BREAKING: New Poll: Van Hollen 38, Edwards 36 [UPDATED]

[UPDATE @8:57 am]: Statement from Van Hollen campaign spokeswoman Bridgett Frey:

We’re pleased that Chris Van Hollen has maintained his lead, despite the million dollar blitz of Super PAC advertising. We’re confident that voters are looking for his effective, progressive leadership that gets things done for Maryland families.

Original post follows:

Early this morning, a new Senate race poll from Patrick Gonzales was released showing Chris Van Hollen leading Donna Edwards 38-36 in the Democratic primary to replace Barbara Mikulski. The results are part of a larger poll of all Maryland voters, the poll also showing that Governor Larry Hogan enjoys a 67% job approval rating, the highest in Maryland history for a Republican governor.

Here are the top line results from the Senate poll of Democratic voters:  

Gonzales’ analysis is as follows:

This election could well test the old axiom in politics that claims “message trumps money,” because Chris Van Hollen has plenty of money and the proven ability to craft a compelling enough message, as demonstrated by his success 14 years ago, when he took on the “Kennedy Dynasty” in the Democratic primary for Congress in 2002.

Donna Edwards would wish to replicate her 2008 effort, when she cobbled together a very impressive coalition of influential, progressive groups and community organizations, which translated into broad success on Election Day.

Van Hollen is garnering 60% of the vote in Montgomery County, with 15% still undecided. Edwards has 68% of the vote in Prince George’s County, with 11% undecided.

Van Hollen’s recognition and money advantage have propelled him to a 16 point lead in the Baltimore suburbs, and a 2-to-1 lead (49% to 24%) in the Eastern Shore/Southern MD and Western Maryland rural parts of the state. But, while the Baltimore suburbs, Eastern Shore/Southern MD, and Western Maryland regions comprise 21 of the 23 counties, they make up less than 50 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary.

Edwards is up 50% to 24% in Baltimore City, suggesting resources her campaign has dedicated to messaging in the Baltimore media market are paying dividends there.

There is a bit of gender partiality in play, with Van Hollen leading among men, 45% to 30%, and Edwards ahead with women, 40% to 33%. Come April this will work to Edwards’ advantage because women make up nearly sixty percent of the vote in a Democratic primary in Maryland.

So, as stated earlier in this analysis, Maryland Democrats have two creditable candidates from which to choose. With the reward being to follow into the footsteps of a political legend,

DO:

Van Hollen’s money-advantage and establishment-backing prove dispositive?

Edwards’ grassroots strength and progressive group endorsements carry the day?

The answer to these questions is what campaigns are for and why elections are held.

Bottom Line: Slight edge to Edwards

This poll will be perceived as a positive for Edwards, although it would be even better if she were leading rather than narrowly trailing.

My own sense is that Gonzales’ analysis somewhat overstates the strengths of the Edwards campaign. While we have yet to see the 2015 Q4 fundraising numbers, my belief is that those numbers will not only show Van Hollen with an enormous financial edge, they will show Edwards with so little money as to raise questions about her ability to pay staff and other campaign essentials from now until April 26. As I and others have noted, she is likely to entirely reliant on outside groups such as EMILY’s List for her TV and other media – I don’t see her as likely to be able to afford even direct mail on any significant scale, this being a statewide race. There is no historical precedent in any race of this magnitude – anywhere, not just Maryland – where a candidate wins with such massive reliance on IE spending to win. When all is said and done, this fact is likely to take a heavy toll on Edwards’ performance when the votes are ultimately cast.

Other results from the poll:

Clinton 40, Sanders 27, O’Malley 5. Sanders leads among white voters 43-25, but Clinton leads by 61-6 among black voters, with O’Malley drawing more support (8%) than Sanders.

Trump 32, Cruz 15, Rubio 14, Carson 9, Christie 8, Bush 6. Trump has 41% among men, 22% among women (still leads both)

Maryland Right Track/Wrong Track: 60/22, Democrats 52/28, Republicans 73/14, Unaffiliated 66/15, Male 64/18, Female 57/26, White 64/20, Black 48/30

Glassman: No To Senate Run

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who had been considering a run for the GOP nomination for US Senate, has decided not to run.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a former state lawmaker who briefly flirted with a run for the Republican nomination for Senate, has announced he will forgo a campaign in favor of remaining in his current job.

“I have been flattered by all the folks from around the state — my fellow sheep farmers, friends — who have called or written to urge me to run for Congress or … U.S. Senate,” Glassman said during a state of the county address on Tuesday, according to prepared remarks. “But most of you who know me well, know that I have always dreamed of being county executive since my days as a scrawny farm boy.

“Some dreams are fleeting; others meant to last a while,” he said. “So I guess what I am trying to say is, I am not quite ready for this dream to be over.”

Glassman is a Havre de Grace native elected to his current post in 2014. He captured support from 8 percent of likely GOP voters in a Baltimore Sun-University of Baltimore poll conducted in November, trailing House of Delegates Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, a Baltimore County Republican, and Richard Douglas, a former Pentagon official who ran for the GOP Senate nomination in 2012.

The chief beneficiary of Glassman’s decision appears to be Delegate Kathy Szeliga, who led the field in a November poll commissioned by the Sun with 15 percent, while Glassman, a former state senator, received 8 percent support. Richard Douglas was the only other candidate above 5 percent in the poll. I suspect that much of Glassman’s support will likely end up with Szeliga, a fellow General Assembly Republican.

BREAKING: Sierra Club Endorses Van Hollen [UPDATED]

Third breaking story of the day and it’s only 3:00. John Fritze has the story:

Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for Senate picked up the endorsement Monday of the Sierra Club, the latest nod to the role climate change and the Chesapeake Bay could play in the Democratic primary to replace Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

“We have seen his record for the past decades,” the group’s president, Aaron Mair, said on the shore of the Anacostia River in Bladensburg. “Chris is a climate champion and he has shown that he has the fortitude to craft and pass legislation to combat” climate change.

Donna Edwards didn’t let the moment pass without highlighting a dissenting opinion from within the Sierra Club board.

Shortly before the event began, Van Hollen’s opponent, Rep. Donna Edwards of Prince George’s County, highlighted two Sierra Club members who questioned the group’s decision.

“Donna Edwards is the clear choice for Marylanders concerned about our environment,” Bonnie Bick, political chair of the Southern Maryland group, said in a statement released by the Edwards campaign. “These dangerous trends cannot be reversed unless we choose brave and bold leaders who are committed to a better future.”

In the end, however, another significant endorsement for Van Hollen.

UPDATE: Informed sources advise that the vote for Van Hollen was “overwhelming,” and that Ms. Bick was the only member of the Sierra Club board to dissent from the endorsement.

Cummings Not Going Quietly 

I’d pretty much put the thought out of my mind for good, but like Lucy with the football, Elijah Cummings really, really wants to tempt me back into the conversation. So here you go, but as for me, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) insisted Wednesday that he could still run for the U.S. Senate, with the filing deadline less than a month away.

“I have it circled — believe me,” Cummings said in an interview with Baltimore’s WYPR, referring to the Feb. 3 deadline to file nomination papers in the Democratic primary. Laughing, he added, “My wife reminds me every day.”
Even a very late-moving Cummings candidacy would shake up a race that at the moment features two candidates from the D.C. suburbs.
Polls have consistently shown that Cummings would lead in a race against Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen, both of whom have been campaigning for months to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D). A Baltimore Sun poll conducted after Van Hollen began a major ad blitz in Baltimore found that 40 percent of Democratic primary voters still would choose Cummings. Van Hollen’s congressional district is based in Montgomery County, while Edwards represents Prince George’s County and part of Anne Arundel County.

He’s got 27 days to file, and 98 days – 14 weeks – until early voting starts. How he builds a statewide campaign organization from scratch, pays for it and engages in serious GOTV in that short time is not explained.

Van Hollen On The Floor: “Denying Women Access to Affordable Care is GOP’s Top Priority in 2016”

Here are Chris Van Hollen’s opening remarks on the House floor on the GOP budget reconciliation bill that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Dude has been incredibly busy today cranking out important statements on policy issues.

It may be a new year, Mr. Speaker, but here we go again. We’re in this Congress on the floor of this House for the 62nd time with this effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. And to add insult to injury, to deny millions of women access to health care choices by targeting Planned Parenthood.

So while the calendar has changed, the Tea Party Republican agenda remains the same. Despite all the pressing issues we face in this country at home and abroad, the only thing and the first thing our Republican colleagues decide to bring to the floor of the House – as the most pressing business to start 2016 – was to take away access to affordable care to 22 million Americans and deny access to affordable care for millions of American women.

That 22 million figure, Mr. Speaker – that’s not my figure. That’s the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that has looked at this legislation and concluded that as a result of this bill, 22 million Americans will lose access to their affordable health insurance. So it will be the freedom to be uninsured – the freedom to not have any opportunity to have coverage when your family has health care needs.

Mr. Speaker, if you look at this chart, you can see that the Affordable Care Act has already made a dramatic difference in bringing down the number of uninsured in the United States of America. And yet here we are in a new year, and the first act of this Republican Congress will be to turn back the clock and change that figure.

So I really hope, Mr. Speaker, that our colleagues will begin to focus on more important issues in the days ahead. Everybody knows that this will take about a nanosecond for the President of the United States to veto, because the President of the United States is not going to allow 22 million Americans to lose their access to affordable health insurance. And the President is not going to allow millions of Americans, and millions of American women, to lose access to reproductive choice and a range of health care options here in the United States.

So it’s disturbing, shameful, sad that this is the way we’re starting the new year. I hope we get on to more important business, Mr. Speaker.

Van Hollen Statement On DHS Deportation Raids 

Boy, the Van Hollen press shop is busy churning ’em out today.

The Department of Homeland Security’s renewed effort to deport families and children is the wrong approach that’s causing unthinkable heartache for hardworking immigrant families who fear being separated. When families come to America fleeing for their lives, they should be treated in a manner consistent with our nation’s founding ideals – not like the dangerous felons who should instead be the focus of enforcement. That’s why I’ve been fighting for comprehensive immigration reform, and Congress must act to finally fix our broken immigration system.

Well said, Congressman. There is no excuse for these raids.

Van Hollen On GOP Efforts To Defund Planned Parenthood

Chris Van Hollen has an article on Huffington Post this morning decrying GOP efforts to include a provision defunding Planned Parenthood in the current budget reconciliation bill. Here it is in its entirety.

Today, Republicans in Congress plan to make history. Not for growing the economy or helping the middle class — but for sending a bill to President Obama that will defund women’s health care and hurt millions of Americans.

Defunding Planned Parenthood has been a Republican rallying cry for years. But with both the House and Senate passing the budget reconciliation bill, it will be the first time they send legislation to President Obama’s desk that denies lifesaving health options for millions of women. This is all a part of their dangerous effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take health coverage away from 22 million Americans after 2017 and cause economic hardship for millions of families already struggling to get ahead.

As a statement of principle, defunding Planned Parenthood and dismantling the Affordable Care Act is a crass ideological pitch to the most extreme wing of the Tea Party. As a legislative “accomplishment,” it is an embarrassing and destructive precedent that will mark another low point of this Republican Congress.

Here are the facts: Planned Parenthood is one of the most critical providers of healthcare in this country. Approximately one in five American women has relied on a Planned Parenthood center for care at some point in their lives. It provides communities throughout the nation with quality, affordable health services for both women and men. In my home state of Maryland alone, Planned Parenthood performs about 40,000 STI tests, 4,400 breast health exams, and 4,500 HIV tests every year, and 1,800 men are seen for reproductive health visits. People who are already struggling to make ends meet would be disproportionately harmed if Planned Parenthood lost their federal funding.

Republicans are ignoring these important facts while attempting to invent their own. They are conducting a taxpayer-funded witch hunt — the ‘Select Committee to Attack Women’s Health’ — despite what three different House Committees have already proved: there is no evidence to substantiate claims of illegal activity by Planned Parenthood. And despite Republican fear-mongering, Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from using federal funds for abortions in accordance with the Hyde amendment.

President Obama will ensure this bill fails to become law with his veto pen. But Republicans will succeed in letting the country know that the ideological whims of the extreme right are more important than the health and well-being of millions of Americans — a twisted definition of success that speaks volumes about the priorities of this Republican Congress.

Van Hollen’s press office advises that he will be managing floor debate on the GOP budget reconciliation bill this afternoon at around 3:30. Time to fire up the C-SPAN machine, perhaps?

Edwards’ Struggles With Fundraising

The Post’s Rachel Weiner has an interesting story today about Donna Edwards and her persistent struggles with fundraising in the Senate race.

Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D) wants to make history as the first black female senator from Maryland. But she is struggling to find the money to compete with her primary rival, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, whose connections with donors in the state and nationwide have helped him build a formidable war chest.

By the end of September, Van Hollen, whose congressional district is based in Montgomery County, had $4.1 million in the bank. Edwards, who represents Prince George’s County and part of Anne Arundel County, had $368,500. The next round of financial disclosures are due Jan. 31.

Van Hollen has spent nearly $1 million since October on television advertising in Baltimore, where he and Edwards are not well known. But with less than four months to go until the April 26 primary, Edwards has not aired a single commercial. Campaign finance records suggest that she is struggling to pay staff salaries and come up with money for other basics in her quest to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D).

“It’s an enormous problem for her,” said Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. “She can’t finance as many ads as Van Hollen can . . . [and] he got [to Baltimore] first. She’s going to have trouble catching up.”

The challenge, according to those who know Edwards, is that during her years in Congress, she has positioned herself as an outsider, bucking the establishment and spending relatively little time building a donor base.

That’s true as far as it goes, but being an outsider and being a good fundraiser aren’t in any way as mutually exclusive as the article suggests. Alan Grayson of Florida, surely as much of an establishment-bucking maverick as Edwards, has raised nearly $19 million since 2005. Edwards, on the other hand, has raised far less, approximately $5.4 million, over the same period.

It will be interesting to see how the Q4 fundraising reports look. If Edwards doesn’t do better, regardless of what Chris Van Hollen does or doesn’t do, the viability of her campaign to pay staff – forget about ads and mail – will be called into question.

Edwards Endorsed By NWPC

Donna Edwards has received the endorsement of the National Women’s Political Caucus, reports John Fritze in the Sun.

A national women’s group endorsed Rep. Donna Edwards’ campaign for Senate on Tuesday as the two Democratic candidates are working to appeal to female voters.

The National Women’s Political Caucus said in a statement that Edwards, of Prince George’s County, has an “impeccable record on women’s rights and a strong track record for effective leadership.”
The group is the latest national women’s organization to back Edwards. Her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County, has by contrast received the backing of several prominent female lawmakers in the state.
It’s unlikely the NWPC is in a position to have a significant impact on the race: The group, founded in 1971, spent less than $1,000 on campaigns across the nation in the 2014 cycle. In a brief interview, the group’s president said it has chapters throughout the nation, and that it requests that its members donate directly to the candidates they support.

More Van Hollen Endorsements

Four members of the Baltimore County Council endorsed Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for US Senate Monday, reports the Sun.

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen on Monday picked up endorsements from four Baltimore County officials in his bid to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

County Council members Vicki Almond, Cathy Bevins, Julian Jones and Tom Quirk — all Democrats— offered their support to Van Hollen during an event in Towson.
Van Hollen is competing with Rep. Donna F. Edwards for the Democratic nomination in the race to replace Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who is retiring. Van Hollen is from Montgomery County and Edwards hails from Prince George’s County.
“I think he’s not only a leader for the state, I think he’s a leader nationally,” Quirk said of Van Hollen. Almond praised Van Hollen’s work on education issues, while Bevins said she thinks he is the best choice to help bring more jobs to the region.