Well, I certainly hope that Elijah Cummings decides to run: “The 64-year-old Maryland Democrat is mulling whether to run for the Senate seat soon to be vacated by Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski who will not seek reelection in 2016 after nearly 30 years in office.” Then again, I’m more familiar with Maryland Democratic politics than other people are. Or possibly just more cynical.
Here is the basic situation. There are nine Democrats in the Maryland Congressional delegation: two Senators, and seven representatives. Of those nine, seven are white people. And you might be asking yourself, “Isn’t that a little weird?” After all, in 2012 Obama lost the white vote in Maryland, and got pretty much all of the black vote; which implies that the Democratic party in Maryland is going to about… well, based on my back-of-the-envelope (literally!) scribblings; about half black, half white. So why is it that African Americans are so under-represented in the Democratic party’s Maryland Congressional delegation?
Well, we know the answer to that already: the people who run the Democratic party in Maryland are largely white, and see no reason to change things. It’s been known for years that the last round of Maryland redistricting was more or less designed to squeeze another seat out for Democrats – and, bluntly: a white Democratic seat, and explicitly not a black one. It was so egregious that the CBC took time out from screaming about the GOP to join up with the GOP in trying to overturn this in the courts; in this case, unsuccessfully. I’ll leave the ethics about all of that for another time; right now, we’re talking about facts on the ground.
Said facts on the ground are: the Democratic leadership in Maryland have largely decided, contra the Hill, that the anointed successor to Barbara Mikulski will be Chris Van Hollen. And before you say that Donna Edwards leads in the polls – which she does; and Elijah Cumming currently laps both of them – the truth of the matter is that Van Hollen utterly dominates the fundraising contest, which should tell you who the elites in Maryland want to win. A Cummings campaign will complicate the narrative even more than an Edwards campaign would.
Because here’s the big issue: the 2014 election suggested that white Democrats in Maryland are [not] necessarily going to vote for a black one in a statewide race. On paper, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown should have had a lock on that election; exits aren’t available for that one, but the 52/47 split the other way argues that the African-American vote is not enough to put an African-American Democrat over the top. True, in this particular case there’s currently no super-strong candidate on the Republican side… but there apparently wasn’t one in 2014, either. Right up to the point where Larry Hogan came out of nowhere to win.
So, yeah, let Elijah Cummings run for Maryland Senate. He’ll either lose in the primary, which leaves my party no worse off than before; or he’ll win in the primary, which will give my party a subtle advantage (i.e., the quiet and unacknowledged racism of Cumming’s own political party) in the general election. And I get a dirty, expensive primary either way, so: win-win, really.
Moe Lane (crosspost)