May 29, 2014

State Roundup, May 29, 2014

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CIGARETTE TAX PLEDGE: Two hundred sixteen candidates for the Maryland General Assembly have signed a pledge to raise cigarette taxes next year by $1 a pack, disappointing a coalition of business groups that had asked candidates not to sign the promise, Len Lazarick writes for MarylandReporter.com.

  • Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post reports that Roger Wilson, a candidate for the House of Delegates, said he has lost two relatives to health problems arising from cigarette smoking. In part because of his personal experience, Wilson said he has always looked for ways to curb tobacco use. So when a proposal to raise the state’s cigarette tax by $1 per pack came to his attention, the Democrat from District 3A didn’t hesitate to pledge his support.

BUSINESS CONUNDRUM: While some businesses say Maryland isn’t business friendly because of its taxing policies and a union friendly atmosphere, business leaders in state government say don’t expect Maryland to be Texas or Virginia. The editorial board for the Frederick News Post sees the conundrum and urges the state to find a way to give strong consideration to manufacturers’ needs.

ENERGY RENAISSANCE?: Drew Cobbs of the Maryland Petroleum Council writes in an op-ed in the Annapolis Capital that America’s energy renaissance is creating jobs and transforming local economies across the nation. Thanks to its position above the Bakken Shale formation, North Dakota’s per-capita income has jumped more than 100% since 2000, and it is home to the nation’s lowest unemployment rate of 2.6%. Maryland does not have the energy resources of North Dakota or Texas, but we do have a great opportunity to benefit from the energy revolution by opening an export facility.

O’MALLEY HEADS TO IOWA: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is weighing a 2016 White House bid, is heading back to Iowa next month for a pair of events that will expose him to activists in the nation’s first presidential nominating state, writes John Wagner in the Post.

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SIGN LANGUAGE: Opinionater Dean Minnich of the Carroll County Times writes a humorous piece on campaign sign theft and how it reflects on the candidates and the primary

UNWANTED WISHES: An Emmitsburg resident has complained that Del. Michael Hough is using taxpayer funds to boost his campaign by sending out birthday notes on official letterhead, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News Post.

FROSH AD: Arelis Hernández of the Post reports that attorney general candidate Brian Frosh is putting his campaign war chest to work releasing the first television ad of the campaign season ahead of the Democratic Party primary in June. You can view the ad on top of the story.

TV BLITZ: Maryland voters can expect to see an escalating barrage of television ads before the June 24 primary for governor, a blitz that will be fueled by the nearly $9 million the contenders have in the bank. Most of that money will be spent on the Democratic contest. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown leads with about $4 million on hand, but Attorney General Doug Gansler has $3 million — enough to pay for a sustained presence on the air. And Del. Heather Mizeur, with nearly $1 million, says she’ll be on TV as well. Michael Dresser and Jeff Barker report the story for the Sun.

BROWN’S ‘MISSED CONNECTION:’ “You were originally supposed to appear in Northwest Baltimore at 8pm tonight, but never arrived. You are 52 year old male, five foot something tall, and reside in Prince George’s county.” Julie Scharper of the Sun writes that after Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown skipped Tuesday’s debate on Fox 45, someone posted a “Missed Connection” for him on Craigslist.

WHERE HE WAS: Colin Campbell of the Sun reports that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown skipped the third televised Democratic governor’s candidate debate Tuesday night in favor of a small forum with several dozen people in Northwest Baltimore. After telling a story of his poor Jamaican background, Brown spent the roughly hour-long Q&A session at the Renaissance Gardens Senior Center addressing questions on education, health care and jobs, among other topics.

GUBERNATORIAL RACE COFFERS: The Maryland gubernatorial ticket of Anthony Brown raised about four times as much money in recent months as that of his Democratic rival Doug Gansler and entered the home stretch of the primary with $1 million more in the bank than Gansler, the campaigns reported Tuesday, writes John Wagner for the Post.

CONSERVATION VOTERS BACK BROWN: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown picked up an endorsement of his gubernatorial bid Wednesday from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, one of the two major environmental groups to weigh in on the contest, writes John Wagner of the Post. The group praised Brown for including a “strong and robust environmental agenda” as part of his campaign and also credited the work he has done with Gov. Martin O’Malley during the past eight years.

DUTCH MATTERS: Fraser Smith, opinion guru for WYPR-FM, says that without a Baltimore candidate, the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger matters in the gubernatorial race.

HOWARD EXEC RACE FUND DIVIDE: The money difference in the Howard County executive race is about the same as it was in January, writes Amanda Yeager in the Sun. According to the latest round of campaign finance reports released by both candidates, with $732,325.43 in cash on hand, Democratic candidate Courtney Watson, a County Council member, has more than twice as many funds as Republican candidate Allan Kittleman, a state senator who reported having $312,728.47 to spend as of May 20.

FREDERICK EXEC RACE FUNDS: Two candidates in the historic race for Frederick County executive have gained a formidable fundraising lead over the other contenders during the first part of 2014, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. Commissioners President Blaine Young raised the most money of the four candidates, hauling in about $53,000 over the reporting period from Jan. 9 to May 20. Jan Gardner, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, gathered the second-highest amount, about $42,000.

FAILURE TO FILE: Several Frederick County candidates faced fines Wednesday for failing to file campaign finance reports by the Tuesday deadline, according to the Frederick News Post.

DUNCAN’S BULLY PULPIT: At 58, Doug Duncan wants to reclaim the post of Montgomery County executive and is competing in the June 24 Democratic primary against his successor Ike Leggett, and council member Phil Andrews. Bill Turque of the Post writes that Duncan used the executive’s job as a bully pulpit to drive his agenda for the county. At a burly 6-foot-4, he was restless, impulsive and impatient, sometimes searingly so, with those who weren’t on board. He often described the county’s sleepy political culture as “paralysis by analysis.”

SCHUH-NEUMAN MONEY RACE: With less than one month to go until the primary election, Anne Arundel County executive Republican candidate Steve Schuh has more than twice as much cash on hand than his rival, incumbent Laura Neuman, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. In campaign finance reports filed on Tuesday, Schuh reported a balance of $666,310 to Neuman’s $257,311.