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Election 2022

The 12 Most Vulnerable Legislative Incumbents in Tuesday’s Primaries

Del. Ric Metzgar, right, chatting with U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger at an event last summer, is potentially vulnerable. Photo by Josh Kurtz.

How different will the Maryland General Assembly look next year compared to this year?

We’ll begin to get answers whenever primary results start to roll in. Thirty-two lawmakers in the 188-member General Assembly are retiring or running for other offices this year. And several lawmakers who are seeking re-election this year are potentially vulnerable — some in the general election, and even more in the primaries.

Here’s our look at a dozen legislators who could be knocked off in their primaries, listed by numerical order of their legislative district. These aren’t the only ones who are potentially vulnerable — and of course, voters will have the final say. But this is a pretty good accounting of the most vulnerable.

Del. Ric Metzgar (R-Baltimore County)

In Eastern Baltimore County’s 6th District, all three House incumbents — Metzgar and Dels. Robin Grammer and Bob Long — are seeking re-election. But there are several aggressive conservative challengers, and Metzgar, a minister seeking his third term, may get shouted out.

Del. Joe Boteler (R-Baltimore County)

A newly reconfigured District 7A has two seats, and the lawmaker with the highest profile, Del. Kathy Szeliga (R), has chosen to team up with Ryan Nawrocki, a small business owner, rather than the other incumbent delegate, Boteler, who was drawn out of District 8, which he has represented for 16 non-consecutive years.

Del. Rick Impallaria (R-Harford)

A similar situation exists in the newly-drawn District 7B, where there’s now one seat up for grabs. It appears as if Del. Lauren Arikan (R) has the upper hand in the GOP primary, which could leave Impallaria, who has been in office since 2003, out of a job.

Del. Lisa Belcastro (D-Baltimore County)

With only two seats in the newly-drawn District 11B, one of the incumbents — Belcastro, Del. Jon Cardin (D) or Del. Dana Stein (D) — is going to lose. Belcastro seems the most vulnerable because she has never faced the voters before. A former staffer for Baltimore County Councilmember Izzy Patoka — who has endorsed her — Belcastro was appointed to the House seat in 2020, just days before the legislature went home early for the pandemic. She’s working hard, but faces tough odds: Cardin, while not universally beloved by his colleagues, has a famous last name, and his family has been involved in local politics for decades. Stein, the vice chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, is one of the most respected lawmakers in Annapolis.

Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery)

Waldstreicher, who is completing his first term in the Senate after a dozen years in the House, faces an aggressive challenge on the left from Max Socol, a former progressive organizer who has racked up some intriguing endorsements from ex-lawmakers and activist groups. But Waldstreicher is a prodigious fundraiser and energetic campaigner who is quick to call in chits from powerful allies at the first sign of trouble. We’ve been skeptical about Socol’s ability to pull an upset — but then earlier this month the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm dropped two pieces of attack literature on Socol that seemed over the top, and a lot of Democrats in District 18, who are high information voters, have taken notice. There is still doubt Socol will win, but the mailers have hurt Waldstreicher more than they’ve helped him.

Del. Anne Healey (D-Prince George’s)

Healey has represented the Greenbelt and Hyattsville areas in the House since 1991, and she has strong pockets of support in the highly diverse district. But her opposition to abortion rights could be her undoing, with pro-choice organizations targeting her and two challengers, CASA research and policy analyst Ashanti Martinez and former Hyattsville City Councilmember Patrick Paschall, emphasizing the issue on the campaign trail.

Del. Rachel Jones (D-Calvert)

The Democratic central committees of Calvert and Prince George’s counties diverged when she was appointed to the House in 2021 and those divisions largely remain. Jeff Long, a minister and Democratic activist is running an aggressive campaign with strong union support. This is definitely a race to watch.

Sen. Adelaide Eckardt (R-Middle Shore)

Despite her 28 years of service in Annapolis, including eight years in the Senate, Eckardt is increasingly seen as the underdog in her showdown with Del. Johnny Mautz, who is promising more ideological purity in Annapolis.

Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery)

It’s Acevero, a 32-year-old first termer, vs. the rest of the incumbents in District 39, who have made it clear they’d rather be working with Clint Sobratti, a bus driver and union activist. Sobratti finished last in the seven-way Democratic primary for three House seats in 2018 and Acevero finished second, but the dynamic could be different this time.

Del. Regina Boyce (D-Baltimore City)

There’s a confusing dynamic in District 43A, where six candidates are competing for two seats, and Boyce is the only incumbent. She’s formed a slate with attorney Elizabeth Embry, who is running as a de facto incumbent, with lots of high-profile support. But the district’s senator, Mary Washington (D), has blessed Logan Endow, who came close to winning a Baltimore City Council seat in 2020. Boyce and Embry may have a slight advantage over the other contenders at this point, but not big enough to take to the bank.

Del. Stephanie Smith (D-Baltimore City)

The decision by the 45th District’s state senator, Cory McCray (D), to oppose Smith’s bid for a second term complicates matters for the delegate, who is the chair of the Baltimore City delegation. But then, the 45th has been a complicated district for a long time.

Del. Robbyn Lewis (D-Baltimore City)

Lewis is running on a ticket with Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Luke Clippinger (D), but Del. Brooke Lierman’s decision to move on and run for comptroller has created an opportunity for an array of ambitious challengers and many analysts believe one of them, attorney Mark Edelson, is almost certain to win one of the House seats. Which puts Lewis in competition against five other candidates, including public health attorney Vince Andrews, a Beto O’Rourke doppelganger. It would not be a great look if the 46th District is represented only by white men.


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The 12 Most Vulnerable Legislative Incumbents in Tuesday’s Primaries