Dem 51
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GOP 49
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The Baltimore Bridge Collapse Has a Bright Side, For Some

When a cargo ship rammed the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, six people died and it will take $2 billion and 5 years to repair the damage. Meanwhile, I-695, which runs around Baltimore, is severed and the port of Baltimore will take a big hit. Could anything good come of this accident?

Well, the new bridge across the Patapsco River (and all new bridges everywhere) will be built with protective "islands" (called "dolphins") around the bridge supports to help prevent this kind of accident from happening again. But there is also some political fallout. The two people who are going to be handling the consequences of the accident both happen to be up-and-coming young Democrats, Gov. Wes Moore (D-MD), who is 45, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is 42. If they do a good job handling the fallout from the collision, that could give either or both a national profile and possibly propel either one to higher office in the coming years. Both have been mentioned as potential presidential or vice-presidential candidates in 2028 or 2032.

Buttigieg is the better known of the two, having run for president in 2020. He ran a good campaign and was seen then as a rising star. As transportation secretary, he is notable for his ability to handle interviews well and hit back hard at Republican criticism of the administration. This incident could make him the face of the administration in dealing with the crisis. If he does well, that could boost his 2028 chances against better-known candidates like Govs. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) and Gavin Newsom (D-CA).

Moore was basically unknown until he ran for governor and even now he is largely unknown outside Maryland. This is his chance to be in the national spotlight. If he performs well under pressure—for example, by getting construction of a new bridge going quickly and managing to keep the Port of Baltimore operating at full capacity—he could acquire the image of a guy who can get things done. That could be handy in 2028. He's probably not up to beating Newsom, Whitmer, and Buttigieg for the top slot in 2028, but he could be a plausible vice-presidential candidate, especially on a Whitmer ticket, since Newsom and Buttigieg would be under a lot of pressure to pick a woman as #2. (V)

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