Thanks to a one party monopoly in Annapolis, Maryland now has some bizarrely drawn congressional districts. Governor Martin O’Malley’s attempt to redistrict Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett out of his seat, he may have put the neighboring district in play. Democrat Chris Van Hollen is the incumbent in MD-8, but the district that elected him bears little resemblance to the newly O’Malley-mandered district. Van Hollen is facing a challenge from the adroit Ken Timmerman, an investigative reporter and Middle East expert who has a strategy to beat Van Hollen’s financial advantage.
In 2010 the district looked like this:
The old MD-8 was virtually all in Democrat leaning Montgomery County.
The 2012 version of MD-8 looks like this:
Note that in order to peel Republican votes away from Bartlett in neighboring District 6, much of northern (Republican leaning) Frederick County, and a chunk of rural Carroll County are now in District 8. A large portion of Montgomery County has been taken from District 8 and added to District 6.
Of course the Republican areas added to district 8 are more rural and more sparsely populated, so the party distribution remains about 50% Democrat and 50% Republican and Independent.
Here are some key facts to consider though:
- Thousands of registered Democrats signed petitions against legislation legalizing same sex marriage and granting in state tuition to illegal aliens. Republican challenger Ken Timmerman is employing a strategy specifically targeting these registered Democrat “values” voters rather than expending resources on hardcore Democrat voters.
- The new district lines also include some areas with sizable populations of Orthodox Jewish Marylanders. Van Hollen has a reputation for being very two-faced with regard to supporting Israel, while Timmerman has spent a great deal of time in the Middle East as an investigative reporter and activist. He knows the skeletons in Van Hollen’s closet and will exploit them to his advantage.
- Republican turnout will be large because of anti-Obama sentiment and the presence of the exciting Republican Dan Bongino in the Maryland U.S. Senate race against lackluster incumbent Democrat, Ben Cardin.
- Van Hollen was on the bogus “super committee” charged with identifying cuts in the federal budget and declared that any cuts outside the defense department would be “reckless.” There are registered Democrats in Maryland who do understand that Washington has a spending problem and may be swayed to the Republican in 2012.
As of yet, it does not seem that Van Hollen has mounted much of an effort to campaign in the new territory in his district. His campaign web site even has the district map of the old district 8 posted still. Van Hollen appears to be taking his seat for granted.
He obviously has an extreme money advantage over Timmerman but Timmerman has the benefits related to the petition drives and social issues. Timmerman is also a very engaging candidate with an interesting personal narrative. If Timmerman is able to bring in some more campaign cash he will give Van Hollen a tougher race than he has ever faced.
Ken Timmerman lays out some campaign strategy:
Ken Timmerman contrasts himself with Chris Van Hollen on Israel:
There’s a reason why a video of a Dan Bongino stump speech has been gaining so much traction this week. He’s doing what a conservative Senator ought to be doing. He’s educating the electorate on why conservative principles are the right principles.
He’s not telling people that we probably can’t win.
He’s not modifying his message to suit the crowd he happens to be speaking to.
He’s not conceding territory simply because we lost there a couple of times.
He’s not making deals with people who are wrong for America.
He’s not espousing “bi-partisanship” and “compromise” as if they are end goals in and of themselves.
He’s not trying to get votes; he’s working to make converts.
Imagine a Republican party with people like Dan Bongino in the leadership positions.