A day after struggling through a debate with Michael Steele and leftist candidate Kevin Zeese, Rep. Benjamin Cardin decided to skip an NAACP sponsored debate in Charles County, Maryland. Debate organizers said they had expected Cardin to appear, though he never made a firm commitment to do so. The Cardin campaign cited a “scheduling conflict.”
Support for Cardin among black Democratic politicians in Maryland has been spotty at best. Kweisi Mfume, whom Cardin defeated in the primary, made one appearance for Cardin, during which he complained that the party isn’t nominating enough African-Americans. Mfume’s son is backing Steele, as are several prominent black Dems. Rep. Albert Wynn, who represents Prince Georges County where Steele hopes to make major in-roads among blacks, apparently taped one ad for Cardin which has never aired.
Cardin appears to lead the race by perhaps five percentage points, but several polls show an unusual amount of undecided voters. In fact, a poll by Voter and Consumer Research (which had Cardin up by less than three points) showed roughly 20 percent of voters to be undecided. I suspect that most white voters have made up their minds, but it may be that a substantial number of black voters remain undecided about whom to vote for and/or whether to vote. Cardin thus faces the difficult decision of whether to duck Steele (even in an NAACP event) or to mix it up with an opponent whom many African-American voters respect and perhaps identify with. Last night he opted for ducking.
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