Updated: Off to the Races

Barbara A. Mikulski

Sen. Barbara Mikulski in 1987–Her First Year as Senator

UPDATE: Martin O’Malley will not seek Senate seat.

As my former co-blogger on Maryland Politics Watch Adam Pagnucco accurately sussed out on Facebook, I am very grateful to Sen. Barbara Mikulski for her surprise retirement decision. While I thoroughly approve of Maryland’s four-year election cycle, it does leave election junkies like me in need of a fix.

On Senator Mikulski

Much will be made of Sen. Mikulski’s political career and, as she said yesterday, it’s not over just yet. I’m still surprised she has chosen to retire because she clearly revels in her job. Moreover, in my view, she remains Maryland’s most popular politician. Anyone who thought they could defeat her was in for a rude shock.

Sen. Mikulski will deservedly get a lot of accolades as someone who blazed a path for women in politics. However, as I once heard Geraldine Ferraro point out many years ago, most Marylanders didn’t vote for her because she is a woman or in spite of her being a women but because she was the person we wanted for the job.

Sen. Mikulski got her start as a local Baltimore activist fighting a highway. Unlike many senators, she isn’t independently wealthy but she has always been a tough organizer and campaigner. Never afraid to learn, she also doesn’t forget her roots and fights relentlessly for Maryland. Most of all, I think people liked voting for her because of her authentic concern and understanding of people.

Democrats for the Senate

Open Senate seats are like rare jewels and there are many people who are eying running for the seat. Here are some of the Democrats rumored to be thinking about it. Doesn’t mean that they will run (or should run) but are in the mix.

Former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown
Rep. Elijah Cummings
Rep. John Delaney
Rep. Donna Edwards
Former State’s Attorney Glen Ivey
Former Del. Jolene Ivey
Former Del. Heather Mizeur
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger
Rep. John Sarbanes
Former County Executive Ken Ulman
Rep. Chris Van Hollen

There is also a list of Democrats that could run but I think won’t run:

County Executive Rushern Baker
Comptroller Peter Franchot
Former Attorney General Doug Gansler

Announced he won’t run today:

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley

Republicans for the Senate

Larry Hogan’s election has got the Republicans dreaming too. While they have a shorter bench of people currently holding elected office, here are some who might jump in:

Don Bongino
Dr. Ben Carson
Former County Executive David Craig
Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich
Former Commissioner Robin Frazier
Rep. Andy Harris
Charles Loller
Former County Executive Laura Neuman
Del. Tony O’Donnell
Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele

And here are Republicans who could run but I think would be unlikely to run:

County Executive Alan Kittleman
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford

The Outsiders

Of course, someone could swoop in from either party and beat the known quantities as John Delaney did in the Sixth Congressional District. However, several credible outsider candidates campaigns just didn’t get any oxygen when Ben Cardin won his open seat.