State Roundup, June 15, 2018

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DEL. ANDERSON UNDER ETHICS PROBE: Del. Curt Anderson of Baltimore is being investigated by the General Assembly’s ethics committee for alleged sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, according to multiple sources. Erin Cox of the Sun reports that five women – two former staffers and three current lawmakers — told the Sun an outside investigator hired by the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics has interviewed them about their experiences with Anderson, the former sportscaster who is chairman of the city’s House delegation. At least two of those interviews took place this week.

DEM GUBERNATORIAL DEBATE HEATS UP: The Democratic candidates for Maryland governor threw some verbal punches Thursday during the taping of their last televised forum before the June 26 primary, Steve Thompson of the Post reports. Lawyer James L. Shea didn’t wait for the first question to take aim at the two front-runners, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and former NAACP President Ben Jealous. During his opening statement, Shea suggested neither Baker nor Jealous can beat popular incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

  • Baker let the comment pass, but Jealous did not, saying, “I agree with Jim Shea that if Baker goes up against Hogan, he’s just going to lose.” State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. noted that polls have consistently shown that many Democrats have been slow to pick a candidate. “They’re undecided because they don’t like the choice of the party bosses,” he said, an apparent slap at Baker, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.
  • All six Democratic candidates for Maryland governor said during a debate Thursday that they support legalizing recreational use of marijuana, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. But only two – Ben Jealous and Alec Ross – admitted to using the drug. Ross, who said he had used marijuana as a much younger man, dismissed concerns that it is a “gateway drug.” “If it’s a gateway to anything, it’s a gateway to pizza,” Ross said.

KAMENETZ COFFERS DISPENSED: Nearly $1.4 million in unspent campaign funds from the late Kevin Kamenetz’s bid for governor will be used to fund college scholarships, as well as boost programs at Northwest Hospital, the Hippodrome Foundation and the Maryland Zoo, Pamela Wood of the Sun is reporting. After paying outstanding bills and consulting with Kamenetz’s family, the campaign decided to donate the rest of the money to charity, as allowed by state law.

VIGNARAJAH PUSHES FLOOD PROGRAM: Maryland gubernatorial candidate Krish Vignarajah is proposing the creation of a $350 million “Community Resilience Revolving Fund” to provide low-interest loans and grants to communities – like Ellicott City – to implement flood abatement projects, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun. The fund would prioritize restoring forests, wetlands, and vegetated stream buffers to help mitigate runoff during heavy rain. It would be paid for through private environmental impact bonds and other revenue sources.

DEMS BLAST HOGAN OVER DISCOVERY MOVE: Discovery Inc.’s January announcement that it would leave its Silver Spring headquarters for new digs in New York and Tennessee launched some political skirmishes, with Maryland Democrats accusing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of not doing enough to retain the media company, Jennifer Barrios of the Post reports.

ERVIN’s MUDDY BALLOT STATUS: William Zorzi of Maryland Matters writes that former lieutenant governor and governor candidate Valerie L. Ervin was in, then out, then in, then out. Actually, on paper she’s still in, even though she’s not. Truth be told, she never was. Well, sort of. Got it? If not, don’t expect it to get any clearer at the polls between now and the June 26 primary.

DELANEY BACKS BAKER: U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) on Thursday endorsed Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III in his bid for the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor, on the first day of early voting and less than two weeks ahead of the June 26 primary, Rachel Chason of the Post reports. “I am particularly impressed with Rushern’s unwavering commitment to improve public education,” said Delaney, who is running for president.

EARLY VOTING: More than 31,000 Marylanders cast ballots on the first day of early voting, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun. This marks a 53% increase over 2014, when more than 20,000 Marylanders cast ballots during the first day of early voting. Voters are selecting the Democratic and Republican nominees for offices including governor, Baltimore County executive, Baltimore state’s attorney and all 188 seats of the Maryland General Assembly. Early voting runs through June 21, with the regular primary election day on June 26.

HOGAN PUSHES FOR NEW STATE CENTER DEVELOPER: Gov. Larry Hogan is issuing a new call for developers interested in taking over the State Center project in midtown Baltimore, seeking to advance a long-delayed project that still is tied up in lawsuits, report Scott Dance and Ian Duncan in the Sun. “After more than 15 years of inaction and failure I am pleased to announce that we are finally able to move forward on the redevelopment of State Center,” Hogan said at a meeting of his cabinet in West Baltimore.

HOGAN TOUTS VIOLENCE PREVENTION PROGRAM: Gov. Larry Hogan came to Baltimore on Thursday to tout $15.2 million in state funding his administration has helped secure for violence prevention, education and transportation initiatives in Baltimore, writes Lauren Lumpkin in the Sun. “Baltimore City is the heart and soul of this great state,” said Hogan in a room of government officials and Baltimore residents holding miniature American flags. “We intend to continue doing everything we possibly can to help this city be all that it can be and ensure that Baltimore City’s future is even better than its past.”

HOGAN ANNOUNCES ‘STRIKE FORCE:’ Baltimore police, state law enforcement agencies and federal agents plan to team up to create a new violent crime “strike force,” Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday during his daylong visit to the city, reports Ian Duncan in the Sun. The Republican governor said he had discussed the plans with U.S. Attorney Robert Hur, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and other senior officials at a meeting at the federal prosecutor’s office downtown Thursday afternoon.

McDONOUGH VS REDMER: John Lee of WYPR-FM reports on the contentious Republican primary for Baltimore County executive between Del. Pat McDonough, a Trump supporter, and state Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, who used to serve in the State House and has the support of Gov. Larry Hogan.

MARC ELRICH: Jennifer Barrios of the Post writes that Marc Elrich is tired of being called a socialist. At a debate, the Montgomery County executive candidate tried to shut down rumors about a Che Guevara poster on his office wall, saying there is no depiction of the Cuban Revolution leader there — nor one of Lenin, he added for good measure. “I expect developers to pay for infrastructure,” Elrich (D), a self-described longtime member of the Metro DC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, said in an interview last month. In a wry voice, he added: “That apparently is called socialism.”

ROGER BERLINER: When Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner talks about his start in politics, he begins with Jerry Springer. Yes, that Jerry Springer — who, before he was the ringleader of the raucous daytime talk show that bears his name, was a rising Democratic star in 1970s Cincinnati, first as a council member, then as mayor. Berliner, an Ohio native and one of six Democratic Montgomery County executive candidates, credits Springer with recommending him for his first job in politics: aide to a Cincinnati City Council member, writes Jennifer Barrios of the Post.

DAVID BLAIR: David Blair, a graduate of Clemson University who is running for county executive, talks about cutting the county’s energy and recordation taxes, which are expected to add just under $250 million to the county’s general fund in 2019. He wants to put business incubators in vacant office space, such as the soon-to-be-empty Discovery building in downtown Silver Spring. He wants to give gun safes to parents who own weapons and make the county’s Ride On bus network — which currently collects roughly $21 million a year in fares — free.

WHO ELSE IS RUNNING FOR PG EXEC? State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks, former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards and state Sen. C. Anthony Muse aren’t the only ones running for Prince George’s County executive. Rachel Chason of the Post profiles the other candidates,including Sam Bogley Sr., Billy Bridges, Lewis Johnson, Paul Monteiro and Tommie Thompson.

NEW DISTRICT 35 SENATE CANDIDATE: Frank Esposito, a retired Maryland State Police trooper, unexpectedly emerged this week as a independent candidate for the District 35 senatorial seat, challenging the late state Sen. Wayne Norman’s successor in the general election, write Katie Tabeling for the Cecil Whig.

BATES’ CASE RECORD QUESTIONED: Ivan Bates has anchored his bid to be the city’s top prosecutor on one simple, striking claim. “Ivan never lost a murder case,” says one of his TV ads. But explaining Bates’ simple boast requires a complex accounting of cases that are nearly two decades old, writes Tim Prudente in the Sun. A Baltimore Sun analysis of 13 cases that Bates prosecuted or helped to prosecute show his record is not nearly as simple as it appears. His opponents — Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Thiru Vignarajah — have been accusing Bates of lying about his record.

SIGNS PULLED DOWN AT POLL: Just about every campaign sign placed at the Montgomery County polling location at St. Catherine Labouré Catholic Church in Wheaton was ripped off its post sometime early Thursday before the 10 a.m. start of early voting, Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat writes. Margie Roher, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said Thursday afternoon that she received a call that someone “was frustrated by the signage and just took them down.”

DEMS APPEAL OVER CRAB SHACK RULE: Maryland Democrats in Congress asked the Trump administration on Thursday to grant crab shacks temporary relief from a new rule that is preventing many from accepting food stamps for steamed crabs, writes Jeff Barker in the Sun. Officials warned carryout shops in the Baltimore area last year that they could no longer accept food stamps for crabs unless they sold them live or raw. The shops were also told that they had to provide a variety of food staples, not just the Chesapeake Bay delicacy, to qualify for food stamp transactions.