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All or nothing in Maryland

Maryland millionaires set sights on Washington, but Governor Hogan leads the polls

October 9, 2018

6:58 AM

9 October 2018

6:58 AM

When I moved from Virginia to Maryland this year, I was somewhat relieved to distance myself from the rural counties that comprised President Trump’s Appalachian base. Yet, being a news junkie, I’ve grown disappointed at the lack of local headlines reading ‘Too close to call’ during election season. But I’ve enjoyed the backstories that come with these soon-to-be landslides.

Congressional seats back in Virginia are pretty much always up for grabs: David Brat beating Eric Cantor, Mark Warner surviving a close call against Ed Gillespie, and so on. And Democratic voters in the Free State have little reason to sweat as November approaches. Why wouldn’t they? Ben Cardin is firmly in the driver’s seat in his reelection bid for the Senate, and the polls haven’t shown signs of any close contests for the House.

Northwest Maryland usually doesn’t get much national attention, but this year, the region seems to be personifying the ‘go big or go home’ attitude that I love. John Delaney, the district’s incumbent Democrat, kicked off his way-too-early campaign form last summer in a Washington Post op-ed — for 2020.

In a gutsy move that makes me laugh as I write this, Delaney essentially said, ‘Screw it, why not?’ and cast his name for President of the United States. Yet his decision to forego his congressional reelection, hilarious as it may seem, shouldn’t be scoffed at. Maryland’s wealthiest congressman could very well capitalise on the notion that businessmen make successful politicians, and make a Howard Dean-like run in 2019 and 2020.

Delaney has no doubt made his bid for most-daring politician this year. However, his potential successor may be even bolder.

In early August 2017, about one year after spending $13 million to lose Maryland’s 8th congressional district primary election, David Trone, co-founder of Total Wine & More, announced his candidacy for Delaney’s soon-to-be vacated seat. This past August, after spending more than $11 million to win the Democratic primary election for said seat, Trone publicly announced his cancer treatment. Now, after recuperating from chemotherapy and without his once-full head of hair, his race against Republican Amie Hoeber is expected to gain major coverage in October.

Trone has gone through an eventful year, to say the least. That should create a buzz around the Potomac and keep The Baltimore Sun’s newsroom occupied. Still, a Republican victory in northwest Maryland would be a big shock — unlike another contest going on in Annapolis.

In a state that all but guarantees the Democratic presidential nominee 10 electoral votes, Marylanders appear eager to reelect Republican Larry Hogan for governor.

A recent Goucher College poll places Hogan 22 points ahead of Democratic challenger Ben Jealous. That poll also states that 38 per cent of Maryland Democrats support Hogan. Earlier this year, another poll named Hogan the second-most popular governor in the country, with a 68 per cent approval rating. Even with the support of big-name Democratic senators and comedian Dave Chappelle —yeah, you read that right — the odds are stacked heavily against Jealous.

While seeing a GOP candidate as the blue state’s gubernatorial frontrunner may look odd, Governor Hogan’s reelection should hardly surprise us. Hogan is what many conservatives call a RINO, a ‘Republican In Name Only’. Over the past few years, he has successfully distanced himself from Donald Trump. He publicly supported the Paris Climate Agreement. In 2017, protesting against Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, he recalled Maryland’s national guard from the United States-Mexico border.

It may be difficult for Democrats, especially those outside of Maryland, to call Hogan’s upcoming victory a win. But, contrary to conventional wisdom, that may be exactly what they need for 2020. Working with a Republican governor who actually cares about student debt and fights for air conditioning in Charm City’s schools could help sway undecided voters toward the Democrats’ choice for president.

Yes, I do miss covering stories where elections were toss-ups and compromises were a fantasy. But I’ll gladly follow the resilient wine magnate running for Congress and the level-headed Republican governor.

Cody Davis is a journalist based in Baltimore. He has previously written for The Tab, the Daily Press and the Collegiate Times.

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