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Middleton frozen out of Nice Bridge announcement

On a brisk day in Newburg, Gov. Larry Hogan made a huge announcement regarding the replacement of an aging and some say dangerous Gov. Harry W. Nice Bridge.

None, however, may have felt the chill more than Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton who was frozen out of participating in Hogan’s event; that cold shoulder appears related to a vetoed bill from earlier in the year.

L-R Transportation Sec Pete K Rahn and Sen. Thomas M. Mac Middleton D-Charles county and chair of the Finance Committee. Photo by Bryan Sears.

Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn, left, and Sen. Thomas M. Mac Middleton D-Charles County and chair of the Finance Committee. (Bryan P. Sears/The Daily Record)

When it came time for Hogan’s announcement that afternoon, Middleton left after being told by members of Hogan’s staff that he was not welcome — a report that Hogan’s spokesman says is true to a degree.

“It’s a public announcement,” said Douglass Mayer on Monday following the event.

“He was welcome to come like any other member of the public,” Mayer said motioning to a group consisting mostly of officials and reporters.

But in this case, Mayer tied Middleton’s legislation directly to the lack of an invitation.

“If (Middleton) had not pushed the legislation that was specifically meant to somehow hurt the governor, he could have been a part of this,” said Douglass Mayer, a Hogan spokesman, Monday following the event. “So congratulations.”

Middleton, D-Charles County and chair of the Finance Committee, spent most of the day touring the bridge facility that is in his district and attending a meeting of the Maryland Transportation Authority Board where the decision to finance and build a replacement was approved.

Middleton earlier this year sponsored Senate Bill 907, which would have mandated Hogan and the state bank millions to be used to replace the bridge by 2030. Hogan vetoed the bill. An attempt to override the veto could come up when the General Assembly reconvenes in January but Middleton said he was initially happy enough with the announced plan to replace the bridge that he might forego seeking an override.

It is not unusual for a governor to invite local officials and legislators who represent a region when a major announcement is made. Republicans in the past have griped about not being invited to events by Democratic governors — most often because those Republicans voted against the budget which funded a particular program.

“No legislator was invited to this event,” Mayer said. “Sometimes we invite them. Sometimes we don’t.”

On Monday, Hogan criticized the Middleton’s bill as “a terrible, misguided transportation bill which threatened our priority efforts here to replace the Harry Nice bridge.”

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