While the presidential race dominates national media outlets, the race for the House of Representatives seat in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Frederick, Montgomery, and Carroll Counties, is commanding local attention. Maryland is one of 21 states with a mixed primary election in which parties open the election only to voters registered in their party.
Current Representative Chris Van Hollen, first elected in 2002, has opted to give up his seat and instead pursue a senatorial bid. He will be running against District Four Democrat Donna Edwards to replace retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski. “Working with [Van Hollen], I’ve gotten familiar with his policies. He’s done a great job in the House representing our district and I’m eager to see him carry on his work if elected to the Senate,” said Walt Whitman High School senior and Van Hollen campaign intern Jeffrey Chu.
Originally, five Democratic contenders vied to fill the vacancy left by Van Hollen this past spring: state senate majority whip Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park, state delegate Kumar Barve of Rockville, state delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez of Chevy Chase, attorney Will Jawando of Silver Spring, and former local news anchor Kathleen Matthews of Chevy Chase. Since then, the candidate pool has expanded to include two more Democratic candidates. College professor and non-profit executive David Anderson of Potomac entered the race in mid-August with state department official Joel Rubin of Chevy Chase announcing his candidacy in early October.
Although the Democrats are projected to profit from a nearly 2-1 advantage in voter registration, the race also hosts Republican attorney and Navy Veteran Bill Day of Bethesda and Elizabeth Matory of Silver Spring, an ex-Democrat Independent candidate. Former Montgomery County Council member and former Democratic candidate Valerie Ervin dropped out of the race in September, citing an inability to raise funds as the reason for her withdrawal. “Unfortunately, our political system doesn’t make much room for everyday Americans like me—especially women, people of color, and the non-wealthy—to compete on a level playing field,” Ervin said in a farewell address to her supporters on her Facebook page.
With regard to money, Matthews has surged ahead and is fighting claims that most of her support comes from wealthy, out-of-state allies. As the wife of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and having raked in nearly $1 million since the start of her campaign, Matthews is suspected to be receiving grants from the Clinton family as well as several owners of sports teams and hotel chains.
In a close second to Matthews, Raskin’s team is proud to have raised nearly half a million within Maryland. A favorite from the start, Raskin has also racked up endorsements from dozens of state officials and progressive interest groups. Similarly, though Barve is falling behind in terms of funds, the House of Delegates veteran has used his connections to garner support from over two dozen state lawmakers.
The primary election is scheduled for April 26, 2016 and the general election will be held on Nov. 8, 2016. With these dates fast approaching, the frontrunner will become apparent in coming months but for now, the public can only watch and wait with bated breath.
Article by MoCo Student Politics Writer Catherine Yang of Wootton High School