I have just received an coyly worded email from the Maryland GOP that is not quite coy enough to prevent me from concluding that Michael Steele, currently our lieutenant governor, is going to announce next Tuesday that he will seek the Senate seat being vacated when Paul Sarbanes retires in 2006. This is wonderful news for Maryland Republicans, and potentially a great moment for Maryland as well.
Michael Steele is the genuine article: a conservative Catholic African-American, he has lived his whole life in Maryland. He rose up through the ranks of county politics, and at the age of 47 is the highest-ranking black state political office-holder in the country. In 2002, the Ehrlich-Steele ticket took the statehouse away from the Democrats, in this bluest of blue states, largely because the black voters of Baltimore and Prince George's County were so ambivalent and apathetic towards the Democratic nominee, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. In the intervening years Baltimore has continued to suffer under the leadership of the Democrat mayor, Martin O'Malley, while Prince George's has benefitted from the pro-growth state policies of the Ehrlich administration. The time may have finally come when Maryland Republicans can make some inroads with this key voting group, now that there are some concrete accomplishments we can point to.
After the disappointment of the Miers nomination, I needed some cheering up. And this does it -- I'm excited about this prospect.