November 13, 2013 posted on November 18th
My notes kept staring at me…so here it is.
After a long, a very long hiatus, I decided that I’d take a stab at re-establishing my blog, and what better time than now, after all opportunity like this only comes around every three years or so. I recently got a Facebook invitation from my outgoing delegate from District 12 (Malone) to attend the “FREE District 12 Democratic Candidate’s Forum”, my first thought was “FREE?”, it’s free for now, but if any of these folks actually went to Annapolis, we’d pay that’s for sure. There isn’t much they don’t want the government to do ‘for US’. If the attendance was any indication, (some reported upwards of 200, I’d put that number at about half of that), one thing is clear, the interest in filling the new district 12 seats is pretty high.
My wife and I, even though we’re now part of the newly created district 44B, decided we’d check it out. I’ve got to hand it to Delegate Malone, the event was well attended, the format was well run, and the venue was a perfect setting for the event. Even after what seemed like a gathering of the ‘Mutual Admiration Society’, I enjoyed peeking into what will be a very interesting year in Maryland State Politics.
Background: Legislative District 12 is now a single legislative district and the three sitting delegates have all decided they will not be seeking re-election. Delegates Malone, DeBoy and BoBo will exit the House of Delegates with over 50 years of collective statehouse experience, leaving three open seats.
Malone (D-12) opens the forum
The format of the forum was pretty simple:
- Introductions (2 min)
- Why I’m running…(2 min)
- A series of nine rotating questions (Written by Delegate Malone) so each candidate had an opportunity to answer first. The format of the questions would be in the form of…Are you FOR or AGAINST…?
- Q1: The Death Penalty – Pretty much a clean sweep in opposing the Death Penalty with Michael Gisriel being the lone supporter…Note: Scott Shellenberger, Balt County States Attorney was present.
- Q2: Increasing the minimum wage – Puzzling as it is, as expected, the support for this was unanimous.
- Q3: State Funded Abortion – Although some of the candidates noted this as a controversial issue, they were united in their support of spending taxpayer funds on abortion.
- Q4: State Funded Textbooks and Computers for private schools – One detractor on the subject, Michael Gisriel supports the initiative with Spence recognizing that there is already limited financial set aside for support in the current law, but I was unclear whether she supports or opposes. All others opposed.
- Q5: Decriminalization of marijuana – Spence and Sachs were the only candidates that were ‘currently’ against the measure, all other were for…Hill went so far as to say ‘legalization’ is in order.
- Q6: Speed Cameras – Unanimous support for ‘speed cameras’
- Q7: Hydraulic Frakking – Bailey, Ebersole, Lam, Spence against and Dongarra vehemently opposing stating “Land is a nonrenewable resource.” Gisriel, Hill and Sachs were for more research with Stewart stating his support for more study and cited some financial and social benefits.
- Q8: Offshore Wind Energy – Spence was against, Stewart and Sachs were undecided needing more information and the remaining candidates staunchly in favor.
- Q9: Repeal of the Stormwater remediation fee – Hill and Sachs were against a repeal while all remaining were in favor of revisiting the issue or amending.
Early Handicapping: (Very Scientific process, HA! – longshot, even money or favorite)
Adam Sachs was late to the forum and literally has no problem identifying as a progressive. Although his honesty in answering some of the questions, I think he will have a hard time running a viable campaign in this field. (longshot)
Nick Stewart is undoubtedly a smart young man, a lawyer that has a past history as a speechwriter for Gov O’Malley, which is apparent as his rhetoric contained a LOT of “Forward, Action and Progress” in his responses. (longshot)
Brian Bailey is no stranger to SW Baltimore County politics and communities, Brian came to the forum, prepared, was able to articulate his answers like a seasoned politician and doesn’t hide his ‘stripes’ as a Democrat progressive. He’ll do well in the former 12A, the Columbia area being the swing for him, although I suspect his politics would be welcomed. (even money to favorite)
Rebecca Dongarra will obviously have a fairly good support system in Baltimore County, as a former candidate for County Council, however, I’m not sure she can weather the Howard County fight for support in the Primary. (longshot)
Eric Ebersole also a very well known Baltimore County resident and long time Howard County educator and community activist, Eric is a very likeable guy, but I’m not sure given the field he can mount a serious challenge. (longshot to even money)
Michael Gisriel, former delegate and definitely a polished politician…of all of the candidates definitely has the upper hand as being connected to the current political establishment in Annapolis, is this in of itself worthy of making him a serious challenger?, in my opinion, yes. His experience and connections will certainly carry him deep into the primary process. (favorite)
Dr. Terri Hill, her campaign will certainly be a force to be reckoned with, especially in the Howard County political circles. Her ‘pay it forward’ ideology is fine, but like most she would rather mandate the practice through big government. (even to favorite)
Dr. Clarence Lam, will most certainly have a deep run and perform well in the primary, Howard County will deliver big, with the Baltimore County constituents being the focus of his campaign, If he does an avg job in hitting the Baltimore County part of the district, I think the Dem faithfuls within the district could deliver him to Annapolis. What impressed me obviously wasn’t his politics, (we couldn’t be further apart on the issues) was his knowledge, command of the audience and his confident delivery of his statements. (favorite)
Renee McGuirk-Spence is in a tough spot, although I am certain she is a fine person, she may be heart felt, but she lacks the necessary ability to communicate effectively. She obviously knows government, as she’s been in Government Relations and spent a good deal of time in Annapolis, her answers were not real clear, and it’s my opinion that it wasn’t done on purpose. (longshot)
Lam, Hill, Gisriel and Bailey in my opinion can control the direction of this primary, with Ebersole being the only potential ‘dark horse’. I would have liked to hear their perspective on State Fiscal Policies, but I suspect most are in favor of untethered spending which will undoubtedly be something they will have to address as freshman members of the delegation.
Delegate Malone mentioned that it’s possible to expect a turnover in the house to reach a potential 50%, seventy of the 141 seats could be in play. I expect that District 12 will solidly and easily post 2/3 of those seats in the Dem column and if the Republicans can post a credible appealing candidate they have an outside chance to get one of those seats. Hopefully, I can be writing another post re: Republican Candidates in the near future.
Let the games begin!