By Madeline Marshall
Capital News Service
The presidential primary election hits Maryland on Tuesday, and for the first time in a while, it actually matters.
“Probably the last time it was relevant was 35, 40 years ago,” said American University history professor Allan Lichtman, Ph.D., referring to the 1976 primary between Ronald Reagan and then-President Gerald Ford.
Maryland’s primary is exactly three months after the first primary caucus in Iowa. Usually candidates have been selected by the time the primary comes to Maryland, but not this year.
And because of it, Republican presidential hopefuls have showered Maryland with attention over the past two weeks. Mitt Romney, who currently leads the delegate race with 558 supporters, on March 21. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has 133 delegates, on March 27.
And Rep. Ron Paul came to College Park on Wednesday, for a rally in Ritchie Coliseum. Paul currently has 50 delegates.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who has 273 delegates, did not visit Maryland.
Maryland's 37 delegates should impact the race to reach 1,144 to win the nomination, Lichtman said.
There are a total of eight Republican hopefuls on the primary ballot for Tuesday. The candidate who is eventually nominated will challenge President Barack Obama in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
One of Maryland's two Senate seats is also up for grabs this season. Ten Republicans and nine democrats—including incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin. Meanwhile—appear on the primary ballot.
In the 5th Congressional District, Rep. Steny Hoyer is defending his seat against fellow Democrat Cathy Johnson Pendleton, while the field on the Republican side includes three candidates: David Hill, Glenn Morton, and Tony O'Donnell.
Meanwhile, incumbent Rep. Donna Edwards is fending off Democratic challengers Ian Garner and George McDermott in the 4th Congressional District. Republicans in the same district will choose between Randy Gearhart, Greg Holmes, Faith M. Loudon, Charles Shepherd
School board districts 2 and 3 aren't up for reelection this year, but in distrct 4, incumbent Patricia Eubanks is joined in the race by Joseph Kitchen, Dennis Smith, Sandy J. Vaughns, and Micah Watson. The top two vote-getters on Tuesday will move onto the general election in November.
Shannon Hoffman and John Davisson contributed to this report.