A Prince George's County state legislator, C. Anthony Muse, announced Thursday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in Maryland this year, challenging Sen. Ben Cardin's bid for a second term.
Muse, an African-American pastor who has served in the Maryland Senate since 2007, said he is running because he feels the country is on the wrong track. "The average person is suffering," he said.
He said he has had no dealings with Cardin, which he said demonstrates that the incumbent has not reached out to local leaders to assess the problems in the state.
"It's OK to have change. It's OK to have new ideas. It's OK to have new people," Muse said in an interview. "It's not taboo to say I'm going to challenge someone. It's not his seat, no more than my Senate seat is my seat."
Muse has been involved in several high-profile debates during his time in Annapolis. In 2010, he backed state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's effort to expand gambling at the Rosecroft racetrack in Fort Washington. Last year, he bucked Democratic leaders by voting against the same-sex marriage bill and the congressional redistricting plan.
Cardin won the 2006 Democratic primary, his first run for Senate, with 44 percent of the vote — finishing 18,588 votes ahead of former congressman and NAACP head Kweisi Mfume. But Mfume, who is black, trounced Cardin in Baltimore and Prince George's County, both of which have majority African-American populations.
So it is no coincidence that on the eve of Muse's announcement, the Cardin campaign released a video in which Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, who is black, endorses Cardin. Cardin "has worked hard to make sure there was access for local and minority businesses," Baker says in the video.
President Barack Obama endorsed Cardin in November.
Muse, a 53-year-old Baltimore native, served one term in the House of Delegates from 1995 to 1999. In 2002 he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Prince George's County executive, losing to Jack Johnson, who was recently sentenced to a seven-year prison term on corruption charges.
Cardin did not address Muse's campaign directly on Thursday. In a statement, he said he would "take nothing for granted as I seek re-election" and that he hoped to make sure that "all Marylanders reap the benefits" of government efforts to kickstart the economy.
Whoever wins the Democratic nomination is likely to have the upper hand heading into the November general election. In 2006, Cardin beat Republican Michael S. Steele 54 percent to 44 percent.
Republican Senate candidate Daniel Bongino said he isn't surprised Cardin is facing a primary challenge, arguing that Cardin hasn't done enough for residents of Baltimore and Prince George's County. "The good citizens of these areas have been left out and deserve a fair shot at the American dream," he said.
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