2018 Maryland House of Delegates Ratings, Part I

While we await the Governor’s State of the State Address, 7S announces its first ratings for the 2018 elections to the Maryland House of Delegates. The House has 141 members–three times as many as the Senate. (See Senate Ratings Part I and Part II for ratings for the other body.)

Due to the much greater number of delegates, I focus only on safe Democratic seats today. Turns out that’s a majority of them.

Districts and Method of Election

All legislative districts elect three delegates and one senator. In most, the three delegates run at-large but others are divided into two (A and B) or three (A, B and C) subdistricts for delegate elections. Some, such as D37 on the Eastern Shore, are split in two to comply with protections for minority representation under the Voting Rights.

In other cases, districts are split to provide small counties the chance to elect one delegate. The division of D1 into three parts enables Garrett to elect a delegate and for Allegany to have one subdistrict entirely within its borders.

Political Geography

Each of the two major parties dominates large swaths of the State, resulting in a large number of safe districts. Let’s start with the Democrats, who by my estimation start of with 74 safe seats–three more than required for a majority.

All of these districts were won by Anthony Brown in 2014 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. Democrats have no worries about any seats in Baltimore City (Districts 40-41, 43, 44A, 45-6), Charles (28), Montgomery (14-20, 39), and Prince George’s (21-6, 27A, 47). These four jurisdictions alone get the Democrats to 65 seats.

Democrats are also sure to carry D37A, the sole African-American majority district on the Eastern Shore. For similar reasons, Democrats are a lock in D10 and D44B in Baltimore County. Along with D13, a liberal swath of Howard Country, that gives the them another six seats to get them up to 74.

Note that many of the current occupants of these may run for other offices or retire. In Montgomery, Dels. Luedtke, Platt, Carr, Waldstreicher, Kramer and Barkley may run for county office. Dels. Frick and Kelly have also expressed interest in running for other offices should the opportunity arise. There is also speculation that Dels. Gutierrez and Hixson may retire.

As in the Senate, the question is not whether Democrats will win a majority but if they can retain their ability to override vetoes should Governor Hogan win reelection.

Part II will look at safe Republican seats..