There is a whole lot of fun going on in Annapolis and Maryland politics this week. The General Assembly session started last Wednesday so everybody has been busy.
Governor Martin O’Malley is in a competition with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on who can institute the strongest gun control in the nation. Both men plan on running for president in 2016, and this is seen as the hot topic for liberals right now. The difference is that Governor Cuomo has succeeded in passing a strong anti-gun bill in New York with the help of a Republican controlled Senate. Governor O’Malley will succeed with something on the gun control front (although I’m not sure if he’ll get the finger printing of all gun owners that he wants), but will it be as impressive an accomplishment since his party controls 70% of the legislature?
Governor Martin O’Malley also released his budget for next year. Len Lazarick of the amazing Maryland Reporter website has a breakdown that shows Governor O’Malley’s proposed budget is up 4.3% for next year, and up 30% since he has taken office, despite his repeated claims that he has made reductions in state spending. Lazarick also points out that most of the reductions have actually been transferring costs to the counties.
But the fun side of this week has been the release of the campaign finance reports. This is where we separate the men from the boys on statewide campaigns.
On the Democratic side for Governor all the major players essentially raised the same amount last year, coming in at a strong $1.2 million. Congratulations to Attorney General Doug Gansler, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, it was quite impressive. The difference though, comes in how much money did it cost to raise that money. Anthony Brown’s campaign hemorrhaged cash, spending $417,000 on salaries and fundraising expenses compared to Doug Gansler’s relatively meager $100,000. This leaves Doug Gansler with a Cash on Hand advantage of (the real important number) $5.2 million compared to Anthony Brown’s $1.6 million. Howard County’s Ken Ulman even topped Brown, holding onto a bank account with $2.1 million. A sign of why he dropped out, Peter Franchot only raised (although it’s impressive out of context) $550,000 topped another impressive out of context number of $300,000 from Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur.
On the Republican side things got confusing. Larry Hogan hasn’t raised any money yet for his prospective campaign. Frederick County Commission President Blaine Young showed how strong his fundraising chops are raising $446,000 and having $350,000 cash on hand which totally swamped Harford County’s David Craig who raised half as much and only has $202,000 cash on hand. The part that is confusing though, is that Blaine Young vacillated in his earlier statement that he was not going to run for the new Frederick County Executive position and is now leaving that open, despite being the front runner in the money race. Young could easily win the Frederick County Executive spot with his clear advantage, and be set up for a future congressional race against John Delaney, an option that did not exist prior to November.
Other barn burners is the race for State Attorney General with Delegate Jon Cardin (famous for using a State Police helicopter to propose to his girlfriend) has $169,000 on hand but was blown away by Montgomery County Senator Brian Frosh who raised 3 times as much cash and has $390,000 on hand.
And then on a local Harford County note, the current rumor going around is that State Senator Nancy Jacobs is preparing to move to Cecil County and run for re-election to the Senate, however with redistricting, this would be the seat about to be vacated by Barry Glassman. Delegate Donna Stifler has declared her intentions (twice now) to run for Barry’s seat will be starting with an advantage of more than $40,000 thanks to Jacobs depleting her State account during her run for Congress. Donna also has the advantage due to her current districting representing a larger percentage of the Republican Primary voters in the new 35. It will be interesting to see how this race plays out.
Green Roses says
No celebration of Green Rose Day? I guess the people who would “get it” have largely “moved on.” Too bad, it was one of your best pranks. Perhaps Red, White and Blue roses to celerate his Presidential ambitions?
The Democrat gubernatorial hopefuls strike me as stuck in another election age where you don’t spend a penny until after Labor Day. Their first, and arguably biggest, mistake is assuming that primary voters know who they are, most don’t have a clue. A smart one would run a poll and a few focus groups to weed out what issues primary voters care about and what target primary audience is mos likely to vote for him or her. They could even run a few bio pieces now and put a real emphasis on enhancing regionally-targed name id.
Franchot was foolish to drop out. He’s had some of the best overall news coverage for a statewide elected official outside of O’Malley himself. Gansler is too arrogant and thinks everyone already knows him. No one in the DC market even knows who Ulman is and his focus on sugar may make him the laughing stock of the choices. Brown has a shot if Ulman sticks around and he has the ablity to run to be the first African-American elected at the top of the ticket statewide, not to mention most lobbyists find him to be far friendlier than either Gansler or Ulman. Money may rule the day if it’s used wisely. All of the candidates could gain some valuable perspective reading The Victory Laboratory.
On the Republican side, proximity to Washington is a killer. Other “blue” states routinely consider moderate Republicans for statewide office in the northeast corridor, but Maryland’s experiment seemed to be a voting anamoly more than anything else. With hyperpartisan gridlock in neighboring Washington, it’s hard to see Maryland escaping those clutches again anytime soon. Both major candidates can make the case of effective managers and they are, but if Marylanders cared than there would not have been structural deficits for the last seven odd years.
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