Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski turned 70 in 2006. While this might mean nothing, the fact that she'd be 78 at the end of another term (and the lack of competitive races in Maryland in 2008) has restarted the perennial speculation about whether she might retire. Names bandied about as potential challengers for her seat, should she retire are:

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore: with a deep wellspring of respect from his work in the civil rights movement and as a Member of Congress, the likelihood of multiple candidates from the DC area, and the recent complaints by MD African Americans that Democrats take them for granted, makes him a prime candidate.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County is young, ambitious, and while chairing the DCCC over the next two years will build relationships that could serve him in good stead should he choose to run for Senate. As he develops contacts in the House, however, he could see a future in leadership there that would make moving on less attractive (a la Steny Hoyer).

Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan is unlikely to be interested in serving in Congress, but given his relative youth and the strong relationships he built in his brief gubernatorial bid, could be a contender.

Rep. Al Wynn of Prince George's County has long been trying to build a base of big money donors to run for Senate. After his near defeat at the hands of a little known challenger this past cycle and his lack of statewide credibility, he is unlikely to be a serious contender for the Senate seat in 2010.

Former Ann Arundel County Executive Janet Owens could always emerge as a candidate but is seen as less likely to do so or to really set the campaign on fire, just as former Baltimore County Executive and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger would be a solid but unlikely candidate. Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson was rocked by a serious challenge in the last cycle, so he's less likely to be maneuvering for the Senate but if things change he might be looking for a new job at the end of his second term so anything could happen. Of course there may be ambitious execs elsewhere in the state, but it's hard to imagine the new Howard County Exec, new Balto Mayor Dixon, or a host of others really being contenders. A lot can happen in four years, but what do you know or suspect now?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Cummings stands out as the most qualified for the job, and unlike the situation with Kweisi Mfume, the Maryland Democratic Party would have no reservations in supporting his candidacy in what could be an interesting primary.

1/17/2007 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Stoic said...

Do you think Mikulski might retire before her term is finished? Will we get an interim appointment from O'Malley for her seat?

1/17/2007 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger OnBackground said...

It's more likely that she'd run for reelection than retire early -- it's hard to imagine her retiring, there is little danger of an R takeover, she's back in the majority, and I've heard no rumors about her health.

I just enjoyed thinking about how the race may shape up. I realized afterward that I didn't mention fmr Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who made a good showing this past cycle and could always try again or fmr MoCo Councilmember and extremely capable leader Tom Perez.

1/17/2007 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mikulski is NOT RETIRING. The question is whether she might face a challenge from within the party, a la Franchot taking on Schaefer.

1/17/2007 08:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Carolyn in Baltimore said...

This office is Babs' as long as she wants it and I suspect she wants another trerm unless there is a compelling reason otherwise.
In thinking of possible replacements, Cummings is big. Mikulski likes to help women, so who might she help to groom? She can give the Cem nomination to Cummings - can't think of anyone better offhand (cept he has amassed great power in the house and may choose to stay). But 8 years can get some key legislators time to grow and get known statewide.

1/18/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger OnBackground said...

I agree that there is little chance that a serious Dem would challenge Mikulski or would have a shot at being successful at it.

This is all probably an academic exercise, but new Comptroller, former congressional aide, and one-time congressional candidate Peter Franchot might decide running for Senate is a good idea or, much less likely, new AG Doug Gansler or Treasurer Nancy Kopp might surprise us and be interested in serving in DC. Political junkies and activists will just have to wait until probably sometime in 2009 for Mikulski to let us know.

1/18/2007 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OnBackground's math is wrong. Senator Mikulski is up for re-election in 2010. She was born in 1936. She will be 80 -- not 78 -- in 2016, at the end of her next term if she is re-elected in 2010. However, her health is good, her mind is sharp, and there is no particular reason why an 80-year-old could not serve in the Senate. She would by no means be the first. Currently, Robert C. Byrd is 89. John Warner is near his 80th birthday. Ted Stevens is 83.

1/21/2007 05:50:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home