Category Archives: General Assembly

2018 Maryland House of Delegates Ratings, Part II

Continuing from yesterday’s list of safe Democratic seats in the House of Delegates, today’s post looks at safe Republican seats. All were carried by Trump in 2016 and Hogan in 2014. At 31% of the House, the 44 safe seats fall well short of being able to sustain a veto by a Republican governor.

Western Maryland

As with the Democrats, Republicans dominate certain regions of the state to their electoral benefit. They have nine safe seats in Western Maryland, a region with Republican loyalties dating back to the Civil War, like in much of Appalachia.

One delegate district (1A) centered on Garrett is arguably the safest GOP turf in the state. Portions of Allegany and Washington Counties used to be hotly contested with Democratic Speaker Cas Taylor hailing from Cumberland. Those days are over, as districts 1B, 1C, 2A, and 2B hold five more safe Republican seats.

Unlike the other Frederick County district,  District 4 is very safe Republican territory. It excludes the City of Frederick along with the southwestern portion of the County most oriented towards Washington, and can be depended up to elect three GOP delegates.

Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland

Save for the sole African-American majority subdistrict, the Eastern Shore is now solidly Republican. The districts east of the Bay (35A, 36, 37B, 38A, 38B, 38C) will reliably send nine Republicans to the House of Delegates in 2018.

Excluding heavily Democratic Charles County, Southern Maryland is now a great area for Republicans. Districts 27C, 29A, 29B and 29C centered on Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties are good territory for their four Republican delegates.

Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties

Carroll and Harford provide another trove of Republican seats with 5 (Carroll), 7 (Baltimore County and Harford), 34B (Harford), 35B (Cecil and Harford) electing nine more Republicans. District 42B, which takes in much of northern Baltimore County, has also been safe Republican turf for two more delegates.

Dundalk District 6 in Baltimore County is relatively new to electing Republicans. Before 2014, it sent three Democrats to the House of Delegates. Now, Republicans seem well ensconced in this working class white district at all level of government.

Anne Arundel and Howard Counties

Anne Arundel is a hotly divided county in many elections, such as the 2016 presidential and the 2012 referendum on marriage equality. However, several of its districts tilt heavily Republican–30B, 31B, 33–and will safely elect six Republicans in 2018.

As a whole, Howard tends to list increasingly Democratic. But District 9A, located in the more Republican western part of Howard with a bit of very Republican Carroll County added in for good measure, reliably elects two Republican delegates.

Conclusion

Bringing it all together, there are 44 solidly Republican seats:

Western Maryland: 9
Eastern Shore: 9
Southern Maryland: 4
Baltimore and Harford: 11
Carroll: 3
Howard (and Carroll): 2
Anne Arundel: 6

 

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2018 Maryland Senate Ratings, Part II

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Part I discussed ratings for safe and toss-up seats in the Maryland Senate. Today, 7S focuses on the six Lean and Likely Democratic districts.  All are currently held by incumbent Democrats.

Lean Democratic

District 3 (Frederick County). Sen. Ron Young had a real scare in 2014, winning just 50.8% of the vote after defeating incumbent Alex Mooney with 51.1% in 2010. Mooney has since fled to West Virginia where he is now a U.S. Representative.

This part of Frederick has been trending Democratic. Clinton carried D3 by 8. Hogan won by 15, a good margin but less impressive than in several districts held by Democrats in Anne Arundel and Baltimore. As this district has the best Democratic territory in Frederick, Young ought to be able to win a third term.

But Frederick has been hotly contested between the two parties of late and this former Frederick Mayor has sometimes been a controversial figure. My current expectations remain for the GOP to have another go at Young but fall short, though they will force Democrats to scramble to retain the seat.

Likely Democratic

See the map at the bottom of the post for the locations of the five Likely Democratic districts.

District 8 (Baltimore County). Sen. Kathy Klausmeier won an impressive victory in 2014. Though her district went for Hogan by 36 points, she not only won but took 61.2% of the vote. In 2016, Hogan’s impressive margin evaporated as Trump carried D8 by seven-tenths of one percent.

This is an interesting district because, though the incumbent has demonstrated popularity, it remains marginal turf. If Republicans want to make gains, they will have to look here, even if Klausmeier is clearly no easy mark. The district could become competitive with the right Republican candidate and favorable political winds.

District 11 (Baltimore County). Sen. Bobby Zirkin was unopposed for reelection last time around, so what is he doing on this list? Zirkin represents a cross-pressured district that supported Hogan by 14 points even as it then went for Clinton by 24 points.

Zirkin is an active legislator who champions several popular, easy-to-explain causes, such as stronger anti-domestic violence legislation. Nonetheless, if Maryland’s political climate turns against Democrats, this seat could be a surprise domino to fall. The district bears watching even if Zirkin should be in good shape.

District 12 (Howard and Baltimore Counties). Another cross-pressured district, D12 went for Hogan by 11 but Clinton by 17. Budget and Taxation Committee Chair Ed Kasemeyer won reelection with a convincing, albeit a tad lower than Klausmeier, margin of 58.6%.

Kasemeyer has an impressive electoral history (59% in 2014, 59% in 2010, 62% in 2006, 63% in 2002, 57% in 1998, 51% in 1994, 54% in 1986) that will make it difficult for Republicans to break through in increasingly Democratic Howard.

Howard has shown itself willing to vote for particular sorts of Republicans, including County Executive Allan Kittleman, who is liberal on social questions, and Gov. Larry Hogan, who relentlessly ignores them. Can the Republicans find one to challenge Kasemeyer or win the open seat should he choose to retire?

District 27 (Southern Maryland). Mike Miller entered the House of Delegates in 1971, the Senate in 1975 and became the Senate President in 1987, which makes him the longest serving legislative body leader in American history. Sen. Miller has led the Senate for so long that when I interviewed him over the telephone for my college senior thesis in the late 1980s, he was already Senate President.

The Senate President represents a politically diverse district that includes big chunks of Calvert and southeastern Prince George’s Counties as well as smaller bits of Charles and St. Mary’s. The Calvert portion of the district is much more Republican than the portions in Charles or Prince George’s.

Republicans would love to defeat this pillar of the Democratic Party. While he attracts complaints of being too conservative from the left, he fights very hard for members of his caucus, raising a lot of money and directing broader organizational efforts to retain a robust Democratic Senate majority.

This district is also far from totally hostile territory. While Clinton won it by 5 points in 2016, Hogan also carried it by 6 points in 2014. This divergence is a lot smaller than many Maryland legislative districts and is suggestive of tighter partisan loyalties, especially among its sizable African-American minority.

Republicans have not come close to defeating Miller. He won 63% in 2014, 75% in 2010, 70% in 2006, 72% in 2002, 69% in 1998, 68% in 1994, 84% in 1990, and 82% in 1986. (The State Board of Elections has not put the stone tablets with earlier election results online yet.) Despite receiving his lowest percentage since at least the 1980s in 2014, my guess is that Sen. Miller is not going to be beat. Still, the turf is marginal and remains Likely Democratic.

District 32 (Anne Arundel). Yet another cross-pressured district that bears a more than passing resemblance to its nearby counterparts in Baltimore and Howard Counties, this district went for Hogan by 17 but for Clinton by 12.

Moderate Sen. Ed DeGrange would seemingly be a good fit for this district. Except in these highly partisan times, some will argue that an outspoken liberal would do more to stir the troops. Like others listed here, he possesses real electoral experience, winning his seat by 59% in 2014, 60% in 2010, 61% in 2006, 59% in 2002, and 52% in 1998.

The remarkable consistency since his first reelection does not look like the record of someone about to lose his seat. Nevertheless, if Republicans are to make gains, they will look to Anne Arundel and to this district along with District 30.

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2018 Maryland Senate Ratings, Part I

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Today, 7S unveils its first set of ratings for Maryland Senate races for the 2018 election. We’re still in the middle of our four-year cycle for state races but politicians are already thinking about 2018 based on the number of fundraising solicitations I received prior to the start of the General Assembly session.

Safe Democratic

Anthony Brown in 2014 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 carried all of the seats classified as safe Democratic. Hogan lost two Montgomery (14 and 15) districts and one Howard (13) district by five points or less, though Clinton won all by large margins. Democrats easily won these legislative districts in 2014 and Republicans lack experienced candidates to challenge them.

By my estimation, Democrats start the cycle with 24 of the Senate’s 47 seats safely in the bag. For Democrats and Republicans, the fight is not about party control by whether the Republicans can gain enough seats in either house to sustain a veto should Hogan win reelection, as Democrats have been happy to override.

Safe Republican

Both Larry Hogan and Donald Trump carried all of the districts designated as safe Republican. Democrats lost several of these Senate seats in 2014 but these were low-hanging fruit for the GOP. In D6 (Baltimore County), for example, the miracle in 2014 wasn’t that Del. John Oleszewski narrowly lost the open seat but that he came close at all, as Hogan won by 51 and Trump by 25.

Despite Hogan’s victory in 2014, Republicans performed relatively poorly in Senate races. Democrats won every single district that Hogan won by less than 37 points (!) and two more where Hogan won an even higher share of the vote. No doubt these are the seats where Republicans will concentrate their efforts.

Republicans have just 14 safe seats. However, as the Democrats hold the other 33, they have more potential targets. All of the seats that could flip are currently held by Democrats.

Toss Up

Three seats held by Democrats will be toss-up races from the start. Democrats will need to hustle to retain these seats.

District 30 (Anne Arundel County). Sen. John Astle has already announced that he intends to run for mayor of Annapolis. If he wins that office, Democrats will have an opportunity to help his replacement to settle into the seat. Otherwise, Astle could run for reelection or retire.

This seat behaved far differently in 2016 than 2014. While Hogan ran away with the election by 29 points, Trump finished ahead of Clinton by a mere six-tenths of a percent. Incumbent Sen. Astle won with 51.4% in 2014, suggesting a vulnerable incumbent or a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans if he should retire.

Hogan will unquestionably outperform Trump but we just don’t know if by less or more than last time, or if he will show any willingness or ability to translate his own vote prowess down ballot. Nevertheless, this is one Democrats will have to fight to keep even if, on paper, it is less vulnerable than District 38.

District 38 (Lower Eastern Shore). Sen. Jim Mathias is the only white Democrat elected to the General Assembly from the Eastern Shore due to his incredible political skills and repeated heavy investment by Democrats who just refuse to let go of this seat. Hogan defeated Brown by 40 points and Trump beat Clinton by 28 points in this conservative district.

Mathias always faces a tough race and won with just 51.7% in 2014 against one of his delegates. If this popular former Ocean City Mayor won in extremely tough 2014, it’d be an epic mistake to count him out in 2018’s very different political climate. If Mathias doesn’t seek reelection, Republicans would be strongly favored to pick up the seat.

District 42 (Baltimore County). Sen. Jim Brochin proudly carves his own path in the Senate. Famous for being mercurial and an undependable vote, he and Senate President Mike Miller appear to cordially loathe one another.

Brochin is the most conservative Democrat, or extreme moderate, depending upon how you look at it. He’s happy to tout his good relations and frequent support for the Governor, who invites him often to press events when other Democrats are given the cold shoulder even if they sponsored the legislation.

District 42 has a split personality as Hogan carried it by 42% but Trump beat Clinton by just 2%. Sen. Brochin has defeated strong Republicans in the past (with 51.6% in 2014), suggesting he would be a tough opponent in 2018. It would be interesting to see if the Governor would go all in against his favorite Democrat.

Brochin, however, is expected to announce his candidacy for Baltimore County Executive, leaving the seat vacant. His departure would be a boon for Republicans, though not a sure thing. Republicans would have potentially strong candidates in Dels. Aumann or West, though Democrats have Del. Lafferty.

Conclusion

As always, Democrats start with huge advantages in elections for the Maryland Senate. The Republicans have a harder task than in 2014 because they have already won just about all of the natural Republican Senate seats.

Moreover, they will face a very different political environment at the national level. No backlash against a Democratic president will bring in a Republican tide. Trump fared exceptionally poorly in Maryland and it’s not hard to imagine him mobilizing angry Democrats.

Still, Democrats hold all of the vulnerable seats, mainly due to their past success in winning in different political environments. They should view these vulnerabilities as both a call to action and a potential opportunity to mobilize in areas they need to improve not just in 2018 but also in 2020.

Next Up: Lean and Likely Democratic

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Democrats, Be Careful on Labor Day

By Adam Pagnucco.

Last week, Governor Larry Hogan caused a splash in Ocean City with his new Executive Order mandating a post-Labor Day start for public schools.  A few Democrats, led by Baltimore City Senator Bill Ferguson, Montgomery County Delegate Eric Luedtke and Montgomery County Senator Rich Madaleno, have pushed back hard.  The two sides occupy their natural political territory: Hogan touts the economic benefits that employers in resort areas could receive from busy Labor Day weekends, while the Democrats reassert their traditional defense of public schools (whose officials overwhelmingly oppose the order).

Some Democratic lawmakers are spoiling for a fight, but wiser heads should prevail.  If the Democrats try to overturn Hogan in the next general session, they will be handing the Governor a nice win for three reasons.

  1. A post-Labor Day start is popular.

The Governor’s use of polls, especially those showing his high job approval ratings, clearly gets under the Democrats’ skin.  But Hogan is not the first politician to leverage polls to his advantage and he certainly won’t be the last.  Three different polls taken by Goucher College in the fall of 2014, the spring of 2015 and the fall of 2015 find support for starting school after Labor Day at 71%, 72% and 72% respectively.  The most recent poll finds support at 69% or above for every gender, racial, age and party group isolated, including 72% approval among Democrats.  Support for starting school after Labor Day is about even with support for sick leave and redistricting by an independent commission (another signature Hogan issue) and is above support for legalizing marijuana and opposition to fracking.

  1. The Democrats are divided.

A number of Democrats have sponsored at least one of three recent bills mandating Labor Day school start times.  They include the following five Senators and nineteen Delegates:

Senator John Astle (Anne Arundel)
Senator Ed Kasemeyer (Baltimore County/Howard)
Senator Katherine Klausmeier (Baltimore County)
Senator James Mathias (Eastern Shore)
Senator Jim Rosapepe (Prince George’s/Anne Arundel)
Delegate Curt Anderson (Baltimore City)
Delegate Darryl Barnes (Prince George’s)
Delegate Kumar Barve (Montgomery)
Delegate Pamela Beidle (Anne Arundel)
Delegate Eric Bromwell (Baltimore County)
Delegate Mark Chang (Anne Arundel)
Delegate Diana Fennell (Prince George’s)
Delegate Barbara Frush (Prince George’s/Anne Arundel)
Delegate Tawanna Gaines (Prince George’s)
Delegate Cheryl Glenn (Baltimore City)
Delegate Keith Haynes (Baltimore City)
Delegate Anne Healey (Prince George’s)
Delegate Sheila Hixson (Montgomery)
Delegate Carolyn J. B. Howard (Prince George’s)
Delegate Aruna Miller (Montgomery)
Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes (Eastern Shore)
Delegate Theodore Sophocleus (Anne Arundel)
Delegate Jay Walker (Prince George’s)
Delegate Alonzo Washington (Prince George’s)

In addition to those Democrats who support the Governor’s position (even if they’re not happy with implementing it through an Executive Order), many more will be loath to vote against something that has more than 70% public support.  If the General Assembly leadership tries to ram through a bill next year overturning the Executive Order and they cannot get enough votes to override a veto, that would be a nightmare scenario.  The Governor would look strong on a popular issue and the Democrats would look weak – VERY weak.

  1. It’s a regional wedge issue.

If the Democrats try to overturn Hogan, understand what that could look like to Marylanders who live near places like Deep Creek Lake and the Eastern Shore: an effort by politicians from MoCo and the City to prevent economic prosperity in their areas.  As one Democratic lawmaker who is not from the resort counties told us, “The jurisdictions that need the tourism are desperately in need of local government revenues, they are among the poorest in the state.  To ignore that borders on public policy malpractice.”  Governor Hogan wants to depict Democrats as pointy-headed, urban elitists who don’t care about the rest of Maryland.  Democrats need to be careful about giving him ammunition for that argument.

Some may point out that Labor Day is not as strong a voting issue as education, transportation and taxes (the latter being OWNED by Hogan) and that the numbers may move as school systems rearrange their calendars.  Fair enough: poll numbers can and do move, with those on marriage equality being the prime example.  But making them move far enough and fast enough to justify a legislative response will likely require a massive PR campaign to do it.  Who is going to wage such a campaign?  It won’t be the Democrats themselves, whose communication capacity is dwarfed by the Governor’s – a problem on which no apparent progress is being made.  It probably won’t be the state teachers union, which opposes the Executive Order but told the Post that overturning it was not a focus of theirs in the next general session.  If not the Democrats or the teachers, who else is going to do this work?

ItsaTrap

Hogan WANTS the Democrats to fight him.  There’s a reason why he did this through an Executive Order and a press conference rather than simply having the State Board of Education do it for him.  The Governor wants this story to go on for months to maximize his benefits from it.  So does the original architect of the issue, Comptroller Peter Franchot, whom the high priests of the Democratic establishment regard as an apostate.  Do General Assembly Democrats really want to give these two a bigger win than what they already have?

Let’s remember the Governor’s goals here.  First, he wants to increase his reelection vote percentage above the 51% he received last time.  Second, he wants to get enough Republicans elected to the General Assembly so that his vetoes can be upheld, thus forcing Democrats to negotiate with him on virtually everything (including redistricting).  The easiest way to do that is to pick up seven GOP seats in the House of Delegates, which the Republicans did in 2014.  And third, he would like to eradicate the Democratic Party from all areas outside the Baltimore-Washington corridor, a feat that is already dangerously close to reality.  If the Governor can accomplish all three objectives, he will change Maryland into a genuine two-party state, at least at the level of state and local government.  And he thinks the Labor Day issue will help him get over the top.

The Governor is dangling the bait.  Will the Democrats take it?

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EITC Increase Dies But Northrup Grumman Gets Corporate Welfare

One of the big battles of the General Assembly’s now ended legislative session centered around proposals to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and to cut taxes. Both the Senate and the House proposed an increase in the EITC. But while the Senate tied it to a cut in marginal rates for the top 11.1%, the House passed a broad based tax cut.

No EITC or Middle Class Tax Cuts

Conference negotiations resulted in stalemate, as the Senate held out for its tax cut on the wealthy. As a result, no tax cuts and no increase in the EITC. The political sense in the Senate’s position was lost on me. The Democratic-controlled Senate held the EITC hostage to a tax cut for the wealthy for which the Governor would inevitably claim all the credit. Bad policy and bad politics.

Don’t Worry, We Have Northrup Grumman’s Back

Meanwhile, the General Assembly passed a $37.5 million tax credit for Northrup Grumman. The Senate even voted down an amendment that proposed to make it nonrefundable. While the legislature made progress on other fronts, the General Assembly bombed the fundamentals on tax policy.

Heck, Republicans should have opposed this turkey too. If you really believe in the free market, then you should also believe that government should not pick winners and losers or give some businesses special treatment.

Sen. Rich Madaleno, who opposed the tax cut for the wealthy and the corporate welfare for Northrup Grumman, summed up the situation well in a tweet: “Sadly only Northrup Grumman gets expanded EITC.”

How Did They Vote?

That’s for tomorrow’s post.

 

 

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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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Hogan’s First Session Endgame

Evaluating outcomes of legislative sessions, particularly when the Democrats control the General Assembly the Republicans the Governor’s Mansion, often devolves into rating winners and losers. Though there were the inevitable clashes on policy and rhetoric, it was also a productive session.

The sour note finish on the budget, however, was a perplexing surprise in light of the initial bipartisan budget compromise that saw strong support from both sides of the aisle. Bipartisan comity unraveled towards the end of the session.

Though Gov. Hogan’s staff had been highly involved in the budget negotiations that led to the brief budgetary Era of Good Feelings, he decided to insist on adding another $75 million to the pension fund after the compromise was reached.

The Governor’s  reinsertion of this demand after agreement had been reached will harm future negotiations with the legislature. It reduces legislative trust that he will adhere to deals and makes legislators wonder if he really prefers an argument to policy accomplishments.

The new attempt at negotiations after the pension demand reemerged also flopped. My colleague, Todd Eberly, largely blames the Democrats for not taking Hogan’s offer to partly reach their goals on education, health and COLAs for government employees in exchange of hewing to his demands on pensions.

While certainly a reasonable enough viewpoint, Hogan’s demands went well beyond pension funds to include passage of virtually all of his other bills. Negotiations in which the Governor expected the whole menu for only partial budgetary concessions were not likely to succeed.

There are further reasons for this failure. Gov. Hogan and his team did not lobby rank-and-file legislators nearly as aggressively as Gov. O’Malley during the legislative session. The lack of contact felt Jimmy Carter-like at times. His staffers need to work not just with legislative leaders but other legislators to advance their bills. President Miller and Speaker Busch are important but they are not the whole General Assembly.

The light lobbying touch may also be a symptom that Gov. Hogan believes that the General Assembly rolled over for Gov. O’Malley and so they should do the same for him. Except that many Democrats often fought with O’Malley and he had to fight very hard to get his priorities from gambling to same-sex marriage passed.

No doubt there is a learning curve for every new governor. While Gov. Hogan was the Appointments Secretary for Gov. Ehrlich, he has less experience in dealing with the General Assembly. His first session was hardly a failure. But whether his second session goes better will depend not just on Democrats but on him.

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