Commentary by Ron Miller
(July 29, 2009) Believe it or not, we are only a little more than 13 months away from the 2010 Maryland primary. Unlike Steny Hoyer and the rest of his colleagues in the U.S. Congress, we want to take our time and do the necessary research before we act on our choices for 2010. After all, despite what they may think, we're the employer, they're the employees and they work for us. Those who haven't worked for us all these years need to be fired, and we need to be more judicious about who we hire to take their places.
The top of the Maryland ticket is seeing a lot of activity but only three candidates are certain to run for Governor in 2010. The incumbent, Martin O'Malley is hoping to be rehired despite the fact his performance evaluation as the state's chief executive is about as subpar as the evaluation he received while he was the mayor of Baltimore.
This employee bears considerable watching because he will use his charm and guile to cloud the fact he's underperformed. As responsible employers, we need to guard against his seductive ways and stick to the facts.
He has avoided hard choices and balanced the budget using the same tricks and quick fixes for which he criticized his predecessors. Maryland's rate of spending is unsustainable in the mid-to-long term, and despite raising taxes to the highest levels in state history and coercing the voters in accepting slots as a magical source of revenue, we are no closer than before he took office to a permanent fiscal solution.
Under his stewardship, Maryland's business tax climate ranking plunged from 24th to 45th in one year alone. At a time when jobs are needed to stimulate the economy, generate tax revenue and help families, his policies are chasing away businesses that create jobs and wealth. We need to say to him, "You're fired!"
A telling sign of his weakness as an incumbent is that one Democrat, Calvert County's own George Owings, has already declared his intention to challenge O'Malley. Owings, a former four-term delegate, House majority whip, and secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs is hoping to convert the discontent of working class Democrats into an effective challenger campaign. Other names in the rumor mill include Doug Duncan, the former Montgomery County executive and O'Malley's challenger in 2006 until he withdrew from the race due to clinical depression, and Wayne Curry, Prince George's County's first black county executive.
On the Republican side, the only declared candidate is Mike Pappas, an attorney from Baltimore County. While he has no elective experience, he's conducted a spirited campaign, gained a lot of supporters, and even garnered a commendation from the Baltimore Sun for taking the plunge while everyone else waited for one of the two Maryland GOP heavyweights, Ehrlich or Michael Steele, to make a move.
One of his potential opponents in the GOP primary, Charles Lollar of Newberg, is one of the most dynamic and charismatic leaders the Maryland GOP has seen in years. The former Marine, business leader, and Charles County GOP chairman is a mesmerizing speaker and uncompromising budget hawk determined to reverse Maryland's fiscal slide.Recent developments concerning the timing of his voter registration in Maryland, however, may make him ineligible to run for Governor, and he may set his sights in a different direction - more on that in a minute.
What of the two biggest names, Ehrlich and Steele? Steele is gainfully employed as chairman of the Republican National Committee and I presume it would take some compelling polls suggesting he could win to pull him away. The wild card, however, is Bob Ehrlich. Like Steele, he wants to win and is doing his due diligence, not hurrying matters because he has name recognition and can turn on the fundraising spigot more easily than just about any other GOP candidate. If he makes the decision to run, we can call it "Ehrlich-O'Malley II: The Fray by the Bay" - if O'Malley makes it past the primary.
Lollar has two options given his current predicament. One is to contest his voter registration status in court. The other is to seek another office for which he's eligible. We're hearing he may choose to challenge Steny Hoyer for the Maryland 5th Congressional District seat. That means Collins Bailey, the genteel school board member from Charles County who faced Hoyer in 2008 and has announced his intention to run again in 2010, would either step aside or challenge Lollar in a primary.
Neither is a palatable option; there are too few viable GOP contenders for any office in Maryland to justify a primary, and Lollar's entry into the race would be awkward given the friendship between the two men. Hiring managers, stay tuned.
Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a conservative blogger and activist, former and future candidate for the Maryland Senate, and communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party. Ron is a regular contributor to
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