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As Long as We Remember...

November 1, 2005

State Democrats Are Nervous

Edward Lulie III

Doug Duncan, commissar of the Peoples Paradise of Montgomery County, is being told "don't run, you might not be our best candidate to beat Ehrlich." State Democrats, still in withdrawal from losing the State House three years ago, are anxious to reclaim the throne and start the feeding toughs flowing again with political gravy.

It is especially hard for Democrats in this time of having no national power. Lots of good young Democrats (and Howard Dean socialists) are idling their time by teaching, banking and stockbroker jobs and waiting to return to the ranks of government employees. That now means state jobs since the federal government is lost and controlled by Republicans.

Democrats are on the outside wondering who changed the locks. Still in denial, they have circled the wagons about the old campfire, and spend their days cursing "evil" and purging their ranks of moderates. They eagerly await each new revelation of Republican misdeeds and console each other by declaring the imminent fall of Republicans.

They dream of GOP convictions, prison garb and disaster. That dream may end unhappily for Democrats if the Iraq situation stabilizes and Tom Delay emerges unscathed from the obviously partisan witch hunt in Texas.

Gas prices have dropped locally in a month from $3.29 (in some spots) to $2.27 (in some other spots). The economy which was about to enter a depression (according to some on the left, anyway) has somehow taken the hit and continued to chug along.

Yet many Democrats are more nervous than gleeful. Michael Steele has announced his quest to win the Senate seat of retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes.

Lieutenant Governor Steele is articulate, personable and intelligent. He may well be able to win away black voters from the Democratic Party. His very existence argues against the claims of Democrats and threatens to critically weaken Democrats.

His election would mark the end of a safe seat for Democrats. Mr. Steele might broaden the base of the Republican Party; further strengthening the GOP at the expense of Democrats. A successful Lieutenant Governor Steele might well emerge as an attractive Republican candidate for national office (president or vice president). He is a candidate that makes Democrats nervous.

Then there is Mayor Martin O'Malley, darling son of Baltimore's Sun. His inept governance of Baltimore as mayor has endeared him to the left as he promises, as governor, to share the pain across the state in a gleeful return to progressivism.

Confident staffers are already looking past the next election with plans of house-hunting closer to the White House. Gov. Robert Ehrlich is viewed as a one term freak of nature. Democrats are confident that he will lose the next election.

Still there is nervousness. Mr. O'Malley, while a really dreadful mayor, does not have Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's inability to make a speech. He is personable, well spoken and can charm crowds; provided they don't listen too carefully to what he is actually saying.

The campaign against Governor Ehrlich promises to be interesting. On O' Malley's side is the print media and some desperate national party Democrats eager to oust a Republican.

Then, too, there is the state Democratic Party determined to save the divine right to state patronage jobs. The problem comes in the form of Doug Duncan, fighting for the right to be the Democrat's candidate.

This threatens a bloody primary that could hurt the Democrat nominee. Republicans are not complacent over Governor Ehrlich's chances, but the prospect of a Democrat primary where socialist is fighting socialist (O' Malley versus Duncan) is a source of hope.

Democrats are nervous about a scenario where two leftists have to duel it out to win the title of best socialist. If either candidate tries to move to the center they risk losing the primary. If they position themselves on the left during the primary they weaken themselves with moderates.

Maryland may be mostly Democratic Party state but most of those voters are moderates and will cross party lines if the Republican candidate is attractive enough.

The demographics have changed as well, it is possible now to win the core regions of Democratic voters (Baltimore, P.G. and Montgomery Counties) and then lose everywhere else to now lose the election.

The last Democrat governor left Maryland in dreadful financial shape but Governor Ehrlich, blessed by fortune, has survived and refilled the treasury. He has not gotten credit for that.

Republicans were not happy about the need for slots and, as the state coffers have been refilled, wonder why the fight was even necessary. Democrats see the improved treasury and bank balance as a rich Armada, just begging to be looted and plundered. Their quest to regain power has a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

On the other side, Maryland Republicans are working eagerly to make gains across the state. Much of this effort has passed beneath the media radar because of their consensus that the GOP is doomed and failing.

Democrats that don't agree that the GOP is on the verge of collapse are silent and nervous. They worry that the O'Malley and Duncan primary fight will weaken the winner and let Governor Ehrlich win a second term.

They look at Lieutenant Governor Steele and wonder if the Republican control of the Senate may be something that will endure for years to come. They ask themselves the question that if Republicans are stumbling and falling from power, how can it be that Democrats continue to be on the outside looking in; and how much longer can it continue?

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