Sept. 15, 2015 — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry wound up leading the Republican presidential candidates, but not in the way he planned. Last Friday, Perry became the first contender to suspend his campaign, thus effectively ending his presidential aspirations.
Money was the chief reason for the early exit, as his direct campaign had virtually no resources to keep operating. Ironically, his outside PAC did have the finances, but the non-coordinated effort could not legally keep the Perry mother ship alive.
The former governor may have actually ended his 2016 presidential campaign in July from two years past when he decided not to seek a fifth term as Texas’ chief executive.
Many believed that Perry needed to prove he could win another election in 2014 to somewhat neutralize the disastrous effects of his 2012 presidential effort that imploded in epic dimensions. Additionally, others observed that Perry would have a difficult time raising the necessary millions he would need to compete without being a high-ranking elected official. This prognostication was proven true, as lack of funding is the main reason his campaign never got out of the political starting blocks.
Perry’s departure reduces the Republican field to 16 candidates, which is still a record number. It remains to be seen if others soon follow suit.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s (D) decision last week not to seek re-election as mayor of Baltimore brought renewed attention to the Maryland open US Senate race. Originally viewed as a top contender in the statewide campaign, the Baltimore riots made the mayor change her Senate plans. Obviously, the residual effects also led to poor internal polling that further foretold a re-election loss.
Though representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-Montgomery County) and Donna Edwards (D-Prince Georges County) have been campaigning for months, two others again confirmed that they have not yet ruled out launching their own Senate campaigns.
It is still possible, according to statements over the weekend, that either representatives Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore City) or Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Baltimore County) could still enter the race. Both confirm to still be considering, though Ruppersberger said he would not run if Rep. Cummings decides to enter because he believes the Baltimore vote would be split, thus ensuring that one of the western Maryland candidates would win the campaign.
Rep. Cummings’ political base is Baltimore city, where he enjoys high name ID and very solid favorability ratings. He would also be strong in the African-American community, though Rep. Edwards’ presence in the race would cause him to bleed some of that support to her. He reportedly has qualms about the political setup of the proposed contest, fearing that splitting the African-American vote would throw the race to Van Hollen.
Rep. Ruppersberger could be in an interesting position should he ultimately decide to run. As the only Baltimore area candidate, he would do well in his Baltimore-Harford-Howard Counties district, have a good opportunity to pick up the Democratic vote coming from Republican Rep. Andy Harris’ Eastern Shore CD, and would have strong potential in House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s Western Shore district. He could also do well in the more conservative western panhandle region in and around the city of Frederick. Taking advantage of the split in the western Maryland vote between Van Hollen and Edwards, Ruppersberger could find a way to slip past the two.
Both Cummings and Ruppersberger would be far behind Van Hollen on money, however, thus making a delayed entry more difficult. At the June 30 financial disclosure period, Van Hollen had already amassed a campaign treasury of more than $3.7 million. Ruppersberger had just about $1.2 million in his congressional account; Cummings’ just under $1 million; and Edwards’ only about $500,000.
The Maryland candidate filing deadline occurs in January, so the potential candidates still have a bit of time remaining to make a final decision. The eventual Democratic nominee is the heavy favorite to hold the Maryland Senate seat in the general election. Incumbent Barbara Mikulski (D) is retiring after serving five terms.