Two Dozen Is Enough?

Twenty-four candidates – 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats – were on Tuesday’s U.S. Senate primary ballot in Maryland, tying the mark for the most major party hopefuls for the office in state history. The field equals the record set in 2006 when 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans vied for the open seat left by retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes. Democratic primary voters have had at least 10 candidate choices in two other primaries: 11 in 1974 (won by Barbara Mikulski) and 12 in 1980 (Edward Conroy). Republican voters have had 10+ U.S. Senate candidates in five additional cycles: 11 in 1986 (won by Linda Chavez), a record 15 in 1992 (Alan Keyes), 10 in 1998 (Ross Pierpont), 11 in 2010 (Eric Wargotz), and 10 in 2012 (Daniel Bongino). An average of 16.6 Maryland U.S. Senate candidates have run for the Democratic and Republican nominations over the last 13 cycles since 1980 compared to an average of just 5.9 candidates across the previous 23 cycles since the first contest in 1913. It has been decades since the last time nominees ran unopposed for either party in the state: 1932 for the Democrats (incumbent Millard Tydings) and 1976 for the GOP (incumbent John Glenn Beall, Jr.).

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