Thursday, April 4, 2013

Big Tent Democrats in Delegate D12?

One of the things that attentive voters will need to make themselves familiar with prior to the 2014 elections is their legislative district.  You may recall that in the 2011-12 Session, the General Assembly passed a set of new maps for Delegates and State Senators.  These maps augmented Howard County's influence in Annapolis (ever so slightly), broke out district 9B (Ellicott City's District), and created a three Delegate district that enveloped Liz Bobo's previously safe 12B "Columbia" district within a larger District 12 that includes much of Baltimore County.  Here's a close up of our map:
For orientation purposes, look at the two lakes right below "9B".  Those are Wilde Lake and Lake Kittamaqundi. 

District 12 has created some intrigue, and interest from local politico aspirants, with the announcement that Delegate Bobo will not be seeking another term.  Many have projected that Ms. Bobo was not interested in campaigning in the unfamiliar territory of Balmer Cownie, while others have flat out said that she could never win there.  The expansion of 12 is also of interest for the welcoming of Jimmy Malone and Steve DeBoy to the strange political waters of Columbia.  Malone and DeBoy have represented slivers of Howard County in the past, but now they get to test their mettle with pioneers, TAGers, and bears, oh my. 

I've asked about the demographics of the new district, but have yet to hear a confident answer.  From my amateur review of the cartography, it doesn't look very Columbia-heavy.  In fact, I would presume that Jimmy and Steve have seen the numbers or would at least hope so.  As repeatedly noted by D12 challenger Clarence Lam, these two Democrats are not know for carrying the party line.  They voted against the repeal of the death penalty, against the gas tax, and last night voted against Governor O'Malley's gun control bill.  In 2012, both voted against the DREAM Act, with DeBoy also voting against marriage equality.  Maryland Juice picked up on this thread and suggested Lam may be taking early shots at Malone and DeBoy in anticipation of a 2014 primary.

I've met both Steve and Jimmy.  I have to say that they are two of the nicest politicians I have ever met.  Maybe that shouldn't matter when we're evaluating votes, but it matters to me.  In terms of a primary, it is also worth mentioning that Steve DeBoy is good friends with Guy Guzzone, Howard County's Democratic patriarch.  They may not vote alike, but I am sure Guy is ready to lay down the blue carpet to welcome his friend and colleague to Columbia, with additional assurances that he will not suffer the indignity of being knocked out in a Dem primary.

When evaluating new districts, the two values you should be considering are "benefit" and "punishment".  Is this district meant to benefit someone?  Is this district meant to punish someone else?  I don't think it is a stretch to say that District 12 was intended to take out three birds with one stone by punishing Liz Bobo with conservative voters, and exposing DeBoy and Malone to a deeper blue base.  Nevertheless, despite needing to buy some new canvasing shoes, I don't see Steve or Jimmy having that hard of a time winning over new voters.  You will have to presume a very high information level to think the primary will shift on litmus test issues, as numerous as they may be, to knock out an incumbent.  I also think the Democratic party, at least locally, should heed the lessons of the GOP in avoiding dogmatic purity.

All that said, we will have interesting primaries in all parts of this County, including the new D12.  Will Clarence Lam continue digging at his fellow Dems or will he look for synergy in a three candidate slate?  Will DeBoy and Malone turn the tables on Lam in Baltimore County by painting him as a far left "Columbia Democrat"?  Will this primary become nasty enough to let a dark horse (Terri Hill?) take the harmonious middle?  What role will Guy Guzzone play in determining who is the next Delegate from Howard County?

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