Larry Hogan rocked the political world in 2014 when he won his race to become Maryland’s governor - the second Republican to do so in 40 years. Despite Democrats outnumbering Republicans 2-to-1 and being outspent on the campaign trail by the sitting Lt. Governor running against him, Hogan was able to execute the most stunning upset in the last mid-term election. Another Maryland Republican is looking to do the amazing again.
Kathy Szeliga is campaigning for Maryland’s open Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Mikulski (D) and is running against a well-established Democrat congressman, Chris Van Hollen. The race would be extremely tough for any Republican running in the Old Line State. Szeliga has her work cut out for her. However, there are trends showing that Maryland may not be the blue bastion every political talking head assumes it to be.
Hogan didn’t exactly win the last election by a squeaker. He won by a 4-point margin - carrying 20 of the 24 jurisdictions in Maryland. Hogan was able to prevail despite accepting public financing and being outspent by approximately $25 million to $5 million.
The story doesn’t just end with the governor. Republicans scored seven new seats in the House of Delegates and two in the State Senate. Maryland Democrats no longer hold a super-majority in the House of Delegates. Republicans hold the majority of County Executive seats and the majority of county-level elected positions.
These local and state level accomplishments for the Maryland GOP can’t be brushed off. The environment is clearly open for change. Hogan was able to reach victory by focusing on tax cuts and veering away from social issues. Another candidate could do the same. The question is whether Szeliga can capitalize off the current ballot-box trend in her state.
There are still major obstacles in her way.
Roll Call considers the Senate race as “Safe Democrat” for Van Hollen. He is a long-time congressman and holds deep fundraising connections. RCP polling shows Trump currently losing in the state by incredible margins. He may drag down-ballot Republicans with him come Election Day.
Still, as Hogan’s election before her shows, crazier things have happened.