Maryland primaries on Tuesday will pave the way for Republicans to retain control of one House district and have a shot at winning a second.
If that doesn’t sound like much for Republicans, it’s more than they may have expected after redistricting in staunchly Democratic Maryland.
The Democratic legislature’s initial congressional map—one that could have delivered an 8-0 shutout for the party in a favorable political environment—was struck down earlier this year as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
Instead, the primary will determine a Republican opponent for Rep. David Trone (D), whose district became more politically competitive under the remedial congressional map, and a Democratic foe for Rep. Andy Harris (R), the state’s lone Republican congressman who was aided by the new map.
The election will also decide the fate of former Rep. Donna Edwards (D), who’s seeking to reclaim a heavily Democratic district near Washington she previously held for nine years.
Voting ends at 8 p.m. Tuesday, though a tally of votes and some race calls could drag on because Maryland doesn’t permit the processing of absentee and mail ballots until two days after the primary.
Here’s a look at primaries to watch. The 2020 election vote percentages for Joe Biden and Donald Trump are noted parenthetically.
Senate (Biden won Maryland 65%-32%): Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D), who suffered a stroke in May, has minimal opposition in the primary and is favored to secure a second term over the winner of a 10-candidate Republican primary. Republicans last won a Senate election in Maryland in 1980.
1st District (Trump 56%-41%): Harris was initially drawn into a revised 1st District that was about evenly divided between Biden and Trump voters, which could have spelled defeat for the strongly conservative six-term Republican.
A surprise state court ruling invalidating the map led the Democratic legislature to enact a replacement map that restored a Republican-friendly district for Harris.
The new 1st includes the nine counties that comprise Maryland’s Eastern Shore, plus all of Harford County northeast of Baltimore and a small part of Baltimore County closer to the city. The 1st is a little less strongly Republican than its 2020 iteration, though it still would have backed Trump by 15 percentage points in 2020.
Harris’ likely Democratic opponent is Heather Mizeur, a former Maryland lawmaker who raised $2 million through June 29. Mizeur began campaigning in January 2021, after Harris voted to sustain objections to electoral votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Mizeur also called attention to Harris’ June 2021 vote against awarding congressional gold medals to the US Capitol Police, and to his participation in a December 21, 2020, White House meeting with Trump to discuss the Jan. 6, 2021, joint session of Congress that would be interrupted by a pro-Trump mob.
Harris is a member of the Freedom Caucus, a bloc of several dozen House Republicans who’ve prodded party leaders to adopt more conservative policies.
4th District (Biden 89%-9%): The Democratic primary is the election that matters in a district dominated by overwhelmingly Democratic and Black-majority Prince George’s County, and that also includes a sliver of Montgomery County outside Washington. Rep. Anthony Brown (D) eschewed a re-election bid to run instead for Maryland attorney general.
It’s a two-person race between Donna Edwards, who represented the district from 2008 to 2017 and lost the 2016 Democratic Senate primary to Van Hollen, and Glenn Ivey, who was Prince George’s top prosecutor and runner-up to Brown in the 2016 Democratic primary. Ivey and Edwards see eye-to-eye on major policy.
The primary has been punctuated by enormous spending by pro-Israel groups. The United Democracy Project (UDP), a super PAC whose largest donor is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), spent more than $5.9 million on the race to promote Ivey or attack Edwards. AIPAC also served as a conduit for more than $417,000 in donations to Ivey’s campaign.
In 2009, Edwards voted “present” on a nonbinding resolution the House overwhelmingly passed that recognized Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirmed the United States’ strong support for Israel. In 2013, Edwards was among 20 House members who voted against an AIPAC-supported bill to expand sanctions against Iran.
UDP’s TV ads didn’t address Israel. They instead accused Edwards of ineffectiveness and inattention to constituent services, and praised Ivey’s record as a prosecutor. UDP and Ivey’s campaign touted an endorsement from the Washington Post’s editorial page.
Edwards attacked AIPAC for donating to Republicans who voted to object to Biden’s Electoral College victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Her backers included J Street, a more dovish and liberal Israeli advocacy group that supports the creation of a Palestinian state. Edwards also promoted support from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).
5th District (Biden 67%-31%): House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat for almost two decades, is favored over progressive activist McKayla Wilkes in a rematch of a 2020 primary that Hoyer won 64%-27%.
Wilkes, 32, has noted she’d be the district’s first Black congresswoman and is running on a platform that includes a government-run, “Medicare for All” health insurance program and the Green New Deal climate-change blueprint. Wilkes raised less than she did for her 2020 campaign, though.
Hoyer, 83, was first elected to Congress in 1981 and is the longest-serving House Democrat in the 117th Congress. As majority leader, Hoyer sets the floor schedule in a Democratic-led House that passed sweeping bills this year and last. Many of them stalled in the evenly divided Senate.
Redistricting added more of Anne Arundel County to the 5th and subtracted part of Prince George’s County closer to Washington. The southern Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s were kept wholly in the 5th District.
6th District (Biden 54%-44%): Six Republicans are seeking to unseat David Trone, whose bid for a third term became more difficult following redistricting.
The GOP field includes state Rep. Neil Parrott, who lost decisively to Trone in 2020 under a more strongly Democratic configuration of a district that links Montgomery County near Washington to western Maryland.
Parrott’s top competitor is Matthew Foldi, a 25-year-old conservative journalist and Republican activist who won backing from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and well-known party operatives and donors, such as billionaire investor Paul Singer and Steven Law, a former chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
Mariela Roca, an Air Force veteran who was born in Puerto Rico, received a donation from Harris’ campaign committee but isn’t as well-funded as Parrott or Foldi.
Redistricting gave the 6th all of Frederick County, which is politically competitive, and excised some of Montgomery County, which is heavily Democratic. The changes reduced Biden’s margin of victory in the 6th to 10 points from 23 points under the 2020 configuration of the district. The 6th continues to include the heavily Republican but more lightly populated western Maryland counties of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett.
Trone, the wealthy co-founder of Total Wine & More, has primarily self-funded his campaigns. He loaned $10 million to his 2022 re-election bid on June 27. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last month added Trone to its Frontline incumbent-protection program.
Trone’s early TV ads in the pricey Washington media market underscored his upbringing on a family farm and his bipartisan work to aid families suffering from opioid addiction. He’s a member of the Appropriations and Veterans Affairs’ committees.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org