By Len Lazarick
Some Marylanders have been wanting to get rid of Gov. Martin O’Malley for years, and various schemes have been suggested.
The most common scenario of this wishful thinking by O’Malley detractors was raised just yesterday in a reader comment to a story about the governor’s goals. Sen. Barbara Mikulski would resign, allowing the man who was field director of her first Senate campaign somehow to appoint himself to the seat.
The scenario has always seemed slightly silly, even a few years ago with insistent but never verified rumors of Mikulski health issues. The 76-year-old dean of the Senate women who chairs an Appropriations subcommittee would resign to spend more time with the family she doesn’t have so a freshman senator can burnish his presidential ambitions?
Politics has its irrational side, but that scenario doesn’t make sense. And now that fighting Barb is to become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, she will likely leave the Capitol as the just-departed chairman Daniel Inouye did at 88 – in a box.
Mikulski is not warm and fuzzy; she is sharp and provocative. She is consistently ranked as the “meanest” member of the Senate by congressional staffers in a biennial Washingtonian magazine poll, but her constituents don’t really care as long as Sen. Barb is fighting for them. In 10 elections, she has never received less than 60% of the vote; 62% two years ago.
Would she leave if Democrats lost control of the Senate in 2014? Would this make her happier or live longer or help Maryland?
How about a cabinet post?
So forget about that. But what about the other party-chatter scenario for O’Malley’s departure as President Obama moves into his second term — a cabinet post? Say homeland security, the agency that oversees popular agencies like transportation security, border patrol and immigration.
Say, governor, how would you like to take on immigration reform at the national level? A little political scarring and bruising doesn’t hurt very much, does it?
There are three ex-governors in the current Obama cabinet and two ex-senators. Two of the three governors, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, were nominated in the midst of their second terms. Sebelius, like O’Malley, is a former chair of the Democratic Governors Association.
Is a cabinet post running a federal agency better for your political career than being governor of a state so close to the Washington media? It’s a mixed bag, but O’Malley in the cabinet would be very good for the political career of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who could then run for a full-term as the state’s first African American governor.
This is all very speculative, and O’Malley has not tipped his hand on any plans, beyond the fact that he has no plans to retire from public life.
Oh, and then there’s the fervent desire of a few far right wing-nuts to impeach O’Malley over one constitutional crime or other. Researching that last year, I discovered that while the Maryland Constitution says “the Legislature may provide by law … for the impeachment of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor,” the legislators have never gotten around to passing a law describing how and why the governor should be impeached.