A coalition of Maryland Democratic lawmakers and other elected officials convened today in Annapolis to announce a series of proposals designed to bolster Marylanders’ rights that could be threatened by President Donald Trump’s recent executive actions.
Budget Secretary David Brinkley sparred with Democratic legislators Tuesday over the Hogan administration’s proposal to gain relief from legislative spending mandates that exceed projected revenues.
Now that the State of the Union is over, our elected officials in DC are set to return to the work of taking what the president said, and putting it into action. Or, doing the exact opposite. Republicans aren’t staying in DC to plot their strategy, they are doing their planning a MARC ride away.
If you’ve been following Maryland’s budget issue, you’ll know that Democrats are warning of a budget plan with hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to things like education, law enforcement, libraries, and state employees that is set to take effect unless the General Assembly passes a tax package in a special session, while Republicans argue that the so called “doomsday budget” actual represents a spending increase of $700 million.
At least one of them is lying, right? Or else maliciously distorting the truth. I mean, we’re talking about some pretty contradictory arithmetic, here. And with little to no explanation beyond these simple claims, what we get is not so much an argument as a partisan shouting match.
Now, I’ve got at least one thing in common with Mike Daisey, Glenn Beck, Crystal Cox, and this other guy: I’m not a journalist. So it was with great indignation as a citizen-blogger being forced to actually contact someone for a comment that I wrote to the Maryland Department of Budget and Management and asked them how Democrats could see hundreds of millions in cuts where Republicans see hundreds of millions in additional spending.
After Maryland’s general assembly failed to pass a tax package that would balance the budget and defaulted to a “doomsday” budget with heavy cuts to education, Gov. Martin O’Malley has been meeting with Senate and House leaders to work out the terms of a special session to special to address the budget problem, among other things.
But Maryland Republicans don’t see a need for a special session at all. As far as they’re concerned, the “doomsday” budget is overhyped. In the words of Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell, “We can live with this budget for a year.” Okay. So will he be ready to raise taxes next year?
Keeping everything as is, Maryland counties will find themselves in a bind, as they state has required they spend a prescribed amount on education while at the same time cutting aid — producing the type of financial inflexibility that government credit rating agency Moody’s says would be a “credit negative” for Maryland’s county governments.
By the way, a special session would cost tax payers somewhere around $20,000 a day. Let’s make it count, guys!
Late last year, Maryland’s already wonky Congressional district map was made positively psychedelic when it was redrawn to choke out one of the two Republicans in Maryland’s portion of the House of Representatives. But according to the Washington Post, not only was the gerrymandered sixth district intended to give a boost to the absolutely not-in-need-of-a-boost Democratic party, it was actually intended to favor one particular Democrat for the previously Republican seat.
Proving that gerrymandering is still more of an art than a science — and that we don’t exactly appoint our representatives — state Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola will not simply wake up one day to find himself in the House of Representatives. He will have to face a real contest after all, and from a fellow Democrat, John Delaney, whose Montgomery County home was deliberately excluded from the new sixth district. Apparently, there is no law requiring candidates to actually live in the district they aim to represent, so Delaney is running anyway, and the race for the Democratic nomination is wide open.
Now, I don’t really have a dog in the fight, but I get some small amount of satisfaction from political gamesmanship not quite panning out. I think if I lived in the sixth district, I wouldn’t vote for either Democratic frontrunner; I would try to write in a vote for no more gerrymandering.
Courtesy of Center Maryland – When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964, he knew he was doing the right thing. But he also figured he was inexorably changing the politics of the American South, and that the Democratic Party, once so dominant throughout the region, would suffer the consequences.
He was right.
In the same way, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) felt he was doing the right thing when he signed the DREAM Act into law last year and same-sex marriage just last week — and he was.
But has O’Malley — or any other state Democratic leader — given much thought to what those two new laws, and the upcoming referendum fights over them, are going to do for the party and its most reliable constituency, African-American voters? Could we be witnessing the beginning of the end of what has been, for Maryland Democrats, a beautiful relationship? Are Maryland Republicans in any way equipped to exploit whatever fissures may exist between Democrats and their loyal supporters?
There have been murmurs of marital difficulties between the Democrats and African-American voters for quite a while now. A dozen years ago, Ike Leggett was perhaps the first official to openly warn that Democrats risked losing black voters if party leaders took them for granted and didn’t do more to promote black candidates for higher office.
That warning seemed prophetic when in 2002, the Democrats’ gubernatorial nominee, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, tapped a white Republican to be her running mate, and she became the first Democratic candidate for governor to lose in 36 years. To add insult to injury, the Republicans won with a black candidate for lieutenant governor.
A decade later, not much has changed.
Black and Latino candidates for attorney general were overrun by Doug Gansler in the 2006 Democratic primary. Kweisi Mfume lost the Senate primary that year to Ben Cardin. O’Malley tapped Anthony Brown to be his running mate, but Brown only has the distinction of being the first black Democrat to be elected lieutenant governor.
It is entirely conceivable that had Mfume bothered to raise money six years ago, he’d be sitting in the Senate today, instead of Cardin. The way in which Mfume smoked Cardin in Baltimore city and Prince George’s County was eye-opening. While losing statewide by just 3.2 points, Mfume won the city — where Cardin had been a popular figure for 40 years — by more than 2-1. He won Prince George’s by almost 5-1, an astonishing ratio.
I caught up with Cardin last week and asked him about his Democratic primary challenge from Prince George’s state Sen. Anthony Muse. I prefaced my question by noting that no one thinks Muse can win except possibly for Muse himself. But Cardin cut me off, noting that some other people feel he can win, too.
“Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens aim to make Baltimore’s general election matter.” That was the subtitle to to last week’s City Paper cover story.
If you were excited (as I was) by the headline’s implication that the city’s minority parties had gained enough grassroots support (or were perhaps collaborating — as strange as that would be) to mount a formidable challenge to the Democratic juggernaut, you would have been disappointed by Van Smith’s article, which told a familiar story: though they may have compelling platforms, the Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens account for a pathetically small portion of Baltimore’s voting public and therefore have very little chance of wrestling any power away from Dems.
Of course, Smith’s larger point — that the Democratic party’s long-standing dominance over local politics disenfranchises voters and breeds corruption — is well taken. When you live in a city that refers to the Democratic primary as “election day,” and a state that can effortlessly pass overtly gerrymandered congressional districts despite the protests of Republicans, minorities, and even some fellow Dems, how long does it take before you start demanding an alternative, even if (as is probably the case) you’re a registered Democrat?