State Roundup, August 14, 2018

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HOGAN LEADS IN GONZALES POLL: In the first media poll since the June 26 primary, pollster Patrick Gonzales finds Republican Gov. Larry Hogan getting over 50% support for the first time against a Democrat, according to MarylandReporter, which also published Gonzales’ analysis of the poll. The campaign of Democrat Ben Jealous questioned the poll, noting that Gonzales failed to accurately predict the primary results.

NEW AFRICAN-AMERICAN BUSINESS GROUP BACKS JEALOUS: A new organization aimed at boosting economic opportunity for African-Americans has included Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Ben Jealous (D) in its first wave of endorsements. The Black Economic Alliance was founded by a group of African-American business leaders and others out of a concern that wages and opportunity for people of color continue to lag in the U.S., Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matter writes.

MD GOP HOPES TO GAIN 5 SEATS: As Republicans continue to focus on flipping five state Senate seats to end a supermajority for Democrats, the Maryland governor’s race could prove influential in how possible that is. Change Annapolis PAC, which dubs itself a bipartisan organization, is targeting seven races in hopes of winning five, which one political expert said would be a “heavy lift” but still realistic, writes Allen Etzler for the Frederick News Post.

CALL HIM A SOCIALIST: Amid the red-baiting name-calling this election season against certain Maryland Democratic politicians, like gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous and Montgomery County executive nominee Marc Elrich, comes a lesser-known Maryland Democrat who wouldn’t mind being called a socialist, thank you very much. In fact, he is trying to start a socialist political party here in the Free State, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

GRAPPLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS: A man shot in Silver Spring recently is a stark example of the importance of police training in responding to those in mental health crisis, says the incoming vice chair of the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee. Meg Tully of MarylandReporter writes that, responding to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures about mental health and the criminal justice system, Sen. Will Smith, D-Montgomery, said more effective initial encounters with people in mental health crisis and offering pretrial services are two ways in which the state and local governments need to act.

HOGAN WON’T LIMIT RAIL SERVICE IN ARUNDEL: Colin Campbell of the Sun reports that the Hogan administration said Monday that the Maryland Transit Administration will not cut Light Rail service in northern Anne Arundel County, rejecting calls by politicians and some residents who blame it for what they say is increased crime, despite police data to the contrary. “The administration has provided additional law enforcement support to the county to help ensure that light rail stations are safe,” Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse wrote in an email, “but we are not planning any service cuts.”

MORE ARUNDEL SCHOOLS WATER NEED TESTING: Anne Arundel County Public School officials have released water testing results for 33 schools, but more than 90 schools won’t be tested for lead until next year — raising questions about water safety, Lauren Lumpkin reports in the Sun.

RX POT INDUSTRY BOOMS: Growth of the medical marijuana business in Maryland has been rapid. Maryland dispensary sales have moved from $1.8 million in December to $8.7 million through June, with a nearly sevenfold increase in transactions. Of the 65 dispensaries in Maryland, six are in Howard County, according to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, the group that oversees the program. The number of patients certified to obtain medical cannabis in Maryland jumped nearly 30% — to 35,836 from 27,585 at the end of May, Leah Brennan reports in the Howard County Times.

DELANEY’s OLD-FASHIONED CAMPAIGN: On Sunday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney finished his tour of all 99 Iowa counties as part of his early-bird presidential campaign, writes Bethany Rodgers of Bethesda Beat in a Politics Roundup column. “We’re running an old-fashioned Caucus campaign and giving the voters the respect they deserve – they want to talk to you one-on-one, hear your platform, get to know you and also make sure you know what’s important to them,” Delaney said in a news release.

INTEGRITY PROBE AT UM: WYPR-FM’s Milton Kent reports that it’s been 32 years since Len Bias’ death sent the University of Maryland lurching about for its soul. When that search was over, the entire power structure of the athletic department and the university itself had been toppled and the school emerged sufficiently chastened with a better sense of right and wrong. Three decades later, it may take another death, that of football player Jordan McNair, to force people at College Park and beyond to examine what the university and its athletics are really about.