When well-respected Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes decided to retire from the Senate in 2005, Congressman Ben Cardin, from Maryland’s Third Congressional District jumped into the race for the long-serving Senator’s seat. Unwittingly, Maryland’s Senior Senator’s retirement left open the congressional seat where his son, John Peter Sarbanes lived with his family.
John Sarbanes entered the race late and faced a tough primary fight with seven other candidates. Armed with a successful record of accomplishments as a community activist but without serving in elected office, our job was to demonstrate that John Sarbanes had the kind of values that Maryland needed in Congress.
Without an explicit contrast, we developed a theme that not only highlighted Sarbanes’ strong family ties, but also personified his warmth and dedication to Democratic causes and ideals. John P. Sarbanes won the seven-way primary with 32% of the vote and went on to win the general election 64% to 33%.
In 2008, Congressman Sarbanes secured a decisive victory in Maryland’s Third Congressional District defeating Republican Tom Harris 70% to 30%.