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Senator Cardin will not seek reelection

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin Jr. speaks with reporters at the State House in Annapolis on the first day of the 2023 General Assembly session in January. (Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner)
Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner
U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin Jr. speaks with reporters at the State House in Annapolis on the first day of the 2023 General Assembly session in January.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin will not run for reelection when his term ends next year, he announced Monday.

The Baltimore native has held public office for more than 50 years, starting with his election to the Maryland House of Delegates during his last year of law school, in 1966. He went on to become the youngest-ever speaker of the House of Delegates and served 19 years in the U.S. House of Representatives before winning his Senate seat in 2006.

In a video released by his campaign, Cardin said he still has work he plans to do before leaving office.

“We’re not finished yet,” he said. “Baltimore City needs some real attention, and I'm in a position to do some things to help in the healthcare arena.”

Cardin’s retirement creates a rare opening in Maryland’s Senate delegation. The last two Maryland senators to retire, Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes, each served for 30 years.

“This is the announcement I think that every ambitious politician in Maryland were sort of waiting to hear,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College and of the Goucher College Poll. “The step-up from either the House or a county executive seat or some other sort of political position doesn't happen all the time. This opportunity doesn't open all the time.”

The state Democratic party has several rising stars who may be vying for the seat, Kromer said, though it’s too soon to say for certain who will run.

Among the names floated as potential candidates are Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, U.S. Rep. David Trone, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.

In an interview Monday, Olszewski did not rule out the possibility.

“If there's an appropriate opportunity to to elevate, expand, promote the work, to deliver even more for the residents here that I love and have the honor of serving, we would certainly take that under consideration,” he said.

As for whether the seat could flip to Republican control, Kromer said the odds are slim, especially given that registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Maryland about two to one.

“It is really difficult for me to look at the state of the Republican Party and then conclude that they would have the ability right now to make those broad inroads with Democratic voters that would make potentially this seat competitive,” she said.

John Lee contributed reporting.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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