Monthly Archives: March 2018

Initial Election Ratings for Governor, Assembly

With the candidate filing deadline passed, we now know who’s running and who’s not. We can now release our initial general election ratings. These ratings will be changed as the year goes on, as primary elections, campaign finance reports, and candidate slip-ups and gaffes are all taken into account.

We use seven election ratings here at CFP. Here’s what they mean:

  • Safe R
  • Likely R
  • Lean R
  • Toss-up
  • Lean D
  • Likely D
  • Safe D

Statewide Offices

  • Governor – Toss-up. Many Republicans would like to believe that Governor Larry Hogan has the advantage going into the November election. While his personal approval ratings remain high, his poll numbers when matched up against actual candidates aren’t overwhelming. Hogan also knows full well that he’s facing enormous headwinds: he’s already in a very blue state, and the nation’s most visible Republican – President Trump – is extremely unpopular here. Once the Democrats choose their candidate in June, we will be able to see more clearly who has the advantage.
  • Comptroller – Safe D. Who’s the savviest politician in Maryland? Is is Larry Hogan? No- it’s Comptroller Peter Franchot, hands-down. He’s cultivated a very close relationship with Governor Hogan, and has affiliated himself with a group of reformist Democrats against the Mike Miller machine, which makes him popular across party lines. There is a Republican challenging him, Anjali Phukan, but she’ll most likely only garner votes from strict Republican party-line voters.
  • Attorney General – Safe D. The most enthusiastic voters right now are those who want their state and local officials to fight the Trump administration and insulate Marylanders from the president’s disastrous policies. No one in Maryland has been a more visible champion for constitutionality and reason than Attorney General Brian Frosh. While the state’s remaining Trump supporters despise Frosh, and will likely support Washington lobbyist Craig Wolf, there simply aren’t enough of them to pose a threat to Frosh.

State Senate

  • District 1 (Garrett, Allegany, Washington) – Safe R. This far-western district would have been safe for Republican George Edwards even if there was a Democrat in the race, but there isn’t.
  • District 2 (Washington) – Safe R. Another Western Maryland district that’s safe for Republicans. Senator Andrew Serafini will win re-election unopposed.
  • District 3 (Frederick) – Lean D. Republicans are targeting this district, but only out of their desperation to break the Democrats’ supermajority. The Frederick city area is blue and trending bluer, and the suburban area between the city and Montgomery County is trending in the same direction, as D.C. commuters make these less-dense suburbs their homes. There’s no guarantee, however, that Senator Ron Young will be the Democrats’ candidate after July, as he is facing two primary challengers.
  • District 4 (Frederick) – Likely R. This is the kind of suburban district that will have an anti-Trump boost, which could take the form of a 2-5 point swing in favor of Democrats. It will take a lot to go right to unseat far-right Senator Michael Hough, and in all honesty it’s unlikely to happen. Still, there are two Democrats running here just in case.
  • District 5 (Carroll) – Safe R. Carroll County is one of the most conservative counties in Maryland, and Senator Justin Ready will win re-election even in a blue “tsunami” year.
  • District 6 (Dundalk, Essex) – Likely R. This eastern Baltimore County district has been trending Republican for over a decade, and both Hogan and Trump are still popular here. While the Democrats have a good candidate in Bud Staigerwald, he will have a very difficult time beating freshman Senator J.R. Salling.
  • District 7 (Baltimore County, Harford) – Safe R. This is a suburban-rural district straddling the Baltimore-Harford county line. It’s one of the most conservative districts in the state, and is represented by the Senate Minority Leader, J.B. Jennings. He is well-funded as a result of his leadership position, and will win re-election easily.
  • District 8 (Parkville, Perry Hall, Overlea) – Lean D. Senator Kathy Klausmeier is one of the Republicans’ top targets in 2018. The Republican candidate is the ambitious Christian Miele, who is finishing his first term in the House of Delegates and will be supported by the Hogan machine for this seat. A recent poll shows Klausmeier leading Miele 55-39.
  • District 9 (Ellicott City, Sykesville, western Howard County) – Lean R. This is one of the Democrats’ few chances to gain a seat in the Senate. Howard County is trending Democratic, but the portion of the district in Carroll County will probably keep this seat red. Still, Democrats have a good candidate here in Katie Fry Hester. First-term Senator Gail Bates defends this seat for the Republicans, but first she’ll face a primary challenge from Reid Novotny.
  • District 10 (Randallstown, Reisterstown, Woodlawn) – Safe D. Senator Delores Kelley is seeking her seventh term in this western Baltimore County district, but is facing some tough competition from lawyer Rob Johnson in the Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican Stephanie Boston, who challenged Kelley in the 2014 Democratic primary, losing 66-19.
  • District 11 (Owings Mills, Pikesville) – Safe D. There are no Republicans challenging Senator Bobby Zirkin in this district in western Baltimore County, but he will face a primary challenge from longtime progressive activist Sheldon Laskin.
  • District 12 (Arbutus, Columbia) – Likely D. This district contains about half of liberal Columbia as well as a small section of conservative southwestern Baltimore County. Senator Ed Kasemeyer made a late decision to retire rather than run for re-election, and the district’s delegation selected Clarence Lam to replace him. He won’t have a clear shot to the Senate, though, as Howard County councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty has also filed to succeed Kasemeyer. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Joe Hooe, a perennial Republican candidate who’s run here in every election since 2002.
  • District 13 (Columbia) – Safe D. Freshman Senator Guy Guzzone faces no opposition from either party in this central Howard County district.
  • District 14 (Northern Montgomery County) – Safe D. Craig Zucker should have no trouble winning his first full term as State Senator. He will face only token Republican opposition in November.
  • District 15 (Western Montgomery County) – Safe D. Brian Feldman is hoping to win his second full term in the State Senate. He will face businessman H.J. Xin in the Democratic primary, and Republican David Wilson in the general. Feldman should win both races, and may face more of a challenge from Xin than Wilson.
  • District 16 (Bethesda) – Safe D. Senator Susan C. Lee will face Republican Marcus Alonza in November and should win by a huge margin.
  • District 17 (Gaithersburg, Rockville) – Safe D. Senator Cheryl Kagan won’t face a Democratic primary challenge, making this the first year since 2006 that this district has had an uncontested Democratic primary. She will have no problem winning her second term.
  • District 18 (Chevy Chase) – Safe D. Senator Richard Madaleno is running for Governor, and Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher filed to replace him. He’s facing a tough three-way primary. Dr. Dana Beyer, who’s been running in District 18 in every election since 2006, is running again, as is first-time candidate Michelle Carhart. All three are credible candidates and this will be one of the most interesting primary races to watch in the state. There are no Republican candidates, so the winner of this incredible primary will be the next state senator.
  • District 19 (Silver Spring) – Safe D. In a similar situation to District 18, Senator Roger Manno is running for Congress, and Delegate Ben Kramer filed to replace him. Unlike District 18, Kramer faces no Democratic opposition, but does face both a Republican and a Green Party candidate in November. The best reason to watch this election is the possibility that the Green candidate may get more votes than the Republican.
  • District 20 (Silver Spring, Takoma Park) – Safe D. Will Smith was appointed to the State Senate in 2016, representing the most progressive district in Maryland, and he has not disappointed as a progressive leader. Senator Smith faces no primary opposition, and only token challenges from a Republican and independent candidate.
  • District 21 (Beltsville, College Park, Laurel, Odenton) – Safe D. Senator Jim Rosapepe faces only a token challenge from a Republican in November. This should be another easy win for him in.
  • District 22 (Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Lanham) – Safe D. Paul Pinsky is unopposed.
  • District 23 (Bowie) – Safe D. Senator Paul Peters will face business owner Tim Adams in the Democratic primary. There are no Republicans running here.
  • District 24 (Capitol Heights, Glenarden) – Safe D. Joanne Benson is running for her third term in this dark blue Prince George’s County district. She will face Navy veteran Everett Browning and former delegate Tiffany Alston, who was removed from office in 2012 due to misdemeanor theft and misconduct in office. Voters should pick between Benson and Browning, and reject Alston.
  • District 25 (District Heights, Largo) – Safe D. Senator Ulysses Currie is retiring, and two delegates have stepped up to succeed him. Melony Griffith actually left the House to challenge Currie in 2014, and she’s now running for the open seat. Angela Angel, who was elected to the House seat vacated by Griffith four years ago, is also running for the Senate seat. Veterinarian Jonathan Rosero rounds out the Democratic primary race. There are no Republicans running, so the winner of the Democratic primary is effectively the next state senator.
  • District 26 (Fort Washington, National Harbor) – Safe D. Senator Anthony Muse is running for Prince George’s County Executive. County Councilman Obie Patterson is running for his seat as a Democrat, as is Jamila Woods. There is a Republican on the ballot here, but that’s unlikely to change the fact that the winner of the Democratic primary will become the next state senator.
  • District 27 (Southern Prince George’s County, Calvert County) – Likely D. This is the seat of longtime Senate President Mike Miller, and it is made up of a portion of dark blue PG County and dark red Calvert County. Miller is the leader of the Democratic “establishment” in Maryland, which is increasingly at odds with reformists like Comptroller Peter Franchot and the new generation of elected Democrats. Miller is facing a spirited primary challenge from reformist Tommi Makila. On the Republican side are Roussan Etienne and 2014 candidate Jesse Allen Peed. The chunk of this district in PG County will carry the Democrat to victory unless something goes terribly wrong.
  • District 28 (Charles County) – Safe D. Mac Middleton is running for re-election in this southern Maryland district, and while he is challenged by one Democrat and one Republican, he shouldn’t have any trouble winning his seventh term.
  • District 29 (St. Mary’s County) – Safe R. Republicans captured this conservative southern Maryland district four years ago, and incumbent senator Steve Waugh should easily win again. He faces Jack Bailey in the GOP primary and Democrat Thomas Brewer in the general election.
  • District 30 (Annapolis, southern Anne Arundel County) – Toss-up. Longtime Democratic senator John Astle is retiring, leaving an open race in one of the most competitive districts in the state. Former delegate Ron George is the only Republican in the race. On the Democratic side, Sarah Elfreth and Chrissy Holt vie for the nomination. This race is tricky to predict because of the disparate nature of the communities making up the district. The state capitol of Annapolis makes up about two-thirds of the district, and its affluent neighborhoods have been known to vote Republican downballot. However, these neighborhoods seem to be the most fired up against Trump, and in special elections around the county it’s the affluent suburbs that are swinging hard against the Republican Party. The other one-third of the district in located in southern Anne Arundel County, which is more rural and has more dedicated Republican voters. There is also a Libertarian candidate who might take enough votes to play spoiler to any of the above candidates.
  • District 31 (Brooklyn Park, Glen Burnie, Pasadena) – Safe R. Senator Bryan Simonaire faces only token opposition in November.
  • District 32 (Glen Burnie, Hanover, Linthicum) – Lean D. Democratic Senator Ed DeGrange is retiring, and it was obvious that Delegate Pam Beidle would take the opportunity to try to make a move to the Senate. Republicans got their top recruit on the last day of filing: County Councilman John Grasso, who could shake things up in this light blue district. While Republicans were waiting on Grasso, Maureen Bryant also filed for this seat.
  • District 33 (Arnold, Crofton, Severna Park) – Likely R. Republican Senator Ed Reilly is running for his third full term, and he’s reasonably popular in this affluent district in the Annapolis suburbs. This is the first time Reilly will face a Democratic challenger for this seat, and there’s a strong progressive movement on the Broadneck Peninsula. Despite this, Reilly starts this race with a strong campaign warchest and the power of incumbency in a district that favors Republicans. He will probably win, but Democrats are finally making a strong effort in this district. At the very least, they will build a grassroots network of supporters for future races and find out where their “ceiling” currently stands.
  • District 34 (Aberdeen, Bel Air, Havre de Grace) – Lean R. This is another chance for Democrats to make gains in the State Senate. Republican incumbent Bob Cassilly is running for his second term. Democrats got their top recruit in former delegate Mary-Dulany James, who lost badly to Cassilly in a dramatically different political climate four years ago. Another former delegate, Barbara Kreamer, is also running in the Democratic primary. The portion of this district east of I-95 is considered good turf for Democrats, while Bel Air is strongly Republican. If Democrats are to win here, they will have to perform better than they have been in Bel Air.
  • District 35 (Cecil County, Harford County) – Safe R. With the untimely death of Senator Wayne Norman, Republicans nominated Jason Gallion to succeed him. He faces no opposition from either party.
  • District 36 (Upper Eastern Shore) – Safe R. Stephen Hershey is running for his second full term, and he should have no trouble from Democrat Heather Sinclair in this rural Chesapeake Country district.
  • District 37 (Middle Eastern Shore) – Likely R. Republican Senator Addie Eckardt is running for her second term. On the Democratic side, longtime public health official Holly Wright is running. District 37 is interesting because while it is a chiefly rural district on the Eastern Shore, it contains several small cities that lean Democratic, including Salisbury. Wright may be able to capitalize on anger towards Trump and frustration from some residents that Governor Hogan hasn’t been living up to his promises to pay more attention to Shore issues.

Dems Give Anderton a Free Pass, Will Not Field Candidate in 38B

Delegate Carl Anderton (R)

The candidate filing deadline came and went on February 27, and no Democrats filed to provide an alternative to freshman delegate Carl Anderton, who represents a 55-39 Trump district on the lower Eastern Shore. District 38B, which contains Delmar, Fruitland, and about half of Salisbury, was represented by Democrat Norm Conway for over twenty years, until he was defeated 48-52 by Anderton in the 2014 wave. It was considered a top target for Democrats this year, but the lack of any opponents means that the election is already decided: Anderton will be re-elected unopposed in November.

                                                                                     District 38B in light blue

The Wicomico County Central Committee, which could have designated a nominee up to a week after the filing deadline, was unable to find any candidates willing to take on Anderton. According to my source on the committee, Anderton is considered to by bipartisan and is supported by prominent local Democrats, including Salisbury mayor Jake Day.

It’s unfortunate that voters in this district won’t have a choice come November, especially in this key swing district. But the incumbent clearly has a broad base of support, and it sounds like the voters have the candidate they want right now.