Newspaper article Roll Call

How Elijah Cummings Could Shake Up Maryland's Senate Race

Newspaper article Roll Call

How Elijah Cummings Could Shake Up Maryland's Senate Race

Article excerpt

Updated: 5:50 p.m. | After months of flirting with the notion of running for Maryland's open Senate seat, it seems that Democratic Rep. Elijah E. Cummings might be ready to take it for a first date.

Next month, according to The Washington Post and confirmed to CQ Roll Call by a Cummings aide, the 10-term representative from Baltimore will hold a fundraiser at Nationals Stadium in Washington when his hometown Orioles are in town.

Admittedly, a fundraiser itself isn't all that interesting. What is noteworthy here is its organizer: Ashley Martens. She is a seasoned Democratic fundraiser who has raised money for Senate candidates before - from Patrick J. Leahy to Mark Warner.

Cummings' decision to hire her shows at least an interest in strengthening his otherwise modest fundraising operation, and, at most, could be a signal that his interest in a statewide run might be growing.

If he were to enter the race, he would join two other Democrats - Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen - who began running earlier this year in a very competitive primary that will likely decide who replaces Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski when she retires at the end of her term.

Here are some of the dynamics in play in what would be one of the most-watched primaries of 2016:

First, a caveat -- Team Cummings says there's nothing to see here: Mike Christianson, a spokesman for Cummings' campaign, downplayed Martens' hire as "routine."

"Congressman Cummings appreciates the interest in his routine fundraising decisions as a Democratic leader," Christianson said. "Although he continues to evaluate how he can best serve the people of Maryland in 2016 and the future, his number one priority in August 2015 is to continue doing all that he can to help Baltimore move forward."

Cummings could gain an early lead simply because of geography: Baltimore is used to being home to Maryland's senators. Both Mikulski and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin claim it as their home. …

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