Downtown Columbia on the shores of Lake Kittamaqundi at 11 a.m. July 2, 2016. Photo by Len Lazarick

Part 5 Columbia at 50 POLITICS: The Shifting Weight of Columbia Power

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.

Artists's conception  of Frederick Hotel and Conference Center.

State funding for Frederick conference center hotel voted down

The Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) bowed out of the $84 million downtown Hotel and Conference Center project in Frederick last week, withdrawing $18 million in state support. Gov. Larry Hogan said in an interview Nov. 3 that no state money would be going toward the project. This could spell the end for a controversial project to use taxpayers dollars to subsidize a hotel in competition with privately owned hotels.

Maryland grows more politically polarized, like rest of U.S.

While Maryland voted for the Democratic candidate in 2016 for the seventh straight presidential election, a deepening Republican loyalty in more rural areas of the state indicates increased polarization throughout Maryland. While liberal-leaning urban areas helped Hillary Clinton secure Maryland’s 10 electoral votes and Democratic candidates won all but one U.S. House seat Tuesday, the state’s liberal base didn’t perform according to expectations.

Delaney strikes bipartisan tone in victory speech

Democratic Rep. John Delaney struck a bipartisan tone Tuesday evening as he thanked volunteers, supporters and family for helping him win a third term in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. Delaney handily defeated Republican candidate Amie Hoeber 55% to 41%. Delaney spent $1.4 million on the race, and Hoeber spent close to $1 million, plus independent spending by a super PAC funded by her husband.

Jill Stein addresses crowd at University of Maryland Stamp Student Union.

Green Party’s Stein and Baraka just hoping for 5% of national vote

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.

Redistricting Reform Commission meets Nov. 4. From left,  commission co-chairs Wlter Olson,, Alexander Williams; governor's staff Ali Keane, legislative officer Matthew Palmer; Christopher Summers; Michael Goff (hidden); Ashley Oleson. MarylandReporter.com photo.

Hogan plans new push for redistricting reform

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.

Policy think tank celebrates 15 years, honors Hogan

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.