Maryland Congressman David Trone (D-Potomac) already announcing for the state’s open Senate seat will very likely leave hotly contested partisan primaries and a potentially majority determining general election in his wake.
The state’s western 6th Congressional District is politically marginal, so in an open situation with no clear heir to the seat, it is likely we will see crowded Democratic and Republican primaries to be decided next year at this time, May 14, 2024. With the House majority at 222R-213D, open politically tight districts such as this one become the top targets for both parties. It is this type of seat that will decide which party will control the House of Representatives beginning in 2025.
The 6th District is one of 21 CDs from the entire composition of 435 seats where the FiveThirtyEight data organization and Dave’s Redistricting App disagree over which party has the partisan advantage. The 538 group rates MD-6 as R+1, while Dave’s App calculates the lean slightly in the Democrats’ favor at 48.9D – 48.0R. President Biden won the district in relatively comfortable fashion with a 53.9 – 44.1% spread, yet Republican Gov. Larry Hogan carried the 6th by a whopping 16 points in his 2018 re-election drive.
The Republican picture became cloudy this week when former state Delegate Dan Cox (R), who was not much of a factor as the 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee in losing to author Wes Moore (D) by a 65-32% margin, said that he has an interest in entering the open 6th District congressional race, which includes his home city of Frederick. Former state Delegate Neil Parrott, also from Frederick and who lost the last two congressional races against Rep. Trone, is likewise reportedly looking at a third run.
Other potential Republican candidates include journalist and 2022 candidate Matthew Foldi who attracted strong support in his primary bid, state House Minority Leader Jason Buckel (R-Allegany County), and former state Budget Secretary David Brinkley.
The Democratic stable features one announced candidate in state Delegate Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County), and could possibly include Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, ex-Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, three sitting state legislators, a former Obama White House official, and a non-profit group executive director.
Both Messrs. Cox and Parrott come from the right wing of the Republican Party, and thus we could see a familiar pattern develop where a general election candidate, should one of these two win the party nomination, is painted as too extreme to represent a politically marginal constituency.
Should all or most of the individuals mentioned above enter the Republican primary, it would be possible that Cox and Parrott could split the most conservative voter constituency, thus allowing a more moderate candidate, such as Mr. Foldi, to win the nomination. The latter man attracted moderate and establishment support in his 2022 run, earning endorsements from Gov. Hogan and his key support base. He is the type of candidate who would likely fare better in the general election.
Though the Democrats could also be headed toward a crowded primary, they are typically better at coalescing after a heated intra-party contest to win a general election, thus a similar damaging split situation is unlikely to occur on their side.
The 6th District contains all or parts of five counties: Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery (part), and Washington. It contains approximately 20% new territory in the current court draw as compared to the 2011 legislative map that stood for a decade. The principal change was drastically reducing the 6th District share of Montgomery County and adding back the state’s entire far western region that historically comprised the heart of MD-6. Thus, the seat again became winnable for a Republican candidate.
With Rep. Trone vacating the seat to run for the Senate, this open seat will attract national attention in what promises to become a hotly contested battle for the US House majority.
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