Retirements Tee Up Competitive Democratic Primaries in Maryland and Washington

Democratic retirements will kick off competitive – and expensive – primaries in two states President Joe Biden won by wide margins in 2020.


Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced they would not seek reelection on Monday. Their retirements will kick off competitive – and expensive – Democratic primaries in two states President Joe Biden won by wide margins in 2020.

  • Gov. Inslee, who briefly ran for president in 2020, said he was “ready to pass the torch” after three terms in office. Inslee won reelection by 13 points in 2020, so Democrats would be favored in 2024.
  • Two Democratic statewide elected officials, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, are considering running to succeed Inslee. Republican candidates could include former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier.
  • Sen. Cardin is retiring after serving three terms in the Senate. The Maryland Democrat was first elected in 2006 and easily reelected twice, and Democrats are favored to retain a Senate seat they’ve held since the 1980s.
  • The Democratic field to succeed Cardin could include prominent Trump antagonist Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee who played a prominent role in the impeachment of Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 Committee.
  • Other Democratic contenders include wealthy Rep. David Trone and Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County Executive. Cardin, the chair of the Small Business Committee, said he hoped to spend the remainder of his term working on helping small businesses.
  • A Democratic Congressman from Dallas is set to kick off a Senate campaign in much less friendly conditions for his party. Rep. Collin Allred is planning to announce his campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz as soon as this week, leaving behind a safe Democratic seat in the Dallas suburbs.
  • The brewing Democratic primary fights in Washington and Maryland will play out in the pricy Seattle, Washington DC and Baltimore media markets – not to mention the free-for-all open seat race for Senate in California – will divert money Democrats would’ve preferred to spend elsewhere.
  • Democrats avoided a fourth messy primary fight over the weekend after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez passed on a challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times noted Inslee is the longest-serving current governor and hailed him as a “climate champion.” Inslee gained national attention during the Trump administration by filing a series of lawsuits “challenging policies on its ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, its separation of migrant children from their parents and its unwinding of climate regulations.”
  • In addition to Trone, Raskin, and Alsobrooks, the Washington Post floated at-large Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando and Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. as potential successors to Ben Cardin.
  • According to CNN, Cardin “has a reputation as a low-key lawmaker who worked on the nuts and bolts of legislation. During his time in the Senate, Cardin helped craft the Magnitsky Act, which allowed the US to sanction Russian individuals for human rights abuses.”



  • The Wall Street Journal floated one potential “wild card” candidate in the Maryland Senate race: former GOP Governor Larry Hogan. Hogan hasn’t expressed interest in a Senate bid and winning a federal race in Maryland as a Republican would be a challenge even for the popular former governor.
  • Fox News observed Cardin first ran for office 56 years ago and served in the Maryland General Assembly, as Speaker of the House, and as a U.S. Congressman before he won his Senate seat in 2006.
  • National Review noted Ben Cardin’s accomplishments “include the passage of the Global Magnitsky Act, a bill co-authored with then-Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.), which sought to sanction individuals accused of serious human-rights violations around the world.”

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© Dominic Moore, 2023