By Pat Warren

WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The U.S. Senate race takes center stage in Maryland’s 2016 election. Candidates Chris Van Hollen and Kathy Szeliga faced off in a WAMU-FM debate in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

They talked tax code, wages and transportation. But WJZ’s Pat Warren reports, one of the most heated moments centered on the presidential nominees.

The goal was to distinguish themselves.

“I am the only one of us that’s actually lived on minimum wage. When I was 18, I dropped out of college, eloped, married my dear husband, Mark, and I lived on a minimum wage. I was a maid, a waitress, a dishwasher,” said Del. Szeliga.

Republican State Delegate Kathy Szeliga and Democrat Congressman Chris Van Hollen are vying to replace Senator Barbara Mikulski, who is retiring next year.

“And I’m proud to have her support, and her focus is on making sure that hardworking Marylanders get a fair shake,” Van Hollen said. “I’m proud to run on my record. I’ve been working with Marylanders on important issues for many years.”

“I think people in Maryland know this is historic — first time in 30 years that this seat is open, and looking for a woman to fill. I’ve been saying… put a younger, taller Polish girl from Baltimore in the Senate, looking to make sure that women are represented in Washington, D.C.,” said Szeliga.

The candidates consider their race separate from the presidential race, but each supports their party’s nominee, which created a small dust-up on the air Friday.

Szeliga: “I have called our party’s nominee out when he has said things or done things I disagreed with. On the other hand, Chris Van Hollen has never uttered a word about Hillary Clinton’s basket of deplorable comments, her emails.”

Van Hollen: “Let’s just talk about the fact that you are out there supporting somebody who has been dividing the country, saying poisonous things…”

Szeliga: “How about basket of deplorables? That was pretty poisonous.”

Van Hollen: “You know what? And what did Hillary Clinton do the next day?”

Szeliga: “I don’t know what she did. I can just tell you that…”

Van Hollen: “I’ll tell you what she did, because I also, like many people, criticized her for that. And she recognized it.”

Szeliga: “Did you criticize her for that?”

A recent poll gives Van Hollen a 2-to-1 edge, but Szeliga’s campaign disputes that.


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