As The Baltimore Sun reported last month, the two candidates had recently spent more time in the Baltimore region than any other part of the state. The Sun also noted that Baltimore City and its surrounding counties accounted for more than a third of the state’s Democratic primary vote in 2012.
The same forces that caused Maryland to turn deeply blue have also moved the Democratic power center south. Van Hollen and Edwards’ bases are in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, respectively, the largest Democratic population in the state as minorities have moved out of Washington.
Maryland has had two Baltimore-based senators since 1987, with Mikulski, Cardin, and Cardin’s predecessor, Paul Sarbanes. That streak is set to end, with Baltimore-area Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declining to seek the seat.
Ruppersberger cited Baltimore roots and intimate knowledge of the city’s needs as the reason he and others pondered the race.
“Those of us who are homegrown from Baltimore—grew up in this area—knows there are a lot of issues that need to be dealt with here, and that’s why Elijah and I, I know, were very, very seriously considering running for the position,” Ruppersberger said.
Despite reports to the contrary, Cummings, who has represented downtown Baltimore for 10 terms, said in a brief interview this week he has not made a decision yet. He cited his polling showing him in the lead.
Cummings would be an obvious frontrunner if he jumped in the race, with significant name ID both in his hometown and across the state, thanks to his high-profile position on the Benghazi committee. Early polling consistently showed him ahead of Van Hollen and Edwards in a three-way primary.
But his fundraising doesn’t reflect a candidate ramping up for a bid. Cummings raised $136,000 in the third quarter and ended September with just under $1 million on hand — hardly an imposing sum.
Alternatively, Van Hollen and Edwards have been investing significant resources in recent months to argue they are uniquely suited to make Baltimore’s case in the Senate. And Van Hollen is so far outgunning Edwards on most every quantifiable metric of campaign strength.
He has a significant cash advantage with $4 million in the bank, 10 times what Edwards had on hand. He has also aired three TV ads in the Baltimore media market, with the first calling him the "son of a Baltimore native.”
He also recently rolled out endorsements from a number of lawmakers in city and state government, and highlighted his ties to the city in an interview with National Journal.
“My father’s family is from Baltimore,” Van Hollen said. “I worked for William Donald Schaefer, who of course was mayor of Baltimore and then governor of Maryland. And when you work for Gov. Schaefer, you have the health of Baltimore City on your mind.”