State Roundup, October 10, 2018

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TWO POLLS, SIMILAR RESULTS: Two new polls suggest that Gov. Larry Hogan is extraordinarily well-positioned to secure a second term on Nov. 6, a feat that would make him the first Republican executive to win reelection in Maryland since the 1950s, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. Although Maryland is one of the most Democratic states in the nation, there is little evidence in either survey that Ben Jealous (D), the surprise winner of his party’s primary in June, is catching fire with the electorate.

  • With less than a month until Election Day, Gov. Larry Hogan has built a formidable lead over Democratic challenger Ben Jealous, report Erin Cox, Emily Guskin and Ovetta Wiggins in the Post. A new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds that with few voters undecided and most preferring the incumbent Republican even on key Jealous issues such as health care and education.

JEALOUS SAYS HOGAN AD MOCKS STUTTER: A new online video from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign mocks several instances in which his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous, said he was running for other offices — including one over the weekend in which Jealous said he was running for governor of Virginia. Since childhood, Jealous has struggled with a stutter that has at times been on display at big moments in the campaign — including the first televised debate in the primary, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

  • Ben Jealous accused Gov. Larry Hogan of “bullying” with the release of a campaign video that mocks him for several gaffes, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post. Jealous said on Tuesday the mistakes were due to the stutter he has had since he was a child, which at times involves saying a different word than what he intended to say.

OPIOID DEATHS SOAR IN HOGAN’s TERM: When Larry Hogan ran for governor four years ago, he blamed the number of opioid deaths on ineffective efforts by his Democratic predecessor, Gov. Martin O’Malley. But in the three years and three months of Hogan’s term in office, reports Doug Donovan for the Sun, 5,533 Marylanders died of opioid-related overdoses. That’s more than the 5,019 who died during O’Malley’s eight years in office. “It’s been very frustrating,” Hogan said this month. “I don’t have a magic solution. We’ve tried everything.”

CONSERVATION VOTERS GROW IN IMPORTANCE: The Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ annual awards dinner has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and with the election less than a month away there was an urgency to the proceedings. Ben Jealous, the Democratic nominee for governor, who has been endorsed by LCV, was there along with his running mate, Susan Turnbull, and dozens of other Democratic elected officials. But the Hogan administration was represented – during the cocktail hour, at least – by Ben Grumbles, the state environment secretary, who is well respected by greens, writes Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters.

HOGAN ENVIRO RECORD MIXED: Gov. Larry Hogan has a mixed record on the environment as he finishes his first term as governor. He signed a statewide ban on fracking — a form of natural gas drilling — and committed Maryland to an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. But when he didn’t outright oppose a natural gas pipeline through Washington County, and called proposals to increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard a “sunshine tax,” environmentalists balked and said they would support his opponent in the November election, Samantha Hogan of the Frederick News Post reports.

FROSH LEADS WOLF IN NEW POLL: Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) has a strong shot at winning a second term, according to a new public opinion poll, but his relatively modest lead over a largely-unknown and underfunded challenger is likely to raise eyebrows. Frosh is the choice of 43% of those surveyed by Gonzales Research and Media Services. Craig Wolf (R), former CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and a former federal prosecutor, has the support of 34% of voters. Nearly one in four voters is undecided, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.

HIDDEN REPUBLICANS: In an op-ed for Maryland Matters, former port commissioner Peta N. Richkus opines that it seems that every Republican candidate from Gov. Larry Hogan on down is avoiding the fact that they are indeed Republicans. She cites Del. Chris West, who also has no “Republican” label on his signage or mailers. “Odd, since he has been chairman of the Baltimore County Republic Party, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, and president of the Calvert Institute of Policy Research, a conservative think tank associated with ALEC. All this information disappeared from his website after his primary victory.”

FILLING SEN. ASTLE’s SEAT: Longtime state Sen. John Astle is retiring after 23 years in the Maryland Senate and leaving a spot for one of three candidates to fill, reports Danielle Ohl in the Capital. District 30 is a swath of the county including Annapolis, Arnold and most of southern Anne Arundel County. Astle won his seat in 1995, when another decade-long veteran Gerald Winegrad retired. Both said the county could use someone new. Democrat Sarah Elfreth, Republican Ron George and Libertarian Chris Wallace are all seeking the seat.

GOP CHIEF WANTS ARUNDEL EXEC CAMPAIGN COMPLAINTS WITHDRAWN: The head of the Maryland Republican Party said Tuesday that election complaints in the Anne Arundel County executive race should be withdrawn so both campaigns can move forward, writes Chase Cook in the Capital. “I am publicly taking the lead right now on ending this destructive game of tit-for-tat,” said Dirk Haire. A complaint was filed against Democratic candidate Steuart Pittman in September. Pittman filed one against County Executive Steve Schuh on Monday.

OLSZEWSKI’s COMMERCIAL: The Sun’s Pamela Wood takes a look at the new commercial being aired by Democrat Johnny Olszewski Jr., who is running for Baltimore County executive. It’s a 30-second biographical spot that began airing this morning and stays on an upbeat note.

SENTENCE IN FEDERAL CASE: The Baltimore County political operative who took $22,000 in cash bribes from undercover FBI agents and then agreed to wear a body wire for federal investigators – a pivotal role in the conviction of former state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks (D) — was sentenced Tuesday to two months of home detention and nine weekends in jail for falsifying an income tax return, William Zorzi writes in Maryland Matters.