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Barbara Mikulski
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. asks questions of the panel during a committee hearing Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Md. Democrats discuss aftershocks of election

ANNAPOLIS — Congressional Maryland Democrats met Monday to discuss the political aftershocks of the election that resulted in the party losing control of the U.S. Senate and the Maryland governor’s office.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski convened a two-hour discussion at Maryland Democratic Party headquarters in Annapolis to discuss what went wrong and how to move forward for 2016 elections. Sen. Ben Cardin and the state’s House members attended the meeting. While Rep. John Delaney had a close race in western Maryland against Republican Dan Bongino, all Democratic incumbents were re-elected, maintaining 7-1 advantage for the state’s delegation in the House.

Still, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s loss to Republican Larry Hogan in the governor’s race was a big defeat in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

“We’re going through a period of self-examination,” Mikulski told reporters after the meeting.

She said Democrats will be looking at data to examine “national headwinds that turned into tornadoes,” as well as how to improve voter turnout in Maryland. Overall, turnout was about 45 percent in Maryland.

“We have to make sure we are connecting to people in terms of their day-to-day lives and where they feel the government is on their side and that our agenda reflects that,” Mikulski said. “And where we have, we have to tell the story that we’ve done this and, where they feel that we should be paying more attention, we pay more attention to them, so that’s what we need to be able to do.”

Mikulski, the state’s senior senator, convened the meeting as the titular head of the state party. Generally, the governor assumes that role, but with term-limited Gov. Martin O’Malley leaving office in January, Mikulski called the meeting. She noted that former Sen. Paul Sarbanes took on the role in 2002, when Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost to Robert Ehrlich, who was elected the first Republican governor in 36 years at the time.

Mikulski, who is 78, is up for re-election in 2016. She declined to say Monday whether she planned to run for what would be a sixth term in the Senate.