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February 12, 2013

The Whole Gang’s Here

Roy Meachum

Former Frederick Mayor Jeff Holtzinger was heard from last week. Ex-County Commissioner – and now state delegate, Galen Clagett told The Frederick News-Post late Thursday his hat was definitely in the ring; saying his official announcement would come Monday.


Present holder of the top office in City Hall, Randy McClement, has published what amounts to his political pedigree on the mayor’s Internet page. His official position, we are told, comes this week for anybody reluctant to believe he’s running for another term.


Alderman Karen Young beat the pack at the Hampton Inn nearly three weeks ago, mildly bothered by snow. But then there was never doubt about the former bank marketing executive running. Her husband, State Sen. Ron Young, served longest – 16 years – of all the city’s modern mayors. He will be out with her, ringing front-door bells and shaking hands. If it comes to that, they both love kissing babies.


The great surprise was Delegate Clagett. At one point there was speculation about his running for state comptroller, against incumbent Peter Franchot. That the former commissioners’ president is running for mayor must be reckoned, in several circles as a tribute to the continuing clout of Comptroller Franchot, the former Montgomery County delegate.


There’s natural suspicion that the two politicians had a covert talk and Mr. Clagett agreed to support Mr. Franchot’s gubernatorial ambitions in 2014 in exchange for whatever. Operating out of City Hall, he would be more powerful, as mayor of Maryland’s second largest city. They are both Democrats; so is Mrs. Young.


Another party member, Jennifer Daugherty, I heard, was contemplating entering race, but as an independent. After a single term, she ran for several offices, including for the state’s Sixth Congressional District; she lost all, including against ex-mayor Ron Young in the primary for re-election. In fact, she was responsible for his defeat in the 2009 municipal general elections, organizing her friends and fellow-thinkers to oppose him – ceding to the Republicans four years ago. There is political bad blood between them, which transfers to his wife. Meanwhile, Karen Young is too smart to let past feuds get into the present election.


Anyway I heard that Kim Dine, the police chief Ms. Dougherty hired – the only brilliant choice she made in four years – in the process of taking over Capitol Hill police, advised her that she is done with politics, that running for mayor as an independent would be enormously disastrous for the rest of her life. I agree. This veteran columnist resents how ex-Mayor Daugherty used her official power for personal gains; her record demonstrates the folly of petty disputes ballooned out of proportion.


The new guy back in the mayoral GOP primary is Jeff Holtzinger, who decided after only four years in the City Hall to return to his private law and engineering practice. His honesty could not be questioned – except when partisanship entered on the part of several Democratic aldermen. On the street I heard his office is not doing very well. This time around he’s moved lock, stock and barrel into city limits. Constant quibbling about his legal residence beset him earlier. Unless expenses overwhelm him, he’s expected to last until the primary.


Randy McClement is a nice guy, but I hear rumors that he’s not always definitively decisive. Still, if he tends toward dictatorship, there would be stories about his iron hand. Last November’s elections did no favor for Mr. McClement, especially in a community where Democrats out-register Republicans.


Karen Young seems the best organized, although Galen Clagett must be recognized for his drive in that direction – the fact that out-of-sight he built a mayoral campaign machine. She has a not-so-secret weapon in the form of her husband Ron Young.


It will be fascinating until the September primaries – and at least interesting after that.


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