- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

BALTIMORE — Maryland chose a white anti-war Democrat over a black Republican for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat yesterday, a blow to Republican efforts to recruit black winners in the midterm elections.

Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who made his opposition to the war in Iraq and voter dissatisfaction with President Bush the central themes of his campaign, defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the first black candidate elected statewide in Maryland.

In the governor’s race, Marylanders backed Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, over incumbent Gov. Robert Ehrlich, the Republican, who was trailing 48 to 51 percent with 1,365 of 1,793 precincts reporting.

With 48 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Mr. Cardin had 48 percent of the vote, or 331,924 votes. Mr. Steele had 50 percent, or 348,232 votes.

Mr. Cardin declared victory at his party in Baltimore moments after Mr. Steele said he wasn’t conceding.

“How sweet is it is!” Mr. Cardin told supporters. Later, he told a reporter that “I am very confident that I have won.”

Mr. Steele told supporters at a Bowie hotel that he wasn’t ready to give up on victory. “I’m asking you to hang in there with me tonight,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but I have a whole lot of fight left in me.”

The Republicans had considered Mr. Steele its best shot in the nation at having a black Republican elected statewide. Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell lost yesterday, as did Pennsylvania’s Republican pick for governor, Lynn Swann.

Racial overtones dominated the Maryland race. Mr. Steele and Mr. Cardin battled for support in Prince George’s County, a predominantly black county in the Washington suburbs. Mr. Cardin emphasized his opposition to Mr. Bush and the Republican Congress, and Mr. Steele urged blacks to send him to the Senate to make history as the state’s first black U.S. senator.

Exit polls suggested Mr. Steele made some inroads with black voters, but not enough to beat Mr. Cardin in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 by party registration. The state is about a third black, which had given the Republicans hope that Mr. Steele could break Democrats’ longtime lock on Maryland senators.

“Race was important,” said Bernard Miller, 53, a black Mitchellville resident and a registered Democrat who chose Mr. Steele yesterday. He said he was angry the Democrats didn’t nominate a black candidate for the seat and he wanted the party to “start taking us seriously again.”

A Cardin supporter, Tony Miles, who is black, said Mr. Steele made a strong appeal for blacks to cross parties.

“I think he played the race card pretty well, unfortunately,” said Mr. Miles, an attorney who was at Mr. Cardin’s Baltimore election-night party. But Mr. Miles said that Mr. Cardin’s strong anti-war stance led him support the white Democrat over Mr. Steele, who stopped short of saying the Iraq war was a mistake.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide