Maryland Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola’s defeat in the 6th Congressional District Democratic primary will have reverberations felt well beyond the district. In many ways, the Garagiola defeat is a sign of hard times ahead for the Maryland Democratic party. First, let’s address the Garagiola loss. Garagiola is a powerful member of the state Senate, and he enjoyed the backing of most of the Democratic party establishment in the state. Senate President Mike Miller drew the district for Garagiola, and Rep. Steny Hoyer backed Garagiola in the primary. John Delaney was a novice politician running in a Democratic primary on a platform of fiscal conservatism. Gargiola had the backing of the unions and Moveon.org. By all accounts, Garagiola should have won a closed Democratic primary. So why did he lose? Because Maryland’s Democratic party is quite different from most other state Democratic parties.
Nationally, the Republican and Democratic parties have sorted rather neatly into two ideologically homogeneous parties. The Democrats have become the home of political liberals and the Republicans are home to conservatives. More moderate voters either loosely associate with one party or the other or eschew both. The ideological sorting is especially evident among elected officials, and it began in earnest at the end of the 1960s.
But something odd happened in the Free State. In many respects the great American ideological realignment passed Maryland by. Maryland remains home to a species long thought extinct by many a political observer: the conservative Democrat. They defeated Sen. Millard Tydings in 1950 and his son Joseph in 1970. They delivered the state to George Wallace in the 1972 primary. They nominated perennial candidate George Mahoney for governor in 1952 and again in 1966 — only to see him lose both times to a moderate Republican. They nearly helped elect Ellen Sauerbrey in 1994 and embarrassed Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the 2002 Democratic primary (Fustero who?) and in the general elected Republican Bob Ehrlich. And they chose John Delaney on Tuesday night.
[Continue reading Todd Eberly’s post at The FreeStater Blog.]
Todd Eberly blogs at The FreeStaterBlog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.