Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guv 2014: And Then There Were Four (Wednesday LINKS)

Comptroller Peter Franchot's announcement that he will be seeking re-election for Comptroller in 2014 marked the shift from "what-ifs" to "brass tacks" in our projections for who will  be the next Governor.  Some had predicted the field to thin after Anthony Brown put out the results of a poll in mid-November showing a significant lead in name recognition amongst the putative candidates.

Brown: 63%
Gansler: 54%
Franchot: 54%
Ulman: 21%

This poll also showed that in a four-way heat, Franchot would be the odd man out with 14% (Ulman with 4%).  Presumably, the Comptroller's office had their own internal polling that showed a similar configuration of the race and saw some big-eyed politicos staring down the Comptroller's empty seat, leading to yesterday's announcement.

I don't see this changing the race very much.  Josh Kurtz over at Center Maryland suggests that both the right side of the Democratic party and the Baltimore suburbs have been ceded to Ken Ulman:

Ulman is the candidate who is going to most aggressively court the Baltimore suburban vote and with Franchot out of the picture he has significant room to grow. As a county executive who is bound by law to balance budgets year after year, he is also best poised to become the fiscal conservative in the race.

I guess.  Unfortunately for Ken, I think the more likely scenario is that he becomes the next candidate on the "please drop out" hot-seat.  As someone who follows politics closely, and lives in this County, I think Ken makes for a great candidate that would do some exciting things on the State level, but it is hard to see a white guy from wealthiest suburb in the Country winning Baltimore City.  Even more challenging is the fact that people just don't know Ken.

I clearly underestimated Anthony Brown, but I also don't see him as the front-runner.  If polling and fundraising numbers stay close come January 2013, this is Doug Gansler's race to lose.  Let's be clear: there is only one candidate left in the race that has won a State-wide campaign.  And not to fall back on lazy sports cliches, but Lieutenant Governors just don't stand up well in Maryland.  I understand that Martin O'Malley is popular and that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend may be a bad example, but it is within that context that Anthony Brown is running.

The November poll also shows that the candidates may not be taking Heather Mizeur seriously.  That is forgivable in light of the fact that it is so unusual for a Delegate to shift focus to Governor.  Based on conversations I've had with some of Heather's supporters, I think they will say it is still "far too early" to make any decisions about whether or not to run, but I also know that just about the rest of the Democratic party is ready to make this a two-horse race.

This all comes down to the January fundraising reports.  I expect Ken to do very well, and possibly find himself second.  If he's not, the Ulman campaign for Governor will effectively be over.


"So you said ten tons of SAND?  Oh ok, because the news article said sugar."  County employees may be trucking their own 2-liters of Dr. Pepper to work after the County Executive issued an Executive Order banning all "sugary drinks" from County property.  This Executive Order will not apply to County schools, although beverage companies have already agreed to some self-imposed restrictions that limit the number of sodas in school vending machines.  Superintendent Renee Foose has also indicated that the school system will re-evaluate its wellness policy in light of the order issued by the County Executive.  This is an interesting development and one that surely will draw the ire of "mommy-state" complainers.  So long as we're making these chemically-charged syrup concoctions harder to find, and not illegal, I'm ok with it.  Make sure to check out HoCo Unsweetened for the Horizon Foundation's campaign to help kids (and parents) find alternative to these horri-awful staples of the American diet.

State Senator James Robey has sponsored legislation making it illegal for counties to pay speed-camera contractors on a per ticket basis.  The fact that this was ever permissible in the first place is infuriating.  Imagine if we paid police officers per citation.  There's a phrase for that: Gone Huntin'.

Looks like Maryland will come up empty on the Race to the Top grants, after 16 districts were chosen yesterday to receive a share of approximately $400 million, none of which were in the State.  You will recall that Howard County did not make it past the first cut after submitting an application that did not include a sign off from the president of our teacher's union.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: HowChow reports that the Ale House Columbia is open and serving what one of his readers recounts as "the best burger I have ever eaten."  In my experience, that phrase gets thrown around way too often, but consideration for the title alone merits recognition.

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!