Anne Arundel County could play a pivotal role in the newly aligned 4th Congressional District race, even though no candidate from there has officially entered the race.
So far, the match looks to be between incumbent Rep. Donna Edwards, a Democrat from Fort Washington, and former Prince George's County prosecutor Glenn Ivey. Anne Arundel County Councilman G. James Benoit, who represents Laurel, has formed an exploratory bid.
Two other candidates have filed with the state to be in the Democratic primary April 3: George McDermott, of Forest Heights; and Ian Garner, of Suitland. No Republicans have filed.
The race is a hot one because the district was changed to include part of Anne Arundel County and eliminate a section of Montgomery County to form a new 4th District. Most of Laurel was moved from Rep. Steny Hoyer's 5th District into the 4th District when the Maryland General Assembly approved new district boundaries in a special session last month.
Edwards opposed the changes, especially the plan to remove the section of Montgomery County.
After the redistricting plan was approved, Edwards released a statement saying she looked forward to representing the newly formed district, even though she still disagreed with the outcome.
But at least one political analyst said that conciliatory statement may have come too late.
"The way she went about protesting the lines, she made it sound as if she didn't want to represent the portion of Anne Arundel County she got," Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz said. "And voters may remember that and hold it against her. It's so much an insider game, that it may not have a huge impact when people go to the polls. But, people in Anne Arundel may remember that Donna Edwards wasn't wild about representing them. They may take it out on her come primary day."
Edwards, 53, through her staff, declined to be interviewed for this article.
'An interesting race'
The new 4th District has more potential voters in Prince George's County than Anne Arundel County. Maryland Legislative Services data shows Anne Arundel's voting age population is 135,520 people, compared to Prince George's 407,440 people. In the 2010 Democratic primary, voter turnout in Anne Arundel was 26 percent whereas Prince George's turnout was 24 percent.
However, former Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Stephen Thibodeau said not to overlook the voters there.
"It will be an interesting race," he said. "The message I tell any candidate, in particular running in the Democratic primary, is not to ignore Anne Arundel County. The candidate that doesn't look for votes here does so at their own peril."
The campaign issues for Anne Arundel are likely going to be the economy, the environment and how population growth stemming from military base realignment affects the county, Thibodeau said.
Having an Anne Arundel candidate could make a difference, such as Crownsville resident Benoit, 40, who is still mulling an entry into the primary. The dynamics of the election would change if he enters, he said, because he represents most of the Anne Arundel portion of the district.
"If I'm not (in the primary), it will be sort of the traditional Prince George's County primary," Benoit said, indicating he planned to make a decision in the next week.
If he decides to run, Benoit could have a third-candidate effect on the race, which usually favors the incumbent, said Paul Herrnson, Center for American Politics and Citizenship director at the University of Maryland.
But, Ivey also might be an appealing candidate to voters in the newly added portions of the district because of his law enforcement career, Herrnson said.
Ivey, 50, of Cheverly, still faces the same hurdles as anyone challenging an incumbent. He just started fundraising, so he hasn't reported any donations to the Federal Election Commission. However, he said the goal was to have "an impressive number" by the Dec. 30 reporting deadline. He declined to share how much he has raised.
FEC filings show Edwards has $67,031 cash-on-hand and has raised $231,380 this year.