State Roundup, October 17, 2018

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STATEWIDE QUESTIONS ON BALLOT: CJ Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald- Mail reports that voters will decide on two statewide ballot questions as part of the Nov. 6 general election. One constitutional amendment is on whether commercial gaming revenues should be dedicated as supplemental funding for education. The other is whether to allow same-day registration for voting on Election Day.

FROSH VS WOLF: Running for attorney general four years ago, veteran Democrat Brian Frosh didn’t envision the job he ended up doing. “I didn’t think I was going to have stop the president of the United States from taking health insurance away from Marylanders,” Frosh said. “I didn’t think the president would be spewing hate and sowing fear, threatening the civil rights of anybody whose skin is not white and whose native tongue is not English.” To Republican Craig Wolf, Frosh’s focus on Washington has let down Marylanders. He wants stiffer prison sentences, easier jailing of suspects awaiting trial, and the return of the death penalty in Maryland, reports Ian Duncan for the Sun.

    • The Democrat-controlled Maryland General Assembly passed a joint resolution in 2017 granting Frosh expansive authority to file lawsuits against the federal government. Some legal experts see Frosh’s expanded authority as Maryland simply catching up to other states, said former Maine Attorney General Jim Tierney, a Democrat who served from 1980 to 1990. Tierney has been a proponent of broad legal autonomy for the attorney general since his time in office, CNS’ Brooks DuBose reports in MarylandReporter.

FRANCHOT LAUNCHES AD: As if there was any mystery about Comptroller Peter Franchot’s (D) intentions for the next four years, his first TV ad of the election cycle, which began airing this morning in the Baltimore market, will erase any last doubt, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. The 30-second spot, titled “The Machine,” is unlike anything else airing on Maryland airwaves. It opens with a dystopian-looking Maryland State House, complete with disturbing looking tubes protruding from the building. Click here to view the ad. 

JEALOUS TARGETS WAGE GAP: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous this week released two plans aimed at addressing the gender wage gap in Maryland and tightening ethics regulations. Jealous pledged to hire new Maryland government inspectors to investigate wage discrimination at businesses in the state. Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that Jealous also said he was releasing a plan focused on ethics reform that he said would prevent “conflicts of interest and end pay-to-play politics in Annapolis.”

JEALOUS EYES GUN LAWS: Brian Witte of the AP reports that Democrat Ben Jealous said Tuesday that if he were elected governor over a popular Republican incumbent he would support broadening a new Maryland gun-control law to restrict firearms access to people found to be a risk to themselves or others. The former NAACP president also said he would stand up to President Donald Trump, whom he believes should be impeached.

RECORD NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS: With a few hours left until the deadline to register for the Nov. 6 election, voter registration in Maryland has already hit a record high, according to the state Board of Elections. There were 3,992,451 active registered voters in the state as of Tuesday morning, beating the previous record of 3,977,637, set in January 2017, Christine Zhang of the Sun reports.

UNAFFILIATED OR INDEPENDENT? Are you a registered Independent voter or an unaffiliated voter? In Maryland they are not the same but they do cause confusion, Christine Zhang writes in the Sun.Voters who write in “Independent” instead of checking “Unaffiliated” on the form are placed into an “Other” parties category called “Others — Independent,” said Mary Wagner, director of the state election board’s voter registration and petitions division. The difference between being unaffiliated, commonly referred to as “independent,” and being a capital-I Independent has caused confusion at least as far back as June 2010, when Maryland’s Independent party was dissolved.

TRONE SETS SELF-FUNDING RECORD, AGAIN: The national record for self-funding of a congressional campaign, set two years ago by Potomac businessman David Trone, appears to have been broken by — yes, David Trone, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat writes in an article about campaign funding for the 6th Congressional District race

FINANCIAL BOOST FOR COLVIN: Democrat Jesse Colvin has gotten a big financial boost in his effort to oust Republican incumbent Rep. Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st District — pulling in more than $883,000 in the third quarter of the year, with help from Washington, D.C., and Maryland Democratic insiders as well as a few Republican friends, Louis Peck writes in Maryland Matters.

COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST COLVIN: The chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee has lodged an ethics complaint against Democratic challenger Jesse Colvin, who is running to unseat Andy Harris of the 1st Congressional District. In the complaint, Baltimore County GOP Chairman Al Mendolsohn lodged the complaint against Colvin, alleging that Colvin was committing “occupancy fraud” related to the D.C. Homestead Property Tax Exemption, according to Brian Griffiths of the Red Maryland blog.

CARDIN OUT-FUND-RAISES: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) brought in significantly more money than his main challengers in recent months, raising $441,566 from July through the end of September, campaign finance records show. Republican Tony Campbell raised $118,339, and Neal Simon, a Potomac businessman who is running as an independent, raised $173,225, Rachel Chason of the Post writes.

GARAGIOLA SEEKS BACK PAY, DAMAGES: The recently departed head of Alexander & Cleaver is suing his former employer for unpaid wages, the latest chapter of a bitter dispute that has roiled a top Annapolis lobbying firm, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record. Robert Garagiola, the former managing attorney for government relations for Alexander & Cleaver, is asking an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge to award him back pay and treble damages in excess of $220,000. He is also asking the judge to rule that he does not have a non-compete clause that would prohibit him from opening his own firm or lobbying in Maryland.

4 DEMS MUM ON ELRICH: For the most part, Democrat Marc Elrich, who is running to be the next Montgomery County executive, does not appear to have a lack of support from the Democratic Party. But four Democrats have been notably quiet when it comes to making an endorsement in the race, Dan Schere and Louis Peck report in Bethesda Beat.

PITTMAN, SCHUH TO DEBATE: Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh and Democratic opponent Steuart Pittman will go head-to-head in a debate at 7 p.m. Thursday sponsored by The Capital. Debate topics will include gun violence, education, development and environmental issues but also questions from Capital Gazette editors — representing The Capital, the Maryland Gazette and other print publications — and those submitted by readers, writes Rick Hutzell in the Annapolis Capital.

1st BLACK WOMAN NAMED TO ARUNDEL CIRCUIT BENCH: Elizabeth Sheree Morris is aware of her race and its importance in Anne Arundel’s judiciary. Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital reports that for the first time in the county’s history, it will have a black woman as a Circuit Court judge. Gov. Larry Hogan appointed the former attorney for the National Security Agency to replace Judge Paul Goetzke, who retired in June for medical reasons.

ELLICOTT CITY PLAN AMENDED TO EASE RAZING: Howard County Councilman Jon Weinstein will amend his proposal that would have required the county’s Historic Preservation Commission to approve projects that will provide protection against “threats to public safety.” The proposal was denounced by preservationists groups that feared it would strip the commission of its independence and quickly advance the timeline of a plan to demolish buildings in historic Ellicott City to mitigate flooding, Erin Logan of the Howard County Times reports.