On the verge of the General Election, Sen. Benjamin Cardin is sitting pretty, as one of the U.S. Senate incumbents with the best chances of re-election.
The longtime lawmaker faces Potomac businessman Rob Sobhani, an Independent, who had channeled his own considerable funds into a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz. A two-time candidate in the Republican Senate primaries, Sobhani has pointed to private investment as the cure for unemployment and promises to attract billions in investments to Maryland. But as other publications have indicated, Sobhani’s ideas aren’t well-developed and undercut his legitimacy as a candidate.
Cardin’s Republican challenger Daniel Bongino is a former Secret Service agent who has branded himself as a maverick. His campaign literature labels him as an “outsider changing government from the outside-in.” Bongino’s anti-government stance and his promise never to raise taxes has earned him the endorsement of persons, such as self-styled maverick, former vice presidential nominee and governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. But the political neophyte’s strident denunciations of Democrats suggest someone who is not an outsider, after all, but a deeply partisan individual who will only add to the polarization that now stifles Congress. In a state like Maryland, which is deep “blue” country, any serious non-Democratic candidate hoping to defeat a Democratic incumbent would have to be a moderate in terms of his or her ideology with a demonstrated ability and willingness to work across the aisle.
That’s one of the qualities that has defined Sen. Cardin’s service in Congress. In his first five years in the Senate, the Democrat often eschewed partisan zeal to work with his Republican colleagues—with Ohio Republican Rob Portman on retirement savings issues and in securing a guaranteed dental benefit included in the reauthorization of CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and the Affordable Care Act.
Unlike his challengers, Cardin is also a substantive candidate with a keen understanding of issues—including those specific to the African-American community. And, throughout his considerably long political career– five terms in the Maryland House of Delegates, 1967-1986 where he also served at the Speak of the House; 10 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987–2006 and one term in the Senate, 2007–present—Cardin has, above all, seemed dedicated to simply doing his job and addressing the needs of his constituents.
Cardin has had a hand in crafting legislation to promote job training, small business, health care and the Chesapeake Bay’s cleanup.
In terms of policies beneficial to the African-American community, Cardin was responsible for elevating the new National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health, he has lobbied for and won increased funding for small, women- and minority-owned businesses and secured the funding for Prince George’s Africa Trade Office. On March 27, Cardin also received Congressional Champion Award from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO)—a consortium of HBCUs—for his push to end deceptive voting practices in elections. Cardin has also been praised for introducing legislation, the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), S. 1670, which would protect minority communities by prohibiting the use of racial profiling by law enforcement officials.
The AFRO’s decision about this endorsement came down to the substantive benefits of having a savvy, solid lawmaker, who is able to work across the aisle. Too many obstructionist lawmakers in Congress have stymied the promise of President Obama’s agenda. To advance progressive and inclusive goals for all American citizens with an enlightened focus on those that benefit the Black and other minority communities, the president needs the kind of unstinting support Cardin provides.
For these and other reasons, we endorse Benjamin Cardin for U.S. Senate.