Been a While: Seen Some Changes
Call it a sabbatical, or maybe just a chance to let things shake out a bit. Honestly, our national, state and local political scene has been so confounding of late, the smarter play was to observe and process more, and to – therefore – write less.
Well, things are starting to fall into slightly more predictable, and more describable patterns. Enough so that an occasional column seems doable.
Nationally, the break down can be described as one either accepts the results of the 2016 election, or one wishes to overturn them. It would be overstating to say it's just the typical Republicans versus Democrats since a bunch of establishment Republicans can't stand the president, while many blue collar Democrats that helped elect him still support him.
The president has such an unconventional approach to governance that traditional observers, pundits and insiders cringe at the mere mention of his name. Just as conservatives refused to call Barack Obama "President Obama," most reporters, politicians and observers refer to President Trump by just his last name. Even then, they typically do so with a sneer.
Setting aside the president's seeming inability to avoid stepping squarely on his own good news, only an idiot could argue that he hasn't had some policy successes.
That, then, makes most of the national news media, congressional Democrats and many country club Republicans idiots, since they seem unable to recognize any Trump victories.
The news media has been especially egregious in their anti-Trump bias. What little credibility they had following the 2016 election has been all but destroyed by their own incompetence.
It's hard to see how this phenomenon will last for the next two, or possibly six years. It's possible that Rep. Maxine Waters (D., CA) might explode from her stored rage over President Trump.
One can dream, anyway!
In Maryland, the race to watch is the election of the governor. The tables aren't just turned, they're flipped upside down!
The safe bet would be to throw in with a Democrat, normally any one would do. Not this time, kids!
Incumbent Republican Larry Hogan enters this cycle the presumptive favorite for re-election, and that has to have the leaders of the state Democratic Party scratching their collective heads.
The sudden and tragic death of talented politician and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz definitely threw a wrench in the works, but he wasn't really even the front runner. That spot, albeit not much of a benefit at this point, is reserved for Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker. Mr. Baker has had some public education and procurement scandals, serious enough to call into question his leadership.
That'll hurt him, mostly because Governor Hogan has been adept at avoiding scandal. When they've arisen, he's taken quick and decisive action to deal with them. Executive Baker's biggest problem won't be his own style, though.
It'll be Larry Hogan's "Everyman" perception. He comes across as a really decent guy (and he is) as well as an executive who's worried more about doing what's right versus what's politically expedient.
Funny thing is that Governor Hogan is as astute a political insider as they come, in addition to being surrounded by a handful of savvy operatives (guys like Appointments Secretary Chris Cavey and Legislative Director and former legislator Chris Shank).
That might be why his reputation got out so far ahead of his enemies. They seriously underestimated the competence of his political operation.
The Democrats playbook was to cut out Donald Trump's face and paste it on Larry Hogan. The governor ruined their plan by separating himself on a few big policy issues that render that comparison laughable.
How this will impact the State House races remains unclear.
One thing is certain. Assuming Governor Hogan runs as strong as he should, he'll have big coat tails in heavily Republican districts. Even in marginal House and Senate districts like Frederick's Third, expect the races to be much closer than they would be normally.
In legislative district's like the Fourth (incumbent Sen. Michael Hough), bet the whole roll on the Republicans. That's how strong Governor Hogan will be.
Next time, we'll aim a little closer to home.