State Roundup, May 31, 2018

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FORGETTABLE FORUM: Blame it on the format – 57 minutes for nine candidates to rush through their talking points, with puzzling, random opportunities for so-called rebuttals which should have been labeled something else. Or blame it on crazy Ralph Jaffe – the perennial candidate for high office who seemed to get more airtime than anyone else, or on a moderator more concerned with keeping things moving than eliciting an illuminating discussion. But the second televised debate of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates was once again a snoozer, writes Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters.

  • Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial contenders assailed Gov. Larry Hogan (R) rather than criticizing one another Wednesday in a Baltimore-centric debate that focused on schools, racial tensions and the recent deadly flood in Ellicott City, reports Robert McCartney in the Post.
  • The nine candidates largely agreed that inequities in Baltimore’s schools and communities were at the heart of a three-year surge in violence and are fueling a school-to-prison pipeline that hurts Maryland’s largest city, writes Erin Cox in the Sun.

FACT-CHECKING FORUM: Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that participants in Wednesday’s Democratic debate recounted some urban mythology, stretched some statistics far beyond their meaning and got in some whacks at Gov. Larry Hogan that were based on facts — if perhaps lacking in context.

HOGAN CAMPAIGN AWAKENS: Maryland’s gubernatorial campaign has been going on for a long time, with candidates appearing at forums, house parties and other events from one corner of the state to the other for more than a year. But with less than a month to go until the primary, opines the editorial board for the Sun, things are getting serious. How can you tell? The sleeping giant that is the Larry Hogan re-election campaign just woke up.

FACT-CHECKING HOGAN AD: Erin Cox of the Sun fact-checks Gov. Larry Hogan’s new ad and finds that, while it is true Maryland saw unemployment rise and businesses close during the tenure of Hogan’s predecessor, Democrat Martin O’Malley, Hogan’s ad selectively picks statistics from the worst of the recession. His claim that 100,000 jobs were lost is based on just three years of O’Malley’s eight years, 2007-2010. Hogan also inflates the amount of money he’s returned to taxpayers.

ERVIN SUES STATE: Gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin — who took over the top of the ticket two weeks ago after her running mate died of a heart attack — is suing the Maryland State Board of Elections to force officials to reprint ballots ahead of the June 26 Democratic primary. The Board of Elections has declined to print new ballots reflecting the changes and including the names of Ervin and her running mate, saying in a letter to Ervin’s attorney that there was not enough time to place an order for the specialized ballot paper. Early voting begins June 14, reports Arelis Hernandez in the Post.

MIDPOINT BAY ASSESSMENT: An unprecedented effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay is leading to clearer water, more plentiful oysters and expanded underwater grass beds, but that progress is delicate, an advocacy group warns. Jeremy Cox of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation released a “midpoint assessment” Wednesday that shows pollution-reduction targets being met for two out of the three main hazards to the estuary’s health.

DIVERSITY IN DISTRICT 19: Opening Tuesday evening’s forum for eight Democratic contenders seeking three House of Delegates nominations from District 19, current Del. Ben Kramer of Derwood—who hopes to move to the state Senate next year—described his experiences in 12 years of representing the district. “[We’re] … a very diverse legislative district. We’re not a compact district,” said Kramer. “A lot of times, what’s very important to folks down here in Kemp Mill means nothing to folks up in the Olney-Derwood area—and vice versa.” Tuesday’s forum took place in an Orthodox synagogue on the edge of a Kemp Mill shopping center, and it didn’t take long for Kramer’s observations to be borne out, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports.

VETERANS INVITE NEWBY TO TICKET: State Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who has served 21 years in the Senate, and Del. Maggie McIntosh, now in her 27th year in the House of Delegates, have placed under their umbrella Regina T. Boyce, 41, a community activist who has never run for elective office. “The bottom line is, we need to bring the next generation along,” McIntosh told a group of nearly 50 district supporters gathered for the announcement. The three-woman ticket will represent Northeast Baltimore’s 43rd District, William Zorzi of Maryland Matters writes.

REGISTER TO VOTE: In a news briefs roundup, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reminds everyone that the deadline is 9 p.m. June 5 to register to vote in Maryland, update voter information or change party affiliation. That can be done at a local Board of Elections office or online at the Maryland Board of Elections here. He also lists recent endorsement given to candidates.

MONTGOMERY CANDIDATES: MarylandReporter.com updates it lists of all 200 candidates on Montgomery County ballots with endorsements and those who have qualified for the new public campaign financing.

MO CO EXEC CANDIDATE ATTACKED ON TWO SIDES: The gloves are coming off in the Montgomery County executive race, writes Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. Roger Berliner, a Democratic candidate and district County Council member, unveiled Wednesday what appears to be the first negative TV campaign ad of the Democratic primary directed at a single opponent. Berliner takes a shot at Potomac businessman David Blair in the new ad, in which a narrator compares Blair to Donald Trump.

BA CO EXEC CANDIDATES DEBATE: The five leading candidates for Baltimore County executive shared a stage Wednesday night, as the Baltimore Jewish Council hosted a debate at a Pikesville synagogue, reports Pamela Wood of the Sun. Though billed as a debate, the candidates had few back-and-forth exchanges, with the candidates sticking mostly to touting their own credentials and ideas.

FACT-CHECKING SCHUH CLAIM: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has been touting a big tax savings number throughout his re-election campaign — $110 million in taxes and fees over three years. But a closer examination by Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital shows a more nuanced picture. More than half of those savings were based on existing programs and would have been accomplished by anyone sitting in the county executive seat. The rest was generated by Schuh or proposals he supported.

MOSBY DROPPING CASES: Justin Fenton and Tim Prudente of the Sun report that, hobbled by reluctant witnesses and distrust in corruption-plagued police, city prosecutors have dropped cases at a higher rate and won convictions at a lower rate under Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby than before she was elected. Four years ago, when she challenged then-State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein for the job, Mosby said convictions were essential to reducing what she called the “crisis” of violence in Baltimore.

EX-CIA OP SPEAKS TO WA CO DEMS: Americans are living in “scary times,” former CIA officer Jonna Mendez said Tuesday, mostly because of the “disappearance of the truth.” Mike Lewis of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that Mendez, who retired after more than 25 years of service, spoke at the Washington County Democratic Central Committee’s annual dinner at Fountain Head Country Club. Mendez had risen to the position of chief of disguise when she retired.

LEFT-COAST SUPER PAC DONATES TO PROGRESSIVE MD: A super PAC set up by Progressive Maryland received a $50,000 contribution from the granddaughter of a retired hedge fund billionaire, raising questions about whether the organization has remained true to its stated efforts to root out megadonors and big money in Maryland politics and elections, writes Ryan Miner of A Miner Detail blog.