November 3, 2014

State Roundup, November 3, 2014

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EARLY VOTING FIGURES: More than twice as many Democrats as Republicans took advantage of early voting in Maryland’s general election, while overall turnout was up 40% from four years ago, the last time a governor’s race was on the ballot, reports John Wagner in the Post.

PAROLING PRISONERS: Few politicians get elected by promising to release more people from prison. But Republican Larry Hogan and Democrat Anthony Brown both say they would do just that, by more quickly approving parole for prisoners serving life terms who are recommended for release by the parole commission, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.

KEY FACTORS: John Wagner of the Post takes a look at six factors that could play a role in who wins the Maryland governor’s race.

CHRISTIE TAUNTS O’MALLEY: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came to Baltimore Sunday to campaign for Larry Hogan for governor but clearly had current Gov. Martin O’Malley on his mind, taunting him with “Hey Marty — don’t waste your time being nervous (about Anthony Brown’s chances of being elected). Just get ready to clear out your office and turn it over to Larry Hogan.” In a 2011 speech O’Malley derided what he called “a new breed of tea-partying, FDR-hating” governors who had recently come to power, singling out Christie for additional scorn, reports John Wagner for the Post.

Hogan Bates Flanagan bus

Larry Hogan Jr., second from right, waved to motorists on Route 40 in Ellicott City Saturday who honked their horns and gave him thumbs up. When one driver gave him a thumbs down, he said that was one of the few times it had happened in the campaign.

SURPRISINGLY CLOSE RACE: The race for Maryland governor was not supposed to be this close, write John Wagner and Jenna Johnson in the Post. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown crushed his Democratic primary competitors and told supporters that the general election would be “a little bit of a molehill” in comparison. But Brown has struggled to combat Larry Hogan’s relentless criticism of tax increases enacted by his boss, Gov. Martin O’Malley.

EDUCATION A HOT ISSUE: As the Maryland governor’s race has heated up in recent weeks, education issues have flared up, too, with clashes over pre-kindergarten, college tuition increases and school construction funding, writes Donna St. George for the Post. A recent Washington Post poll showed that education was the most important issue for 20% of likely Maryland gubernatorial voters this year. Only taxes polled higher.

Brown Hoyer gotv

Anthony Brown, right, talks to potential voters at Busboys & Poets Sunday with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

BUSY CAMPAIGN WEEKEND: Both major-party candidates had full schedules as the final weekend of campaigning got under way, write Jenna Johnson and John Wagner for the Post. Larry Hogan bounded out of his campaign bus Saturday morning at the farmer’s market in Rockville, where he shook hands with dozens of patrons, posed for a pictures with few merchants selling apples and honey and petted a couple of dogs. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, started his day in Baltimore accompanied by Sen. Ben Cardin, then hit rallies in Hyattsville and Waldorf — and was scheduled to return to Baltimore for a third “Every Vote Counts” rally.

LGBT ENDORSEMENTS: Kevin Rector of the Sun writes about the LGBT communities’ backing of Anthony Brown and push to get out the vote, writing that the message is that Maryland may have passed same-sex marriage and transgender protections in employment and public accommodations in recent years. But there are other ways in which the law treats LGBT citizens of Maryland differently than straight citizens, and candidates with an expressed belief in equality deserve the LGBT vote. To that end, the organization’s PAC has issued a full slate of endorsements, from the governor’s race down through local delegate races.

BROWN & HOGAN PROFILES: Candidate profiles written by CNS’s by Lejla Sarcevic and published by the Salisbury Daily Times portray Hogan as an amiable guy who learned politics at his father’s side and is a competent financial manager and Brown as an adroit fiscal watchdog who feels more comfortable talking with people one on one than giving speeches.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record speaks with political experts about what to look for from the election results, including what races to pay attention to and what to expect from the turnout.

SUN MEDIA ENDORSEMENTS: Most of the Sun Media Group’s editorial boards are backing Larry Hogan for governor. You can read the endorsements here and go to other endorsements by the Sun.

TAXES & COUNTY EXEC RACES: Taxes are a major issue in the three most competitive races for county executive in Maryland: Anne Arundel, Frederick and Howard counties, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. In Anne Arundel County, Republican Steve Schuh and Democrat George Johnson focused on taxes and spending. In Howard County, with the highest median income in the state, education and social services are the hot topics in the race between Republican Allan Kittleman and Democrat Courtney Watson, with some discussion of the rain tax, and side issues like guns. But which county actually has the biggest tax burden?

MD CONGRESS SEATS SURE: Republicans are expecting to pick up a number of congressional seats in Tuesday’s midterm elections. But not one of the seats they consider likely wins is in heavily Democratic Maryland. All eight of the state’s congressional incumbents — seven Democrats and a Republican — are running for reelection. According to the Cook Political Report, each incumbent is heavily favored to win, buoyed by the general advantages of holding office as well as Maryland’s carefully drawn political districts, writes Arelis Hernandez for the Post.

FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT:  In the race for the First District seat, the outlook on the status of Congress provides the most stark differences between Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris and Democratic challenger Bill Tilghman. “Congress is totally dysfunctional, which was what was boiling in my gut and convinced me to run for office,” Tilghman, a Centreville lawyer, said. Harris characterized Congress as the people’s voice, fighting overreaching regulations by the Obama administration.

SARBANES & SMALL DONORS: Like most candidates running for re-election, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes has spent much of his time recently at fundraisers, pressing the flesh in pursuit of campaign cash, reports John Fritze for the Sun.  But donors who show up to meet the Baltimore County Democrat quickly learn he is not there to pitch his own candidacy. And he’s not asking for a $5,000 check. Sarbanes would prefer $50, or even $5.

NYTIMES ON O’MALLEY: In a long profile of Martin O’Malley and his presidential prospects, Jason Horowitz of the New York Times writes: “His middle age matters much less than his failure thus far to offer something new. Unlike Elizabeth Warren, he does not stand for the economic populism that rouses the party’s base. He lacks a ceiling-cracking selling point to boost his biographical appeal and is best known in political circles as a competent, statistics-quoting wonk who tends to underwhelm on the stump.” Ouch.

CLOSED MEETINGS, RECORDS AT MdTA: Maryland Drivers Alliance documents lack of transparency and openness by the governing board of the Maryland Transportation Authority, which sets tolls on bridges and tunnels. The board has failed to comply with Open Meetings Act and the Public Information Act for documents and data. (But the alliance is not exactly very transparent about who they are.)

LOWER CITY CASINO REVENUES: Baltimore City’s Finance Department has lowered its estimate of community impact revenues generated by the Horseshoe Casino, throwing a monkey wrench into plans to expand sanitation services, plant trees and establish a summer youth program for the neighborhoods near the facility, reports Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew.