Two Maryland House Reps lost primaries last night

The Potomac primaries featured more than just presidential races. There were also two very important House primaries last night in Maryland, the second state to hold its congressional primaries so far this year (the first was Illinois last week).

In all of the 2006 cycle, only two House members lost their primaries. And that number was matched yesterday in one single night, as two Maryland House representatives -- one Democrat and one Republican -- went down to defeat.

First, Democratic Rep. Wynn lost his primary against Donna Edwards in MD-04, a black-majority district. Edwards had already waged a primary battle in 2006, only to fall short by 3%. Edwards's prevailed by a wide margin (with precincts still outstanding, Edwards is leading 60% to 36%), and it is unusual for incumbents to lose primaries so decisively, particularly since Wynn was a 16-year incumbent.

Wynn was accused by Edwards of being out of step with his liberal constituency and being too cozy with corporate interests and with Republicans. The final days of campaigning seemingly confirmed this charge as Wynn benefited from thousands of dollars of corporate contributions intent on protecting the incumbent. Edwards, on the other hand, relied on strong support from labor (in particular SEIU) and liberal groups, in particular the netroots like DailyKos that had been rallying opposition to Wynn for some year now and that are understandably very happy about yesterday's victory. So this is a very important victory for progressives, a year and a half after Joe Lieberman's primary defeat in Connecticut.

In the first district, Republican congressman Wayne Gilchrest was defeated, in a victory for state Senator Andy Harris and the Club for Growth that had gotten heavily involved on his behalf. Harris won a narrower victory, 41% to 34%, with a third candidate drawing in more than 20% of the vote. Gilchrest represented a very Republican district but was a political moderate, speaking up about environmental concerns and joining Democrats in opposing the war in Iraq. Gilchrest entered the House in 1990, and survived with his views until conservative opposition got organized this time around and managed to defeat him.

Both MD-01 and MD-04 will technically be open in the general election. But both of these districts are strongly anchored in their party, especially MD-04, where Bush only got 21% in 2004. In other words, Edwards and Harris are strongly favored to win in November. (Also keep in mind that both parties held their primaries last night in both districts, so it's not like the DCCC can scramble to find a strong recruit to test Harris now that there is no more incumbent).

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