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Five races to watch in Maryland’s primaries

The primary contests to determine the Democratic and Republican nominees for Maryland governor are set to pit both parties’ establishment wings against insurgent forces as voters in the Old Line State head to the polls on Tuesday.  

But other key contests are playing out as well. In Maryland’s 4th District, Democratic voters will likely choose their next representative, while Republicans are slated to pick their nominee for a newly competitive western Maryland House seat currently held by a Democrat.  

Here are five races to watch in Maryland on Tuesday. 

Democratic gubernatorial primary 

Tom Perez and a super PAC backing him have spent more than any other candidate in the Democratic primary to succeed outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

But the contest has emerged as a competitive three-way race without a clear front-runner. Recent polling shows Perez, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, virtually tied with nonprofit executive Wes Moore, while another candidate, state Comptroller Peter Franchot, trails not far behind. 

Perez, who also served as a Labor secretary under former President Obama, has sought to draw on his deep experience in politics and government to cast himself as a steady hand and safe choice for the Democratic nomination.  

Franchot, a staple of Maryland politics since the 1980s, has similarly pointed to his deep experience in state politics to make his case, while Moore has leaned on his personal biography and charisma.  

While Perez may have the vetting and credentials that many Democrats are looking for, the party is also showing signs of souring on the political establishment — a fact that could give an opening to other candidates on Tuesday. 

GOP gubernatorial primary

Like the Democratic primary for governor, the Republican nominating contest to succeed Hogan has emerged as a fight between the GOP establishment and its right flank.  

Hogan, a rare two-term GOP governor in a blue state, has endorsed former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who has cast herself as a Republican in much the same vein as the outgoing governor, an establishment-aligned moderate.  

Donald Trump, meanwhile, is backing first-term state Del. Dan Cox, who is running for the support of the former president’s right-wing base. Cox helped organize buses for protesters to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Many Republicans see Schulz as the more formidable general election candidate, and for that reason Democrats have intervened in the primary to boost Cox, continuing a strategy they have implemented in other GOP primaries around the country. Recent polling shows Cox either leading or in a dead heat with his establishment-aligned primary rival. And with both Hogan and Trump backing opposing candidates, the Tuesday primary will be perhaps the biggest proxy war in the state. 

4th District Democratic primary 

Maryland’s 4th Congressional District became the only open House seat up for grabs in the state this year after Rep. Anthony Brown (D) announced that he would not seek reelection in order to run for state attorney general.  

Donna Edwards, who represented the district until 2017, is running to get her old seat back, though she’s facing a challenge from former county prosecutor Glenn Ivey.  

The primary match-up has attracted heavy outside spending, with United Democracy Project, a super PAC whose biggest donor is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, dropping millions on ads criticizing Edwards.  

Meanwhile, the liberal pro-Israel group J Street has spent big in the race as well, backing Edwards and hitting Ivey.  

The stakes of the primary are high. Maryland’s 4th District tilts heavily Democratic, meaning the winner of the Tuesday nominating contest is virtually guaranteed to win the seat in November. 

6th District GOP primary 

A handful of Republicans are vying for the nomination to take on Rep. David Trone (D) after redistricting made the race for his seat more competitive.  

But the GOP primary is seen as a likely two-way match-up between state Del. Neil Parrott and conservative journalist Matthew Foldi, who has racked up a long list of high-profile endorsements in the race. 

There are reasons to believe that Parrott will pull off a win on Tuesday. He was the Republican nominee in the district in 2020, when he was routed by Trone, and has the backing of many GOP state legislators.  

But Foldi, 25, has captured the attention — and support — of top Republicans ranging from Donald Trump Jr. to Hogan with his combative brand of conservatism. 

Whoever wins will almost certainly face Trone in the November general election. And while Trone won handily last time, Republicans are hoping that they may just be able to flip the seat this year. The redistricting process effectively cut Democrats’ advantage there in half, though the seat still leans in their direction. 

Democratic Senate primary 

Sen. Chris Van Hollen is seeking his second full term in the Senate this year. But he’ll first have to make it past a primary challenge from Democrat Michelle Smith.  

Van Hollen is heavily favored to clinch his party’s nomination on Tuesday, but he’s facing questions about his health after suffering a minor stroke in May. While he has said that his doctors have told him there would not be any long-term effects from the stroke, it remains to be seen whether the medical episode has any impact in the primary. 

Either way, the eventual Democratic nominee will head into the general election as the favorite to win the Senate seat. Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in Maryland, and the state hasn’t had a GOP senator in more than three decades.  

Still, that hasn’t stopped 10 Republicans from vying for the GOP’s Senate nomination this year. 

Tags 2022 midterm elections 2022 primaries Anthony Brown dan cox David Trone Donna Edwards Kelly Schulz Larry Hogan Maryland Maryland Obama Peter Franchot Tom Perez
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