The longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski, has announced on Monday that she wasn’t considering re-election after the end of her fifth term. The Senator’s announcement may come as a surprise (and a negative one at that) for some, as the working-class Baltimore daughter was beloved by many. Yet her decision now offers Martin O’Malley the alternative he might be searching for.
For the past year, former Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley had attempted to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 2016 presidential elections. And while today, his endeavors might seem a longshot, a potential Senate campaign might prove the better choice for O’Malley, as he’d start off as the early favorite (as opposed to the underdog in a possible presidential campaign).
O’Malley finds himself in a particularly delicate position, New Hampshire political activist, Dan Calegari notes. After serving on Mikulski’s first Senate campaign in 1986, O’Malley must now decide whether to continue competing against Clinton, who already has a massive network of PACs working on her behalf, or to set his eyes on the Maryland Senate seat.
While announcing her retirement in the Baltimore City waterfront, Mikulski explained that she had always wanted to campaign for the people not for herself. The 78-year-old Democrat was elected to the House back in 1976 and took the Senate seat in 1987.
But apart from former Gov. O’Malley, several other potential candidates may be in the running for the battle over Maryland’sfirst open Senate seat in over 10 years. Donna Edwards, Elijah Cummings, John Delaney, Chris Van Hollen, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger as well as Republican Bob Ehrlich may all have their eyes set on such an important position.
Yet when faced with questions on such a focus change, Lis Smith, O’Malley’s spokeswoman declined to engage in comments, insisting that the day was dedicated to Senator Mikulski’s accomplishments as a Maryland senator and that political speculations should not be engaged in so quickly.
The Senator’s efforts should not be overlooked, as the barely five-feet-tall Democrat has always been a force to be reckoned with. Despite not being one for social pleasantries, Sen. Mikulski gained the respect and devotion of Maryland voters when she fiercely advocated for her constituents. Had she run for a sixth-term, experts say, she would have easily been re-elected.
“She fought for us before we even got here, walked into rooms women had not been welcome in before, and made sure to keep her foot stuck in the door.” Democratic Senator Patty Murray said.
Mikulski wanted to assure her voters that her decision had followed long consideration and that no health issues had motivated her retirement. With this announcement, the Maryland Senator became the second Democratic woman to retire from office in 2015 (after California’s Barbara Boxer).
Heavy competition will now follow her retirement, Andrea Bozek, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman said, noting that a Maryland open Senate seat would surely become one of the top priorities for Republicans. Despite the fact that Maryland voters lean Democratic, Republicans have only to gain from entering the competition and since the election of a Republican governor last fall, odds seem to be favoring Republicans to also compete in the Senate race.
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