Tag Archives: Jim Brochin

Vote Analysis on Sick Leave Override

As far as I can tell, the sick leave override was almost a complete party line vote in the House of Delegates. Dels. Eric Bromwell (D-8) and Ned Carey (D-31A) were the only Democrats who voted no. Interestingly, Del. C.T. Wilson (D-28) was recorded as absent but initially voted no according to a legislator on the floor.

The Senate was more suspenseful but it turned out that the Democrats had one vote to spare. Just three Democrats – Sens. Jim Brochin (D-42), Ed DeGrange (D-32) and Kathy Klausmeier (D-8) – voted with the governor. Brochin and Klausmeier represent Baltimore County while DeGrange hails from Anne Arundel.

This year, Brochin is running for the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County Executive. Klausmeier is locked in a fierce reelection battle against Del. Christian Miele in her Baltimore County district. It voted for Hogan by 36 points but for Trump by less than 1. Bromwell represents the same turf.

In Anne Arundel, DeGrange has already announced his retirement from the Senate. His district went for Hogan by 17 but for Clinton by 12. Del. Pam Beidle, who is running for the Senate vacancy, voted to override Hogan’s veto in the House. Carey represents a more Republican leaning slice of Anne Arundel that went for Hogan by 30 points but gave Trump just 4% more than Clinton.

Wilson represents increasingly safe Democratic turf in Charles County – it went for Brown by 4 and Clinton beat Trump by 23 – so his flirtation with voting no would not have been due to reelection concerns. All other legislators from his district voted to override.

Despite the few defections by Democrats in both houses, party trumped any fear of Hogan. Increasingly, Democrats are betting that the political landscape in their district will resemble 2016 more than 2014. Even though Hogan will undoubtedly do better than Trump, his ability to pressure Democrats into agreement appears limited.

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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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Just In: Senate Overrides Hogan on Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia

Here’s the tally sheet. Democrats voting no are John Astle (D-Anne Arundel) and Jim Brochin (D-Baltimore County). Brochin is a regular Democratic defector but Astle is part of his party’s leadership team. No Republicans voted against the Governor. (UPDATE: I missed that Jim Mathias (D-Eastern Shore) also voted no. As always, thanks for the correction.)

Marijuana Override

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Ten Most Conservative Democratic Senators

ConsSen

While yesterday’s post focused on the most progressive members of the Democratic Senate Caucus, today 7S looks at the most conservative Democrats using the same data provided by Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty of state legislator ideology. Remember that a more negative score indicates a more progressive senator, so the bottom of the table indicates the most conservative senators. These scores are for the legislator’s entire career in the General Assembly and include House as well as Senate service.

Interestingly, only one of the most moderate Democrats hails from Baltimore City, Montgomery, or Prince George’s County. Prince George’s Sen. Anthony Muse, who backed Larry Hogan in the Governor’s race following a quixotic primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, is the seventh most conservative Democrat.

Baltimore County Sen. Jim Brochin is the most moderate Democrat, followed by Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, who also hails from Baltimore County. Sen. Bobby Zirkin, the eighth most moderate senator, is the final Baltimore County senator on the list. The other members of Baltimore County’s Senate delegation will be either African-American Democrats or Republicans. Sen. Jim DeGrange and Sen. John Astle, the fourth and fifth most conservative Democrats, represent Anne Arundel.

The final members of the list come from different counties. Sen. Jim Mathias, the third most moderate Democrat, represents the lower Eastern Shore. Sen. Mac Middleton is from increasingly Democratic Charles. Sen. Ron Young represents Frederick, a county that has become more Democratic than in the past in recent elections but went strongly for Larry Hogan.

Finally, Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, the most liberal member of this group of moderates is from Howard, a county that is now solidly Democratic in federal contests but that elected a moderate Republican, Alan Kittleman, as County Executive, and also voted for Larry Hogan.

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Senate Projections

Sen14Summaryratings for individual races are below

Looking over this year’s Senate races in Maryland reveals no threat to Democratic dominance. Republicans have no chance of even winning enough Senate seats to sustain a gubernatorial veto should Republican Nominee Hogan upset Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

The Democrats start with a built-in advantage with the 20 safe districts located in the big three Democratic counties of Montgomery (D15-20, D39), Prince George’s (D21-6, D47) and Baltimore City (D40-41, D43, D45-6). Add in the extremely safe seats in Baltimore County (D10 and D44), Charles (D28), and Howard (D13), and the Democrats reach a majority without breaking a sweat.

However, the Democratic advantage extends beyond structural. The Democrats demonstrate an ability to fight hard and win seats on Republican turf. Republicans don’t exhibit the same ability, which is why virtually all of the toss-up races are seats that Republicans should win but might not due to the strength of Democratic candidacies and support for them.

Here are the top four races to watch:

1. Mathias (D) v. McDermott (R), Toss Up
Incumbent Sen. Jim Mathias has a real fight on his hands to hold District 38 due to a challenge by Del. Mike McDermott in a race profiled earlier this year. Based on the district’s strong Republican lean, Mathias ought to lose but this former OC mayor is a born campaigner and has a huge financial advantage.

2. Dyson (D) v. Waugh (R), Toss Up
Roy Dyson has a resilience rare in politics, holding this seat since 1994 after losing his congressional seat in 1990 following a scandal that attracted national attention. Due to an increased naval presence, St. Mary’s Republican lean keeps getting stronger–Romney won 58% of the major-party vote–which leaves Dyson’s hold on it more precarious. Conservative Democrat Dyson has his hands full in his rematch against Steve Waugh, who came within 3 points of taking District 29 in 2010.

3. James (D) v. Cassilly (R), Toss Up
Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R) has decided to retire and Democrats have high hopes of taking this Harford County seat. Democrats did their best to carve out as Democratic district as possible in south Harford though District 34 still remains Republican territory. But Del. Mary-Dulany James has won elections here since 1998. She campaigns hard and is better funded than former Bel Air Mayor and Harford Councilmember Bob Cassilly.

4. Brochin (D) v. Robinson (R), Lean D
Sen. Jim Brochin has far more money than his Republican opponent, Tim Robinson, and is an indefatigable campaigner. I would rate the district Likely D except that Brochin has a lot of new Republican territory in this reshaped version of District 42. Still, he could be in trouble if a Republican wave hits hard here.

Sen14Proj

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Top Ten Senate Primaries, Part I

Simmons mailerMail Piece for Del. Simmons is Running for Senate in District 17

The most competitive challenges to incumbent senators usually occur when a delegate runs. In most of Maryland’s 47 legislative districts, three delegates run at-large and represent the exact same constituency as the senator.

As a result, they make excellent challengers. In 2010, then-Del. Karen Montgomery unseated Sen. Rona Kramer in the Democratic primary.  Sen. Nancy King and Sen. Jennie Forehand had very close shaves that same year running against either a delegate or former delegate.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, incumbent senators often eye their delegates with the same askance eye as Queen Victoria viewed the Prince of Wales. Nevertheless, most of the 39 incumbents seeking reelection do not face stiff primaries. These are the seven challenges by delegates or former delegates to incumbents to watch:

  • 4: Sen. Brinkley v. Del. Hough (R).
  • 25: Sen. Currie v. Del. Melony Griffith (D).
  • 26: Sen. Muse v. Del. Turner (D) and two others.
  • 36: Sen. Hershey v. former Del. Sossi (R).
  • 37: Sen. Colburn v. Del. Eckardt (R).
  • 42: Sen. Brochin v. former Del. DeJuliis (D).
  • 44: Sen. Jones-Rodwell v. Del. Nathan-Pulliam (D).

The challenging delegates in Districts 4 and 44 don’t necessarily have quite the same natural advantages as usual for sitting delegates because they ended being redistricted into another district and have represented less of their new district than the senator.

One other Senate challenger attracts notice even though he does not hold a seat in the House:

  • 43: Sen. Conway v. City Councilman Henry (D).

There are also two exciting primaries among the contests for the seven open seats. Both feature delegates looking to move to the Senate:

  • 17: Del. Simmons v. former Del. Kagan (D).
  • 34: Del. James v. former Sen. Helton (D).

Today, I preview and rate three senatorial contests among the ten with interesting primaries.

District 4 (R): Incumbent David Brinkley faces Del. Michael Hough (R 3), who has been redistricted into this very Republican district in Frederick County. While Brinkley has the home turf advantage, Hough has far more money. This will be a bloody contest with Hough coming at Brinkley from the right and arguing that Republicans need a true conservative to carry the flag. Brinkley has committed the heretical sin of working with the majority Democrats on occasion. More info here and here. Rating: Toss-Up.

District 17 (D): Sen. Jennie Forehand is retiring, so this Rockville-Gaithersburg seat in Montgomery is open. Del. Luiz Simmons, who won this district as a Democrat in 2002 (he previous represented it as a Republican from 1979 to 1983) is going for the open seat. He faces tough competition from former Del. Cheryl Kagan, who represented this district from 1995 through 2003. She challenged Forehand four years ago and nearly won, taking 48% of the primary vote.

Kagan will undoubtedly present Simmons as on the wrong or conservative side of too many issues, particularly domestic violence. In the past, Simmons opposed legislation pushed by Sen. Brian Frosh to change Maryland’s standard for obtaining a protective order from a “clear and convincing” standard to the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard used in every other state (see also WaPo editorial).

Simmons has had an election year change of heart, as outlined in a devastating column by Josh Kurtz. Simmons is working hard to inoculate himself on this issue with mail pieces (see above) and his avid sponsorship of legislation during this session. Still, this video of his interrogation of a domestic violence victim during a public hearing on the topic may cause him problems:

Interestingly, there is no sign that either Del. Kumar Barve or Del. Jim Gilchrist are rushing to slate with Simmons–a common practice when only one runs for Senate. The question remains if either will take the big step to slate with Kagan instead.

Simmons can self-fund, so he’ll outspend Kagan but she at least can fund raise during the session since she’s not in the General Assembly. Kagan has has a base of donors from her previous campaign and possibly can attract new ones who like Forehand but not Simmons.

But most importantly, she’ll need to run a good ground game–knock on doors and coordinate volunteers to do the same–to beat Simmons. He campaigns hard and clearly takes nothing for granted since he is sending out mail this early. Rating: Toss-Up.

District 42 (D): Incumbent Sen. Jim Brochin faces tough primary and general election contests in a greatly reshaped district. Gov. Martin O’Malley is supporting his challenger, former Del. Connie DeJuliis (more info here). However, Brochin is an indefatigable campaigner and has loads more money than DeJuliis, who served in the 1990s, despite her high level support. Unless Gov. O’Malley goes all in on this one–and he has a very competitive streak–Brochin has the edge. Rating: Likely Brochin.

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Brochin Leads, Lots of Intrigue in D42

D42New

The New Boundaries of Districts 42A and 42B

Redistricting altered substantially the boundaries of Baltimore County’s District 42. While the new district extends from the Baltimore City boundaries to Pennsylvania and is divided into two subdistricts for delegate elections, the old district (shown below) was a much smaller section of territory concentrated close to the City with no subdistricts. D42Old

The Old Boundaries of District 42

The new boundaries seemingly take in many new Republican voters, adding red territory in the northern part of the County and losing Democratic Pikesville precincts. The new District 42 is split in two with District 42B (two delegates) a GOP bastion and District 42A (one delegate) safe for the Democrats. The map below helps capture the partisan complexion of the area with bluer areas more Democratic and red areas more Republican (from Dave’s Redistricting). Dist42Partisanship

Partisan Complexion of northern Baltimore County

The new plan has been widely cast as an attempt to remove Sen. Jim Brochin from Senate by Governor O’Malley and Senate President Mike Miller. Certainly, there is no love lost by either on Brochin. Though Brochin has supported the Governor on some issues, he  vocal opposed him on others. Gov. O’Malley repaid the favor by endorsing his primary opponent, former Del. Connie DeJuliis. Maryland Reporter quotes an unusually restrained Mike Miller as playing it cool:

Miller said Brochin has not asked him for help in the race. “It’s very rare that I get involved in a Democratic primary,” said Miller, who has used a Senate PAC to funnel money to help Democratic incumbents get reelected.

“I wish them both well in the primary,” he said.

Miller is famously blunt when he wants to be–reporters surely bless him daily. But Miller’s lack of support for Brochin is unusual for Miller. He is fiercely protective of his caucus and normally backs them to the hilt in primary as well as general elections. The absence of Miller’s support speaks volumes. Brochin casts himself as the most independent and bipartisan member of the Senate. Some might assume that the new lines are punishment for failure to toe the liberal line. Certainly, the unions have joined O’Malley in lining up behind DeJuliis.

Politics is a team sport and Brochin’s independence can cost him friends. His support for marriage equality thrilled Equality Maryland but his vote against trans equality in the last session had the opposite effect. Picking a side can build allies. But lots of members of the legislature stray while remaining in the good graces of colleagues.

Members of the Democratic leadership are often quite understanding of legislators who cannot support them on a tough vote. Del. David Rudolph is extremely well-liked yet one of the most conservative Democrats in the House. Brochin’s problems lie not so much in his conservatism as his unpredictability. He likes to keep people guessing and changes sides frequently–characteristics that frustrate colleagues who value knowing where you stand, at least privately, with some regularity.

While the intent to hurt Brochin seems clear, and Brochin hated the new district lines enough to sue unsuccessfully over them, it is a bit murkier to me. As much as O’Malley and Miller might be happy to toast Brochin’s departure, neither wants to lose a Democratic seat.

The evidence that the new district is drastically less safer for Democrats is pretty thin on the ground. The old district elected two Republican delegates, though Brochin managed a comfortable if not overwhelming 58% in 2010.

In the Senate race for the new district, the Democrats are also looking good. The one Republican in the race has $7K in his campaign account–Bob Ehrlich’s endorsement hasn’t exactly raked in the cash. Looks like a far more exciting battle for the Democratic nomination between Brochin and DeJuliis.

In the fundraising battle, Brochin has $229K in the bank compared to just $42K for DeJuliis. But she can raise money during the session while Brochin cannot. On the other hand, various interests might not want to cross him during the session.

Money is not everything and DeJuliis could well be on her way to having enough funds to be competitive. Her union backing could give her a wealth of volunteers. However, DeJuliis won her sole delegate election in 1990, so this is not the same as the classic delegate-senator matchups elsewhere.

DeJuliis narrowly last the primary for the 2nd Congressional District with 35% in 1994. She received the nomination in 1996 but got badly beat by Bob Ehrlich. All of which is ancient electoral history at this point. Brochin looks well positioned to win both the primary and the general. Still, even if Brochin wins, O’Malley and Miller sure have made him sweat.

On the House side, Del. Stephen Lafferty can breather easier in cozily Democratic 42A with $86K in his campaign account. Del. Susan Aumann ($63K available) looks ready to coast to reelection in Republican 42B with others battling it out for the second GOP nomination. So far, only one Democrat has even bothered to file in the two seat subdistrict.

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