Sunday, August 7, 2011

Another Ulman Affront

While Howard County is all abuzz with the prospects of a Governor Ulman, this sentiment does not seem to be catching on in other circles.  The Washington Post cites the FreeStater Blog in this Sunday's Print Edition regarding what was seen as a politically savvy move by Comptroller Peter Franchot:

At present, there are likely to be at least three big names seeking the Democratic nomination, Attorney General Doug Gansler, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Franchot.

But wait, there may be a fourth candidate...of the County Executive variety:

In a three-way race, if Gansler and Brown have split the base vote of the party, Franchot can emerge the victor with no more than 34% of the vote. It's a wise strategy, but also the only strategy available to him.

Only one thing could upend Franchot's approach - Jim Smith. Smith is the former county Executive from Baltimore County and a former judge. He is a moderate Democrat with a base of support in an important part of the state.

Here's the most interesting bit in terms of the overall Howard County political climate:

But a four way race like that would likely divide the party. If one of the liberal candidates emerge then Republicans will have a fighting chance in the general election, but if Franchot or Smith win then the race is over - for Democrats to win the general election with a liberal candidate (against an acceptable GOP candidate) they need a unified party. 

HoCo Dem circles have been suggesting (behind-the-scenes and sometimes in print) that Courtney Watson should "defer" to Guy Guzzone "for the good of the party" in the 2014 County Executive race.  Presumably, Ken Ulman has likely been singing the same song (privately) in favor of his friend and mentor Delegate Guzzone.  To the extent Ken is a credible candidate, which I certainly think he is, I think he would fall more in the line of Franchot than Gansler.  He's drawn a significant number of Republican voters in Howard County and is generally seen as "good for business." (Expected Republican-stalwart-protests to the contrary may be found in the comments below).  While Brown or Gansler would make the 2014 General Election a clear ideological choice, Franchot/Smith/Ulman complicate that picture, and have some pro-business bona fides to show for it.

The reason I find this so interesting is because if a "four way race like that" is likely to divide the party, Ken may be hearing the same advice as Courtney:  Defer...and there may be something there for you in 2022.