Maryland’s Congressional District 8 is hardly a nail-biter in the run-up to the mid-term election in heavily Democrat-favored Montgomery County, but the District could offer something unique, thanks to the Supreme Court. A corporation is running for office, and they’re doing so with their tongue firmly set in cheek. However, the Maryland Board of Elections have barred Murray Hill Inc. from running for office and they are currently, according to their blog, consulting their legal team.
District 8 is the home of incumbent Chris Van Hollen, 51, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign and Assistant to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Congressman Van Hollen carries a good deal of clout under the current Democratic majority. All of that could be undermined if Republicans manage to reverse House majority positions during this November.
However, Van Hollen’s seat is widely expected to be safe in this liberal district; he won 75.15% to 21.72% against challenger Steve Hudson in 2008. Van Hollen’s press room doesn’t compare current polling, nor can District 8 polling be found as of this writing; he is, instead, focused on the current unemployment benefits bill and the future of the recently passed Wall Street Reform bill.
Still, there are no guarantees in politics. All it takes is a gaffe, a scandal, or a surprise retirement to change the political landscape. Here are Van Hollen’s opponents, both in the September 14th primary and in the November election.
Democrats and Third-Party Candidates
Robert Long of Wheaton is Van Hollen’s only primary challenger, as two other challengers have already dropped out. However, it seems he and Constitution Party candidate Fred Nordhorn of Langley Park haven’t developed an online presence to get out the vote. Nordhorn’s biography was blank even on the Consitution Party of Maryland site at this writing.
Libertarian candidate Mark Grannis, a lawyer and writer from Chevy Chase, has taken a more high-profile approach with the eye-catching “Less We Can” slogan on his campaign site. Grannis appears to be utilizing all the social media tools at his disposal including blogging, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account to get out his message of a return to “individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and the good sense to mind our own business in military matters”.
Meanwhile, four Republicans will be vying for the right to challenge Van Hollen; Michael Lee Philips and Bruce Stern of Rockville, Bill Thomas of Chevy Chase, and Christine Thron from Boyds. All four have started campaigning, and Philips’s site, Stern’s site, and Thron’s site are fairly well-developed. Thomas, a journalist and writer, emphasizes he’s “not a professional politician”, but rather a “concerned citizen” on his campaign site and appears to be taking a low-key approach for the time being. With no photo or political planks, one can volunteer and donate without knowing a great deal about what the candidate has to offer apart from reigning in spending and changing foreign policy.
By contrast, Philips, Stern, and Thron discuss their goals very readily. Philips has a flashy, if busy, campaign site that includes a reader poll, quotes from founding fathers, and his priorities (fiscal responsibility, the economy, jobs, national security, and more). Engagement with his volunteers and supporters would seem to be a high priority as well, as there are at least five social media outlets listed as well as links for contributions and voter information.
Stern focuses on three issues instead, shown directly under his image on the home page; job creation, economic recovery, and government spending. This fiscal-minded approach demonstrates a clear campaign goal which may resonate with both Republicans and independents who’ve been disenchanted by recent big ticket Congressional Democratic victories.
Lastly, Thron takes a folksy approach to campaigning, starting her page off with a platform that introduces her background, her reason for running for office, and lists her campaign goals, which differ slightly from Stern and Philips by mentioning border control and immigration laws.
Maryland State Board of Elections, “2010 Gubernatorial Primary Election”
“Murray Hill for Congress”
“Chris Van Hollen Press Releases”
Wikipedia, “Chris Van Hollen Election History”
Constitution Party of Maryland, “Meet Our Candidates”
“Grannis: Libertarian for Congress”
Bill Thomas for Congress, “About Bill”
“Mike Philips for Congress”
“Bruce Stern for Congress”
“Christine Thron for Congress “