GOP faces tough maps in Maryland, one of the rare state legislatures Democrats drew

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.


• Pres-by-LD: Daily Kos Elections’ project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation comes to Maryland, one of the few states where Democrats controlled the redistricting process this decade. You can find our master list of states here, which we’ll be updating as we add new data sets; you can also find all of our calculations from 2016 and past cycles here.

Maryland is usually a reliably blue state, and Democrats have controlled both the state House and state Senate for close to a century. Maryland’s legislature is only up in midterm cycles, and members were elected under the Democratic-drawn map for the first time in 2014. However, Team Blue got a nasty surprise that year when Republican Larry Hogan won the governorship. It takes three-fifths of each house to override a governor’s veto, and Democrats still won a 33-14 Senate supermajority and a 91-50 edge in the state House, both above the minimum numbers. However, Republicans hope that if Hogan is re-elected in 2018, he’ll help elect enough Republicans to the legislature to break the Democratic supermajority in at least one chamber and keep his vetoes intact.

Maryland has 47 state Senate districts, with one senator per seat. However, the state House is quite complicated. Each of the 47 state Senate seats gets three state delegates. In some cases, the state Senate seat is divided into three smaller House seats, which are lettered A, B, and C. In other cases, parties can nominate up to three people for a state House seat, and general election voters can vote up to three times. A few places have a hybrid approach. For example, House seat 03B has just one delegate, while 03A has two.

Before we drill into the numbers, note that we don’t have 2012 presidential numbers to compare 2016 to. Unfortunately, Maryland redrew many of its election precincts between 2012 and 2014. As a result, matching 2012 precincts with the current legislative seats is incredibly difficult, and it’s even tougher in cases where the 2012 precincts fall into one or more districts.

We’ll start with the state Senate. Clinton carried Maryland 61-34 and won 33 of the 47 seats. Even though the Senate was last up during the 2014 GOP wave year rather than in 2016, Democrats hold all but one of the Clinton seats, while the GOP lost just one Trump district. The one Republican on blue turf is Gail Bates, whose Howard County-based SD-09 backed Clinton 51-44. Bates won a promotion from the House to the Senate 66-34 in 2014. Her Democratic counterpart is state Sen. James Mathias, Jr. Mathias’ SD-38, which is on the southern tip of the Eastern Shore, backed Trump 59-38. In 2014, Mathias won a second term 52-48.

One way to illustrate how much the map favors Democrats is to sort each seat in each chamber by Clinton’s margin of victory over Trump and see how the seat in the middle—known as the median seat—voted. In Maryland, the median Senate seat backed Clinton 65-31, about 7 points to the left of her statewide win.

Perhaps the better question to ask is what seats the GOP would need in 2014 to take the Democrats down to a 28-19 majority, which would allow a united GOP minority to sustain a veto. Assuming Team Red unseated Mathias and held Bates’ seat, they’d need to take four more districts. If they went on to win the four Democratic-held seats where Clinton’s margin over Trump was the weakest, that magic fourth seat would be SD-03 in Frederick County. Clinton won the district 56-38, while Democratic incumbent Ronald Young won his second term 51-49.

We’ll turn to the state House, where 141 members are stuffed into 67 districts. Ninety-eight members represent Clinton seats, while 43 delegates are on Trump turf. No Democrats represent Trump seats, while seven Republicans are in Clinton districts. The Republican with the bluest seat is Bob Flanagan, the sole delegate from HB-09B; not surprisingly, his seat makes up a portion of Bates’ Senate seat. HD-09B backed Clinton 64-30. The median point in the state House backed Clinton 67-27, a daunting 13 points to the left of the state.

If the GOP wants to sustain a veto without Democratic help, they’ll need a minimum of 57 seats, seven more than they currently hold. Trump’s 57th-best seat in the chamber is HD-30A, which has two members. And as it so happens, this 60-35 Clinton Anne Arundel County seat has one Democratic representative and one Republican. However, the Democrat is Michael Busch, who has been speaker of the House since 2003. If the GOP wants to break the Democratic House supermajority under this map, they’ll need to win some very blue turf.

2Q Fundraising

Be sure to check out our second quarter Senate fundraising chart, which we’ll be updating as new numbers come in. We’re also including the totals for House members who are publicly or reportedly considering Senate bids.

• AZ-Sen, AZ-09Kyrsten Sinema (D): $633,000 raised, $3.2 million cash-on-hand

• IN-Sen, IN-06Luke Messer (R): $600,000 raised

• MD-SenBen Cardin (D-inc): $910,000 raised, $1.7 million cash-on-hand

• MI-SenLena Epstein (R): $460,000 raised (in five weeks), $455,000 cash-on-hand

• NV-SenJacky Rosen (D): $300,000 raised, $416,000 cash-on-hand

• TN-SenJames Mackler (D): $451,000 raised

• CO-GovVictor Mitchell (R): $13,000 raised, $2.65 million cash-on-hand

• TN-GovBill Lee (R): $1.4 million raised, $1.4 million self-funded, $2.5 million cash-on-hand


• MO-Sen: On behalf of the hardline conservative group Club for Growth, Fabrizio Lee is the latest GOP pollster to find Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill trailing a prospective Republican opponent. Their first released survey argues state Attorney General Josh Hawley beats McCaskill 46-42, which is relatively similar to a recent Remington Research poll that also had McCaskill losing to several other Missouri Republicans by modest margins. However, with no recent independent polling, it’s hard to say just exactly where this contest stands.

No noteworthy Republicans have launched a Senate bid yet, including Hawley, who only just won his first term as attorney general last November. However, top state and national Republicans have been recruiting him to do so in recent months, an effort that increased in intensity following Rep. Ann Wagner’s recent surprise decision not to run for Senate. Polls like this one are likely geared toward pushing Hawley to run by showing him a path to victory, but there’s still a long way to Election Day. Even if this poll has an accurate read on the race right now, it wouldn’t be the first time that McCaskill has overcome seemingly tough odds early in the cycle to ultimately prevail.

• WI-Sen: Republican Kevin Nicholson hasn’t yet joined the Senate race against Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin, but if he does, he won’t be lacking for early funding. Republican mega-donor Richard Uihlein, who founded the industrial-supply company Uline, has given a whopping $3.5 million this year to a super PAC devoted to backing Nicholson if he runs. Nicholson, who is a businessman and Marine veteran, is one of several noteworthy Republicans who have expressed interest in running for Senate, but none has formally taken the plunge yet by declaring a campaign.


• AL-Gov: State Sen. Paul Sanford is the latest Republican to say that he’s considering running for Alabama governor next year, noting that his family is encouraging him to mount a campaign. However, Sanford also said he probably won’t ultimately go through with it while he’s starting up a new business, despite “wrestling with the idea” of a campaign.

Regardless of whether Sanford gets in or not, Yellowhammer State Republicans already have a crowded primary to deal with. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington, and a few others are already running, while recently elevated Gov. Kay Ivey may run for a full term too.

• GA-Gov: Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson, who represents the suburban 4th District east of Atlanta, has weighed in on Georgia’s 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary by throwing his support to state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who faces fellow state Rep. Stacey Evans in next year’s contest. For her part, Abrams recently stepped down from her role as state House minority leader to focus on her campaign, but she is not resigning her seat.

• ME-Gov: Former state House Speaker Mark Eves, a Democrat, kicked off his campaign on Thursday for Maine’s open gubernatorial race next year. Eves served as speaker from 2012 to until term limits forced him to retire from the legislature in 2016, and he’ll be seeking to succeed the man who was his arch-nemesis during his time leading the state House: term-limited Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Back in 2015, LePage had sparked a firestorm after threatening to cut off funding for a charter school if it didn’t withdraw its job offer to Eves to serve as its president (Maine legislators only work part-time). Legislators consequently contemplated impeaching LePage over this attempted blackmail, but ultimately backed off, in part because getting a conviction in the Republican-run state Senate would’ve been challenging. Eves filed a civil suit against LePage, but a judge dismissed it last year.

Eves is the latest big name to join the Democratic primary, which recently saw the addition of state Attorney General Janet Mills, while a few other lesser-known Democrats are also in the running. Several more prominent Democratic candidates have previously expressed interest in a campaign, and next year’s primary will be the first in state history to use instant-runoff voting following a 2016 ballot measure (although subsequent legal action likely means that system won’t be used for the general election).

• NM-Gov: Businessman Alan Webber, who took second place in the crowded 2014 Democratic primary for governor, had previously been considering another bid next year. However, he announced on Thursdaythat he won’t run and instead will back Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who appears to be the early frontrunner for Team Blue. However, Lujan Grisham does not have a clear path to the nomination, and she still faces a primary with wealthy state Sen. Joe Cervantes and former Univision executive Jeff Apodaca.

• RI-Gov: State Rep. Patricia Morgan, who leads the Rhode Island GOP’s tiny state House caucus, had previously expressed interest in running for governor next year, and she announced on Thursday that she was forming an exploratory committee while she considers it. A handful of other Republican candidates have mentioned before that they’re also thinking about running against Democratic incumbent Gina Raimondo, including Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who was the GOP’s 2014 nominee.

• TN-Gov: State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, a Republican, had previously said he was considering running for the open governor’s office next year. However, we can probably cross him off the list of potential candidates after Donald Trump nominated him to become a federal district court judge on Thursday—of course, that’s assuming he faces no confirmation problems like fellow Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green, who himself had been running for governor until Trump nominated him for Army secretary, only to see his nomination run aground over his past disparaging remarks against LGBTQ people and Muslims.


• CO-02: Boulder County Democratic Party chairman Mark Williams recently indicated he will take a leave of absence from his county party position while he considers whether to run for House next year to succeed Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, who is running for governor in 2018. Williams, who is also the CEO of a consulting business, says his leave will last through Aug. 31, by which point he’ll have reached a decision on whether to run or not. This Boulder-area seat favored Hillary Clinton 56-35and will likely remain securely blue next year, which has helped entice several other Democrats into running or thinking about doing so.

• MI-11: Fayrouz Saad, who is Detroit’s former director of immigration affairs, kicked off her campaign for the Democratic nomination on Thursdayin Michigan’s 11th District, which includes Detroit’s affluent northwestern suburbs. Saad’s résumé includes working for the Department of Homeland Security and as the district director for a late state legislator from Dearborn. While she has previously organized for Democratic presidential campaigns in Michigan, this is her first time as a candidate herself. The Detroit Newsalso recently reported that state Rep. Tim Greimel is considering running, but there’s no word from Greimel himself.

Saad will first have to get past former Obama administration official Haley Stevens to win the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Rep. Dave Trott here. Trott won his second term 53-40 last year in this heavily gerrymandered seat, which backed Trump 50-45 and Romney 52-47. However, it’s far and away the best-educated of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts, which could give Democrats an opening next year if the brewing backlash against Trump among college-educated voters translates into pain for downballot Republicans.

To advertise in the Morning Digest, please contact