One quote from Bryan Sears's piece on Delegates Steve DeBoy's and Jimmy Malone's retirement should stick with us long after their name-plates have been removed from the General Assembly:
"The House of Delegates is going more liberal and I'm a middle of the road, moderate Democrat," DeBoy said. "You start to feel you're being marginalized. You just can't stop some of this stuff."
You'll note that Steve did not say anything about his District. He was talking about the body in which he casts his votes. Contrary to Maryland Juice and other commentators who have suggested that DeBoy and Malone were liberal-ed out of their District (or voted themselves out of their District) it seems to me that they just felt ineffective.
These retirements come on the heels of what must have been a frustrating two years for these Delegates. Being a "middle-of-the-road, moderate Democrat" is only worthwhile if there are ""middle-of-the-road, moderate" bills for which one may advocate. Over the past two years, we've seen litmus test issue after litmus test issue, from marriage equality to immigration to gun control to taxes. Union Democrats, which Steve and Jimmy no doubt are, have been shoe-horned into a party ideology that may not fit with their prevailing wage, class mobility, moderate spending, socially conservative philosophy. But losing votes is not what made them pack up their Crossland arms and go home. Republicans do that all the time with nary a wince. I think what bothered them is that there was no longer a place for their votes.
Overall, legislators want to believe their votes have value, even in losing causes. It is one thing to cast a losing vote and walk out to the roaring crowds of a NRA rally in Lawyer's Mall. It is another to cast a losing vote and go back to your office, wondering why you are here.
Steve DeBoy and Jimmy Malone were not ever going to lose in 2014. Entrenched party wonks think that everything rises and falls with party loyalty, but the reality is much more nuanced. Political affiliation is a spectrum with a lot of overlap in the middle. Those at the extremes on either side like to call folks in the middle names like RINO or "Republicans" (Democrats don't include the "in name only" - they just call you a "Republican"). That's the thing about the middle - it is a perfect target for those on either side.
But incumbency and the capital letter at the end of your name matter too. DeBoy and Malone had both those things in this District, and none of the Democratic powers that be in Howard were planning to help a challenger knock them off their spot. They were safe.
This was about whether or not they wanted to go back to Annapolis, not whether they would be given the chance. I don't blame them, but I'm disappointed all the same. Middle ground politics is a hard road, and I disagree with many of the votes Steve and Jimmy have made, but it is very necessary. Coalition building is the cornerstone of politics (as much as that may be hard to believe in today's political climate). In a state with just a slight bit more ideological heterogeneity, DeBoy and Malone would be the power brokers in the Capital House.
But that's not how things have played out. I think the State of Maryland is worse off when folks like Steve DeBoy and Jimmy Malone decide they no longer want to serve.
Very interesting piece in The Daily Beast about the "Towson White Student Union" led by Matthew Heimbach. The instinct is to be disappointed that this group is getting any press, but I think this is a conversation worth having, especially considering how many times I've heard respected members of this community joke about having a "White Appreciation Month" or hint at some other insecurity relating to the celebration of diverse cultures. Of course, they only say this in certain company...which makes their "joke" much less funny.
I hope and expect that Maryland Prison Reform finds itself high on the Governor's priority list for 2014 after damning news came out about the Baltimore City Detention Center, where a ring of prison guards were reported to have actively supplied prisoners with contraband in exchange for money and cars. This story is about four times as bad as I've described.
As expected, Delegate Frank Turner has told Blair Ames at the Flier that he has no plans of retirement in 2014. One of his reasons is that he does not want to leave the Howard Delegation to a bunch of freshman, which is just about as good of a reason as any.
The Columbia Association will be completing the loop around Lake Kittamaqundi, with construction beginning in Summer 2014. You may not be surprised to hear this, but this has been the number one concern that I've heard from most Columbia residents since serving on the Board.
Featured Blog Post of the Day: HowChow provides a round-up of Comment Wisdom, including an endorsement of Xitomate. I am bracing for the day when Jane and I can no longer walk up for a table on Friday after work. This has become our new go-to place for "What-a-Week" Happy Hour and we even have a favorite waiter (Hassan). This is slightly sad, considering their grand opening is...today.
That's all for today. Have a great Thursday doing what you love!