Category Archives: Primaries to Watch

The State of Play Before Primary Night I

The Presidential

Maryland was made for Hillary Clinton. She has done very well among African-American voters, who form 30% of the State’s population and will comprise a higher share of Democratic primary voters. The exit polls from 2008 indicated that women composed a staggering 62% of the primary vote, another good demographic for Clinton this year.

Finally, Bernie Sanders is running as an anti-establishment candidate in a State where many primary voters literally live inside the Beltway. While the Obama campaign swept many of these same areas in 2008, there is no remotely parallel wave for Bernie Sanders.

On the Republican side, I suspect Trump will have a good night. Class dynamics are unusually inverted in Maryland with many upper class Democrats and working class Republicans, who have provided the backbone for Trump’s support elsewhere.  Will Gov. Larry Hogan end up having to explain whether he’ll support Trump to the same Republican coalition that elected him?

The U.S. Senate

In Maryland, the presidential primary has ceded marquee status to the hard fought battle between Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen. It has become a battle between the uncompromising progressive and the person who gets progressive results.

EMILY’s List upped the octane in this race by dumping millions on the side of Edwards, providing the bulk of her campaign funding. No doubt this has been a unpleasant surprise for Van Hollen, who likely expected to dominate due to his fundraising prowess and has enjoyed strong support from women’s groups in the past.

Lately, however, these advertisements have become a mixed blessing, as bizarre attempts to characterize Van Hollen as opposed to gun control or campaign finance provoked a backlash from the White House and critics. See Jonathan Shurberg’s excellent summary.

Edwards has been hoping that her compelling personal story, ability to bring some diversity to the Senate, and strong progressive credentials will help her unite progressive white and African-American voters into a winning coalition.

However, after months of a tight race, polls indicate that Van Hollen is pulling ahead but the voters will have the ultimate say tonight. If he does become the Democratic senatorial nominee, commenters will likely point to several factors.

First, I don’t think Edwards has convinced voters that she is more progressive than Van Hollen in any meaningful way. Van Hollen has also managed to sell the argument that he is not just progressive but accomplishes progressive goals more compellingly than Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

Next, Edwards has not obtained support from key African-American officials, like County Executives Rushern Baker and Isiah Leggett. The silences from Rep. Elijah Cummings’ office and the Congressional Black Caucus are also deafening. Edwards has nonetheless done an impressive job uniting black support across the State, particularly in light of these gaps in her support base.

As she goes into the final stretch, Edwards has hammered home her personal story and that she would be only the second black woman in the Senate. No one could seriously argue against the desirability for more diversity in the Senate.

But the dominance of this argument risks reducing her campaign to only identity politics. It needs leavening with other elements to sustain substantial cross-racial appeal even though the Black Lives Matter movement gives it a natural energy that could still make this a close race tonight.

I know too little about the Republican race to comment.

Despite Many Rivals, Barron Has D24 Edge

D24Prince George’s District 24

Of all of the numerous delegate contests in Prince George’s, the one in District 24 is perhaps the most interesting. This is the seat that the once extremely promising Tiffany Alston lost to indictment. After Gov. O’Malley shot down the appointment of reformed ex con Greg Hall, former Del. Darren Swain was selected to fill the vacancy, although Swain would soon become embroiled in his own scandal.

Swain is running for reelection but is challenged by Alston and Hall. A third challenger, Attorney Erek Barron, is perhaps more formidable than any of them.

Swain’s vulnerabilities spring from one night shortly after he was appointed where he allegedly picked up a group of teenagers, took them to an abandoned house and was then robbed by the same teenagers.

Alston is not regarded as a serious candidate by anyone with whom I’ve spoken. Alston filed an affidavit saying she had raised less than $1,000 on January 1st.

Hall is in many ways an appealing candidate–a drug dealer who served time in prison for his role in a shooting who then cleaned up his act and is now a prosperous small business owner. Furthermore, many feel he is owed the seat because the PGCDCC nominated him for the appointment and he was the runner up to Alston in the 2010 primary. Still, his past makes many, including the Gov, uneasy. Like Alston, Hall filed an affidavit saying he had raised less than $1,000 on January 1st.

Finally, there is Barron. He has served as a prosecutor in Prince George’s County, Baltimore City and with the Department of Justice. He was also an Attorney for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, acting as Lead Counsel to now Vice President Joe Biden. He is also tied in locally, having played football at UMD and served as a PGCDCC member. He currently practices law with a prominent Maryland firm, Whiteford, Taylor and Preston. Barron had $29,000 on hand on January 1st.

Carolyn Howard and Michael Vaughn are both well respected in Annapolis and have been reasonably strong fundraisers. Howard reported $32,000 on hand in her January report, which is a solid number for an incumbent legislator in Prince George’s County. Vaughn had $75,000 on hand– an unusually strong number for a Prince George’s delegate. 

Marva Jo Camp, a Annapolis Lobbyist and Attorney has also filed to run. She failed to file a campaign finance report in January, suggesting a certain lack of organization. I’ve been unable to find any substantive information on Durand Ford, although he raised a paltry $613 in 2013. A google search turned up nothing on Delano Miller. There isn’t any campaign finance data available for Phillip Raines and his websites doesn’t list any biographical data other than that he graduated from Bowie State.

These candidates have yet prove their credibility.

Swain, Alston and Hall are all deeply flawed candidates. Barron is running a well organized campaign and has a sterling resume. The chatter is that he is the favorite.

Rating: Lean Barron

Full Disclosure: I pitched Erek Barron on Direct Mail services on behalf of a previous employer in November 2013. 

Oddly Competitive Primary in MD CD1

Let us be clear here: No one running in the Democratic Primary for Maryland’s First Congressional District has any realistic shot at beating Andy Harris. Frank Kratovil’s victory in 2008 required a perfect storm (and Kratovil lost by double digits in 2010). The district was made even more Republican in the most recent round of gerrymandering (trading swingy Anne Arundel Precincts for dark red territory in Carroll, Baltimore and Harford Counties). Andy Harris will likely hold this seat until 2022 when Mike Miller decides to eliminate the last Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation via redistricting.

All that being said, two exceptionally strong candidates are duking it out for the right to be the standard bearer for the Team Blue come November.

On one side you have John Laferla–a surgeon and former Chairman of the Kent County Democratic Central Committee. He narrowly lost the 2012 Primary to Made in America Activist Wendy Rosen (who subsequently dropped out following allegations that she had committed voter fraud). During the primary, he received endorsements from NARAL Pro Choice MD, Planned Parenthood, former US senator John Breaux and former Republican MD-01 Congressmen Wayne Gilchrist.  Following Rosen’s withdrawal Laferla ran with the party blessing as a write in candidate. My spies tell me Laferla has retained Dave Goodman of Trublu Politics as his Direct Mail Consultant.

The other candidate is Bill Tilghman–a wealthy retired attorney (Piper Marbury now DLA Piper) and business executive with Marriott. He has also been involved in several start ups. The Tilghman family has been historically been prominent on the Eastern Shore. Tilghman has a highly qualified Finance Director and my spies tell me he has hired Main Street Communications as his Media Consultant.

Both would be far stronger nominees than one would expect to see in this district. It is unclear who has the edge here.

Primary Rating: Toss Up.
General Election Rating : Safe Republican

Three Delegates, One Seat

D44NewDistricts 44A and 44B

A previous post examined the Senate race in drastically reconfigured District 44–the only one in which the challenger is favored over the incumbent–so I thought I’d look at the competitive delegate race in District 44A.

District 44 drew the short end of the stick in Baltimore City’s redistricting game of musical chairs with most of the district moved out of the City into the County. As a result, three incumbents are now competing for the sole delegate seat in District 44A, the portion left in the City.

District 44A has three incumbents vying for one seat: Dels. Keith Haynes, Kieffer Mitchell, and Melvin Stukes.

Del. Keiffer Mitchell, heir to the Mitchell political dynasty, is a nice guy who came very close to first-place finisher Haynes in his first delegate campaign in 2010. Del. Keith Haynes is running for his fourth term, where he sits on the Appropriations Committee, but has not been a stand out.

Del. Melvin Stukes came in third but well behind Mitchell and Haynes. The City Paper criticized Stukes for his fecklessness as long ago as 1999 when he served on the City Council:

In two terms on the council Stukes has made his mark as an anti- environmentalist, an unflinching rubber stamp for the mayor’s pet projects, and an incurable windbag, but he’s utterly failed to distinguish himself as a representative of the people.

Stukes also attracted deserved negative attention during the fierce debate over marriage equality. After sponsoring the bill for several years, he claimed he thought it allowed civil unions rather than marriage even though the word “marriage” appears in the title. Much was also made of the heat Stukes took from his barber:

In West Baltimore, Lenny Clay, the politically powerful owner of the West Baltimore barbershop Lenny’s House of Naturals, gave Del. Melvin Stukes an earful for sponsoring the same-sex marriage bill in the House.

He recalled telling Stukes: “You should burn your Bible, because you are no longer following your book.”

Instead Stukes took his name off the bill and will not support it.

When the going gets tough, Stukes goes away.

I’m sure Mitchell faced similar criticism from some friends but he seemed very much at peace with his decision and happy to take a leadership role in pushing for the bill in the House. In Stukes’ case, we can either believe he is that stupid or unreliable. Based on his public comments, he wants us to go with stupid.

Regardless, it seems likely that Stukes will be out of the House after the primary. He fared poorly four years ago compared to Haynes and Mitchell. Moreover, he had just $10K cash in his campaign kitty compared to $32K for Haynes and $24K for Mitchell. None can raise more money until the session ends.

It should be a tough race between Haynes and Mitchell. Haynes has four terms under his belt so he has name recognition in the district as well as the cash advantage. Mitchell already showed he is a fierce campaigner in his first outing four years ago.

Top Senate Primaries Ratings Summary

Here is a summary of my ratings of the hottest Senate primaries in Maryland with links to more detailed information on each race. The ratings give my sense of the race when I wrote the profile. Of course, events and new information can always lead me to revise my opinion, so please keep me posted!

M-D James Strong in Harford D34

D34Harford County District 34

Links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V of this series on top Senate primaries.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R) is stepping down, so District 34 is an open seat. The Democratic primary features Del. Mary-Dulany James, who has served four terms, against former Sen. Art Helton, who served two terms from 1975-83. He also served for two years on the Harford County Council before entering the Senate.

Helton sought to regain his Senate seat in 2002 but incumbent Sen. Nancy Jacobs beat him with 60% of the vote. He challenged Jacobs one more time in 2010 but she won again with 56%, though Helton narrowly carried the Harford portion of the district. His 2014 bid nearly came to an early end when the Board of Elections found he did not reside in District 34. However, they reversed their decision. Similar issues arose during Helton’s 2010 race.

James comes from a political family. Her father, William James, served in the General Assembly for three decades, including as Senate President from 1963-74. After he left the Senate, James served three terms as State Treasurer. The James Senate Office Building in Annapolis is named after him.

James and Helton were nearly evenly matched in campaign funds at the beginning of the year with $50K for James and $48K for Helton. But while James raised $84K, Helton raised less than $1K and loaned his campaign $60K. His campaign finance entity owes him $297K in loans.

I suspect slates matter less here than in other parts of the State because Harford Democrats have a strong incentive to develop a personal brand due to the County’s Republican lean. James has come in a very strong first in all four Democratic primaries for delegate, winning almost every possible vote after the first.

It is hard to see how Helton competes with this level of electoral strength. Moreover, James has shown a consistent willingness to work hard to keep a firm hold on a tough delegate seat. Her fundraising ability also indicates a depth of support even if she may well envy Helton’s ability to self finance. Moreover, she has Senate President Mike Miller on her side.

Redistricting greatly altered District 34. Previously, District 34A included south Harford and a tiny piece of Cecil around Manor Heights, and District 34B was north Cecil (see below). The new District 34 (see above) no longer includes any portion of Cecil. Instead, it pairs most of 34A with former District 35B centered on Bel Air in Harford County.

D34Old2010 Senate District 34

The new district has roughly the same partisan balance as the old district. The old District 34A has a slight Republican lean–O’Malley and Ehrlich were in a virtual tie though O’Malley won handily statewide. The old District 34B and District 35B were both carried by Ehrlich over O’Malley by roughly 2-1.

So the overall district has a Republican lean but is as Democratic as possible in Harford. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will still have to fight hard to win the general election. Republican Bob Cassilly is a former Bel Air Mayor and Harford County Councilman who left office in 2006 when called up to serve in Iraq.

However, Cassilly has only $15K in his campaign account–not a sign that the Republicans feel encouraged about the race despite the district’s Republican tilt. It also seems telling that the two Republican delegates filed for reelection rather than for the Senate.

James’ electoral record likely intimidates. In her first general election in 1998, she came in first. In 2002, James came in a close second even as the other Democratic incumbent went down to defeat. She easily outdistanced the rest of the field in both 2006 and 2010. Her willingness to work hard for votes no doubt helps–she claims to have knocked on over 10,000 doors already.

Primary Rating: Likely James.

Gutiérrez Entices Competition in District 18

D18Montgomery County District 18

This is the first of a two part post on the delegate race in District 18. This morning, I profile the incumbents in the race. In the afternoon, I’ll take a look at the challengers and make an overall assessment.

District 18, centered on Chevy Chase, Kensington, Wheaton and part of Silver Spring, is economically and racially diverse. Redistricting moved it a bit west, dropping a couple of Silver Spring precincts and picking up Garrett Park and areas around White Flint. D18 includes many of Montgomery’s mini municipalities.

The Senate race is not a top primary to watch, so I’ll focus on the more interesting delegate race. All three incumbents, Al Carr, Ana Sol Gutiérrez, and Jeff Waldstriecher are seeking reelection. Ana’s repeated public musings about retirement enticed other good candidates into the race and made it more competitive.

The fundamental question about this race is whether any challenger can pick off one of the incumbents if they run as a united slate. The challengers will likely pick off some votes from each of them. But will enough come from any single incumbent or go to any single challenger to cause an incumbent to fail to win reelection?

I review the incumbents first before turning to the challengers. They are discussed in descending order of funds raised.

INCUMBENTS

Jeff Waldstreicher has $114K in his campaign account. In the last fundraising report, Jeff reported $14K in PAC donations, including big donations from MCGEO ($2K), the Firefighters ($2.5K) and the Trial Lawyers ($5K).

Jeff also received $33K in contributions in the past year. The largest is from Big Boyz Bail Bonds in Baltimore for $1K. However, most are from individuals, many of whom are local residents and activists whose names I recognize. He also received a donation from Joe Vallario, his committee chair.

Jeff is seeking his third term in the legislature and sits on the Judiciary Committee. His strength is that he is a disciplined and focused campaigner. Jeff is just relentless about knocking on doors and has substantial funds to aid his efforts at voter contact.

Al Carr has $42K in his campaign account. Al raised $20K over the past year. (Note: I am listed as one of the donors.) His donors generally gave smaller amounts than Jeff’s. Many are local names that I recognize with a particular accent on environmental activists.

Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman was Al’s most generous donor, giving over $1K. Before serving in the House, Al was a Kensington Town Councilman. Al also loaned his campaign $29K. Only $200 came from a single PAC donation.

Al’s great strength is that he has a core base of strong supporters among environmentalists and municipalities in the district. He is very attentive to neighborhood concerns, which gives him a very nice base of volunteers and local advocates.

Ana Sol Gutiérrez has $28K in her campaign account. She raised close to $5K in individual contributions. She has more donors with Latino surnames and fewer from Kensington or Chevy Chase than Jeff or Al. I also noticed $50 from at-large County Councilmember George Leventhal.

Ana received $1600 in in-state PAC donations–$1K from AFSCME and $600 from the United Food and Commercial Workers. And another $4K from out-of-state PACs–$3K from the Laborers International Union and $1K from SEIU NY/NJ. Ana had to pay a $500 fine for accidentally continuing to solicit contributions on her web site during the session when fundraising is banned.

Ana’s great strength is simply that she has appeared on the ballot in every state election in this area since 1990, first for School Board and then for the House of Delegates. The senior Latino elected official in Maryland, she has a strong Latino base.

The real question for the incumbents is whether they will slate together. They dissolved the District 18 Democratic Team campaign account at Ana’s insistence. It seems clear that Jeff and Al will join incumbent Sen. Rich Madaleno on a common ticket. Despite reluctance, I suspect Ana will also slate with the other incumbents, as the advantages, particularly for a candidate with little money facing a strong challenge, are just too great to ignore.

This afternoon, I look at the challengers.

Charm City Senate Primaries–Challenger Favored in D44

D44New2014 Baltimore City and County District 44

Links to Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV of this series on top Senate primaries.

District 43 (D): Incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway faces Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry, whose city council district overlaps with this legislative district. Although the likeable, smart Henry is a strong challenger, key factors render Conway the favorite, as I detailed previously in my overview of this district. Despite some bad press, Conway has far more money and has formed a tight slate with strong delegate incumbents. Rating: Likely Conway.

District 44 (D): As usual, Baltimore City state legislative redistricting was a game of political musical chairs. The City had to lose representation and two-thirds of District 44 has shifted out of the City into the County (see map above). County District 44B will elect two delegates to one from City District 44A.

Virtually all of the new territory was formerly part of District 10 (see map below). In truth, the new District 44 is more the heir to District 10 than to District 44. The new District 10 has taken in much new territory further north in Baltimore County. No wonder Sen. Delores Kelley (D 10) joined Sen. Jim Brochin in filing an unsuccessful lawsuit against the new plan.

Redistricting has set up one of this year’s toughest Senate primaries. Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D 10), who lives in the portion of the old District 10 that is now part of the new District 44, is challenging incumbent Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D 44). The new district contains roughly twice as many people from Nathan-Pulliam’s old district, though it bears Jones-Rodwell’s district number.

D10and44old2010 Baltimore City District 44 and Baltimore County District 10

Besides more past constituents, Nathan-Pulliam has more money in her campaign account–$80K to $63K for Jones-Rodwell. Neither can raise money during the session, so these are the amounts with which they will enter the final two months of the campaign.

Nathan-Pulliam has served in the House since 1995 and has been Deputy Majority Whip since 2003. Sen. Jones-Rodwell served one term in the House before winning election to the Senate in 2002 where she chairs a subcommittee of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee.

Endorsements and slating can help either candidate. Nathan-Pulliam shows little sign of losing her base. Sen. Delores Kelly (D 10) has endorsed Nathan-Pulliam, her former delegate. Nathan-Pulliam also won the support of the 10th Democratic Club, much of which presumably now lives in District 44.

So far, I have not heard of any slates being formed (post on Facebook if you know otherwise). Nathan-Pulliam is older than Jones-Rodwell, who may find it easier to do the aggressive door knocking that she will need to do to introduce herself in Baltimore County.

Jones-Rodwell has fewer former constituents and less money than her opponent. Races like these often turn out to be friends-and-neighbors contests, especially when they straddle jurisdictional boundaries like District 44, so the incumbent is in real trouble. This is the first district I’m rating as favoring the challenger. Rating: Lean Nathan-Pulliam.

Currie Has Edge Over Griffith: Top Senate Primaries IV

D25Prince George’s District 25

Links to Part I, Part II, and Part III of this series.

District 25 (D): At 85% black VAP, this Prince George’s Senate district has a higher share of black voters than any other in the State. Four-term Del. Melony Griffith is challenging incumbent Sen. Ulysses Currie, who has served in the Senate for five terms and had two prior terms in the House.

Currie has the clear financial advantage with $115K in his account compared to just $40K in Griffith’s. Finances definitely give Currie a leg up, especially since neither can raise funds during the session and the period between the end of it and the primary will be short. Still, Griffith ought to have enough for a viable campaign.

Griffith was on Doug Gansler’s short list for the lieutenant governor slot, though that went to Del. Jolene Ivey. Griffith served as Prince George’s House delegation chair just before Ivey. While Griffith has been linked with Gansler, Currie has endorsed Brown.

No surprise there. Currie plucked Brown out and put him on his ticket as a candidate for delegate back in 1998, giving the Lieutenant Governor his start in Maryland politics. Their bond is tight and goes back a long way. In a year when Brown will be looking for every vote in this district and will back Currie, this gives Currie a huge advantage over his opponent.

Currie’s major problem is a spate of bad press resulting from ethical problems. He was tried in 2011 on federal bribery charges related to his representation of Shoppers Food Warehouse as community relations consultant, which he failed to disclose on his State ethics form.

Though Currie was found not guilty, the Senate censured him on the recommendation of the Ethics Committee. Currie has been stripped of his chair of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee and can no longer serve on conference committees with the House.

While ethics problems led to Currie’s exit from the Senate leadership despite his friendship with Senate President Mike Miller, Griffith has been part of Speaker Michael Busch’s leadership team in the House. She chairs the important Subcommittee on Pensions of the House Appropriations Committee and has been entrusted by Busch with various valuable assignments.

A final difference between Currie and Griffith is generational. Currie is in his mid-70s, while Griffith is in her early-50s. Currie has not faced a challenger since 2002 when he beat Prince George’s Community College Prof. Sharrarne Morton, a perennial candidate, with 65%. Prior to that, he had not faced another challenger in the primary since he beat Del. Michael Arrington to win the nomination with 61% in 1994.

Interestingly, Arrington is now a lobbyist and was also mentioned in connection with the Shoppers scandal. Arrington has also made the papers due to other ethical challenges, such as the receipt of Superbowl tickets while a delegate from Bruce Bereano, and involvement in the deal to build the football stadium.

Regardless, Currie has not run against another delegate for 20 years or had to run any campaign at all for over a decade, though he has been heavily involved with tickets in his district. Both Currie and Griffith have full slates this time. Currie has the edge here, as incumbent Del. Derrick Davis, a very powerful well-funded delegate, is running with Currie.

Despite the ethical problems, I give the edge to Currie. He was found not guilty and his link to Brown, Davis, and his financial advantage should trump the ethical problems. Currie also a courtly manner that I suspect voters like even if Griffith also has her appeal. Rating: Lean Currie.

 

 

 

Colburn v. Eckardt in Top Senate Primaries III

D37Eastern Shore District 37

This is the third in a series on the top Senate primaries in the State (Part I and Part II).

District 37 (R): This primary matchup between Sen. Richard Colburn and Del. Adelaide (Addie) Eckardt is almost as personal as the one previewed yesterday in neighboring District 36. Colburn and Eckardt have served together in the General Assembly since 1995. According to The Quinton Report, Colburn walked up to Eckardt and on the night she filed and said “You used to be my friend.”

Colburn was elected in 1982 to the first of two terms in the House of Delegates. In 1990, he sought the Republican congressional nomination and came in third with 12% of the vote in a highly fractured contest. When very conservative Democratic Sen. Frederick Malkus, Jr., retired, Colbun won election to the Senate in 1994, easily winning the primary and then the general by 10%.

Eckardt is the most serious challenger Colburn has faced since gaining his Senate seat. Beyond being smart and likeable, she has also represented most of the same people as Colburn for nearly two decades. They are both known quantities.

Colburn also goes into the primary with less money than Eckardt as he has $32K in his campaign account to her $44K. Neither can raise money during the session, so they will have little time to raise much more before the primary occurs in June.

One advantage held by Colburn is that he already represents all of District 37. Eckardt represents District 37B, which elects two of the three delegates. Much of the advantage, however, is illusory. District 37A was drawn as a majority-black district, and so has comparatively few Republicans. In 2012, only 18.5% of registered Republicans lived in 37A–only around one-half what one would expect if Republicans were evenly distributed.

Moreover, Eckardt has decided to strike when Colburn is at his weakest. He has been under scrutiny for ethics questions, having spent “more than $40,000 in meals, gas, lodging, flowers and Baltimore Orioles tickets” out of his campaign funds, as reported in the Daily Times. The article has led to editorials calling for Colburn to “clean up his finances.”

On top of that, Colburn has had a very public divorce with allegations of an affair with his aide. His now ex-wife was even thinking of running against him but agreed to support him politically once they agreed to a divorce settlement.

Eckardt also appears more respected in the General Assembly than Colburn. While the number of Republican senators remains few, Colburn has somehow never managed to hold a Republican leadership position according to his bio. Eckardt chaired the House Republican Caucus for five years. However, it’s well known that a lack of respect in the Assembly often has little relation to political support at home.

In her remarks to the press, Eckardt expressed an interest in policy, even speaking about making health care reform work, rather than the usual staple of Republican talking points:

“Even though there’s been a lot of difficulty with the exchange, this is one of the most exciting times to be here in Annapolis because we’ve had 140,000 new people get on the Medicaid medical assistance who didn’t have heath care ­before, and that’s really important,” ­Eckardt said. “But we have to make sure it’s cost-effective and we have to make sure that, as we go forward, it’s a functioning system, because otherwise we would just be putting more money in technology and not getting the results. I’d rather see money go to care for individuals.”

Yet, she remains a firm conservative, especially on social questions. Colburn tends to position himself more as a regional champion, playing on the Shore as a victim of the State.

Needless to say, this will be an exciting contest. They’re both from Dorchester so neither has a home bailiwick. If anyone can topple Colburn, it should be Eckardt. Both seats in 37B will be open, so this race will likely feature high turnout amid an unusual level of interest in state legislative contests. Rating: Toss Up.

UPDATE: A friend on the Eastern Shore says that Colburn provides very good constituent services and has a reputation of being very responsive to individual requests, which will aid him in his hour of need in this tough primary.