Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Let the Senatorial Games Begin, Part III: Cardin Will Avenge the Patriotic Gore No More

"Avenge the patriotic gore" is a line from Maryland's state song. Well, actually, its former state song; they got rid of it in 2021 because the lyrics are a wee bit... insurrectionist. Anyhow, the crabbiest state in the union offered up a mild surprise yesterday: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced that 3 terms is enough for him, and that he won't stand for reelection next year.

The reason it's a surprise is that it's a safe seat, of course, and it's a little on the late side of the cycle when it comes to the normal timeline for retirement announcements. That said, it's only a mild surprise because Cardin will be 81 on Election Day next year, which means he'd be 87 at the end of a fourth Senate term. He may not want to be working right up until he's knocking on the door of 90 years old. Alternatively, he may have watched what's happening with his colleague Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and decided he doesn't want to risk traveling down that road.

Thus far, the only Democrat in the race is Jerome Segal, a perennial candidate who runs for some office nearly every cycle, sometimes as a member of the Democratic Party, sometimes as a member of the Bread and Roses Party (a socialist party founded by... Jerome Segal). However, Segal will soon have company. Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks will definitely mount a campaign, as will Rep. David Trone; both have promised an official announcement is coming. Other members of Maryland's House delegation who might run from the blue side of the aisle include Jaime Raskin, Kweisi Mfume and John Sarbanes. Alsobrooks is the only woman candidate to express serious interest so far, Trone's a bland but safe white guy, Raskin probably has the biggest name recognition, Mfume is Black and progressive and Sarbanes is from the all-important city of Baltimore. State Del. Jon Cardin might also toss his hat in the ring; if he does he will presumably have Uncle Ben's endorsement. Note that is Uncle Ben the incumbent senator, not Uncle Ben the racist rice mascot.

The Republican bench is quite a bit thinner. Larry Hogan has shown he can win statewide in Maryland, but he already said he is taking a pass on this race. It's possible that Cardin's retirement could cause Hogan to rethink that, but probably not. And if Hogan doesn't jump in, well, it will probably be Rep. Andy Harris, who is the only current Republican member of the state's Congressional delegation. On the other hand, Harris could decide that a safe House seat (his district is R+11) is better than a largely hopeless run for the Senate, and skip it. At that point, the Maryland GOP would be looking under rocks for candidates. Maybe they can dig up Spiro Agnew and run him.

Whoever the Republicans find, Maryland's recent political history does not bode well for a wannabe GOP senator. Although the state has elected a couple of Republican governors in recent memory (Hogan and Robert L. Ehrlich), Republican senators have been rather more scarce. The last member of the Party to win a Senate election in the Old Line State was Charles Mathias, and he did it more than 40 years ago, in 1980. J. Glenn Beall was the last Republican to win an open seat in Maryland; his first and only election win came in 1970. That's a long time ago.

And so, while a party always hates to lose an incumbent, this is not a seat the Democrats will spend much time fretting about, we would imagine. If they lose this one, it won't be "the one" that cost them their majority. No, it will be "one of the six or seven" that cost them their majority, because something went terribly, terribly wrong for them in 2024. (Z)

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