Thursday, May 30, 2013

Loo-tenant Ken!

The big political news yesterday related to the announcement that Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will join the Anthony Brown ticket as Lieutenant Governor.  (Small aside: Baltimore Sun - Ken Ulman is 39, not 42.)  Maryland Juice had some great follow-up analysis/speculation about how the Democratic stars of Maryland would be lining up behind Brown/Ulman, starting the day the ticket is officially announced on June 3.

It is easy to overstate the importance of something like this and forget that we have not seen much of Anthony Brown for the past eight years.  Nevertheless, Ken is a bird of a different feather and may offer some things to watch:

1.  Campaign Money - As soon as it became clear that Ken would have a difficult road to Governor, it became equally apparent that he would be somebody's Lieutenant Governor.  39 year old County Executives don't carry around $2 million in the bank and worry about their political future.  Things work themselves out.   We don't know where the money race stands since January, but at the very least the combination of Ulman's funds with Anthony Brown's helps close the $3 million gap with Doug Gansler.

2.  Executive Bona Fides - I'm hesitant to say a Lt. Governor "adds" anything of substance to another candidate's Gubernatorial bid, but Ken does add a number of significant accomplishments to the ticket.  He would have been (and may still be) a very good Governor.  You may not like his politics.  You may not like his political style.  But Ken Ulman got things done.  Not just in the sense of "Wow. He got something passed through a 4-1 Democratic majority", but more the less partisan issues of advocating for our municipality, lobbying for grants, and taking meaningful steps on issues like the environment and homelessness.  That is a tremendous asset to the Brown campaign, but it is unclear how they will be able to use it.

3.  "Attack Dog"? - I was surprised to see a number of commentators note yesterday that Ken would provide Anthony Brown "cover" and work as his "attack dog" against Gansler and (potentially) Ruppersberger.  I suppose a little of that is to be expected, and Ken is known for being a tough candidate to campaign against, but I just don't see it.  Ken will obviously be a strong advocate, and the local media love him, so we'll see how this plays out.  Don't expect to see Ken turn polemic overnight.

4.  The Baltimorean Candidate - Everyone who wants to sound analytical about the 2014 Gubernatorial Race will note that "the Baltimore constituency is wide open."  "Who's going to carry Baltimore?"  "Whomever carries Baltimore and the Baltimore suburbs wins the day."  Ken is thought to be an answer to the Baltimore question.  Remember the Ravens/Redskin bet? (And having to live through that embarrassing loss for an extra two weeks because of it?)  Don't discount Ken as a "white suburbanite from a rich County."  He may not play in a rock 'n roll band, but Ken is the type of pol that can win over Charm City. 

5.  What happens in HoCo? - Like most people in Howard County, I spent a little part of yesterday wondering "What does this mean for our County?"  One of the reporters for The Sun yesterday noted that Howard had not had a viable (sorry Chuck) Gubernatorial Candidate since before WWI and asked whether Ken upgrades the locality from a political backwater to a new level of prominence.  I responded that Ken is a unique case and to extend his selection to any greater meaning for the County would detract from that uniqueness.  I project that as Columbia's successes mount and our County grows, that may very well change, but for now this is remarkable more for the person than the place.

Not many people were surprised by this pick.  It was an obvious choice creating a formidable ticket.  Doug Gansler has the money.  Heather Mizeur has the grassroots.  Brown/Ulman have the looks of a winner.  We'll see how it all plays out, but so far so good.

And I won a bet.

Have a great Thursday doing what you love.  Rock on.