Barbara Mikulski Will Not Run For Re-Election In 2016
Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in Congressional history, has announced that she will not seek re-election in 2016:
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who has served in Congress longer than any woman in history, announced at a news conference Monday that she will retire from the Senate after five terms in office, three people familiar with her plans said.
Mikulski, 78, was the first woman to chair the powerful Appropriations Committe, a post she had to give up this year when the Democrats lost control of the Senate. A social worker turned politician, she has been a forceful presence on many pieces of legislation, passionately liberal on certain issues but also committed to working closely with Republicans.
The Baltimore native represented Maryland in Congress for 10 years, starting in 1977. She was first elected to the Senate in 1986. She began her career as an elected official on the Baltimore City Council, where she spent five years before coming to Congress.
Given Milkuski’s age, the announcement isn’t entirely unexpected and, as The Washington Post goes on to note, it could open up something of a free-for-all among Maryland Democrats looking to step up:
The retirement has the potential to reshape both Maryland politics and internal congressional leadership. Several of the seven Maryland Democrats in Congress will likely take a look at the race, including Reps. Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings, Donna Edwards, John Delaney and possibly Rep. John Sarbanes, whose father also served in the Senate.
Many in Maryland and on Capitol Hill have long viewed Van Hollen, a former aide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who lives in Montgomery County, as a likely candidate for Senate once Mikulski stepped aside. In the last six years, however, Van Hollen has become an increasingly loyal understudy of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has at times considered retiring herself. That means a Van Hollen bid for the Senate could also scramble the eventual race to replace Pelosi.
The Senate seat could also be tempting for former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D), who is weighing a 2016 presidential bid that has yet to get any traction. Other names being talked about on the Democratic side include Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a former Montgomery County Council member and state-level Cabinet secretary; and former Montgomery County delegate Heather Mizeur, a progressive who performed better than expected in last year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.
There are a number of potential Republican names as well, including Congressman Andy Harris, former Governor Bob Ehrlich, and Dan Boningo, who has run for office unsuccessfully in the state several times in recent years. In all honesty, though, this is likely a safe Democratic seat. While Republicans may draw hope from the November 2014 victory of Governor Larry Hogan, a definite surprise, Maryland has been reliably Democratic in Presidential election years since 1984 and that seems unlikely to change in 2016. It’s also worth noting that the Obama/Biden ticket got twice as many votes in Maryland in 2012 as Larry Hogan did in 2014. So is it possible that Maryland could be in contention in 2016? In the sense that anything is possible, yes it is. It just isn’t very likely. Barring some major change, Maryland will remain a solid blue state in 2016.