1986 United States Senate election in Maryland

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United States Senate election in Maryland, 1986

← 1980 November 3, 1986 1992 →
  Barbara Mikulski.jpg Linda Chavez by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Nominee Barbara Mikulski Linda Chavez
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 675,225 437,411
Percentage 60.7% 39.3%

Maryland Senate Election Results by County, 1986.svg
County results
Mikulski:      50–60%      60–70%      80–90%
Chavez:      50-60%      60-70%

U.S. Senator before election

Charles Mathias, Jr.

Elected U.S. Senator

Barbara Mikulski

The 1986 United States Senate election in Maryland was held on November 3, 1986. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Charles Mathias, Jr. decided to retire, instead of seeking a fourth term. Democratic nominee Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski defeated Reagan Administration official Linda Chavez for the open seat.

Democratic primary[edit]



Democratic primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara A. Mikulski 307,876 49.50%
Democratic Michael D. Barnes 195,086 31.37%
Democratic Harry Hughes 88,908 14.30%
Democratic Debra Hanania Freeman 9,350 1.50%
Democratic Edward M. Olszewski 7,877 1.27%
Democratic A. Robert Kaufman 6,505 1.05%
Democratic Boyd E. Sweatt 3,580 0.58%
Democratic Leonard E. Trout, Jr. 2,742 0.44%
Total votes 621,924 100.00%

Republican primary[edit]



Republican primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Linda Chavez 100,888 73.07%
Republican Michael Schaefer 16,902 12.24%
Republican George Haley 5,808 4.21%
Republican Melvin Perkins 2,785 2.02%
Republican Nicholas T. Nonnenmacher 2,751 1.99%
Republican Richard Sullivan 2,328 1.69%
Republican Howard D. Greyber 1,678 1.22%
Republican Monroe Cornish 1,497 1.08%
Republican Herbert Stone Rosenberg 1,337 0.97%
Republican Horace Stuart Rich 1,199 0.87%
Republican Abraham H. Kalish 901 0.65%
Total votes 138,074 100.00%

General election[edit]



Mathias announced his retirement from politics. At the time of this announcement, it was expected that then-Governor Harry Hughes would run for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Mathias. However, Hughes became caught up in the aftermath of the Maryland savings and loan crisis. He lost popularity with voters, opening the door for Mikulski's bid for the Senate.

Chavez won the primary handily, defeating several Republican challengers. Later, she made comments that some Mikulski supporters interpreted as an attempt to draw attention to the issue of Mikulski's sexual orientation. In an article quoting Chavez's claim that Mikulski was a "San Francisco-style, George McGovern, liberal Democrat", the Washington Post reported that Chavez was directly implying that the never-married Mikulski was a lesbian.[citation needed] Chavez was accused of making Mikulski's sexual orientation a central issue of the political campaign. In defending her use of the phrase, Chavez stated the line "San Francisco Democrats" was a reference to Jeane Kirkpatrick's 1984 Republican National Convention "Blame America First" speech, in which Kirkpatrick coined the phrase "San Francisco Liberal."[citation needed]. The phrase "San Francisco liberal" was common at the time.

Mikulski never directly responded to the issue and eventually won the race with 61 percent of the vote.[citation needed] She was the first female Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right (not appointed or filling a seat of a deceased husband).


United States Senate election in Maryland, 1986[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Barbara A. Mikulski 675,225 60.69% +26.85%
Republican Linda Chavez 437,411 39.31% -26.85%
Majority 237,814 21.37% -10.96%
Total votes 1,017,151 100.00%
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Maryland State Board of Elections". Elections.state.md.us. August 17, 2001. Retrieved May 18, 2012.
  2. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/1986election.pdf