State Roundup, July 13, 2018

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LAWMAKERS GRILL MVA ON VOTER SCREWUP: State lawmakers grilled leaders of the Motor Vehicle Administration and the State Board of Elections on Thursday over what the officials said was as “an inadvertent programming error” that potentially affected nearly 72,000 residents who attempted to register to vote in the June 26 primary. Christine Nizer, head of the MVA, described an error-riddled process that began with a programming mistake made by a contract employee in April 2017 and culminated with officials’ announcement on the eve of the election that as many as 80,000 voters — nearly quadruple the amount estimated days before — were affected by the error and would have to file provisional ballots, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

RETIRED STATE WORKERS RALLY: It was billed as a news conference, but it became a rally for dozens of retired Maryland employees upset over the pending elimination of their prescription coverage. Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports that standing Thursday in front of a Walgreens drugstore, Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, called the change a “broken promise” to retired state employees on the part of former Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Democratic leadership of the Maryland General Assembly.

HOGAN’s REAL ESTATE BUSINESS: When Larry Hogan was running for governor, he liked to refer to himself as “just a small businessman.” Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes that that that “small” business he founded — the Annapolis-based Hogan Companies — has completed more than $2 billion in real estate deals since its founding in 1985 and has continued to thrive since Hogan took office in 2015.

RGA BEGINS ANTI-JEALOUS CAMPAIGN: The Republican Governors Association on Thursday began a weekslong campaign of negative television advertisements against Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun. The ads call Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, a “big spender” and warn viewers that he will raise their taxes if elected.

RECOUNT IN BA CO BEGINS: Baltimore County election officials began the task Thursday of recounting more than 87,000 paper ballots in the Democratic primary for county executive — a contest Johnny Olszewski Jr. won by just nine votes, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun. The extensive recount was requested by second-place finisher Jim Brochin, who has said that with a margin so small — less than 0.1% — he felt it was necessary to request that the ballots be recounted.

BLAIR CONSIDERS RECOUNT: Potomac businessman David Blair says he’s leaning toward seeking a recount in the Democratic primary for county executive given the small number of votes between him and the race’s unofficial victor, County Council member Marc Elrich, Bethany Rodgers of Bethesa Beat reports. “It’s likely that we’ll ask for a recount based on the razor-thin margin, but no decision has been made,” Blair said Thursday by phone.

PROSECUTORS SEEK 5-YEAR SENTENCE FOR OAKS: Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence former state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks to five years in prison for taking money from an undercover FBI informant and agreeing to help him defraud a federal housing agency. Prosecutors requested five years of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. That’s less than the eight to 10 years recommended by sentencing guidelines, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reports in the Sun.

MORE HONORS FOR CAPITAL GAZETTE VICTIMS: The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday honoring the five victims of the deadly attack at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis. From the Senate floor, Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen spoke of the victims and the Capital Gazette’s impact on its readers, Luke Broadwater and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs report in the Sun. Van Hollen said the Capital Gazette is “your quintessential, small-town newspaper.” He said it and other local papers around the country “represent the lifeblood of our communities.”

KITTLEMAN GETS POLICE UNIONS’ BACKING: Republican Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has received re-election endorsements from three police unions, support he did not have in his first run for the job in 2014, Kate Magill of the Howard County Times reports. Kittleman received endorsements from the Howard County Police Officers’ Association, the Police Supervisors’ Alliance Fraternal Order of Police and the Sheriff’s Fraternal Order of Police. Together, the three organizations represent nearly 500 law enforcement officials in the county, Kittleman’s campaign announced.

CAIR ACCEPTS BRUCHEY’s ‘DELAYED APOLOGY:’ The country’s largest Muslim civil-rights and advocacy organization has taken notice and rebuked Hagerstown Mayor Bob Bruchey’s recent social-media comments calling the mayor of London a “terrorist.” C.J. Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that, in a statement late Wednesday, Zainab Chaudry, director of Maryland outreach for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the group accepted Bruchey’s “delayed apology,” but encouraged him to meet with CAIR and local faith leaders.