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Showing posts with label 2018. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2018. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

ANALYSIS: Sky High Approval Ratings for HoCo Exec Allan Kittleman // Big Smiles, Sharp Elbows, And Both Eyes on 2018

By Matt Verghese

Over the weekend, the Committee to Elect Allan Kittleman announces the Republican Howard County Executive had a , with only 9% disapproving after a full year in office. Even though no other details about the poll - who was polled, what the margin of error is to start with- were released (I’m perturbed the Sun would ever publish such a result), if true it would make Allan Kittleman . But this weekend’s disclosure of sky high poll ratings, which Kittleman’s former campaign manager concedes is not normally made public, leaves one with more questions than answers.

THE COATTAILS COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Kittleman, a former County Councilmember and Senate GOP leader, defeated his Democratic opponent Courtney Watson by 2,600 votes (2.5%) in a closely contested evenly matched race that made him Howard County’s first Republican County Executive since 1998. The results closely mirrored the gubernatorial contest - where Larry Hogan turned the County red reversing O’Malley victories in both 2006 and 2010. Kittleman benefited from Hogan’s coattails but had little of his own. Democrats retained a 4-1 majority on the County Council, and all other county-wide elected positions.

BIG SMILES, SHARP ELBOWS IN FIRST YEAR: Kittleman - who has often been previously praised for his willingness to buck his own party - has attempted to govern with big smiles, while throwing sharp elbows at his opponents on a number of issues that may not receive a lot of attention from County voters. In his first year Kittleman has and held , and through a hiring freeze. He also does weekly tours of schools, dressed up like ‘The Raven’ author Edgar Allen Poe, and didn’t shave in November  to raise awareness for men’s health.

On more substantive note, one of his first actions was overturning Ulman’s executive order banning the sale of unhealthy snacks and drinks. When the Council passed legislation to reinstate the nutritional restriction, Kittleman vetoed it - only for the Council to overturn it.Kittleman also gave a number of his Democratic predecessor’s appointees their marching orders, refused to reappoint well performing persons to nonpartisan boards and commissions, and was so aghast that the County Council pushed back that his political operation circulated a targeting the Democratic members.

Late last year, Kittleman followed in Hogan’s footsteps and proposed phasing out the County’s stormwater management fee (the supposed “rain tax”), but promised to maintain the funding to maintain the County’s pollution reduction goals. Unlike Ulman who prided himself on a transparent stormwater program that was model on how to fund important projects to protect the Bay and constructively engage community stakeholders, Kittleman has yet to explain how he will replace the lost revenue or what he will cut in general fund to make up for it. No surprise, that at a filled with supporters of the policy, Kittleman’s proposal was called “shortsighted, factually inaccurate and politically driven.”

INSECURE LEADERSHIP? But Kittleman’s rush to poll his approval ratings may be due to recent controversies. First there was his much criticized response to the January blizzard, where he prioritized plowing out the Republican Lt. Governor before every other County resident. In a classic he said,she said -- to ask for the preferential special treatment, while the .

Then there’s the of Renee Foose as HCPS Superintendent despite criticism of her leadership and lack of transparency from parents, teachers and local elected officials. Even Governor Hogan weighed in, stating that “there’s a palpable loss of trust between many parents and the [Howard] county school system.” Granted Kittleman doesn’t run the Board of Education or choose the Superintendent, but this distinction is often lost among County residents who see education as their top issue.

WHAT ELSE WAS IN THAT POLL? No one polls with one question, and thanks to our sources in Howard County we have a sense of the other items the Kittleman campaign was asking about:

  • Is the County heading in the right or wrong direction?
  • If we the election was held today would you vote for Allan Kittleman or potential opponents - Councilmember Calvin Ball, Councilmember Mary Kay Sigaty or Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane.
  • Favorable or unfavorable opinion of potential opponents - Ball, Sigaty, Macfarlane and 2014 opponent Courtney Watson
  • County and state’s handling of snow removal efforts: Good, fair or poor
  • Do you think Allan Kittleman is a reasonable moderate or a dangerous extremist?
  • Grade Howard County Public Schools on an A-F scale
  • Support or oppose the following issues: rain tax, increasing the property tax, and funding for police body cameras
  • Name the top issue the County Executive and Council need to work on
  • 2018 gubernatorial matchups: Governor Larry Hogan or Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, or Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker 

Seems to me that despite being in office for 14 months, Kittleman already has an eye to 2018 and is sensitive to potential threats - both issues and candidates -  to his reelection bid.

ALWAYS DIALING FOR DOLLARS: Kittleman’s 2015 fundraising report only seems to confirm the hypothesis that he is obsessed with his next election. Kittleman had nearly $514,000 in the bank - more money than the incumbent County Executives in Anne Arundel, Cecil, Harford, Frederick Montgomery, Prince George’s and Wicomico.

While Kittleman’s campaign claims “the majority of donations came from individual donors in amounts of $200 or less” a deeper dive paints a much different picture. More than 75% of Kittleman’s total contributions came from people and entities that gave $1,000 or more. His average donation? $608. Not exactly being funded by grassroots donors.

Even as Kittleman rakes in the cash from developers, contractors and out-of-county interests - Democrats on the Council are taking the first steps to implement . If successful, Howard would join Montgomery County - who passed the first local public financing system law in 2014.




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