What to watch in Tuesday’s Maryland contests

Voters picking Trone challenger in 6th District while outside groups blanket airwaves in open 4th District

Democratic Rep. David Trone is the only member of the Maryland delegation whose race in November doesn't have a Solid rating from Inside Elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Democratic Rep. David Trone is the only member of the Maryland delegation whose race in November doesn't have a Solid rating from Inside Elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 18, 2022 at 5:00am

Democrats in Maryland’s deep-blue 4th District will all but determine the region’s next House member, as voters in the state head to the polls Tuesday to pick their parties’ nominees for November. 

The contest in the 4th has drawn considerable attention and mega money from outside interests, especially those with a focus on U.S. policy toward Israel. But voters will also pick the Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. David Trone, whose 6th District seat became more competitive when a map crafted by state Democrats was thrown out in a lawsuit.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer faces a repeat challenger from 2020. Other Democratic incumbents, including Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Jamie Raskin, also face opponents but are expected to breeze to renomination. 

Here are three themes we’re watching: 

Money matters 

Nine candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination in the 4th District, which borders Washington, D.C., but it’s really a race between former Rep. Donna Edwards and Glenn Ivey, a former state’s attorney for Prince George’s County and high-level Hill staffer and Justice Department official. 

Outside groups, mostly those focused on Israel, have pumped nearly $6 million into the race, with all ads either attacking or boosting Edwards or Ivey. It’s an open seat because its current occupant, Rep. Anthony G. Brown, is running for state attorney general. Both Joe Biden in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 would have gotten 89 percent of the vote in the district as it is currently drawn, so whichever candidate prevails in the primary is nearly certain to serve in the next Congress. 

A pro-Israel super PAC, which counts the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as its top donor, has spent the most in support of Ivey and in opposition to Edwards. It’s part of a larger, nationwide effort to influence Democrats as some of the most prominent congressional progressives have sought to shift the party leftward on Middle East matters. 

Potentially competitive 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Trone to its Frontline incumbent protection program in June, a signal that the race in the 6th District may be competitive in November. Trone will find out who his challenger is after Tuesday, with leading candidates being Neil Parrott, a member of the state’s House of Delegates, and conservative journalist and former super PAC operative Matthew Foldi, who has racked up a long string of endorsements including from House GOP leaders and the state’s GOP Gov. Larry Hogan. Other Republicans on the ballot include Mariela Roca, Robert Poissonnier, Jonathan Jenkins and Colt Black. 

Trone, whose personal fortune stems from his ownership of Total Wine & More, has put nearly $12.6 million of his own money into the race and had $10.8 million on hand as of June 29, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Parrott held nearly $350,000 as of that date, while Foldi disclosed just shy of $100,000 left of his total haul of $222,000. No other contenders had cracked the six figures. 

Trone has two challengers for the Democratic nomination, but he’s expected to win easily after an initial challenger, former state lawmaker Aruna Miller, decided to run instead for lieutenant governor as the running mate of gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore. 

Biden would have beaten Donald Trump by almost 10 percentage points in the 6th District as it’s currently configured. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race as Likely Democratic, the only race in the state that is not rated solidly in one camp or the other. In the 1st District, GOP Rep. Andy Harris has a well-funded potential challenger, Democrat Heather Mizeur, who had raised almost $2 million as of June 29. Harris had raised about $1.5 million. Still, Inside Elections rates that race Solid Republican. 

A challenge in name only? 

Hoyer, in seeking a 21st full term this year, faces a primary rematch against his unsuccessful challenger from 2020, McKayla Wilkes, who had raised $175,000 as of June 29, according to FEC filings. Hoyer, whose fundraising speaks to the advantages of leadership posts, had hauled in more than $3 million for his reelection campaign, FEC filings show, more than half of that from the political action committees of companies, such as Amazon and Duke Energy, and from the leadership PACs of his congressional colleagues. 

Hoyer’s other primary challenger in the 5th District is Keith Washington, a Prince George’s County official, who had not disclosed raising any money. 

Van Hollen, who beat Edwards in the 2016 Senate primary, is not expected to have a difficult path to renomination despite opponent Michelle Smith, whose campaign website says she works for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Smith reported raising about $2,000. Van Hollen was hospitalized in May after suffering a stroke but has since returned to Capitol Hill.