December 3, 2012

State Roundup, December 3, 2012

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SURPRISE GOP SWITCH, MOONEY STAYS: The Maryland Republican Party rejected a resolution Saturday calling on the newly elected Cecil County executive to step down after she changed her party affiliation from the GOP to independent. Meanwhile, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun, a much-discussed move to call for state GOP Chairman Alex Mooney’s resignation never materialized.

Josh Shannon of the Cecil Whig reports that Cecil County Executive Tari Moore changed her party from Republican to unaffiliated, a move that will eliminate the Republican Central Committee’s role in determining who will replace her on the County Council, a seat she will resign today before being sworn in as executive.

But Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com said Moore’s unusual political maneuver might not be as traitorous as it appears. He also gives lots of space to former gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey, who addresses Lazarick’s Friday blog on how poorly Republicans have performed in recent statewide elections.

Political blogger Richard Cross, writing for the Frederick News-Post, says that Republicans’ attempts to achieve relevance in Maryland will take more intelligent strategies than are currently being put forth.

Cross also blogs in his own Cross Purposes column that at the Maryland GOP convention, it was hard to get a global sense of where the party stands, other than pervasive surprise and disappointment at the 2012 election results, as well as uncertainty over the party’s future direction.

NEW YEAR’S DAY WEDDINGS: Ultimately, it will be up to clerks of county courts to decide whether to issue marriage licenses early enough to accommodate gay couples who want to wed on New Year’s Day. But House Speaker Michael Busch left little doubt Friday as to what he would like to see the clerks do: Allow marriages to occur Jan. 1, writes John Wagner in the Post.

FIGHT FOR FBI HQ: Virginia and Maryland are ramping up to fight over a development project that would be an economic boon to the state that lands it: the new headquarters of the FBI, writes Taylor Holland for the Washington Examiner.

O’MALLEY’S LIMELIGHT: President Barack Obama no longer needs Gov. Martin O’Malley as a top campaign surrogate, and the Democratic Governors Association is set to elect someone else as its chairman today when the group meets in Los Angeles, writes Annie Linskey in the Sun. But neither development is likely to push Maryland’s governor off the national stage.

NOW THAT I CAN DANCE: David Moon of Maryland Juice is blogging about a flash mob held in Silver Spring on Saturday in honor of Sen. Jamie Raskin’s 50th birthday. You can view an amateur video of the event. A fundraiser held afterward attracted 600.

TERPS MOVE: Gazette columnist Blair Lee is plenty ticked off about the University of Maryland Terps move to the Big Ten.

In his Gazette column, Barry Rascovar takes a different view, saying that while Maryland athletics and academics are no match for the Big Ten, the school and its students will ultimately benefit. Grieving the loss is understandable, but alums and fans should get over it.

(The Lee and Rascovar columns were not posted online early Friday morning.)

POST-ELECTION PUNDITRY: In a Gazette op-ed, American University professor Allan Lichtman explains how all the post-election explanations of Mitt Romney’s defeat don’t unlock our understanding of the election. As MarylandReporter.com has reported this fall, Lichtman’s13 Keys to the White House do.

PEPCO RATE HIKE: Victor Zapana of the Post reports that Pepco, the regional utility company that has come under fire in recent years for reliability problems, on Friday filed a $61 million rate request in Maryland that, if approved, would raise the average monthly bill of residential customers by $7.13, or about 5%.

ALSTON REPLACEMENT: The headline scrawled across the Web site of the Prince George’s County Young Democrats last week was intended to be provocative, taking aim at Gov. O’Malley for his refusal to let a reformed drug dealer fill an open seat in the state legislature, reports Aaron Davis in the Post. “Governor O’Malley, do you believe in redemption?”

In the related Tiffany Alston situation, John Wagner reports in the Post that if she were reinstated by a court as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, it would trigger a review by a legislative ethics committee that could recommend a punishment up to and including expulsion.

PG DELEGATION BILLS: Miranda Spivack of the Post reports that two dozen bills that the Prince George’s County’s 23-member House delegation reviewed Saturday in advance of the Jan. 9 opening of the General Assembly included one to allow county volunteer firehouses to hold poker games, giving a raise to water authority commissioners and adding a 5-cent bag tax.

Prince George’s County officials are pushing for a change in the way the state government calculates county wealth that would bring a $20 million windfall, writes Matt Connolly of the Washington Examiner.

SANDY IMPACT ON MD: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski and U.S. Rep. Andy Harris testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday about the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the importance of federal aid to clean up the aftermath, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star-Democrat.