Jones-Rodwell Hangs It Up

JonesRodwell

One of the hottest Senate primaries is no more. The Daily Record reports that Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell has decided to retire from the Maryland Senate (h/t Neal Carter).

As I blogged previously, redistricting had dealt Jones-Rodwell a poor hand by placing her in a district far more favorable to her primary opponent, Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam:

Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D 10), who lives in the portion of the old District 10 that is now part of the new District 44, is challenging incumbent Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D 44). The new district contains roughly twice as many people from Nathan-Pulliam’s old district, though it bears Jones-Rodwell’s district number.

Both Jones-Rodwell and Nathan-Pulliam struck me as assets to Baltimore in the General Assembly and I was unhappy to see them redistricted into the same seat. Sen. Jones-Rodwell’s voice will be missed from that body but hopefully not from Baltimore. Fortunately, Del. Nathan-Pulliam service in the House gives her a strong leg up navigating the Senate.

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Seventh State Stats

Wow. You’ve really been reading. Since the reboot of Maryland Politics Watch as Seventh State in February, readership has increased dramatically.

When I started Maryland Politics Watch, I got really excited when daily unique hits reached over 300. This past week, that number jumped well over 1000 for the first time since the relaunch. And that excludes the 130 of you who have signed up to receive every post via email not to mention followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to those who have shared news, information, stories, and given helpful feedback on posts. I learn a lot by doing this blog and appreciate these interactions.

I’ll keep doing my best to provide opinion, news, and analysis. You can keep following 7S here and also follow on Twitter @theseventhstate or on our Facebook page–besides reading, it’s one of the best ways you can say thanks to us. Just click the floating buttons on the lower right to follow or to like.

Thanks for reading.

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D1, Pt. II: Allegany County

D1BDistrict 1B in Allegany County

This is Part II in a two part series about District 1 in Western Maryland. While Part I focused on the Garrett County portion of the district, this post centers on Allegany County.

All of District 1B’s population lives in Allegany. Frostburg and a northern section of Cumberland are located in 1B. District 1C is split between Allegany and Washington Counties with 55% in Allegany. The remainder of Cumberland and all of the smaller town of Hancock in Washington County are located in 1C.

Allegany County has been heavily Republican in federal contests. Mitt Romney received 64% of the vote in 2012. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett received 55% of the vote in Allegany even as he went down to defeat to John Delaney with just 37% of the total vote in the entire Sixth Congressional District.

Lately, Allegany has also been quite lopsided in its support for Republicans in statewide contests. Bob Ehrlich won 57% in 2006 and 61% in 2010 in Allegany. Notice that Ehrlich increased his share of the vote in Allegany even as his statewide margin declined. The last Democratic gubernatorial candidate to carry Allegany was Parris Glendening in 1998 with 52% of the vote.

Allegany District 1B has been one of the most hotly contested delegate seats over the past several decades. Incumbent Democratic Del. Kevin Kelly won reelection in 2010 with just 51% over Republican Mary Beth Pirolozzi, a Cumberland City Councilmember.

Kelly originally won his seat in 1986 when he was one of two Democrats elected from a two-member district located entirely in Allegany. He easily won reelection in 1990.

In 1994, Kelly lost the Democratic primary in the newly redistricted single-member District 1B, receiving 43% as opposed to 57% for Del. Betty Workman, his colleague in the former two-member district. But Kelly turned the tables in 1998, winning the primary over Workman by 59% to 41% and then went on to win the general with just 51% of the vote. Kelly beat his Republican opponent with a more comfortable 56% of the vote in 2002 and 2006.

This year, Kelly has no primary opposition but faces Jason Buckel, a member of the Allegany County Republican Central Committee, in the general election. In January, Buckel had just $2.6K in his campaign account compared to $18K for Kelly, though Buckel could raise money during the session while Kelly could not.

Allegany Central

Central Allegany County Partisanship
(Source: Dave’s Redistricting, More Orange is More Republican)

Though Kelly has a long history in this district, no Democrat can ever take anything for granted. Despite its Republican lean, 1B contains some of the less Republican precincts in Allegany located in Frostburg and Cumberland (see above), which should aid Kelly.

D1C

District 1C in Allegany and Washington Counties

District 1C is perhaps best known as the district that unseated the sitting Speaker of the House in 2002. Democratic Speaker Cas Taylor, who brought enormous amounts of state funds home and worked relentlessly to aid Western Maryland’s economy, lost his reelection bid by 76 votes.

Redistricting was more the culprit than the fickleness of Allegany voters. Prior to 2002, 1C was contained entirely within Allegany County. District 1 grew more slowly than the the State as a whole in the 1990s and had to expand east, so 1C had to take in sections of Washington County. While Speaker Taylor won 61% in his home stomping ground of Allegany, he garnered just 29% in the new, extremely Republican Washington portion of the district.

Del. LeRoy Myers, who defeated Speaker Taylor, is retiring after three terms. Two Republicans, Ray Givens and Mike McKay, are competing for the GOP nomination, while Democrat Nick Scarpelli has no opposition within his party.

Swept in as part of the tea party wave in 2010, Mike McKay serves as President of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners. He’s the CEO of a company with six dry cleaning locations. McKay has the support of sitting Del. Myers.

Perhaps because actually having to run a government tends to moderate extreme views on all sides, McKay is now being tea-party challenged from the right by Givens. A Hancock resident, Givens has never held office but was very active in opposition to Gov. O’Malley’s gun safety legislation and supports fracking.

Givens has served in the military, and worked in corrections and law enforcement. In January, McKay reported $15K cash on hand as compared to $10K for Givens.

As McKay lives in Allegany and Givens is from Washington, this primary could well turn into a classic friends-and-neighbors contest that depends on the level of support and ability to turn out voters within each candidate’s home base. Del. McKay should benefit from his experience in office as well as his endorsement by Myers. But Givens could gain energy from gun rights advocates.

Meanwhile, as unlikely as it may sound, Republican 1C is one district where the Democrats hope to make a pick up. Cumberland City Councilman Nick Scarpelli is a local magnate with investments in chains of funeral homes and shoe stores as well as real estate.

Scarpelli is very conservative for a Democrat–he is pro-gun, pro-life and pro-fracking. His major goal is to join the majority caucus and be part of the fine tradition of bringing home the bacon to this long economically challenged region. Scarpelli can self fund and plans to advertise on television–a lot cheaper in the Hagerstown media market than elsewhere in Maryland.

His chances likely depend at least partly on who wins the GOP primary. Scarpelli would have a stronger shot against Givens than McKay. Regardless, he will make this a much more interesting race than one would expect in this mostly Republican part of the world.

District 1B Rating: Toss-Up (Slight Edge to Kelly).
District 1C Rating: Lean Republican (Slight Edge to McKay in the primary).

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D1 Garrett County Ctd.

One of the great things about writing this blog is that I often learn more about Maryland politics through responses to posts. Today was one of those days as I heard from a legislator regarding Garrett County’s Sen. George Edwards and Del. Wendell Beitzel.

While they are members of the minority Republican party, both are good at using their position to maximize Garrett’s interests. Sen. Edwards now sits on the influential Budget and Taxation Committee. While in the House, he was the only Republican allowed to chair a subcommittee. Del. Beitzel sits on the Appropriations Committee in the House of Delegates.

Both are good at the pulling and hauling of politics to get results. They’ve repeatedly protected the interests of the local coal industry. Edwards and Beitzel have also been good at trading support for the overall budget for additional projects that aid Garrett County.

In short, little Garrett punches above its weight in the General Assembly despite its election of Republicans. It helps that District 1’s senator hails from there and that both know how to operate effectively within the legislature.

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D1, Pt. 1: Garrett County

D1Western Maryland District 1

District 1 contains all of Garrett and Allegany Counties as well as the westernmost section of Washington County. It’s the most Appalachian section of the State and in many ways resembles West Virginia more closely than our suburban dominated state.

The division of District 1 into three subdistricts helps assure that Garrett and Allegany can each elect at least one delegate. According to the 2010 Census, three-quarters of District 1A’s population lives in Garrett to just one-quarter in Allegany.

Republican Sen. George Edwards, first elected in 2006, has an easy ride to reelection as he has no primary or general election opposition. Edwards has deep roots in Garrett County politics. He served six terms in the House representing Garrett County prior to his election to the Senate.

Even earlier, he was on the Garrett Board of Commissioners and the Grantsville Town Council. Edwards’ electoral success means that no member of the Senate hails from Allegany even though it population is 2.5 times larger than that of Garrett. Though Garrett punches above its weight in General Assembly representation, the membership of its delegate and senator in the minority Republican Caucus limits their influence.

Garrett is the second smallest and most Republican county in Maryland. Its Republicanism dates back to the Civil War and reflects the pro-Union sympathies of Appalachia. Mitt Romney won 74% of the vote, more than any other county in Maryland by nine points.

D1ADistrict 1A in Garrett and Allegany Counties

Like Garrett, the Allegany sections of 1A are very Republican. Mitt Romney carried roughly 70% of the vote there. Former one-term Garrett County Commissioner Wendell Beitzel, a Republican, followed Edwards as District 1A’s representative in the House of Delegates. Though Beitzel won the GOP primary with just 31% and the general election by 56% in 2006, he faced no significant opposition in 2010. Like Edwards, Beitzel faces no opposition in the primary or general election this year.

District 1 Rating: Edwards Unopposed.
District 1A Rating: Beitzel Unopposed.

Part II discusses the rest of District 1, located primarily in Allegany County.

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7S in the Baltimore Sun

Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore Sun has written a piece analyzing the Currie-Griffith Senate race in Prince George’s. St Mary’s Prof. Todd Eberly and I agree that Currie’s censure won’t prevent him from winning another term:

[Del. Melony] Griffith “has a chance, because of what has happened with Currie over the past few years,” says Todd Eberly, an assistant professor of political science at St. Mary’s College. “But I suspect in the end, it isn’t enough for his constituents to say to him, ‘It’s time to pack it in.’ He’s known as someone with tremendous seniority who has delivered for the district.”

[American University Professor of Government David] Lublin says the accusations against Currie weren’t as attention-grabbing as those leveled against former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson and his wife, Leslie.

“What Currie did is hazier than stuffing thousands in your bra,” Lublin says.” Censuring is a term that goes over most people’s heads.”

You can read my analysis of the race here.

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Fraser-Hidalgo Looking Good in D15

 D15Montgomery County District 15

The Central Committee appointed then Del. Brian Feldman to the Senate when Sen. Rob Garagiola resigned the seat. There was some controversy over the appointment but it seemed inevitable to many as Brian is a well-regarded legislator who had the strong backing of his colleagues in the district.

Sen. Feldman is unopposed in the Democratic primary but faces perennial candidate Robin Ficker in the general. While he won one term as a delegate in 1978, he is better known for his antics at Bullets games back in the 1990s. Ficker will provide lots of fun spectacle but Feldman is a lock.

In the delegate races, Dels. Kathleen Dumais and Aruna Miller should also be sure shots for reelection. Both are perceived as serious legislators. Del. Dumais is currently Vice Chair of Judiciary and would be a logical choice to replace current Chairman Joe Vallario when he goes or gets pushed out.

In the meantime, she faces the unenviable job of navigating the tricky waters between her conservative chair and more liberal caucus. If she gets too close to Vallario, she risks demands that a stronger progressive will get the appointment. However, I’d be surprised if that happens because Dumais is respected, smart, and deserves the position in the eyes of many.

David Fraser-Hidalgo won the delegate appointment to replace the vacancy caused by Brian Feldman’s move to the Senate. Labor was not thrilled with this selection, compounding their frustration with MCDCC over other issues.

Consequently, newly minted Del. Fraser-Hidalgo has faced a harder fight to consolidate his hold on the seat than many appointees. However, despite the brevity of his tenure, he has already started to impress as intelligent and earnest, particularly through his hard work on the legislation decriminalizing marijjuana.

And his hold on the seat is starting to look stronger. He has won the endorsements of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and CASA. Most crucially, he has earned the support of his colleagues, who are including him now on a slate of all of the incumbents.

The other remaining Democrat in the race is Bennett Rushkoff. MCEA decided belatedly to endorse him after they completed their other legislative endorsements. Some were surprised as Fraser-Hidalgo voted with MCEA during the session. Regardless, the apple is a great endorsement to receive and should energize Rushkoff’s campaign.

Both Fraser-Hidalgo and Rushkoff will run campaigns with sufficient funds. Rushkoff likely has the jump on Fraser-Hidalgo because the latter could not raise funds during the legislative session. Rushkoff also loaned his campaign $50K before the January filing.

Nonetheless, this is the unusual case in which I don’t think MCEA has placed a good bet. Even without their endorsement, Fraser-Hidalgo is building a good reputation and his linkage with the other three incumbents will make him difficult to beat. Other factors, such as the Post endorsement or Rushkoff’s greater access to funds, could alter the equation but Fraser-Hidalgo has shown a steady ability to move the line in his direction.

On the Republican side,  Flynn Ficker is running for the House alongside his father, Robin. Indeed, they have a joint website, so I guess they have identical positions. Interestingly, they oppose construction at Ten Mile Creek, which flies in the face of their more general opposition to government regulation. Their more general platform appears to be the unhappy, classic Republican combination of don’t tax but spend.

The other Republican, Ed Edmundson will likely garner much less attention than the ever colorful Fickers. However, he is actually more politically interesting. Edmundson is the only Republican in the State to have received NARAL’s endorsement. In some ways, he seems like a Democratic stereotype. How many Republicans advertise their belief in the importance of fair trade and that they run HempSisters.com and EarthDivas.com?

Though undoubtedly more conservative than the Democrats, Edmundson appears to have a similar socially liberal, economically moderate profile to the sort of Republicans who used to regularly win elections in Montgomery County. Unfortunately for him, they just don’t anymore. Changing demographics and the toxicity of the national Republican brand render it hard for candidates like Edmundson.

Fortunately for District 15, Feldman, Dumais, Miller, and Fraser-Hidalgo compose a very strong delegation in Annapolis. No weak links in this team.

Senate Rating: Safe Feldman.

House Ratings: Safe Dumais, Safe Miller, Lean Fraser-Hidalgo in the primary. Safe Fraser-Hidalgo or Rushkoff in the general.

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CASA Issues Endorsements

casa logo
CASA has been kind enough to share their complete list of endorsements around the State. An increasingly successful and powerful group, CASA advocates for Latino and immigrant rights. In 2012, CASA played a central role in the passage of the Maryland DREAM Act by the General Assembly and then it being upheld by a wide margin in the referendum that followed.

I have attempted, as usual, to highlight all of the non-incumbents in boldface. (It’s easy to make a mistake so let me know if I did.) The order of offices is federal then statewide offices. Next are endorsements for the General Assembly and county offices, which are organized by county.

You can also find the full official lists here in English and Spanish.
Puede encontrar las listas completas aquí en inglés y español.

U.S. CONGRESS
District 2       C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III
District 3       John P. Sarbanes
District 4       Donna F. Edwards
District 5       Steny Hoyer
District 6       John K. Delaney
District 7       Elijah Cummings
District 8       Christopher Van Hollen, Jr.

STATEWIDE
Governor/Lt. Governor: Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman
Attorney General: Brian Frosh
Comptroller: Peter Franchot

BALTIMORE COUNTY

General Assembly
District 10

House: Benjamin Brooks, Adrienne A. Jones, Carin Smith

District 11
House: Shelly Hettleman, Dana M. Stein, Don Engel

District 12 (also Howard County)
House: Eric Ebersole, Rebecca P. Dongarra, Clarence Lam

District 42
Senate: Connie DeJuliis

County Council
District 4: Kenneth N. Oliver

BALTIMORE CITY

General Assembly
District 45
Senate: Nathaniel J. McFadden
House: Cory V. McCray, Cheryl Glenn, Talmadge Branch

District 46
Senate: Bill Ferguson
House: Bill Romani, Brooke Lierman, Luke Clippinger

HOWARD COUNTY

General Assembly
District 12 (also Baltimore County)
House: Eric Ebersole, Rebecca P. Dongarra, Clarence Lam

District 13
Senate: Guy Guzzone
House: Fred Turner, Vanessa Atterbeary, Shane Pendergrass

County Sheriff: John A. Newnan

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

District 14
Senate: Karen Montgomery
House: Anne R. Kaiser, Eric Luedtke, Craig J. Zucker

District 15
Senate: Brian Feldman
House: Kathleen Dumais, David Fraser-Hidalgo, Aruna Miller

District 16
Senate: Susan Lee
House: Bill Frick, Ariana Kelly, Hrant Jamgochian

District 17
Senate: Cheryl Kagan
House: Kumar P. Barve, Jim Gilchrist, Andrew Platt

District 18
Senate: Richard Madaleno
House (four endorsed for three seats): Al Carr, Natali Fani-Gonzalez, Jeff Waldstreicher, Ana Sol Gutierrez

District 19
Senate: Roger Manno
House: Ben Kramer, Marice I. Morales, Bonnie Cullison

District 20
Senate: Jamie Raskin
House: Sheila Hixson, Will Jawando, David Moon

District 39
Senate: Nancy King
House: Charles Barkley, Kirill Reznik, Shane Robinson

County Executive: Ike Leggett

County Council
At- Large: Beth Daly, Marc Elrich, Hans Riemer
District 1: Roger Berliner
District 2: Craig Rice
District 3: Ryan Spiegel
District 4: Nancy Navarro
District 5: Tom Hucker

Board of Education
At-Large: Shebra Evans
District 1: Judy Docca
District 3: Patricia O’Neill
District 5: Michael Durso

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY

District 21
Senate: Jim Rosapepe
House: Barbara Frush, Joseline Peña-Melnyk, Ben Barnes

District 22
Senate: Paul G. Pinsky
House: Tawanna P. Gaines, Anne Healey, Alonzo T. Washington

District 23
Senate: Douglas J. J. Peters
House: Geraldine Valentino-Smith (23A), Marvin E. Holmes (23B), Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (23B)

District 24
Senate: Joanne C. Benson
House: Carolyn J. B. Howard, Darren M. Swain, Michael L. Vaughn

District 25
Senate: Ulysses Currie
House: Angela Angel, Darryl Barnes, Dereck Davis

District 26
Senate: Anthony C. Muse
House: David Sloan, Kris Valderrama, Jay Walker

District 47
Senate: Victor Ramirez
House: Michael Summers (47A), Jimmy Tarlau (47A), Will Campos (47B)

Countywide
County Executive: Rushern Baker
County Sheriff: Melvin C. High
State’s Attorney: Angela Alsobrooks

County Council
District 1: Mary A. Lehman
District 2: Deni Taveras
District 3: Danielle Glaros
District 4: Vince Canales
District 5: Andrea Fletcher Harrison
District 6: Derrick Leon Davis
District 7: Kito James
District 8: Obie Patterson
District 9: Mel Franklin

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Annapolis Top Five Young Guns

Part II in this continuing series of up and comers under 30 around the State.

1. Jake Weissmann. Don’t let Jake’s goofy style fool you: he has been the brains behind Mike Miller’s formable political operation for years. This cycle, he faces the greatest challenge of his career–guiding the Senate Caucus through what’s shaping up to be a 2010 style red wave nationally. Once he finishes law school, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as one of the top earning lobbyists in the state.

2. Sarah Elfreth is Government Affairs Director for the National Aquarium. The smartest, wittiest lobbyist walking the halls of the Lowe House Office Building, she is also one of the youngest young guns on these lists. Whether she remains behind the scenes or runs for office in the future–a distinct possibility–one thing is for sure: you’ll be sure to hear the name Sarah Elfreth for decades to come:

Anonymous: “Sarah Elfreth, a resident of Annapolis MD, is a true leader and an extraordinary example of a young woman who is both influential and impactful before State and local government.”

3. Cailey Locklair is the Deputy Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council. The following nomination is perhaps the highest praise any lobbyist could receive:

Anonymous: “One of the most persuasive people I’ve ever had a drink with in Annapolis. Completely dedicated to her client.”

4. Geoff Burgan. This guy is sharp and has fantastic people skills. Currently in O’Malley’s comms shop, I wouldn’t be surprised to  see Geoff as a key player in the Brown Administration or on a nascent O’Malley’s presidential campaign.

5. Andrew Friedson. Excepting his longtime handler Len Foxwell, no one is closer to Peter Franchot than Andrew Friedson. He currently serves as Communications Director in the Comptroller’s Office, where he was previously Deputy Chief of Staff. He managed Franchot’s reelection campaign in 2010.

Anonymous: “another no-brainer nominee.”

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