By Barry Rascovar
Nov. 19, 2014 — My, how the wheel turns — for Gov. Martin O’Malley, Gov.-elect Larry Hogan Jr. and outgoing Attorney General Doug Gansler.
The lame-duck governor is in fund-raising mode. He’s all but officially running for president (despite guffaws from the home folks), which takes lots of moola. So it was off to New York to impress prospective donors.
Thursday, O’Malley hosts a songfest with musician Steven Stills. It was originally scheduled to be held in a lounge at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, with tickets ranging up to $10,000 for the O Say Can You See Committee, the front group for O’Malley’s presidential ambitions.
It also was also conceived as a post-election celebration after the sweeping gubernatorial win of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.
A funny thing happened on the way to Victory Lane — Brown got clobbered, Republicans in Maryland staged a remarkable recovery and O’Malley drew voters’ ire for an endless string of tax increases and outsized spending.
The Stills event now has been moved to a large tent at the home of major O’Malley supporter Martin Knott.
One longtime Democratic donor was inundated with solicitations. Would he buy a $5,000 ticket? As the event drew closer, he was asked, how about a $1,000 ticket? Days later, the request came down to a $500 ticket. Finally, he was told, “Oh, what the heck. Just come. We’ll let you in.”
Roughly 100 supporters are expected to attend.
The ever-energetic O’Malley also has a fund-raiser planned Friday night at the home of federal lobbyist Terry Lierman. He will be celebrating his daughter’s election to the Maryland House of Delegates from Baltimore as well as toasting O’Malley.
Meanwhile, O’Malley is bolstering his liberal environmental record by cracking down, through tough regulations, on use of phosphorus fertilizers, especially on poultry farms. The cost could be devastating for small farmers, but O’Malley is thinking about his own political future, not the future of Eastern Shore farm families.
He’s also issuing frequent press releases from the governor’s office on such issues as climate change and the Keystone heavy-oil pipeline, siding with the environmentalists he wants to romance nationally.
As for governing Maryland, that’s less of a priority. O’Malley’s thoughts are turning to making national news all the time.
While O’Malley is struggling to draw fund-raising crowds, Governor-elect Hogan has no such problem. He held a small soiree for VIP supporters and raised $250,000 for the state GOP. He’s now a very popular guy. He’ll have no trouble wiping out the $500,000 loan he made to his own campaign.
That won’t be the case for the guy Hogan defeated, Anthony Brown. He borrowed $500,000 from a local labor union and failed to raise enough money to pay back the loan on time. Even with this last-minute loan, Brown ran short of funds and failed to keep pounding away with TV commercials in the final days of the campaign.
Now he may be pounding hard to find donors willing to help a defeated candidate pay off this giant IOU before 2018. If he doesn’t, Brown will have to repay the loan himself.
Attorney General Gansler didn’t expect to lose the gubernatorial primary to Brown, but he ran into a united front from Democratic Party big shots determined to elevate Brown. He also discovered that a third candidate, Heather Mizeur, chipped away at his liberal support.
Gansler didn’t have a backup plan. For him, failure wasn’t an option — but it happened nonetheless.
Faced with having to find a job as a lawyer after 16 years in public service, Gansler was flooded with enticing offers. He chose a relatively new firm that quickly has gained status in legal circles for its work helping businesses, BuckleySandler. It’s a Washington firm with offices in the Big Apple, San Francisco, Chicago and (how nice) London.
Don’t expect Gansler to disappear from the Maryland political scene, though. He’s going to wind up on a slew of non-profit boards and is continuing to work vigorously to grow his inner-city lacrosse league in Baltimore.
With no obvious front-runner among Democrats to take on Hogan in four years, Gansler may make another stab. Once you’ve been bitten by the political bug, it’s hard to let go.
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