On Politics - Maryland’s Governor and the Democrats Eye the 2018 Election - Fletcher R. Hall

7/17/17

Maryland’s political landscape is both interesting and problematic. The reality of a Republican governor in a heavily Democratic state has been a reason for consternation and frustration for Maryland democrats. As Hogan seeks a second term, his favorability polls remain high and many of his efforts are well received among Maryland voters. His popularity in many parts of the state is good news for the governor as he looks forward to next year’s statewide election.

There is confusion as to who the statewide leader is for the Democrats. The two most visible leaders of the Democrats appear to be long-time State Senate President Mike Miller and House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch. Neither of these Democrats is likely to run for governor. Busch has had health issues and Miller appears to relish his position as state senate president.

The other statewide elected official is Attorney General Brian Frosh. As a longtime liberal state legislator before being elected as attorney general, Frosh has been raising his visibility of late since the General Assembly enacted legislation allowing him to independently sue the federal government. He has engaged in suing the Trump administration on several occasions. He and Governor Hogan have been at odds regarding several matters, including paying two state cabinet appointees who failed to win Senate confirmation. With his notoriety having increased of late, it is possible that Frosh may decide to run for governor.

There is a large list of declared and undeclared potential candidates for governor in the Democratic Party. This large stable of Democratic candidates could be helpful to the reelection bid by Governor Hogan.

The declared Democrats includeRushern Baker, Prince George’s current county executive; Ben Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP; RalphJaffe, a perennial candidate; Richard Madaleno, a Maryland state senator; James Shea, an attorney and businessman; and Alec Ross, author of The Industries of the Futureand a former State Department official who worked for Secretary Hillary Clinton.

The undeclared, potential Democratic candidates in addition to Frosh include: DougGansler, former attorney general and candidate for governor in 2014; John Delaney, a current member of Congress; Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County’s currentcounty executive; Heather Mizeur, former state delegate from Montgomery County and a candidate for governor in 2014; Ken Ulman, a former county executiveof Howard County; Joseline Peña-Melnyk, a Maryland state delegate; and David Trone, businessman and candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 8th District in 2016.There may well be other Democratic candidates who are undeclared, yet plan to get in the race.

With the potential of a dozen or more candidates contesting in a primary for governor, resources and support for each candidate may be difficult to garner. At least two potential candidates, Delaney and Trone, may be able to significantly finance much of their own campaigns.

The Democrat leadership in the state have to defeat a popular sitting governor who has not ruffled too many feathers in his first term in office and has experienced this record of achievement while battling cancer.

The economy of the state is in reasonable condition, and Hogan has been successful in bring jobs to Maryland. He seems to understand the impact of the bourgeoning tech industry in Maryland, the Washington suburbs, and Baltimore City, while many elected officials in Baltimore lack an understanding of the tech industry’simportance and of how to sustain its growth in a 21stCentury economy.

The Baltimore City elected leadership has had many critical issues to address, such as the violence enveloping the city.Governor Hogan has seen that billions of dollars aid Baltimore City’s needs, including crime reduction. One of the future challenges for the governor will be balancing the needs of the tech industry and other components of the Maryland economy. One significant area for the governor to maintain is the Port of Baltimore, a valuable asset to boththe state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore.

As the usual hot, hazy, humid summer of 2017 immerses itself in all of Maryland, the political machinations of the fall is creeping into prominence in all parts of the state.What remains to be ascertained is who the players in the gubernatorial race will be and which issues will be most prominent.

Governor Hogan appears to have escaped the affect of the Trump trap and has set his own course as the governor of a diverse, politically challenging state. At this juncture,heappears to be in good standing with the majority of voters in Maryland. It is possible that Larry Hogan may be the first Republican re-elected as governor of Maryland in eons.

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