A Look at the Congressional Races

We won't know everything until after redistricting, but races starting to take shape in earnest

Congressional races around Maryland are starting to get a least a little interesting, with candidates starting to pop up. While a lot of who eventually runs and what their chances are until the new Congressional districts (that presumably will not look like the current hot mess that we have) are in place. Let’s take a look at the races.

1st District

So far the 1st District appears to be the most interesting, with what appears to be a contested primary on both sides.

Republican incumbent Andy Harris is running for re-election, and plenty of people have called for his resignation (myself included) for his support of Donald Trump’s reckless efforts to overturn the election. Harris has faced Republican challengers in almost every election since he first ran for Congress in 2008.

It was always safe to assume that Harris was going to draw some sort of challenger. However, it is starting to look like Harford County Executive Barry Glassman may make the move to challenge Harris next year. Glassman’s candidacy will be even more formidable if the 1st District is more compact than it is now and takes in more of Glassman’s Harford County.

I spoke with Glassman on The Duckpin Podcast last month.

The Democratic primary looks far more interesting than it usually does. Retread candidates Mia Mason and Jennifer Pingley are running again. Matt Talley is running, though his campaign seems more focused on cussing on Facebook than running a serious campaign. Dave Harden is a former diplomat who is running as well.

But let’s save the drama for you: former Delegate Heather Mizeur is going to be the nominee. The former Delegate and 2014 gubernatorial candidate was far ahead of the Democratic Party on her positions and her policy platforms. The Democratic base has caught up to her now. After moving from Montgomery County to the Eastern Shore, she has established new roots in the District, and she has a long Rolodex from her time in the House and her long-time left-wing advocacy. The base will vote for her and she’ll likely get well in excess of 50% in the Democratic primary.

Mizeur is the only credible Democrat who can win the race, even though it would still be extremely challenging without the district being radically realigned. She is consistent with her views and extremely likable, even though I disagree with her on almost every issue.

District 2

It is presumed that Dutch Ruppersburger will run for an 11th-term. No challengers have announced their intentions as of yet, though several retreads from previous elections may again seek the seat.

District 3

John Sarbanes has already drawn both Republican and Democratic challengers. Structural engineer Malcolm Colombo has entered the Democratic primary.

On the Republican side, 25-year old activist Antonio Pitocco is running, targeting Sarbanes authorship of HR1.

District 3 is one of the most misshapen and ridiculous Congressional Districts in America. This district will hopefully be drastically redrawn to make it more compact and less gerrymandered. Just look at the image above and you can see the insane shape of this district and all of the different twists and turns it takes to ensure that Democrats retain a 7-to-1 delegation advantage. Sarbanes remains the likely favorite regardless of the district unless it is drastically redrawn into a Republican district. Either way, a new district

District 4

This district will be in a state of flux until incumbent Anthony Brown decides on his 2022 plans. Brown ran a disastrous campaign for Governor in 2014, and it sounds like he might try again next year. If he runs? All bets are off. The 2016 open seat race drew Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk and former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey. A number of Democratic elected officials would likely consider this race, either due to the ability to move up to Congress or being squeezed out of their safe legislative districts due to redistricting.

No Republican has announced for this seat and since the likelihood remains that the district will remain unwinnable it is unlikely a credible candidate will emerge.

District 5

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is running for re-election to the seat he has held since winning a special election in 1981. Activist McKayla Wilkes, who lost to Hoyer by 39% in 2020, has filed again to lose to Hoyer in next year’s Democratic primary.

The Republican field could get more interesting depending on what this district looks like. Depending on how this district gets reoriented in redistricting, this seat could become competitive or even winnable for Republicans. 2020 nominee Chris Palombi is looking at another run. But a more competitive district could draw any number of candidates into the race, including former State Senator Steve Waugh, Delegate Mark Fisher, and Delegate Matt Morgan.

District 6

Outside of the 1st District, this is the race that will likely be the most interesting. It will certainly be the most competitive.

The 6th District has two outstanding factors that could scramble it. The first, obviously, is redistricting. In Governor Larry Hogan’s efforts to keep districts compact and representative of their communities, this district will likely shift somewhat out of Montgomery County (at least central MoCo) and move back into more of Carroll and Frederick Counties.

The second factor: Congressman David Trone may run for Governor. A move that would become more likely if the district looks more like the pre-2012 6th.

If the district stays the way it is: any number of Democratic elected officials from Montgomery County may get in. If the district looks more like the old 6th, two Democratic candidates come to mind; Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (who is term-limited) and former Congressman John Delaney (who almost certainly regrets his quixotic campaign for President).

The Republican race already has two candidates entered into the field: Software engineer Jonathan Jenkins and former law enforcement professional Bob Poissonnier. But many other candidates could hop into the field. There are a number of Republican politicians who would be serious and credible candidates for Congress, some of whom have been looking for an opportunity to run in a credible district. That list includes 2020 Congressional nominee Neil Parrott, State Senator Michael Hough, and Allegany County Commissioner Jake Shade.

District 7

Kweisi Mfume, who returned to Congress last year when he replaced the late Elijah Cummings, is likely to be re-elected. The Republican side will likely look familiar. Kim Klacik may make another run to see if she can extract and then waste millions of dollars from her rabid fanbase. Maybe this time she’ll learn a few things and not be surprised she blew $4 million on consultants. Otherwise, the usual band of misfits who always run for Congress, barely campaign, and wonder why they lose will likely go for it again.

District 8

This will presumably stay a heavily Democratic district and likely remain with Democrat Jamie Raskin, who became a Democratic hero for his handling of the second Trump impeachment trial despite the many challenges he was having in his personal life. Again, unless there is a serious redistricting change there will likely be no competitive Republican candidates in the field.