During the course of Maryland’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign cycle, incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has been touted by pollsters and political experts as the favorite to win in the general election this November. Still, the governor’s formidable advantage hasn’t deterred the emergence of a crowded Democratic primary election on June 26. Eight Democrats vie for the nomination.
But while many politicians are motivated to replace Hogan, it remains unclear how many voters are similarly motivated to show their support.
“There are a lot of undecided voters,” said Mileah Kromer, associate professor and director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in Towson. “When 40 percent of the voters are undecided at this late stage of the game, it really says something about the attention paid to this race. That should really be of concern, I think, to the Democrats.”
A poll conducted by the University of Maryland and published in The Washington Post on June 6 saw former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker emerge as the front-runners. And a Baltimore Sun and University of Baltimore poll found that 60 percent of Democratic voters likely to vote in the primary approve of the job Hogan is doing.
Matt Crenson, professor emeritus and academy professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University, feels that the abundance of Democrats vying for the nomination is preventing them from making an impact in the minds of potential voters.
“There’s so many of them. For one, it affects the format of the debates,” said Crenson. “It’s very difficult for them to flesh out their positions with such limited time. They’ve had to try harder than they might have otherwise to distinguish themselves from one another.”
The crowded field also includes Krish Vignarajah, former policy director for First Lady Michelle Obama; attorney Jim Shea; author and former State Department official Alec Ross; state Sen. Richard Madaleno; teacher Ralph Jaffee; and business owner James Jones II.
No matter who the winner of the Democratic primary is, Kromer and Crenson agree they’ll have a hard time beating Gov. Hogan, in part because of the distance he has maintained from President Donald Trump.
“Unless something really disastrous happens between now and November, it’s difficult to see that any of them would be able to overcome the lead that Gov. Hogan has,” said Crenson.
Maryland’s governor has historically played a prominent role in advocating for the needs of the Jewish community across the state. Since the creation of the Maryland/Israel Development Center in the early 1990s, each governor has traveled on at least one mission to Israel.
The national political conversation in recent months has brought attention to the purported “blue wave” that is flipping typically Republican-voting districts and states to Democratic ones. Examples include Conor Lamb’s victory in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district in March and Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’ defeat of Republican Roy Moore in Alabama last December.
Maryland has long been a blue state, and therefore has fewer Republicans in office. Kromer believes this could be keeping voters from feeling the election excitement other states are experiencing.
“The misconception is that because Maryland is a blue state that it is a fully progressive state. It is not. It is ideologically mixed,” she said. “There may be some evidence that progressives are more motivated to vote in this election nationally, but it’s hard to say here.”
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and each of the eight members representing Maryland in the House of Representatives are up for re-election this year. With the exception of District 6, where Rep. John Delaney will exit and run for president, neither Crenson nor Kromer feels there will be stiff competition for the incumbents.
In Montgomery County, other races for the June 26 primary include:
MARYLAND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 6
State Del. Aruna Miller (District 15)
State Sen. Roger Manno (District 19)
Dr. Nadia Hashimi
DISTRICT 14 HOUSE OF DELEGATES (three seats)
Del. Anne Kaiser
Del. Eric Luedtke
Del. Pamela Queen
DISTRICT 14 SENATE
Sen. Craig Zucker
DISTRICT 15 HOUSE OF DELEGATES (three seats)
Del. Kathleen Dumais
Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo
Andy Van Wye
DISTRICT 15 SENATE
Sen. Brian Feldman
DISTRICT 16 HOUSE OF DELEGATES (three seats)
Del. Ariana Kelly
Del. Marc Korman
DISTRICT 16 SENATE
Sen. Susan Lee
DISTRICT 17 HOUSE OF DELEGATES (three seats)
Del. Kumar Barve
Del. Jim Gilchrist
Julie Palakovich Carr
George Ivan Hernandez
DISTRICT 17 SENATE
Sen. Cheryl Kagan
DISTRICT 18 HOUSE OF DELEGATES (three seats)
Del. Al Carr
DISTRICT 18 SENATE
Del. Jeff Waldstreicher
DISTRICT 19 HOUSE OF DELEGATES (three seats)
Del. Bonnie Cullison
Del. Maricé Morales
DISTRICT 19 SENATE
Del. Ben Kramer
Alirio Martinez Jr.
DISTRICT 20 HOUSE OF DELEGATES (three seats)
Del. David Moon
Del. Jheanelle Wilkins
DISTRICT 20 SENATE
Sen. Will Smith
DISTRICT 39 HOUSE OF DELEGATES (three seats)
Del. Kirill Reznik
Del. Shane Robinson
Verelyn Gibbs Watson
DISTRICT 39 SENATE
Sen. Nancy King
MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXECUTIVE
Council member Roger Berliner (District 1)
Council member Marc Elrich (At Large)
Council member George Leventhal (At Large)
Del. Bill Frick (District 16)
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL
AT-LARGE (four seats)
Del. Charles Barkley (District 39)
Council member Hans Riemer (At Large)
Tom Falcinell Jr.
Lorna Phillips Forde
Jill Ortman Fouse
Chris Fiotes Jr.
Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez
Council member Craig Rice
Council member Sidney Katz
Council member Nancy Navarro
Council member Tom Hucker
WJW Senior Writer Hannah Monicken contributed to this article.