On Mar. 2, Senator Barbara Mikulski announced her plans to retire at the end of her fifth term. This came as a shock to many because, even as a four-foot-eleven, 78-year-old woman, she is in perfect health and has started her annual tour of Maryland counties, a sign that many interpreted as an initiation of her campaign for a sixth term.
Mikulski’s retirement has left a vacant seat in Congress, a seat that five years before would have been impossible to claim because of Mikulski’s overwhelming popularity. Many Democrats and Republicans alike are seizing this opportunity and deciding to run for Senate in the 2016 election.
These candidates include Democrats such as Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Representative Donna Edwards, and Anthony Brown, former lieutenant governor who lost in the 2014 gubernatorial election against Larry Hogan. On the Republican side, former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Representative Andy Harris are planning to run.
In order for Chris Van Hollen, Maryland’s 8th Congressional District Representative, to run for Mikulski’s Senate seat, he must vacate his seat in the House. This is a highly influential position because the 8th District covers a vast part of Maryland, including parts of Montgomery, Frederick, and Carol Counties. The last time a seat was open in the 8th District was almost thirty years ago when, in 1986, Democrat Michael Barnes attempted but failed to take a seat in the U.S Senate.
Because of its significance, numerous upcoming politicians have either announced or expressed interest in announcing their candidacy to fill Van Hollen’s empty shoes. These politicians include Democrats Kumar P. Barve, Richard Madaleno, Jamie Raskin, Ariana Kelly, and Jeff Waldstreicher. In addition, many County Council members including Nancy Navarro, Nancy Floreen, Roger Berliner, and Valerie Ervin are in the race.
Kumar P. Barve is one of the leading candidates. He is a former majority leader and current chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates. He is now regarded with a high chance of becoming the future Speaker of the House of Delegates. To run for Congress, Barve must give up his delegate seat, which otherwise wouldn’t expire until 2018.
In an email to supporters on Mar. 9, Barve said, “I am ready to take my experience working for economic growth and fighting for our middle class to the federal level.”
Barve originally planned to run to be the 6th District Representative, which also has a vacant seat. However, he has switched to the 8th District because, although his current residence is located in the 6th, Barve grew up and works in the 8th.
Councilwoman Floreen, another candidate running for Van Hollen’s empty seat, is in a similar situation. Floreen has been on the Council for 13 years, and, in order to run, she too would have to give up her position, which expires in 2018.
Right now, our leadership at the local, state, and federal level is all undergoing massive change as a result of Mikulski’s retirement and the upcoming election. It is yet to be seen who will fill Maryland’s vacant seats in both the House and Senate.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Isabelle Zhou of Richard Montgomery High School