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Political notes: Stats for junkies, more Montgomery vacancy applicants, building a GOP bench

The Maryland flag flies outside the State House. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

It’s like Christmas — or at least a minor holiday — for political junkies: The biennial release of the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index (PVI).

Early in every election cycle, the venerable political tip sheet releases a look at the partisan political posture of all 435 congressional districts in the U.S. The latest came out last week.

The index is based on how each district voted in the previous two presidential elections compared to the national White House election results. So, as an example, if a district voted 5% more Democratic than the nation as a whole in 2016 and 2020, its PVI index is D+5. If it voted 12% more Republican than the nation, its PVI is R+12.

It will surprise no one that the number of politically competitive congressional districts in the country has declined precipitously through the years. Maryland is basically a wasteland if you’re looking for competitive districts.

In the latest index, there are 82 districts that are within the D+5 and R+5 range, Cook’s definition of a competitive district. Only 45 districts were within the more competitive D+3 to R+3 range. In 1999, 164 districts were in the broader competitive range, while 107 districts were in the closer category.

There is only one competitive district in Maryland as gauged by the Cook Political Report: the 6th, represented by three-term Rep. David Trone (D). The district in its current form is rated D+2 in the PVI, making it the 195th most Democratic district in the country.

The rest of the lineup:

  • District 1, represented by Rep. Andy Harris (R): R+11, the 295th most Democratic district
  • District 2, represented by Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D): D+7, the 145th most Democratic district
  • District 3, represented by Rep. John Sarbanes (D): D+10, the 128th most Democratic district
  • District 4, represented by Rep. Glenn Ivey (D): D+40, the 2nd most Democratic district
  • District 5, represented by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D): D+15, the 90th most Democratic district
  • District 7, represented by Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D): D+30, the 18th most Democratic district
  • District 8, represented by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D): D+29, the 21st most Democratic district

Back in 1997, the first time the Cook Political Report issued its PVI, Maryland districts were significantly more competitive. Of course, the state’s congressional delegation was split evenly between Republicans and Democrats then. The 1st District back then was R+7, the 2nd District was R+10, the 3rd District was D+9, the 4th District was D+28, the 5th District was even, the 6th District was R+12, the 7th District was D+30, and the 8th District, represented at the time by Republican Rep. Connie Morella, was D+6.

Not that Cook’s PVI is always indicative of how every political race is going to turn out. There are currently 18 Republicans representing congressional districts that President Biden carried in 2020; five Democrats represent districts that former President Trump won that election year. Candidates and campaigns, as they say, matter.

The lineup for the Reznik seat

Eight Democrats have applied to fill the vacancy in the House of Delegates created by the recent resignation of former Del. Kirill Reznik (D), who recently took a job with the Moore administration. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee has scheduled a candidate forum for Wednesday, and the vote to recommend a replacement for Reznik in District 39 takes place on April 18.

Many of the applicants have previously run unsuccessfully for office. The candidates are:

  • Esam Al-Shareffi, a pharmaceutical patents expert who ran unsuccessfully for the House in the adjacent District 17 in 2018
  • Bobby Bartlett, who ran for the District 39 House seat in 2018 and for a seat on the central committee in 2022
  • Eric Bernard, Vice President of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Association
  • Adam Cunningham, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Nancy King in the 2022 Democratic primary
  • George Lluberes, a researcher and member of the Montgomery County Police Accountability Board
  • Marc Anthony Robles, a member of the central committee
  • Clint Sobratti, a bus driver and union activist who has twice run for the House seat
  • W. Gregory Wims, a longtime Montgomery County business, community and political leader

Since the beginning of the year, three new delegates have been appointed to the House. After Reznik is replaced, local Democratic central committees will have to nominate replacements for Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), who is resigning to join a lobbying firm, and Del. Kumar Barve (D-Montgomery), who was nominated by Gov. Wes Moore (D) Thursday for a seat on the Maryland Public Service Commission.

Looking for a few good men and women

There won’t be too many elections in Maryland in 2023, but there will be some contests for municipal offices. The Maryland Republican Party is using the local races to recruit some candidates.

Nicolee Ambrose, the Republican National Committeewoman for Maryland and erstwhile congressional candidate, sent out an email earlier this week to Republicans, looking for candidates to run.

“Hello Maryland GOP Leaders & Activists,” she wrote. “This is the year for municipal elections!

“Does your town have an election? Or, the town next to you? Have you recruited a great candidate? Are you running? This is a great chance to build our farm team and ensure principled local leadership.”

The email then invites interested Marylanders to contact the state GOP for possible help.

For the record, only three Maryland municipalities conduct partisan elections: Baltimore City, Frederick and Annapolis. And none of those cities have elections this year. Not that nonpartisan municipal elections can’t be good training grounds for aspiring Republican candidates.


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Political notes: Stats for junkies, more Montgomery vacancy applicants, building a GOP bench