Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Hogan Makes It Official

As we noted yesterday, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is retiring. Given that the Republicans need to flip just two seats in the Senate to retake control of that chamber, they sure would like to make a run at that open seat. As last year's results reminded everyone, it's way easier to win an open seat than it is to knock off an incumbent (incumbents have a 90% win rate in Senate races in general; last year it was 100%).

There's only one small fly in the ointment, however. As a very blue state, Maryland has plenty of Democrats champing at the bit for the chance to succeed Cardin, but not too many Republicans. Their one bright, shining ray of hope here would be former governor Larry Hogan, a popular moderate who won statewide election three times (once as secretary of appointments, twice as governor). If he jumped in, he'd probably still be a slight underdog, given the blueness of the state. However, slight underdogs win all the time; plus, if the Democrats were compelled to play defense in Maryland, that's fewer resources for the many, many other states the Party has to defend.

Those Republican operatives who dared to dream saw their hopes come crashing back down to Earth yesterday, as Hogan confirmed that Cardin's retirement has not changed anything, and that he's simply not interested in a Senate seat. Maybe Hogan doesn't want to wage a tough 18-month campaign for a coin flip chance at victory, at best. Maybe he doesn't want to start a U.S. Senate career at the age of 68, since he wouldn't start getting plum committee assignments until he was pushing 90.

It's still possible that the Maryland GOP could find a unicorn who can wage a competitive campaign. After all, Hogan wasn't a threat to Democrats until he went out there and won. But it is vastly more likely that the Republicans end up with a rich person who can self-fund and who is running a vanity campaign, or a nutty Trumper, or a rich nutty Trumper who can self-fund and who is running a vanity campaign. In any event, this seat is now safely D, despite Cardin's exit. (Z)

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