State Roundup, August 9, 2018

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JEALOUS USES F-WORD AFTER ‘SOCIALIST’ QUESTION: Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous clearly does not like being called a socialist. On Wednesday, the former NAACP chief was asked at a news conference whether he identified with the term “socialist,” as his political opponent, Gov. Larry Hogan (R), has labeled him. “Are you f—ing kidding me?” Jealous responded, visibly surprising some of the Democratic elected officials who had gathered to endorse him, Erin Cox of the Post is reporting.

  • The vulgarity ricocheted across Twitter, onto national cable news and through Maryland political circles. Within hours, Jealous apologized and clarified his thoughts, Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox of the Post reported. “I’m a venture capitalist, not a socialist,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I have never referred to myself as a socialist nor would I govern as one.”
  • Pamela Wood of the Sun writes that Jealous initially laughed at the question and said: “You know, I about fell out of my chair when I read in the (New York) Times this weekend that Hogan was calling me names.” He then spoke for about a minute and a half on his theory that Republicans are scared of his ideas on the economy and health care.
  • George Solis of WJZ caught up with Jealous later in the day and he explains in this video that he sees the term “socialist” as a typical tool by conservatives against black politicians.

COMMENTARY ON JEALOUS’s F-WORD: Sun media columnist David Zurawik writes that Jealous was floundering as a media candidate before he used the f-word at a news conference yesterday. Now, he writes, “I find myself wondering if it’s about to get even worse. I have been shaking my head and wondering and writing much of the summer about the pathetic media presence of Ben Jealous since he won the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor. Where was his media effort? Did he even have a media strategy?”

  • In a column for Red Maryland, conservative Brian Griffiths writes that Jealous is having the worst week of any Democratic statewide nominee in the modern era. Just since Sunday, Ben Jealous has tweeted that it was racist for Gov. Larry Hogan to call him a far-left socialist; seen a Democratic member of the state Senate endorse Hogan’s re-election; and dropped the -bomb heard ’round the world on Washington Post reporter Erin Cox

HOGAN, JEALOUS ENDORSED: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic opponent Ben Jealous unveiled dueling endorsements from Baltimore County politicians during back-to-back announcements in Towson on Wednesday morning. Jealous started the day in a shaded park in Towson, where he accepted endorsements from half a dozen fellow Democrats, including U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes and a handful of members of the Maryland General Assembly, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

REDMER CHALLENGES OLSZEWSKI ON JEALOUS: Al Redmer Jr., the Republican nominee for Baltimore County executive, is calling on his Democratic opponent, Johnny Olszewski Jr., to declare whether he supports that party’s gubernatorial nominee, Ben Jealous, who dropped the f-word on a reporter yesterday. Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes that Olszewski’s spokesman responded: “Johnny has been and will be focused on the race for Baltimore County executive … The language today was inappropriate and it’s important for leaders to acknowledge when they’ve made a mistake, and he appreciates that Mr. Jealous has already done so.”

DEMS MUM AS RGA ATTACKS JEALOUS: The Republican Governors Association is pounding Ben Jealous with attack ads — and has no plans to stop. Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that if Jealous is hoping his party’s Democratic Governors Association will return fire, he might be waiting a while. So far, the attacks by the GOP governors have gone unanswered by their Democratic counterparts.

JEALOUS LAYS OUT STRATEGY: Only one candidate for governor has ever received more than 1 million votes in the state of Maryland: Martin O’Malley in 2010. Ben Jealous thinks he will be the second man to do it. On Wednesday, Jealous’ campaign met with reporters in Annapolis and laid out a detailed strategy for how it plans to turn out voters in central Maryland’s solidly Democratic jurisdictions, hone his message, and cut into the GOP advantage in the rural parts of the state, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun.

POLL FINDS JEALOUS LAGS BY 9 POINTS: A new poll of likely Maryland voters shows Democrat Ben Jealous lagging behind Republican Gov. Larry Hogan by 9 points. Commissioned by Jealous’s campaign, the poll also shows that about a third of voters don’t know who he is, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports. One of the biggest gaps for Jealous is in the Baltimore suburbs, where he trails Hogan by 18 points.

JEALOUS DECLINES MACo INVITE: Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous has declined an invitation to appear back-to-back with Gov. Larry Hogan at the summer convention of the Maryland Association of Counties next week. Michael Sanderson, executive director of MACO, said Wednesday that the organization had extended an invitation to Jealous to appear Aug. 18, the Saturday when the group will conclude its annual gathering in Ocean City. Sanderson said the Jealous campaign cited a scheduling conflict, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun.

ELECTING WOMEN TO OFFICE IN MARYLAND: The editorial board for the Sun opines that Maryland has traditionally been a leader in electing women to public office. And women’s representation in the General Assembly has also traditionally been strong, but Maryland’s ranking there is slipping. It’s still above average, but it’s well behind leaders like Nevada. … Still, there are some real bright spots for women in key races around the state that could set the stage for women to compete for higher offices in the near future.

STATE, LOCAL PENSION PROBLEMS: In an attempt to shed light on the statewide funding crisis that is plaguing the pension funds of state and local governments, the Maryland Public Policy Institute put together a map to show what the situation actually looks like, MPPI’s Carol Park writes in MarylandReporter. Given the scarce media attention on Maryland state government’s public pension crisis, which includes a $19.7 billion shortfall, Marylanders could be forgiven for not knowing that their local governments also face daunting unfunded pension liabilities, she writes.

STATES’ EFFORTS TO CLEAN THE BAY: Amid concerns that Chesapeake cleanup efforts are lagging and that meeting future goals will be even more challenging, Bay leaders met Tuesday in Baltimore, vowing to stay the course and pump up the effort to help farmers establish water quality projects on their land, the Bay Journal’s Karl Blankenship writes in MarylandReporter. The Chesapeake Executive Council signed a directive urging each state to increase technical assistance — the “boots on the ground” that provide assistance to farmers — to help them install runoff control practices on the more than 83,000 farms located in the Bay watershed.

HOGAN SEEKS TO STOP POWER LINE DEVELOPMENT: Gov. Larry Hogan has written a letter to an organization overseeing wholesale electricity transmission, asking it to stop the Transource Energy power line development process “until it can be re-evaluated or until a new route can be considered,” Jennifer Fitch reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. In a letter dated July 10, Hogan wrote to PJM Interconnection LLC with concerns about the impacts on what he calls “prime agricultural land” in Washington and Harford counties.

2 TOP STAFFERS LEAVE SCHUH ADMIN: The county education officer and director of the Office of Constituent Services have left County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration — one of them permanently and the other temporarily to do election volunteer work, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports.

TRIBUNE NIXES SINCLAIR DEAL: CNN is reporting that the Sinclair Broadcast Group acquisition of Tribune Media is dead. Tribune said in a statement Thursday that it has terminated its merger agreement with Sinclair, scuttling a $3.9 billion deal that would have given the broadcasting group an even broader reach into American living rooms. The breakup of the deal is a stinging defeat for Hunt Valley-based Sinclair, owner of dozens of local television stations. Sinclair has been scrutinized for its ties to the Trump administration.

  • The breakdown of the deal reflects a reversal of fortunes for Sinclair, which had announced the tie-up last year as a “transformational” event and the biggest acquisition in its history, Brian Fung and Tony Romm of the Post report. But the merger began to stumble last month after FCC chairman Ajit Pai raised “serious concerns” about the deal, which originally would have reached roughly 70% of U.S. households. The FCC said it would send the deal for review by an administrative law judge, which often signals a transaction may be blocked.