State Roundup, May 21, 2018

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POST ENDORSES BAKER: The Washington Post’s lead editorial on Sunday said: “Mr. Baker’s admirable, ambitious record in Prince George’s is the basis on which we support him in Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, on June 26. In a solid field of primary candidates, which includes a respected state senator, a nationally known civil rights leader and others with impressive résumés, Mr. Baker stands out for having run what amounts to a turnaround project in a county of nearly 1 million residents. ,,, He is, by a wide margin, the strongest candidate in the primary field.”

ERVIN HITS A BALLOT BUMP: The fledgling campaign of Valerie Ervin to be Maryland’s Democratic nominee for governor hit a bump Friday when elections officials said ballots for the June 26 primary will not be reprinted to put Ervin’s name in place of her deceased running mate, Steve Thompson of the Post reports.

  • Valerie Ervin is officially a Democratic candidate for governor — but how voters will actually cast a ballot for her remains unclear. Ervin’s name will not appear on ballot papers as a candidate for governor, the state elections administrator confirmed in a court filing Friday, and with only three and a half weeks left before early voting begins in the Democratic primary, officials say they’re still figuring out how people will vote for her, Ian Duncan reports in the Sun.
  • In papers filed with Maryland’s top court, the board of elections wrote “there is not sufficient time to reprint ballots in advance of the primary election” June 26, writes Steve Lash in the Daily Record. The board “will work instead with local boards of election to implement appropriate measures to notify voters of the change in candidacy, the procedure to be used by voters to vote for the successor candidates, and the procedure to be used by local boards to conduct the canvass,” Assistant Maryland Attorney General Julia Doyle Bernhardt wrote on the board’s behalf.

ELECTION LAW FLAW EXPOSED: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter writes that Kevin Kamenetz may have been buried May 11, but he remains very much alive on Democratic primary ballots. His death exposed problems with Maryland election laws, as well as long-standing constitutional issues with the job of lieutenant governor.

ERVIN’s GEOGRAPHIC FLIP: It’s a geographic flip. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz originally headed the ticket with Valerie Ervin, whose home base is Montgomery County, as his running mate. With Kamenetz’s death last week, Ervin is replacing him as the gubernatorial candidate, and Marisol Johnson, from Baltimore County, is No. 2, John Lee reports at WYPR-FM.

CROWDED GUB DEBATES: Eight candidates running for governor are set to share the stage tonight in the first of five scheduled debates in the Maryland Democratic primary race, writes Erin Cox in the Sun. In the hour-long WBAL- MPT debate (taped in the morning and aired at 7 p.m.) candidates will have 90 seconds to introduce themselves, but that alone will take up about a quarter of the debate time. The crowded field is scheduled to have one televised debate per week over the next five weeks until the June 26 primary.

SHEA CAMP RELEASES ADS: Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Shea released his first television ad Friday, and his campaign said it was “just the beginning” of what promises to be a well-financed effort to raise the profile of the little-known attorney, Robert McCartney of the Post reports.

HBCU ADVOCATES PROTEST FROSH: Advocates who want increased funding for Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities took the fight to Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office Friday, urging Democratic primary voters to write in “HBCU” rather than vote for Frosh next month. Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that the protesters contend the state owes Maryland’s four historically black colleges more than $1 billion for systematically discriminating against them over decades, and they accuse Frosh of delaying settlement of a decade-long lawsuit over the issue.

MD TOPS PRISON POPULATION DECLINE: Maryland has surged to the front of a national trend of states reducing their prison populations, according to a new report by a nonprofit group that tracks criminal justice issues. Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that the Vera Institute of Justice said Friday that Maryland led the nation with a 9.6% drop in prison inmates in 2017. That is more than 2 percentage points greater than the decline registered in the second-ranking states, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

PIMLICO APPEARS DOOMED: Tim Ritvo, the chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, said in a news conference Saturday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course before the 143rd Preakness that there are no plans on the table to invest more of the organization’s funds into the 148-year-old facility, Don Markus of the Sun reports. The Stronach Group owns and operates Pimlico and Laurel Park. “We’ve made it pretty clear that we’re not going to put any funds into it,” Ritvo said.

VISION TO SAVE PIMLICO: Del. Sandy Rosenberg writes in Center Maryland, “The race track may be magical, but the investment required to update Pimlico is significant and could cost anywhere between $250 million to $322 million. That’s a very high price for a one-day-per-year use, despite the significant economic benefit of Preakness Weekend for the Baltimore region and the state. … That’s why we need a vision for Pimlico and Park Heights: economic and community development that would complement a 21st century thoroughbred racing facility. We need a “365-day a year” vision that would allow for the necessary upgrades at Pimlico and help fulfill longstanding promises to revitalize the Park Heights community.”

GOP CHAIR BLASTS FROSH, PRAISES TRUMP: Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire talked strategy in Washington County Friday evening, telling local party members his party hopes to both re-elect Gov. Larry Hogan this year and win enough legislative seats to protect his vetoes in the General Assembly, Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.

  • He also took unbridled aim at Attorney General Brian Frosh, harshly criticizing Maryland’s top law enforcement officer with reserved animus, calling Frosh “personified evil, untalented, and not a worthy opponent.” Ryan Miner of a Miner Detail blog credits Baker’s article when he points out that Haire also praised Republican President Donald J. Trump as “making a fundamental difference” but issued an uncensored condemnation of Frosh, who is running for a second term as Maryland’s attorney general.

DEDICATED TO KAMENETZ: On Sunday, the Saratoga WarHorse Foundation, which pairs about 200 veterans a year with horses to help the vets process trauma, opened a new 9,600-square-foot arena at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park in Cockeysville, which will allow the foundation to double the program’s capacity. The facility was dedicated to the late Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Kamenetz’s wife, Jill, and son, Karson, 16, attended and said the dedication was a fitting tribute. “He loved horses and he loved veterans,” Jill Kamenetz said. “This is just doing what he loved best.”

3 DELEGATES CHALLENGE 3 SENATORS: Cory McCray is one of three Baltimore delegates who have opted not to seek re-election to fairly safe House seats this year and instead are taking on sitting senators, two of whom have held been in the Senate for more than two decades. Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that the others are fellow first-term Del. Antonio Hayes, challenging Sen. Barbara Robinson in West Baltimore, and Del. Mary Washington, challenging Sen. Joan Carter-Conway in a district that stretches north from Midtown.

BROCHIN HITS THE AIRWAVES: Democrat Jim Brochin hit the radio airwaves last week with the first broadcast ads in the race to become the next Baltimore County executive, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. The ad is narrated by a woman who is Brochin’s neighbor saying he is “one of the really good guys.” She runs through a list of votes and policy positions Brochin has taken before concluding that Brochin is “the real Democrat for Baltimore County executive.”

LONG SHOT IN THE 6th: Montgomery County Democrat George English will tell you that his campaign to represent the 6th District in Congress is a long-shot bid — but that won’t stop him from spreading his populist message, writes Danielle Gaines in the Frederick News Post. English, 78, is no stranger to running for office.

A FAMILY AFFAIR: Frank DeFilippo, writing in Maryland Matters, looks at Maryland’s own political dynasties, or those who know how to turn “public service for private employment,” beginning with the O’Malley-Curran clan. He also looks at the Cardins and the Conaways.

MO CO DEPORTATION DEFENSE STUMBLES: Montgomery County’s proposal for funding legal defense of people threatened by deportation appears to be in danger of falling through, Adam Pagnucco of Seventh State blog reports. A letter from the MoCo Deportation Defense Coalition outlines what happened: “We are sorry to tell you that the County Council has acquiesced to the demands of the State’s Attorney, John McCarthy. The Council amended its special appropriation and added an extensive list of criminal convictions that would render a person ineligible for representation by the CAIR Coalition.”

STEVE SCHUH REFLECTS: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters interviews Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, the Republican incumbent who appears to be a shoo-in for re-election. Schuh, 57, was reluctant to speculate about his political future. Instead, Schuh spoke candidly about the ups and downs of his first term and his priorities for the years ahead if he is reelected.

ARUNDEL SHERIFF PROBED STATE ‘s ATTY AIDE: The Anne Arundel County Sheriff’s Office investigated a top aide to State’s Attorney Wes Adams for four months, responding to a complaint it said was filed anonymously from the prosecutor’s office, Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital reports. Between Nov. 14, 2017 and March 16, 2018 deputies conducted surveillance of Lawrence Scott at the garage in the Anne Arundel County Courthouse in Annapolis, documents provided to The Capital show.

PLASTIC FOAM BAN IN ARUNDEL? Annapolis and Anne Arundel County could become a no-foam zone, Danielle Ohl of the Annapolis Capital reports. Annapolis Alderman Rob Savidge and county Councilman Chris Trumbauer, both Democrats, took aim at plastic foam food service items this month in legislation seeking to ban their use in local restaurants and businesses.

TRUTH AND FACTS: “A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what the truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not, and begin by holding ourselves accountable to truthfulness, and demand our pursuit of America’s future be fact-based, not based on wishful thinking; not hopeful outcomes made in shallow promises; but with a clear-eyed view of the facts as they are and guided by the truth that will set us free to seek solutions to our most daunting challenges.” From a commencement speech May 16 at the Virginia Military Institute by Rex Tillerson, former secretary of state and chairman/CEO of Exxon-Mobil