John Wagner of the Post with a very interesting take on the Senate primary and how, in some cases, Chris Van Hollen has been able to gain endorsements based on his long relationships with some Maryland electeds, trumping race and gender expectations in the process.
Another top Democrat has endorsed Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s U.S. Senate primary, a signal that his support within the party’s establishment may trump Rep. Donna F. Edwards’s appeal in her home county and perhaps among some female and black voters.
State Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D) on Monday introduced Van Hollen (D), who is white, to a group of 150 mostly African American retirees whose support she counts on in her own campaigns, asking them to consider his bid to replace retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D).
“It’s not about race, creed or color,” Benson, who is black, told the crowd at the fellowship hall of St. Margaret’s Catholic Church in Capitol Heights, a struggling neighborhood in Edwards’s home district in Prince George’s County. With the fervor of a preacher during a revival, Benson accentuated every syllable as her voice crescendoed: “It’s about a person.”
Benson’s support signals Van Hollen’s strength among longtime Democratic colleagues with whom he built relationships over many years in the state legislature and in Congress — including those from Edwards’s home community of Prince George’s. That could pose a challenge for Edwards, who is trying to position herself as a champion among working families, including those in Prince George’s.
Will these endorsements matter? Well, if you believe, as I do, that taking the opposite view from Maryland’s own Fox News Democrat Todd Eberly, is the way to go, then Van Hollen is a lock.
Individual endorsements rarely have an impact in campaigns, said Todd Eberly, an associate professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland — unless the endorser has “a true and connected network” that is politically engaged.
Don’t agree. Endorsements from long-entrenched leaders like Joanne Benson or Rushern Baker are by definition directed at “politically engaged networks.”
All snark aside, the question is a serious one and it will likely be decisive. Will black voters whose leaders endorse a white politician over a black candidate based on personal and political relationships follow those endorsements, or will race or other factors be determinative?