Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sarbanes Retires

Well the biggest political news in Maryland this week was the announcement by Senator Paul Sarbanes that he would retire at the end of his current term. In his statement on Friday he gave his main reason being his age, as he is now 72. He will have served in the Senate for 30 years, making him the longest serving Senator in Maryland history. Sen. Sarbanes was a well respected, low key member of the Senate. He is a strong supporter of the Democratic Party and generally regarded as one of the more solidly liberal Democrats in the Senate. He will be missed.

With the announcement of his coming retirement the scramble to replace him began immediately. Maryland is certainly thought to be a solidly Democratic state, but the pressure will certainly be on the Democrats to retain the seat. Given the current strong, but not filibuster proof, Republican majority in the Senate the prospect of the Republicans picking up the seat cannot be ignored by either party.

Kweisi Mfume, former Democratic Congressman and former president of the NAACP, has already announced his intention of running for the seat. He should be a strong candidate, but it is certainly to be expected that he will have opponents in the primary. Most of the Democratic Members of Congress from Maryland have expressed interest in the race, although as of this writing none have announced their candidacy.

Perhaps the two biggest names in Maryland politics at the moment, Ehrlich and O'Malley, will certainly stay focused on the Governor's Mansion and will have no personal interest in the Senate race.

On the Republican side, that leaves Lt. Governor Michael Steele as the most likely candidate for the open Senate seat. In the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that my politics certainly leans to the Democratic party. Therefore, there may well be others with a clearer picture of the Republican options than I have. I will keep abreast of what the newspapers and Republican party says on the subject and add more in future posts. I should say that by all reports the Republicans will fight to take this seat, so the race should be very interesting.

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