Friday, November 30, 2012

VIDEO: Doug Duncan for MoCo Executive & Greg Hall for District 24 Delegate? // Maryland Juice Weighs In on News 8

This morning, Maryland Juice appeared on Bruce DePuyt's News Channel 8 show Newstalk. The two of us had a free-ranging conversation about two hot topics in Maryland politics right now:
  1. Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan's decision to run for Exec again in 2014
  2. The stalled appointment of Greg Hall for the District 24 State House vacancy
For those who are unaware of these stories, let me quickly catch you up. First, MoCo's 2014 County Executive race is heating up, and the newest combatant is former County Exec Doug Duncan. Earlier this week he announced he would be entering the race for the Democratic nomination. In the interview below, I suggest that Duncan surely starts with some name recognition but may have a harder time in a modern MoCo primary than some are acknowledging.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Prince George's County, the fate of the District 24 House seat formerly held by Delegate Tiffany Alston is up in the air. Alston copped a plea after facing charges that she used her State House budget for private purposes. The powers that be have decided that means she was suspended from the legislature. She's lawyered up and is challenging that view. But even still, the vacancy appointment process has proceeded, and a group of elected Prince George's Democratic leaders met to select Alston's replacement. The group's Chair Terry Speigner battled local activist Greg Hall for the appointment, but Hall won by a hair. Shortly thereafter, news reports surfaced of the newly nominated Delegate's violent past. Decades ago, Greg Hall was involved in a drug-related shootout that resulted in the death of a child, though Hall's bullet was not the cause of death. Some are now expressing second-thoughts about his nomination, while Hall's backers make the case for his new life and for belief in "redemption." Governor Martin O'Malley, in the meantime, has asked the P.G. Dems to retract Hall's name. Hall too is has now lawyered up to seek a temporary restraining order. The next decision point should come on Tuesday.

Below Maryland Juice comments on both stories (watch video below):

MD GOP Chair Alex Mooney May Face "No Confidence" Vote // Did MoCo GOP Chair Mark Uncapher Want the Job?

UPDATE: In the comments below, Mark Uncapher denies that he is seeking to displace Alex Mooney. Our source may be full of it, or perhaps the mission may be aborted. We may never know.

BACKGROUND - Below Maryland Juice highlights several tidbits and opinions regarding the fate of the Maryland GOP and their current Chair Alex Mooney. Immediately after Maryland's November 6th elections results were announced, many GOP activists condemned Chairman Mooney and his leadership of the state party. The topic is particularly timely, because after getting their butts kicked at the polls this month, the Free State Republicans are heading into a statewide convention this weekend. in an announcement message about the event (excerpt below):
ALEX MOONEY: I hereby call the Republican State Central Committee's 2012 Fall Convention to be held at the Turf Valley Hotel and Conference Center on November 30th and December 1st.... We are making great strides because of your efforts.

MOONEY FACING "NO CONFIDENCE" VOTE - In spite of Mooney's optimistic demeanor, it appears that numerous factions of the Maryland GOP will be hoping to influence the direction of the party at this gathering. More to the point, some disgruntled party members appear to be seeking a vote of "no confidence" in Alex Mooney. We previously noted, for example, that the libertarian-minded Republicans in the Maryland Liberty Caucus announced they would be mobilizing supporters at the convention (excerpt below):
MARYLAND LIBERTY CAUCUS: You and I both know that the Maryland Republican Party is run from the top-down. The Republican Establishment doesn’t stand for conservative principles. They don’t appreciate the diverse, energetic, and conservative arm of the Party....

Here in Maryland, the Maryland Liberty Movement will re-brand the Republican Party from the bottom up. We are going to go full-tilt into the Maryland Republican Party Convention on November 30-December 1, 2012 in Howard County....

MOCO GOP CHAIR MARK UNCAPHER MOUNTING A CHALLENGE TO MOONEY? - Even with all the visible anger, many GOP pundits have been wondering whether anyone would even want Mooney's job. One Maryland Juice source on the right commented (anonymously):
ANONYMOUS SOURCE: ...although people want to kick him out, there’s no one to replace him. It’s an unpaid position. So someone has to be retired or independently wealthy. It will be interesting to see what happens now with Mooney – he had been at State Party part time and part time on Bartlett’s congressional staff. Now he lost that job, how will he earn a living while volunteering at the State Party?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

MoCo JuiceBlender: Doug Duncan Enters Race for County Exec, Maryland Juice Live Tomorrow at Young Dems & Much More!

Sorry for the unannounced break from the blog, but Maryland Juice had some work to catch up on! But since I last posted, a few chess pieces have advanced on Montgomery County's political playing field. Below we highlight a few random tidbits relating to MoCo politics:

JUICE #1: TOMORROW JOIN MARYLAND JUICE LIVE WITH MOCO YOUNG DEMS - Let me get this shameless plug out of the way. Tomorrow night Maryland Juice will be appearing live in Bethesda, MD for an exciting panel discussion with the Montgomery County Young Democrats. Please join us as we discuss the 2012 election results. Details below:

Election Wrap-Up, Thursday - 7:00pm until 8:30pm
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, Maryland 20814 
We'll be analyzing the election results with local and state leaders at our November membership meeting. Moderator: Valeria Carranza

  • Anne Kaiser, Montgomery County House Delegation Chair
  • David Sloan, Maryland Democratic Party Executive Director
  • David Moon, Maryland Juice

JUICE #2: DOUG DUNCAN ENTERS 2014 MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXECUTIVE RACE - Have you heard the news yet? Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan has finally stopped dicking around and decided that he wanted his old job back. Indeed, the one-time gubernatorial candidate has now announced that he is entering the 2014 race for MoCo Executive. A source forwarded us the following (excerpt below):
NORTH POTOMAC PATCH: After months of strategizing, Douglas M. Duncan has told supporters he has decided to run for an unprecedented fourth term in Montgomery County's highest political office, marking his return to politics after a six year-hiatus.

Duncan, 57, met privately yesterday morning with political advisers and supporters in Gaithersburg to discuss his run for county executive and weigh the results of a recent poll by Harrison Hickman.... Duncan told attendees that he would be entering the 2014 race, according to an email sent yesterday afternoon to supporters.

JUICE #3: IKE LEGGETT RECONSIDERS 2014 MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXECUTIVE RACE - Perhaps the return of Doug Duncan had something to do with it, but just a couple days ago, sitting County Executive Ike Leggett had yet another change of mind about his future. After being out then in then out of the 2014 race, that Leggett is again considering a third term. But this time, he has at least put a timeline on his decision (excerpt below):

EXAMINER: Leggett told The Washington Examiner he might "reconsider" his 2010 position as community members and friends have been urging him to seek re-election.

"At this point, it's still no," he said. "But I'm going to think about it after Jan. 1."

JUICE #4: INTERESTING T-SHIRT: "VALERIE ERVIN FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY"  - A MoCo politico pointed Maryland Juice in the direction of some interesting photos on the Facebook page of Councilmember Valerie Ervin. The Silver Spring-based Democrat has been known to be weighing a 2014 County Executive campaign, and her new T-shirts seem to confirm the rumor. The hint is that Ervin is a District Councilmember who is now framing herself as a Countywide figure. The photos below were taken at the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Day parade and were found on :

Backside of T-shirt
Ervin for Montgomery County T-Shirts

Note that County Councilmembers Phil Andrews & George Leventhal have both announced they are plotting 2014 runs for Executive.

More on the emerging MoCo Exec dynamics soon!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Del. Jon Cardin Announces 2014 Attorney General Fundraiser // HMM: Democrat Applauds Dream Act Win But Voted Against It

An anonymous source tells Maryland Juice that today Delegate Jon Cardin announced a fundraiser for 2014 Attorney General. So far, the Baltimore-area Democrat would be taking on only Senator Brian Frosh of Montgomery County, though others are known to be thinking about the race. In the email blast below, Cardin announces a but our source also points out that strangely, Cardin applauds passage of the Maryland Dream Act. This is unusual, because Jon Cardin voted against the Dream Act in the Maryland House.

DELEGATE JON CARDIN HAILS DREAM ACT BUT VOTED AGAINST IT: In what doubles as a "post election 2012" report, Cardin states that "by supporting the Dream Act, Marylanders advanced the State’s longstanding principle that access to education is the key to strengthening the State. I am proud of Maryland voters, and I am confident that Maryland will continue to lead the way in providing equal rights and equal opportunities to all of its residents."

Too bad Marylanders can't rely on Cardin to lead the way on these issues. Our source points out that Delegate Jon Cardin joined Tea Party members and voted against the Dream Act during the House of Delegates floor vote last year. Prior to the floor vote, the Dream Act was debated in the House Ways & Means committee where Cardin is a member. He abstained from voting on the bill in committee. This is hardly a profile in legislative courage, and it borders on outrageous for him to now applaud passage of something he opposed. See Cardin's email blast below, followed by a few excerpts from the :

Jon Cardin 11th District State Delegate
Cardin Annapolis Reports:
Post Election 2012
November 20, 2012

Dear Juice,

After two years of hard fought campaigning on both the State and federal levels, the election is finally over. Maryland has approved every ballot question including expanded gaming, affirming same sex marriage, and passing the Maryland Dream Act. On the federal level, President Obama has been re-elected with a mandate to balance the budget and return bipartisanship to Congress while Maryland again elected a strong delegation of Congressmen, including one new Representative, John Delaney, to Maryland’s 6th District.

In approving all ballot measures, Marylanders sent the Governor and General Assembly two clear messages. First, by affirming the Dream Act and becoming the first state in the Union to pass same sex marriage by referendum on their first try, Marylanders have spoken for equal rights and fairness for all Maryland’s residents. Further, by supporting the Dream Act, Marylanders advanced the State’s longstanding principle that access to education is the key to strengthening the State. I am proud of Maryland voters, and I am confident that Maryland will continue to lead the way in providing equal rights and equal opportunities to all of its residents.

Second, by approving expanded gambling, including table games, and a sixth casino site to be located at Prince George’s County’s National Harbor, Marylanders reminded government that when citizens are choosing where to spend their disposable income, government should not restrict their options.  Furthermore, they reasserted to lawmakers that they are serious about raising revenues in the State. This measure will keep Maryland money in Maryland while creating jobs for Maryland residents.

As a result of approving these ballot measures, Maryland looks forward to adding $200 million in revenues from expanded gaming, an estimated $66 million from the Dream Act and millions of dollars from new marriage licenses and the lucrative wedding industry. These new revenues have put Maryland in its strongest budget position in years with the real possibility of balancing the operating budget without significant cuts this coming legislative session.

The message is clear, and I plan to continue working to grow industry in Maryland to raise revenues and continue to get my constituents back to work. This session, I plan to introduce research and development legislation to spur business investment in Maryland, including incentivizing existing business growth and creating new business opportunities, particularly in green industries such as wind and solar power.

Finally, it is clear that voters in both our State and our country want to see lawmakers from both sides of the aisle working together to find and create innovative solutions to our big problems. I have always been committed to working with constituents and leaders from all sides and collaborating with the entire legislature to create solutions to our problems. Moving forward, please know that I am always open to new ideas and innovative solutions no matter where they come from.


You can always reach me at jon.cardin@house.state.md.us.  I am proud to be representing you in Annapolis and to be working with Delegates Dana Stein and Dan Morhaim and Senator Bobby Zirkin as part of the District 11 legislative team.

 Jon Cardin
Delegate Jon S. Cardin 

Below you can see the 2011 House of Delegates roll call vote for the Dream Act, followed by the Dream Act Ways & Means roll call vote:

Voting Yea - 74

Voting Nay - 66

Monday, November 19, 2012

2014 MD GOVERNOR: Anthony Brown Poll Shows Early Lead Over Gansler, Franchot, Ulman // BATTLEGROUND: DC Burbs

All signs indicate that Maryland's 2014 statewide races are ramping up, and so far no office is more hotly contested than the Free State's upcoming contest to succeed Gov. Martin O'Malley. Today Maryland Juice received a copy of internal polling results from a source within Lt. Governor Anthony Brown's campaign, and they purport to reveal three things:
  1. Brown starts the race with a clear lead,
  2. the Washington suburbs will be Maryland's battleground region in 2014, and
  3. nearly one in three Democrats have not yet formed an opinion on the race.
Note that this poll was conducted in September 2012 and only surveyed voters about Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. The survey did not seem to ask voters about Delegate Heather Mizeur, who is now campaigning for and exploring a run for Governor. The polling firm was GarinHartYang, which has also done work for Gov. O'Malley and some of the Maryland ballot question campaigns this November. Below you can see the summary results and polling memo, but I start by highlighting a few of the key figures and findings.
  1. Brown has higher name id, positives, and intensity of support than his competitors. 63% of voters know him, compared with only 54% for both Franchot and Gansler,
  2. If Franchot gets out of the race, the dynamics of the race do not change significantly. His supporters break roughly evenly between Brown and Gansler.
Here's a quick excerpt from the polling memo's conclusion section (excerpt below)
GARIN-HART-YANG: The Washington, D.C., media market is looking like the battleground (especially if both Montgomery County candidates decide to run for governor), but even in trial heats with Gansler and Franchot, who have longer track records in this jurisdiction, the Lt. Governor leads in the Washington, D.C., area (admittedly narrowly) in BOTH the four-way trial heat and the three-way trial heat (without Franchot), and even in a one-on-one match up with the attorney general.

In summary, the polling data indicates that Lt. Governor Brown is best positioned to win the 2014 Democratic nomination, and the data are further encouraging about his prospects to EXPAND his support. While it is not unexpected that a sizeable proportion of Democratic primary voters (33%) have yet to make up their mind for an election that is almost two years away, the data also show that Lt. Governor Brown is well positioned to appeal to undecided voters....

MY QUICK THOUGHTS: It seems to me that with this first shot, Brown is declaring himself the front-runner in this race. Maryland Juice agrees with that conclusion for numerous reasons, but I note that this race could turn upside-down easily. For one, money, campaigns and issues do matter -- especially in a Democratic Primary. Moreover, this polling was done before any candidates' media buys have been able to define the contenders and issues. On that note, it is hard to ignore the huge multi-million dollar cash lead Gansler is starting the race with, and the unsettled nature of the candidate field. Consider, for example, that early presidential polls have had high-name-id candidates like Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden scoring high among voters -- and yet, I think neither of them could likely win a Democratic Primary for President. I suspect there is at least a little bit of that effect going on here. With those caveats, check out the Anthony Brown polling memo below:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

HOLY MACKEREL: Gov. O'Malley Asks Prince George's Dems to Withdraw Greg Hall's Name For Tiffany Alston's MD House Seat

BACKGROUND: Just days ago, local news outlets were abuzz with news that Greg Hall, the choice of the Prince George's Democratic Central Committee (PGDCC) to replace Delegate Tiffany Alston (D24), had previously been involved in a drug-dealing gun-shootout that resulted in a dead child. The PG Democratic Central Committee had appointed Hall to replace Alston after she copped a plea on criminal charges involving misuse of government resources. Maryland Juice highlighted a few news articles indicating that the PG Dems were uncomfortable with the revelations and began changing their vacancy appointment process to preempt this kind of a problem in the future.

O'MALLEY ASKS PG CENTRAL COMMITTEE TO WITHDRAW HALL'S NAME: But now, for the District 24 seat, and it sounds like they are inclined to listen (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has asked Prince George’s County Democrats to withdraw the name of businessman Greg Hall to replace Tiffany Alston in the House of Delegates until the state’s attorney general rules on whether the seat is actually vacant....

Assistant States’s Attorney General Dan Friedman had advised the General Assembly that Alston’s seat was vacant upon her conviction. But an Anne Arundel County judge last week agreed to modify Alston’s one-year suspended jail sentence to probation before judgment, essentially striking her conviction....

[PGDCC Chair Terry] Speigner said the 24-member panel is already scheduled to meet Tuesday. At that meeting, he said “we will comply with the governor’s request to rescind Hall’s nomination.” He said the committee would do what O’Malley asked.

O'MALLEY DODGES BULLET: Governor O'Malley may have caught a very lucky break with the sudden legal ambiguities about whether Tiffany Alston has been suspended from the legislature or not. After all, if Hall's nomination for the vacancy had proceeded, O'Malley himself would have had to ultimately appointment him to the D24 seat. It seems pretty easy to imagine how O'Malley's rivals could have used this issue either in a primary or a general election.

Even more interesting to think about is what will happen to Tiffany Alston. Did she just find a way to stay in office? We shall know soon enough!

Friday, November 16, 2012

JuiceBlender: GOP Candidate Alleges Cheating in Van Hollen Race, O'Malley vs. Cuomo on Pot & 2014 MD Governor's Race

Below Maryland Juice highlights a few more post-election articles and analyses from the latest round of press. Sidebar: Sorry for posting so many JuiceBlenders lately, but much of the current punditry happens to be noteworthy right now. In any case, see our round-up below, which begins with sour grapes from a Maryland Republican:

JUICE #1: GOP CANDIDATE KEN TIMMERMAN CLAIMS THERE WAS CHEATING IN REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN'S RE-ELECTION - On November 6, Maryland's 8th District Congressional incumbent won re-election by over 100,000 votes. Most would say the race between Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen and GOP challenger Ken Timmerman was not even close. But that's not stopping Timmerman from alleging there was cheating involved. Check out the (excerpt below):
KEN TIMMERMAN (VIA BETHESDANOW): The defeated Republican candidate for Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s congressional seat yesterday questioned the accuracy of Montgomery County polling results, filing a Public Information Act request to obtain electronic voting machine records for last week’s election....
He claimed voters in Montgomery County contacted him with “anecdotal evidence of irregularities during early voting and the Nov. 6 general election at various polling stations in Montgomery and Carroll Counties....”

It won’t change the outcome of this year’s elections,” Timmerman wrote. “But it could mean there will be less cheating in 2014.

JUICE #2: PUNDIT ANALYSIS OF MARYLAND 2014 GUBERNATORIAL RACE - on the candidates for Maryland's 2014 gubernatorial race. Indeed, we've been following the emerging dynamics in the race, and Rascovar provides some context and his take on the candidates. Okay -- more specifically, Rascovar mostly points out the weaknesses of the various candidates. Check out a quick excerpt from his analysis below. .
GAZETTE: One big unknown is the fate of the current governor.... Should the governor serve out his term Brown might have tough sledding. He’ll still have to defend eight years of sometimes-controversial policy decisions....

Gansler has run a large public law firm but has never had to make decisions on raising taxes, cutting social services or how to maneuver a long list of priorities through a rambunctious House and Senate....

Franchot is a political chameleon. His positions often depend on which constituency he’s trying to impress...

Others are looking at the governor’s race, too, including liberal Del. Heather Mizeur of Takoma Park, who got a big boost from her vocal championing of same-sex marriage....

Another wannabe is Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. He’s been a successful chief in that affulent subdivision but translating that into statewide viability could be daunting. There’s not much of a voter base in Howard for Ulman to build upon.

JUICE #3: O'MALLEY VS. CUOMO ON MARIJUANA Democratic and Republican politicos around the nation have been re-thinking marijuana policy after two states approved legalized use at the ballot this year. But prior to the election, 2016 White House rivals Martin O'Malley and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo had staked out differing positions on the issue. O'Malley has threatened to veto even simply medical marijuana in Maryland -- even while it is an uncontroversial issue among voters, who support prescription-use in overwhelming numbers. Last March O'Malley's team told The Baltimore Sun they would likely veto any medical marijuana bills, due to fear of the Feds. Meanwhile, other states (and their voters) are proceeding boldly.

CUOMO BLOCKS PAY RAISES FOR LEGISLATORS DUE TO THEIR HOLD-UP OF POT DECRIMINALIZATION - Days before the November 6th Presidential Election, Cuomo appears to have predicted shifting policy winds (once again). he would not help approve pay raises for them unless they approved of his marijuana decriminalization effort (excerpt below):
VILLAGE VOICE: New York State legislators want a pay raise for the first time since 1999. Governor Andrew Cuomo wants young minorities to stop getting screwed by New York's bizarre "public view" marijuana law, and the NYPD's controversial "stop and frisk" policy -- and the governor made it clear yesterday that lawmakers won't get a pay bump until they get to work on decriminalizing "public view" marijuana....

Marijuana was decriminalized in New York in the 1970s thanks to the Marijuana Reform Act, which makes possession of marijuana a ticketable offense, rather than a crime that will go on your permanent record. However, a loophole in the law makes it a misdemeanor to possess weed in "public view...."
The loophole has led to the disproportionate arrests of young minorities (of the roughly 50,000 people arrested each year in New York for low-level marijuana offenses, 87 percent are black or Hispanic), who fall victim to the law because of "Stop and Frisk...."

NO PLANS FOR REFORM IN MARYLAND? - Indeed, New York is proceeding with decriminalization and other states are moving to outright legalization. But in Maryland, our law does not even create a clear vehicle for cancer patients to have access to marijuana. Though legislators want to change that, in the next legislative session:
GAZETTE: Sen. David Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) ... said marijuana laws need reforming, but he is not optimistic anything will be done in the next session.... [The] effort to allow medical marijuana to be sold at pharmacies regulated by the state failed this year after a veto threat from Gov. Martin O’Malley (D)....

Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring said the state is moving toward taking a “more rational” approach to marijuana, and the passage of the two ballot issues in other states will help with that.... The voters are moving faster than the politicians on the issue, Raskin said. “This is not dangerous politically to be talking about anymore,” he said....

[Brinkley] said he was criticized by a fellow conservative senator who opposes medical marijuana.... I told him I was just trying to create another cash crop for the tobacco farmers in his district,” Brinkley quipped.

MARYLAND IS AN OUTLIER AMONG DEMOCRATIC STATES - (see below). You can see that once again, the west coast and northeast parts of the United States are once again proving to be the kickstarters for progressive reform:

The map above does not show that Maryland is an outlier compared to the United States -- but it does show that Maryland is an outlier compared to Democratic strongholds. WTF?

UGLY: Prince George's Democratic Chaos // Vacancy Process May Shift After Unelected Lawmaker's Gun Violence Revealed

Things continue to remain a little crazy in Prince George's politics. First, it should be noted that two of Councilmember Will Campos' aides just received vacancy appointments from the PG Dems Central Committee: former aide Greg Hall and Chief of Staff Alonzo Washington. Hall won a close vote to replace Del. Tiffany Alston (D24) right before the presidential election, while Washington won his appointment to Del. Justin Ross' seat (D22) with a fairly large margin last night. But the way in which these appointments are being handled is going to differ. The reason being that after Hall won the vote for Alston's seat, that the soon-to-be District 24 lawmaker was involved in a drug-dealing, gun shootout that resulted in a dead child:
WASHINGTON POST: Two decades ago, Gregory A. Hall was a 21-year-old crack dealer who took part in a gun battle that killed a seventh-grade honors student as he and his family left a church service in Capitol Heights.... County Democrats named him to finish Alston’s term, which ends in January 2015.

But Hall’s troubled past has resurfaced as Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) considers the appointment. Some local Democratic activists have said privately that Democratic Central Committee members are having second thoughts after choosing the 42-year-old in a 12-10 vote....
O’Malley has until Thanksgiving to approve Hall’s nomination, and the governor’s spokeswoman has said the administration is aware of Hall’s criminal record and that “everything is being taken into consideration.”

PG DEMS TO START SUBMITTING TWO NAMES FOR VACANCIES? - Shortly after Hall was appointed to fill Tiffany Alston's seat, the Prince George's Democrats had occasion to fill yet another seat -- that of retiring Delegate Justin Ross. Fresh off the Greg Hall controversy, it appears that the PG Dems may start submitting two names to the Governor for vacancies. The press accounts are not perfectly clear on this point, but at a minimum candidates will go through more vetting than in the past. The top two Democrats for Ross' District 22 seat were Alonzo Washington with Karren Pope-Onwukwe in second place. Check out (excerpt below):
GAZETTE: The submission of two names to the governor is a break from tradition, said Terry Speigner, chairman of the central committee.... “The committee feels it needs to do a better job of vetting candidates,” Speigner said....

Speigner said the committee would take the top two vote-getters for the District 22 seat [Alonzo] Washington and [Karren] Pope-Onwukwe and do more thorough research into their backgrounds before submitting a name to the governor. “That’s totally different than we’ve ever done before,” he said.

following Alonzo Washington's appointment to Delegate Justin Ross' seat (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: The decision to take a closer look at Washington comes as the 24-member committee has been circulating reports that Greg Hall, 42, selected two weeks ago to replace Del. Tiffany Alston (D-Prince George’s), had a criminal history. The committee plans to do more research on its selections before sending them to the governor, beginning with Washington, said Terry Speigner, the committee chairman who had sought Alston’s seat and lost to Hall.

After Washington’s selection, committee members huddled in private to discuss Hall. Hall said he has not hidden his history and discussed some of the details as he pressed his candidacy two weeks ago during the selection meeting. Campos told The Washington Post, “It’s never been a secret. He talks about it....” The committee came to no consensus about Hall’s nomination, and Speigner said it will now be up to O’Malley. Hall defeated Speigner in a 12-10 vote on Nov. 2.

It is worth noting that the man who lost the vacancy appointment to Greg Hall was the current PG Democratic Chair himself -- Terry Speigner. This creates an obvious self-serving aura in his pursuit of complaints against his rival - but even still, there is something to be said about Speigner's view that this just looks bad. Remember that the Prince George's Democrats are filling a seat that is currently left vacant due to Del. Tiffany Alston's alleged misuse of taxpayer and campaign funds -- and they are filling that seat with someone who was involved in a gun shootout that left a child dead. No wonder Tiffany Alston is hanging around making her case! Even still, Speigner would do well to state clearly that he will not seek the D24 seat himself, and instead try to ensure a process that works for the public. This seems impossible to achieve when the person in charge is seeking the seat himself -- and it also just looks bad.

CONCLUSION: Here's the real question for the Prince George's Central Committee -- how did it come to this? In a County of thousands, were there honestly no other Democrats worthy of appointment to the State House? Perhaps the real problem is that machine politics continue to take priority over sound outcomes. Surely there were more Democrats to consider other than political aides and members of the Central Committee itself?

If the Prince George's Democrats want to really clean this up, they're going to have to try harder to undo machine politics -- not simply replace one machine with another. I'm beginning to think this pressure is going to have to come from the outside though, unless there is a miraculous shift in mentality among politicos. In the meantime, it'll be interesting to see who runs for these seats in 2014. After all, just because someone has been appointed by insiders doesn't mean they can win an election. Maryland politics has a few examples of appointees who were unable to win their seats outright.

Fingers crossed for a #CleanSlate for Prince George's Democrats.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PG County Dems Choose Alonzo Washington (Councilmember Will Campos' Chief of Staff) to Replace Justin Ross in MD House

that the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee has chosen Alonzo Washington to replace Delegate Justin Ross (D22 Democrat) in the Maryland House of Delegates. Ross stunned politicos by announcing his departure from the House earlier this fall. Notably, that Washington was who Ross wanted to replace him:

A couple of also provided some context on the battle:

We previously talked about the race to win the District 22 appointment and noted that a few PG Democrats' names were being tossed around as possible successors. But Alonzo Washington prevailed, and notably the that he was also interested in attempting to replace termed out PG Councilmember Will Campos in 2014.

Washington is currently Will Campos' Chief of Staff. See an :
REAL PRINCE GEORGE'S BLOG: Rumors are a number of local leaders are potentially lining up to seek that appointment including Central Committeeman Alonzo Washington, Chief of Staff to Prince George’s County Councilman Will Campos. Washington is often mentioned as a frontrunner to replace Campos on the council when he is termed out in 2014.

This outcome will likely have a mini-domino effect on the candidate field for other races in 2014. More on the emerging Prince George's political dynamics soon!

JuiceBlender: Tiffany Alston May Sue to Stay in House, Heather Mizeur on 2014 Governor, Tea Party Urges MD Secession & More

Below Maryland Juice provides a quick round-up of more post-election angling and political tidbits, starting with more on the continuing saga of embattled Prince George's Democrat Tiffany Alston:

JUICE #1: FORMER DELEGATE TIFFANY ALSTON MAY SUE TO KEEP DELEGATE SEAT - Maryland Juice recently reported that the Prince George's Democratic Central Committee voted to replace Delegate Tiffany Alston's seat with former candidate Greg Hall. The switch came after a plea entered by Alston led to her suspension from the Maryland legislature. and may sue to keep her seat. Additionally, it appears that she is ready to stage some sort of sit-in in Annapolis (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: She was convicted in June of stealing $800 from the Maryland General Assembly to pay an employee of her private law firm. But on Tuesday, attorneys for former delegate Tiffany T. Alston suggested that she was the one who had been robbed — of her seat.

After a court hearing, Alston’s attorneys said that the Prince George’s County Democrat is prepared to sue, if necessary, to continue serving in the House of Delegates. And even though she no longer has the keys to her old office in Annapolis, they said she may try to occupy it anyway—a move that could set up an awkward, if not tense, standoff in the halls of the State House.....
that Alston was at last check choosing "diplomacy over litigation," but we'll have to keep an eye on this story!

JUICE #2: DELEGATE HEATHER MIZEUR DISCUSSES 2014 GUBERNATORIAL RACE - about her interest in running for Governor of Maryland in 2014. Check out a few of her comments and explanations from the Blade (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON BLADE: Heather Mizeur, a lesbian member of the Maryland House of Delegates, said she’s seriously considering a run for governor in an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade this week.

“I’m taking a very serious look at it,” Mizeur said. “I can’t say for sure what 2014 is going to bring but … I know that I would make a good chief executive. I have good ideas for keeping Maryland moving forward....”

“Right now we’re taking stock of what happened in the last election,” she said. “It was incredible to see a big win with Tammy Baldwin being elected the first openly gay senator and Kyrsten Sinema making history in Congress. It really has inspired us to keep pushing forward. So, yes, I’m seriously considering running for governor because we need more diverse voices at that level of government....”

She added that she won’t get in the race unless she can be competitive financially.... When asked whether he had any thoughts about Mizeur’s potential gubernatorial campaign, O’Malley told the Blade on Tuesday, “Not really, I’m supporting Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown wholeheartedly for governor of Maryland....”

JUICE #3: TEA PARTY ACTIVISTS URGE MARYLAND TO SECEDE FROM USA - Maryland Juice has been alerting politicos to a new effort by Tea Party enthusiasts around the nation to launch petitions asking permission for their state to secede from the United States. where the Tea Partiers are urging secession (excerpt below):
WBFF: Maryland is now one of the 49 states that have started online petitions to secede from the United States in response to the re-election of President Barack Obama.... If the petitions reach 25,000 signatures, they get an official response from the White House. Maryland has only around 1,700 signatures calling for secession, but the number is quickly growing.
You can check out the at the White House's online petition site (Hat tip: ). Maryland Juice first found out about the secession effort after receiving a national Tea Party email blast highlighting a Louisiana secession petition. Since then, rightwing activists are launching petitions in every state. Check out an excerpt from the original below:
TEA PARTY: On Nov. 6, Americans voted to return Barack Obama to the White House; then on Nov. 7, some folks in Louisiana petitioned the White House to peaceably withdraw their state from the Union.... Join the Tea Party REVOLUTION! It’s time to double-down and fight harder! The petition reads....

“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government…” 

JUICE #4: ANATOMY OF MARYLAND MARRIAGE EQUALITY VICTORY - dissecting the victory for Maryland marriage equality (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON BLADE: ...One of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s staffers wrote on a napkin during lunch on Election Day that the referendum would pass with 53 percent support....

Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, was backstage with the governor, Rawlings-Blake and several other elected officials watching the results come in.... Levin and others remained hesitant to declare victory because Montgomery County had yet to report election results. (Question 6 passed in the county by a 65-35 percent margin.)

“Once we figured that out then I started breathing a little more deeply,” O’Malley says. “Then when the Montgomery County numbers came in and we were up to 51 [percent,] the night seemed to be coming into perspective....”

Election Day capped off a long and often tumultuous effort for Maryland’s same-sex marriage advocates that began in 1997 when three state lawmakers introduced the first bill that would have allowed nuptials for gays and lesbians.....

[Sen. Rich] Madaleno, who once again proposed to his husband Mark on stage at the Baltimore Soundstage after Question 6 passed, plans to have what he describes as their “renewal of vows” once they and their two children return from a family vacation at Walt Disney World in Florida in January....

That's just a teaser from . Check out the .

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

JuiceBlender: Candidates Line Up for MoCo Exec, Pelosi Stays, GOP Debates Fate of Mooney, GOP Libertarians Seek Influence

Below Maryland Juice provides a quick follow-up to several recent stories we've been following:

JUICE #1: NANCY PELOSI NOT LEAVING LEADERSHIP SPOT // NO SOUP FOR HOYER - Maryland Juice has been following the possibility of a leadership change for the U.S. House Democratic caucus. Congressmen Steny Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen had both been named as possible successors, but today Pelosi put a halt to the speculation and announced she was staying on. See an excerpt from :
WASHINGTON POST: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) announcement Wednesday that she will stay in her job means two Maryland Democrats — Reps. Steny Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen — will be stuck in place for at least two more years.... Now Hoyer will stay on as whip.... The lack of movement means there is nowhere for Van Hollen to go.... Van Hollen is 53 while Pelosi is 72 and Hoyer is 73.
Notably, .

JUICE #2: CANDIDATES LINE UP FOR 2014 MOCO EXECUTIVE'S RACE - Yesterday Maryland Juice flagged an article in the Examiner discussing MoCo Councilmember George Leventhal's fundraising activities for a 2014 Executive run. We named a few other candidates who have are rumored to be weighing the County Exec race. But today, of the current candidate field. She was able to get comments on the record from several candidates, and now we can see what folks are up to. First, Councilmember Phil Andrews appears to be definitely in the race for 2014 Executive, and sources who have spoken to Andrews confirm he's in it to win it. As previously noted, Leventhal is obviously also plotting a run and fundraising. But The Gazette also has current Executive Ike Leggett on-the-record sticking to his previous declaration that he would not seek re-election. Moreover, based on the interviews, it also appears as though more Councilmembers are eyeing the race than we previously noted. Check out an excerpt from below:
GAZETTE: Councilmen Philip M. Andrews and George L. Leventhal have confirmed they are pursuing campaigns for executive....

State Del. Benjamin Kramer (D-Dist. 19) of Derwood said he is considering a bid, but will wait to see what Leggett does. Councilman Marc B. Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park said he too is waiting to see what Leggett does before he decides his plan for 2014.... 
Steve Silverman ... would not say if he was or was not planning to run for the position again.... Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring said she is still exploring her options.... Nancy Floreen would also not disclose any plans, nor would former Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg. Said Floreen: “I’m running for something.” 
“All options are on the table right now,” Trachtenberg said in an email....

 We took The Gazette's comments and tried to use them to sort the candidates into categories below:
  • Planning an Executive Run: Councilmembers Phil Andrews & George Leventhal
  • Won't Say Either Way/Keeping Options Open:  Councilmembers Valerie Ervin & Nancy Floreen, former Councilmember Steve Silverman & Duchy Trachtenberg
  • Depends on Ike Leggett: Councilmember Marc Elrich, Delegate Ben Kramer
  • AWOL: former Executive Doug Duncan

Notably, The Gazette article also stated that the following candidates have stated they are simply running for re-election to the County Council:
  • Running for Re-Election to Council: Roger Berliner, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice & Hans Riemer.

JUICE #3: MARYLAND GOP IMAGINES A FUTURE WITHOUT CHAIRMAN ALEX MOONEY - Maryland Juice has been writing about recent anger toward GOP Chairman Alex Mooney. Many within the Maryland GOP want him to resign, but the whole affair is triggering a very public debate about his record. Yesterday, former (excerpt below):
RICHARD CROSS (VIA CROSS PURPOSES): Now, in light of the MDGOP’s disastrous election returns, the hanging party has ridden into town in search of Mooney.... As I ponder Mooney’s fate, I find myself asking two questions. First, if the party dumps Mooney, who will the next chairman be?....

Such pondering lead me to the second question: If Mooney goes, who would actually want the job, given the recent history of infighting and rebellion and the party’s seemingly grim future prospects?....

The case against Mooney has several different elements, but it is clear that the failure of the ballot initiatives is the tipping point in terms of people demanding his ouster.

When I talked to Chairman Mooney at the party’s spring convention he said to me, “I’m not perfect, but at least I’m trying to do the right thing.” I believe that. Now, it is up to him to convince partisans that he’s the right person to lead the party out of its present moment of darkness.

JUICE #4: GOP LIBERTARIANS SEEK ROLE IN RESHAPING PARTY - Maryland Juice has noticed that libertarian-minded Republicans seem to be asserting themselves more loudly these days. They believe that after the smack-down their party faced this month, their socially-liberal views may provide the GOP an opportunity to reach the voters they have been losing lately. See two examples below, one national and one from Maryland. First, U.S. . Check out the quick excerpt from the below:
POLITICO: He’ll push to loosen marijuana penalties, legalize undocumented immigrants and pursue a less aggressive American foreign policy. Call it the Rand Paul Evolution.

In the wake of Barack Obama’s reelection win and ahead of a possible 2016 White House bid of his own, the Kentucky Republican plans to mix his hard-line tea party conservatism with more moderate policies that could woo younger voters and minorities largely absent from the GOP coalition. It’s the latest tactic of the freshman senator to inject the Libertarian-minded views shared by his retiring father into mainstream Republican thinking as the party grapples with its future.

In an interview with POLITICO, Paul said he’ll return to Congress this week pushing measures long avoided by his party. He wants to work with liberal Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and Republicans to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for pot possession. He wants to carve a compromise immigration plan with an “eventual path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a proposal he believes could be palatable to conservatives. And he believes his ideas — along with pushing for less U.S. military intervention in conflicts overseas — could help the GOP broaden its tent and appeal to crucial voting blocs that handed Democrats big wins....

MARYLAND LIBERTY CAUCUS WANTS TO ROCK MD GOP AT THEIR CONVENTION: Meanwhile, back in Maryland a group called , by means of political activity." Led by Aberdeen Republican Patrick McGrady, they are joining with other groups on a project to rock "the MDGOP Back to Its Roots." Their announcement for the project has some criticisms about the way the Maryland GOP has been run. (excerpt below):
MARYLAND LIBERTY CAUCUS: We have an exciting new project to tell you about– and we need your help.  It’s time to re-make the Maryland Republican Party from the grassroots up!

Our Liberty-minded elected officials, Party leaders, and Central Committee members are joining forces to launch the Maryland Liberty Caucus!

We all watched as the election results came in last Tuesday. We weren’t surprised.

You and I both know that the Maryland Republican Party is run from the top-down. The Republican Establishment doesn’t stand for conservative principles. They don’t appreciate the diverse, energetic, and conservative arm of the Party....

Here in Maryland, the Maryland Liberty Movement will re-brand the Republican Party from the bottom up. We are going to go full-tilt into the Maryland Republican Party Convention on November 30-December 1, 2012 in Howard County....

More on the re-building of the Maryland GOP soon!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

JuiceBlender: Push For MD GOP Chair Alex Mooney to Resign, Councilmember Leventhal Eyes MoCo Exec & Marijuana Reform

Maryland Juice knew that many political machinations would be on hold pending the outcome of the Presidential election. But now that Obama has been re-elected, things are ramping up again. Below we highlight a few examples of post-election organizing, starting with some calls for housekeeping within the Maryland Republican Party:

JUICE #1: CONSERVATIVES CALL ON MD GOP CHAIR ALEX MOONEY TO RESIGN - Last week we noted that conservatives activists were grumbling on Twitter about Chairman Alex Mooney's botched management of the Maryland GOP. Now they are beginning to get serious about it. Four editors at the rightwing blog . Meanwhile, several knowledgeable Maryland Juice sources indicate that conservative activists are quietly mobilizing a coalition to re-define the Maryland Republican brand. We shall see where this all goes soon enough, but in the meantime enjoy this short snippet from (excerpt below):
RED MARYLAND: When former state senator Alex Mooney won the race for MGOP chair ...  his biggest drawback ... was that he saw the position of MDGOP chair as a place holder position....
While MDGOP was mired in $120,000 debt, he was busy raising $108,00 for a 2012 congressional campaign to replace Roscoe Bartlett....
The defeat on questions 4 through 6, and to some extent question 7, lies squarely on Alex Mooney.  Instead of organizing and raising money to win those races, Mooney was busy helping Roscoe Bartlett get shellacked by 20 points....

We have no confidence in Alex Mooney’s leadership.  He must go. Now.

Note that , stating "this is a bad idea that will result in nothing good, but we are the Maryland GOP and that is our nature." It remains to be seen whether the anti-Mooney forces in the GOP will prevail. If they do, Mooney's ouster as Republican Party Chair might prove an embarrassing start to a potential run against soon-to-be Rep. John Delaney in 2014.

JUICE #2: MOCO COUNCILMEMBER GEORGE LEVENTHAL FUNDRAISING FOR 2014 EXECUTIVE RUN - The 2014 Montgomery County Executive's race has been quietly stirring for several months now. But now that the Presidential election is over, we expect to start to seeing a trickle of announcements from prospective candidates. . See the excerpt below, but note that at most recent check Maryland Juice also heard rumors of potential runs from the following District Councilmembers:  Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, and Valerie Ervin. Additionally, the names of former County Executive Doug Duncan, former Councilmember Steve Silverman, and Delegate Ben Kramer continue to generate rumors of activity. Back to below:
EXAMINER: ...Montgomery County Councilman George Leventhal is already looking ahead to 2014. The at-large Democrat is throwing himself a 50th birthday party Monday that will double as a fundraiser for his campaign for Montgomery County Executive, Leventhal told The Washington Examiner

JUICE #3: MARIJUANA BACK ON MARYLAND'S POLICY RADAR - Though all eyes in Maryland were glued to the raging referenda battles over gambling, marriage equality and the Dream Act -- around the nation pundits were watching returns with a broader issue lens. Indeed, this year American voters around the nation affirmed a wave of laws protecting individual rights and liberties. Yes, this included marriage and women's rights -- but outside of Maryland it also included the now mainstream issue of marijuana legalization. The issue has been promoted through various lenses, ranging from a liberty and taxpayer waste issue, to a criminal justice reform issue with loud racial overtones. But Maryland Juice has been predicting the turning tide for months, and the recent marijuana legalization wins at state ballot boxes are creating demands for policy sanity within Maryland. After the election, (excerpt below):
DAN RODRICKS (VIA BALTIMORE SUN): [Arrests for marijuana possession] accounted for 43 percent of all drug arrests in 2011. So, just in case you were operating under the impression that the law had backed off the whole grass-possession thing, there it is: More than four out of 10 of all narcotics arrests made in United States were for people having marijuana in their possession.... So that's what our cops spend a lot of their time doing — arresting people for pot, hundreds of thousands of times per year....

On Tuesday, voters in Colorado and Washington made it legal to smoke pot without a prescription or a medical reason.

That's a breakthrough in the long stalemate in the public debate about the war on drugs — electorates in two states expressing what the American public has been telling politicians for a long time, that we spend too much money and manpower on chasing and incarcerating people who use drugs. It has been going on for 40 years. It hasn't decreased the demand for drugs, but it has led to an epoch of terrible violence related to the underground commerce, and it has filled our prisons....

MAJORITY SUPPORT FOR LEGALIZATION // SUPER-MAJORITY AMONG DEMS & LIBERALS: Again, demographic churning and the shifting importance of various birth cohorts is leading to surging support for an end to the anti-science War on Drugs. My personal hunch is that we are now at a convergence point in the timeline of political opinion, where a large chunk of young voters are in agreement with older voters who came of age during the 60's and 70's. Indeed, s:
HUFFINGTON POST: A solid majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, either with or without taxes and regulations similar to those imposed on alcoholic beverages, according to a new survey conducted by YouGov for The Huffington Post.

The poll found that 51 percent of adults support legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.... Only 26 percent of respondents said that marijuana should not be legalized.... Those under age 29 and between ages 45 and 64 were most likely to support legalization pure and simple...
The poll found more variation among people of different political parties. Sixty-four percent of Democrats ...  said they supported legalization with taxes and regulations. Overall, opposition was highest among Republicans, but even so, more Republicans favored one of the two legalization options (47 percent) than opposed legalization entirely (44 percent).

and noted that a whopping 69% of liberals support the legalization effort. Check out a few summary tables below:

CALLS FOR GOP TO SUPPORT DRUG REFORM THROUGH A STATES RIGHTS & LIBERTARIAN LENS: Though it appears that the base for marijuana legalization is Democrats and young voters, some on the right are beginning to point out the ideological ties between their views and pot reform. The writers at Red Maryland today pointed their readers in the direction of a (excerpt below):
REASON.COM: The short answer is that the GOP insisted on pushing backward-looking social issues in a country that is increasingly libertarian.... There’s no question that on broadly defined social issues such as immigration, marriage equality, and drug policy, Barack Obama has been terrible....

Similar dynamics hold true on issues such as drug policy.... Obama has raided medical marijuana dispensaries that are legal under state law without a second thought. Now that Washington and Colorado have legalized not just medical marijuana but all pot, the GOP should stay true to its valorization of federalism and the states as “laboratories of democracy” and call for an end to the federal drug war....

The GOP can lick its wounds and tell themselves whatever they want to hear—that it was the media's fault, that they need to be more religious, that they just need better candidates, or whatever. But until the party actually changes its positions on basic policy issues and articulates a clear and consistent role for limited government, it has nowhere to go but down.

MARIJUANA INITIATIVES DROVE SURGE IN YOUTH VOTE: On a more practical note, at least . Compared to other states, the pot states witnessed between a 5x to 12x higher turnout increase among young voters:

CONCLUSION: BELIEVING IN THE WAR ON DRUGS IS LIKE BELIEVING IN SANTA CLAUS (AKA CHILDISH) - Indeed, for many ordinary Americans, belief in the War on Drugs has become as ridiculous as holding onto visions of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. But just as with marriage equality, Maryland Juice believes that the public is way ahead of the arrogant and/or incompetent policymakers who are again unable to game out the rapidly moving shifts and trendlines in public opinion.

But a few Maryland politicos have (unprompted by me) mentioned a renewed interest in making the Free State a beacon of rational policymaking by pushing marijuana legalization/decriminalization and a broader overhaul of our criminal "justice" system. In the meantime, on the issue is gathering thousands of signatures. Onward!

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