Van Hollen de­feats Ed­wards in Mary­land Se­nate Pri­mary

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By TROY JEF­FER­SON, LEXIE SCHAPITL and AUBURN MANN Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

COL­LEGE PARK — Demo­crat Chris Van Hollen Tues­day won a closely-fought pri­mary bat­tle for the U.S. Se­nate, eas­ily de­feat­ing fel­low House mem­ber Donna Ed­wards for the seat be­ing va­cated by Bar­bara Mikul­ski.

With 88 per­cent of Mary­land precincts re­port­ing, Van Hollen had 53 per­cent of the Demo­cratic vote to Ed­wards’ 39 per­cent.

Ad­dress­ing sup­port­ers from his elec­tion night head­quar­ters in Bethesda, Van Hollen noted that Mikul­ski “un­der­stood you never for­get the peo­ple back home,” and promised to do the same as the state’s next se­na­tor. Mikul­ski did not at­tend the cel­e­bra­tion.

His­tor­i­cally, win­ning the Demo­cratic Se­nate pri­mary is tan­ta­mount to elec­tion in Novem­ber, es­pe­cially in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year, when Mary­land vot­ers’ Demo­cratic lean­ings are strong­est.

“Whether you’re from ... the Bal­ti­more area, whether you’re from the Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs, or from western Mary­land, or south­ern Mary­land or the Eastern Shore, I will fight hard for you ev­ery­day in the United States Se­nate,” he said.

Kathy Szeliga, a state law­maker from Bal­ti­more County, won the Repub­li­can Se­nate pri­mary in a multi-can­di­date field with 36 per­cent of the vote.

Mary­land has not had an open U.S. Se­nate seat since 2006, when Demo­crat Paul Sar­banes re­tired.

Van Hollen served in the

Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly as both a del­e­gate and a state se­na­tor be­fore win­ning elec­tion to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2002. A res­i­dent of Kens­ing­ton, Van Hollen rep­re­sents Mary­land’s 8th District, which in­cludes parts of Mont­gomery, Fred­er­ick and Car­roll coun­ties.

Be­fore his elec­tion to the House, he worked as an at­tor­ney for 10 years in pri­vate prac­tice.

Van Hollen voted in Kens­ing­ton Tues­day morn­ing be­fore vis­it­ing vot­ers at Leisure World in Sil­ver Spring and meet­ing with sup­port­ers in Bal­ti­more.

House Mi­nor­ity Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th), did not pub­licly en­dorse ei- ther can­di­date, but joined Van Hollen at his elec­tion night head­quar­ters, a sure sign of his sup­port now.

Van Hollen re­cently won the en­dorse­ment of The Wash­ing­ton Post and Bal­ti­more Sun editorial boards, as well as for­mer Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and for­mer Mary­land Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley.

Van Hollen said the coun­try has “a lot of work to do” to ad­dress is­sues of eco­nomic equal­ity, gun vi­o­lence, mass in­car­cer­a­tion and cli­mate change. But in or­der to ef­fec­tively ad­dress these is­sues, Democrats will need to win both the White House and a ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate, he said.

“We’re go­ing to have to work very hard in ev­ery part of the state, in ev­ery cor­ner of the state,” Van Hollen said. “We’ve got to cam­paign for ev­ery vote in ev­ery part of this state.”

Mary­land Del. Al Carr (D-Mont­gomery) was work­ing the polls at Kens­ing­ton Town Hall, his home vot­ing lo­ca­tion, in sup­port of Van Hollen.

Carr said Ed­wards and Van Hollen are both strong politi­cians, but he thinks Van Hollen will be able to “de­liver” for vot­ers in the Se­nate.

“He has out­stand­ing con­stituent ser­vice,” he said. “I’ve seen time and time again where his staff, his of­fice have helped peo­ple solve prob­lems. I think that’s re­ally im­por­tant.”

At Van Hollen’s elec­tion night head­quar­ters, sup­porter Sam Wit­ten, a lawyer from Bethesda, said Van Hollen has in­tegrity, a strong record of con­stituent ser­vice, and is will­ing to reach across party lines. Wit­ten, 59, said he volun- teered in Bal­ti­more and Takoma Park Tues­day in sup­port of the can­di­date.

“For me it was not a hard choice,” Wit­ten said. “He’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary can­di­date, a great leader and he takes care of his peo­ple.”

Ed­wards, who high­lighted her ex­pe­ri­ence as a black woman and a sin­gle mom, fell short in her at­tempt to be­come the sec­ond black woman to serve in the U.S. Se­nate.

“Our bat­tle is not over and our work is not done,” Ed­wards said at her watch party in Lan­ham. “This cam­paign has never been about me or my op­po­nent … It’s about fix­ing a bro­ken po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.”

Ed­wards said she called Van Hollen after the re­sults to con­grat­u­late him.

In his ad­dress, Van Hollen thanked Ed­wards “for be­ing a strong ad­vo­cate for Demo­cratic party val­ues and pri­or­i­ties.”

Ed­wards has rep­re­sented the state’s 4th District, com­prised of parts of Anne Arun­del and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties, since 2008. She was the first African-Amer­i­can woman to rep­re­sent Mary­land in Congress.

Her­man Flora, of Hy­attsville, said Tues­day morn­ing he voted for Ed­wards be­cause he feels black vot­ers need greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“Noth­ing against Van Hollen per­son­ally,” Flora said at Ridge­crest Ele­men­tary School, “But I felt this was more im­por­tant to me.”

The con­trast be­tween Van Hollen and Ed­wards split Mary­land vot­ers and pro­vided a tight race un­til the fi­nal weeks be­fore the pri­mary.

A Univer­sity of Mary­land-Wash­ing­ton Post poll con­ducted in late March and early April found the race was a dead heat, with Van Hollen hold­ing a four­point lead over Ed­wards: an ad­van­tage within the sur­vey’s mar­gin of er­ror. But a Mon­mouth Univer­sity Poll last week showed Van Hollen pulling ahead of Ed­wards 52-36 per­cent.

The UMD-Wash­ing­ton Post poll also showed a sharp racial di­vide in the race, with likely white vot­ers sup­port­ing Van Hollen by a 2-1 mar­gin while black vot­ers sup­ported Ed­wards 3-1.

Mary­land will elect a se­na­tor in the Nov. 8 gen­eral elec­tion.

“To­gether we’re go­ing to go forth from this evening and win the gen­eral elec­tion and we’re go­ing to be part of a new Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity in the United States Se­nate,” Van Hollen said.

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