Monday, November 10, 2008

Maryland 2010 - First Looks

I've decided to take a glance at the race for Governor, Senator, and some of the Maryland Congressional Districts in 2010 and come up with my own list of potential Republican candidates who could energize the base and help push out the vast number of Democratic incumbents. Later, I'll try to take a look at Comptroller, Attorney General, the missing CDs, and my local House of Delegate/State Senate seats.

Robert Ehrlich - In one of the most obvious choices, Robert Ehrlich would be the best nominee for Governor. In a poor Republican year, Steele and Ehrlich did better than their counterparts in other state, in a state with a more than 2 to 1 disadvantage. Ehrlich has been keeping a higher profile and has also been fundraising into his campaign committee. His criticisms of O'Malley are cutting deep and O'Malley's approval ratings are still low. O'Malley helps to keep Ehrlich's profile higher by blaming him for everything that goes wrong, even when it has nothing to do with the , Governor who's been out of office for two years now. Ehrlich may be a bit wary considering his endorsed candidate in the first district, Andy Harris, lost his election to Congress combined with the passing of the slots amendment, but I hope it doesn't. Harris' loss and the passing of the slots amendment do not translate into a referrendum on Ehrlich. On the contrary, Harris' loss was caused by all manner of reasons, not the least of which are his primary opponent endorsing the Democrat; regional differences in the 1st District; and the massive negative campaign that the Club for Growth ran which seemed to be all that was on the air. Kratovil ran a smart campaign and, in a Democratic leaning year, had a good chance of winning. Harris' failure was not a referrendum on Governor Ehrlich and I hope he realizes that. Ehrlich could win in 2010 if he ran the right kind of campaign, and I think he's more than capable of doing just that.

Michael Steele - Second time's the charm? Let's hope so. Steele has gained nationwide recognition as a Republican mover and shaker. He's high profile and he's got the ideas needed to win. As mentioned with Ehrlich, Steele helped keep things competitive in 2006 when no others were able to. Now, Steele has higher name recognition nationwide, has become a voice, along with Newt Gingrich, of the conservative energy independence crowd, and has a fundraising base that could become useful. If the incumbent decides to retire, an open seat would be a great opportunity for Steele. He can swing into gear immediately and campaign like there's no tomorrow. There will be a Democratic primary if there's an open seat, Steele could use that to his advantage and build up his campaign early. Don't assume that you don't have to campaign the whole time...get out there, talk to everyone, and keep running from the beginning of 2010 onward. If Steele isn't tapped to be the RNC Chairman, (which would be better left to Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich), then Steele will have the time and resources to make this run. I, for one, hope he does.

1st District
Andy Harris - What, Andy Harris again? Yes. This was an incredibly close race and Harris can win it in two years. This campaign was marred by a lack of national party involvement and the mischaracterization of the Club for Growth by the DCCC. Kratovil will have served one term and will have to be hyper-partisan in order to keep up with his party. This won't play well in this conservative leaning district. It may have a slight Democratic party advantage, but the district is not socially or fiscally liberal. If Harris ran a campaign based on economic issues and the conservative ideas that people like to see, then he can win. He needs to remind the Eastern Shore members of the district who he is and not just hope that name recognition in Baltimore County will be enough. Assume no one knows who you are at the beginning of the race and then define yourself, or others will define you. That's part of what happened to Andy Harris, Kratovil redefined him towards the end of the campaign. Harris wasn't viewed the reformer taking down an incumbent who was voting against his district's interests, Harris was viewed a corrupt supporter of big business. Spend all of 2009 being a great State Senator and then announce a run at the end of the year for Congress. Harris can do it.

2nd District
John Robinson Leopold (Alt. Jimmy Mathis) - Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold would be an interesting choice. A state legislator in two states, (Hawai'i and Maryland), before being elected County Executive in Maryland. I'm not sure which of the districts within Anne Arundel County that Leopold lives, but whichever -- he'd be a solid candidate. He'd have an entire term as County Executive under his belt and a wealth of legislative experience. If Harris or Schwab don't run in the 1st or 3rd District, and Leopold is in those districts, he'd be a great candidate for Congress. Alongside him running for a strong replacement to keep the County Executive position in Republican hands, this could make the district competitive. County Executive versus former County Executive of Baltimore County. Leopold has the experience for the position...if this is the district he's in. If not, 2006 nominee Jimmy Mathis would be my second choice. He's got an interesting biography that could be compelling if he uses it correctly in his campaign.

3rd District
Susan Schwab - US Trade Representative Susan Schwab would be a good recruit for the 3rd District. She's a strong proponent of free trade and capitalism. She also benefits from having nationwide name recognition as President Bush's US Trade Representative since June 2006. Prior to that, she was the President and CEO of the University System of Maryland Foundation from 2003 to 2006 and Dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park from 1995 to 2003. This experience shows her dedication to the state of Maryland through her support and leadership of the University System of Maryland. Schwab also has experience within elected politics, working throughout the 1980s as trade policy specialist and then legislative director for former Senator John C. Danforth. She's also got a sense of humor, telling Charlie Rangel on Valentine's Day that she'd be his Valentine while testifying to Congress. Schwab could be a strong recruit for Congress or, potentially, for Comptroller. If an insurance broker with no political experience and no website can achieve 30% of the vote in this district, Schwab may be able to win.

6th District
Roscoe Bartlett - Why take on an incubment who's doing a good job and able to hold the seat against a fierce challenger? I see no reason.

I'm currently skipping Districts 4, 5, 7, and 8. I don't know local politicians in those districts, but help would be appreciated. I'm looking for Republicans who can run spirited, modern campaigns against strong incumbents. I think Districts 1 through 3 are the most likely able to be won...but any can be won with the right candidate with the right platform. Also, those who saw my endorsement of Matthews for Congress may find it odd that I didn't mention him as a potential candidate. Well, I think he'd be a much better candidate for House of Delegates. The local office will allow him a chance to regroup and formalize a Maryland centric campaign in a smaller area.

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