Category Archives: mike miller

SEIU Local 500 Endorses “Take a Hike Mike” Candidates

By Adam Pagnucco.

As part of its campaign against Senate President Mike Miller, SEIU Local 500 has endorsed eleven State Senate candidates whom it believes will “change the leadership in the State Senate and, most importantly, change the way things are done in the legislature.”  One of the candidates is Tommi Makila, Miller’s primary election opponent.  The union has previously announced its support for some of these candidates, like Dana Beyer in District 18 and its own member, Aletheia McCaskill, in District 44.  We reprint the union’s press release below.

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For Immediate Release
May 7, 2018
Contact: Christopher Honey
honeyc@seiu500.org,

SEIU Local 500 Endorses eleven “Take a Hike Mike” Candidates
Union is supporting candidates that support new leadership in Annapolis

(Gaithersburg, MD) Today, Service Employees International Union Local 500 announces it has selected its initial eleven candidates across the State of Maryland whom they believe will go to Annapolis and change the leadership in the State Senate and, most importantly, change the way things are done in the legislature.

“We need to elect people who will stand up against the status quo in the State Senate. That is why, today we are announcing our support for a team of Senate candidates who will do what it takes to get the people’s business done” said Merle Cuttitta, President of SEIU Local 500.

“We will be supporting this team of candidates with our trademark boots on the ground, digital, paid mail and earned media. We intend to send the message loud and clear that a vote for these candidates is a vote for progress in Annapolis,” added President Cuttitta.

The following candidates are being endorsed today:

District 10 (Baltimore County) – Rob Johnson

District 11 (Baltimore County) – Sheldon Laskin

District 18 (Montgomery County) – Dr. Dana Beyer

District 23 (Prince Georges County) – Tim Adams

District 25 (Prince Georges County) – Delegate Angela Angel

District 27 (Prince Georges, Calvert and Charles Counties) – Tommi Makila

District 40 (Baltimore City) – Delegate Antonio Hayes

District 41 (Baltimore CIty) Senator Jill Carter

District 43 (Baltimore City) Delegate Mary Washington

District 44 (Baltimore City and County) – Aletheia McCaskill

District 45 (Baltimore City) – Delegate Cory McCray

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Fed-Up SEIU Launches “Take a Hike Mike” Website and Super PAC

By Adam Pagnucco.

SEIU Local 500 launched its anti-Mike Miller campaign on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis today.  Attending the rally in addition to SEIU members were former Delegate Jill Carter, who is running for Senate in the district of the recently resigned Nathaniel Oaks; Sheldon Laskin, who is running for Senate against incumbent Bobby Zirkin; Mila Johns, who is running for Delegate in District 18; and of course Miller’s mortal enemy, Comptroller Peter Franchot.  Daily Record reporter Bryan Sears streamed video of the event on Facebook.  The union announced the launch of a new anti-Miller super PAC and a “Take a Hike Mike” website which we screen shot below.

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SEIU Political Director Calls Miller “Piece of Excrement”

SEIU Local 500 Political Director Mark McLaurin has termed Senate President Mike Miller a “piece of excrement that calls himself the Senate President.” Not in my copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People but it’s one option. McLaurin loves a good feud like few others, so it’s not exactly shocking.

Complaining about the failure of “my bill” is a double-edged sword because it highlights McLaurin’s ineffectiveness as well as Miller’s opposition. After all, he hasn’t been able to find a way to get the bill through the Democratic Senate even as lots of other liberal legislation passed.

Adding the #buckletupbuttercup may prove more controversial as it’s slang for “a sensitive female” and the sort of insult normally associated with the hard right. Mike Miller probably cares less but it doesn’t provide the image I’d want for SEIU as a group that lashes out at people as sensitive or female.

See Adam Pagnucco’s piece from this morning for more information on SEIU’s no holds barred effort to go after Miller.

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SEIU Local 500 Prepares for War on Mike Miller

By Adam Pagnucco.

SEIU Local 500, one of the largest unions in Maryland, has scheduled an event on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis next week at which it intends to announce “plans to bring about the end of Mike Miller’s tenure as President of the Senate.”

SEIU Local 500 had over 8,000 members and a $5.8 million budget in the year ended 9/30/17.  Its biggest categories of membership are MCPS support staff, childcare workers and adjunct professors.  Its endorsement is highly valued by MoCo politicians and it has a respected political program.  As it has grown over the years, it has become more of a statewide organization in contrast to its roots as a MoCo public employees union.  It has had great success organizing adjunct professors and its top state legislative priority in recent years has been a bill allowing community college employees the right to organize.  (Currently, collective bargaining is prohibited at most Maryland community colleges.)  The bill has died several years in a row and most recently was withdrawn by its Senate sponsor, Guy Guzzone (D-13).

The union blames Mike Miller for not only killing this bill but also blocking other progressive legislation over the years.  Two other sore spots for progressives are the General Assembly sexual harassment bill, which passed the House on a 138-0 vote but has not moved in the Senate, and the $15 minimum wage bill, which has not moved in either chamber.  Also, progressives have not forgotten Miller’s support for the Roger Taney statue on the statehouse grounds.  To be fair, other liberal priorities in the past like marriage equality, the abolition of the death penalty, gun control, the DREAM Act and sick leave could not have passed without Miller’s support – or at least his acceptance.

This conflict has been brewing for years but now apparently SEIU Local 500 is ready to call the question.  The union has posted a Facebook event for next Monday titled, “On Sine Die, Miller Time is Up” on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis.  The union wrote, “Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. has served as President of the Maryland State Senate since 1987. His page on the General Assembly website boasts that he is the “Longest Serving Maryland Senate President and Longest Serving President of the Senate in the United States.” His name is on the Senate Office Building. Senate committee chairpersons serve at his pleasure. Because no bill reaches the Senate floor without his approval, Miller obstructs legislation that would benefit the hardest working and suffering Marylanders. Join SEIU Local 500 for the announcement of plans to bring about the end of Mike Miller’s tenure as President of the Senate.”

We don’t know exactly what the union is planning and will find out along with the rest of the world next week.  But in the meantime, it’s worth pondering this advice from famous philosopher Omar Little.  “You come at the king, you best not miss.”

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Who is Getting Money from the NRA?

By Adam Pagnucco.

In the wake of the latest mass school shooting, many are asking about the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is dedicated to blocking virtually all restrictions on firearms.  The NRA has not been particularly successful in Maryland, where one of the nation’s strictest gun control laws was signed by Governor Martin O’Malley five years ago.  But that has not stopped the NRA from trying to influence Maryland politicians by contributing money.

We looked up all contributions to state and local political committees in Maryland from the NRA itself and its PAC, the NRA Political Victory Fund, on the State Board of Elections website.  We identified 49 contributions totaling $22,450 from the 2006 cycle on.  Of that total, $12,300 (55%) went to Democratic committees and $10,150 (45%) went to Republicans.  Fourteen committees received $500 or more and we identify them below.  We also list the last date of contribution from the NRA; bear in mind that some folks on this list have not received NRA money in several years.

All of the above candidates were incumbents except Tim Robinson, who ran as a Republican against Senator Jim Brochin (D-42) in 2014.  Brochin was himself a former recipient of NRA money and is now running for Baltimore County Executive.  Democratic Senators Kathy Klausmeier (D-8) and Jim Mathias (D-38) are facing tough GOP challengers this cycle and have accepted NRA money in the last year.

Ten of the above recipients were in the General Assembly when the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, Governor O’Malley’s landmark gun control law, was passed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  Those voting for the bill included Senators Mike Miller (D-27) and Jim Brochin (D-42).  Those voting no included Senators John Astle (D-30), Ed DeGrange (D-32), George Edwards (R-1), Kathy Klausmeier (D-8), Jim Mathias (D-38), E.J. Pipkin (R-36) and Bryan Simonaire (R-31) and Delegate Tony O’Donnell (R-29C).

Additionally, Astle’s campaign committee actually gave money to the NRA.  In 2006, Astle’s account made a $300 expenditure to the NRA and remarked, “This membership increases Senator Astle’s visibility and allows him to network with potential voters and contributors.”

One more recipient of NRA cash stands out:  Derek Hopkins, the Republican Register of Wills in Harford County, who collected $100 from the NRA in 2010.  Perhaps this is unsurprising since mass proliferation of guns and the writing of wills seem sadly interrelated.

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Miller Causes a Huge Headache for Maryland Democrats

By Adam Pagnucco.

Democrats all over the country have lately been demanding that Confederate statues and other monuments celebrating slavery be taken down.  That extends to Maryland, where Baltimore Mayor Cathy Pugh had four Confederate monuments removed in the middle of the night.  But when Maryland Democrats demanded that an Annapolis statue of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney also be removed, they ran into opposition from arguably the state’s most powerful Democratic politician: Senate President Mike Miller.

Democrats’ objections to Taney are rooted in his authoring of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which held that descendants of Africans imported as slaves into the U.S. could not be American citizens.  In 2015, Governor Larry Hogan defended the Taney statue in Annapolis in the Washington Post.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he is opposed to a change in the state song and likened the effort to calls for removing the statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, author of the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, from the grounds of the State House.

“It’s political correctness run amok,” Hogan said in an interview last week. “Where do we stop? Do we get rid of the George Washington statues out here and take down all the pictures from all the people from the Colonial era that were slave owners? Do we change the name of Washington County, Carroll County and Calvert County?

“You can’t change history, and we’re not going to be able to rewrite history,” Hogan said. “And I don’t think we ought to be changing any of that.”

After Democrats including House Speaker Mike Busch pushed back this week, Hogan changed his mind and agreed to remove the statue.  The Governor was one of three members of the four-member board with jurisdiction over the statue to vote for removal.  But one member of the board objected to the process of deciding the issue by email: Senate President Mike Miller.  In his letter, Miller argued that Taney opposed slavery and “freed his slaves early in his life,” joined an “anti-kidnapping society” to protect free blacks and remained loyal to the Union until his death.  Miller also cited support for the statue from former Baltimore City Delegate Pete Rawlings and a descendant of Dred Scott.  We reprint the letter below.

Whatever one thinks of Miller’s opinion, it’s a big headache for Maryland Democrats.  Much of their strategy to oppose Governor Hogan has been to criticize him for silence in the face of actions by President Donald Trump.  That strategy has affected the behavior of the Governor, who just said that Trump “made a terrible mistake” in his comments on the white supremacist invasion of Charlottesville.  But what of Miller?  If his comments on the Taney statue had come from Hogan, Maryland Democrats would be swarming all over him.  What happens when such sentiments come from one of the most powerful Democrats in the state?

One Democrat who did not blanch from criticizing the Senate President was Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for Governor.  Madaleno wrote on Facebook that Miller “is wrong.”

The rest of the Democrats now have a choice.  They can be intellectually honest and take on one of the leaders of their party.  Or they can ignore Miller and look like hypocrites.

As with Hogan on Trump, silence is not an option.

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Peter Franchot Punches Back at Mike Miller

Comptroller Peter Franchot responded on Facebook to yesterday’s post on Senate President Mike Miller’s sharp criticism:

For the vast majority of my Facebook friends who have better things to do than keep up with the State Circle sandbox, and have asked me what all of this is about, here’s what Senator Miller’s latest attack boils down to. First, I’m an independent voice for the taxpayers of Maryland, who gave me this job that I love and who pay for my salary. I work for you – not for Senator Miller or any other Annapolis party boss.

Second, while I’m a lifelong progressive on social issues, I’m also a fiscal watchdog who is happy to work with responsible leaders from both parties to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent more efficiently, and to hold the line on higher taxes and unsustainable debt. For a backroom partisan like Senator Miller, who must destroy the Republicans at all costs in order to recover his grip on patronage appointments, preserve his grip on the redistricting process and such pursuits, my preference for bipartisan government is an act of heresy that is best snuffed out.

I offer this not in a spirit of anger or resentment of Senator Miller, because he is simply doing what Annapolis bosses do. I offer this simply to provide context to those who might otherwise be inclined to take the Senate President and his comments more seriously than they should. That said, enjoy your Friday and a relaxing weekend!

I’m sure Republicans are enjoying gleefully this intraparty feud. Comptroller Franchot has certainly given back as good as he got yesterday from Senate President Mike Miller. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine this statement will help improve relations with General Assembly Democrats, who wish that Franchot would carry water for them instead of the Governor more often.

A Note on Political Maneuvering

Yesterday, one had to chuckle when when Mike Miller said “I’m not going to name his name.” Though technically true, it self-evident that he was speaking of Peter Franchot. Peter Franchot’s statements that he does not harbor “a spirit of anger or resentment” after a blunt, return attack towards Miller in the name of providing “context” inspire as great an eye roll.

But let’s hold off on labeling either of these people as insincere–or at least more so than the rest of us. The media routinely places politicians in an impossible position. Would anyone be shocked if Peter Franchot felt “anger or resentment” after Mike Miller’s comments? Except Franchot would be criticized as petty if he did not disclaim being so. Yet denying this normal human response looks disingenuous, especially after his scathing critique of Miller.

And people wonder why politicians sometimes look like a pretzel married a robot.

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Miller Touts Raskin, Disses Franchot in One Stroke on Opening Day

The Maryland Senate is just not a safe space for Peter Franchot.

On the opening day of session, many luminaries come before the General Assembly to say hello and give brief remarks. When Senate President Mike Miller introduced Brian Frosh, I’m told he said enthusiastically something along the lines of “Welcome to the Attorney General. He served in this body for many years.” followed by very welcoming applause from his former colleagues.

As Franchot rose to speak, Miller introduced him offhandedly as the “tax collector” to very scattered, tepid applause. However, the chamber gave a resounding round of applause when Miller next reminded the body that Franchot used to represent Sen. Jamie Raskin and touted Raskin as someone who was going to do a terrific job as the next congressman from the Eighth District.

Miller also compared Franchot to Trump in a television interview, so I guess it’s safe to say that they’re no longer BFFs. More dangerous for Franchot is the broader estrangement from the Democratic Party that the moment revealed.

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Mike Miller Compares Peter Franchot to Trump

Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 got quite a first day of session interview from Senate President Mike Miller. After giving a lucid analysis of the sources of the Trump phenomenon and its danger, Miller aimed his fire closer to home:

He [Trump] is like one of our state officials. I’m not going to name his name. He’s a fraud. He was a moderate Democrat who is now transforming himself saying I’m a right-wing tea party conservative to get the vote. That’s nonsense. You’ve got to be true to yourself. He’s not true to himself as are other politicians that we know.

It’s an open secret that the state official who shall not be named is Comptroller Peter Franchot. Miller has been feuding publicly with the Comptroller, attacking him in a scathing public letter. Miller has been critical of Franchot for grandstanding and his now routine support of Gov. Hogan on the Board of Public Works.

Franchot’s evolution has been amazing. When he primaried sitting Comptroller William Donald Schaefer in 2006, he positioned himself as the progressive standard bearer. The Washington Post reported:

Franchot ran an aggressive campaign, trying to link both Schaefer and Owens to Ehrlich and claiming that he was “the only real Democrat in the race.”

So in essence, Miller’s argument is that Franchot has become exactly the portrait he drew of his opponent in 2006. Indeed, Franchot’s reply to Miller’s letter was highly complimentary of the Governor while critical of General Assembly Democrats.

Mike Miller is a centrist Democrat, so one can only imagine how liberals in the General Assembly view Franchot’s actions. I’d say Franchot is headed for uncharted waters except that, based on his own 2006 primary campaign, Franchot should know exactly where the course he is charting heads.

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The Senate President Pans the State of the State

On Governor Hogan and his speech:

I was disappointed. I like him personally. I know his father, I know his family. Maybe he’ll grow into the job. I hope he will. I hope he’ll understand what’s doable and he’ll tell the truth to the people that this is what we can achieve working together. But the responsible thing is to say Governor we can’t do these things until we can afford them. And so it’s going to take adults to tell him that.

On the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the rain tax:

OK, fine. Let’s eliminate the rain tax. Who pays for it? It’s a federal mandate. So guess what. The counties are going to have to pay for it by themselves. The counties are supported by the taxpayers.

On the Governor’s proposal to eliminate personal property taxes:

He says he wants to eliminate the personal property tax. Guess what. That goes to the counties, not the State. One of my counties has got five Republican county commissioners. They’re going to resist that. They need that $3 million in personal property tax to pay for education. Again, it’s campaign promises brought into his State of the State speech—campaign promises that he knows can’t be kept by either himself or the General Assembly until prosperity comes.

Is Maryland in as bad a shape as the Governor describe?

Maryland is in great shape. We have the highest income of any state in the Union. We have the lowest poverty of any state in the Union. We have either the 1, 2, or 3 best schools of any state in the Union. He’s described the State like Arkansas or Alabama or Mississippi. I don’t know what state he’s talking about. This is a great state. We’re very proud of our state. We need just to move forward. We need a governor that wants to work with the General Assembly to move us forward, not backwards.

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