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.