Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Senator from Howard County?

I had planned on writing an article entitled “Lurching Towards Decrepitude” but it was about my 2001 Honda. 

Senator Barbara Mikulski is undeniably made of far sterner stuff.

Mikulski has been raising principled heck for decades.  She has entered the pantheon of Maryland institutions.  Elected and returned to the U.S. Senate five times by the voters, she has served the nation and state honorably.  While her vim clearly remains of the high-octane variety, she knew when it was time to begin the denouement.  Nicely done, Senator.

Over the coming days and weeks, there will be numerous pieces that extol – in detail – her considerable legislative accomplishments, trailblazing career, impact on American politics, etc…

There will also be many articles evaluating potential successors, both Democrats and Republicans, with the latter considering the opportunities for an upset of even greater proportions than the Hogan 2014 victory.  There will be plenty of occasions to read and ponder wisdom – conventional and otherwise.

I will turn my attention, today, to Howard County.  I believe our talent-rich corner of Maryland has, within its borders, multiple potential 2016 U.S. Senate candidates.  And no, I am not referring to the obvious possible contenders who represent parts of our County in the United States Congress…Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, and Elijah Cummings.   The five I have in mind all reside in HoCo and include three Democrats and two Republicans. 

In no particular order, they are:

Former County Executive Ken Ulman.  A CE whose term of office was so productive that both of the candidates who ran to succeed him pledged to “continue the progress” made in Howard County over the past several years.  That is quite the testament to his record.  And while he is not universally loved throughout the land, he is widely respected.  He was a solid LG candidate in a tough election cycle and would be formidable as a statewide candidate at the helm of his own campaign. 

State Senator Guy Guzzone.  A thoughtful policy wonk, he has made his mark in local and state government.  While Ulman has more of a hard-charging approach, Guzzone’s more affable style could be an even greater plus with voters across the whole of Maryland.   Given that he has just been elected to the State Senate, the question remains if he, at this juncture, would want to shift from Annapolis to Washington D.C.

Former County Councilmember Courtney Watson.  A dedicated public servant with a solid resume for higher office, she encountered decidedly unfavorable political winds in 2014.   That said, Watson demonstrated an admirable tenacity and, importantly, impressive fundraising abilities. Like Guzzone, she would have to be considered a relative long-shot for the nomination, but she has the skills to be a fine U.S. Senator.

County Executive Allan Kittleman.  In all likelihood, he would be the Maryland Republican with the best profile for a statewide effort in ‘16.  One would have to assume Kittleman will be focused on his current job, with an eye on a re-election bid in 2018, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee and other heavy-hitting GOPers might push for him to consider the open seat…if they truly believe that Maryland could be competitive in a presidential election year (an unlikely proposition). 

Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford.  Why not?  He was a decent LG candidate with non-shabby credentials in the public and private sectors.   The Republicans could certainly field far worse candidates than Rutherford. Put that on a bumper sticker.

Am I omitting the names of a couple of accomplished Howard County individuals who could run a credible campaign for the United States Senate?  Sure.  Why? Because some are wrapping up their careers in public service while others appear to be quite focused on other offices, challenges and/or pursuits.  

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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