We Yearned for Sarbanes
Paul Sarbanes just announced his retirement, which for those of us from Maryland, is a great thing, as he really added nothing positive to the U.S. Senate. So now, there is news that Kweisi Mfume is going to run for the seat. Other potential comers are Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. Albert Wynn, and Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan of John Muhammed/Lee Malvo sniper fame in 2002. Other runners are discussed here.
Sarbanes is no big loss. He has always been a voice for the far left. But it seems that his successor may be an even bigger nightmare. Elevating Steny Hoyer means that Maryland subscribes to his admitted tax and spend addiction. Only in Maryland's 5th district could he get elected. Albert Wynn would be little more than an also-ran, given that he appeals to very few Marylanders, with a fairly respectable left-wing voting record. But Kweisi Mfume is a very powerful figure and his election would send an unfortunate message. As head of the NAACP, Mfume has turned the organization into an alternate voice for the left, and an opportunity to keep urban blacks under the impression that state hand-outs, fourth-rate education, low wage jobs and low expectations are the best they will ever do. He really brings very little other than a radical civil rights background, and nowadays, nobody wants to hear anything about the race card.
E.J. Pipkin, the most promising Republican candidate is from Maryland's much more conservative but much less populous Eastern Shore. He ran in 2004 against Barbara Mikulski, another figure from the far left, and garnered 35% of the vote, which was a fairly good showing for a first time candidate whom nobody knew. He has the potential to keep the race competitive, and as such, would make a credible candidate.
But Maryland has some real political liabilities, known as Baltimore City, Prince George's County and Montgomery County. These are the three jurisdictions that propel Maryland Democrats to Washington and to the State House and which keep the state reliably blue. Mfume needs to win only these three counties to get Sarbanes' seat.
The biggest political drains on the state are Prince George's County and Montgomery County--the suburbs of Washington D.C. Even Baltimore City is not so liberal if you look at past election returns. Were the areas of those counties most immediately surrounding D.C. ceded to the District, Maryland would become a red state on the order of Louisiana or Nevada. Pretty likely to go red, but where moderate Democrats like Martin O'Malley remain very competitive. But the absence of those areas would make a much harder challenge for leftists like Mikulski, Sarbanes and Mfume to get elected to statewide national office.
Sending Pipkin to the Senate would send a message that Gov. Bob Ehrlich really has made Maryland a more competitive place for Republicans. Sending Mfume would signify that the broad conservative base of 21 counties in Maryland continues to be held hostage to three localities.
But the bigger fear is that we know that Sarbanes added nothing particularly horrific to the Senate. He was a relative unknown who did very little, which means that in a state like Maryland, conservatives had little to fear from his occupation of that seat. Mfume would not be so silent, but would be a powerful voice for the left and for the left-wing politics of race. So I pray that we don't get to find out what kind of senator Mfume makes. Because the devil you know is generally better than the one you don't, and I'd hate to imagine that we will be yearning for the days of Sarbanes.