The fun never ends, does it?
On June 26th (or between now and the 21st, if you feel like voting early), Marylanders will cast their primary ballots for the gubernatorial election, congressional races, and various county council races, and a bunch of other things. Of the races, three are worth paying attention to:
- The Democratic primary for the gubernatorial election, in which eight candidates are vying for the chance to lose the general election to Larry Hogan.
- The Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District, which includes about half of Montgomery County (check if you’re in it with this helpful map – MoCo is gerrymandered to hell).
- The Democratic primary for the four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council.
These are the races that I feel most qualified to explain, and the races in which I will make “”endorsements”” (though are they really endorsements if <25 people pay attention to them?). There are more races on the ballot, but I don’t know/care enough to write about them in any detail. Because Maryland is such a blue state, there’s no real point in writing about any of the state’s Republican primaries.
tl;dr for anyone who doesn’t feel like reading this whole post: I’m voting Rushern Baker for Governor, David Trone for MD-6, and Bill Conway for Council At-Large.
Democratic Gubernatorial Primary
There are nine Democratic candidates on the ballot, but only two people stand a real chance of winning the nomination: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and former NAACP chief Ben Jealous. A third, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, had a decent shot at winning the primary, but he died of a sudden heart attack last month. The serious remaining candidates (Krish Vignarajah, Alec Ross, Rich Madaleno, and Ralph Jaffe) have sensible ideas, but I would be shocked if any of them crack 20% of the vote. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to treat this as a two-way race between Baker and Jealous.
Baker has positioned himself as a pragmatic establishment liberal, pledging to improve Maryland’s schools and mass transit infrastructure and to make Maryland a 100% clean energy state (among other things). Jealous has tacked harder to the left with plans to institute government-run health insurance, a $15/hr minimum wage, and tuition-free higher education, similar to what Bernie Sanders proposed in his presidential campaign (which makes sense, because he campaigned for Sanders, and Sanders is returning the favor). I have a hard time believing that a hypothetical Jealous Administration could pass those proposals without some significant tax hikes, though.
Who I’m Voting For:
PG County Executive Rushern Baker. I think he has a better chance than Jealous, and his goals are more attainable if he somehow defeats Larry Hogan.
Who’s Going to Win:
Honestly, Larry Hogan.
I think Rushern Baker has a better-than-even chance of winning the Democratic primary, and a better shot at winning the general election than Ben Jealous. However, it’s unlikely that either will take back the governor’s mansion from Larry Hogan. Governor Hogan is riding high on an incredible bipartisan wave of popularity, holding a 75% job approval rating in a state where there are roughly twice as many Democrats as Republicans. In other states, Democratic legislators may complain that Republican governors automatically veto their bills. Here, the complaint is that Larry Hogan keeps taking credit for bills originally authored by Democrats. As annoying and shady as it is to steal ideas from your political opponents, things could be a lot worse. Larry Hogan has governed Maryland decently well, and considering that he accepts basic climate science as a fact and hasn’t tried to brush it off as a Chinese hoax, I don’t have any major problems with him.
Would I prefer a Democrat over Larry Hogan? Yeah, for sure.
Would I be sad, for even a moment, if Larry Hogan is reelected by a landslide? Nope.
Democratic Primary, MD-6
The incumbent in Maryland’s 6th District, Representative John Delaney, has decided to retire from Congress and move on to a greener pasture: the Presidency of the United States of America (and, by the way, he’s doing decently well in Iowa). There are eight Democrats running to replace him, but only three of them seem to be trying to win the race: Delegate Aruna Miller, State Senator Roger Manno, and self-made millionaire David Trone. Because the state legislature gerrymandered the hell out of the 6th District and turned it from deep red to deep blue (more on that later), the winner of the Democratic primary will probably win the general election without too much trouble, meaning the primary contest is the real contest here.
Of the three candidates, I found David Trone’s campaign website to be the most detailed and thorough, with Miller’s a close second and Manno’s somewhat behind in third. The three candidates have roughly equal policy positions for the most part, save two issues: free trade and gerrymandering. Trone supports (fair) international trade agreements and Manno’s record as a State Senator seems to show he does as well (though I haven’t done much research), whereas Miller hasn’t said much of anything on the topic (ofc I could be wrong).
Gerrymandering is where this gets tricky. Maryland’s state legislature is the entity responsible for making Maryland one of the worst (if not the worst) offenders when it comes to blatant partisan redistricting. Today, seven of Maryland’s U.S. House members are Democrats, and only one is a Republican. As much as I like electing Democrats to the House, there’s no denying that this is in part due to shady tricks on the part of the state legislature. Before 2012, the Maryland 6th covered the northern part of the state as well as the western panhandle, and consistently voted for conservative Republicans… but the legislature radically changed its partisan lean by adding a bunch of Montgomery County Democrats. Nothing about the new map makes sense unless your only goal is to disenfranchise Republicans, and FiveThirtyEight’s redistricting atlas project proves it. None of their “non-gerrymander” maps have anything that even comes close to looking like the current one.
The problem here is that Roger Manno and Aruna Miller both voted for the bill that worsened Maryland’s gerrymandering situation and put their own state legislative districts into the 6th Congressional District. In other words, they are running for Congress in a district that they helped create. Here’s proof: Manno, Miller. Manno has publicly stated that he favors “non-partisan redistricting reform” because that would let voters choose elected officials and not the other way around (oops). As for Delegate Miller, her campaign site doesn’t say much of anything about gerrymandering, but in a document sent to Our Revolution (a group affiliated with Sanders 2016 campaign alumni) she expressed a desire to help end gerrymandering. I have no reason to believe that they like partisan gerrymandering, but they seem to have forgotten to mention their voting record on the issue. Meanwhile, David Trone has consistently opposed gerrymandering (though he doesn’t seem to mind running for the 6th District while living outside the district).
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t disqualify Miller or Manno in my eyes by any stretch of the imagination. I think either one can do a fine job in the House, and maybe they really have changed their minds on gerrymandering.
Who I’m Voting For:
David Trone, if you couldn’t tell by now. I don’t have any major gripes with his opponents, though they are worth noting.
Who’s Going to Win:
There’s no clear favorite in this race. Aruna Miller seems to be doing alright, having been endorsed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and a number of other groups. She is the establishment choice, and has eight years of elected office experience. Slightly closer to the center is David Trone, who frankly doesn’t have very many endorsements at all, but has history (and money) on his side: John Delaney had no elected office experience and lacked establishment support when he swept the 6th’s primary in 2012. I doubt Roger Manno will win, and if anything I think he’ll probably end up around third place, although he has the support of a number of labor groups and just as much elected office experience as Miller.
I’m anticipating Trone will win with a plurality of the vote, with Miller close behind and the rest distantly behind.
Democratic Primary, Montgomery County Council At Large
Last I checked, there are 33 (!) candidates running for 4 seats on the “At-Large” portion of the Montgomery County Council. The primary ballot allows you to vote for as many as four candidates for this race, but since I only really have a preference for one candidate, there’s no sense in me picking four people.
The one candidate I do know of is an attorney named Bill Conway. Yes, that one. His policy positions make sense for the County, he has experience as Majority Counsel on the Senate Energy/Natural Services Committee, and he was a lawyer at Skadden Arps. He also has the endorsement of Aruna Miller, possible President of the United States John Delaney (that’s right, I said it), and many other groups.
Also, he’s literally the only person on the ballot whose name I actually recognize (and since most of the people reading this are from the Winston Churchill HS district, the same is likely true of you).
Also on the ballot is Hans Riemer, an incumbent and current president of the County Council, so I suppose it makes sense to reelect him. There’s another candidate named Charles Barkley. I’m not voting for him… I just wanted to point out that there’s a guy named Charles Barkley who isn’t, y’know, the Charles Barkley. Kinda like how there’s another guy named Jack Dorsey, except he’s a billionaire tech developer whereas I am… not… a billionaire tech developer.
Who I’m Voting For:
Bill Conway. Technically, his chances of getting elected go up if I leave the rest of the ballot blank, so I’m going to do that unless anyone else has any ideas for County Council candidates.
Who’s Going to Win:
Aside from incumbent Hans Riemer (who I’m guessing will be reelected), anyone could win with enough funding and support. This is a small enough race with enough possible winners that support from any prominent person could swing it. I only have influence over maybe twenty people, which almost certainly won’t make a difference, but still.
For County Executive, I’m voting for David Blair because he seems to make sense, but I can be convinced otherwise. Until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t aware that “Clerk of the Circuit Court” was an elected job, but apparently there’s a race for that office between incumbent Barbara Meiklejohn and someone named Alan Bowser. Don’t vote Bowser – he’s an empty suit.
In the next few weeks/months, I’ll be publishing a number of posts regarding competitive U.S. House races, U.S. Senate races, gubernatorial contests/state legislative races, and whatever else comes to mind. They’ll all be part of a series on the 2018 midterm elections.
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