An update on local politics in the Old Line State.
We just had a weird senate race in Maryland between two Congress-people from the Washington suburbs, Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards. This got played up as an establishment vs. progressive insurgent race, with the well-connected, Hillary-endorsed Van Hollen as the establishment candidate and Edwards as the radical. But really their voting records are all but identical and Edwards had to work hard to create some kind of difference between them. In the end this only made her seem shrill and angry compared to Van Hollen's cool, and he won easily.
Even more interesting was the race to replace Van Hollen in the House. There were eight candidates in the Democratic primary, one of whom, wine importer David Trone, spent $12 million of his own money on the campaign, apparently the most ever spent in a House primary. He lost to state senator and American University law professor Jamie Raskin, who spent a few hundred thousand.
Maryland's 8th District is stocked with federal workers, government contractors, activists, and other such Beltway folks, giving it one of the best informed electorates in the country. In that environment Trone's spending could not overcome Raskin's popularity with progressives and Democratic party insiders. Not that the money accomplished nothing; Trone certainly got his message out, and he came in second. But he couldn't overcome a skilled, well-positioned politician.
The best antidotes to money in politics are 1) a well-informed electorate and 2) an effective party apparatus.