The all-but-complete Election Day returns show the Democratic Party, which already enjoyed a thumping majority in the Maryland Senate, appears to have added two Senate seats this year, Mike Dresser reports -- leaving Republican with a mere 12 seats in the 47-member Senate.
The majority party did that by apparently protecting all of its incumbents -- assuming Anne Arundel's John Astle and Southern Maryland's Roy Dyson hold on to narrow but not paper-thin leads -- and seizing two Republican-held seats.
The upset of the night was Democrat Ronald Young's apparent defeat of Frederick County GOP Sen. Alex Mooney, an outspoken social conservative whose district has been changing shades from red to purple. In Young, a former Frederick mayor, the Democrats found a strong match for the district and backed him with heavy spending at the direction of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. The margin in that race is 665 votes, too narrow to count Mooney out but a difficult number to overcome.
Democrat Jim Mathias is also leading Repiblican Michael James for the Eastern Shore open seat vacated by GOP Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus. Mathias, an incumbent delegate and popular former mayor of Ocean City, was perhaps the only Democrat with a shot at this district -- and he made the most of it. The margin in this race is 176 votes, so the GOP has a shot of retaining the seat if absentee and provisional ballots break their way. The state Board of Elections is reporting one precinct out, but it is in Mathias' home county of Worcester.
Perhaps the only consolation for the Republicans is that it would be hard to do much worse in the Senate. The party is down to its rock-solid base, and really has nowhere to go but up. This year, Democratic incumbents did their party the favor of hanging on -- giving them no open seats except in safe districts. It is unlikely they can go through another cycle with no retirements in swing districts.