Maryland Voters Have Many Choices This Primary

Maryland voters have more candidates than usual to choose from in a primary election that promises to have wide-ranging repercussions on the state's political landscape with the rare opening of a U.S. Senate seat and two congressional slots, in addition to the presidential candidates.

Unlike many presidential primaries in Maryland in recent years, candidates have made repeated campaign stops in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Billionaire Donald Trump made two stops, appearing in Hagerstown on Sunday evening and on the Eastern Shore days earlier. Republicans Ted Cruz and John Kasich also made stops last week in Maryland, which will vote on Tuesday along with Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Democrat Bernie Sanders rallied in Baltimore on Saturday, and former President Bill Clinton spoke at Baltimore churches on behalf of Hillary Clinton on Sunday.

There are 95 delegates at stake in Maryland's Democratic primary. The GOP primary has 38 delegates on the line.

Maryland voters also are seeing the impact of Sen. Barbara Mikulski's retirement at the end of her term. Voters will be choosing candidates for a rarely open Senate seat Mikulski has held for nearly 30 years. Her announced retirement caused two U.S. House seats to open, as Rep. Donna Edwards and Rep. Chris Van Hollen run in the Democratic primary for Senate. Former Baltimore mayor and Gov. Martin O'Malley announced his endorsement for Van Hollen on Monday in the intensely contested campaign.

Republicans in the Senate primary are hoping Gov. Larry Hogan's popularity has created fertile ground for another Republican to win a statewide race. Del. Kathy Szeliga, who represents parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, is running against Richard Douglas, a former Defense Department appointee in the George W. Bush administration. Chrys Kefalas, who worked as an attorney in former Gov. Robert Ehrlich's administration, also is running for the Republican nomination.

In Baltimore, residents will be choosing candidates for mayor. Former Mayor Sheila Dixon and state Sen. Catherine Pugh are the front runners in a crowded Democratic primary. They are running against former prosecutor Elizabeth Embry and activist DeRay Mckesson, who rose to fame through his involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement. City Councilman Carl Stokes and businessman David Warnock also are among those running. Baltimore is heavily Democratic, and the city hasn't had a Republican mayor in nearly 50 years.

Meanwhile, the political domino effect of Mikulski's retirement is on display in two congressional primaries in districts that include the suburbs of the nation's capital, seats now held by Van Hollen and Edwards.

The 8th Congressional District, which has been held by Van Hollen since 2003, is rich with candidates, both in the number of people running and in record fundraising. Wine superstore owner David Trone has broken the record for the amount of money a self-funded House candidate has put into a single campaign, putting more than $12 million of his own money into the race. Former local television anchor Kathleen Matthews, who is married to MSNBC's "Hardball'' host Chris Matthews, and state Sen. Jamie Raskin are running. State legislators Kumar Barve and Ana Sol-Gutierrez also are running in a district that spreads from the suburbs of Washington to the Pennsylvania state line.

In the neighboring 4th Congressional District, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is running against former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey and Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk in the Democratic primary. They are running for a seat Edwards has held since 2008.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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