Though no polling has been released in the race, Cardin has a statewide profile Muse can’t match. A Washington Post survey released in January showed that 47 percent of registered voters in Maryland approved of the job Cardin was doing, while 20 percent disapproved. Another January poll showed Cardin with a 65 percent approval rating among Democrats.
Cardin has won the endorsements of several prominent Democrats, led by President Obama, who cast his lot with the incumbent in November and made a well-publicized stop for barbecue with Cardin last week following a speech in Prince George’s County. Cardin also has the backing of County Executive Rushern Baker and Gov. Martin O’Malley, among others.
On the financial front, Cardin has raised nearly $5 million for the cycle and had $1.9 million in the bank as of March 14. Muse has not filed fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission, even though his pre-primary report was due last Thursday.
In an interview, Muse declined to say how much money he had raised but said he was pleased with the campaign’s progress. “It is going extremely well,” he said. “We have offices from Carroll County to the Eastern Shore.”
He said he believes he can beat Cardin and is not running a symbolic campaign. “As I traveled the state four or five months before I made the announcement, I was sure that I could win this race and I am sure that I can win this race now,” Muse said. “I’m in it to win it, not to make a statement. I can do that as a state senator in a million different ways.”
Jennifer Duffy, who analyzes Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said Muse’s chances were “pretty slim,” though she noted that Cardin’s decision to air television ads “is an indication that he’s taking nothing for granted.”
Currently in his second stint in the General Assembly, Muse is the pastor at Ark of Safety Christian Church in Upper Marlboro. Supporters say Muse will advocate for people disenfranchised from the political system.
Samuel H. Dean, a former member of the Prince George’s County Council, said some locals are looking to Muse’s election to have issues addressed that Cardin has ignored. “We’ve had some major problems here in Prince George’s. We are leading the state in foreclosures. We’ve had a major problem with funding for roads. The school system is in disarray,” Dean said. “We need to have someone who understands the issues here.”
Some African Americans are also still smarting from Cardin’s election six years ago. At the time, some black Prince George’s County leaders hoped that the state Democratic party would support an African American for the seat vacated by longtime U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D).