Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mizeur's Spot at the Table

Delegate Heath Mizeur is among the select group of yet-to-announce-announced-candidates-for-Governor.  There has been some talk recently from her camp that she is not getting any respect and the inference is that it is because she's a woman.  I really don't see it.  What I do see is a multimillion dollar fundraising gap that limits the scope of coverage for the 2014 Gubernatorial Election to Brown, Gansler, Ulman, with occasional hat-tips to Rupperberger (who also has significant money in the bank).

But it would be ignorant and presumptuous to think of primary elections as money paired with the right collection of demographic characteristics.  And as for the latter, Ms. Mizeur has a step-up -- she's a woman.  Contrary to the protestations from her campaign, or maybe intended as some sort of reverse-mind-trick, being a woman in a Democratic primary is presumed to be an advantage (I've yet to see a study to back this up).  This may have shown through with this weekend's straw poll in Western Maryland putting Heather Mizeur second after presumed front-runner Anthony Brown (ahead of Doug Gansler and Ken Ulman).

Primaries are unpredictable.  In Western Maryland, we saw John Delaney win a Congressional seat with very little previous work in government and without even living in the district.  In the Republican Primary for President, we saw eight (or more) different front-runners, and a near photo finish between the eventual candidate and a comparatively under-funded challenger from the fringe.  This was while all of the pundits picked Romney to sweep the field from the beginning.

I like Heather Mizeur.  A lot.  She is the brand of politician I normally find myself supporting.  Not necessarily on ideological grounds, but due to her advocacy.  Heather has not diluted her brand.  She has shown dogged persistence for the issues she feels passionately about and has many successes to show for it.

I think one of the reasons Ms. Mizeur is not intimidated or discouraged by the money gap is that she's been here before.  When she first ran in 2006, Heather beat out two incumbents in the primary and was the top vote getter in a seven candidate field.  Admittedly, that was a matter of a few thousand votes, and not tens of thousands as would be in play for a Gubernatorial run, but this candidate has some electoral chops that should not be ignored.  She also has a grassroots network that will not go down easy, regardless of the high walls of money they need to climb to win.

Heather Mizeur will give Maryland a better primary.  Here's why:

1.  We need a public discussion about fracking.  Statewide primaries are best for moving the public conversation to issues of statewide importance.  Heather has been a vocal opponent of fracking and the standard-bearer for additional study before any fracking takes place in Western Maryland.  This is a party blind issue, with many Democrats supporting natural gas extraction as soon as possible as a boom to the private sector.  Heather knows more about this issue than any other elected official on the scene and deserves our attention.

2.  Guarding the Left Flank.  I don't think anyone in the Mizeur camp would disagree with me on this, but Heather is a lefty's lefty.  To the extent these candidates are on a spectrum, Ms. Mizeur holds the left most position on social issues, public works, mass transportation, environment, immigration, and education.  That's ok.  I listened to an entire podcast yesterday talking about how ideological consistency and rigor produces more coherent policy and outcomes.

3.  She'll take the other candidates off-script.  So maybe its not fair to say that someone should be in a primary because of what she'll do to the other candidates, but I think the most intriguing thing about Heather is that she means what she says and says what she means.  Gubernatorial debates will be appointment television with Heather on the dais.  She will push back on sound bites, waffling, and dodged questions, even if that means she takes a few hits in the press for"a lefty's lefty."

At this point in the campaign, there is not too much in the way of substance to analyze about the candidates.  I don't like that.  It makes commenting on the election overtly personal, which is a self-imposed red-line I have for this blog.  But I think we will all benefit from having someone like Heather in the primary.  Once things set in motion, it is somewhat unpredictable how a candidate like Ms. Mizeur could catch on with the Democratic electorate.  All we know for know is that she has a lot of work to do.

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!  Please consider volunteering to be a docent for the Columbia Home Tour on June 2.  They are short of afternoon volunteers and it would be a great opportunity to meet your neighbors!  If interested, please e-mail Susie Jordan here.