Monday, February 09, 2009

Barbara Mikulski and the MoCo Dominoes

Rumors are swirling that President Obama is considering Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski to be the next Health and Human Services Secretary. So let’s play a game, shall we? What if the President asked Senator Mikulski to take the job? And what if Governor O’Malley picked Maryland’s most formidable Congressman, Chris Van Hollen, to be the next U.S. Senator? Then who in Montgomery County would run in a special election for the District 8 seat? And who would win? Let’s find out what the spies had to say!

First of all, several informants spanked me for even bringing up the scenario. “Don’t be silly!” one of them scolded. Many sources believe that the Governor would face irresistible political pressure to create Maryland’s first African-American Senator – probably Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown or Congressman Elijah Cummings. One spy said this:

As much as we might like to see Van Hollen in the seat, the racial politics of the state will be too much to bear for O'Malley. Anthony Brown is too young for the Senate seat and would only continue the tradition of creating political backlog. Elijah Cummings in the more attractive pick for all involved because of his race and age.
Others believe that Van Hollen may want to stay where he is. But our sources were willing to play the game just for fun. After all, Van Hollen’s seat will open up someday and it’s never too early to stir the pot!

Our informants collectively named the following people as most likely to run for Van Hollen’s seat if he leaves: Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20), Senator Rob Garagiola (D-15), DNC Member Susan Turnbull, Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18) and Montgomery County Council Member Phil Andrews. Garagiola lives in Congressional District 4 at the moment but that's something a real estate agent could easily fix. Many sources also speculated that Senator Brian Frosh (D-16), Delegates Saqib Ali (D-39), Heather Mizeur (D-20) and Brian Feldman (D-15) and County Council Members Nancy Floreen and Valerie Ervin might consider a race.

Our informants had no consensus on who would be most likely to win. Four spies picked Raskin, three picked Madaleno and two each picked Garagiola and Mizeur. One source makes this case for a Raskin victory:

I think Raskin would be the odds on favorite to win this seat for two reasons – none of the other candidates have had to run serious races recently, so they haven't been forced to stay visible and build a current crop of activists. Plus, Raskin’s followers are Kool-Aid drinkers – ie: they really believe in him (and with good reason, I would add). People sometimes laugh at D-20’s activists, but I have to say, if you’re trying to get something done, there's no other District I’d rather represent – the constituents are progressive workhorses, and Raskin’s a real motivator. He could run a campaign that would be more impassioned than Van Hollen’s... The big question for him would be whether he sits this out, lets the bloodbath happen, and then waits for Gansler to leave the AG’s post in 2014.
Raskin supporters do need to remember an important fact listed by another of my informants: 14 of District 20’s 24 precincts are located in Congressional District 4. Only 2 of District 18’s 37 precincts and 9 of District 15’s 32 precincts are located outside Congressional District 8. That gives Madaleno and Garagiola a leg up.

Haven’t heard enough rumors? Check out these tidbits from our informants:

Spy #1:

If for whatever reason Van Hollen leaves his safe, 8th district Congressional seat, Montgomery County politics will never be the same. My crystal ball says watch for two scenarios – either a realization that a battering primary (in which many current state elected and county politicians would have to give up their seats) would be bad for the County in the big picture, especially in Annapolis, and people start to get behind a consensus pick. Or the second scenario – all out political warfare that will shape county politics for a decade.
Spy #2

If it winds up being a donnybrook, it may break down according to demographics and how many candidates are from the same base. So if there are 2-3 Takoma / Silver Spring people, that could open the door for upcounty or western county people, or allow Josh Rales to parachute in with all his money.
Spy #3:

Say Garagiola, Raskin, and Madaleno run during a regular election (not a special election to fill the seat) and leave their Senate seats open. In D-15, Feldman likely wins that seat in a cakewalk. Heather and Tom run like hell to take Raskin’s office. District 18 is a different story. Ana Sol would give it thought, I think, but D-18 is used to having someone on B&T with a wealth of knowledge on budget issues. Also, the GLBT community would want to keep a seat in the Senate. Mizeur can fill that slot in D-20, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some lobbying and support behind Pete Fosselman (Kensington mayor). Pete’s an ally of Governor O’Malley and the only elected Democrat in Montgomery County to have endorsed MOM’s campaign during the primaries. If it went to the Central Committee, which it likely will, Pete’s stock should rise.
Spy #4:

Who would win? The one with the most money.
Well now. I think that’s enough gossip for one day, don’t you?