Jan 3, 2022 - News

3 things to watch in DMV politics this year

Illustration of a checkmark over a square changing into a question mark.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Another pandemic election is bringing more uncertainty to campaigning.

Between the lines: Door knocking and back-slapping events are likely to remain less popular through the primaries — no candidate wants to be known for spawning a super spreader.

  • Voters can instead expect even more campaign mailers than usual, strategists say.
  • Campaigns are also eagerly watching how elections officials will approach voting. In D.C., some wonder if the Board of Elections will replicate the 2020 general election for the June 21 primary by sending ballots to each registered voter.
  • “We simply don’t know what the rules will be, and what the atmosphere will be,” said a veteran D.C. political consultant.

What we're watching: Campaigning is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks. Here are three storylines to watch.

  1. Muriel Bowser is seeking a third term as D.C. mayor. If successful, she would become just the second mayor after Marion Barry to be elected three times.
  • In her path in the Democratic primary are council members Robert White and Trayon White (no relation).

2. Maryland will pick a new governor this year because Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is term-limited.

  • There is a wide field of Democrats and Republicans jostling to win their party nomination.
  • Democrats include former national party chair Tom Perez, Prince George’s County executive Rushern Baker, and former attorney general Doug Gansler. Five of the nine declared Dems are people of color, giving the state a chance to elect its first non-white man as governor, Politico recently noted.
  • Republicans include state commerce secretary Kelly Schulz and enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter and state delegate Dan Cox. Former RNC chair Michael Steele opened an exploratory committee last July as he still weighs running.

3. Democrats will be under siege in U.S. House races in Maryland and Virginia, mirroring the outlook for the rest of the nation in the November midterm elections.

  • The suburbs around D.C. have become more solidly Democratic over the past decade, but Republican Glenn Youngkin’s upset win in the Virginia gubernatorial race last November portends a challenging year for Dems.
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