October 15, 2013

State Roundup, October 15, 2013

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RURAL COUNTIES COALITION: A coalition of rural counties wants to get the word out about the importance of rural counties to Maryland’s economy. To that end, the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition plans an economic summit for Nov. 15 in Annapolis at the Governor Calvert House, reports Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times News.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette addresses cellphone use while driving and the solutions to prevent distracted driving.

SIX SEEK 36th DISTRICT SEAT: Six people seek to be the newest delegate from the upper Shore’s District 36, writes Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star-Democrat. “It is wonderful to have six qualified and enthusiastic applicants who wish to serve the citizens of the 36th District in the Maryland Assembly,” said Rob Willoughby, chairman of the Caroline County Republican Central Committee, which is among several central committees that must nominate someone to be sent to the governor for approval. They seek to fill the seat vacated by Steve Hershey when he was named to replace state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who left for Texas.

GANSLER PICKS IVEY: In formally unveiling Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s) as his running mate Monday, Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler created an all-Washington-region ticket, defying one of the traditional geographic dictates of state politics: Candidates anchored in the District’s suburbs typically choose someone from the Baltimore region, and vice versa, writes John Wagner of the Post.

The fact that Gansler hopes to win with a Washington-suburban ticket illustrates a long-term drift of political power away from Baltimore, write Erin Cox and Michael Dresser in the Sun. Its population decline and shrinking legislative representation have been matched by the growth of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties as the powerhouses of Democratic politics.

Kate Alexander of the Gazette reports that John Willis, professor of government and public policy at University of Baltimore, said that perhaps what matters more than geography is the compatibility between Ivey and Gansler.

But, thanks to the recent reports from state troopers that Gansler is a reckless backseat driver, Gansler’s press event wasn’t what he wanted. A crowd of perhaps 20 reporters and videographers was chasing a source who didn’t want to talk, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. That was the scene at High Point High School in Beltsville Monday at noon, as Gansler scooted into a waiting SUV with a state trooper at the wheel. Supporters had run interference as the AG made his exit.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV also reports on Gansler staying mum of the state trooper report during the running mate announcement, and has video of him driving away – no speeding or lights blaring.

WHAT MATTERS: The editorial board for the Sun writes that Gansler’s announcement of his selection of the well-qualified Prince George’s Del. Ivey as his running mate in next year’s gubernatorial election is being overshadowed by the report that he routinely ordered state troopers to violate traffic laws while they were driving him and by predictable knee-jerk parochialism in Baltimore about an all-Washington suburbs ticket. The first issue warrants some concern; the second does not.

Here’s Baltimore Brew’s take on the regional issue.

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IVEY’S RACE: Ivey, 52, is in her second term in Maryland’s House of Delegates, and is the first African-American woman to run for lieutenant governor, writes Alex Jackson for the Capital-Gazette.

Erin Cox of the Sun reports that after Ivey told a Baltimore crowd she hopes to be Maryland’s first African-American female lieutenant governor, she discussed what it means to be a fair-skinned black woman whose racial heritage is often questioned.

BROWN SLAMS TICKET: Maryland Juice posts a press release from the Anthony Brown-Ken Ulman campaign issued just after Gansler announced Ivey as his running mate. The release highlights disagreements between Gansler and Ivey on several policy issues.

The Sun’s Erin Cox writes that Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said in a statement, “We are hopeful that Delegate Ivey … can explain to the Attorney General why his views are wrong on these important issues.”

CARSON ON SLAVERY REMARKS: Dr. Ben Carson defends his equating Obamacare with slavery, saying that his detractors miss the point on purpose. WBFF-TV reports the story.

WA CO INFRASTRUCTURE: An 18-month project examining Washington County’s public works systems will be unveiled during a public meeting Tuesday night. The Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission’s countywide infrastructure needs assessment report will be presented during a meeting of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, writes C.J. Lovelace for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

WATER SERVICE: The Wicomico County Council voted unanimously Monday to create an urban service district around the neighborhoods polluted with trichloroethylene. The vote came after a lengthy public hearing where residents voiced both support and opposition for the $8 million project that was seen by a majority of residents and county officials as the best way to provide the community with clean, safe drinking water, Jennifer Shutt reports in the Salisbury Daily Times.