State Roundup, October 29, 2018

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STATE CONFIDENT ON VOTING SYSTEM: With early voting underway in Maryland for the Nov. 6 election, state and federal authorities say they’re confident the voting system is well fortified against ongoing cyber threats from foreign nations, Doug Donovan of the Sun reports. And state officials pledge that voters won’t face that same woes that tarnished the June primary, when updated registration records of 72,000 voters were not transmitted by the Motor Vehicle Administration to the state elections board. The computer error that required those voters to use provisional ballots has been fixed, officials said.

WHO ELSE IS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR? Despite the gubernatorial race being centered on Republican Larry Hogan and Democrat Ben Jealous, there are more than two names on the ballot for the state’s highest office. Shawn Quinn of the Libertarian party and Ian Schlakman of the Green Party are the other two ballot-qualified candidates who are running for Maryland governor, Harrison Cann of the Capital News Service reports.

BALLOT QUESTION ON SAME-DAY REGISTRATION: Ian Duncan of the Sun reports that amid a national debate on access to the franchise, voters in Maryland are deciding whether to allow same-day registration, which would allow people to sign up to cast ballots on Election Day itself. Del. Kirill Reznik, who sponsored the legislation that led to the ballot question, has been pushing the idea for about a decade to increase voter registration. And it would give people who missed earlier deadlines an opportunity to still have their voices heard, Reznik said.

WHERE THE LONG LINES ARE: Like a Black Friday trip to retail stores and a visit to the MVA, waiting in line can sometimes be a staple of voting, Lillian Reed of the Sun reports. In Maryland, registered voters are able to cast ballots early. Still, several jurisdictions have taken the experience a step further, allowing voters to get a peek at wait times in advance of arriving at polling stations. Click here to find out where residents can see how long the lines are.

HOGAN DISTANCES SELF FROM MAILER: Rachel Chason and Ovetta Wiggins report that a mailer sent out by the Maryland Republican Party comes as messaging from the national Republican Party has cast Democrats as “an angry mob” ahead of the midterms and a threat to law and order. It seems distinctly out of step with the messaging of Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who portrays himself as a moderate who scorns the partisanship of Washington — and who has amassed considerable Democratic support. His campaign has said they would not have approved such a mailer. Democratic nominee Ben Jealous called on Hogan to denounce the “dangerous” mailer, citing a spate of bombs mailed to elected Democrats and critics of President Trump over the past week.

FACT-CHECK ON HOGAN ACHIEVEMENTS: In a fact-checking article for the Post, Erin Cox writes that “Gov. Larry Hogan’s pocketbook-themed pitch in 2014 rested on three central promises: Roll back tax and fee increases, create new jobs, and cut wasteful government spending. Four years later, Hogan has delivered some of what he pledged, and he is touting those accomplishments as he seeks to become only the second Republican governor in state history to win a second term. On the campaign trail, however, the governor often inflates his achievements.”

OPINION: WHAT IS HOGAN UP TO? Riffing on Cole Porter’s “At Long Last Love,” political columnist Frank DeFilippo asks what is Gov. Larry Hogan up to? “Is it an ego trip, or simply a mock? Is it a mandate he seeks, or is there a next stop? Is it the numbers, a feeling of joy? Or is what he feels, the real McCoy? With polls in hand and reelection in sight, Hogan says he’s running as if he’s 20 points behind instead of 20 points ahead. That’s the sound of a candidate whose campaign is as flush with cash as Hogan’s – nearly $20 million of it.” DeFilippo continues that he likely isn’t shooting for the White House. But what is he up to?

JEALOUS, HOGAN MONEY RACE: Gov. Larry Hogan and his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous, have filed their final campaign finance reports before the Nov. 6 general election. The reports don’t just disclose how the two campaigns raise money. They also spell out how they spent it, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. In politics, you have to spend money to raise money. During the past two months, Hogan spent more than $675,000 to drum up contributions. Jealous spent $6,490.

  • Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign reported Friday he has raised more than $2.4 million in the past two months — giving him a hefty $3.3 million to spend in the final days before the Nov. 6 election, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun. The Republican governor maintained a significant cash advantage over his Democratic challenger Ben Jealous, who reported raising $1.8 million over the same time period — with $275,000 in cash on hand.

IN OP-ED, O’MALLEY ATTACKS HOGAN: In an op-ed for the Sun, former Gov. Martin O’Malley claims that Gov. Larry Hogan is corrupt. He writes that “according to his own admissions, Larry Hogan has made around $2.4 million through his private real estate development and permit-obtaining company while governor of Maryland. This makes Larry Hogan the one and only governor in modern times to make himself a double millionaire while in office.”

TWO CHALLENGE CARDIN: Jeff Barker of the Sun writes about the two challengers to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s incumbency. He writes, “Ben Cardin, one of the longest-serving political figures in state history, is seeking re-election as a pair of candidates try to shake up a dynamic in which challengers have historically struggled against Maryland’s Democratic senators. Maryland, where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2-1, hasn’t had a non-Democratic U.S. senator since Republican Charles McC. Mathias Jr. retired in 1987.”

ANNAPOLIS CAPITAL BOARD BACKS FROSH: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital throws its endorsement behind Brian Frosh for re-election as the state’s Attorney General, opining that, “in the days after a gunman stormed into the Capital Gazette newsroom and killed five of our colleagues, we heard from many public officials who expressed sympathy and compassion. … we want to point out one in particular: Brian Frosh. Frosh … walked into our office early one morning unannounced. He sat down with an editor, the only member of the staff yet in for the day, and expressed his condolences. He didn’t do it to get an endorsement, and when we suggested he wait a few minutes for a reporter to arrive so we could talk about timely issues, he demurred and said he wasn’t there to do that either.”

AMIE HOEBER SPEAKS: Ryan Miner of A Miner Detail does a live hour-long interview with 6th Congressional District Amie Hoeber, a Republican who hopes to secure outgoing U.S. Rep. John Delaney’s seat. There likely will not be a similar interview with Democrat David Trone, who has not responded to Miner’s invitation. Hoeber gets in a quick swipe at Trone, saying he also does not respond to invitations from women’s organizations. Miner and Hoeber discuss the opioid crisis, infrastructure, the political dynamics amid the five counties, political gerrymandering, her relationship with Larry Hogan and her views on President Donald Trump.

PELOSI STUMPS FOR TRONE: U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Baltimore native who is now living in California, urged supporters of 6th District congressional candidate David J. Trone (D) on Saturday to take nothing for granted heading into Election Day. Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters that Pelosi said that while things look good for Democrats now, a relatively small number of votes, spread across key races, could keep Republicans in control of the House.

FREDERICK COUNTY EXEC RACE: The changing demographics of Frederick County are at the heart of the race to lead county government there, Danielle Gaines writes for Maryland Matters. In the last two decades, the county has grown more populous, more diverse and more Democratic, setting up a 2018 race for county executive that could be tight between incumbent Democrat Jan Gardner, who became the county’s first county executive four years ago on a slow growth platform, and state Del. Kathryn Afzali, a Republican who has represented more rural parts of the county in the General Assembly for two terms.

REDMER-OLSZEWSKI MONEY RACE: Baltimore County executive candidates Al Redmer Jr. and Johnny Olszewski Jr. are raising and spending money quickly as they approach Election Day. Since late August, Olszewski, a Democrat, raised about $670,000, according to his campaign. Redmer, a Republican, raised about $505,000 in that time period. Heading into the final days of the campaign, Olszewski has about $280,000 left in the bank to spend, while Redmer has about $90,000, writes Pamela Wood of the Sun.

FLOREEN RAISES NEARLY $830,000: Nancy Floreen, the Montgomery County council member who left the Democratic Party to mount a surprise independent campaign for county executive, has raised nearly $830,000 so far for the effort, Jennifer Barrios of the Post reports. Her latest campaign finance filing, dated Friday, shows Floreen raised $486,383 between Aug. 22 and Oct. 21 — adding to $342,015 in contributions she reported receiving between July 2 and Aug. 21.

FLOREEN CAMP COMPLAINS: Nancy Floreen’s independent campaign for Montgomery County executive filed a complaint with the Maryland State Board of Elections late Friday alleging that a political action committee aligned with an opponent’s supporters got an illegally large contribution from an out-of-state group, reports Jennifer Barrios for the Post.

FACT-CHECK: TEACHER TREATMENT IN ARUNDEL: Teacher pay and retention have taken center stage this election cycle in Anne Arundel County. Candidates in every major race — from county executive to county council to school board — have weighed in on improving public education. Lauren Lumpkin of the Annapolis Capital fact-checks some of the information being bandied about on education.

NEW ELLICOTT CITY PLAN UNVEILED: Erin Logan of the Howard County Times reports that historic Ellicott City might see a new pedestrian bridge where Baltimore County meets Howard along the Patapsco River, a concert stage, riverfront park and a parking deck. Thursday night Howard County unveiled drawings of what the area could look like if plans for the historic district and surrounding watershed come to fruition. The town, built to withstand 100-year floods, has been damaged by two 1,000-year floods since 2016.

POT PRODUCTS PULLED: Steve Thompson of the Post writes that Maryland state regulators have taken a medical marijuana grower’s products off the market, prompting questions — but few answers — from dispensaries, patients and other industry players. The state’s Medical Cannabis Commission issued an “administrative hold” on all products using marijuana grown by ForwardGro, which operates a large greenhouse in Lothian in Anne Arundel County.

FED PROBE IDs BIAS AGAINST NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS: A federal investigation into the Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth and Families concluded this month after a year and a half, identifying concerns with the agency and its ability to serve non-English speaking families, reports Danielle Ohl for the Annapolis Capital. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights launched an inquiry into the Partnership after a March 2017 complaint, alleging it discriminated on the basis of national origin against people with limited English proficiency.