Tag Archives: House of Delegates

The Safest General Assembly Seats

By my estimation, Democrats start out the 2018 election with majorities in the bag in both houses of the General Assembly. In the Senate, Democrats have very safe bets in 24 of the 47 seats, as compared to just 14 for the Republicans. These 24 alone would be just enough to give the Democrats a Senate majority.

In the House of Delegates, Republicans have a base of 45 seats, or just under one-third of the total. The Democrats look ready to sail back to the majority with a base of 74 seats, or three more than needed for a bare majority.

I’ve classified as “safe” here any seat that the appropriate party won in the (1) 2014 gubernatorial election, (2) 2016 presidential election, and (3) 2014 state legislative elections. I deemed the latter condition as met only if the party carried all of the seats in the Senate and House of Delegates up for election in the identical boundaries.

Republicans have outside hopes in the District 28 Senate race, where incumbent Sen. Mac Middleton was upset in the primary by Arthur Ellis. However, it seems unlikely that Republicans will take a seat that Clinton won by 23 points. Brown won it by only 4 points but the seat has trended more Democratic since 2014 and the electorate should be less favorable to Republicans this year.


District 16 Delegate Poll

District 16

A few days ago,  a one of three Democratic primary voter reached out to me to with some mildly interesting news: they had received a live telephone survey testing positive and negative messages regarding Jordan Cooper’s candidacy in the District 16 delegate race.

My educated guess would be that the poll is from Jordan Cooper’s campaign since any other candidate polling would not have focused on him, or at least also asked questions about Marc Korman, Hrant Jamgochian, Ariana Kelly and Bill Frick.

Except that Jordan Cooper says he did not do the poll. At any rate, it should make him feel good that someone is taking him very seriously. I guess we’ll see when the next campaign finance reports come out.


Marijuana Vote in Judiciary This Morning

Here is how the committee voted on the Committee’s decision to do an about face and restore the marijuana decriminalization bill to more or less its earlier form (see previous post).

YEA (13, 12D, 1R): Dumais, Lee, Waldstreicher, Clippinger, Carter, Swain, Valentino-Smith, Smigiel (R), Rosenberg, Valderrama, Arora, Anderson, Simmons.

NAY (8, 2D, 6R): K. Kelly (D), McComas, Parrott, Glass, Hough, Cluster, McDermott, Conaway (D).

NOT VOTING: Vallario (Chair generally does not vote).


Marijuana Decriminalization is Going to Pass

The House is debating marijuana decriminalization as I type. This morning, the Judiciary Committee did a major turnabout and adopted amendments that essentially restore the bill to the form passed by the Senate and sponsored by Sen. Zirkin.

Sufficient pressure was applied on Committee Chair Joe Vallario to allow this to occur by leadership and committee members. Restoring the bill will also avoid any awkward votes for committee members who can now vote to support decriminalization without also voting to roll their chairman. The minor changes to the Senate bill provide a fig leaf of cover for Vallario.

These changes pave the way for marijuana decriminalization to pass the House today with sufficiently few differences to the Senate bill that they can likely concur.

You can listen online to the House debate this right now.

UPDATE: Now, the House has delayed the debate until later today.


Three Delegates, One Seat

D44NewDistricts 44A and 44B

A previous post examined the Senate race in drastically reconfigured District 44–the only one in which the challenger is favored over the incumbent–so I thought I’d look at the competitive delegate race in District 44A.

District 44 drew the short end of the stick in Baltimore City’s redistricting game of musical chairs with most of the district moved out of the City into the County. As a result, three incumbents are now competing for the sole delegate seat in District 44A, the portion left in the City.

District 44A has three incumbents vying for one seat: Dels. Keith Haynes, Kieffer Mitchell, and Melvin Stukes.

Del. Keiffer Mitchell, heir to the Mitchell political dynasty, is a nice guy who came very close to first-place finisher Haynes in his first delegate campaign in 2010. Del. Keith Haynes is running for his fourth term, where he sits on the Appropriations Committee, but has not been a stand out.

Del. Melvin Stukes came in third but well behind Mitchell and Haynes. The City Paper criticized Stukes for his fecklessness as long ago as 1999 when he served on the City Council:

In two terms on the council Stukes has made his mark as an anti- environmentalist, an unflinching rubber stamp for the mayor’s pet projects, and an incurable windbag, but he’s utterly failed to distinguish himself as a representative of the people.

Stukes also attracted deserved negative attention during the fierce debate over marriage equality. After sponsoring the bill for several years, he claimed he thought it allowed civil unions rather than marriage even though the word “marriage” appears in the title. Much was also made of the heat Stukes took from his barber:

In West Baltimore, Lenny Clay, the politically powerful owner of the West Baltimore barbershop Lenny’s House of Naturals, gave Del. Melvin Stukes an earful for sponsoring the same-sex marriage bill in the House.

He recalled telling Stukes: “You should burn your Bible, because you are no longer following your book.”

Instead Stukes took his name off the bill and will not support it.

When the going gets tough, Stukes goes away.

I’m sure Mitchell faced similar criticism from some friends but he seemed very much at peace with his decision and happy to take a leadership role in pushing for the bill in the House. In Stukes’ case, we can either believe he is that stupid or unreliable. Based on his public comments, he wants us to go with stupid.

Regardless, it seems likely that Stukes will be out of the House after the primary. He fared poorly four years ago compared to Haynes and Mitchell. Moreover, he had just $10K cash in his campaign kitty compared to $32K for Haynes and $24K for Mitchell. None can raise more money until the session ends.

It should be a tough race between Haynes and Mitchell. Haynes has four terms under his belt so he has name recognition in the district as well as the cash advantage. Mitchell already showed he is a fierce campaigner in his first outing four years ago.