Young Candidate Comes Up Short In Maryland

By John Celock

A young candidate seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Maryland finished third in Tuesday’s primary.

Chrys Kefalas, a 36-year-old former gubernatorial aide, received 9.6 percent in Tuesday’s primary finishing behind state Del. Kathy Szeliga at 36 percent and businessman Chris Chaffee at 13.6 percent. Szeliga will face off against U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski in November.

Kefalas, a Baltimore native, had positioned himself as a moderate leaning Republican during the primary, gaining the endorsement of the Baltimore Sun. Kefalas, who was seeking to become the first openly gay man elected to the Senate, received publicity for being an openly gay Republican candidate, along with engagement to Washington, D.C. morning radio show host Tommy McFly.

Kefalas has positioned himself in a bipartisan fashion, playing up his service as an aide to former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) in Annapolis and as a speechwriter for former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the Obama Administration.

Kefalas was one of the youngest major party U.S. Senate candidates in the country this year and the second to be defeated in a primary election. In March, Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld was defeated in his bid for the Democratic nomination for Ohio’s Senate seat by former Gov. Ted Strickland. Other young Senate candidates include Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, the presumptive Democratic nominee in his state and former U.S. Attorney Connor Eldridge, the presumptive Democratic nominee in Arkansas. In Florida, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy is locked in a battle for the Democratic Senate nomination, while in Colorado former state Rep. Jon Keyser is seeking the GOP Senate nomination.

In Maryland, the entire GOP primary battle was overshadowed by the contentious Democratic battle between Van Hollen and U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, which took up much of the media attention. In addition, competitive Democratic primary battles for Van Hollen and Edwards’ congressional seats in the Washington suburbs dominated the airwaves, taking attention away from the GOP Senate primary.

Szeliga faces an uphill battle against Van Hollen in November, with Republicans not having won a Senate seat in Maryland since 1980. Republicans have been rare statewide victors in Maryland, with Ehrlich and Gov. Larry Hogan (R) being the only Republicans to win the governorship since Spiro Agnew stepped down in 1969 to become vice president.