Utah has avoided any GOP primaries through the convention process thus allowing all candidates to concentrate on the general election in November.
In Maryland, an open governor's race and several congressional district primaries are of some importance. Let us not mince words here: Maryland has become a somewhat reliably blue state of late. The chances of a Republican victory here are slim except in two areas- parts of the Maryland eastern shore and the panhandle. However, Democratic redistricting after the 2010 census has extended the panhandle district into some liberal territory thus decreasing the chances of a Republican victory. Still, there are enough pockets of conservatives in Maryland to make some races interesting.
For governor, it would appear that O'Malley's heir apparent- current Lt. Governor Anthony Brown- would have the inside lane in their contested primary, although Doug Gansler could surprise. On the GOP side, there are four candidates on the ballot: Harford County executive David Craig, state delegate Ron George, Lawrence Hogan who was a 2010 candidate for governor, and political operative and former 5th district candidate Charles Lollar.
Make no mistake- there is enough to dislike about each candidate on the Republican side. On health care, they all sound resigned to the fact that Obamacare and its state progeny are here to stay. Their platforms reek of reform, not rejection. That includes expansion of state Medicaid eligibility. George is the only one to openly endorse a clearly conservative vision of education reform, although Lollar and Craig are not far behind.
But probably what sets one candidate apart from the others are the twin social issues of abortion and gun control. Here, Charles Lollar's views are clear and they are conservative. Thus, one has to put this election in its true perspective. This is a Democratic state where the greatest chance of Republican statewide success, such as in this case, is moderation. It is possible that the GOP can eke out a victory here since Brown- who was tasked with the implementation of Obamacare and the state exchange in Maryland- has recently fallen under some criticisms. For example, they have enrolled only 9% of eligible persons. Furthermore, Lollar just happens to be African-American and although this writer hates identity politics, one can not overlook that African-Americans could be drawn to a fiscally moderate, socially conservative Republican. For these reasons, this writer would endorse Charles Lollar.
In the First District race, the only Republican incumbent from Maryland- Andy Harris- faces Jonathan Goff, a political neophyte. Again, not every conservative will view Harris as their best possibility, but he is conservative enough on fiscal issues to warrant support. Cook rates this district as +14 Republican although this writer would not rate it that high. Maintaining control of the House is of paramount importance and Democrats will be targeting this district to eat into the GOP advantage in the House. The risks of endorsing a relative unknown against incumbent Andy Harris are too great.
The 4th District is represented by Democrat Donna Edwards in a district rated +26 Democratic. The reason is simple- it encompasses the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. It is clear that in order for a Republican to win this district there has to be little daylight between them and the Democrat. Unfortunately, that entails a compromise of principle and in a district that will likely go to Edwards anyway, is that what we aspire to? Therefore, the GOP should just go with the most conservative candidate in the mix who just happens to be not really that conservative; such is the make up of that district. Of the four Republican candidates, that person is Nancy Hoyt.
The 5th encompasses the western shore of Maryland and extends to the DC suburbs also. It is represented by Steny Hoyer, the House Minority Whip. Unlike the Fourth District, this one is rated +14 Democratic by Cook. The three GOP candidates are physician Mark Arness, community activist Chris Chaffee, and businessman Tom Potter. The chances of defeating Hoyer are nil, although nothing would please this writer more than to see his mug retired. But, I am a realist and believe that the GOP should at least make this race interesting by running the opposite of Steny Hoyer in order to increase conservative turnout in certain areas of the district to better the chances of the GOP in the gubernatorial race. For that task, Mark Arness would be the best choice.
The 6th District is that panhandle area where folks in that area have more in common with the West Virginia electorate than they do with the Maryland electorate in general. However, the Democrats invested heavily in winning this district in 2012 with incumbent John Delaney. The biggest factor, however, was redistricting which pushed the district to the more liberal suburbs of Baltimore. Still, this district is rated +4 by Cook. That clearly indicates an opportunity to retake the district- perhaps the best chance in Maryland. Although there are two candidates in the primary, there is only one choice- Dan Bongino. In 2012, the over-matched Bongino ran against entrenched Democrat Ben Cardin for a Senate seat and lost. He garnered only 26% of the vote. Had there not been an independent candidate on the ballot (he took 16% of the vote), this race would have been closer. Given these facts and Bongino's stances on the major issues as this writer sees them, the best chance for electoral victory is with Dan Bongino. At the very least, defending this seat will pull valuable Democratic resources into a race that was not on their radar.
Finally, there is the 7th District race where the highly hypocritical Elijah Cummings faces reelection for the Democratic Party. This is one of those gerrymandered majority-minority districts designed to elect African-Americans to Congress. Cummings has certainly benefited having served here since 1996. Before that, the district was represented by two other African-American Democrats. The website of one GOP candidate- Ray Bly- sounds like it was written by the graduate of a severely under-performing inner city Baltimore public school graduate. The other candidate- Corrogan Vaughn- is known to Maryland voters having been a US Senate candidate in 2000...and 2004... and 2006... and 2012. Hence, in my opinion, and given the apparent lack of education of the other candidate, the endorsement, by default, goes to Corrogan Vaughn.