Last Tuesday, Daniel Bongino, a thirty-six-year-old former Secret Service agent, announced his intention to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland in 2012, against first-term Sen. Ben Cardin.
Bongino, who is also a former New York City police officer, has long ties to the area and, as a former government employee, can relate to many inhabitants of the state who work for the federal government. However, Maryland is a particularly blue state, which gave incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski 62 percent of the vote and incumbent Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley 56 percent of the vote in 2010, despite the nationwide Republican wave. In 2006, Cardin defeated former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (who went on to gain renown as RNC chair) by 10 points.
Bongino, who served in President Obama’s protective detail, is running as a Republican. “We did nothing wrong, Government FAILED US,” reads his website. In launching his campaign, Bongino breaks the unspoken code among Secret Servicemen to stay out of politics. Those affiliated with the agency reportedly look poorly on former agents who use their association with the official security agency to advance political causes. Since resigning from the Secret Service earlier this year, Bongino has started his own security consulting firm and founded a mixed martial arts company.
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I’m looking forward to rallying Republicans, fiscally concerned Democrats, and Independents behind this campaign.<!-- x -->
Brian Murphy, a former Republican primary candidate for Maryland governor, will serve as chairman on Bongino’s campaign. “I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Daniel over the past few years, and it’s an honor to support him,” said Murphy in a statement released by the Bongino campaign on May 31. “I’m looking forward to rallying Republicans, fiscally concerned Democrats, and Independents behind this campaign.”
The state Republican Party did not look favorably on Murphy’s 2010 primary challenge to former Republican governor, Bob Ehrlich. Murphy says that, in the case of the upcoming Senate campaign, it would be inappropriate for the party to weigh in “pre primary.” Murphy adds that, due to Bongino’s status as an active Secret Service agent, he was unable to field a campaign committee until now and has not taken on any messaging, fundraising, or strategy consultants, though he intends to do so soon.
As for the roughly three-to-one registration advantage enjoyed by Democrats over Republicans in Maryland, Murphy predicts that the state’s voters will be receptive to a message that emphasizes fiscal conservatism and the need to fix what he argues is a malfunctioning system. “They know they were sold a bill of goods by the governing party, which has been the Democratic Party,” says Murphy.
The last Republican to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate was Charles Mathias, who left office in 1987 after three terms. Mathias, who was considered a moderate Republican, nearly lost his party’s nomination in 1980 due to persistent conflicts with the national party.