December 4, 2014

Why Eastern Baltimore County went Republican

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Hogan and Dundalk delegates cropped

Photo above: On election night, the Republicans who swept the Democrats out of Dundalk stood with Gov.-elect Larry Hogan on the stage of his victory party. From left, Del.-elect Bob Long, Hogan, Dels.-elect Ric Metzgar, Robin Grammer and Sen.-elect Johnny Ray Salling

By Blaine Taylor

For MarylandReporter.com

In The Sun this past Sunday, letter writer Ruth Goetz of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee said: “Now is the time for people who are registered as Democrats because they want to make a difference to switch parties. The Republican Party is the winning team and the place to make a difference for Baltimore and the state.”

She makes two compelling points in my view.

Earlier this past week, I wrote in a letter to the Dundalk Eagle, the recent visit of 5th District Baltimore County Councilman David Marks to Dundalk with the winning GOP team is significant.

I first met him when he was a young intern for then U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley during the early 1990s, when I was first her press aide and then press secretary, both for our office on Capitol Hill and also in the district office at Towson.

If Councilman Marks wants to be the Republican nominee for Baltimore County Executive in 2018, I believe he can be.

Can he win? I believe so, and I say that as the person who was the press secretary the last time a Republican was elected Baltimore County Executive, in 1990, when Roger Hayden won against Democratic incumbent Dennis Rasmussen.

Pat McDonough, now a delegate, was Hayden’s campaign manager, and Rep. Bentley was the fundraiser, so I know it can be done if the voters wish it so.

Democratic dinosaurs

The long-entrenched Democratic machine that I first encountered in 1974 as press secretary for the late Sen. Patrick T. Welsh has now been knocked to the ground, mainly because in its arrogance and overweening pride, it refused to acknowledge any dissent and desire for change within its own ranks. When you do that, the door is opened to change.

The dinosaurs have thus gone the way of the dodos, having brought it on themselves: a restored two-party system as exemplified by the District 6’s new slate and Councilman Marks.

A hopefully reformed Democratic Party can and should rebound in 2018 with a bright array of candidates of its own, and that is all to the good.

If not, it will have become what Napoleon said of the Bourbon dynasty when he returned from exile to France in 1815: “They learned nothing and forgot nothing.”

2018 candidates for Baltimore County executive

Councilman Marks combines competence with modesty, almost entirely unique in my experience of Maryland politics in both the major parties since 1974, 40 years on now.

I see the leading Democratic candidates for that post presently as state Sens. Bobby Zirkin and Jim Brochin and Clerk of the Court Julie Ensor, in that order, if, a la Marks, she decides she wants it.

The first can raise the money, the second will be endorsed by The Sun, and the third is the female counterpart of Councilman Marks, in my view.

As an aside, consider this: had the GOP not made its remarkable progress in the last election, right now Del. McDonough would be Mr. GOP for all of Maryland, as virtually its best known personality and officeholder.

As the saying goes, “24 hours in politics is a lifetime.”

Can Democrats make a comeback?

Can or will the Democrats make a comeback in Dundalk-Edgemere-Rosedale, and Middle River-Bowleys Quarter?

As someone who worked in the first area and ran locally in the second–plus the congressional district –I doubt it at this point.

The main reason is that they don’t have a farm team to take over from the shattered Democratic machine there. The Democrats there have done what Pat Welsh said that the GOP used to do: eaten their young.

Statewide in 2018

Statewide, speculation is already rife about who will be the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor, with the future race seeming to be between this past primary’s defeated Del. Heather Mizeur and winning Comptroller Peter Franchot, with the mainstream Dems going for the latter and progressives and The Sun for the former.

I see Gov.-elect Larry Hogan as being off to a far better start than his GOP predecessor charted in 2002. I also feel that Mr. Hogan is a far better candidate now than his predecessor was then, who started blowing his advantage from his very first day in office. We’ll see if Hogan builds or not on his thus far bipartisan start.

As for former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, his big mistake nationally was to have allowed his lieutenant governor to address a GOP National Convention at which he did not speak.

Thereafter, whenever the Republican Party thought of a Maryland GOP representative, they envisioned Michael Steele, and still do, too. Ehrlich flamed out.

Ehrlich’s return

Gov. Ehrlich’s first mistake out of office was not to secure a Bush White House Cabinet or sub-Cabinet posting, opting instead to co-host a Baltimore radio show with his wife. On the other hand, they have two sons to put through college. I’ll also give the former Governor credit for having the political courage to explore entering the 2016 New Hampshire GOP Presidential Primary.

In 1968, that is how then defeated California gubernatorial candidate Richard Nixon launched his own comeback.

If the GOP wins the presidency in 2016, Gov. Ehrlich will, in my view, find himself back in D.C. in some capacity. He should never have left it, as I advised him at the time.

Indeed, had he listened to me, he might very well be GOP vice president right now.

By this point, doubtless some of you think I’m all wet, as I very well may be. On the other hand, I was virtually alone in Maryland in 1968 to predict that Dick Nixon would pick Free State Gov. Spiro Agnew as his GOP veep choice.

This past year, I stated flat out that Del. Mizeur would win both the Primary and General Elections! As you see, “reading the tea leaves”—as I call it—is far from being an exact science! It is fun, however.

Blaine Taylor is the author of Dallas Fifty Years On: The Murder of John F. Kennedy/A New Look at an Old Crime, 22 November 1963-2013.

  • bwdwm

    Wow, this is poorly written.