The Annapolis Intelligentsia is making a strong push for Governor Larry Hogan to select outgoing Senator David Brinkley to become the new Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and for good reason. Senator Brinkley was first elected to the House in 1994 and then knocked off liberal Republican Senator Tim Ferguson in 2002 to make it to the clubby Senate. Senator Brinkley has spent almost his entire time in the Senate on the Budget & Taxation Committee responsible for crafting the State budget. He has served a few stints in leadership, representing a mindset of working with the Democratic majority to get things done. David Brinkley knows Annapolis and Annapolis knows him.
The budget represents the Governor of Maryland’s primary point of power, and also served as the centerpiece of Larry Hogan’s campaign. The promise of holding the line on taxes and controlling spending clearly resonated with voters for Governor-elect Hogan. He needs to have an experienced and dependable hand leading the DBM so that Hogan can be the change agent he promised to be. Throughout the campaign, every time Anthony Brown tried to steer the conversation towards social issues, or environmental issues, or any other topic; Larry Hogan stayed on message and brought the conversation immediately back to taxes and Maryland’s economy.
When Larry Hogan met with Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch this past week both conversations appeared to revolve around “personnel decisions.” According to someone who could be in the know, David Brinkley came up in conversations with both leaders regarding the spot of heading the DBM.
There is considerable gnashing of teeth among conservatives regarding the idea of Larry Hogan selecting David Brinkley for such an important position. You may have noticed I used the phrase “outgoing Senator” above; this is because freshman Frederick Delegate Michael Hough brought David Brinkley’s long career to an end. The knock-down, drag-out campaign centered on the twenty-year-incumbent’s practice of siding with the Democrats. While many Republicans were voting against O’Malley’s budgets, David Brinkley supported six out of eight of the budgets even while they increased spending to unsustainable levels. Hough used a similar tact as Larry Hogan during the campaign, focusing on Brinkley’s votes for 46 tax increases during his storied career. The results of the election weren’t close: Brinkley lost to Hough 32 percent to 68. After losing to Hough, Brinkley endorsed Democrat Mark Long for Frederick County Council over Republican Kirby Delauter.
Senate President Mike Miller knows he can control David Brinkley, their relationship has been solid for the past several years. Whenever Miller needed a Republican on a high profile committee, he knew he could count on David Brinkley. Whether it was the Oversight Committee to look into Lt. Governor Anthony Brown’s screw up of the Health Benefit Exchange, or the Committee to put all the blame of Deregulation on Governor Bob Ehrlich, the do-nothing Ethics Committee, the powerful AELR Committee, and the spending affordability committee, Mike Miller trusted, and still trusts, David Brinkley.
Annapolis insiders are making the case that a Freshman Senator should not be able to stand in the way of Larry Hogan following through with his campaign promise and putting an experienced hand in charge of the centerpiece of his administration. Besides, the line of thinking goes that Hough will probably vote against all of Hogan’s budgets anyway. Brinkley has a great relationship with incoming senior advisor (possible Chief of Staff) and current Senator Joe Getty. Getty was the Minority Whip in the Senate to Brinkley’s Minority Leader role. Hogan is giving Getty and former Republican-turned-Democrat Senator Bobby Neall a lot of influence in the DBM hiring, and they are likely to advocate for someone who has a similar mindset in government.
The problem with selecting Brinkley is that you can’t Change Maryland with someone who has been responsible for the unchecked growth in Maryland’s budget. Brinkley’s support for 46 different tax increases stands in stark contrast to what Larry Hogan’s name has already become synonymous with. Senator David Brinkley will undoubtedly end up somewhere in a Hogan Administration, but heading up Governor Hogan’s resuscitation of budget sanity is definitely not the right position.