Barbara Mikulski was a trailblazer for women in politics from Baltimore, so it’s perhaps fitting that the race to replace her on the Democratic side is coming down to those two constituencies. It’s been a back-and-forth race in every sense of the term, with U.S. Rep Donna Edwards deemed the leader by a slim margin couple weeks ago, and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen reported in the lead this week.
In the final sprint through early voting and Tuesday’s primary, there’s been a big emphasis on how women will vote. The New York Times called the race an “identity politics primary,” pointing out that it pitted a white man against a black woman. Both candidates have been vying to show how women support them. Edwards’ campaign appeared to have the early edge with backing from the Emily’s List PAC. In the final days before the primary, Van Hollen has sought to cut into the perception that women were solidly behind Edwards. Last week, his campaign had an event with 100 female African American leaders. This week, he went 10 times bigger with an open letter in the Baltimore Sun from 1,011 female Democrats.
The Washington Post noted last month that Baltimore voters could decide the tight contest, noting that each candidate had more than 100 appearances here. That’s also been on display as it comes down to the wire. Flying somewhat under the radar by Nick Mosby’s decision to drop out of the mayoral race, Edwards touted endorsements from African-American leaders like Billy Murphy, Rev. Jamal Bryan and she also picked up a nod from former NAACP President Ben Jealous. The Sun opted to endorse Van Hollen, saying he would carry on Mikulski’s legacy of bringing federal money to Maryland, if not her outspokenness.
One key player who could tip the scales is not weighing in. Mikulski hasn’t endorsed a candidate.
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