Category Archives: House of Delegates

The Most Vulnerable Republicans in the House of Delegates

Today, we take a peek at the two most vulnerable Republicans in the House of Delegates. Parts I and II in this series already outlined the safe Democratic and safe Republican seats.

Robert Flanagan

Robert Flanagan is the most vulnerable Republican in the House of Delegates. Representing District 9B in Howard County, Flanagan beat Democrat Tom Coale with 55% of the vote in 2014. Flanagan ran behind Larry Hogan, who beat Anthony Brown in the gubernatorial race by 16 points.

The district shifted back heavily to the Democrats in 2016 as Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by 19%. If a backlash wave against Trump upsets Republican boats in the General Assembly, this is one of the first places that will be hit, as it holds many of the precise sorts of voters who tend to be ticked off by Trump’s antics.

Flanagan has $18,268 in his campaign kitty according to the report he filed in January. In this wealthy county, he is likely going to want to raise a lot more before the campaign. Howard’s trend toward the Democrats stalled in 2014 but Flanagan still goes into the 2018 elections with a big target on his back.

Herb McMillan

Del. Herb McMillan is one of those politicians who has been on the ballot for many years but always has close, and sometimes losing, races. He won the third slot the House from District 30 in 2002 by just 427 votes over his Democratic opponent. McMillan ran for the Senate in 2006 and lost with 47% against Sen. John Astle.

He must have been happy to win a return ticket to the House of Delegates in 2010. But his vote share, the equivalent of 51% in a single-member district, hardly discouraged challengers. Redistricting placed him in District 30B, a subdistrict that he shares with Democratic Speaker Mike Busch.

Undoubtedly, Busch hoped that the voters would send McMillan home from the redrawn district. However, in the same year that Hogan won the seat by 18%, McMillan surprised and came in ahead of Busch with the equivalent of 56% of the vote.

Despite coming off of his best race ever, McMillan remains at risk. Like Flanagan, McMillan represents a seat that Hillary Clinton won convincingly. Though Anne Arundel County split nearly evenly, Clinton won this portion by 15 points.

McMillan is more prepared than Flanagan with a $66,817 in his campaign treasury–good evidence that he is ready to run a tough race for this or the Senate. Even if Hogan does well, there will be no anti-Democratic backlash to aid McMillan this time as a highly controversial Republican sits in the White House.

Either way, Democrats will want to recruit strong candidates here and in Flanagan’s district to bring the fight to them in the hopes of padding their majorities or offsetting losses elsewhere.

2018 Maryland House of Delegates Ratings, Part I

While we await the Governor’s State of the State Address, 7S announces its first ratings for the 2018 elections to the Maryland House of Delegates. The House has 141 members–three times as many as the Senate. (See Senate Ratings Part I and Part II for ratings for the other body.)

Due to the much greater number of delegates, I focus only on safe Democratic seats today. Turns out that’s a majority of them.

Districts and Method of Election

All legislative districts elect three delegates and one senator. In most, the three delegates run at-large but others are divided into two (A and B) or three (A, B and C) subdistricts for delegate elections. Some, such as D37 on the Eastern Shore, are split in two to comply with protections for minority representation under the Voting Rights.

In other cases, districts are split to provide small counties the chance to elect one delegate. The division of D1 into three parts enables Garrett to elect a delegate and for Allegany to have one subdistrict entirely within its borders.

Political Geography

Each of the two major parties dominates large swaths of the State, resulting in a large number of safe districts. Let’s start with the Democrats, who by my estimation start of with 74 safe seats–three more than required for a majority.

All of these districts were won by Anthony Brown in 2014 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. Democrats have no worries about any seats in Baltimore City (Districts 40-41, 43, 44A, 45-6), Charles (28), Montgomery (14-20, 39), and Prince George’s (21-6, 27A, 47). These four jurisdictions alone get the Democrats to 65 seats.

Democrats are also sure to carry D37A, the sole African-American majority district on the Eastern Shore. For similar reasons, Democrats are a lock in D10 and D44B in Baltimore County. Along with D13, a liberal swath of Howard Country, that gives the them another six seats to get them up to 74.

Note that many of the current occupants of these may run for other offices or retire. In Montgomery, Dels. Luedtke, Platt, Carr, Waldstreicher, Kramer and Barkley may run for county office. Dels. Frick and Kelly have also expressed interest in running for other offices should the opportunity arise. There is also speculation that Dels. Gutierrez and Hixson may retire.

As in the Senate, the question is not whether Democrats will win a majority but if they can retain their ability to override vetoes should Governor Hogan win reelection.

Part II will look at safe Republican seats..

 

More Evidence Trump Tactics at Heart of Maryland GOP as Vogt Fires Fraudster Aide

As 7S reported previously, Trumpian tactics of flat out lies followed by more flat out lies are evident at the heart of the Maryland Republican Party. More scandal related to this approach to politics emerged yesterday:

A legislative aide to a Frederick County lawmaker was fired after he was revealed Wednesday in a New York Times article to be the mastermind behind a fake political news website.

Cameron Harris, an aide to Delegate David E. Vogt III, R-District 4, previously ran the website ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, according to the Times.

The website published fabricated articles about things like thousands of ballots pre-marked to vote for Hillary Clinton in an Ohio warehouse, complete with photos stolen from other sources.

I guess the ChristianTimesNewspaper lied about the character of a woman and voter fraud in Jesus’s name. Harris also worked for Change Annapolis, an organization aligned with Gov. Hogan’s Change Maryland.

Del. Vogt’s initial reaction to the scandal’s revelation seems appropriate at first glance. He fired Harris and declared that he could not support such “dishonesty.” How we handle mistakes says much about our leaders and this was a good response.

At the same time, Harris’s statement that he did most of his work at a local Starbucks and Vogt did not know stretches credulity. Harris was not only Vogt’s chief aide, he lived in Vogt’s home until November 2016. While Harris managed Vogt’s failed congressional campaign, he created another defunct trickster website called delaneyforgovernor2018.com.

Harris issued a classic non-apology apology. This man who willfully misled people under the guise of religiosity wrote:

I apologize to those disappointed by my actions, and my wish is that I will be allowed to contribute my informed experience to a larger dialogue about how Americans approach the media, tough issues, and the manner in which we, collectively, will inform our decisions going forward.

Rather than taking real responsibility and saying it was wrong, Harris shifts the problem to “those disappointed.” If he really wants to “contribute,” he could start by owning his mistake and acknowledging that he is the problem, not the solution.

Such a statement makes it even harder to accept the claim by Harris, a serial liar, that Vogt knew nothing about Harris’s activities. It means that Vogt had no inkling that someone who he saw at work and lived in his house was undertaking dishonest activity that resembles that done on behalf of his own campaign and is a central thread of his character and work.

For now, I’ll give this ex-marine the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t look ideal–and appearances matter in politics–but that’s not the same as it happened. And Vogt’s response, at least once the information went public, was the right one.

Just don’t ask me to give much credence to Vogt’s claims in future on national security or other issues. Not only did Del. Vogt support Trump, a man who seems ready to align our foreign policy with the authoritarian leader of a declining mid-rate power opposed to the U.S., but he failed in assessing character–or the total lack of it–in his own office.

New House of Delegates Leadership

After many years of leadership, and ruling her committee with an iron hand, Del. Sheila Hixson has stepped down as Chair of the Ways and Committee. Del. Anne Kaiser (D-14, Montgomery) is the new chair, and Del. Bill Frick (D-16, Montgomery) replaces Kaiser as the new majority leader.

All are excellent decisions. It’s gracious of Del. Hixson, after her lengthy and effective leadership as chair, to step down at this time and allow new leadership to emerge in a chamber that has seen mostly the same people at the helm for many years.

Del. Kaiser is an obvious choice to grow into her shoes. She has steadily moved up the leadership rungs in the House, and with good reason. The incoming chair combines smarts with savvy strategy with the latter being even more important than the former in an inherently political process. She also knows how to be a team player to get work done in a large legislative body.

Similarly, Del. Frick is a fine selection as majority leader. Another of the bright lights in the Montgomery delegation, Frick has pushed for new ideas, such as liquor decontrol, that are needed to move the County and the State forward. This appointment suggests that Frick is back on track after his abortive run for attorney general.

Finally, all of this reflects well on Speaker Busch. It’s not easy to facilitate transitions of this sort, especially when the outgoing chair is long-time trusted member of your leadership team. Kudos to the Speaker for these good decisions. Now, if he would just replace Judiciary Chair Joe Vallario, who has stood in the way of progress on too many issues, the House would really feel a fresh breeze.

House Overrides Governor on Marriott/Hotel Accommodations

The Maryland House joined the Senate by promptly voting to override the Governor’s veto of Rich Madaleno’s bill that requires the same tax rate levied on hotel rooms sold by third-party hotel bookers as by the hotels themselves. This bill is a major step toward keeping Marriott in Maryland and Montgomery County.

As explained in previous posts, Hogan vetoed the bill out of fear of looking like he was supporting a tax increase. Bizarrely, this meant that the Governor favored forcing business located in Maryland who bring business and employment to the State to pay more taxes than out-of-state hotel bookers. The latter pocketed the savings and did not pass it on to consumers.

Here is the roll-call vote. All Democrats voted to override except Del. Eric Bromwell (D-Baltimore County) and Del. Ned Carey (D-Anne Arundel).

Marriott House

Override Wednesday

felonvotingrightsRoll-Call Board. Photo by Del. Maricé Morales

Restoration of Ex-Felon Voting Rights

Earlier today, the House of Delegates overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of Cory McCray’s bill to restore ex-felon voting rights by a vote of 85 to 56–the exact number of votes needed to achieve the 60% needed to override a gubernatorial veto.

Based on my quick scan of the board, six Democrats voted with the Governor: Del. Eric Bromwell (D-8, Baltimore County), Del. Ned Carey (D-31A, Anne Arundel), Del. Mark Chang (D-32, Anne Arundel), Del. Ted Sophocleus (D-32, Anne Arundel), Del. Mary Ann Lisanti (D-34A, Harford), and Del. C.T. Wilson (D-28, Charles). Wilson was the only member of the Legislative Black Caucus to oppose overriding the Governor’s veto.

One Republican, Del. Glen Glass (R-34A, Harford), voted with the Democrats.

Anne Arundel Capital Spending

The House also comfortably overrode the Governor’s petty veto of capital spending supported by Speaker Michael Busch for the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Anne Arundel County by 92-49. Here is the Baltimore Sun‘s report on how the members of the Anne Arundel delegation voted:

House Speaker Mike Busch and Dels. Pam Beidle, Ben Barnes, Herb McMillan, Ned Carey, Barbara Frush and Joseline Pena-Melnyk voted in favor of the override.

Dels. Nic Kipke, Tony McConkey, Ted Sophocleus, Seth Howard, Meagan Simonaire, Mark Chang, Sid Saab and Michael Malone voted against.

Republican Del. Herb McMillan (R-30A), who represents the same district as Speaker Busch, supported the override. Democratic Dels. Mark Chang (D-32) and Ted Sophocleus (D-32) voted to uphold the Governor’s veto.

UPDATE: I am told that Dels. Chang and Sophocleus changed their votes verbally after the recorded vote on this bill. As a result, no Anne Arundel Democrats voted against the Speaker in the final official vote count.

Delegate Protective Order

 

Freshman Delegate Jay Jalisi (D-10) is getting an unusual level of media attention for all the wrong reasons:

A freshman Baltimore County state delegate agreed Monday to a yearlong protective order barring him from contact with his teenage daughter, and later in the day lost his seat on a committee that deals with domestic violence issues.

The 18-year-old daughter of Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi had alleged in court papers that her father slapped her during an argument last month. She sought a protective order against him that was granted by District Judge Sally Chester in Towson.

Baltimore County police were called to the family’s Lutherville home after the argument. No criminal charges were filed.

The order prohibits Jalisi from going into the house where his daughter, son and wife live, though he is allowed to drive to the house to pick up his son. Jalisi also must stay away from the local college his daughter attends.

Former Del. Luiz Simmons, who lost the Democratic primary for Senate to now Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17) in an election in which domestic violence was an issue, served as Jalisi’s legal representative.  The video at the top of this post shows Simmons arguing that Jalisi’s position on the Judiciary Committee that deals with domestic violence issues should be unaffected.

Wisely, Speaker Michael Busch thought differently and moved Jalisi to the Environment and Transportation Committee.

Even prior to this incident, Jalisi had been developing a poor reputation in the House of Delegates. A surprise winner in the Democratic primary, it will probably be less of a shock when he is not in the House in 2019–or sooner.

In the television interview, Jalisi characterized his failure to challenge the protective order as allowing an adult child to make a choice–like it’s akin to the first time she rode a bike without training wheels. However, it’s hard to imagine a politician just starting out consenting to a protective order unless he thought that the publicity resulting from challenging it would be even worse.

Del. Jalisi thinks it’s all good:

“It doesn’t affect my position,” Jalisi said. “There was no finding of fact. … I was not declared as convicted of anything.”

Obviously, he has never heard of the Court of Public Opinion.

 

 

Del. Al Carr’s Address to the House on MLK Day

mlkI heard that Del. Carr’s speech was very well received and thought that I would post it here. You can also listen to his speech here (starts at 3:19).

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Good evening distinguished colleagues and guests

Before I begin, Please give a warm welcome to my family.

My wife Barrie and my sons Miles, Toby and Oliver and our friend Doris are in the gallery.

It is a dream come true for me to be able to serve in this chamber with all of you and to represent my constituents.

I want to acknowledge all of the friends, family, and supporters over the years who helped me achieve my dream.

We are going honor Dr. King tonight by listening to him in his own words and song.

This past summer while sifting through family possessions visiting my mother in Ohio, I stumbled on a cassette tape.

My late grandmother Dorothy Douglass had served as the assistant principal at Addison Junior High School in Cleveland.

I had heard that she had met Dr. King and recorded his remarks on the occasion when he visited her school and spoke to the assembled 7th, 8th and 9th grade students.

I had been told that she sent the original tape to the King Center archives in Atlanta. But I did not know that she had kept a copy.

I made a Facebook posting about my finding this 50-year old time capsule. My friend, audio engineer Brian Whitney told me “Don’t play it! Bring it to me!” And I thank him for digitizing, preserving and enhancing the sound quality of the tape.

No recording of this event is available on the internet. The only places it has been heard is at a few small gatherings of people where I have shared it.

I learned that this school assembly on October 22, 1964 was Dr. King’s very first public appearance after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Lyndon B. Johnson had been sworn in as president less than a year ago and was on the ballot in the presidential election set for twelve days later.

Dr. King and LBJ had partnered on the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 which had been signed into law just a few months earlier.

King’s role in Ohio was that of a barnstorming campaigner working to get out the vote in the largest swing state to ensure their continued partnership.

Events a few months later including those in Selma, Alabama culminated in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

King would return to Cleveland the following year to help elect Carl Stokes, the first African American Mayor of a large US City.

To better understand why my grandmother prized the recording you should know a little bit about her life.

Geraldine Dorothy Gordon was born in 1911 to George and his wife Mary. George was an African American who grew up near Hagerstown. Mary was white, a Canadian immigrant of Scottish descent.

dorothyAs an interracial family, they were part of the black community. Their marriage was legal in Ohio but not in many states including George’s home state of Maryland.

Dorothy was the first person in our family to earn a college education. At Kent State University during the Great Depression, she and the other black students were excluded from living on campus because of their race.

After earning a degree in education, she found work as an elevator operator until landing a substitute teaching gig.

Teachers in the Cleveland Public Schools were not allowed to be married, so her career was interrupted when she wed my grandfather Carl Douglass, an African American entrepreneur.

She resumed her career after my grandfather’s passing, and went on to become a distinguished educator serving as a teacher, counselor and assistant principal.

The highlight of Dorothy’s career was her work as an administrator of a Ford Foundation program and Project Manager of Transitions helping seventh grade students labeled as troubled. Her peers were amazed at the results she achieved when the students’ performance exceeded that of eighth and ninth graders.

As her grandchildren, my sisters and I benefited from Dorothy’s high expectations and her willingness to give her time, her presence and her encouragement. But her generosity extended to many other lives that she touched.

Dorothy saved the recording of Dr. King because she knew it was historic and educational, and she wanted it to be shared.

Let’s listen.

Dr. King speaks for about ten minutes and the assembly ends with a sing along led by his colleague, future Atlanta Mayor and UN Ambassador Andy Young.

And if you are so moved, please feel free to sing along.

Thank you.

Delegates Who Sought Other Offices

Fifteen Democratic delegates sought a range of other offices; only five were successful:

Tom Hucker, Elected to Montgomery County Council
Susan Lee, Elected to Senate
Veronica Turner, Defeated in Primary for Senate
Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, Elected to Senate
Jolene Ivey, Defeated in Primary for Lt. Governor
Melony Griffith, Defeated in Primary for Senate
Guy Guzzone, Elected to Senate
Heather Mizeur, Defeated in Primary for Governor
Aisha Braveboy, Defeated in Primary for Attorney General
Jon Cardin, Defeated in Primary for Attorney General
Luiz Simmons, Defeated in Primary for Senate
Peter Murphy, Elected Charles County Commission President
Johnny Olszewski, Defeated in General for Senate
Mary-Dulany James, Defeated in General for Senate
Doyle Niemann, Defeated in Primary for PG County Council

Five of eight Republican delegates who ran for higher office were successful in 2014:

Addie Eckardt, Elected to Senate
Steven Schuh, Elected Anne Arundel County Executive
Wade Kach, Elected to Baltimore County Council
Michael Hough, Elected to Senate
Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Defeated in Primary for Lt. Governor
Ron George, Defeated in Primary for Governor
Gail Bates, Elected to Senate
Mike McDermott, Defeated in General for Senate

If I am missing anyone, please let me know. Thanks to those who sent in corrections–the post has been updated.

Who are the Most Progressive Members of the House of Delegates?

HouseOld

Blue Indicates Reelected Delegate

The above table contains a list of the 84, or 60 percent, most progressive delegates going into the 2014 elections, according to Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty’s measure of state legislator ideology. Remember that the lower the score (i.e. the more negative or left on the number line), the more progressive the legislator.

Interpreting the Scores

Two key caveats need to be remembered when interpreting the table. First, two legislators–David Fraser-Hidalgo and Steven Arentz–were appointed too recently to have scores and are not included. (Unlike for the Senate, scores are also unavailable for newly elected legislators; most new senators were former delegates.)

Second, the the tradition of the House is that legislators vote with their committee on the key second reading of bills that have emerged from their committee. The basic rationale is that legislators should not have a second bite at the apple and go along with the results of their committee. Adherence to this tradition would alter a legislator’s score if they would have otherwise voted differently.

As a rough cut, the top four deciles, or 40% of the House, are all solid progressives or liberals (pick your favorite) on most issues. The fifth and sixth deciles, who formed the middle 20% ideologically of the old House, were more center left with legislators becoming more moderate as the scores get closer to zero.

Departure of Moderate Democrats

Liberalism appears somewhat related to the likelihood that a legislator from the old House will return in the new one. Consider that 11, or 26%, of the 42 most progressive legislators (i.e. the top three deciles) will not return in 2015. But among the 42 next most progressive legislators (i.e. the fourth through sixth deciles), 17, or 40%, will not serve in the new House.

(The numbers indicate the same conclusion if one divides the two groups between the third and fourth deciles. In the top four deciles, 29% of the 56 won’t return, as compared to 43% of the 28 delegates in the fifth and sixth most progressive deciles.)

The 13 most moderate Democrats are not shown in the table. Perhaps most tellingly, 8 or 62% of them will not be coming back. And none left because they moved to the Senate. As detailed in Friday’s post, many lost reelection to Republicans in the “Massacre of the Moderates.”

The Speaker and His Caucus

Notice that Speaker Michael Busch was slightly left of center in his old caucus (remember 13 Democrats are not in the tables). He seems likely to be slightly right of the center in his new caucus, as more moderates were defeated. Moreover, it seems quite possible that newly elected legislators will be more left wing than the delegates who preceded them in office.

The Most Progressive Returning Legislators

Interestingly, the three most progressive returning legislators according to the Shor-McCarty measure sat in the Senate: (1) Rich Madaleno, (2) Paul Pinsky, and (3) Roger Manno. However, the next two were members of the House: (4) Susan Lee, and (5) Bonnie Cullison, though Lee is moving from the House to the Senate when the new General Assembly convenes.