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Md. incumbents all win party nods

Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. defeated Brian Murphy, a Republican primary challenger backed by Sarah Palin, clearing the way for a rematch in November against the Democrat who defeated him four years ago.

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By Ben Pershing
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and the state's eight U.S. House members secured their party nominations Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, ahead of a November election likely to feature few competitive races.

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Mikulski (D), who is running for a fifth term, easily bested six primary opponents. On the Republican side, Queen Anne's County Commissioner Eric Wargotz defeated 10 candidates for the chance to face her in the general election, the Associated Press reported.

Mikulski, who was first elected to the seat in 1986, will be a strong front-runner in the general election. But on Tuesday, she said she would take nothing for granted.

"Nobody's going to sneak up on Barbara Mikulski," she said as she visited polling locations in Baltimore before heading to the Capitol. "I'm out there listening to voters."

Seven of the Maryland U.S. House members also are expected to win reelection in November. The lone endangered incumbent is freshman Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr. (D) of the 1st District, which includes the Eastern Shore and several counties along the Chesapeake Bay north and south of Baltimore.

Primary voters set up a rematch between Kratovil and state Sen. Andrew P. Harris, who topped businessman Rob Fisher on Tuesday to win the Republican nomination. Kratovil defeated Harris, an anesthesiologist from Cockeysville, by fewer than 3,000 votes in 2008.

The 1st District strongly leans Republican, and the Kratovil-Harris contest will be among the most closely-watched in the country.

Fisher, a political novice who poured nearly $500,000 into the contest, was unable to overcome the better-known Harris's stronger campaign organization.

"I ask for your vote in the Republican Primary!" Harris wrote on his Facebook page Monday. "It's the first step in stopping Nancy Pelosi's job-killing policies and getting America back on track!"

Republicans said Harris's win demonstrates his strength as a candidate and his ability to challenge Kratovil. Democrats argue that Kratovil has built a strong base by establishing his independence, voting against President Obama's health-care bill and other measures that might not be popular in the district.

In the 4th district, which covers portions of Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D) easily fended off a spirited challenge from state Del. Herman L. Taylor II (D-Montgomery).

Edwards bested incumbent Rep. Albert R. Wynn in the 2008 Democratic primary, and Taylor had hoped to do the same to Edwards. But Tuesday's voting showed Taylor's campaign never gained traction.

Four Republicans were competing for their party nod in the 8th District, with the winner a decided underdog in November against Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D). The 5th District also featured a GOP primary field of four, with Charles Lollar winning the nod to advance to the general election race against Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D).

Maryland's lone Republican member of Congress, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, will be similarly favored in the fall against Andrew Duck, the winner of the 6th District Democratic primary.

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