Friday, December 29, 2017


The title seems fitting, in light of the number of individuals who filed to run for public office in Howard County in the 2018 election cycle but, for one reason or another, withdrew.  Reviewing the candidate lists, the differences between HoCo and MoCo again leap to the fore.

Barring significant shakeups and with a handful of notable exceptions, most of the action will occur in the General Election with the County Executive and First County Council District races head-lining the local contests.  As of this writing, the only question in the Democratic CE primary is: can Harry Dunbar top his 21.5% showing from 2006 when he ran against Ken Ulman for the D Nomination? On paper and in the present environment, someone running on an anti-incumbent, “slow growth” platform could pull 30% - 35% of the vote in the Democratic primary but the current author does not believe Dunbar is the ideal vehicle for anti-development sentiments.  In a head-to-head, it is challenging to envision Dr. Ball securing less than 75% against Dunbar.

The Third County Council District is interesting as four top-flight Democratic candidates are in the field.  One made an unfortunate college choice, and another still reads more Annapolis than anything else, but I am nit-picking. This will be the local race to watch on Primary Election Night, with a winner likely to emerge with around 35% of the vote, none of the four should finish with under 15%.

My home County Council district, the Fourth, is again the scene of a contested primary.  Alphabetically, the legitimate Democratic candidates are Cynthia Fikes and Deb Jung.  There is someone named Ian Bradley Moller-Knudsen who filed but this person may not exist in any recognizable dimension.  I will, most likely, write about my choice on or around March 1.  It is imperative for these candidates to focus on salient issues:  most notably Education and Quality of Life (insofar as the two are distinct).  Yes, the former is a given and the latter encompasses many facets (infrastructure, environment, jobs, safety, social justice, etc…).  The candidate who wins will have a narrative that best reflects and addresses these concerns and will offer up reflective, practical, progressive, and accessible solutions.

Turning to the state legislative campaigns:

I will write about District 9 later.   In the meantime, there is no Primary action in D12 (somewhat disappointingly) and while there is much that could be said about D13, the only item of immediate interest is the emergence of someone who reads like a perennial candidate.   

So there is the wisdom – conventional or otherwise – as I see it.  I will close the blog for 2017 with some words from Robert Burns:

“Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.” 

In solidarity.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gov Talk

The present author has been making an effort to re-engage with some political folks recently.  I honestly don’t know if this site will feature the wall-to-ceiling-to-cold attic coverage that was the case with Campaign ’14: The Search for Spock. That said, I figure my readership would like some trenchant insights on such matters, so here goes:

I spoke with Krish Vignarajah for about 10 minutes a few days back.  I found her to be smart, engaging, and not put off by my idiosyncratic candor.  I let her know that I listened to her appearance on Howard County’s finest café-based podcast, Elevate Maryland, and I had some questions regarding one attribute of her campaign’s positioning (consensus-oriented).  Her rationale was thoughtful and (wearing my former operative flat cap) I can’t deny the strategic soundness of it.  That said, for my tastes, I prefer a bit of a harder progressive/populist edge in terms of rhetoric and platform elements.

Of course, the candidate whose positioning is most likely closest to my own, Ben Jealous, has not yet won me over.  I have to say that his MD-Care plan is an excellent proposal; one that would bring universal care to the residents of the Old Line State. I’m just not sold on the Jealous/Turnbull ticket which, considering the ideological and organizational overlap (Sanders supporter, member of Our Revolution, lifetime member NAACP, etc…) seems odd.  Is it him? Me?  Both? Neither?

I tend to favor Electeds, which amounts to a lack of a checkmark for both of the aforementioned candidates for Governor, as well as some others. 

That said, as of his writing, it is unlikely that I would vote for the two County Executives currently in the race.  I don’t know if Kevin Kamenetz offers the best contrast against Governor Hogan.   Rushern Baker has a fine record of accomplishment but, like warm oatmeal, his campaign lacks a certain excitement.  I suppose demonstrated managerial competence alone is worth something, but it didn’t work for Dukakis in ’88.  But Baker is not alone there, as Ms. Vignarajah has also had management responsibilities for billion-dollar budgets.

So, as I told Krish (ok, that is striking my ear is too familiar…Ms. Vignarajah it is), she is in my top tier for consideration: a club consisting of herself, Senator Rich Madaleno (progressive, a policy wonk, an Elected, and I used to live in his district), Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings (good credentials), and Mr. Jealous.

In any event, I can’t see myself backing anyone until after the February 27 filing deadline.  But who knows?  Perhaps I will make up my mind over the Holidays, when I have more time to reflect on life beyond work and my classes.

For those with time, this video of Ms. Vignarajah delivering a commencement speech is worth checking out:

In solidarity.