State Roundup, November 12, 2010

AUSTERITY NOW: Comptroller Peter Franchot says the state’s $1.6 billion deficit is another sign that elected officials “have not adjusted to this new age of austerity,” blogs Julie Bykowicz for the Sun. Despite dire financial projections, Democratic leaders tell The Gazette’s Alan Brody that they will try to balance the budget without new taxes.

VIEWS ON HENSON: In Red Maryland, Professor Richard Vatz of Towson University, a known “Friend of Bob,” chastizes former candidate and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich for hiring robocall instigator Julius Henson. Vatz also criticizes the Democrats who criticized Ehrlich but ignored their history with Henson.  Ryan Mooney, the political director of Maryland’s Republican Party, tells WBAL-Radio’s Ron Smith that he would not “necessarily associate with” Henson, and added that the state GOP is in better fiscal shape now then at the start of the year. Scroll down to see a short video of the interview.

O’MALLEY & THE DUDE: Gov. Martin O’Malley and Jeff Bridges were in D.C. together at the National Press Club to talk about their efforts to end childhood hunger in the U.S. by 2015, blogs Nick Sohr of the Daily Record. Here’s a pic of O’Malley and the Dude. And here’s the Post’s Reliable Source column about the event.

WHAT NEXT?: Now that the election is over, Gazette columnists look ahead. Blair Lee looks at the future of two-party politics and taxes in Maryland. Barry Rascovar looks at redistricting, the 2012 Congressional race, and the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial race. Rascovar also dubs Senate President Mike Miller as 2010’s biggest election winner. Meanwhile, Gazette columnist Laslo Boyd uses his column to handicap the 2014 gubernatorial candidates in both major parties.

STEELE DEAL: Advisers to Republican National Chairman Michael Steele hatched a plan to give him a prominent position at the party’s 2012 presidential nominating convention if he decided to step aside as head of the Republican National Committee, Paul West blogs for the Sun. Meanwhile, a faction within the party hierarchy is working aggressively behind the scenes to oppose his bid to another term as chairman, writes West.

LOOKING AT LOLLAR: Several political observers tell The Gazette’s Jeff Newman that they see unsuccessful GOP Congressional candidate Charles Lollar as the future of Maryland’s Republican Party.

KINDER AND GENTLER? State Senate Republicans will not have two of their fiercest leaders — Andy Harris and Alex Mooney — when the General Assembly convenes in January, and The Gazette’s Alan Brody looks at if this spells a new strategy for the GOP

ON KRATOVIL RACE: While Maryland remains a steadfastly Democratic state, its 1st Congressional District voted to oust Democrat Frank Kratovil in favor of Republican candidate Andy Harris while all the other Maryland Congressional Democrats retained their seats. Marc Steiner talks about the reasons with former Republican candidate for state Del. Bonnie Luna, environmental writer Tom Horton, Somerset County NAACP President Kirkland Hall and Public Radio Delmarva News Director Don Rush in the Delmarva section of his show on WEAA.

SHIFTING AND SHUFFLING: Democratic leaders are still reorganizing committees for the new General Assembly session, hoping to spread influence to all the right places and find homes for new members, report The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach and Alan Brody.

WORKING TOGETHER: The good old values that should merit our attention are from the Greatest Generation, which contributed selflessly to the larger group called America, Mike McGrew opines for the Carroll County Times.

VOTER FEAR: In all of the sadly predictable hype, excuses and speculation that followed last week’s election, one reality mostly got left out of the mix: The American people are very nervous; beyond scared, in fact, writes Douglas MacKinnon in an op-ed in the Sun.

OUT OF BOUNDS: Democratic General Assembly leaders said that Attorney General Doug Gansler was out of bounds when he named delegates and senators to a committee to look at campaign finance without consulting them, reports The Gazette’s Alan Brody. Del. Ron George, R-Arnold, was one of those named by Gansler  to review campaign finance laws in the state and there continues to be a bunch of political party meetings in Anne Arundel County, Erin Cox writes for the Annapolis Capital’s Political Notes column.

TEACHER EVALUATIONS: After the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legal Review declared teacher evaluation procedures that are part of the state’s successful Race to the Top application to be illegal, Gov. O’Malley plans to carefully reconfigure the process so the $250 million in grant money isn’t endangered, writes The Gazette’s Andrew Ujifusa. 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: The state’s domestic violence programs are expanding with $4.3 million more in federal grants allocated by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, and funds from other legislative initiatives to bring services and programs to domestic violence victims across the state, Barbara Pash reports for

MO CO BUDGET GAP: Montgomery County Exec Ike Leggett told officials that the county faces a gap of nearly $200 million in next year’s budget — and that national election results could make things worse with Republicans controlling the House unfriendly toward grants and other aid to local jurisdictions, blogs Michael Laris of the Post.

NEW FACES: More than half of the state’s county-level leadership boards will be new people come 2011, showing a rate of turnover that is above average in a state election, writes The Gazette’s Erin Cunningham.

ETHICS RULES: Bryan Sears of writes that lobbyist Bruce Bereano and labor leader Mike Day are happy with new ethics proposals from Baltimore County Councilman Ken Oliver.

GAZETTE NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s political reporters share tidbits from the week, including Andy Harris’ 2008 campaign manager’s important new affiliation; typos in Democratic Party e-mails; and Gansler pondering a post-political career of sorting and packing at the Maryland Food Bank.

CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP: Even though Democrats are going to be the minority party in the House of Representatives, Maryland Reps. Steny Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen — both of whom have leadership positions now — are angling to stay among the highest-ranking Democrats come January, writes The Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford.

PROGRAM PROBE: As Princess Anne officials begin grappling with a $150,000 budget deficit, police have launched an investigation into the finances of a town-sponsored youth program that receives the bulk of its funding from the state, Liz Holland reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

ROCKY GAP REHASH: Even though the Rocky Gap slots casino has received no bids twice, lawmakers say that they don’t regret making it a location for a casino, and that the state may modify its gaming law because of the situation, The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach reports.

COMMUNICATION CONTRACT: The Board of Public Works is slated to consider a $345 million contract with Motorola to build a network allowing communication between first responders from police, fire and emergency medical departments next week, writes The Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford.

LAROUCHIES RETURN: The Lyndon LaRouche table was back at BWI Airport, staffed by adherents of the conspiracy-theorizing, apocalypse-predicting LaRouche. The table in Concourse B was decorated with posters calling President Barack Obama “insane,” holding him responsible for the current “depression,” depicting him with a Hitler mustache and calling for his impeachment, reports Jean Marbella for the Sun.

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