Steiner talks minimum wage and the 2014 General Assembly session

As legislators return to Annapolis, some will be looking to bump the pay of those who make minimum wage in Maryland.

Annapolis Summit logoMarc Steiner takes a look at the issue in a podcast that is part of his lead-up to his 11th annual Annapolis Summit show on Jan. 8. The radio host speaks with Dels. Mary Washington and Andrew Serafini about the minimum wage issue. Continue reading

Kamenetz not endorsing for governor just yet (ever?)

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz isn’t in any apparent rush to endorse a candidate for governor in the 2014 Democratic primary.

The first-term Democrat executive was coy about his endorsement when asked in a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Record.   [Subscriber access.] Continue reading

Kagan enters Senate race, Simmons claims edge in poll

Cheryl Kagan (courtesy Cheryl Kagan for State Senate)

Cheryl Kagan (courtesy Cheryl Kagan for State Senate)

A former delegate from Montgomery County said Tuesday she plans to seek the state Senate seat currently held by fellow Democratic Sen. Jennie Forehand.

The announcement by Cheryl Kagan came the same day that Del. Luiz Simmons, another Democratic candidate for the same Senate seat, released a poll claiming an edge over Kagan in a head-to-head contest. Continue reading

O’Malley takes ‘Believe’ campaign to New Hampshire

State of the StateAssuming you had something better to do, you probably missed Gov. Martin O’Malley on C-SPAN Saturday night speaking to a gathering of New Hampshire Democrats at the state party’s annual Jefferson Jackson dinner.

O’Malley spoke to the audience about his time as mayor of Baltimore and was introduced by a nearly 4 minute video that looks a lot like a video meant to introduce candidate O’Malley.

“I’m sorry if some of you thought you were about to watch another episode of The Wire,” he quipped.

The Maryland governor told the crowd he wanted to tell “the story of us, of Baltimore and New Hampshire.” Continue reading

Dutch Believes He’d Shake Up Race For Maryland Governor

Ruppersberger, DutchMF02low

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger

Dutch Ruppersberger says he would shake up the Democratic primary if he entered the race for Maryland governor.

“I think I would,” Ruppersberger said in an interview.

The six-term congressman said he is seriously considering giving up DC politics for a chance to run his home state.

Ruppersberger has been considering the race for governor off and on for more than a year but he said his interest waned as he traveled Syria and Iraq in January as part of his official congressional duties.

“Six months ago I started getting calls from friends and business leaders encouraging me to run.” Ruppersberger said. “I’m looking at it very seriously. I believe I can help our state.” Continue reading

Poll: Make Redistricting Independent of Elected Officials

A majority of Marylanders say they want a more independent process when it comes to the decennial redrawing of state legislative and congressional districts, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Statewide, 73 percent of those surveyed earlier this month said they prefer redistricting to be done by an independent commission, according to the poll.

The poll question on redistricting was paid for by the Greater Baltimore Committee and part of a larger survey conducted Oct. 1-9 by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies. The Annapolis-based polling firm surveyed 819 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in 2014.

Gene Bracken, a spokesman for the committee, said the lopsided poll numbers were surprising and was not able to immediately explain the public response.

“The why could be a lot of things,” Bracken said. “I don’t know the answer to the why it was so overwhelming. We only asked the one question.”

Bracken said that despite the organization’s support for a change in how districts are drawn they put a lot of care in drafting what he called “a decidedly simple question.”

Poll Question: The U.S. Constitution requires states to create legislative voting districts and to adjust these districts every 10 years to reflect census results. In Maryland, voting districts are drawn up by the state’s elected officials. In some other states, voting districts are drawn up by independent commissions.

In your opinion, which is the better approach? Have voting districts drawn up by:

  • Elected officials
  • Independent commissions 

“We knew how a lot of business leaders felt and we knew how we felt but we really didn’t know how this was going to come back,” Bracken said. “We really wanted to know the answer.”

Currently, Maryland’s governor is responsible for the appointment of a redistricting committee that holds public hearings on potential state legislative redistricting plans. The governor is required by law to introduce a plan on the first day of the legislative session in the second year following each census. That plan becomes law in 45 days unless the General Assembly enacts its own plan.

In the most recent round of redistricting, three of the five members of the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee were current or former state legislators including: Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and former Del. James King.

Both Miller and Busch are Democrats. King is a Republican.

The governor is not legally required to redraw the congressional districts every 10 years but traditionally submits a plan.

Only 19 percent of those surveyed said they wanted elected officials to continue redraw the districts.

The idea of using an independent commission to draw Maryland’s legislative and congressional redistricting is not new. Previous efforts have gone nowhere.

“You have to get the people who are drawing the districts to give that up and go to another form,” Bracken said.

“If this effort is ever going to gain any traction in Annapolis it’s going to have to come from leadership,” Bracken said. “It’s an election year so maybe someone will think this is a good idea.”

Washington Post poll shows O’Malley pulling ahead

After months and months of the race between Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and challenger Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. churning inside the margins of error in poll after poll, The Washington Post released the results of a new survey Tuesday night that shows O’Malley ahead by 11 points.

The Post’s poll put the gap at 52-41 — among likely voters with a 4 percent margin of error — with five weeks left to go in a rematch of the 2006 gubernatorial contest, when O’Malley beat Ehrlich 53-46.

Just eight days ago, a Rasmussen poll showed the two men statistically tied (as they have been for much of the summer and early fall), with O’Malley’s 50-47 lead just within the 4 percent margin of error.

O’Malley, who carried a huge cash advantage into the race, has been outspending Ehrlich on the airwaves. O’Malley launched his first TV ads in the Baltimore market in July, while Ehrlich waited early September. ( has some quick analysis of the poll posted. And a hat tip to them for the tweet that called my attention to the poll.)

Despite the bottom-line number, there are some trends in the Post poll that mirrored those in other polls released on the race.

Ehrlich enjoys strong support in his own party and appears to be winning over more independents than O’Malley. But in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 and make up half of the likely voters, Ehrlich doesn’t seem to be making enough headway in building support across party lines.

Ehrlich pulled 22 percent of the Democratic vote in 2002, when he became the first Republican to be elected Maryland’s governor in a generation. The Post poll showed only 15 percent of Democrats back Ehrlich, and O’Malley has actually strengthened his hold on vote-rich Montgomery County.

And the economy remains the top issue for voters. According to the Post’s story, 43 percent of voters trust Ehrlich to handle the $1.1 billion budget shortfall, while 40 percent trust O’Malley. The paper takes this to mean that Ehrlich is in a tight spot because he’s already ahead on the top issue, but still behind in the race.

I’m not sure how strong the connection is between budget issues and economic woes in the minds of most people — gauging voters on who they trust to tackle unemployment would hit closer to that point — but it still can’t be seen as a positive for Ehrlich. It could indicate the issues and the records of the two men who have both held the office for four years aren’t important enough to sway a large swath of voters one way or the other.

Money talks; Obama and Palin not so much

With all the competing messages and endorsements zipping from candidates to voters this fall, there’s one thing that cuts through all the noise: the bacon. As in, bringin’ it home.

A Pew Research/National Journal poll released Monday found that 53 percent of Americans said they were more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who had a record of directing spending to their districts. And only 12 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a congressional candidate that didn’t secure earmarked funds for his or her district.

(A tip of the cap to the PostPartisan blog, which brought the poll to my attention.)

(And a semi-tangential aside: Barack Obama topped John McCain and his campaign against congressional pork projects 53-46 in 2008. Coincidence? Probably.)

The Pew poll showed voters with more tepid responses to candidates backed by Obama, former McCain running mate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, those affiliated with the Tea Party and independents.

Continue reading