Mikulski To Formally Announce Re-Election Run This Spring
For the past year, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski has been running a very successful, though unannounced, campaign for re-election in 2010.
She's traveled the state, raised money, hired a campaign manager and stashed away more than $2 million in campaign cash. That isn't a huge pile of money, but it's big enough for now--with no significant opponent in sight and no apparent prospect that one will materialize.
Independent analysts and strategists in both major parties have consistently rated Mikulski a safe bet for re-election, increasingly rare for a Democratic incumbent this year. As noted before, she is more popular in Maryland than any other elected official, including President Barack Obama, who carried the state in a landslide.
Like any politician, she'd prefer that constituents view her as a public servant, rather than as a candidate. Once voters recognize that she's running, it tends to make everything she does look more political.
Mikulski said in an interview Wednesday that she intends to wait a few more months before formally announcing her re-election try. An announcement would be just that: a formality. As far as the Federal Election Commission is concerned, she's already a candidate.
Of course, politicians can tiptoe to the edge and veer away, like Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, who proclaimed himself weary of Washington's partisan wars and announced his retirement this week.
Mikulski, who prizes her reputation as a fighter, won't be taking that route.
She said she will make a "declaration of positive intent" in mid-spring, "when we're beyond both the snow and the melt."
In the meantime, she'll continue to ramp up her re-election effort. She's scheduled a major fundraising event in Maryland on March 15.
The lawmaker from Baltimore, elected to the Senate in 1986 and that body's senior woman, has invited her Democratic female colleagues--a dozen in all--to attend the Ides of March event.
Mikulski, 73, appears fully recovered from a serious ankle injury that limited her mobility for months last year.
That hasn't prevent health-related rumors from circulating, though.
On Monday, shortly after Bayh surprised Democrats by announcing that he was quitting, an obscure right-wing blogger posted a report that Mikulski, too, would be announcing in the next few days that she will step down. The groundless report was picked up by other blogs--including some that clear the very low bar for respectability in this realm--without bothering to check its validity.
"I'm not shy," Mikulski declared, "and I'm not retiring."