State Roundup, October 30, 2018

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ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS RISE: Before Saturday’s deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, there was a surge in anti-Jewish incidents reported in Maryland and across the nation, Catherine Rentz of the Sun is reporting. Anti-Jewish incidents reported to Maryland police agencies jumped 47% to 78 incidents in 2017, compared with 53 the year before, according to reports of hate or bias collected by Maryland State Police and obtained by The Baltimore Sun through public information requests.

BULLYING IN BA CO SCHOOL RISES: Baltimore County schools have the highest number of bullying reports of any large school system in the state — and the county’s reports are growing, Liz Bowie of the Sun reports. Parents are speaking out at school board meetings and even going to Annapolis and Washington to add their stories to a national debate over whether the rollback of zero-tolerance discipline by Maryland’s state board in 2014, as well as Obama-era guidance, has made schools unsafe.

POT PRODUCER INVESTIGATION: State authorities continue to investigate products produced by the medical marijuana grower ForwardGro but won’t provide details about the inquiry or when it is expected to end. Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports that the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission had confirmed in July that it was looking into the grower, whose co-owner is connected politically to Gov. Larry Hogan, for potentially improper use of pesticides on its products. But officials declined to say Monday if that was behind the “administrative hold” that prevents the sale of ForwardGro products.

ON THE AMENDMENTS: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times comes out in favor of one state constitutional amendment and opposed to another, writing that, “At the bottom of their ballots, Maryland voters will be asked to decide on two constitutional amendments, one regarding education funding, the other regarding same-day voter registration. On these issues, the Times is in favor of the former and against the latter question.”

HOGAN DOUBLES BLACK SUPPORT: Like the national party, Maryland Democrats have long relied on African Americans to turn out in large numbers for their candidates, an expectation rooted in loyalty passed down through generations. But Hogan’s black support has more than doubled since his first campaign for governor in 2014, from 14% to 33%, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll earlier this month. A survey by Morgan State University released last week echoed the finding, Paul Schwartzman and Ovetta Wiggins of the Post report.

EARLY VOTING BY THE NUMBERS: More than halfway through Maryland’s eight-day early voting period, turnout is more than double what it was during the most recent gubernatorial election — a development Democrats are touting as a good sign for their candidates. After five days of early voting, about 370,000 Marylanders have cast ballots in the general election — a 135% increase from the same time in 2014, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

NO BLUE WAVE AMONG YOUNG: David Lublin of the Seventh State blog analyzes the early voting turnout by age, and finds “no evidence of blue wave” among younger voters. In a posting Monday, he explores what contributes to early voting in different counties.

DIVERSITY IN RUN FOR HOUSE DISTRICT 32: West Anne Arundel County has changed along with Fort George G. Meade’s economic growth, so has the cast of candidates running to represent it. Del. Pam Beidle and Del. Ted Sophocleus, two of the three District 32 incumbents, are not running this year. With Sophocleus’ death and Beidle’s decision to run for the state Senate, voters will have a diverse cast of candidates to consider for House of Delegates. Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital writes about the diversity of platforms among the seven candidates running for the three seats: Democrats Mike Rogers, Sandy Bartlett and incumbent Mark Chang and Republicans Tim Walters, Patty Ewing, Mark Bailey and Sandra German.

ENDORSEMENTS IN 8 SENATE RACES: The editorial board of the Sun makes its endorsements in the eight most competitive state Senate races, part of Gov. Larry Hogan’s “Drive for Five” campaign to break the Democratic stronghold that can overturn his vetos. Not all of the boards endorsements are for Democrats. Republican Dels. Chris West and Marybeth Carozza and newcomer Craig Giangrande have won endorsements for respective, Baltimore County, Lower Shore and Frederick County races.

SPENDING RACE FOR FREDERICK EXEC: A heated battle for Frederick County’s highest office has resulted in more than $235,000 in spending among the presumptive top two candidates in the last two months, Allen Etzler of the Frederick News Post reports. County Executive Jan Gardner (D) spent $138,249 between Aug. 22 and Oct. 21 in her re-election effort, which is the most of any county candidate for elected office. Her Republican opponent, Del. Kathy Afzali, spent $101,575 herself in an effort to unseat Gardner after one term.

OTHER EXEC RACES: Maryland Matters offers fundraising totals in the five competitive county executive races. 

OBSERVATIONS ON MO CO EXEC RACE: In a column for Bethesda Beat, Adam Pagnucco makes several observations about the three-way race for Montgomery County executive, including that the expected “income inequality” between Democrat Marc Elrich and Independent Nancy Floreen, with Floreen leading, never materialized. Republican Robin Ficker, however, trails far behind.

SCHUH BREAKS SPENDING RECORD: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh spent almost $1 million in about two months this fall, shattering the single-report record for county campaign spending, according to available campaign finance documents. Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports that Schuh is outspending his Democratic opponent Steuart Pittman by almost threefold. Schuh spent about $904,000 to Pittman’s $302,000. About half of Schuh’s expenses were focused on media, including television and radio. Some was spent on print, including ads in The Capital.

REDMER AD HIGHLIGHTS HOGAN LINK: Al Redmer Jr., the Republican candidate for Baltimore County executive and Maryland insurance commissioner, is putting up a new TV ad in the final run-up to Election Day. Pamela Wood of the Sun writes that the ad features Redmer’s friend, Gov. Larry Hogan, playing up their political alliance. The campaign debuted the ad Monday on Facebook, and it’s set to air starting Tuesday on broadcast TV.

DNR SAYS EMPLOYEE HASN’T PROVED DEMOTION: Lawyers representing the Department of Natural Resources are asking a federal judge to deny an employee’s request for an injunction after she claimed she was punished for making a derogatory comment on social media about Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. The request comes even as the attorney representing Candus Thomson, a spokeswoman at the department’s Natural Resources Police, is asking a federal judge to compel the state to produce 11 documents, including emails regarding Thomson dating back to Sept. 17.