State Roundup, June 20, 2014

RECORD EARLY VOTING TURNOUT: With a surge of 29,000 voters on Thursday, a record 141,590 Marylanders voted early for Tuesday’s primary, with slightly more than 5% of eligible Democrats (105,339) going to the polls. As they have in the past two elections with early voting, Republicans continue to show up in smaller numbers, with only 3.5% (34,112) casting ballots.

STATE OF THE HEALTH EXCHANGE FIX: 149 days. That’s how much time the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange has left to implement a brand-new, fully functional website for individuals to shop for health insurance, reports Alissa Gulin for the Daily Record. MHBE officials pledged to have the new system — which would replace the original, malfunctioning Maryland Health Connection site — up and running by Nov. 15, when the next open enrollment period begins. But it’s nearly impossible to verify if the agency is on schedule and on budget, and it’s unclear who — if anyone — has external oversight of the project.

DEPORTATION POLICY CRITICIZED: A policy that Gov. Martin O’Malley said would limit deportations from Baltimore City to cases in which the immigrant poses a threat to public safety is facing criticism from advocates, who say it contains a loophole so large it will inevitably fall short of that goal, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

ECONOMIC STAGNATION: Maryland’s economic growth was zero in 2013. Nothing. Nada. Zip, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News Post. While the state’s suppressive attitude to business is certainly one factor in why things ground to a halt last year, the real story is Maryland’s reliance on the federal government, the board writes. Cuts to federal funding are a key reason why Virginia fared only a smidgen better than Maryland with a tepid 0.1% increase in GDP, and why D.C. lost ground with a decrease of one-half of 1%.

ECONOMIC WHIPLASH: Donald Fry of Center Maryland writes that during the last two weeks, Maryland business advocates and policymakers have been subjected to economic-ranking whiplash. On June 11, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis issued data showing that Maryland registered zero economic growth in 2013, as measured by Gross Domestic Product – second worst among U.S. states. Five days later, Maryland was ranked 5th best in the nation on the 2014 New Economy Index published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

CLOSE AG’S RACE: Maryland’s Democratic primary for attorney general has turned into what could be the closest statewide race next week. An experienced state senator is battling back from far behind in early polls against a Baltimore County lawmaker who has been criticized for an elaborate marriage proposal several years ago that involved Baltimore police resources and a recent endorsement by a rapper indicted on human trafficking charges that the candidate ultimately rejected, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.

DISTRICT 4: In a legislature where the GOP is already drowned out by the majority Democrats, Senate  Republicans are in danger of losing a voice many Democrats have come to respect in Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for Brinkley, 54, faces a younger, energized challenger in Del. Michael Hough, 20 years his junior, who insists that Brinkley’s conservative record just isn’t conservative enough for the constituents of District 4 in Frederick and Carroll counties.

DISTRICT 25: Del. Melony Griffith was once considered the heir apparent to state Sen. Ulysses Currie, who has served in the General Assembly for 28 years. But, reports Arelis Hernandez for the Post, after Currie’s reputation was tarnished by a 2011 federal investigation, Griffith decided to challenge Currie in Tuesday’s Democratic primary rather than wait for him to retire. The contest is expected to be one of the most competitive in the district since 1994, when Currie was elected senator after eight years as a delegate.

DISTRICT 33A: “After 12 years of representing Anne Arundel County in the Maryland House of Delegates,” writes Del. Tony McConkey who is running for a seat in District 33A, “my greatest dream for the county is to make the schools more accountable to parents, teachers and taxpayers by making membership on the county school board an elected position.” His column is the latest in the series of candidate columns in the Annapolis Capital.

DISTRICT 36 CANDIDATES: The Cecil Whig runs profiles of the candidates for delegate running in District 36. Below are links to profiles by Erik Halberg, Josh Bollinger and Jacob Owens.

EHRLICH IN DEMAND: For Republican candidates for governor, there’s simply not enough Bob Ehrlich to go around. He’s like the father in a large family whose kids compete for his attention but can’t manage to get Dad all to themselves, reports Jeff Barker in the Sun.

11 FACTS ABOUT MIZEUR: Jenna Johnson of the Post offers up 11 things you may not know about gubernatorial hopeful Heather Mizeur, including the fact that she was named a Truman Scholar for her leadership. It would have covered her graduate school bills but never used it.

HOGAN & BROWN: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM continues his gubernatorial candidate interviews.

MO CO EXEC CANDIDATES LISTEN: The candidates for Montgomery County executive did most of the listening, rather than the talking, in their final joint appearance before next week’s primary, reports Bill Turque in the Post. “No stump speeches” was the directive from Action In Montgomery, the faith-based advocacy group that packed Silver Spring United Methodist Church on Tuesday evening with more than 500 people from its member congregations.

HENSON CRITICIZES SUN: In a letter sent to the Sun, Maryland and others, candidate Julius Henson says the Sun has misinformed and misguided its readers about the charges and more importantly the ruling in the case against him in the 2010 Ehrlich robocall case. Despite the prosecutor’s best attempts, a jury simply convicted me of the misdemeanor of failing to include an authority line on an automated telephone call.He goes on to criticize his primary opponent, Sen. Nathaniel McFadden.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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