers at the State Board of Elections, and why wasn’t that discovered – or announced – earlier? Will anyone challenge the results of Tuesday’s primaries in court? Are legislative changes coming? Will anyone be held to account?  PUSH Baltimore City The city’s legislative delegation lost powerful leaders like Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Chairwoman Joan Carter Conway (D) and Senate President Pro Tem Nathaniel McFadden (D) in the primary. And House Appropriations Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh (D) put a lot of political capital behind Conway’s failed reelection bid. There are legitimate questions about who will be an influential player for the city in Annapolis, especially in the Senate. But in McCray and Hayes, the city got two energetic young lawmakers rooted in their communities, and Del. Mary Washington (D), who appears to have defeated Conway in their primary, also has the makings of a star. The Washington Post The Post editorial board, always influential in Montgomery County, became such a player this primary season that it should have registered with the state elections board as a political entity. The Post endorsed businessman David T. Blair in the six-way county executive primary, elevating his bid and ensuring he would be in the top tier of candidates; he was trailing by 400 votes on primary night but could still prevail. Blair and the Post almost became attached at the hip; on primary day, his campaign was distributing fliers urging voters to support him and every single one of the Post’s choices in County Council races. The Post-endorsed candidates won every council district race, and three of the four council at-large seats. But the newspaper’s failure to endorse a candidate for Congress in the 6th District is a major mystery and seems like an abdication of responsibility. The decision not to endorse candidates in legislative races in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties was also puzzling. Mike Miller By many measures, it was a terrible night for the venerable and powerful Senate president. Key allies – McFadden, Middleton and Conway – lost, and others, like Sens. Ed Kasemeyer, John Astle and Ed DeGrange have chosen to retire. Next year’s class of freshman Democrats will be more liberal than the people they are replacing – and farther away ideologically from Miller himself. Primary voters seemed to repudiate Miller’s brand of politics in many ways, and Democrats are almost certain to lose a few seats in November. But you don’t get to stay Senate president for 32 years without an abundance of political skills. The informal “Take a Hike, Mike” slate of Senate candidates, pushed by a Service Employees International Union local, largely failed. And now, with seven of the top 12 leadership positions in the Senate open, Miller has an opportunity to tinker with the structure and personnel of his team, reward allies, punish enemies, make new friends, and chart the course of his beloved chamber for the next couple of decades. Agree with our list? Disagree? Have candidates for the winners and losers categories that we missed? Send feedback to [email protected] If we get enough salient observations we will include them in a new post soon. Thanks for reading!

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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