Can Kratovil hold the seat?
Democrat Frank Kratovil isn't due to declare victory for another hour-and-a-half, but it's never too early to look ahead to his re-election bid. He won in a tremendous Democratic year, running as an Eastern Shore moderate against a very conservative Western Shore Republican in a district that by all rights should be safe for the GOP, even though registered Democrats hold a slight numerical edge. Congressmen are usually most vulnerable in their first re-election bid, so who should the GOP put up against him?
The obvious possibility is Andy Harris, the Republican state senator who just barely lost to him this time. Kratovil will have some advantage of incumbency, but anything less than the Democratic tidal wave of this year, and Harris might be the one declaring victory today. The down side for Harris: He'd have to give up his safe seat in the state Senate. If he aims to do that, would he rather try for governor or comptroller? Or maybe Baltimore County Executive?
Sen. E. J. Pipkin is another strong possibility. He's spent loads of his own money to run for Senate and this year for Congress. He's got an advantage in that he's an Eastern Shore guy, and this year's election returns suggest the Eastern Shore is not ready to be represented by someone from this side of the Bay. Downside: Like Harris, he'd have to give up his state Senate seat and might have bigger ambitions.
Bob Ehrlich: He's by far the biggest name being floated out there for this seat. He may not be eager to go back to Congress, especially if the Democrats remain in control there. But he might also see another run for state-wide office as being a stretch at a time when Democrats appear to be spreading their influence beyond the traditional Big Three of Baltimore City, MoCo and PG and into Baltimore, Howard and Charles counties. Last Tuesday's results can't be terribly encouraging to a shrewd vote-counter like the former guv.
If you've got other ideas, pass 'em along...