Tag Archives: Mike Miller

If Mike Miller is an NRA Tool, He Hides It Well

Senate President Mike Miller has been attacked for accepting donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA). The last donation to Sen. Miller from the NRA occurred in 2009. As Senate President, Miller has a lot of power to derail initiatives he doesn’t like. So what has happened since then?

Maryland now has some of strictest gun control laws on the books. Here are some of the gun safety initiatives that not only passed the Senate on Miller’s watch but also received his vote.

Since 2012, he voted against one bill, HB 209, which was a crossfile of SB 640 listed above. It nonetheless passed the Senate.

In short, characterizing Miller as an enemy of gun safety laws isn’t accurate. Miller has not been a barrier to the passage of new gun safety laws and has supported many of the key provisions.

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SEIU Local 500 Endorses “Take a Hike Mike” Candidates

By Adam Pagnucco.

As part of its campaign against Senate President Mike Miller, SEIU Local 500 has endorsed eleven State Senate candidates whom it believes will “change the leadership in the State Senate and, most importantly, change the way things are done in the legislature.”  One of the candidates is Tommi Makila, Miller’s primary election opponent.  The union has previously announced its support for some of these candidates, like Dana Beyer in District 18 and its own member, Aletheia McCaskill, in District 44.  We reprint the union’s press release below.

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For Immediate Release
May 7, 2018
Contact: Christopher Honey
honeyc@seiu500.org,

SEIU Local 500 Endorses eleven “Take a Hike Mike” Candidates
Union is supporting candidates that support new leadership in Annapolis

(Gaithersburg, MD) Today, Service Employees International Union Local 500 announces it has selected its initial eleven candidates across the State of Maryland whom they believe will go to Annapolis and change the leadership in the State Senate and, most importantly, change the way things are done in the legislature.

“We need to elect people who will stand up against the status quo in the State Senate. That is why, today we are announcing our support for a team of Senate candidates who will do what it takes to get the people’s business done” said Merle Cuttitta, President of SEIU Local 500.

“We will be supporting this team of candidates with our trademark boots on the ground, digital, paid mail and earned media. We intend to send the message loud and clear that a vote for these candidates is a vote for progress in Annapolis,” added President Cuttitta.

The following candidates are being endorsed today:

District 10 (Baltimore County) – Rob Johnson

District 11 (Baltimore County) – Sheldon Laskin

District 18 (Montgomery County) – Dr. Dana Beyer

District 23 (Prince Georges County) – Tim Adams

District 25 (Prince Georges County) – Delegate Angela Angel

District 27 (Prince Georges, Calvert and Charles Counties) – Tommi Makila

District 40 (Baltimore City) – Delegate Antonio Hayes

District 41 (Baltimore CIty) Senator Jill Carter

District 43 (Baltimore City) Delegate Mary Washington

District 44 (Baltimore City and County) – Aletheia McCaskill

District 45 (Baltimore City) – Delegate Cory McCray

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Fed-Up SEIU Launches “Take a Hike Mike” Website and Super PAC

By Adam Pagnucco.

SEIU Local 500 launched its anti-Mike Miller campaign on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis today.  Attending the rally in addition to SEIU members were former Delegate Jill Carter, who is running for Senate in the district of the recently resigned Nathaniel Oaks; Sheldon Laskin, who is running for Senate against incumbent Bobby Zirkin; Mila Johns, who is running for Delegate in District 18; and of course Miller’s mortal enemy, Comptroller Peter Franchot.  Daily Record reporter Bryan Sears streamed video of the event on Facebook.  The union announced the launch of a new anti-Miller super PAC and a “Take a Hike Mike” website which we screen shot below.

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SEIU Local 500 Prepares for War on Mike Miller

By Adam Pagnucco.

SEIU Local 500, one of the largest unions in Maryland, has scheduled an event on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis next week at which it intends to announce “plans to bring about the end of Mike Miller’s tenure as President of the Senate.”

SEIU Local 500 had over 8,000 members and a $5.8 million budget in the year ended 9/30/17.  Its biggest categories of membership are MCPS support staff, childcare workers and adjunct professors.  Its endorsement is highly valued by MoCo politicians and it has a respected political program.  As it has grown over the years, it has become more of a statewide organization in contrast to its roots as a MoCo public employees union.  It has had great success organizing adjunct professors and its top state legislative priority in recent years has been a bill allowing community college employees the right to organize.  (Currently, collective bargaining is prohibited at most Maryland community colleges.)  The bill has died several years in a row and most recently was withdrawn by its Senate sponsor, Guy Guzzone (D-13).

The union blames Mike Miller for not only killing this bill but also blocking other progressive legislation over the years.  Two other sore spots for progressives are the General Assembly sexual harassment bill, which passed the House on a 138-0 vote but has not moved in the Senate, and the $15 minimum wage bill, which has not moved in either chamber.  Also, progressives have not forgotten Miller’s support for the Roger Taney statue on the statehouse grounds.  To be fair, other liberal priorities in the past like marriage equality, the abolition of the death penalty, gun control, the DREAM Act and sick leave could not have passed without Miller’s support – or at least his acceptance.

This conflict has been brewing for years but now apparently SEIU Local 500 is ready to call the question.  The union has posted a Facebook event for next Monday titled, “On Sine Die, Miller Time is Up” on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis.  The union wrote, “Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. has served as President of the Maryland State Senate since 1987. His page on the General Assembly website boasts that he is the “Longest Serving Maryland Senate President and Longest Serving President of the Senate in the United States.” His name is on the Senate Office Building. Senate committee chairpersons serve at his pleasure. Because no bill reaches the Senate floor without his approval, Miller obstructs legislation that would benefit the hardest working and suffering Marylanders. Join SEIU Local 500 for the announcement of plans to bring about the end of Mike Miller’s tenure as President of the Senate.”

We don’t know exactly what the union is planning and will find out along with the rest of the world next week.  But in the meantime, it’s worth pondering this advice from famous philosopher Omar Little.  “You come at the king, you best not miss.”

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Who is Getting Money from the NRA?

By Adam Pagnucco.

In the wake of the latest mass school shooting, many are asking about the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is dedicated to blocking virtually all restrictions on firearms.  The NRA has not been particularly successful in Maryland, where one of the nation’s strictest gun control laws was signed by Governor Martin O’Malley five years ago.  But that has not stopped the NRA from trying to influence Maryland politicians by contributing money.

We looked up all contributions to state and local political committees in Maryland from the NRA itself and its PAC, the NRA Political Victory Fund, on the State Board of Elections website.  We identified 49 contributions totaling $22,450 from the 2006 cycle on.  Of that total, $12,300 (55%) went to Democratic committees and $10,150 (45%) went to Republicans.  Fourteen committees received $500 or more and we identify them below.  We also list the last date of contribution from the NRA; bear in mind that some folks on this list have not received NRA money in several years.

All of the above candidates were incumbents except Tim Robinson, who ran as a Republican against Senator Jim Brochin (D-42) in 2014.  Brochin was himself a former recipient of NRA money and is now running for Baltimore County Executive.  Democratic Senators Kathy Klausmeier (D-8) and Jim Mathias (D-38) are facing tough GOP challengers this cycle and have accepted NRA money in the last year.

Ten of the above recipients were in the General Assembly when the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, Governor O’Malley’s landmark gun control law, was passed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  Those voting for the bill included Senators Mike Miller (D-27) and Jim Brochin (D-42).  Those voting no included Senators John Astle (D-30), Ed DeGrange (D-32), George Edwards (R-1), Kathy Klausmeier (D-8), Jim Mathias (D-38), E.J. Pipkin (R-36) and Bryan Simonaire (R-31) and Delegate Tony O’Donnell (R-29C).

Additionally, Astle’s campaign committee actually gave money to the NRA.  In 2006, Astle’s account made a $300 expenditure to the NRA and remarked, “This membership increases Senator Astle’s visibility and allows him to network with potential voters and contributors.”

One more recipient of NRA cash stands out:  Derek Hopkins, the Republican Register of Wills in Harford County, who collected $100 from the NRA in 2010.  Perhaps this is unsurprising since mass proliferation of guns and the writing of wills seem sadly interrelated.

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Part II: Democrats Most Likely to Lose 1-2 Senate Seats

Part I looked at the relationship between Trump’s share of the vote and Democratic success in Virginia’s state house elections. Today, I look and see what the Virginia results indicate for Maryland Senate races.

Using a statistical technique called logit, I estimated the probability of Democratic victories in all 47 districts based on the relationship between the share of the vote won by Trump and election outcomes in Virginia.

I also controlled for the presence of Republican incumbents. The statistical model indicated that the relationship is not statistically significant, but the inclusion of this factor results in slightly lower probabilities of success in districts with GOP incumbents. (All Democratic incumbents won and represented seats Clinton won by 15 points, so I cannot similarly control for any advantage held by Democratic incumbents.)

The statistical model suggests that Democrats are most likely to lose 1 or 2 seats in the Senate. A more conservative estimate would be that the Democrats lose 0 to 3 seats. Even a loss of 3 seats would leave Democrats with more than enough to override a Hogan veto should he overcome tough political winds and win reelection.

Which seats are most likely to shift?

Most Vulnerable Democratic Seat

Sen. Jim Mathias defies political gravity in holding Eastern Shore District 38, which gave Trump 61% of the vote – a full 28 points higher than the share received by Clinton. But this former Ocean City Mayor earns it by out hustling his opponents in every way and is a born politician. He beat a delegate in 2014 and will likely face one-term Del. Mary Beth Carozza this year.

District 38 has three subdistricts so Carozza has represented just one-third of the district, including Mathias’s home in Ocean City. She has $114K in the bank compared to $250K for Mathias. Senate President Miller spent big to aid Mathias in 2014 and is prepared to do it again. Hogan and the Republicans have also promised to invest large sums, but the big question is whether Hogan will decide he needs to money for himself.

Despite in theory being a lock for Republicans, this race is a conundrum. Statistically. Mathias should be a dead duck. But the same was true in 2014. Why should Mathias now lose in 2018, expected to be a good Democratic year? Additionally, my model cannot control for any positive impact of Democratic incumbency. I rate it a toss-up.

Vulnerable Democrats?

Recall from Part I that seats that had the potential to go either way in Virginia fell into the range of giving Trump between 40.5% and 48.0% of the vote. Only five Maryland Senate seats fall into this range, all held by Democrats:

Individually, Democrats are likely to win each of the seats. None are particularly encouraging for Republicans. Collectively, the model indicates a 60% chance of losing one of these seats.

District 3: Frederick
As usual, Republicans plan on going after Sen. Ron Young in Frederick. Good luck with that. The model suggests he is a lock, and this ignores that Frederick has been trending Democratic or that Democrats thumped Republicans in last year’s City of Frederick elections to win control of the mayoralty and city council. Trump lost to Clinton by 8 points in this district. Not going to happen.

District 27: Anne Arundel, Calvert and Prince George’s
Similarly, taking down Senate President Mike Miller would be quite a prize for Republicans. The model gives Republicans a 1 percent shot in this district Trump lost by over 5 points. However, it’s virtually impossible to see how the always well-prepared Miller, the longest serving legislative leader in American history, goes down in territory he has won easily for decades.

District 30: Anne Arundel
The next three seats have Republicans salivating but the model indicates that they are underdogs in each. Sen. John Astle’s retirement from his Annapolis-based district, after losing the primary for city’s mayoralty, leaves a vacancy. Even so, Republicans have only a 14% shot at picking up this district.

Democrats are very pleased with their dynamic and politically experienced candidate, Sarah Elfreth. As in Frederick, Democrats gave Republicans a hiding in the 2017 Annapolis municipal elections. Former Del. Ron George has a clear path to the Republican nomination, as Del. Herb McMillan has given the race a pass. George ran for governor in 2014, losing Anne Arundel to Hogan in the primary by a 2-1 margin. However, George has a bank balance of $169K to $50K for Elfreth.

District 8: Baltimore
Republicans seem to think that they have a shot at taking out Sen. Kathy Klausmeier. The model indicates they have a 1 in 6 chance of victory but that doesn’t take into account any incumbency benefit held by Klausmeier. Their candidate, Del. Christian Miele, doesn’t seem too excited about his prospects, sensing that voter anger with Trump will dominate:

“It definitely gives you some heartburn as a Republican when you see what just happened,” said Republican Delegate Christian J. Miele, of Baltimore County, who is challenging Democratic state Sen. Katherine Klausmeier. “We’re all wondering if 2018 is going to be a continued referendum on the president.”

As Trump’s life goal is to be in the headlines, the answer seems clear. Miele has $87K in the bank compared to $194 for Klausmeier, who is well liked in her district but taking nothing for granted. There are rumors that Miele might just run for reelection for delegate.

District 42: Baltimore
Sen. Jim Brochin is retiring to run for county executive. The most conservative Democrat in the Senate, Brochin had both a tough primary and general last time around. The improved political climate suggests that Democrats have a 72% probability of holding the seat. Del. Chris West (42B) is running for the Republicans. Democrats have two candidates, Robbie Leonard and Gretchen Manavel. Sources tell me Leonard, a former county party chair, has the advantage with local activists but that Manavel has money and the energy – and would be a stronger candidate.

Not Vulnerable

District 32: Anne Arundel
Republicans think they have a good chance of picking up retiring moderate Sen. Ed DeGrange’s seat. Wrong. Clinton carried the district by 12 and it’s not going to happen barring a massive sea change in the political environment. Del. Pam Beidle is a very strong candidate and will win. Republicans are spinning their wheels here.

Vulnerable Republicans?

There are four seats where Democrats hope to play but will likely fall short.

District 9: Howard
Sen. Gail Bates is the most vulnerable Republican but still holds a seat Trump won by nearly 8. The Carroll County portion of her district will likely save her from going down to defeat, as Howard includes less favorable territory even if it is by far the more Republican portion of the county. Democrats have nevertheless recruited a strong candidate in Katie Hester ready to take advantage of any wave.

District 6: Baltimore
For Democrats, this was a real heartbreaker race in 2014 as Del. John Olszewski, Jr., known to one and all as Johnny O, lost by less than 3% to now Sen. Johnny Ray Salling. Democrats think that Salling didn’t so much win as became the accidental senator due to the hellacious political climate. Though Salling is seen as a lightweight who doesn’t work hard in office or at fundraising – he has just $30K in his campaign account – this was territory Trump carried by 15 points that shifted GOP across the board in 2014 and 2016.

Democrats have recruited a local activist and electrician, Bud Staigerwald, who fits the district well and is strongly backed by Comptroller Peter Franchot. Staigerwald lost a primary for Council District 7 in 2014.

District 34: Harford
Sen. Bob Cassilly represents the more Democratic turf in Harford but it’s still Republican and went for Trump by 11 points. Del. Mary-Dulany James, a strong and well-funded candidate, lost by 14.5% to now Sen. Bob Cassilly. Democrats think that they can take Casilly this time around but it will remain tough. Their ability to take advantage of opportunity will improve substantially if the locally deep-rooted James runs again.

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Washington Challenges Conway, Part I

Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43) has not made her intentions clear regarding running for reelection but that has not stopped Del. Mary Washington (D-43) from throwing down the gauntlet and declaring her intention to run for the seat.

After winning election to the Baltimore City Council in 1995, Conway was appointed to the Senate in 1997 when Sen. John Pica, Jr. retired. Since then, she has won the Democratic nomination—tantamount to election in this district—five times. While Conway has faced stronger challenges in recent years, she has continued to win convincingly.

Past Democratic Primary Results in District 43
2014: Conway, 64.5%, Councilman Bill Henry (D-4), 35.5%.
2010: Conway, 69.5%, Hector Torres, 30.5%
2006: Conway, 92.0%, Dave Vane, 8.0%
2002: Conway, 100.0%
1998: Conway, 100.0%.

In 2014, Conway dispatched Councilman Bill Henry with ease, winning by a margin of 29%. Henry’s expenditure of $45,687.36, while not insubstantial, was below the threshold needed to take on an entrenched incumbent. Challengers don’t need to outspend incumbents but they do need enough for key expenditures.

Conway spent $146,993.41 in 2014 and this does not include any independent expenditures made on her behalf, though it does include some expenses for the general election. Though she once again contemplating retirement, having packed up her Senate office, Conway remains financially prepared to wage a serious reelection battle with $108,567.58 in her campaign account according to her January report from this year.

Conway has an interesting relationship with Senate President Mike Miller. While they don’t get along personally, Conway has long been part of Miller’s leadership team as Chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. After the primary in 2014, Conway transferred $35,000 from her campaign account to Miller’s Democratic Senatorial Committee Slate and another $5,000 to conservative Sen. Roy Dyson (D-29). In short, there has been little friction on legislative or political matters even if Miller and Conway will never be BFFs.

Tomorrow, we take a closer look at the challenger, Del. Mary Washington.

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Miller Causes a Huge Headache for Maryland Democrats

By Adam Pagnucco.

Democrats all over the country have lately been demanding that Confederate statues and other monuments celebrating slavery be taken down.  That extends to Maryland, where Baltimore Mayor Cathy Pugh had four Confederate monuments removed in the middle of the night.  But when Maryland Democrats demanded that an Annapolis statue of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney also be removed, they ran into opposition from arguably the state’s most powerful Democratic politician: Senate President Mike Miller.

Democrats’ objections to Taney are rooted in his authoring of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which held that descendants of Africans imported as slaves into the U.S. could not be American citizens.  In 2015, Governor Larry Hogan defended the Taney statue in Annapolis in the Washington Post.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he is opposed to a change in the state song and likened the effort to calls for removing the statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, author of the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, from the grounds of the State House.

“It’s political correctness run amok,” Hogan said in an interview last week. “Where do we stop? Do we get rid of the George Washington statues out here and take down all the pictures from all the people from the Colonial era that were slave owners? Do we change the name of Washington County, Carroll County and Calvert County?

“You can’t change history, and we’re not going to be able to rewrite history,” Hogan said. “And I don’t think we ought to be changing any of that.”

After Democrats including House Speaker Mike Busch pushed back this week, Hogan changed his mind and agreed to remove the statue.  The Governor was one of three members of the four-member board with jurisdiction over the statue to vote for removal.  But one member of the board objected to the process of deciding the issue by email: Senate President Mike Miller.  In his letter, Miller argued that Taney opposed slavery and “freed his slaves early in his life,” joined an “anti-kidnapping society” to protect free blacks and remained loyal to the Union until his death.  Miller also cited support for the statue from former Baltimore City Delegate Pete Rawlings and a descendant of Dred Scott.  We reprint the letter below.

Whatever one thinks of Miller’s opinion, it’s a big headache for Maryland Democrats.  Much of their strategy to oppose Governor Hogan has been to criticize him for silence in the face of actions by President Donald Trump.  That strategy has affected the behavior of the Governor, who just said that Trump “made a terrible mistake” in his comments on the white supremacist invasion of Charlottesville.  But what of Miller?  If his comments on the Taney statue had come from Hogan, Maryland Democrats would be swarming all over him.  What happens when such sentiments come from one of the most powerful Democrats in the state?

One Democrat who did not blanch from criticizing the Senate President was Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for Governor.  Madaleno wrote on Facebook that Miller “is wrong.”

The rest of the Democrats now have a choice.  They can be intellectually honest and take on one of the leaders of their party.  Or they can ignore Miller and look like hypocrites.

As with Hogan on Trump, silence is not an option.

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