Back in Maryland, Garagiola's campaign might be well-suited to pull off a sneaky primary upset. He has spent no money on radio or TV advertising; instead, Garagiola and his outside allies have focused exclusively on selling his progressive legislative record (and calling out Delaney for a donation to GOP Rep. Andy Harris
in 2010) via direct mail and contact with voters. It's an unusual, risky move, but it has the benefit of using Garagiola's dollars only to reach likely Democratic primary voters, not the universe of area residents - some of whom live outside the district, many of whom aren't Democrats - listening to radio and watching TV. "It's a huge expenditure with very little bang for the buck," Garagiola said of Delaney's advertising, which has partially fueled his rise to frontrunner status. "We're focused a little smaller," on likely voters and Garagiola partisans.
Plus, Garagiola has done this successfully before. He spent almost nothing on media advertising in his first state Senate challenge in 2002, and he eked out an 800-vote margin of victory, out of 40,000 votes cast, over an incumbent.
Incidentally, 40,000 is about the same number of votes Garagiola expects to be cast in his the primary this Tuesday, though congressional primaries are larger-scale than state legislative races. But Democratic primary turnout across the country is already unpredictable without a presidential primary to draw voters, and pre-Easter vacations add another x-factor to the race. Delaney's name identification is now higher than Garagiola's, likely due to all those radio and TV ads, but Garagiola's tested boots-on-the-ground strategy could drive more of his supporters to the polls.
Of course, the fact that Delaney has spent a ton of money on advertising doesn't mean he has left other elements of the campaign to wither on the vine. In an interview last week, Schall said Delaney's campaign has made over 200,000 phone calls and made over 100,000 door knocks in speaking to around 40,000 to 50,000 voters. The campaign has also made a major push to secure early voters, whose activity appears to be up this year. It's one of the reasons why Delaney's camp released their polling data; they are confident their field campaign will turn out their voters on primary day.
"We have a very large field program, and we're confident we'll have boots on the streets and fingers on the dial to counter any laziness" from supporters after Delaney's positive poll release, Schall said.
Delaney's surge has given him the upper hand, but a tight race or even a Garagiola win is not out of the question. As the media has approvingly watched Delaney dominate the airwaves, there is a chance that the Garagiola's campaign is not dead, but just resting, like the Norwegian blue parrot from the famous "Monty Python's Flying Circus" sketch
Of course, the parrot really was dead. Perhaps a more fitting cultural reference could be to Dr. Strangelove, and in Maryland's 6th District we can learn to stop worrying and love pre-primary polling.
Maryland's 6th District Democratic race looks like the only consequential primary in the state. The GOP challenge to Bartlett has fizzled: His strongest challenger would likely have been state GOP Chair Alex Mooney
, who was gearing up for a run but decided against it, and the anti-Bartlett vote is going to be divided in a large field. If Bartlett wins, he'll have the opportunity to run in a much more Democratic-leaning district than before: The old 6th was a 41 percent Obama district while the new district is about a 57 percent Obama district.
In the 4th District, Rep. Donna Edwards
's potential strong challenger (Glenn Ivey
) dropped out before the filing deadline, citing fundraising difficulties. Edwards helped push him out by circling the wagons quickly at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012. Interestingly, she may have made herself less safe for 2014 in the process of coasting through this primary; she endorsed Delaney over Garagiola, sparking an angry rebuke from the Maryland AFL-CIO, which said they could reconsider support for her in the future.