Senate District 30
2014: John Astle (D) 51.3%, Don Quinn (R) 48.6%
2010: John Astle (D) 51.1%, Ron Elfenbein (R) 48.8%
District 30 was redrawn considerably in 2014, giving up Arnold and Cape St. Claire in exchange for Edgewater and south county. While Democratic Senator John Astle slightly increased his vote share from 2010 to 2014, the surprising performance by his underfunded Republican opponent, Don Quinn, has put this seat at the top of the GOP’s target list in 2018.
Astle ran for Mayor of Annapolis in 2017, coming up short in the Democratic primary. If he loses the Annapolis election, he could still theoretically run for his Senate seat, although it seems more likely that he will retire. Sarah Elfreth has launched her campaign to hold the seat for the Democrats.
The Republican nomination has come down to two veteran delegates: Ron George and Herb McMillan. George, a former two-term delegate from Arnold, was redrawn into the 33rd district in 2014, and decided to run for Governor instead of running for re-election in his new district. He came in fourth place in the GOP primary for governor, and now he is attempting a political comeback. McMillan has tried to win this seat already – in 2006 – but John Astle beat him 53-47%. He probably wasn’t too pleased when Ron George moved back into District 30 and announced his candidacy. McMillan has a long history of service in Annapolis, and has deep ties in the community, but will he run knowing that Ron George is also running? From a Republican strategic standpoint, that would be a bad idea, as it would mean they would have to field two new candidates for the House in 30A instead of one. But this Senate seat is finally within reach of Republicans, both because of Astle’s retirement and a generous redrawing of the district lines in 2014. Will McMillan give up what is likely his last chance to win it? He seems to be giving it a lot of thought, and has even commissioned an opinion poll that shows him down just 25-29% to George, with 43% undecided.
Annapolis tends to vote Democratic and is trending bluer, while southern Anne Arundel County votes Republican and is getting redder. I am not sure why these two areas have been grafted together as District 30, given the vast differences between them. As a whole, District 30 voted 69-29% for Larry Hogan on Election Day 2014, but Hillary Clinton won here 52-43%. As I’ve mentioned, the voting patterns of Annapolis vs. south county are very different, and I have included the vote percentages for the subdistricts below.
House District 30A – 2 members
2014: Herb McMillan (R) 27.9%, Michael Busch (D) 27.6%, Chuck Ferrar (D) 23.0%, Genevieve Lindner (R) 21.4%
District 30A’s delegation is currently split; they elected Republican Herb McMillan and Democrat Michael Busch to represent them, in that order. Republicans would love to sweep this district, and they point to Larry Hogan’s 58-40% win here as proof that they can. Just two years later, Hillary Clinton won this district 60-35%. It’s too early to say whether the political winds in 2018 will bring this race closer to Hogan’s 18-point margin or Clinton’s 25, but the district has been trending bluer since 2006. The more important question now is who the candidates will be.
Delegate McMillan, as I mentioned above, is apparently mulling a promotion to State Senate.
Mike Busch is Speaker of the House, which means he is personally loathed by conservatives across the state, but also that he has a high degree of respect in his own district and an enormous campaign account. Unlike McMillan, “Iron Mike” is officially in.
Republicans are very keen on sweeping this district, and they landed a decent recruit in Mark Plaster, who ran (unsuccessfully) for Congress in 2016. Plaster is a former Navy Reservist and doctor, who claims that the scientific data suggesting climate change is caused by human action is fraudulent. Republican Chelsea Gill has filed for the race as well.
Who will run for the Democrats? No one has filed yet, but there are several possibilities. Currently wrapping up his second and final term on the County Council, Chris Trumbauer of Annapolis would appear to be in the best position among Democrats to pick up this seat. Not only does he have political experience and name recognition in Annapolis, he also served as the executive director of West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Inc., an environmental nonprofit group focusing on those rivers in south county. He’s still raising money, which is a good sign he’s thinking of running for something in the future, but what?