Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Maryland: John Delaney, Roscoe Bartlett Win Primaries

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It would have shocked the Maryland political world six months ago, but businessman John Delaney beat out the state establishment favorite, state Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola, in the Maryland 6th district Democratic primary today, according to the Associated Press.

The seat’s current occupant, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, eased past the GOP primary as well. His closest challenger, state Sen. David Brinkley, came in second place. The tone between the two turned especially nasty in recent days.

The wins are not yet official, but Garagiola already conceded to Delaney.

The Democratic primary was a race between a candidate favored by mapmakers versus a candidate with a massive capacity to self-fund.

Bartlett had a once-safe perch on the district, but both primaries became open season once Maryland lawmakers dramatically redrew the 6th to be a prime pickup for national Democrats. Most Maryland political insiders say the new map was designed to not just take out Bartlett but grease the wheels for Garagiola to take his seat.

But Democrats and a Delaney internal poll had detected a momentum shift from Garagiola to Delaney. Many pointed to endorsements for Delaney in recent weeks from President Bill Clinton, the Washington Post editorial board and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) as tipping points.

Delaney also exhibited a stunning capacity to raise money, even as he did not hesitate to put more than $1 million of his own money into the race.

But Garagiola had backers of his own. They included power brokers in the state House, unions and progressive groups, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Although Bartlett trounced the GOP field, his seat in Congress is in danger. Democrats eliminated conservative areas of his district and added liberal Montgomery County with the intention of flipping the seat, if not this year then in future cycles.

This was not the dynamic Bartlett said he wanted in early February.

“My biggest concern is that Garagiola may not win the primary,” Bartlett said in an interview with Roll Call. “He’s everything my voters don’t want. … I would debate him a hundred times.”

Most state and national Republicans echoed that sentiment.

It is expected that the seat will trend even more Democratic over the next decade. Roll Call Politics rates this race as Leans Democratic.

Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) won his primary as well. He will face Republican nominee and former Secret Service agent Daniel Bongino in the fall.

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