It's health plan open enrollment season for many employees, including federal workers.The editors of the Consumer Checkbook's annual Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees join us to discuss what you need to know to make smart choices for 2016.
The political year 2014 will feature the inauguration of a new governor in Virginia – and elections for the top political jobs in the District and in Maryland. We take an early look at what stories and which people will shape the year ahead. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Quentin Kidd Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Government, Christopher Newport University
- Patrick Madden Reporter, WAMU 88.5 News
- Andrew A. Green Opinion Editor, The Baltimore Sun
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University, in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Tom Sherwood, thank you for joining us.
MR. TOM SHERWOODI'm ready for the New Year.
NNAMDIWho's this guy sitting next to you? Why is he here?
SHERWOODYou know, this is the time of the season to be nice to people you meet out on the street.
NNAMDIThat doesn't mean you can just bring friends into the broadcast when you feel like it.
MR. PATRICK MADDENI just stumbled in here.
NNAMDIPatrick Madden is a WAMU 88.5 reporter. He joins us as our guest analyst today. Patrick Madden, thank you for joining us.
MADDENThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIIf the political year 2014 is anything like the one coming to a close we're going to be opening up presents all year long on "The Politics Hour." This year gave us the gifts of the bare-knuckle brawl of a race for governor in Virginia, a full-on beach week scandal in Maryland, and the opening chapter of a mayoral campaign in D.C. where just about every politician in the city decided to run. But we're not here today to dwell on the past. We're here to ponder the future. Later in the hour we'll contemplate the biggest stories looming in Maryland and D.C. in the coming year.
NNAMDIBut first, we'll explore what life is likely to be like in the commonwealth in the first year of the Terry McAuliffe administration. And joining us to help us do that is Quentin Kidd. He's a political science professor, chair of the Department of Government, and the director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. He's also author of the book "The Rational Southerner: Black Mobilization, Republican Growth and the Partisan Transformation of the American South." Quentin Kidd joins us by phone. Quentin, thank you for joining us.
MR. QUENTIN KIDDIt's really good to be with you today.
NNAMDIBefore we get into what 2014 will hold in store for Terry McAuliffe, let's take a moment to consider what Bob McDonnell is leaving behind. A year ago it seemed like the sky was the limit for Bob McDonnell. He was poised to get a signature transportation bill through the general assembly. Maybe pivot off that to pursue his national ambitions. And even though he did score a signature legislative achievement, I guess it's safe to say that scandal knocked his plans for his final year off track. With that in mind, how would you assess the legacy McDonnell is leaving behind in Richmond?
KIDDWell, you know, as we go into the new year, as we go into Terry McAuliffe's inaugural period, the possibility of indictment still hangs over Bob McDonnell's head. You know the question is still out. And he's been asked recently about that and he says I have no idea whether I'm going to be indicted or not. And so, you know, he ends his term as governor with that cloud hanging over his head. He did -- his administration did something -- as far as I know -- unprecedented in modern administrations. They published a really glossy 30 to 40 page pamphlet outlining all of the things that he's accomplished in his administration.
KIDDAnd when I received it I took it as an exclamation point, hey, we want you to pay attention to the things that we've accomplished and the things we've done, not scandal, and here they all are. And so I think they're really making an effort to begin the process of his legacy on a positive note, on accomplishments, as opposed to on scandal and potentially federal charges.
SHERWOODWhere does -- Quentin, this is Tom Sherwood. Where does he go? I don't think he's announced a job or anything like that. That scandal, the Washington Post -- I wish I remembered the reporter's name -- it was a remarkable -- reared up last March.
NNAMDIRosalind Helderman and Laura Vozzella.
SHERWOODJust reared up. Not only was it a bad thing, but it was poorly handled throughout. I mean, no matter how big and glossy the catalog is for him -- and many things are good -- it just seems to me that it's the introduction to Bob McDonnell for the rest of his life. And whenever he passes on they'll say yes, he did this and did that and transportation, but…
KIDDI think you're right because he's the first governor ever to be under federal investigation while governor. You know, so he has asterisks next to his name no matter what, whether he's indicted or not. I do think if he's not indicted, if the federal prosecutors choose not to do anything then he can credibly claim that he didn't do anything wrong. He didn't break any laws and that he had to deal with that in his last year, but it didn't amount to anything. And so I think he can try to move beyond that. But if he has to deal with charges, then that becomes his legacy, period, full stop.
KIDDI don't think the 30 or 40-page glossy matters.
NNAMDIWhen you say move beyond that, if he is not indicted or charged, do you think that the prospects for a national -- of running for national office are still, well, on the horizon somewhere?
KIDDI have a hard time envisioning that for him in the near future…
NNAMDIVery far off on the horizon?
KIDD…if ever. Yeah, I mean, but what I mean by that is there's a possibility that he could do some high profile things in Virginia and begin to maybe rehabilitate his reputation. And the reason I say that is because even despite all of this that he's gone through, his approval ratings remain relatively strong. I mean his approval ratings are in the low 50s upper 40s. They were in the 70s, so they've taken a hit. But I mean I think a lot of governors out there would love to have approval ratings in the upper 40s, low 50s.
SHERWOODYeah, he came to another radio station in town several weeks back. And I talked to him just outside afterwards. And it just struck me as he is the truly consummate Virginia gentleman, tough, conservative philosophy, unlike the most recent candidate for governor who we'll talk about in a moment. But he just seems to be a nice guy and I think that resonates with people, that this is a nice guy who let his family life spin out of control while he was in the governor's mansion. And he's a paid a dear price for it.
KIDDYeah, I think that's right. And I do think you've got a point there. I think there's a good number of people who blame family more than they blame him. And I think that has helped him. But I think Virginians just want to like their governor. I think it takes a lot for Virginians not to like their governor. They want to like their governor. And I think he's benefitting from that.
MADDENAnd, Quentin, when you look ahead for what this all means for the Virginia GOP and their ability to win the big statewide races like governor and lieutenant governor, will this scandal continue to be a drag or do you think they get to his a reset button? And what do you think the bigger problems are, in terms of the ability to win governor, given how the politicians are elected with the convention?
KIDDYeah, I think this scandal -- I think they moved beyond it very quickly, partly because they all want to move beyond it. They all want to move away from it, but I think primarily because the bigger challenge for the GOP in Virginia is dealing with the Ken Cuccinelli wing of the party, which, despite his loss, is still very powerful. They're entrenched in the House of Delegates.
KIDDAnd the nominating mechanism for choosing candidates for statewide office in Virginia -- as far as Republicans are concerned -- is still a convention. It still gives the advantage to the right wing of the party. And until they change those rules and start to attract more moderate statewide candidates, they're still going to be dealing with these issues.
KIDDSo I actually think that there's a low-grade civil war going on in the Republican Party of Virginia. It hasn't broken out into the open like people thought it might post-Ken Cuccinelli's loss, but I think it's coming. And I think it's going to be around the nominating process and how they nominate candidates for statewide office.
NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, we're talking with Quentin Kidd. He's a political science professor, chair of the Department of Government, and the director of the Wason Center for Public Policy, at Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Va. Joining me in studio is Tom Sherwood, resident analyst, reporter at NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. And Patrick Madden, who is a reporter for WAMU 88.5. He is our guest analyst. Tom?
SHERWOODWell, Quentin, you know the national Republican Party is engaged in all kinds of fights now about which direction they're going to go because of that recent agreement on a budget for the federal government, but then the Republicans did meet in the Homestead after the election. And it didn't sound -- and I think we had Corey Stewart on from Prince William County. And he, among others, were saying the Party's got to reset itself. And then they went into that weekend confab or whatever it was called, retreat, forward advance.
SHERWOODRight. And it didn't seem to advance. And now they're going to go into the legislative session. They're smarting. Ken Cuccinelli says he's not running against Mark Warner. Who might?
KIDDWell, I mean I think that's the million dollar question. And I would be surprised if we find any, you know, several months from now, if we find any top tier Republicans running against Mark Warner. If Bob McDonnell was in a good position in the public's mind, Mark Warner is in an even better position.
KIDDI mean, I think 99 percent of elected officials around the country would like to be in Mark Warner's position. Virginians love him. His approval ratings are high. They've been high since he left the governor's mansion. So we hear these names bandied about, Ed Gillespie, Barbara Comstock, Michael Farris even. I would be surprised if we get any top tier Republicans, meaning, you know, members of Congress or people like that who would want to run.
SHERWOODIf they do a convention again you could get -- A. W. Jackson could do a repeat.
KIDDThat's right. And I think, you know, people would say, okay, he's run for office a few times, he knows how to run for office, but I don't think he would be considered a top tier candidate because he's lost so decisively. I think they would see him as a fringe candidate, you know, the wider, sort of electorate out there. Right now I think Mark Warner's in a strong position and I think Republicans will put somebody up, but I think it'll be not a top tier candidate, at least as it looks right now.
NNAMDIOutside of the scandal surrounding Gov. Bob McDonnell, how much of his legacy is going to be shaped by whether the transportation bill is seen as a success or a failure in the long run?
KIDDKey, I think. I think that's the key to his long-term legacy. And I think there are two questions to that. Does the Federal Government -- Does the U.S. Congress allow for the internet taxation component, do they pass that component, which is a major funding part of Bob McDonnell's plan? And to what extent to tolls and the implementation of tolls make that transportation package so burdensome on Virginians that they decide they don't like it?
KIDDAnd those are two things that have to play out. In the Hampton Roads area people are furious about tolls. And I know that there's frustration in northern Virginia and other parts of the state about him. And so I think there's stuff yet to come on that element of his legacy.
NNAMDIOn now to incoming Gov. Terry McAuliffe. What issues do you think are likely to define his first legislative session as governor? And do you think that McDonnell's experience with the legislature can be informative or helpful for Terry McAuliffe?
KIDDYeah, I think. And, you know, it's interesting to hear both McDonnell and McAuliffe say that they talk a lot. I mean Terry McAuliffe said the other day that he talks to Bob McDonnell two to three times a day. That's a lot of communications. And I'd imagine McAuliffe is learning a lot.
SHERWOODI bet he's making the phone calls, too.
KIDDI’m sure he is. Terry McAuliffe says that he's talked to every single Republican member of the House of Delegates. And that says something to me. That says to me that he's making deals. And I think that's the key to a successful session, is can he make deals with Republicans to get things done, most critically an expansion of the Medicaid program, which is money to do the other things that he promised that he was going to do.
SHERWOODWell, he's basically a big fundraiser so I don't know how many dear principles he holds in terms of making deals to get things done. He frankly reminds me of a latter day LBJ, saying that he figures if he can just get you in the room, he can get you on his side in some way or another and you can make progress that he likes. That's the feeling I get from him.
KIDDI think that's a perfect analogy. And we've never seen a governor like this in Virginia. So it'll be fascinating to see this play out. He's a little bit blatant about it, as well. And I think in Virginia we like a little subtlety more than blatantness. And so I think it'll be fascinating to see how that plays out, as well.
MADDENAnd, Quentin, when you look ahead and you try to imagine a McAuliffe administration, what do you think will be -- you mentioned the Medicaid expansion -- what are some other big-ticket items that you think he's going to push for?
KIDDHe -- I'm interested to see how this plays out in terms of the different regions of the state. Terry McAuliffe has come to Hampton Roads a couple of times since he won the election. And he said to business leaders in the area, "This is my most important region." And I think that's really fascinating because I think he runs the risk of irritating northern Virginia, which is the biggest region of the state and the biggest economic region. And so I think he's got to walk a really fine line about, you know, unintentionally dividing parts of the state against each other. So I'll be curious to see how he plays that out.
KIDDHe claims that transportation is going to be a big part of what he tried to accomplish and I think it's just an indication that transportation is not a solved problem, despite Bob McDonnell's transportation package.
NNAMDIIf the general assembly does something about ethics, what kinds of reforms do you think it's likely to consider?
KIDDHere's my prediction on this. I think most of us who think major ethics reforms are needed are going to be disappointed. I think the general assembly will come out of this session synchronizing reporting requirements, expanding who has to report and what they have to report. We may see an expanded disclosure rules that reach across the families. I bet we don't see limits. I bet we don't see much more restrictions. And the real big question for me is are we going to see an independent statewide ethics commission? Terry McAuliffe supports it. I'm not sure many members of the general assembly do.
SHERWOODI think I would take that bet with you. (laughter) Bet anything (unintelligible).
NNAMDIGetting back to the Virginia GOP, Quentin. Are there any potential statewide stars emerging in that Party? There seems to be some excitement surrounding Susan Allen, the wife of former Governor and Senator George Allen, after a speech she gave earlier this month. Is she a comer?
KIDDWell, she may be. But you know the person I'm watching? Pete Snyder, none other than Pete Snyder. He played a really positive and constructive role in Ken Cuccinelli's campaign, after losing the lieutenant governor's campaign in the primary in the convention. He played a really constructive role in Ken Cuccinelli's campaign and he's been around the state talking to people. I think he sees an opportunity for himself in the GOP. And I think he thinks that he can walk a fine line between the right wing and the business wing. So I'll be watching him in the next year.
NNAMDIWell, are we at present burying Ken Cuccinelli's political future?
KIDDI think Ken Cuccinelli has basically put his political future on hold himself. And I, you know, I don't know where he's going to go, you know, but he has essentially said, "I'm out for a little while." I mean that's kind of the message that he sent.
NNAMDISo no more Ken Cuccinelli for a while. Final question, Tom Sherwood?
SHERWOODWell, I was just going to mention Tom Davis, former congressman, who loves to say seven terms in Congress, and that he resigned undefeated and unindicted. But it seems to me that northern Virginia and Hampton Roads are the future of the state in terms of politics. It used to be the three-corner offense, with the space around Roanoke, in the city of Richmond, as kind of the center.
SHERWOODBut it just seems to me the whole state has changed in ways that even the reporters don't quite see. You do a lot of polling, a part of that, and how has the state changed in the way that people should know? I mean Tom Davis says people in northern Virginia vote more like New Jersey than they do Virginia.
KIDDYeah, I think you're exactly right. I mean if you add Hampton Roads and northern Virginia together you're talking about 55 to 57 percent of the state's voting population. Those two regions -- I don't know if I would say New Jersey, I would say Maryland. I think northern Virginia and Hampton Roads voters are generally more Mid-Atlantic than southern. And they're more business oriented than socially conservative. You know, not that there aren't social conservatives, but I think those to regions are driving the state to look more like a Mid-Atlantic state than a southern state. And that's not going to stop. It's only going to accelerate as we go on.
NNAMDIQuentin Kidd, thank you so much for joining us.
KIDDTake care. You guys have a good New Year.
NNAMDIYou, too. Happy New Year to you. Quentin Kidd is author of the book, "The Rational Southerner: Black Mobilization Republican Growth and the Partisan Transformation of the American South." He's a political science professor and chair of the Department of Government and director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Va. Still with us, of course, is Tom Sherwood, our resident analyst.
NNAMDIHe's a reporter at NBC 4, columnist for the Current Newspapers. And Patrick Madden, WAMU 88.5 reporter is our guest analyst. Joining us now is Andy Green, opinion editor at The Baltimore Sun. Andy, thank you for joining us.
MR. ANDREW A. GREENOh, always a pleasure to talk to you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAndy, the gubernatorial campaign in Maryland has only been going on officially for a few months and we've already seen a salacious beach week scandal, accusations of camping, espionage, sniping over dangerous driving and unpaid speeding tickets, and lately over the healthcare exchange. What are your expectations for how much uglier this primary can get and how voters are likely to respond to the candidates if this continues?
GREENIt really feels like the sky's the limit, doesn't it?
NNAMDIYes, it does.
GREENYeah, the major players here are Anthony Brown, lieutenant governor, who is now in a position of having to defend his performance on the rollout of Maryland's Obamacare exchange. He was very proudly promoting himself as having been the point man on this, which addresses kind of the perennial concern you have about lieutenant governors, which is what exactly have you been doing all of this time since, you know, the lieutenant governor has no responsibilities whatsoever, under the constitution. So he was promoting himself as having been in charge of that and other major initiatives.
GREENNow it's not looking so good to have been in charge of Maryland's Obamacare exchange, since it's performing at the bottom end nationally, and as others have gotten much better in recent weeks, Maryland's has still been lagging behind.
NNAMDISo is he repositioning himself?
GREENYeah, he's trying to sort of thread this needle of I was in charge the policy. I was relying on others for the implementation. The woman who is the director of the exchange resigned after it was reported in the Sun that she had been in the Cayman's for a week with no access to telephone, email or text messages. And there is a sense that she was going to be sort of the fall guy for this. But I don't think Anthony Brown is getting out of this one that easily. It's the first real stumbling block he's faced.
SHERWOODAnd when that happened a short time ago, doesn't it rubberstamp him as kind of the status-quo candidate? He's gotten all those endorsements and…
GREENYeah, he's (unintelligible)…
SHERWOOD…he's just, again, O'Malley III. Even though, people like O'Malley I just wonder if he's typecast himself as the status quo candidate, that usually doesn't play well in elections.
GREENYeah, it's a little bit of a different situation than it was, say, with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend eight years -- or more than eight years ago, now twelve years ago.
GREENWhen she was really coming out as the Glendening III in a lot of people's minds and Parris Glendening was not that popular at the time. Martin O'Malley is still reasonably popular in Maryland. Nonetheless, you're right. He was coming out with all of these endorsements, basically the entire democratic establishment in the state has endorsed this guy, including, of course, his boss, Martin O'Malley. And a lot of people in the political world were scratching their heads a little bit at this because typically you do want to position yourself as being a little bit different, not more of the same because voters do tend to want that.
GREENIn the meantime, some of the other interesting stories that Kojo eluded to all relate to Attorney General Doug Gansler, who before he even announced his campaign was defending himself against reports that he had, at a supposedly private campaign event talked about Anthony Brown running solely on sort of a racial appeal in his campaign. Anthony Brown is African American, Doug Gansler is white. Then there was a story in the Post about Doug Gansler supposedly ordering the state troopers who drive him around to speed and run red lights and drive on the shoulder and all sorts of nefarious and potentially dangerous things.
GREENAnd then in the Sun we had photo of Doug Gansler at a raucous teenage beach week party in Delaware, attended by his son who had just graduated from high school. Which led to a big controversy, particularly because Mr. Gansler had appeared in public service announcements counseling against underage drinking, which was quite obviously going on at the time. So he's had no end of troubles. In the meantime, in the Democratic primary you've got perhaps the little engine that could in delegate Heather Mizeur.
SHERWOODBut before we talk about her, I'd say in 2013, looking back over it, I was most stunned -- having seen Doug Gansler -- has quite of a strong personality -- let's put it that way.
SHERWOODBut I've always thought and seen him, what he did in Annapolis, as very controlled and organized. And he methodically prepared himself to run up for governor. And I was just really surprised at these tire blowouts at 60 miles an hour at the start of his campaign. Some people think it was orchestrated by the others, but, you know, if he hadn't have done any of those things they couldn't have happened. Were you surprised that he had such a rocky rollout of his campaign?
GREENWell, I've certainly always known Mr. Gansler is somebody who, as you say, as a strong political organization and has been very successful. But someone who is also not as tight and controlled and scripted as a lot of politicians are. And what I think has given him trouble, as much as the reports of these stories themselves, has been in some cases his reaction to them. Like going on the air with your friend and mine, Bruce DePuyt and calling the state trooper who had complained about his behavior in the car a henchmen of O'Malley and Brown.
GREENWhich led the state police to issue kind of a statement defending this guy. And some of the things that he said in response to the beach week incident certainly, initially I think, set a tone that was jarring to a lot of people. And so I think that's where he's had the problem, in that his reactions, particularly in off-the-cuff situations have sometimes been maybe not as well thought through as (unintelligible) …
SHERWOODIs his running mate helping him to calm the waters? Jolene Ivey.
GREENWell, I think Jolene Ivey is very well liked. She's just not that well known outside of Prince George's County and outside of legislative circles just yet. But, you know, she's a very appealing person. She's, you know, well spoken. She's been involved in a lot of issues that people care about. And I think she's definitely a good presence on the ticket, but people vote for the top of the ticket, not the lieutenant governor. There's a limit to what she can do.
NNAMDIWe're talking with Andy Green. He is the opinion editor at The Baltimore Sun. You were talking about Heather Mizeur. Where does she fit into all of this right now? She's been saying this fall that she feels she can be the Bill de Blasio of this race and outflank Anthony Brown and Doug Gansler from the progressive side.
GREENYes. She's certainly giving that a shot. She's advocating for higher taxes on the rich. She's advocating for a minimum wage of $16.70 an hour by 2022. She's advocating flat-out legalization of marijuana. She's more aggressive in her education campaign pledges than the other candidates. You know, she's definitely trying a progressive strategy in this race.
GREENAnd I think people are going to be surprised at how well she does with that. You know, Maryland has always been a Democratic state, but has not necessarily always been a liberal or progressive state. And there have been a lot of trends of conservative Democrats -- or a strong tradition of conservative Democrats in the state, either socially or fiscally or both.
GREENBut you've seen in the last few years a real emergence of aggressive left on environmental issues, on economic issues, on social issues. And I think she's really tapping into that. She has also not made the kind of stumbles that Mr. Gansler has. She hasn't had a problem, in terms of people questioning, you know, her ability to manage things as Anthony Brown is experiencing. The problem she has of course is she's a delegate and it's extremely hard to get elected from the House of Delegates to the governor's mansion. She's not going to have anywhere near the kind of money these other guys are going to have. And she's really building from scratch in a way that they aren't.
GREENSo we may not be able to get a perfect read on where things stand in terms of progressives versus more centrist Democrats in the state right now, but, you know, I'm betting she is going to surprise people by the percentage of the vote she gets in the end.
NNAMDIHere's Patrick Madden.
MADDENAnd, Andy, speaking of betting, how would you handicap this race right now? Where do the campaigns stand and looking ahead what issues, what events out there could help move the needle in this race?
GREENYeah, the conventional wisdom and I think it's probably right, is that Anthony Brown is a favorite in this race by virtue of his name recognition, by virtue of his connection to Martin O'Malley and Martin O'Malley's ability to help him. You know, certainly the O'Malley machine is unparalleled in the state, both in terms of raising money and in terms of turning out votes. That's all a big advantage. Anthony Brown would be the first African American governor in Maryland.
GREENThe African American vote is hugely important in the Democratic primary and that will no doubt help him to some extent. You know, I don't expect that to be monolithic in his favor, but I think it certainly is an advantage. That said, what happens with the Maryland insurance exchange is going to be very important for him as time goes on. The question is, is the state in a position where it's pretty quickly going to be able to correct the problems of this website and move on or is this going to be an issue that keeps dogging him over the course of the next six months.
SHERWOODSo those people who say that Gansler has stumbled and fallen out of the race are wrong?
GREENI would say that Doug Gansler certainly has a lot of ground to make up that he didn't need to have, but that said, he is also a guy who's been elected statewide. He's got a lot of money in the bank. And he's certainly not giving up. That's for sure.
SHERWOODAnything in the legislature coming up that could be trap for either of the two major candidates?
GREENYou know it doesn't look like it. The big issue, so far as I can tell, coming into this year is going to be raising the minimum wage in Maryland. And all the candidates are pretty much on the same page as far as that goes, or at least all the Democratic candidates I should say.
SHERWOODAsk about casinos, any feel about casinos and how that's going to play out in the state or is that all over now since -- picking who's going to get them.
GREENYeah, my guess is that's not going to be a big issue in this race. We'll have a decision about who's going to have this Prince George's County casino. You know, the Baltimore Casino is busily rising south of the stadiums here in town.
SHERWOODWhen does that open?
GREENIt's not opening until I think 2015. It's still got a ways to go.
SHERWOODI was thinking about coming up to go to that casino and maybe take in an Orioles game because, you know, I'm one of those people, I have not been to an Orioles game since the Nats opened the stadium -- exactly what the Orioles' management feared.
GREENYeah, well, Camden Yards is still mighty nice. But in any case, so I don't see that as being a big issue right now. Once you legalize gambling in a state there's always going to be more issues, people are going to want something more and something different. But my guess is we're not going to see much of that between now and the election.
NNAMDIAndy, where are the key battlegrounds likely to be in this primary? All of the gubernatorial tickets include someone from Prince George's County. None of them have anyone from Baltimore City.
GREENOr Baltimore County.
NNAMDIOr Baltimore County.
GREENYeah, I think that, you know, Baltimore City and Baltimore County are up for grabs to a great extent. Anthony Brown certainly has an advantage in Baltimore because of Martin O'Malley's health. But, you know, Baltimore County, there are a lot of Democratic primary voters there. That's going to be up for grabs. And certainly to whatever extent the outlying areas of the state, I think those are up for grabs. But you're going to see, you know, Prince George's -- despite the fact that you've got a candidate from there -- is going to be heavily contested.
GREENYou know, Doug Gansler is not giving up on that. And you're certainly going to see some fighting in Montgomery County as well, but the place where the real votes are up for grabs, I think, is in the Baltimore region.
SHERWOODAnd Ken Ulman? What's…
GREENYeah, Ken Ulman helps you in Howard County, but there's just not enough people there to really sway the election one way or the other. And he's a guy who I think is well respected for the job that he's done as Howard County executive, but he's in the unfortunate position of not really being seen as a Baltimore guy and certainly not really being seen as a Washington guy. So he's kind of in no man's land as far as the geography of this race goes.
NNAMDIWhat, if anything, are you watching most closely on the Republican side and where are Republicans in Maryland looking for potential leaders who might be able to revive the Party?
GREENThere's actually a pretty good primary going on on the Republican side for governor. You've got Hartford County executive David Craig, who's a former legislator and well thought of and has generally been considered a moderate, although he's been tacking to the right in this primary. You've got Delegate Ron George from Annapolis, a local businessman. You've got Charles Lollar, who's also a businessman from southern Maryland, who has a little bit of a following in certain parts of the Republican Party.
GREENAnd then getting into the race a little bit on the late side is Larry Hogan, a former Ehrlich cabinet official who was head of this group, Change Maryland, that's been kind of making a lot of connections among people who are dissatisfied with the direction of where Maryland is going. So you're going to see a lot of competition on that side and the possibility of a strong candidate coming out of there. The problem is, of course, Maryland is so heavily stacked against Republicans, something pretty extraordinary would have to happen, I think, for a Republican to win.
NNAMDIWhat's the next year for Martin O'Malley going to be like?
GREENHe's not got a whole lot left on his to-do list in Annapolis. He's put his weight behind the minimum wage increase and I'm sure he'll get that through. Otherwise, he certainly needs to clean up the insurance exchange website. That's a real black eye for him since his nascent presidential campaign, such as it is, has been focusing on him as this technocratic kind of leader.
GREENHe's all about city stat and state stat and this data-driven management and, you know, government can do things, can accomplish things, is competent and being unable to do this when many other states have been much more successful. I mean, Kentucky for Pete's sake, has 20 times more people signed up for health plans than Maryland does.
GREENThat does not look good for him. You know, it doesn't play well in terms of general Democratic politics to have been screwing up on Obamacare and in particular, given the appeal that he's trying to make, is something that he really needs to fix.
GREENAnd he also needs to make sure that nothing more comes out of this jail scandal we've had in Baltimore.
NNAMDIYeah, we just had...
MADDENAnd, Andy, I was just going to ask you about that. There have been, I think, what, over two dozen correctional officers now indicted. This has been going on for a long time. How damaging is this to O'Malley and if he does run for the presidency?
NNAMDIJust had a resignation from the head of corrections.
GREENYes. It's not good because this scandal unfortunately has sex involved, which always makes people pay more attention. And the guy who is the alleged kingpin of the drug-smuggling operation there, an inmate named Tavon White, apparently impregnated four prison guards during the course of his time there. And that tends to get people's attention, you know. Corruption in...
SHERWOODHad that happened in the District of Columbia, Congress would have taken over the city (unintelligible).
NNAMDIYes, I think so, too. Mm hmm.
GREENYeah, probably so. Yeah. It's one of those things where certainly gang presence in prisons is not news, or the fact of corruption in prisons is not news. But this -- the details of this particular case were so salacious that it's grabbed people's attention, and I think that's something that Gov. O'Malley's going to have to overcome as well. But the real thing he has to overcome in his presidential ambitions is Hillary Clinton. Let's be honest about it.
SHERWOODWell, maybe he's running to be her vice president like people thought the last time around. It's -- or I was going to ask you about Maryland going to the Big Ten. But I guess we don't have time.
NNAMDIWe don't have a lot of time, but you can answer that.
GREENYes. Well, I'm from Illinois, so I'm all for it.
SHERWOODAnother team to easily beat.
NNAMDIBefore we go, Andy, what are some stories to watch when the General Assembly gets back to work?
GREENWell, like I said, I think the minimum wage is going to be the big push this year. The question is going to be how much, how fast, what kind of limitations are put on it, and whether it's tied to inflation or some other measure, so that it automatically rises in the future.
NNAMDIAndy Green is the opinion editor at The Baltimore Sun. Andy, thank you so much for joining us.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Patrick Madden is our guest analyst. He's a reporter at WAMU 88.5. On to the District of Columbia where the royal rumble for the Democratic mayoral election is officially on. The mayor is running for reelection. There's a parade of council members and ambitious newcomers out there challenging him already. Who commands the advantage, Patrick, as we start this New Year?
MADDENI would say the mayor right now commands the advantage just because he is the incumbent. As far as the investigation into what happened in 2010, that -- there has been no movement on that yet. So I think that he has all the powers of being the mayor. The economy is strong. The real estate market is booming. Major crime has been going down under his watch. So he can point to a number of things and say, I have done all this as mayor, and I will keep doing that.
MADDENHis big -- well, he's had a number of big problems. One obviously will be this investigation and what happens with it. Raising money, I think, will be somewhat of an issue. But, again, as mayor, it's -- I think it's easier than it is for anyone else to just to be able to raise money, especially when you have a whole host of projects and economic development RFPs that are going out. So it'll be pretty easy, I think, for him to raise money.
NNAMDITom Sherwood, obviously the mayor will want to focus on his performance as mayor. The question of whether or not he will be able to do that is up in the air because, as Patrick mentioned, the investigation is ongoing for one and, for two, he has never fully addressed exactly what happened in that campaign.
SHERWOODThat's true. You know, just within a few days, Jan. 2 is the deadline for the -- any candidate to put his or her petitions in to be qualified for the ballot for the April 1 primary. The mayor had to get into the race in early December because, had he not, he would have been a lame duck for 13 months. He didn't want that. He wants to be mayor again. He does -- I don't think he has some secret knowledge of what's going to happen from the prosecutors. I don't think any of us have secret knowledge of what's going to happen.
SHERWOODBut clearly you -- the key point here is the -- you just made it. Editorial pages have made it. Columnists have made it. It's that the mayor cannot expect to skate through the primary by saying, oh, I don't want to talk about 2010. I don't want to do that. That's -- you know, it's under investigation. His lawyer has told him not to talk about it. But because of the...
NNAMDIHis lawyer's not running for office.
SHERWOODThose lawyers -- the goal of the lawyers, one defense attorney famously told me, is to keep my client out of jail. That's the court of law. The court of public opinion is that people want to know, as they sign up for his campaign committee, if they sign up for his reelection bid, or if they're just simply a voter in Ward 5 sitting there wondering whether or not the mayor cheated to get into the mayor's race in 2010 and should we reward him for that by saying, oh, I don't want to talk about it?
SHERWOODSo I think the mayor has a very difficult position as he runs. But I agree with Patrick. In a four- or five-person race, he certainly has -- if there are no charges brought against him -- certainly has an opportunity to win the renomination.
NNAMDI'Cause that would...
SHERWOODThat's what David Catania was hoping for 'cause he's got the Exploratory Committee.
NNAMDIWe'll get that...
SHERWOODAnd he believes, I think -- he hasn't said it as clearly as I'm about to say it -- that if Mayor Gray wins, then David Catania believes he can coalesce all the opposition against the mayor and win in November, which would be extraordinary in the November election.
NNAMDIPatrick, what do you think Vincent Gray sees as his path to victory or whatever comment you were going to make?
MADDENWell, I just think his path is based on the fact that there are now six -- five, six viable candidates also running in the race, which is going to split up the vote from a lot of different wards. So I think the fact is it's not going to take 50 percent to win this race. Thirty percent might be...
MADDENOr less might be the number that you need to hit. And I think he right now probably has the best shot of doing that given how many -- all the four council members running, they're all trying to distinguish themselves -- five, if you count Catania. So it's going to be very difficult for these council members to try to, you know, create some space for themselves. And I think that always helps the mayor.
SHERWOODThere are not a lot of sharp, philosophical issues. And we just talked a moment ago about, like, the minimum wage and things like that. The D.C. Council's passed the Minimum Wage Bill. And the mayor didn't want as much as they passed, but, you know, he doesn't have the votes to block it to override it.
SHERWOODSo going forward, there aren't that many huge issues. So ethics will play one of the most major -- I mean, Tommy Wells has been the most bold about it saying the mayor cannot run again because of the ethics issues. And the other candidates have been very critical, too, so it's going to be somewhat ugly.
NNAMDIOf all of the other candidates lined up to challenge Gray, who among them provides the starkest contrast to the way he has governed as mayor? And, you know, I hear the name David Catania coming up. That's not till November.
SHERWOODWell, I know...
NNAMDIWe're looking at April here for a primary.
SHERWOODI don't -- again, I don't think that there's a -- if Muriel Bowser from Ward 4 wins or if Tommy Wells wins from Ward 6 or if Jack Evans from Ward 2 wins, they all have a working knowledge of the government. Some people have said Jack Evans has the best knowledge of the government. It's just not whether he can run the best campaign. But they all have the ability to become mayor. If Andy Shallal were the -- who's making his first bid for office or Reba (sic) Lewis...
SHERWOODReba -- I always want to say Reba Jo. Reta -- oh, it's not Reta. Anyway, if she won, they would be new. They would just -- like I sound new on this radio show, they would have a difficult time starting up a government. But the other candidates -- Vincent Orange -- if they were to win, they know how the government runs. It wouldn't be that big of a deal.
NNAMDIReta Jo Lewis, yes.
MADDENLike, I agree with Tom. I think each candidate has their strength. I mean, Tommy Wells can sort of point to ethics and campaign finance reform. Muriel Bowser will point to economic development and her ability. And she has raised a ton of money and hasn't spent it, unlike Jack Evans...
NNAMDI(unintelligible) point that the Verizon Center national spot in...
MADDENYeah. And Jack Evans will point to his long career on the financing...
MADDEN...revenue, all of the different projects in the city. Andy Shallal, Reta Jo Lewis, they're the outsiders in this race, so they bring their own perspective. So I think everyone will have something to run on. It's just a question of, can they break through all the noise that will be happening?
SHERWOODAnd will the U.S. Atty. Ronald Machen...
SHERWOOD...do something that affects the mayor? If Machen at some point says...
NNAMDIYes. He'll -- Ronald Machen is already a factor in this race.
SHERWOODAnd Garcia's in….
NNAMDIWhether or not he becomes a more decisive factor is...
SHERWOODHe's got the hand on the lever that will be the trap door for the mayor or might build a -- what if the U.S. attorney decides that he's done all he can do criminally on this 2010 campaign and refers it back to the Board of Elections for review of the ethical and administrative problems of that campaign, of which there were? And so the mayor could face fines and hearings and all kinds of stuff about that campaign, which still could affect him. But if the U.S. attorney drops the investigation and says, I'm done with Mayor Gray, that's a big boost for him.
NNAMDILet's focus more specifically on at-large Councilmember David Catania. He is maneuvering to make an Independent run for mayor in the General Election. If he does indeed run, what's the path to victory that he sees for himself? What would it take for an Independent candidate in this predominantly Democratic town to make a serious challenge to a Democratic nominee?
MADDENWell, I think you have to look at a number of things. One, obviously you start from a significant disadvantage when it comes to voters. Democrats hold a 9-to-1 voting edge in this town. But I think if you gained out the scenario, if you are David Catania, you're hoping that Mayor Gray emerges bruised and battered, that there are still significant questions surrounding the 2010 campaign. And unlike a crowded Democratic primary where there are so many different voices...
NNAMDIAllow me to interrupt for a second to ask Tom Sherwood this. Mayor Gray emerges bruised and battered. But he's emerging bruised and battered in April for an election that's taking place in November underscoring the disgruntlement that so many people have with how early this primary campaign is. Does he have time to dust himself off and brush himself off by the time November comes around?
SHERWOODYes is the short answer to that question. But, you know, the election on April the 1st is -- first of all, was stupid. It was a mistake to be on April 1.
MADDENIt was April Fools.
SHERWOODYou know, it opens them up to ridiculous national coverage of calling these foolish people running for office on April Fools Day 'cause it could have easily been in June like the Maryland primary. But they didn't do it. So, yes, if the mayor struggles, as Patrick just said, through the primary and wins, he's got time to -- he's the incumbent mayor -- to build a coalition, to defeat David Catania in November. But it's just very, very ugly at this point. We don't know. David Catania is going around visiting every school in the city.
SHERWOODHe's making education the heart and soul of his campaign -- his exploratory campaign. He doesn't even have to decide whether he's going to run for mayor until well after April 1.
MADDENBut I think there's...
NNAMDIBack to bruised and battered.
MADDENBut I think there's been one issue with Councilmember Catania and his education push, is that he has sort of made -- I wouldn't say made an enemy. But he's definitely -- there's been a lot of problems with The Washington Post Editorial Board over his push for a lot of these education reforms, locking horns with Kaya Henderson in other issues. And I think if -- you know, if -- looking ahead, if Catania wants to run as an Independent, he's going to need all of the different forces outside the local Democratic Party to align with him. He's going to need The Washington Post Editorial Board.
SHERWOODI would -- I think the Editorial Board is very worried about what happens with school reform. It was certainly worried when Mayor Gray won. Gray has continued the reforms with Kaya Henderson. David Catania has said he likes a lot of the thing that Kaya Henderson is doing. He was worried about middle school. She's worried about middle schools. That is the next linchpin in the boundary changes that are going to be occurring. There's just a lot of volatility and how the school reform will look in the few months going forward.
NNAMDIIs race going to be a factor in this campaign? Ever since the city has had home rule, all of its mayors have been African-American. There is the distinct possibility in this campaign that, whether it's in the primary or in the General Election, somebody who is not African-American may emerge. Is that a factor? Is race still a factor in campaigns -- in this mayoral campaign in Washington (unintelligible) ?
MADDENI think definitely it will be a factor, especially as you mentioned the prospect of the first white mayor of D.C. That will become an issue. I think anytime you look at, you know, which wards are going to be supporting which candidates, race is always an issue with that. So I think, as you try to figure out which candidate's the strongest going forward, race will be a big part of that. And that's also why Mayor Gray coming back into the race (unintelligible) dynamic.
NNAMDIThe question is to...
NNAMDIThe question is, to whose advantage will it operate?
SHERWOODWell, yes, race is a factor in every aspect of our lives. So certainly a factor in our election politics. David Catania, (unintelligible) if we just play it out if it's him and Gray, Catania, whether you liked his work as the chairman of the Health Committee helped keep United Medical Center open -- Greater Southeast Hospital, now United Medical Center. Whether you think that's a foolish thing -- the city should sell and get rid of it. He's known..
NNAMDIThe scuttlebutt, if you can -- may indulge in that for a second in the city, is that David Catania's a politician who can get a lot of black votes.
SHERWOODYes. He has a record of it. And going around to the schools and spending as much time as -- he's been to, I think, 105 schools now. He's a well-known politician in town, unlike some of the others. He's a white, male, gay, former Republican, Independent, strong-willed, some say hotheaded candidate. He...
NNAMDIDavid's a lot of things.
SHERWOODThose are things that make you a, you know, give you presence as a politician. You know, there are no shrinking violets here who run for office. And you can't -- so I think he has a good opportunity. Whoever the Democratic nominee is, it's not an easy go. But -- and we don't even know if he'll actually make the -- he's got to give up his council seat to run. Up or out.
NNAMDIWhat are some of the other races on the ballot that you'll be watching closely? We had recently Jim Graham in studio from Ward 1. He is running for election. He faces challenges. Bryan Weaver ran against him in 2010 and lost. Brianne Nadeau, Beverley Wheeler, anybody likely to emerge in Ward 1?
MADDENI think you -- as you mentioned...
NNAMDI'Cause there's always possibilities.
MADDENThere's always possibility. I think it is a very crowded competitive race right now. If you just look at the fundraising figures, you have Bryan Weaver and Brianne -- I believe it's Nadeau.
MADDENNadeau. Both are posting strong numbers. And so I think that's going to be a very interesting race to watch. Ward 6 is also very close with...
SHERWOODTommy Wells is giving up his seat.
MADDENYep. Tommy Wells is giving up his seat...
NNAMDIAs former chief-of-staff, Charles Allen is running for the seat. But his opponents include former Harry Reid staffer Darrel Thompson. He's already launched a campaign. And blogger and ANC activist David Garber is a rumored candidate -- that according to Loose Lips.
SHERWOODHe -- yeah, but David doesn't appear to be -- he seems not to be getting in -- the time is short now. We're just days away from the deadline for the petitions.
SHERWOODSo at this moment, there is no startling case of close contest. Even in Ward 1, if you have a divided field, you know, Jim Graham did something fairly smart. He waited and did this exploratory thing, which is unusual for such a veteran councilmember. He gave in time to see the field develop around him, and so therefore he's prepared to run in a split field. And in split field, usually the incumbent wins.
NNAMDIYou're right. The advantages of incumbency. And at-large Anita Bonds defending the seat she won in a special election in April of this year. Her opponents will include shadow representative Nate Bennett-Fleming. Elissa Silverman, who ran strong in the 2013 special election, has said, so far, she is not planning on running. So, again, advantage of incumbency.
SHERWOODYes. Yes. Just think -- Elissa is good. We should have her in to talk about her race, you know, the last time. It's extraordinary when you've been inside a campaign and seen how tiring it is, how just withering it can be for your health, your finances, your family life, your personal life. It's a very major -- that's why I respect politicians. It's so easy for reporters to disparage politicians. I respect what they try to do to get into an office, and to stay in office.
NNAMDIWard 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh does not have a Democratic challenger thus far, so it looks like she's likely to be a shoo-in?
MADDENYep. I mean, that was surprising to me that no one has jumped in to that race.
SHERWOOD(unintelligible) well, let's see, I (unintelligible) endorse Mayor Gray again. She called for him to resign, so I guess she won't be endorsing Mayor Gray (unintelligible)...
MADDENRight. That may have been the first endorse and resign in the same year.
SHERWOODThat's right. But, you know, endorsements, they really don't play that big of a deal in this city.
NNAMDIWard 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie is up for reelection. There are several candidates circulating petitions to prepare challenges, but no one yet has emerged as a serious challenger in that race. And Paul Zukerberg is still making the case for the city to hold election for attorney general that voters said they wanted in a 2014 ballot referendum. But the council says, we're not ready yet.
SHERWOODWell, the courts will decide about all of that. But it's, you know, as a citizen of the city, when people vote overwhelmingly to hold this election, it's bad that we did not.
NNAMDIPatrick Madden is our guest analyst. He's a reporter for WAMU 88.5. Patrick, thank you so much for joining us. Happy holidays. Happy New Year to you.
MADDENThank you, Kojo. Happy holidays.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a reporter at NBC 4 and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Happy holidays. Happy New Year.
SHERWOODBest New Year's wishes to everyone.
NNAMDIThank you all for listening. Happy New Year to you. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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