Category Archives: Maryland Senate

Washington Challenges Conway, Part II


Today, we continue our look at the upcoming Democratic primary challenge by Del. Mary Washington to incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43).

Del. Mary Washington brings a record of serious work on issues and constituency service to her challenge to incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway. She has been keenly interested in expanding community schools that help link students and their families with services that can help in times of crisis or to overcome barriers to gaining an education.

Washington has also gained attention for her effort to prevent homes for being sold for unpaid water bills—a real problem in Baltimore City because of spiking rates and major glitches in the new water billing system that have led to over 1000 homes and churches facing the threat of sale. These are serious problems for people on fixed incomes.

Washington is poised to make a more serious bid to challenge Conway than Henry’s unsuccessful effort in 2014. First, Washington will have already represented the exact same constituents as Conway for eight years. Additionally, she ran a strong campaign for the House twelve years ago, so she’s well-known in the district and on the ballot.

Second, Washington is much more strongly positioned form a financial perspective. Her last report revealed that she had $81,572.45 in her campaign account. While less than Conway has, or will be able to bring to bear in a tough primary, Washington already has enough to afford key expenditures for a serious challenge.

On the other hand, the two sitting delegates, Maggie McIntosh and Curt Anderson, have made clear that they will stick with Conway. Like Sen. Mike Miller, who will also back Conway, Del. McIntosh is an experienced, skilled politician who can bring significant dollars to bear and plays for keeps. They’re key backers that Conway needs—and has—and not the sort of opponents anyone wants to face.

If Conway decides to retire, Anderson has indicated that he is inclined to enter the race, though the betting appears to be that Washington would defeat him. It will be interesting to seek how tight a joint effort the other incumbents run and if Washington aligns with other challengers.

Washington’s challenge appears to be having the effect of causing Sen. Conway to dig in her heels and want to run for a sixth term. While Conway is a seasoned incumbent who has won her spurs in tough races, it remains unclear how aggressively she could or would campaign. In contrast, Washington is clearly hungry for the seat.

This will be a great race to watch.

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Washington Challenges Conway, Part I

Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43) has not made her intentions clear regarding running for reelection but that has not stopped Del. Mary Washington (D-43) from throwing down the gauntlet and declaring her intention to run for the seat.

After winning election to the Baltimore City Council in 1995, Conway was appointed to the Senate in 1997 when Sen. John Pica, Jr. retired. Since then, she has won the Democratic nomination—tantamount to election in this district—five times. While Conway has faced stronger challenges in recent years, she has continued to win convincingly.

Past Democratic Primary Results in District 43
2014: Conway, 64.5%, Councilman Bill Henry (D-4), 35.5%.
2010: Conway, 69.5%, Hector Torres, 30.5%
2006: Conway, 92.0%, Dave Vane, 8.0%
2002: Conway, 100.0%
1998: Conway, 100.0%.

In 2014, Conway dispatched Councilman Bill Henry with ease, winning by a margin of 29%. Henry’s expenditure of $45,687.36, while not insubstantial, was below the threshold needed to take on an entrenched incumbent. Challengers don’t need to outspend incumbents but they do need enough for key expenditures.

Conway spent $146,993.41 in 2014 and this does not include any independent expenditures made on her behalf, though it does include some expenses for the general election. Though she once again contemplating retirement, having packed up her Senate office, Conway remains financially prepared to wage a serious reelection battle with $108,567.58 in her campaign account according to her January report from this year.

Conway has an interesting relationship with Senate President Mike Miller. While they don’t get along personally, Conway has long been part of Miller’s leadership team as Chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. After the primary in 2014, Conway transferred $35,000 from her campaign account to Miller’s Democratic Senatorial Committee Slate and another $5,000 to conservative Sen. Roy Dyson (D-29). In short, there has been little friction on legislative or political matters even if Miller and Conway will never be BFFs.

Tomorrow, we take a closer look at the challenger, Del. Mary Washington.

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