RECORD EARLY VOTING TURNOUT: With a surge of 29,000 voters on Thursday, a record 141,590 Marylanders voted early for Tuesday’s primary, with slightly more than 5% of eligible Democrats (105,339) going to the polls. As they have in the past two elections with early voting, Republicans continue to show up in smaller numbers, with only 3.5% (34,112) casting ballots.
STATE OF THE HEALTH EXCHANGE FIX: 149 days. That’s how much time the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange has left to implement a brand-new, fully functional website for individuals to shop for health insurance, reports Alissa Gulin for the Daily Record. MHBE officials pledged to have the new system — which would replace the original, malfunctioning Maryland Health Connection site — up and running by Nov. 15, when the next open enrollment period begins. But it’s nearly impossible to verify if the agency is on schedule and on budget, and it’s unclear who — if anyone — has external oversight of the project.
DEPORTATION POLICY CRITICIZED: A policy that Gov. Martin O’Malley said would limit deportations from Baltimore City to cases in which the immigrant poses a threat to public safety is facing criticism from advocates, who say it contains a loophole so large it will inevitably fall short of that goal, reports John Fritze for the Sun.
ECONOMIC STAGNATION: Maryland’s economic growth was zero in 2013. Nothing. Nada. Zip, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News Post. While the state’s suppressive attitude to business is certainly one factor in why things ground to a halt last year, the real story is Maryland’s reliance on the federal government, the board writes. Cuts to federal funding are a key reason why Virginia fared only a smidgen better than Maryland with a tepid 0.1% increase in GDP, and why D.C. lost ground with a decrease of one-half of 1%.
ECONOMIC WHIPLASH: Donald Fry of Center Maryland writes that during the last two weeks, Maryland business advocates and policymakers have been subjected to economic-ranking whiplash. On June 11, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis issued data showing that Maryland registered zero economic growth in 2013, as measured by Gross Domestic Product – second worst among U.S. states. Five days later, Maryland was ranked 5th best in the nation on the 2014 New Economy Index published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
CLOSE AG’S RACE: Maryland’s Democratic primary for attorney general has turned into what could be the closest statewide race next week. An experienced state senator is battling back from far behind in early polls against a Baltimore County lawmaker who has been criticized for an elaborate marriage proposal several years ago that involved Baltimore police resources and a recent endorsement by a rapper indicted on human trafficking charges that the candidate ultimately rejected, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.
DISTRICT 4: In a legislature where the GOP is already drowned out by the majority Democrats, Senate Republicans are in danger of losing a voice many Democrats have come to respect in Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com. Brinkley, 54, faces a younger, energized challenger in Del. Michael Hough, 20 years his junior, who insists that Brinkley’s conservative record just isn’t conservative enough for the constituents of District 4 in Frederick and Carroll counties.
DISTRICT 25: Del. Melony Griffith was once considered the heir apparent to state Sen. Ulysses Currie, who has served in the General Assembly for 28 years. But, reports Arelis Hernandez for the Post, after Currie’s reputation was tarnished by a 2011 federal investigation, Griffith decided to challenge Currie in Tuesday’s Democratic primary rather than wait for him to retire. The contest is expected to be one of the most competitive in the district since 1994, when Currie was elected senator after eight years as a delegate.
DISTRICT 33A: “After 12 years of representing Anne Arundel County in the Maryland House of Delegates,” writes Del. Tony McConkey who is running for a seat in District 33A, “my greatest dream for the county is to make the schools more accountable to parents, teachers and taxpayers by making membership on the county school board an elected position.” His column is the latest in the series of candidate columns in the Annapolis Capital.
DISTRICT 36 CANDIDATES: The Cecil Whig runs profiles of the candidates for delegate running in District 36. Below are links to profiles by Erik Halberg, Josh Bollinger and Jacob Owens.
- Maryland-native and five-year resident of Elkton J.D. Uhler hopes to be elected Maryland’s delegate of the 36 District on June 24, but faces eight challengers.
- Del. Jay Jacobs is looking to be re-elected to his second term as District 36 representative and believes his record will convince voters to do so.
- Republican Jeff Ghrist is currently a Caroline County commissioner, who has decided to take a shot at a seat in Annapolis and return some more representation to Caroline County.
- Bob Thornton is running as a Democrat in the 2014 Maryland general election for a shot at one of the three District 36 House of Delegates seats.
- Mike Smigiel has never been characterized as a shy person, but he believes the work he’s provided to Cecil County over the past 12 years sometimes goes unrecognized.
- Del. Steve Arentz is seeking re-election to his current House of Delegates seat in District 36 after being appointed to the position in 2013. One thing Arentz said he learned in his first session was that, “We are a majority-ruled state.”
- Alan McCarthy said he believes the state is lacking in leadership that looks ahead to the future and isn’t worried about making unpopular choices.
- Irving Pinder, a lifelong resident of Queen Anne’s County, is running as a Democrat in the District 36 House of Delegates race. “I believe strongly in education. Money’s not always the answer,” he says.
EHRLICH IN DEMAND: For Republican candidates for governor, there’s simply not enough Bob Ehrlich to go around. He’s like the father in a large family whose kids compete for his attention but can’t manage to get Dad all to themselves, reports Jeff Barker in the Sun.
11 FACTS ABOUT MIZEUR: Jenna Johnson of the Post offers up 11 things you may not know about gubernatorial hopeful Heather Mizeur, including the fact that she was named a Truman Scholar for her leadership. It would have covered her graduate school bills but never used it.
HOGAN & BROWN: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM continues his gubernatorial candidate interviews.
- You can listen to his interview with Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown here.
- And you can hear what GOP hopeful Larry Hogan has to say here.
MO CO EXEC CANDIDATES LISTEN: The candidates for Montgomery County executive did most of the listening, rather than the talking, in their final joint appearance before next week’s primary, reports Bill Turque in the Post. “No stump speeches” was the directive from Action In Montgomery, the faith-based advocacy group that packed Silver Spring United Methodist Church on Tuesday evening with more than 500 people from its member congregations.
HENSON CRITICIZES SUN: In a letter sent to the Sun, Maryland Reporter.com and others, candidate Julius Henson says the Sun has misinformed and misguided its readers about the charges and more importantly the ruling in the case against him in the 2010 Ehrlich robocall case. Despite the prosecutor’s best attempts, a jury simply convicted me of the misdemeanor of failing to include an authority line on an automated telephone call.He goes on to criticize his primary opponent, Sen. Nathaniel McFadden.