Monday, July 13, 2015

Future: Override

So the veto came, to the shock of none.

Assuming the four Council-members hold the line and no one "evolves" (or "flip-flops," depending on your point-of-view) on the issue, the Howard County Council appears set to override County Executive Kittleman's veto of the Nutritional Standards bill later on this month.

Policy considerations aside (although I tend to favor the compromise bill that the Council developed), I've gone back and forth on the wisdom of Kittleman's move from a political perspective. Ultimately, i think he is making a mistake.  But is it a good or bad kind of mistake for him?

I listened to his rationale for his veto, which can be found here, frankly it sounded like a boilerplate GOP play - perhaps principled but a little tired, mostly uninspiring and a bit platitudinous.  Yet another variation on "Get the government out of our lives! (except on the following 50 issues but let's not discuss those right now)."

So his veto helps him with his HoCo base, although I am not sure he needed that (or is he fearing a contested primary in 2018?!).  Perhaps he thinks a more confrontational posture will help him in future negotiations with the Council on other issues.  He has demonstrated that he can throw an elbow, what comes next?  Maybe he is looking at his future and sees a shift to the right as necessary if he wants to hold a political office that represents more than Howard County.  Does that mean the end of "Mr. Nice Guy?"  Perhaps the Kittleman brand is going to take another turn.  Maybe "Mr. No!"  That doesn't exactly radiate the sort of optimism one might expect from a "different kind of Republican." Let me use more "quote" marks.

Bottom line in this hastily written post - this is probably smart politics for Kittleman over the long-haul, assuming he has aspirations that require being nominated by a Republican party that is drifting ever right-ward.  But it is bad policymaking.  Moreover, he better get ready for life after the override because there is a fine line between "principled" and "ineffectual" - especially if he finds himself standing alone (or only with Mr. Fox) one too many times. There is a Howard County mainstream and right now, he is squarely to the right of it.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.