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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Fun Facts About Md. House Districts, Targeting a Pro-Life Dem, Endorsements Add Up and More

Rep. David Trone, who represents the 6th District, at a community meeting in July 2019. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

How competitive are Maryland’s congressional districts, really?

Republicans think they have a decent chance of ousting Rep. David Trone (D) this year. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) is in a tougher district than he’s used to. And former Del. Heather Mizeur (D) and her most passionate supporters believe she can pull an upset in her uphill battle to oust Rep. Andy Harris (R).

But a new analysis of congressional districts across the country shows that, absent a huge political wave, those seats, with the exception of Trone’s, may be out of reach for the opposing party.

The analysis shared with Maryland Matters, from Quinn McCord, a former top editor at The Hotline, the political tip sheet of National Journal, ranks all 435 congressional districts from most Democratic to least Democratic. The ranking comes from the difference between President Biden’s showing in a district in the 2020 White House election and former President Trump’s performance.

Trone’s 6th District as currently drawn is the 189th most Democratic district in the country; Biden carried it by 9.77%. Republicans need to win 213 seats in November to take control of the House. That means Trone’s seat is clearly within their scopes.

But Ruppersberger’s district is the 135th most Democratic district, with Biden racking up a 20.66% victory there. Which means it will be considerably more difficult for the GOP to flip — Republicans would have to be winning about 300 seats to put it into play.

As for Harris’ 1st District? With a Trump margin of 14.45%, it’s the 289th most Democratic seat in the country. Which means, just on paper, Democrats would need to win something on the order of 290 seats this November, for the district to be in play. Unlikely to happen.

Every district has its own dynamic, of course. Republicans win Democratic districts sometimes, and vice-versa. But the numbers are tough to overcome.

For the record, Maryland’s 4th District is the third most Democratic district in the country, with an 80.6% Biden advantage in 2020. The only more Democratic districts in the country are Pennsylvania’s 3rd District, in Philadelphia, and California’s 12th District, in Oakland and Berkeley.

The rest of the lineup for Maryland: The 7th District is the 16th most Democratic district in the country, with a 63.16% Biden margin; the 8th District is No. 21, with a 62.09% margin; the 5th is the 84th most Democratic district, with a 36.26% margin, and the 3rd District is the 127th most Democratic district, with a 25.29% Biden margin.

Targeting Del. Anne Healey

Pro-Choice Maryland Action, the political arm of the organization working to expand abortion rights in the state, has signaled its intention to target eight-term Del. Anne Healey (D-Prince George’s) in the 22nd District.

Healey, whose district includes Greenbelt and parts of Hyattsville, has compiled a fairly liberal voting record during her time in the legislature, but opposes abortion rights. So Pro-Choice Maryland Action has endorsed one of the non-incumbents running in District 22, Ashanti Martinez, a research and policy analyst with CASA who has racked up a slew of progressive endorsements.

“As we stare down at the likelihood of the protections of Roe v. Wade being gutted, the people of District 22 deserve a fighter for abortion access and reproductive freedom,” said Lily Bolourian, executive director of Pro-Choice Maryland Action. “Ashanti Martinez knows what is at risk and has the courage to get it done. Ashanti will bring leadership on this issue as a pro-reproductive freedom member of the District 22 delegation and Pro-Choice Maryland Action is proud to have overwhelmingly endorsed his candidacy.”

The Democratic primary for three House seats has six candidates, including Martinez, Healey and two other incumbents, Dels. Alonzo Washington and Nicole Williams. Also running are Chiquita Jackson, a social justice policy consultant, and Patrick Paschall, a civil rights attorney and former Hyattsville city council member. Paschall spoke at a large abortion rights rally in Annapolis last fall and highlighted Healey’s record.

PAC launches voter contact campaign for Moore

Opportunity Maryland PAC, a political action committee formed last year to support author and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore for governor, announced Thursday that it is launching a $500,000-plus mail and digital program ahead of the July 19 primary to reach Black voters. The three-piece mail program will communicate to Black women statewide, and Black voters in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, the PAC said.

In addition to the mail program, Opportunity Maryland will be running a $150,000 digital ad program communicating to Black voters in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The ads will run from June 27 to the primary day.

“We are excited to support Wes Moore for governor and amplify Wes’s message of a world-class public education system for every child, and access to work, wages for wealth for every Marylander,” said Rosy Gonzalez Speers, a seasoned national Democratic strategist and executive director of the PAC.

As of last week, the PAC had $618,496 in the bank after raising $352,503 since mid-January. The PAC’s biggest donors over the past six months:

  • Nicholas Cortezi, a top executive at the Ryan Specialty Group LLC, an insurance giant, and, like Moore, an alumnus of Johns Hopkins University. He gave $100,000.
  • Rivermist Capital Inc., a finance company with a Cambridge, Mass., address, which also gave $100,000.
  • Josh Fidler, co-chair and chief operating officer of Chesapeake Realty Partners, the giant development firm based in Owings Mills, who contributed $50,000.
  • The MSEA Fund for Children and Public Education, the political arm of the state teachers’ union, which donated $25,000.

Opportunity Maryland PAC is not to be confused with Maryland Opportunity Inc., a PAC that was formed recently to support former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez’s campaign for governor.

Baker’s men (and women)

When Rushern Baker was actively campaigning for governor, many high-profile elected officials in Prince George’s supported the former county executive or stayed neutral out of respect and/or friendship.

But with Baker (D) out of the race, his supporters are now looking at other candidates.

On Thursday, Moore picked up several endorsements from political leaders in the county, including state Sens. Melony Griffith, Malcolm Augustine, Paul Pinsky, Ron Watson and Michael Jackson and County Councilmembers Calvin Hawkins, Tom Dernoga and Rodney Streeter.

Speaking at a news conference at Moore’s campaign office in Landover, endorsers praised him as a consensus-builder who would work to enrich the lives of all Marylanders.

“We need someone who is going to fight for social, economic and environmental justice, who is going to talk about civil rights, who is going to talk about tax fairness and closing corporate loopholes,” said Pinsky. “Someone who has a moral compass and who is not going to stoop to pandering.”

Hawkins called Moore “the one that inspires so many.”

Moore pledged to work “in partnership and unity” with state and local leaders if he is elected. He said he would focus on public safety, prisoner re-entry, climate change and education. “We are going to grow, but we’re going to grow equitably,” he said. “We are going to build, but we are going to grow collectively.”

Moore has pretty much run the table in Prince George’s. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks endorsed him in early March, State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy threw her support behind him three weeks later, and U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer came out for Moore in late April.

When Moore’s campaign announced Thursday’s news conference, several people wondered if Baker himself would be there to extend his endorsement. But so far it hasn’t materialized.

King adds another endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John King added another endorsement Thursday, this one from Sunrise Movement Maryland.

It is the latest in a string of endorsements from progressive groups, including the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus, Our Revolution Maryland, Pro-Choice Maryland, and Sierra Club Maryland.

King’s campaign said the new endorsements are proof that they are “meeting the moment with momentum at the right time.”

“The climate crisis is here and we need urgent action to fight it. I am proud to be the choice of progressive Marylanders who know we cannot afford to elect another governor who refuses to act,” King said in a statement. “As governor, I will create a Green New Deal for Maryland that will prioritize climate action to protect the Bay, achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, and reverse long-standing systemic environmental injustice.”

Sunrise Movement Frederick coordinator Davin Faris said King would bring policies on “green job creation, community resiliency [and] widespread public transit.”

Gansler’s anti-crime gambit

Hoping to boost his flagging campaign for governor, former state Attorney General Doug Gansler (D) began airing an arresting TV ad about crime this week.

The 30-second ad, produced by a top Democratic media firm, Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, opens with a simulated car-jacking. Then Gansler comes on the screen.

“As former attorney general, I have the experience and plan to battle crime now,” he says. He then outlines his “balanced approach,” which includes hiring 1,000 police officers, installing 10,000 street lights around the state, and more.

The ad ends with Gansler and his running mate, former Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth, on camera.

“Every Marylander…” she says.

“…deserves to be safe,” he concludes.

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.