Category Archives: harford

Del. Kathy Szeliga’s Sound and Fury

Delegate Kathy Szeliga (R-7) laments that the legislators in the General Assembly legislate:

So far, there have been 1159 bills introduced in the House of Delegates and 821 in the Senate.  Some of these are duplicate bills filed in each chamber – called cross filed bills.

Remember, every bill has the potential of becoming a law. Do you think we need an additional 2,000 laws every year?

Consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds, naturally the next thing she writes her constituents is:

I am the primary sponsor of 6 bills.

Later, she writes proudly:

I have cosponsored many other bills.  If you’d like to see the whole list of bills I’ve sponsored and cosponsored CLICK HERE

Wasting Taxes Doing Something about Nothing

Unintended irony appears to be Del. Szeliga’s strong suit because at least one of these bills is a complete make work project for the General Assembly:

HB 454 – will prohibit the State of Maryland from charging drivers a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax.  This is a concept that has been considered in the past.  It’s a terrible idea for lots of reasons.

Cutting through the anti-tax rhetoric, Del. Szeliga wants to ban a tax that we don’t have through a law that could be overturned by the General Assembly as easily as it is passed in the first place.

But having wasted taxpayers funds and the General Assembly’s time, she can engage in the time-honored Republican tradition of going home and talking about how she fought the good fight on taxes, even though she will have done nothing even if her bill passes.

So, as it turns out, Del. Szeliga is right. Legislators are sponsoring unneeded legislation. She just didn’t realize that she met the enemy when she looked in the mirror.

Gun-ho–But Only for Non-Marylanders

Unfortunately, some of her legislation that would actually have an impact is even worse:

HB 735 – will allow people traveling through our state to transport legally owned firearms via vehicle or boat.  The unintended consequences of the restrictive gun bill that passed a couple of years ago is that it prohibits lawful firearm owners from driving or boating through our state with certain firearms that are now illegal to own in Maryland.

In other words, despite her claims to the contrary, the law is working as intended. Bizarrely,  Del. Szeliga’s bill would give non-state residents a free pass to carry weapons that we don’t allow our own residents to possess.

Earmarks are A-OK

Other Szeliga bills look more promising–such as the one to raise penalties for human trafficking. Strikingly though, the Republican opposition to earmarks and to spending flies right out of Del. Szeliga’s window when it involves her own constituents:

HB 1147 – is a matching grant request for $200,000 for Angel Park in Perry Hall.  This new park will be located on Honeygo Blvd and will be similar to Annie’s Playground in Harford County – a playground fully accessible to handicapped children.  Angel Park has already raised about $1 million in private contributions and this will help with the playground equipment purchase.  There are usually $7 million in grants for community projects approved by the House and $7 million by the Senate.  

Don’t get me wrong; this sounds like a great idea. I worked with my colleagues on the Town Council and in the County to improve playgrounds in my own Town. It’s even better that the playground will be fully accessible. I like Del. Szeliga’s earmark so much that surely some must suspect that she is part of the liberal problem rather than the conservative solution.

Indeed, a true spendthrift conservative Republican should perceive this as an earmark by the State in an area of local responsibility that just makes it harder for Gov. Hogan to keep his tax cutting promises. Especially amusing is her not-so-subtle mention of this being part of $7 million in state grants. Read: it’s OK; all the kids are doing it.

 

Anti-LGBT GOP Strategy Extends Beyond Peroutka

Earlier this week, I detailed how Anne Arundel Republican County Council Candidate Michael Peroutka is using robocalls from a fake group “Marylanders for Transgenders” to call attention to his opponent’s sexual orientation in a negative way.

Unfortunately, this approach does not appear limited to Peroutka, a man that advocates southern secession and belongs to the extremist John Birch society. Another Maryland Republican is using similar attacks against openly gay candidates.

In Harford County, a public letter posted on daggerpress.com attempts to support Republican County Council Candidate Curtis Beulah by linking his opponent, out candidate Joe Smith, to sexual predators and pedophilia:

In addition, Smith is a founding member of the Stonewall Democrats of Central Maryland, a gay rights activist organization. These are the kind of groups that gave us the recent ”Bathroom Bill”. This statewide law is so poorly crafted that it allows sexual predators to claim sexual identity confusion, thereby ushering them into the public restrooms of any gender they choose. A pedophile’s dream come true.

Can we expect more of the same should Mr. Smith have a hand in policy making for Harford County?

The real question is how many more of these smear attacks can we expect from Maryland Republicans?

Top Nine Young Guns in The Baltimore Suburbs

1. Caitlyn Leiter-Mason – Originally from Frederick, Caitlyn has been a fixture in western Baltimore County since arriving at UMBC. She was the longtime President of the UMBC College Democrats and is currently managing rising star Baltimore County Councilman Tom Quirk’s reelection bid. She previously worked for Del. Anne Kaiser–a super star rising in the House leadership. There are certainly great things in Caitlyn’s future.

2. Zach Fang – In my opinion, Zach is now the top field director in the State of Maryland. With a DCCC Pedigree, Zach has returned to the Free State more dangerous than ever. Doug Gansler lucked out hiring this guy.

3. Ashley Harden – According to someone on Gansler’s senior staff, this Northwest Baltimore County field organizer is Doug’s best in the state. One Baltimore based Field Operative told me she’s probably the best seen in the Baltimore suburbs since at least 2006.

Anonymous: She’s way too good to stay in Baltimore County, but she just might anyway.

Anonymous: The next Ann Beegle.

4. Tommy Underwood – Tommy is a genuinely nice, decent guy–which is far too rare in politics. He’s done a great job so far managing O’Malley speechwriter Nick Stewart’s state house run and has a very bright future. This guy could be the Executive Director of the Democratic Caucus in 2018.

Anonymous: He’s not only a plugged-in guy with a very easy-going personality, but he’s also one of the hardest workers I’ve come across and sharp politically.

5. Jahantab Siddiqui – Jahantab (more frequently known as JTab) comes from the politically active Siddiqui clan of Howard County. With an extensive resume that extends statewide, I have no doubt that the next Muslim State Legislator in Maryland will be Jahantab. He may have taken a pass this cycle, but he has District 9 State Senator written all over him.  He could be a credible candidate in MD-03 down the line, or statewide. Smart. Charismatic. Handsome. When he runs you can add unbeatable to that list.

Anonymous: Mt. Airy (on the HoCo side) statewide college coordinator with O’Malley ’06 campaign, Field Director of Ulman’s ’06 campaign, Mikulski Staffer, Ruppersberger’s ’12 campaign, and currently with MoCo govt.

6. Dylan Goldberg – I will admit that I was for a time skeptical of Dylan. How could someone always be this happy? This isn’t California, so it had to be an act. It isn’t. His incredible work ethic and that same infectiously happy personality are sure to carry him far. Howard County Executive by 2026 or Bust.

AnonymousHe’s a bit of a superstar in Howard County, having worked for the state delegation in Annapolis for a couple years after working some local and state races in 2010 (That year, he received the MD Democratic Party’s James W. Rouse Community Service Award). He’s now field director for Courtney Watson’s county executive campaign. He previously worked for Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty.

Anonymous: He stepped up to lead Watson’s campaign and has done a fantastic job (with a great but not very warm and fuzzy candidate).

7. Marc Szczepaniak – Harford County Young Dems President, UMBC Student and Rachael Rice protege has a terrific future ahead of him, whether in Annapolis or on the campaign trail. Limitless upside and lucky find in one of the tougher county for the Democrats.

8. Nick Stewart – Nick was a speechwriter for Martin O’Malley first as Mayor and later as Governor. He also worked in O’Malley’s press office. He is currently a litigation attorney with the prominent firm Saul Ewing LLP. His next move? Running for delegate in Howard/Baltimore County Based District 12. While the field is large, Stewart is a strong candidate. He would be one of the youngest members of the the General Assembly, but nowhere near the least experienced.

Anonymous: one of 10 Democrats vying for the three District 12 delegate nominations, Nick is a former O’Malley speechwriter/press assistant in City Hall and the State House. He now is a lawyer at Saul Ewing in Baltimore. Lives in Arbutus, raised in Timonium. He also clerked for Judge Glenn Harrell. Just this week named to the Daily Record’s 20 in Their Twenties list

9. Shayla Adams – For the last several years, Shayla has run a 501(c)3 called RemixEducation (whose influence extends from Maryland all the way to North Carolina. She’s also a former Teacher with degrees from Wellesley (Undergraduate) and Duke (M.A.T.).  As education disparities between different jurisdictions in the state come into focus, her influence can only grow.  Plus, she makes up one half of a Young Gun Power Couple (the other is Prince George’s Young Gun Larry Stafford).

Anonymous- Really active in the African American community of Howard. Runs a non profit program. She’s cool with Elijah Cummings and he’s speaking at her scholarship banquet.

M-D James Strong in Harford D34

D34Harford County District 34

Links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V of this series on top Senate primaries.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R) is stepping down, so District 34 is an open seat. The Democratic primary features Del. Mary-Dulany James, who has served four terms, against former Sen. Art Helton, who served two terms from 1975-83. He also served for two years on the Harford County Council before entering the Senate.

Helton sought to regain his Senate seat in 2002 but incumbent Sen. Nancy Jacobs beat him with 60% of the vote. He challenged Jacobs one more time in 2010 but she won again with 56%, though Helton narrowly carried the Harford portion of the district. His 2014 bid nearly came to an early end when the Board of Elections found he did not reside in District 34. However, they reversed their decision. Similar issues arose during Helton’s 2010 race.

James comes from a political family. Her father, William James, served in the General Assembly for three decades, including as Senate President from 1963-74. After he left the Senate, James served three terms as State Treasurer. The James Senate Office Building in Annapolis is named after him.

James and Helton were nearly evenly matched in campaign funds at the beginning of the year with $50K for James and $48K for Helton. But while James raised $84K, Helton raised less than $1K and loaned his campaign $60K. His campaign finance entity owes him $297K in loans.

I suspect slates matter less here than in other parts of the State because Harford Democrats have a strong incentive to develop a personal brand due to the County’s Republican lean. James has come in a very strong first in all four Democratic primaries for delegate, winning almost every possible vote after the first.

It is hard to see how Helton competes with this level of electoral strength. Moreover, James has shown a consistent willingness to work hard to keep a firm hold on a tough delegate seat. Her fundraising ability also indicates a depth of support even if she may well envy Helton’s ability to self finance. Moreover, she has Senate President Mike Miller on her side.

Redistricting greatly altered District 34. Previously, District 34A included south Harford and a tiny piece of Cecil around Manor Heights, and District 34B was north Cecil (see below). The new District 34 (see above) no longer includes any portion of Cecil. Instead, it pairs most of 34A with former District 35B centered on Bel Air in Harford County.

D34Old2010 Senate District 34

The new district has roughly the same partisan balance as the old district. The old District 34A has a slight Republican lean–O’Malley and Ehrlich were in a virtual tie though O’Malley won handily statewide. The old District 34B and District 35B were both carried by Ehrlich over O’Malley by roughly 2-1.

So the overall district has a Republican lean but is as Democratic as possible in Harford. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will still have to fight hard to win the general election. Republican Bob Cassilly is a former Bel Air Mayor and Harford County Councilman who left office in 2006 when called up to serve in Iraq.

However, Cassilly has only $15K in his campaign account–not a sign that the Republicans feel encouraged about the race despite the district’s Republican tilt. It also seems telling that the two Republican delegates filed for reelection rather than for the Senate.

James’ electoral record likely intimidates. In her first general election in 1998, she came in first. In 2002, James came in a close second even as the other Democratic incumbent went down to defeat. She easily outdistanced the rest of the field in both 2006 and 2010. Her willingness to work hard for votes no doubt helps–she claims to have knocked on over 10,000 doors already.

Primary Rating: Likely James.