By Barry Rascovar / June 8, 2013
We are 13 months away from Maryland’s primary and already we’ve been hit by a tsunami of election news. What’s remarkable about the Week That Was is how unremarkable these developments turned out to be:
• Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced his running mate — Howard County Executive Ken Ulman — a fact we have known for weeks.
• That same day, Harford County Executive David Craig announced for governor on the Republican ticket. He’s only been campaigning for the past year.
• Not to be upstaged by Craig, Annapolis Del. Ron George announced for guv, too. He made his intentions clear weeks ago.
• Attorney General Doug Gansler lobbied for media time by putting out a statement that he isn’t running for a third term. Surprise, surprise: He’s been campaigning for the top state job since the day he was sworn in.
• These events were as predictable as Howard County Sen. Allan Kittleman letting it be known he’s announcing for County Executive on Tuesday. That’s been no secret for months. So was Harford County Sen. Barry Glassman’s County Executive announcement Saturday evening.
• Adding to the fun, Michael Steele — one-time lieutenant governor, controversial national Republican Party chair and TV commentator — told MSNBC he’s thinking about a run for governor in 2014. His name has been mentioned in that capacity since last fall.
What do these happenings have in common?
All these politicos crave publicity. None is a household word. It’s going to be a long, long campaign.
Brown once again proved inept at staging events. When he announced for governor he did so late on a Friday afternoon — terrible timing for TV and print reporters. Next, he buried the most important news angle of the day, the decision by Congressman Elijah Cummings to endorse Brown. Then he staged his Ulman running mate announcement the same day as Craig’s media blast.
Craig won that match-up despite being a Republican in a solidly Democratic state. He got great front-page coverage in The Baltimore Sun; Brown-Ulman found themselves buried inside.
Gansler shouted loud enough to remind voters he’s still around. He doesn’t plan a formal announcement until the fall so his pitch to the media — “I’m not running again for A.G.” (ho, hum) — got his name in the papers and took some of the edge off the Brown-Ulman event.
Similarly, George couldn’t let Craig soak up the media attention since he sees the Harford County Executive as his main GOP opponent. So he sounded off this week, too.
Steele watched all this happening and decided to send his own media message. Best not to be forgotten.
No one said anything new. Everything was predictable and, frankly, uninspiring. Brown called Ulman a great county executive. Ulman promised he’d do great things in Annapolis, just like Gov. Martin O’Malley. Craig said he’d cut spending and stop Maryland’s Democratic wave of tax increases. George said he’d get rid of taxes, period. Steele said he’s ideally suited for the job.
Anyone still awake?
The only surprise this past week was Montgomery County Sen. Rob Garagiola telling us he’s stepping down as Majority Leader and won’t seek re-election. Ever since he lost in an upset to John Delaney for Congress last year, rumors swirled about Garagiola’s future. Now he is recently divorced, starting a new law practice and with no prospect of upward political mobility. You didn’t need a crystal ball to see his announcement coming.
Here’s another “surprising” development this week: Robin Ficker, Montgomery County’s professional gadfly, former delegate and political pest, is running for Garagiola’s seat. To make matters worse, his son, Flynn Ficker (say that name fast 15 times) is running for delegate in the same district.
One Ficker is too much for most sane voters. Now we might wind up with two?
Mercifully, the week ended without any more scintillating announcements.