Perhaps it's a matter of being long-overshadowed by another certain small blue state to the north whose name also begins with the letter "M." But Maryland seldom is recognized for its political cadre.
Which is a shame, really, because the Free State is home to more than its share of colorful characters.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, for instance, rose to a position of influence and power over the nation's purse strings with a powerful post atop an Appropriations subcommittee — and perennially comes up as the state's most popular politician — largely by projecting a persona as as a feisty grandma from "Ballmer," as the city is called in its quirky accent.
A workhorse for decades for Maryland's southern counties, Rep. Steny Hoyer today is House majority leader.
And, although she is derided by her adversaries as a San Francisco liberal, Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually is a daughter of Baltimore — her father and brother both served as respected mayors of Charm City.
Yet for all of that, and more, Maryland's relative obscurity on the national political map likely will consign what here is a slugfest for the governor's office into little more than a literal blip on the screen when it comes time for network Election Night results coverage.
Smart political observers, though, would be wise to pay more attention because whomever wins in Maryland Tuesday night, you likely will see again — running for president, or vice president, in the coming years.
Maryland's 2010 gubernatorial election is a grudge match. Former governor Bob Ehrlich, the state's first Republican chief executive since Spiro Agnew, is fighting for his old job back against the man who defeated him in the 2006 Democratic wave, Gov. Martin O'Malley. Not only is this a political battle royale, it has been often reported how these men just don't like each other at all.
But both men have the potential, and the ambition, to vault from the state capitol to the nation's capital.
In fact, as a former congressman from Baltimore's suburb's, for Ehrlich it would a return trip.
Before his defeat, Ehrlich already was occasionally talked-up for national ambitions as a Republican who could win heavily blue states like Maryland. Ehrlich comes from a blue-collar background, and has much the same everyman affability that first made George W. Bush so appealing a decade ago.