State Roundup, October 8, 2018

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MARYLAND SENATORS ON KAVANAUGH CONFIRMATION: Sen. Chris Van Hollen took to the Senate floor on Saturday and read harrowing accounts of women who said the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had emboldened them to share their own stories of abuse with the senator. “I have received written statements from over 50 Marylanders telling me about the sexual abuse they had encountered,” the Democrat said as the Senate debated Kavanaugh’s nomination, which was later approved on a 50-48 vote, Jeff Barker reports in the Sun.

HOGAN UNSURE HOW HE WOULD HAVE VOTED ON KAVANAUGH: Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes that in an interview with the Baltimore Sun’s editorial board, Gov. Larry Hogan declined to say whether he would vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh if he were a member of the U.S. Senate. Hogan said Thursday he had not seen the results of a supplemental FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh in the 1980s. The report has so far only been made available to senators.

CARDIN, CAMPBELL, SIMON DEBATE: For an hour on Sunday afternoon, the three top candidates for U.S. Senate on November’s ballot met on a soundstage in Baltimore, each promising a different approach for a six-year term. Independent candidate Neal Simon, a wealthy business executive from Potomac, cast himself as beyond party affiliations and a fresh choice for voters, mentioning several times incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin’s decades-long tenure in elected office. Simon repeatedly faulted both political parties for acrimony in Washington, D.C. Republican Tony Campbell, a political science professor at Towson University and longtime GOP activist, held the party line on several issues, voicing his support for President Trump and his policies, Danielle Gaines reports in Maryland Matters.

FUNERAL DIRECTORS AS ‘LAST RESPONDERS:’ Lillian Reed of the Sun reports that, as the number of drug-related deaths in Maryland continues to climb, funeral directors are calling themselves the “last responders” to the opioid epidemic. The moniker represents an anxiety within the central Maryland funeral industry over how aggressive licensed morticians should be in preparing for overdoses at their businesses. They worry that synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanyl could be on a deceased person’s body or on the clothes of a mourner, inadvertently exposing their staff or guests at the funeral home to danger.

WEIRD LAWS: In a light-hearted article for the Sun, Christina Tkacik writes that while new laws went into effect on Oct. 1, some unusual old laws remain on the books in our area including: Fortunetelling is illegal in Baltimore. Violators can be fined $500 or imprisoned for up to a year; Baltimore law lays out benefits only for the widows of firefighters — a legacy from the days when there were no women in the fire department, and under most circumstances, Maryland landlords can’t prohibit tenants from hanging a clothesline.

RGA CONTINUES ATTACK ADS: The Republican Governors Association this week continued its multimillion-dollar attack ad campaign against the Democratic nominee for Maryland governor, Ben Jealous, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports. With the airing of a new $1 million ad called “Too Divisive,” the RGA will have spent around $3.2 million to attack Jealous on Maryland TV screens. That far outpaces what Jealous and a political action committee supporting him have been able to muster thus far.

JEALOUS STRUGGLES TO BUILD MOMENTUM: Ben Jealous stunned the Maryland Democratic establishment with his 10-point primary victory, becoming the most high-profile of several insurgent candidates in the state who defeated establishment-backed rivals. Steering a campaign that brought together unions and progressives, he won 22 out of 24 jurisdictions. But in the general-election campaign, the first-time candidate and former NAACP president has struggled to build similar momentum, reports Ovetta Wiggins of the Post.

DON’T JUST SETTLE ON HOGAN: In an op-ed for the Sun, Marylander Joe Garonzik opines that “when I ask my friends whom they plan to vote for in the 2018 Maryland gubernatorial election, some of them seem resigned to support Gov. Larry Hogan because he has exceeded their low expectations. I take that to mean that he is a good family man and he is not outrageous or inflammatory. He treats others in a socially appropriate way and with respect.” However, he writes, his stands on the issues that matter to them has not helped them.

CANDIDATES CROWD HOWARD WEEKEND: There were barely two dozen people in the 120 seats at the candidates forum by the African American Coalition of Howard County when the Libertarian candidate for governor briefly laid out his platform of lower taxes and school choice. There were almost more candidates than average citizens at the forum, including the candidates for attorney general and four members of the congressional delegation. But the biggest crowd came out for Gov. Larry Hogan at Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman’s annual picnic. Reports and photos by Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com.

SUN VOTERS GUIDE: Here’s the Baltimore Sun’s 2018 Voters Guide.

SARBANES LAYS OUT PLATFORM: U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes recently visited The Capital, where he advocated for universal background checks, ending gun show loop holes and appropriating more federal money to cities like Baltimore and Annapolis, reports Chase Cook.

CHANGE OF GUARD IN PG: The annual dinner hosted by the Democratic Central Committee in Prince George’s County was supposed to be a chance for top Democrats to rally ahead of the Nov. 6 election. But the dinner on Thursday night was more a celebration of what happened June 24, when Angela Alsobrooks won the Democratic primary to become the first black woman to lead the majority-African American jurisdiction. The event marked the changing of the guard in the state’s second-largest county as Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker wiped a tear from his eye before addressing the audience of Democratic loyalists.

CAMPAIGN SIGNS MISTAKENLY TRASHED: Jennifer Barrios of the Post writes that in a case of “beautifying gone wrong,” Montgomery County workers trashed several political campaign signs in downtown Silver Spring this week, a county spokesman said. Bruce Lee, president and chief executive of Lee Development Group, said he discovered his array of signs for county executive candidate Nancy Floreen missing when he arrived at his office on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road Friday morning.

THE SIMILARITIES OF FLOREEN & ELRICH: In his political opinion column for Bethesda Beat, Adam Pagnucco opines that the Montgomery County executive general election race is heating up and County Council members Nancy Floreen and Marc Elrich, who are running along with Republican Robin Ficker, are starting to emphasize their differences. That’s normal for a political campaign. But the truth is that Floreen and Elrich have a lot in common. Pagnucco outlines a number of similarities, including that they both a social liberals.

PITTMAN SEEKS ETHICS PROBE INTO SCHUH MAILING: Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports that county executive candidate Steuart Pittman announced Saturday he will seek an ethics investigation into his opponent’s campaign after a memo on Anne Arundel County letterhead was sent to Crofton residents. The memo is from County Executive Steve Schuh, who sent it Friday to correct what he called “misinformation” from Pittman’s campaign regarding Schuh’s governing philosophy and the controversial Enclave at Crofton and Two Rivers projects.

  • The editorial board of the Annapolis Capital writes that Steuart Pittman, Democratic challenger who is gunning for Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh’s seat, has alleged that by using county resources to attack him in an email to constituents Friday, Schuh crossed a line and violated state election law. Pittman wants the county Ethics Commission to decide if that email was an illegal or improper use of taxpayer resources for political purposes. It’s not clear that Pittman is right, but he has raised a valid question.

HOGAN SAYS ‘NO’ TO GRASSO ENDORSEMENT: Gov. Larry Hogan denies that he would ever endorse fellow Republican John Grasso, an Anne Arundel County councilman running for state Senate who made headlines this week for posting anti-Muslim material on his Facebook page, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun. So how did an endorsement from the incumbent governor — along with a positive quote about Grasso — appear on Grasso’s campaign materials?

THAT OLD-TIME RELIGION: In a column for Maryland Matters, political commenter Frank DeFilippo lays out a case for old time political bosses writing that “call it what you will, a hankering for the bad old days or just plain nostalgia, but if the old political bosses were still around to call the shots and make the deals, we wouldn’t be in this sorry mess.”

‘FIRST LADY OF UM’ DIES: Patricia H. Kirwan, who was known as the first lady of the University of Maryland, died of multiple myeloma complications Wednesday at her Rockville home. She was 80 and is survived by her husband, Brit Kirwan. a past president of the University of Maryland, Jacques Kelly reports in the Sun.