Barack Obama Sweeps Maryland, Virginia, D.C.

Posted on February 13, 2008

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It was all Barack Obama in the Potomac Primary on Tuesday.

Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. voted in record numbers to endorse Barack Obama’s fast train for change. Unprecedented excitement was in the air. In the enthusiasm of Election Day and the celebration of Election Night, Obama seemed more a celebrity than a politician.

“We have now won East and West, South and North, and across the heartland of this country we love,” Barack Obama said in Madison, Wis., where he was campaigning Tuesday night.

An icy rain fell throughout central Maryland and Virginia in late afternoon, and both states held the polls open late. But the Obama phenomenon is beyond anything as mundane as weather. Obama’s fast train picked up speed as it roared through the Potomac region. As it accelerated out of Maryland last night, pointing west toward Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas, the momentum appeared unstoppable.

Hillary Clinton is certainly not giving up. She hardly acknowledged the results in Potomac-land and the appearance of disarray in her campaign staff. Clinton was campaigning in Texas — her new firewall — yesterday, even as voters were standing in line in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. Compared to the momentum of the Obama fast train, Hillary Clinton at the moment is driving a Volkswagen Microbus.

In Maryland’s Democratic primary election, Barack Obama won a decisive victory. The statewide count as of 6 a.m. Wednesday showed Obama leading in most parts of the state, except Western Maryland and some counties on the Eastern Shore. The statewide totals at 6 a.m., with 92 percent of the Maryland vote counted:

  • Barack Obama, 59 percent, 439,979 votes
  • Hillary Clinton, 37 percent, 273,828 votes

It was Obama, 75 percent, Clinton 23 percent in Baltimore City; Obama 55 percent, Clinton, 43 percent in Montgomery County; Obama, 78 percent, Clinton 21 percent in Prince Georges.

The results in Virginia were similar: Obama, 64 percent, Clinton, 35 percent, with 99 percent of the vote counted. In Washington, D.C., it was a 3-1 landside, Obama 75 percent, Clinton, 24 percent.

The Associated Press delegate count gave Barack Obama the lead for the first time Tuesday night. Obama had 1,210 delegates to 1,188 delegates for Clinton. The majority of the Super Delegates remain uncommitted, and they may decide the nomination.

Among the three jurisdictions voting Tuesday, Maryland was the one most likely to offer Hillary Clinton shelter from the storm. The 3-2 margin in the Maryland popular vote is more significant than the 70 Democratic delegates at stake. Hillary Clinton’s firewall of Democratic women voters was simply not enough to withstand the Obama prairie fire. Some are still talking seriously about the experience factor, but that is overwhelmed by the cheers of Obama’s optimistic supporters. Barack Obama captured the imagination and the hopes of Maryland voters, just as he did in D.C. and Virginia.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s early endorsement of Hillary Clinton proved no more effective in Maryland than Sen. Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama had in Massachusetts. Voters this year are making up their own minds. Or they are being swept along by the enthusiasm for Obama.

Democrats voted with gusto. Many view the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination as a historic event, featuring the first woman making a serious run at the presidency and the first African-American with a real chance of winning. More than 750,000 Democrats voted in Maryland, setting a new Maryland record for a Democratic primary, eclipsing the 1976 record of 596,000 in the Jerry Brown-Jimmy Carter election. Does the voter enthusiasm signal a revival of democracy in America, or is it a temporary phenomenon, charged with energy like a hurricane, but passing quickly?

In the hotly contested Democratic primary election in Maryland’s 4th congressional district, which includes large parts of Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties, Donna Edwards has defeated 16-year veteran Rep. Albert Wynn. At 6 a.m. Thursday, with 76 percent of the vote counted, the results were:

  • Donna Edwards, 60 percent, 52,861 votes
  • Albert Wynn, 35 percent, 30,673 votes

Edwards was winning about 55 percent of the vote in Prince Georges County, and running even stronger in Montgomery County, with about 67 percent of the vote.

The Edwards victory was hardly unexpected. The theme for this election year, after all, is change. But it is always notable when a congressional incumbent is defeated. In a normal year, about 95 percent are reelected. But this year, the voters are deeply unhappy with the American political establishment, and Albert Wynn is a member of the establishment. If there is a take-away message from Wynn’s defeat, it is that 16 years is long enough for any one person to hold power.

In Maryland’s 1st congressional district Republican primary election, State Sen. Andy Harris of Baltimore County was leading with 44 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, 32 percent. State Sen. E.J. Pipkin ran third with 21 percent.

For coverage and commentary on the 4th District, I recommend you to Maryland Politics Watch and to Free State Politics. Click the links on the Blogroll to the right.

For complete coverage of Maryland results, click The Baltimore Sun and Gazette.Net links on the Blogroll. For best coverage of the Virginia and D.C. elections, and the Maryland suburbs, see The Washington Post, hard copy or on-line.

A final note: Yes, this year’s election does seem historic. Bush-Kerry in 2004 and Bush-Gore in 2000 seemed historic too, and I guess they were. But the historic consequences — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — were not what the voters had bargained for.

Barack Obama’s fast train for change appears unstoppable now, but it is not yet inevitable. Remember, Hillary Clinton seemed inevitable not that long ago. Remember, a formidable Republican candidate, John McCain, stands between the Democratic nominee and the White House.

Remember, everything you read today is only the first rough draft of history. — Bernie Hayden

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