State Roundup, June 12, 2018

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TRUMP No. 1 ISSUE FOR DEMS, POLL: President Donald Trump is not on the ballot in 2018, but fighting him is the No. 1 issue for Maryland Democrats, according to a new poll, Luke Broadwater writes in the Sun. In a survey conducted by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies from June 4 through Sunday, 46% of Maryland Democrats say the most important issue for them in the primary election is “removing Donald Trump from office,” even though that is beyond the power of Maryland’s governor. The other top issues for Democrats were: public education (26%), the economy (10%) and public safety (8%).

PLEA DEALS & CORRUPTION: In the first part of a series by Capital News Service staffers with the help of Injustice Watch, MarylandReporter readers learn about how plea deals punish the innocent in a Baltimore police scandal. The investigation, part of a nationwide examination of plea bargaining, found that Baltimore’s heavy reliance on plea deals and pre-trial detention led innocent defendants to plead guilty and enabled police corruption.

HOGAN AD HIGHLIGHTS BIPARTISANSHIP: Gov. Larry Hogan will launch his second television ad of the primary season on Wednesday, declaring himself “completely fed up with politics as usual” during a 30-second spot designed to highlight his ability to work with Maryland Democrats. The popular incumbent faces no GOP primary challenger, but the crowded field of Democrats jockeying to challenge him in November have been taking jabs at his tenure. Hogan has launched a $1.3 million effort to protect his record on the airwaves, Erin Cox of the Sun is reporting.

ON JIM SHEA: In this sixth in a series of profiles of Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Robert McCartney of the Post writes that shortly after he became Baltimore mayor in 1999, Martin O’Malley asked prominent lawyer James L. Shea and other local business leaders to vet city agencies and recommend changes. It was the first of many instances where O’Malley tapped Shea for assistance, including when O’Malley later served as governor. “He was the person that you called when you needed help,” said Matthew D. Gallagher, a longtime O’Malley aide who now chairs the Goldseker Foundation. “He was the very civic-minded attorney at the big firm in town, who had the unmatched Rolodex, who had credibility with everybody.”

OUTSIDE SUPPORT POURS IN FOR JEALOUS: Outside supporters of Ben Jealous’ bid for Maryland governor are pouring nearly $1 million into the final two weeks of the Democratic primary campaign, Erin Cox writes in the Sun. The Maryland Together We Rise political action committee spent $399,030 on television ads that are scheduled to start today and run until the June 26 election. Separately, a coalition of unions and progressive groups that back Jealous say it is spending $500,000 on a get-out-the-vote effort in the four Maryland counties with the most Democrats.

SIX TAKEAWAYS, REDUX: Scott Clement of the Post updated his analysis from Monday to include the results from a third poll released Tuesday by Gonzales Research and Media Services. After a three-month polling drought, three new surveys offer an increasingly clear read on where voters stand in the final stretch before Maryland’s June 26 Democratic gubernatorial primary, as well as some clues for what will matter most in determining a winner, he writes.

FILLING SOPHOCLEUS’ SEAT: The death of Del. Ted Sophocleus (D-Anne Arundel) Friday at the age of 79 adds a new wrinkle to an already complicated primary day on June 26. Sophocleus was running for a sixth full term representing the 32nd District. If, posthumously, he finishes in the top three in the Democratic primary, it will be up to the Anne Arundel Democratic Central Committee to select a replacement for the general election ballot. With Del. Pamela G. Beidle (D) running for the district’s vacant state Senate seat, Sophocleus’ death leaves Del. Mark S. Chang (D) as the only District 32 House incumbent seeking reelection, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes.

FUNERAL SERVICES FOR DEL. SOPHOCLEUS: Funeral arrangements have been announced for veteran lawmaker Ted Sophocleus of Linthicum, who died June 8. The former county councilman and state delegate was 79, writes Rachael Pacella for the Annapolis Capital.

CARDIN CHALLENGED TO DEBATE: In an op-ed for the Post, challengers to Ben Cardin for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate Chelsea Manning, Jerome Segal and Rikki Vaughn continue to push for a debate with the incumbent. They write that voters haven’t been given the opportunity to hear the candidates discuss the critically important issues facing the state. We … want to know where (Cardin) has been. He’s been missing in action, and we want him to engage with us in a vigorous debate.

BROCHIN, McDONOUGH LEAD IN POLL: With just days until early voting begins, state Sen. Jim Brochin is leading the Democratic field running for Baltimore County executive while Del. Pat McDonough is ahead in the Republican race, Pamela Wood and Alison Knezevich of the Sun report. In the Democratic primary, Brochin leads with 30%, followed by Councilwoman Vicki Almond with 22% and former Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. with 14%, according to a new poll of registered likely voters for The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore. In the Republican primary, McDonough leads Al Redmer Jr., the state insurance commissioner, 39% to 34%.

BATES UNDER SIEGE: Baltimore state’s attorney candidate Ivan Bates is under attack from his two rivals over his repeated claim that he never lost a murder case as a city prosecutor. Incumbent State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby issued a statement Monday saying Bates “blatantly misrepresents his record.” The other candidate, Thiru Vignarajah, also released a list of cases Monday that he said proves “Bates’ failure as a prosecutor” because some of the data shows he won no murder convictions as lead prosecutor, Tim Prudente reports in the Sun.

SUN ENDORSES BATES: In backing Ivan Bates for city state’s attorney, the editorial board of the Sun opines that “What we need is a prosecutor — someone who will focus on building strong cases and securing convictions. … Bates has worked in Baltimore courtrooms for decades, first as a prosecutor and then as a defense attorney. He knows the system. He knows Baltimore judges and juries. He is well respected in the legal community, and we believe he would be able to recruit and retain skilled prosecutors while developing a relationship with the police that strikes the appropriate balance between partnership and accountability.”

FRANCHOT BACKS BLAIR IN MO CO: Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) endorsed David Blair for Montgomery county executive on Monday, becoming the first politician to officially back the largely self-funded, outsider candidate, Jennifer Barrios of the Post reports. Franchot, who lives in Takoma Park and served in the House of Delegates for two decades, is seen as a bit of a maverick among Democrats — a fiscal conservative who is close with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

GANG ACTIVITY IN MIDDLE SCHOOL: Gang-related fights are now a near-daily occurrence at William Wirt Middle School in Riverdale, where a small group of suspected MS-13 members at the overwhelmingly Hispanic school in Prince George’s County throw gang signs, sell drugs, draw gang graffiti and aggressively recruit students recently arrived from Central America, according to more than two dozen teachers, parents and students. Most of those interviewed asked not to be identified for fear of losing their jobs or being targeted by MS-13, reports Michael Miller in the Post.