Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In Conclusion...

Just before I go off to the Academy, I've got a little bit of local politics for my readers to ponder.

Marc Elrich's got to go:
It sort of disturbs my sleep at night that Mr. Elrich, member of the Mont. Co. MD County Council has commented on multiple occasions that he would like to turn the local power utility, which also serves Washington, DC, into a government run enterprise under the guise of "power to the people". He is, by the way, an elected official, and given the voting record of his comrades, including 8-1 approval for a bag tax, it worries me that shareholders in PEPCO's holding company, many local residents included, will find their shares devalued, and dividends non-existent, by populist moves of the legislature. I'd like to let my readers know that our local transit system was owned and operated by a privately-held corporation, and it took no government subsidies from 1862 until 1973. The transit system is now a gov't run enterprise, and it took $239 million from local and federal government coffers in the last fiscal year. Mr. Elrich, Venezuela is a dangerous path to follow.

Then there is his abstention on a 7-1 vote over the County's Disability Pension Policy. Reports the local paper, the DC Examiner, this vote created a two-tier payment system which differentiated levels of disability: partial and full. Reads the paper, "thus a broken finger no longer qualifies a County employee the same pension benefits as a paralyzed colleague would receive". Telling local county workers "no" is a rather "progressive" move in our area, but Counties across the area are facing severe budget crunches, and need to reign in on politically painless to cut cash giveaways to scrupulous public servants.

Looking ahead:
Both Maryland and Virginia are hosting US Senate races in 2012. In Maryland, Mike Steele (R) lost to the now-incumbent, then Rep. Ben Cardin (D) with a 9-point margin in 2006, probably over his support for the military actions in Iraq. Mr. Steele has not come out of the woodwork to challenge Dan Bongino, ex-Secret Service, in a Republican primary. It'll be interesting to see how much Bongino's lack of elected office experience and his support of Medicare Vouchers will affect him in the campaign. As for Mr. Steele, it has been historically difficult for Maryland politicians to win a rematch against an incumbent; namely the 1998 and 2010 Gubernatorial races, where Republican candidates faltered by significant margins after close losses in 1994 and 2006.

Some in the National GOP is already counting Virginia as a hatched egg as they try to make it to 51 seats in the Senate. It's looking to be George Allen (R), former Governor, and Senator elected in 2000 and outed in 2006, vs. Tim Kaine (D), Governor elected in 2005 for the maximum one four-year term. Has it really been five years since Mr. Allen dropped that slur heard round the Country?

2014 is the next Governor's race in Maryland. Incumbent O'Malley has hit his term limit, leaving the seat open with no clear successor. On the Democrat's side, Attorney General Gansler, who billed himself as one who "targets polluters"; and Comptroller Franchot, who tromped around the State giving commendation to businesses which do "more with less", and branding himself as an effective "fiscal watchdog" and an opposer to new taxes. Lt. Gov Anthony Brown may enter the race, but no Lt. Gov., Republican or Democrat, has won a governorship in the 40-year history of the position. On the Republican side, Harford County Executive David Craig is positioning himself for a run at the seat, collecting contributions even though he is term-limited. Other possibilities include Mike Steele popping out of the woodwork, and, don't think about it, Bob Ehrlich making a fourth run for Governor, but probably not.

2016 will be interesting for the local community. MD Gov. O'Malley is positioning himself to run for the Democratic ticket in 2016. According to political watchdogs, he has played the party line on every single issue in the book. Such dedication to ideals can really propel a candidate to the national ticket. O'Malley is not yet 50 years of age, mows his own lawn, and stars in a band, O'Malley's March, which has cut 5 CD's, and plays pretty decent music. His election record is stellar, too: Baltimore City Council, Elected mayor in his 30's, only person to unseat a gubernatorial incumbent in 2006, pulled a 14-point lead over the former Gov. Ehrlich by pasting him as the incumbent. Take this when Ehrlich was polling above O'Malley early in the campaign. By the way, O'Malley never mentioned, or showed, in any of his TV ads that he was the governor- safe move for the time. His weak spot, though, is his adhesion to liberal policies, which he often rode to extremes in his first five years. However, he has made a change in tenor, publicly announcing that he signed an executive order to "streamline paperwork" for businesses, and it was also announced that he ordered a study on bituminous shale production within the State. That sounds a bit like his foe Mr. Ehrlich's "drill baby drill" policy that would have been put in place if he were given the Governorship in 2010. Perhaps, locals will forget about his "Chavezian" days when he appears on national TV (again) in 2015.

Depending on how the stars align, a Virginian may also be coming onto a Presidential Primary Ballot, for one or two parties, near you.

Then what about Mike Steele, onetime Lt. Gov? Could he be the VP on the 2012 Republican ticket? Would that be enough to swing Maryland to the Republican side for the first time since 1984? Or does Obama still have an unshakeable grasp on the State?


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