This is the fifth part in a series of 12 monthly essays over the next year leading up to Columbia’s 50th birthday celebration next June. This month Len Lazarick looks at the shifting dynamics of political power in Howard County because of the presence of Columbia and its largely Democratic voters. Links to the previous four parts are at the bottom of the essay.
Maryland Republicans were losing the U.S. Senate race by a wide margin, losing hard fought races for Congress, and yet Tuesday night in a ballroom at the BWI Marriott, they were celebrating and looking ahead to the 2018 election with glee.
Candidates for president haven’t held a public rally in Maryland since before the April primary — until Sunday, when the Green Party nominees for both president and vice president on Tuesday’s ballot spent the afternoon in College Park. They weren’t even hoping to win the election, like the major party candidates frantically jetting into battleground states. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka hope to get 5% or more of the vote across the country, which would qualify the Green nominees for federal campaign financing in future elections. It will also give them automatic ballot access in some states.
Gov. Larry Hogan plans another push for creating an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative district lines and stop the partisan gerrymandering that has marked the process in recent decades. “I know the governor is still committed to moving forward,” Hogan legislative officer Matthew Palmer told what was supposed to be the final meeting of the governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission on Friday.
The Maryland Public Policy Institute, the free-market think tank, celebrated its 15th anniversary Thursday night, announcing two new initiatives and honoring Gov. Larry Hogan with an award. In a short speech, Hogan gave the institute some credit for his path to the governorship. “For a long time, I’ve been passionately interested in the issues that the Maryland Public Policy Institute has been watching,” said Hogan, who served on the MPPI board. He said that led him to set up the advocacy group Change Maryland, which become the foundation for his campaign.
The just-started Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education has been described as largely about rejiggering school funding in Maryland. “Our charge is much, much broader than money,” commission chair Brit Kirwan told the members Monday. “Equally important is how we spend the money.”
Margaret Flowers probably got more coverage from being hauled off the stage by campus cops at the University of Baltimore last week than she did in a whole year of campaigning for U.S. Senate. Flowers was protesting her exclusion from what was likely the one and only TV debate in the race to replace Barbara Mikulski. The irony was that Flowers, about as unthreatening as most pediatricians, was being shut out by the League of Women Voters, founded to give women the right to vote; a public university; and that “Light for All” daily newspaper, the Baltimore Sun.
Long lines in some places for early voting; Democrats argue about how to block Hogan; Delaney, Hoeber debate; Kamenetz wants block grants for school construction; Schuh would use county jail to help enforce immigration laws; Szeliga, Van Hollen tell editors how they would replace Mikulski; experts object to procedure for auditing election; top superintendent in Frederick; pedestrian safety drive in Annapolis.
Maryland business groups are uniformly opposed to mandatory paid sick leave legislation that already passed the House of Delegates in April before dying in a Senate committee. But a key Senate leader told a Howard County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday that the bill was bound to pass this term, and business leaders should try to make it as palatable as possible.
Early voting begins, including same day registration; Szeliga, Van Hollen debate on TV, Green Party Flowers arrested for crashing debate; three prison officials fired, they claim for uncovering corruption; rape kits go untested; PG officials protest Metro cuts; diabetes patients cost Medicaid more; lawmakers hear ways to cut health insurance costs; highest paid state workers; Harford sheriff to enforce immigration laws; UMCP students drop demands for fee hikes over slow rape probes; congressional candidates debate in 3rd and 6th district; Baltimore Archdiocese closing schools.