by Garrett Frisk
Ben Cardin was first elected to the Senate in 2006, but his political career began far earlier than that. In 1966, Cardin won election to the Maryland House of Delegates while still in law school. Since then, he has held office continuously, serving in both houses of Congress. Now, the Democrat faces the tough question of whether or not to seek another six-year term in 2024. At age 79, Cardin is the second-oldest Democrat in the Senate, only behind California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is retiring in 2024. Cardin pledged to make his decision by the end of March, but at least one Republican isn't waiting on him and has already announced his campaign.
Robin Ficker has a long and storied history in Maryland politics. After running two failed campaigns, the first as a Democrat and the second as an independent, Ficker was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates as a Republican in 1978 (ironically, one of his colleagues was none other than Ben Cardin). He built up a reputation as a gadfly who proposed controversial measures to get attention. This earned Ficker the ire of Republicans, who were relieved when he lost re-election to a Democrat in 1982. Ficker promised to retire from public life, but just two years later he broke that pledge with an unsuccessful run for Congress. Over the next four decades he launched a string of losing campaigns, the most recent being his bid for Governor of Maryland in 2022, where he took less than 3% in the Republican primary. He also continued working as an attorney, though he was suspended from practicing law not once but twice and ultimately disbarred in 2022. He is also a prominent sports heckler.
Ficker is now running for U.S. Senate, using the slogan "Hello Robin, Bye Bye Ben." His campaign website can be found here. Ficker previously ran for Senate in 2000, pulling in 15.17% of the vote in a divided Republican primary. It's likely that the Republican establishment will try to find a different candidate, but that might be a difficult task given the stinging losses that Maryland Republicans endured in 2022. National Republicans continue to urge former Governor Larry Hogan to join the race, but he has said time and time again that he's not interested in running for Senate. Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, who was his party's nominee against Ben Cardin in 2006, has also been listed as a potential 2024 candidate. There is also a Green Party candidate in the race, attorney and mortgage broker Moshe Landman. His website can be found here.