On Sunday June 8th, and Monday June 9th, the Baltimore Sun published its polls for the Democratic and Republican primaries for governor of Maryland, and the Democratic primary for Attorney General. Jeffrey Pritzker, a Towson tax attorney (and my elementary and Hebrew school classmate), is running unopposed in the Republican "primary."
First, the Democratic race for governor. Among likely voters:
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown: 41%
Attorney General Doug Gansler: 20%
House of Delegates member Heather Mizeur: 15%
Refused to say: 9%
Anthony Brown has run as the heir apparent to term limited Governor Martin O'Malley. Poised to become Maryland's first AA governor, Brown enjoys majority support among black Marylanders, and leads in every area of the state except Baltimore County, where Doug Gansler leads. To date he has distanced himself from O'Malley on only one issue - at the last debate Brown stated he would have vetoed legislation, supported by Gansler and strongly opposed by Mizeur, that raised the minimum taxable estate from $1 million to $4 million. During this debate, Brown joined Mizeur in denouncing this tax cut for a handful of millionaires - a tax cut that Brown's boss, Martin O'Malley, signed into law.
Brown, however, did not help himself by boycotting the second debate. The local Fox News outlet placed an empty podium with Anthony Brown's name on it next to Delegate Mizeur and Attorney General Gansler. Brown's excuse was that he had only agreed to two debates, not to three.
Although Gansler's past record has been more progressive, Gansler has been running to the right of Brown, sounding often like a Republican as he condemns the high taxes that he claims O'Malley and his fellow Democrats have imposed on Maryland taxpayers. Gansler, like his Republican counterparts, claim that these taxes have driven away business large and small, and forced an exodus of refugees fleeing for the tax havens of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Gansler points to a Gallup poll from this April which found that 47% of Marylanders would like to leave the state, with 67% responding that taxes were too high. However, this week's Baltimore Sun poll found that 59% of Democrats think Maryland is on the right track, but 84% of Republicans state that Maryland is on the wrong track. Clearly, Doug Gansler is not appealing to the Democratic base.
Gansler has made his mistakes. Last October, Gansler made national news when video was released showing him at his son's high school graduation beer party at a Delaware beach house. (As the father of two former teenagers, I salute him and the other parents for chaperoning the kids - allowing beer but no hard liquor, no driving from the party, and no boys with girls alone behind closed doors.) But, more recently, he made a jerk of himself by attacking Anthony Brown's military service as a JAG officer in Iraq as "not a real job." Gansler, of course, never served a single day of military service. And Gansler's effort to blame Brown for the failure of Maryland's ACA website seems to have fallen on deaf ears - few see Brown as the computer nerd actually responsible for the screw up.
Finally, a word about Heather Mizeur, who has submitted diaries to Maryland Kos, is an outstanding progressive, and, if elected, would be Maryland's first woman governor as well as Maryland's first openly gay governor. Mizeur not only denounced the estate tax giveaway to the 1 percenters, but she supports raising the state's minimum wage to $16.70 per hour and legalizing and taxing marijuana, using the tax revenue to support universal kindergarten. (Come on now - is "pot for tots" any worse than "slots for tots"?)
Second, The Sun poll shows a tighter race in the Republican primary. Actually, in Maryland, Republican primaries are as rare if not rarer than Republicans winning general elections - I think the last contested Republican primary for governor was in 1994 between teahaddist prototype Ellen Sauerbrey and the relatively moderate Helen Bentley. Here are the poll results:
Larry Hogan: 27%
Harford County Executive David Craig: 12%
Charles Lollar 12%
House of Delegates Member Ron George 6%
Refused to say 6%
Larry Hogan served as cabinet secretary to Governor Ehrlich, and had one unsuccessful run for Congress against Steny Hoyer, in 1992, winning 45% of the vote - Hoyer's closest election. Hogan is primarily known as the son of Congressman Larry Hogan, who served on the House Judiciary Committee and was one of 8 Republicans on the committee to vote to impeach Richard Nixon. All eight Republicans were defeated for reelection in 1974. Hogan has a reputation for being relatively moderate, primarily because he is the son of his dad.
David Craig seems to be a genuine tea bagger, calling for the abolition of the state income tax and replacing it with - well, nothing. He's been unclear about where he would cut state government, but the cuts will be massive - far beyond the call of Ellen Sauerbrey, who came within 6,000 votes of being elected governor in 1994, to cut taxes and all state spending save police and prisons by 1/3. Under the Maryland constitution, the state legislature does not have the power to increase the budget proposed by the governor, so a Governor Craig could be really dangerous.
Charles Lollar, who is black, has never held office and describes himself as a proud tea partier. Delegate George seems to be fairly moderate - which may explain why he is doing so poorly in the polls.
Third, the race for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. Two of the contestants are members of the House of Delegates, the third, Brian Frosh, is a state senator. According to the Baltimore Sun poll of likely voters published this morning:
Jon Cardin 26%
Brian Frosh 16%
Aisha Braveboy 7%
Refused to say 9%
First, Jon Cardin, nephew of U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. He can thank the Cardin name for getting him elected to the House of Delegates in 2002, where Uncle Ben, Great Uncle Maurice, and Granddad Meyer had all served. While endorsing Brian Frosh yesterday, the editorial had these nice words to say about the latest would be member of the Cardin dynasty:
His chief experience in the General Assembly has been in election law, which gives him a window into civil rights issues and he has also made a name for himself in recent years through his work on cyber crimes and online bullying. He says the next attorney general will need to be focused on those sorts of emerging threats, and we have no doubt that's true.But the youngest Delegate Cardin has committed stupid after stupid. In 2009, Cardin enticed on-duty Baltimore County marine and helicopter police officers to stage a phony raid on his yacht while he was proposing marriage to his girl friend. Story here. After he was caught, Cardin agreed to reimburse the county for this misuse of the police department. Last month, the Sun reported that Cardin had missed 75% of his committee votes during the most recent House session, story here. Cardin explained that he needed to be with his pregnant wife during the three month session. I am not aware of any complications in the pregnancy, and Mr. Cardin is now happily a daddy. However, it was also revealed that, while he was at home missing votes and missing General Assembly sessions, he was drawing not only his salary as a state delegate but $42 a day per diem for meals he was not having at Annapolis restaurants. Most recently, the Sun reported that Cardin had accepted the support of a rapper who, when not recording, operates a prostitution ring and is facing charges of human trafficking. I don't fault Cardin for this, he met the rapper-pimp at a fundraiser and likely had no idea of who he was. But I do fault him for having the fundraiser - sponsored by a former attorney disbarred for stealing his clients' money.
But hey, Cardin leads in the polls - that's the advantage you get when you belong to a prestigious family. (Note: I do have some personal ties to the Cardin family, although not to Jon, so my inclination had been to vote for him.)
Brian Frosh, who does not have a famous name, has served in the Maryland Senate since 1995 and served in the House of Delegates for the eight previous years. As chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, he was instrumental in enacting marriage equality and gun control and other measures. He has been endorsed by Governor O'Malley and by the Baltimore Sun.
The third candidate, Delegate Aisha Braveboy, would be the first black, and the first female, attorney general of Maryland. The Sun's editorial endorsing Frosh did praise her as
an intelligent lawmaker with poise beyond her years. Her work on behalf of youths caught up in the juvenile justice system is commendable, as is her focus on civil rights and economic justice issues. We hope and believe she will have a bright future in public service.To which I respond, Amen! Election day is June 24th, with early voting June 12 to 19.