Category Archives: Governor

Hogan Throws Commerce Secretary Under the Bus

gill with hoganNo longer all smiles between Governor Larry Hogan (center) and Secretary of Commerce Michael Gill (right)

From the Daily Record:

A proposal to create a tax incentive for manufacturers to relocate to Maryland represents a change of course for at least some in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration.

The governor’s announcement earlier this month reverses a position expressed less than a year ago when Michael Gill, Hogan’s recently appointed secretary of what is now the state Department of Commerce, penned a letter urging lawmakers to focus on existing manufacturing in the state.

But late Friday, after The Daily Record posted online a story referencing Gill’s letter, a Hogan spokesman said the governor was unaware of the letter and that it was not authorized.

“It does not represent the views of the governor,” said Douglass Mayer. “The governor has been a long-time supporter of Governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s effort and program in New York.”

In the words of Cool Hand Luke, “what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

I hope to have more assessment of this tax proposal shortly and look forward to hearing from the Governor what he plans to cut in the budget to fund this proposal. Sen. Roger Manno (D-19) had already planned to introduce a similar idea this session.

Changing the State Budget Process?

budgetbooks

Black is the New Orange: Hogan’s Budget is on the Right

Over at the Free Stater, Todd Eberly has a great post that unpacks exactly why governors of Maryland are considered the most powerful in the nation:

According to the constitution of Maryland, the Assembly cannot increase spending in the governor’s budget and it cannot move funds around in an effort to increase funding in one area by reducing it elsewhere. All the Assembly can really do is reduce the amount of spending proposed by the governor.  The Assembly can introduce legislation to provide funding for programs – but only if the legislation identifies a funding source (e.g. raising taxes). Certainly, members of the Assembly can work with Hogan and try to convince him to introduce a supplemental budget that provides more funding for programs they value, but failing that, Hogan’s budget will stand.

Senators Rich Madaleno, Guy Guzzone, and Roger Manno have introduced a constitutional amendment to give the General Assembly more power vis-a-vis the governor. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the amendment that established this system, it seems a good time revisit our choice.

 

Looks Like We Have a Governor’s Race

Though we tend to assume that Maryland is a rollover for the Democrats, and often is, gubernatorial elections have been surprisingly competitive since Gov. William Donald Schaefer, whose goal was to win all the votes rather than only most of them, left the Mansion in 1994.

Gov. Parris Glendening barely beat Del. Ellen Sauerbrey, who earned the sobriquet Ellen Sourgrapes when she refused to concede defeat after seeing her claims of fraud evaporate, in 1994. Glendening won by a more convincing 10% in their 1998 rematch.

Republican Rep. Bob Ehrlich had his revenge on the Democrats for redistricting him out of his congressional seat when he ran for governor in 2002 and beat Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. But Ehrlich, memorably nicknamed “Bobby Haircut” by Marc Fisher of the Washington Post, was a one-term wonder.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley defeated Ehrlich in for reelection in 2006 by over 6 points. Even though it was great year for Democrats, Ehrlich was the only Republican governor to lose. Ehrlich came back for a rematch but it was no “Return of the King.” O’Malley defeated him by an even greater 14%, although 2010 was a terrible year for Democrats.

In short, though the Democrats have dominated gubernatorial contests–Ehrlich was the first GOP governor since Agnew became the accidental governor–Republicans have run good candidates and viable gubernatorial campaigns even as the state has trended inexorably towards the Democrats in virtually all other elections.

Lieutenant Governor has not been a great launching pad for gubernatorial campaigns since the office was created in 1970. Blair Lee III lost the Democratic primary to Harry Hughes in 1978. Melvin Steinberg lost the Democratic primary to Glendening in 1994. Townsend lost the general election in 2002. (Michael Steele has not run for governor but lost his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2006.)

This year, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown hopes to break the curse by becoming the first Lieutenant Governor to become governor since the office was created in 1970. Certainly, Brown won the primary convincingly in the face of serious opposition.

Despite expectations of a relatively easy campaign, Maryland has a real contest this year. Larry Hogan is serious politico if only because he says “I am not a professional politician” despite having been Ehrlich’s appointments secretary and founding “Change Maryland” as a vehicle for his gubernatorial ambitions. (Sidenote: Would you hire a doctor or plumber who put up a shingle proclaiming “I am not a professional” to get your business?)

Another inkling of a real campaign and that the internal polls may be closer than the recent 9 points reported in the Washington Post is that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown felt it necessary to make a startling promise not to raise taxes even as Hogan faces his own problems regarding “error riddled” identification of government waste that he plans to eliminate.

Next up: an examination of the claims and promises of both the Hogan and Brown campaigns.

Hogan Campaign Jumped into the GOP Cul-de-Sac

Despite Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Larry Hogan’s effort to turn attention away from social questions such as same-sex marriage and abortion rights, his campaign is turning out to be the perfect illustration of Republican demographic and policy problems.

The Washington Post recently highlighted Hogan’s call for tax cuts targeted at the elderly:

Speaking at a retirement community along with his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Mr. Hogan said that once he gets spending under control, his administration would “completely eliminate state income taxes for pensions and retirement income.”

As is disappointingly customary for too many Republican candidates, he made no mention of the spending reductions needed to pay for these tax cuts that just happen to be popular with the high-turnout elderly electorate:

We’d like to report that, along with his blockbuster tax cut proposal, Mr. Hogan released detailed projections showing how much revenue it would cost the state and which programs he would target for commensurate spending reductions. But we can’t, because he didn’t.

Hogan’s choices mirror directly the current state of the national Republican coalition, and the surprisingly non-conservative, irresponsible policy cul-de-sac that follows from their imperative to cater to it. David Frum explained it well in a must-read article in Foreign Affairs:

Republicans have come to rely more and more on the votes of the elderly, the most government-dependent segment of the population — a serious complication for a party committed to reducing government. . . .

What boomers mean when they call themselves conservative is that they have begun to demand massive cutbacks to spending programs that do not directly benefit them. Seventy-five percent of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts. Not surprisingly, then, boomers say they want no change at all to the Medicare and Social Security benefits they have begun to qualify for.

Boomers’ conservatism is founded on their apprehension that there’s not enough to go around — and on their conviction that what little resources there are should accrue to them. . . . It might seem paradoxical that people on Medicare, or soon to qualify for it, would oppose a further expansion of the government’s role in health care, but it actually makes perfect sense: boomer conservatives fear that government in the age of Obama will serve somebody else’s interests at the expense of their own.

Republicans have responded to boomers’ fears by reinventing themselves as defenders of the fiscal status quo for older Americans — and only older Americans. . . . [T]he GOP has rejected changes to retirement programs that might in any way impinge on current beneficiaries. The various budget plans Republicans produced in the run-up to the 2012 election all exempted Americans over age 55 from any changes to either Social Security or Medicare.

So Republicans like Hogan have become defenders of the elderly at the expense of other generations. Indeed, Hogan’s proposal is essentially a direct transfer from non-retired people who will get fewer services but still pay the same taxes to the elderly who would pay significantly less tax in Hogan’s imagined Maryland. Not a great deal for most Marylanders.

There is unquestionably an opening for a candidate to argue that Marylanders are too highly taxed and that regulation prone Democrats have stifled economic growth that is vital to employment and our State’s long-term success. But Hogan thus far has yet to make an argument in a remotely realistic or coherent way that suggests a conservative vision or way forward.

Hogan Evolves on Marriage Equality

Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Larry Hogan let it be known first to the Washington Post and then to News Channel 8 that he wants to take marriage equality off the table in this year’s election:

Hogan said on News Talk with Bruce DePuyt on News Channel 8 in response to a question about whether he voted for the state’s same-sex marriage law in a 2012 referendum on it that he was “originally for civil unions.”

“I was a supporter of traditional marriage,” he told DePuyt. “It’s an issue that I fully understand. The voters have made their decision. I support their decision and will uphold the law. I’ve evolved I guess on the issue.”

Hogan said marriage rights for same-sex couples, extending in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants and other social issues “are really decided in Maryland.”

“They have no part in this campaign whatsoever,” he said. “We’ve been completely focused on the issues that all Marylanders are focused on right now, and that’s economic issues.”

A good decision politically–not to mention morally. The social issues like marriage equality are dead losers for Republicans in Maryland. When the focus is on them, they don’t even get a chance to get off the ground. And opinions on marriage have continued to move rapidly in the two years since Marylanders approved it at the ballot box.

(Note: The previous version of this story indicated that Hogan had changed his position after the primary based on recent stories in the press that indicated that Hogan’s position was new. RedMaryland kindly pointed out that I was wrong on this one. While Hogan certainly did not advertise his position, he took his position against fighting the law before the Republican primary. I hate not getting it right as much as the next guy, so have changed the story to be more accurate.)