2018: The Race For CD6

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John Delaney was elected in 2012, knocking off Rob Garagiola, the heir apparent to the newly gerrymandered 6th Congressional District. Stretching from the farthest reaches of Western Maryland to some of the wealthiest areas of Potomac in Montgomery County, the district’s electorate is more than half Democratic and half MoCo. In 2012, Delaney burst the myth that you can’t get elected from a congressional district you don’t live in. In 2014, he nearly lost the district to a guy who lived in Annapolis, Dan Bongino.

This year, Delaney faces a credible and well-funded challenger in Amie Hoeber. He should win, however, because he remembers 2014, because Democrats turn out better in presidential election years, and because, well, Donald Trump is a better anvil than a standard bearer at the top of the ticket for the GOP.

So let’s assume Delaney wins. It’s no secret that he has long coveted a run for governor. It was rumored in 2014, and will likely come to pass in 2018.

Who are the potential contestants to replace him? Drum roll, please. The four most frequently mentioned contestants are all members of the General Assembly: State Senator Roger Manno (19), and Delegates Bill Frick (16), Kirill Reznik (39), and Aruna Miller (15). Other candidates mentioned include Delegate Andrew Platt (17), County Councilmember Craig Rice (District 2), and State Senator Brian Feldman (15). And then there’s the big dog wild card, David Trone. He pretty much needs a post all to himself so as to consider all of his potential options. I’ll come back to him in a bit.

Manno and Frick don’t live in the district, but we know that doesn’t matter. Quick note: Senate President Mike Miller made sure in 2012 that the only General Assembly member who lived in the new CD6 and would be a credible challenger was Rob Garagiola. Neither Manno nor Frick live very far outside the district, so making the run wouldn’t be a big problem.

Let’s look at the candidates:

Manno: hardest working campaigner around, he only knows one way to run: 150 MPH, full throttle, dawn to dusk and then some. Strong with labor, has also built good relationships with folks in Western Maryland and has spent time in the district. Questions: money. Can he raise enough to compete with, say, David Trone if Trone decides to get in? And CD6 is not LD19. Canvassing the whole district multiple times is a vastly more difficult process than he’s used to. But if anyone can do it, Roger can. Full disclosure: Roger and I have been friends for almost a decade now.

Frick: has risen fast in Annapolis, currently serving as the parliamentarian of the House. His moderate politics are a good fit for CD6. Questions: he initially ran for AG in 2014, but didn’t raise much money, and alienated Brian Frosh and his supporters in the process. He publicly supported Kathleen Matthews for Congress in the primary, which won’t endear him to Jamie Raskin and his fans. But the biggest questions are whether he can raise sufficient money and whether he is prepared to work hard enough to keep up with Roger Manno.

Reznik: like Frick, has moved up in his less than a decade in the House. His politics may not be as good a fit as Frick’s. Questions: how to stand out next to Manno and Frick, who have higher profiles and stronger bases of support than Reznik does. And not to sound like a broken record, but money, money, money. Finally, neither Frick nor Reznik has had to undertake a serious campaign in their careers, as both were appointed as delegates and neither has had a serious challenge to reelection. That ends if they put their hat in the ring in this race.

Miller: in her second term in Annapolis, she has the moderate to liberal record that is a good fit for CD6. She’d most likely be the only woman in the race – not that that was such a good thing this year – as well as the only minority, being of Indian background. Rumblings are that she would be able to raise more than respectable sums of money. Questions: how does an Indian-American woman get received outside the Montgomery County portion of the district? Similarly to Reznik and Frick, is she ready to run a campaign that is far beyond anything she’s done before?

I’m going to write a separate post about David Trone, but let’s include him here. He showed huge strength in his CD8 run, doing well in Potomac and even better in Frederick and Carroll counties. He will have high name recognition right from the jump in 2018, not to mention more money than anyone else. If he gets in, he probably drives some candidate(s) out, and would likely be the early betting favorite. His politics, his manner, his back story, all are comfortable fits with the CD6 electorate. 

The question for Trone is this: what does he want? He seems to me more comfortable being an executive, which would suggest a run for County Exec, which is looking like a free for all in 2018. If he wins, he’d be an immediately credible candidate for governor in 2022 if Larry Hogan is reelected in 2018.

And even if he wants to run for Congress, he’s got choices there too. He could run in CD6, or he could take a run at CD8 again in 2018, when there will surely be fewer than nine candidates running. Yes, Jamie Raskin will be an incumbent, but David Trone doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who cares about such niceties. If he thinks that’s his best path to victory, I’d bet he’ll follow it, regardless of any other considerations.

Assuming Trone looks elsewhere, CD6 shapes up as a potential Manno-Frick-Reznik-Miller hootenanny. Call me biased, but I’d have a hard time betting against Manno in that scenario. He’s had two vicious campaigns, one for an open delegate seat in 2006 and the infamous 2010 brawl against then-Senator Mike Lenett. Each time, Manno has come out on top through shrewd targeting and brute force hard work. That’s a combination that will be hard to beat.

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