I’m going to be following a number of Senate races over the next year on an irregular regular basis – no set schedule but I will get through the ones that I find interesting as time permits. Since my own party (Rockingham Whig) has not as yet chosen to enter the lists, I will be following the races from the Republican viewpoint as the Republican Party offers the only viable simulacrum to a real political party extant.
Maryland is the state chosen for this first pass at actual political punditry. It was chosen because of the level of fear shown and interest taken by the Democratic Party and its minions in Michael Steele. I cannot remember the last time the Dems put operatives at risk of serious jail time so early in the game. The fact that the Clinton’s favorite opposition research operator is currently a Federal “guest” may have pushed Schumer to use inept operatives as dumpster divers.
Maryland is properly classified as a ‘blue’ state. It has a VAP of 4 million and had 56% voter participation in the ’04 election. It went 58/41 Kerry. 28% of the VAP are black which places Maryland fifth nationally in that regard. Interestingly, it is the only blue state in the top ten ranking by percentage of blacks in the total population. Maryland ranks fourteenth with regard to adult participation in the work force and forty-sixth with regard to the number of people below the poverty level. Its unemployment rate at 4.3% is twenty percent below the national average and the Bethesda area has the lowest unemployment rate of any metropolitan division in the US. It ranks third in median income and twenty-fourth in home ownership.
Congressional districts in Maryland have been well gerrymandered to the point where the lowest victory margin among eight races was 63/34 (Cardin’s district). There are two Republican fiefdoms and six Democratic ones. The Ehrlich/Steele ticket won the governor/lt. governor’s race in ’02 by 51.5/47.6. Steele’s run for the Senate makes Ehrlich’s retention of the governor’s post problematical.
The Dems are correct to fear Steele’s run for this Senate seat. He is going to be well funded (Ken Mehlman is chair of the RNC and was born in Baltimore), Steele has run statewide and won, the state’s economy is perking along very nicely and Michael Steele’s acceptance speech shows the polish and focus necessary for a Senate race. He will be running on "ownership society" themes that test very well accross racial lines and are integral to the Republican platform. I doubt that he will touch the voucher issue but he will also stress education. There is no way that the Dems can hang a winger label on him - he is a moderate through and through. A very strong candidate and worthy of financial support for those inclined.
I won’t be making any predictions about races until next August but I can guarantee that this one is going to be a barnburner – barring successful dumpster diving on the part of the Dems.
Note: The Senate races that I intend to focus on are: TN (open), VT(open), PA(Santorum), MN(open), FL(Nelson),NE(Nelson),WA(Cantwell),MI(Stabenow) and NJ(Corzine?). If you have suggestions concerning additions to this list or suggestions concerning the type of coverage that you would like to see – leave a note in comments or send me an email.