Senate races

Md. House Dems on Senate crash course

Anne Wernikoff

Nearly every Democratic member of the Maryland House delegation is strongly considering a run for retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-Md.) seat, they told The Hill on Wednesday. 

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member on the Budget Committee and former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was the first to officially join the race, emailing supporters Wednesday to say he’s in. 

{mosads}But Van Hollen will surely have company from his House colleagues. 

“I’m very seriously considering it,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, who added that he’s been in contact with his pollsters and political advisers to gauge his chances. 

“My numbers are very high in the Baltimore area,” he continued. “You look at the area that I represent, which is the largest jurisdiction over there, it’s usually the bellwether.”

Rep. Donna Edwards is getting pushed by progressive groups to get into the race. Democracy for America (DFA) and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) petitioned followers on Tuesday to support Edwards in the wide-open field of potential Democratic contenders.

“I’ve made it very clear that I’m interested in running,” Edwards said. “I see a pathway to succeeding Barbara Mikulski and I’m taking my own counsel and I’ll make a decision shortly.”

Edwards struck a combative tone when asked if her colleagues jumping in might factor into her own decision, pointing out she knocked off a longtime Democrat in the primaries in 2008.

“We have to have somebody who is a voice for the state who captures the imagination and enthusiasm and innovation that Marylanders have and I’m willing to make that case to people,” she said. “So give me a couple of days or so and I’ll figure it out.

Edwards, an African-American, is a fresh face for the party and will be the last remaining woman from the Maryland Democratic delegation once Mikulski retires. She says she intends to hammer that point home if she runs.

“When I first started voting in the state, four members of our House delegation were women, and the first woman I ever voted for Senate was Barbara Mikulski,” she said. “We are on the verge of not having any representation of women in our state and in the Senate and I think it’s pretty compelling and something that makes me think about it even more.”

Rep. John Delaney was the first to make his Senate intentions known, tweeting on Monday that he was looking into a Senate run. 

He reiterated to The Hill on Wednesday he’s “leaning towards doing it.” The two-term Democrat is one of the wealthiest members of Congress with a net worth estimated over $100 million and could self-fund a bid.

“I’m an entrepreneur and I go for things,” he said.

Rep. John Sarbanes, the son of former Sen. Paul Sarbanes, enjoys broad name recognition and a deep political network. He said he’s mulling a potential Senate bid.

“There’s a whole bunch of people looking at it because they should, and I’m looking at it because I should, but there’s lots of factors,” he said. “Half the delegation at least plus others who have been elected, so it would be silly not to consider an opportunity like this when it presents, but you weight a lot of factors so nothing is foregone.”

And Rep. Elijah Cummings said he’s “definitely looking at” a potential Senate run. He said he would first take a look at his polling and potential for fundraising.

Cummings is approaching 20 years in the House after more than a decade in the state legislature. He’s the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee and is well-respected among the caucus. 

“I have to take into consideration the seniority that I have here,” he said. “For example, being the ranking member of a committee, as opposed to going in the Senate and not.”

The potential Democratic candidates extend beyond the House.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and former Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, and former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend could also be interested.

Tags Barbara Mikulski Chris Van Hollen Donna Edwards Elijah Cummings John Sarbanes Maryland Senate

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