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May 21, 2010

A Senate Fight: Ron Young

Roy Meachum

By contesting incumbent state Sen. Alex Mooney, Ron Young guarantees a fight that gives no quarters. They openly detest each other.


Past defeated challengers, even Sue Hecht, suffered from the same handicap that candidate Don DeArmon would face if he wins the Democratic nomination. The boyish looking senator’s campaign chest is fed on a national level; being a Cuban-American doesn’t hurt. But mainly, he draws gobs of money from ultra-conservative pockets. His mainstay salary is paid by the National Journalism Center that brags about the right-wing propagandists the center placed out as interns.


Ron Young came to City Hall as an alderman before moving on to the top desk, where he became the longest serving mayor (1974-91) in the present era. He led Frederick’s modernization from replacing Market and Patrick streets’ deep gutters to developing Carroll Creek that added needed dimension to downtown business. Along the way, he turned an old movie theatre into the Weinberg Center for the Performing Arts that became the very soul of the city’s widespread arts reputation.


He ran again for mayor five years ago; the incumbent had lost considerable respect by claiming the projects that he launched, and everybody knew she lied about. He won the primary but lost the golden ring because the defeated Democrat split the party by encouraging her followers to back Republican Jeff Holtzinger. This time around Ron faces no such prospects. This is not to say Alex faces an impending flood that will wash him out of Annapolis.


In the state Senate district, Democrats hold about a 4,000 vote majority. But wielding the real strength are those who refused either party. These independents have seemingly turned away from the incumbent. The senator won by 56 percent the first time, but slid to 55 percent against Del. Sue Hecht and dropped to 52 percent opposite Candy Greenway – whose name I did not know before she filed.


With a well-established political name, Ron Young can be expected to draw strong support from state Democrats, including the Senate president. Mike Miller receives and spreads cash around Maryland to prevent the legislature from becoming radical.


In his Katzenjammer Kid stage, Alex Mooney managed to irritate the Senate leader most of all. It has been said that the Frederick politician heads his hit list. Their relationship seriously suffered during GOP Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s four years in the State House.


Part of ex-Mayor Young’s strength comes from his wife: Karen Lewis Young became the Board of Aldermen’s top vote getter in the last municipal race, earning the title president pro tem. Did her last name help? Undoubtedly. But those who credit her husband fail to reckon with the lady’s tremendous will and organizational skills.


Mayor Randy McClement brought a single Republican on to the board, Shelly Aloi. This was a case of where Democrat Jason Judd lost, primarily because his party’s leaders strayed to the opposition.


In other words, while the lists of registered voters favor the incumbent senator, it does not necessarily follow that GOP members will stay “home.” When his name comes into conversation, I’ve heard few good words on his behalf. In particular, his attempt to force protégé Michael Hough to replace resigned Del. Rick Weldon left a bad taste in party members’ mouths.


Alex Mooney tried to shove all the blame on Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley as a liberal leaning politician, but Mr. Hough’s potential place in the legislature made uneasy Republicans’ heads; they feared Mr. Hough would Mooney-ize the House of Delegates. As pointed out before, the boyish senator could not win a popularity contest in the General Assembly.


Members of both parties I’ve heard plan to support Ron Young as being anti-Alex Mooney and that’s how most American elections go; as voters we tend to vote against, rather than for. This might be the very year the more wicked Katzenjammer Kid gets sent home.


I hope.



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