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Could Mizeur Be the Brat of the Left?

June 11, 2014

Screen shot 2014-06-11 at 5.19.21 PMAs everybody knows, Tea Party-backed candidate Dave Brat beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican Congressional primary in Virgina, marking one of the biggest political upsets in history. (My favorite tweet on the matter, from Mother Jones senior editor Dave Gilson, @daudig: “Brat Upsets Cantor’ is the name of my bar mitzvah memoir.”)

A lot of the bloviation today focuses, as it often has in recent years, on the Republican Party’s rightward drift and the disappearing middle in American politics. This got us thinking about Maryland and our forthcoming primary elections on June 24, particularly the gubernatorial race. Could Del. Heather Mizeur pull the same kind of upset that Brat pulled? There are some interesting parallels between the two races.

Mizeur, like Brat, is a grassroots favorite being vastly outspent by her opponents. Her main rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, like Cantor, is an entrenched politico who often speaks in smooth-toned cliches and soundbites. Most interestingly, the most recent polls in the Maryland race show Mizeur losing badly, but gaining momentum quickly, a similar trend to the polls in the Virginia Congressional race before primary day.

In the Maryland poll, conducted by OpinionWorks for The Baltimore Sun from May 30 to June 3, Brown had the support of 41 percent of voters, followed by 20 percent for Attorney General Doug Gansler and 15 percent for Mizeur, but 24 percent of voters were still undecided. And, as president of OpinionWorks Steve Raabe points out, Mizeur was picking up voters fast:

While Mizeur’s grass-roots campaign continues to run in third place, the poll suggests she has the most momentum, Raabe said. Nearly a quarter of Mizeur’s supporters said they made up their minds to vote for her within the week before the poll was conducted — more than either of the other Democrats’ supporters.

In Virginia, a poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates just days before the primary showed Cantor leading Brat 62 percent to 28 percent—a 34-point lead, as opposed to Brown’s 26-point lead in the Sun poll. Another poll in the Virginia race released on the same day as the McLaughlin poll showed Cantor leading 52-41, just an 11-point lead, but both polls showed a much smaller group of undecided voters than appeared in the Maryland poll, and both were conducted much closer to the primary date.

It would still be a hell of an upset for Mizeur to beat Brown in the Maryland Democratic primary. But her progressive agenda and energetic campaign, detailed in Van Smith’s January cover story “The Quiet Revolution,” have excited Maryland’s grassroots left like no candidate in recent memory. And on the heels of recent progressive victories in the state, including marriage equality, banning the death penalty, and decriminalizing weed, the Democratic base could be motivated to turn out in force for a genuine progressive candidate. And while Brown has the endorsement of Governor Martin O’Malley, who spearheaded many of those victories, his campaign hasn’t seemed to generate much genuine buzz. As so often happens in Maryland’s Democratic machine, he just seems like the establishment candidate whose turn has come up.

Undoubtedly, some Democratic voters were on the fence about supporting Mizeur, thinking she didn’t have a chance, but maybe Brat’s victory will give them a reason to believe she could pull it off.

  • David Gold

    I hope she does. Maryland needs a governor like Heather Mizeur.

  • Cara Coleen

    She’s got my vote! :)

  • Sherry Fackler-Berkowitz

    Had an event in Ellicott City last night and over a hundred people showed up to support Heather. I think after hearing her speak anyone who was undecided has now chosen Heather as their candidate. Heather for Governor!

  • jim

    Brat also had big-time support from crazy, Cato-sponsored radio-talkers like Laura Ingraham (I don’t listen to her, but I’m not a Virginia Republican). Mizeur doesn’t have that or, as far as I know, the near equivalent. She does have Gansler and Brown slagging each other, though.

  • Beth Morgan

    I hope Delegate Heather Mizeur becomes governor. Maryland needs her badly. I’m voting for her. I was registered Green, but I changed my party affiliation to Democrat just so I could vote for her in the Democratic primaries.

    If you’re unfamiliar with Heather Mizeur, go to,,,, and to learn more about this strong, authentic, caring, passionate woman who is more than merely competent or fit to be governor of Maryland. She’s already doing great work as a delegate.

  • Sean Tully

    I’ll be voting for Mizeur. Not so much because I think she will make some great governor but because she is for legalized pot and because she is not Brown or Gansler. I think she showed herself to be a tad bit of a dreamer by her pick for Lt. Gov. Had she picked a pol from Baltimore City she would have gotten more mileage out of it. But, putting that aside, she seems like the best choice.

  • Alexander Mitchell

    Well, first you’d have to change Maryland to an open primary state instead of a closed primary. Then you’d have to have a group of Republican and “Tea Party” voters go in and vote for her along with her fan base, while the rest of the Democrats basically decide the primary is just a formality they don’t have to deal with.

    I mean, there are Democrats that openly admitted that’s what they did in Virginia by voting for Brat in the primary.

  • Harpua13

    She’s got my vote. Not even a question.

  • Harpua13

    Yes, it was the ballot box equivalent of Goating a Facebook page. Oddly, everybody wants to forget that when they cheerlead the reemergence of the Baggers.

  • Jake Stevens

    Yeah, I’m sort of aware of the existence of people who are for Brown or Gansler, but they always seem to sort of slip away under scrutiny.