Category Archives: US Senate

Chelsea No

Chelsea Manning has decided to run for the U.S. Senate. Hey, it’s a free country. We let Robin Ficker run for office, so why not Chelsea Manning? That doesn’t mean it’s not an easy lift for Democrats to  say hell no and renominate Sen. Ben Cardin.

Chelsea Manning is a traitor. While supporters view her actions of those of a whistleblower, she turned over hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks. Since her release, Manning has taken responsibility for her actions:

In an interview broadcast on Friday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, Manning said she had “accepted responsibility” for her actions.

“Anything I’ve done, it’s me,” she said. “There’s no one else. No one told me to do this. Nobody directed me to do this. This is me. It’s on me.”

Taking responsibility may not mean accepting that what she did was wrong. However, even if she views her actions as serving the larger good, accepting responsibility should mean that she accepts that she grossly violated her oath and the trust placed in her.

A major argument for Manning’s pardon was compassion over her mental state. While incarcerated at Leavenworth, she tried to commit suicide twice. Indeed, her deteriorated mental health was a key part of Manning’s defense at her trial. While lots of people have mental health issues and still serve valuable public roles, this seems a big step less than one year after her release from prison.

In her leaks, she chose to give the information to Julian Assange, someone who is not an American and with no affection, let alone loyalty, to this country. Or, as it turns out, to liberal democracy. While holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London resisting extradition on rape charges, Assange worked directly to undermine American democracy by working in service to Putin.

Manning’s campaign announcement seems especially ill-timed coming less than one week after Sen. Ben Cardin released a detailed report on Russia and Putin’s coordinated interference in our elections and actions that the U.S. needs to take to protect them from similar problems in 2018 and 2020.

While Manning has neither the experience nor the record to be a good senator, Ben Cardin has quietly worked hard for Maryland and the U.S. for decades. Cardin is not just knowledgeable but effective – a rare enough combination in public life. He has advocated for liberal causes since before Manning was born.

Manning refers to Maryland as her “home state” but she was born in Oklahoma and grew up there and Wales. She lived for 15 months with an aunt in Potomac. While military personnel often have short stays in a place for obvious reasons, even if she returned occasionally, one wonders how up she is on the state. Does she know, say, where Garrett and Somerset Counties are located?

Some make the case that Manning’s campaign will lead to debate over important questions. If anything, her record as a traitor will simply serve to undermine legitimate and important questions over Russian interference and American policy more generally.

Manning will undoubtedly attract lots of press coverage as a celebrity. Donald Trump did too. Perhaps it’s time we seek other qualities in our public officials than the ability to command media attention, especially when we have an outstanding public servant in Ben Cardin already in office.


Cummings Filed for Reelection this Morning

CummingsScreenshot from Maryland State Board of Elections

As of 10am this morning, the Maryland State Board of Elections reports that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-7) has filed for reelection. Cummings, a respected senior representative, had considered running for the U.S. Senate. He would have been a formidable candidate.

Despite his late decision, a Cummings bid seemed increasingly unlikely as time passed and other candidates raised money, campaigned and organized. His decision will free up people who had waited and would have supported Cummings to join the Edwards or Van Hollen camps.

Rep. Cummings would have had to give up his position as the leading Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee where he made a name for himself in defending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration against the endless highly partisan Benghazi investigations.


Sierra Club Endorses Van Hollen

From the Press Release:
Bladensburg, MD — Today, Sierra Club’s Maryland Chapter announced the endorsement of Representative Chris Van Hollen for election to the US Senate in 2016. In response, Chair of the Maryland Chapter, Baird Straughan, released the following statement:

“The Sierra Club endorses Congressman Van Hollen because he has the proven ability to transform an environmental vision into effective legislation. If we are to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st Century, we need legislators who have the knowledge, commitment, and leadership skills documented in Rep. Van Hollen’s record.

“More than 15 years ago, State Senator Van Hollen led the successful fight to pass the Maryland Clean Energy Incentives Act of 2000. That leadership has continued unabated ever since. He won a ban on drilling in parts of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He was the lead sponsor of the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act. He co-chairs the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change and the Congressional Chesapeake Bay Watershed Caucus, and is a member of the Safe Climate Caucus. And now, he is now a leading sponsor of “Frack Pack” legislation that would close oil and gas loopholes and responsibly regulate fracking at the Federal level.

“We’re endorsing Congressman Van Hollen because today’s environmental crises have reached a breaking point — not just for the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland, but for our country and the world. Rep. Van Hollen has proven his ability to work through the gridlock of the U.S. Senate, and pass legislation that creates the solutions that are so critically needed today.”


Mikulski and Cardin 12th and 17th Most Liberal Senators

Sen114_Ideal_Point_PlotBThe graph shows the latest scores to be released by Voteview. Unlike conventional interest group ratings, they take into account all votes in the Senate (except those in which less than 5% of the Senate dissented from the majority).

The points show the estimates on the scale with most positive being more conservative. The lines around the points are 95% confidence intervals (i.e. the actual ideology of the senator has a 19 in 20 probability of falling on the line).

Presidential Candidates

Bernie Sanders is the most liberal member of the Senate. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are literally off the charts as the two most conservative senators. Fellow Candidate Marco Rubio is the seventh most Republican while Lindsey Graham is the fifth most liberal.


Bad Day for Donna Edwards


Rushern Baker Endorses Chris Van Hollen

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s endorsement of Rep. Chris Van Hollen over Rep. Donna Edwards for U.S. Senate shows the tough road ahead for Edwards as the primary contest progresses. Not all endorsements matter. This one does.

While Van Hollen has the united support of the Montgomery County Executive and County Council, Edwards just lost the most prominent local official in her home base. Van Hollen has easily consolidated political support in his home base. In contrast, Edwards has now been served notice that she will have to fight hard to get Prince George’s to swing behind her.

It reinforces the existing media narrative that Edwards doesn’t work well with others either in Maryland or Congress. Moreover, it serves as a powerful signal to other African-American officials that it’s OK to endorse Van Hollen over Edwards. A further subtext is that Baker thinks Van Hollen will win so you should support early.

Edwards will try and counter as the authentic progressive candidate running against a corrupt establishment as when she challenged successfully Al Wynn. Except that she’s now a Member of Congress and part of the establishment so people want to see effectiveness as well as an ability to speak truth to power.

Moreover, neither Van Hollen nor Baker are Wynn. Both have strong reputations of wanting to clean up politics. Van Hollen, for example, has been a champion of campaign finance reform. The insufficiently liberal narrative won’t work on Van Hollen either and may just end up reinforcing that Edwards is less electable.

If Elijah Cummings enters the race, this can’t hurt him either, as it makes it easier for him to reach out to Prince George’s. In short, Cummings looks to have an easier time making inroads into Edwards’s base than vice-versa.


Congressional Black Caucus Doesn’t Heart Donna Edwards

edwards cbcIt’s Not All Smiles Behind the Scenes

It’s poorly kept secret that Rep. Donna Edwards does not have particularly good relationships with much of the Maryland political establishment either in the State or in the House. But the National Journal recently also revealed the depth of her bad relationships with many other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC):

Some current and former CBC members and aides, none of whom were willing to speak on the record, described Edwards as ambitious and aloof, saying she’s rubbed many in the caucus the wrong way. Others noted her public stances in opposition to other Maryland Democrats—an outlier in an otherwise collegial delegation.

One former staffer said that she essentially dropped out of the CBC for six months after a conflict with a colleague:

“I don’t think the CBC’s been a real priority for Donna. I don’t think she has particularly great relationships inside of the caucus,” said a former staffer for a CBC member. “I don’t think she’s going to win any popularity contests inside the CBC.”

In one particularly explosive episode, Edwards walked out of a CBC meeting last year after a dispute with Rep. Cedric Richmond. “He told her to get out, and she didn’t come back for six months,” said another former aide with CBC ties. “She didn’t come back until a month before she announced her candidacy for Senate. It struck a very disingenuous tone.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings could be the major beneficiary of Edwards’ problems with other members of the CBC:

Some CBC members were open in their desire to see Cummings enter the race. “I can only speak to the positive nature of the desire to get Elijah Cummings to run,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. “There is a lot of interest in his candidacy from CBC members. … I would be stunned if the majority of the members aren’t supporting him.”

That preference could say as much about Edwards’ standing within the CBC as it does about Cummings’.

Even if Rep. Donna Edwards is the only African-American candidate, many CBC members might still sit this one out. Or even worse for her, they might support Rep. Chris Van Hollen:

“Donna Edwards has always been an outsider to the caucus,” said the former staffer with CBC ties. “The CBC overwhelmingly doesn’t think that Donna Edwards has managed her relationships well or even developed one. … I have heard members say that they will go and campaign for Van Hollen before they will support Donna Edwards.”


Elijah for Senate?


A US Senate race between Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. Chris Van Hollen would be an epic and historic race to behold, and might  reduce Donna Edwards–who has the least seniority of the three and is the weakest fundraiser by far–to the role of spoiler.

A Regional Candidate
Congressmen Cummings could be expected to carry the City of Baltimore by a bone crushingly large margin. A similar margin could be expected in suburban Howard County, where he is popular. Elijah would also likely win Baltimore County–he already represents a large swath of it.

Elijah might also challenge hometown heroine Donna Edwards in Prince George’s County. Many local leaders are not close with Rep. Edwards and might lend their support to Rep. Cummings. Regardless, if Reps. Van Hollen and Edwards split the suburban DC vote, Rep. Cummings could emerge as victor based on unified support in the 410 area code.

No question about it, if Elijah enters the race, he causes serious problems for Donna Edwards. She would no longer be able to hope to claim a base of African American voters in Baltimore City and would face serious competition in her own home base of Prince George’s.

At the outset, a split black field would seem to help CVH. But natural areas of expansions outside of Montgomery for Chris from Ellicott City to Towson would be cut off. On the whole, I’d see Elijah’s entry into the race as a win for Chris, but I think he’s a lot more likely to lose to Elijah than Donna.



EMILY’s List in for Edwards

EMILYsList-1EMILY’s List announced its support in the upcoming senatorial race for Rep. Donna Edwards. Great news for her campaign as she’ll need all the money that they can raise and more. Beyond the fundraising, it also gives her the imprimatur of a major endorser. An important day for the Edwards campaign.

Bad news for other women who had been musing about the race, specifically Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and former Del. Heather Mizeur. Rawlings-Blake already has a challenging day job and it is unclear how serious she is about running for Senate.

This is now the second time that EMILY’s List has taken a pass on Mizeur who has been promoting her candidacy with donors as well as through her expansive social network. Of course, Mizeur could turn to an open congressional race where she could be a very competitive candidate–and might gain EMILY’s List support.


Mizeur Says Show Me the Money


Heather Mizeur posted on her own Facebook page, as well as the Draft Heather page, the fundraising appeal shown above. This is a good fundraising and social media gimmick. While reminding us she’s in the mix, she’s also raising funds.

Her supporters love it, as the many likes, positive comments, and shares demonstrate. Since Heather’s own page has over 21,000 likes as opposed to the over 900 likes on the Draft Mizeur for Senate, I can see why she posted it to both. (There are currently only seven “likes” currently on the Draft page.)

The only negative wrinkle is that any doubt as to whether Heather Mizeur was behind the effort to draft Heather Mizeur has been dispelled. The draft page is also conveniently titled “Heather for Senate” for when she decides that it is formally time to jump in the race–or switch to a congressional run in one of the open seats.