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Every seat in Maryland’s General Assembly is up for grabs in 2014 – as are all its statewide offices. The results of primary elections for those seats, and a bevy of positions at the county level, could have profound implications on a number of critical issues in our region. Kojo explores the results of Maryland’s primaries and examines what they may mean for communities throughout the area.
- Matt Bush Maryland Reporter, WAMU 88.5
- Brian Frosh Democratic Nominee, Attorney General, Maryland; Member, Maryland Senate (D- Dist. 16- Montgomery County)
- Mark Plotkin Political Analyst
Watch A Featured Clip
Maryland Democratic Attorney General nominee and State Sen.
Brian Frosh talks with Kojo Nnamdi, Mark Plotkin and WAMU 88.5’s Matt Bush on what issues he hopes to address if he secures a seat in November’s general election.
Watch Full Video
Watch the full video of Democratic Attorney General nominee Sen. Brian Frosh in studio.
A Look At The Democratic Race For Governor
The big win in the Maryland primaries Tuesday night was Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who confirmed predictions in the polls with a victory over challengers Doug Gansler and Heather Mizeur.
Brown’s victory in the Democratic primary for governor was “not a surprise” for many supporters and voters in Tuesday’s election.
The surprise came in how quickly Brown earned the victory — just more than an hour after polls closed and before returns from Montgomery County were filed.
Low turnout likely helped Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur stay close to Doug Gansler in the race for a Democratic nod for governor, with 21 percent of the vote to Gansler’s 23.8 percent with 55 percent of precincts reporting.
But she also ran a positive campaign, and as a result, had very few negative attacks against her.
Watch WAMU 88.5 host Kojo Nnamdi and reporter Matt Bush talk about Mizeur’s campaign and her future.
–Erica R. Hendry
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. The next chapter of Maryland politics will begin with a few familiar faces, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown won the state's Democratic nomination for governor yesterday and he will square off in the upcoming general election against the Republican nominee Larry Hogan who's known to Marylanders across the state as a cabinet official under former governor Bob Ehrlich.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIBrown says he's not running simply to continue what current governor Martin O'Malley has put in motion, but the state is now set for a general election where voters may hear as much about the state's two previous governors as they hear about the men looking to be the next one. Joining us to sort through what the results of last night's statewide and local primaries, including a very close-watched race for attorney general, means for the future of Maryland and the D.C. region is Matt Bush. He's a reporter for WAMU 88.5. Matt, good to see you again. Did you get any sleep last night?
MR. MATT BUSHI got a little bit, yeah. I'm good.
NNAMDI'Cause I heard you on Morning Edition this morning, even though you left here late last night. Also in studio with us is Mark Plotkin. He's a political analyst and contributor to the BBC. Mark Plotkin, good to see you.
MR. MARK PLOTKINGood to be asked back. I'm not often asked back.
NNAMDIWell, this may be the last time. You, too, can join the conversation. Call us at 800-433-8850 if you have comments or questions about last night's elections. Or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can shoot us a tweet @kojoshow. How do you explain Anthony Brown's landslide victory in the Democratic primary for governor yesterday in Maryland? The number, again, 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIGentlemen, polls pretty much held up in the two races at the top of the ticket. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown appeared to be running in front of fellow Democrats, Doug Gansler and Heather Mizeur right from the jump. He appears to have won by about 25 percentage points. Mark Plotkin, I'll start with you. To what do you attribute his victory?
PLOTKINWell, I hate to quote anybody but myself, but there was a comment, maybe Matt can help me out. A professor who is always quoted in The Post, in the Gansler bio or profile, said that Doug is a victim of his own virtues. And I thought that was a terrific line. I wish I had thought of it myself. Doug Gansler has been running for president, not for governor, since he was five years old.
PLOTKINHis own mother says that. And I've gone to his fundraisers, obviously not contributed, since he was the attorney general. This was supposed to be -- the governorship was just a midway position to even higher political office. He's an extroverted, big-hearted, confident person who had some early stumbles...
PLOTKIN...and including telling state troopers, allegedly, to hurry up and drive on the side of the road.
BUSHHe says that's a lie. He said he thinks that was made up, the report was made up.
PLOTKINI did say allegedly. Film of him at his son's beach party and his overall persona, either you like Gansler or you don't. And also, the political establishment, I saw Mike Miller, the state senate president, who said, look, he's gonna get clobbered. He predicted this about a month ago. He said everybody -- he's on everybody's ballot that is the palm cards and (word?) that they would pass out.
PLOTKINAnd the role of outsider didn't -- and Brown had a sterling resume with no visible sins.
NNAMDIAnd the endorsement of much of the political establishment in the state.
BUSHAlmost all of the political establishment in the state got behind Anthony Brown and Doug Gansler had the issues at the beginning, but his campaign never seemed to know what to do after that. They got hit with those writers they were starting and then after that, I don't think they knew -- they were constantly playing catch-up. They were constantly trying to push these things out of the way and get to other points.
BUSHBut at the same time, he spent an awful lot of time focusing on one issue and that was the healthcare website and the rollout of the healthcare law in Maryland that Lt. Governor...
PLOTKINAnd blaming Brown for it.
BUSHRight. That he oversaw and he never really got to the other things he wanted to do, to sit and maybe talk to other Democrats and say, I'm not a part of the establishment. If you're upset with certain things that have happened in the last eight years, I'm the person to vote for. He never got to that message.
PLOTKINHe also ran as a conservative Democrat in a Democratic primary where progressives and liberals and they're not ashamed of that moniker came out. He was for cutting the corporate income tax rate. He was -- said we can't spend all this money on pre-kindergarten. He also tried to take -- tried to initiate, on the liberal side, the same-sex marriage thing, but it just never resonated and Brown was a very disciplined candidate.
PLOTKINGansler just didn't catch fire. I also thought, Doug, who raised a lot of money, felt that he was gonna out raise.
BUSHAnd he did, at first. The first polls showed that and then once Ken Ulman joined Anthony Brown's ticket, and Ulman had been looking at his own bid possibly, those monies sort of merged together and then Brown was on even par for...
BUSHI knew he was in trouble when I was hearing ads from Jolene Ivey, who lives as delegate from Prince George's, her husband, Glenn Ivey, the state's attorney, a really...
NNAMDIFormer state's attorney.
BUSHThank you, former state's attorney. Saying to African American voters who are about a third of the primary electorate that, it reeked of desperation, is that because Gansler supported Obama in 2008, that black voters should vote for him. And the inference was that Brown was not sufficiently black.
NNAMDINot sufficiently black. But it also appears that the accusations against Lt. Gov. Brown over his role in the rollout of Obamacare in Maryland just didn't stick.
BUSHI don't think so. Again, you're in a Democratic primary. If this were a general election, it may have been different. But Democrats, obviously, support the law and I think the person that's going to pay the ultimate price for the problems with the rollout, should they continue as we've seen so much, this is sort of falling off the wayside as an issue nationally as the law becomes more firmly entrenched, if anyone ends up paying the price for it, it's gonna be Martin O'Malley, I believe, if he runs for a national office in the Democratic...
PLOTKINMartin O'Malley of Iowa?
BUSHAnd that was -- you could tell the confidence they had Brown was going to win if O'Malley was campaigning in Iowa last week.
NNAMDIThis is true. We're talking about the Maryland primaries yesterday with political analyst Mark Plotkin and WAMU 88.5 reporter Matt Bush. If you have comments or questions on any aspect of this, what do you think accounted for the next topic we're going to get to, the low turnout in Maryland across the board in yesterday' primary, 800-433-8850. To what do you attribute the general lack of interest in this primary election across the state?
NNAMDITurnout appears to have been low in almost every jurisdiction. At one point...
BUSHIt was lower than the predictions.
NNAMDIAt one point in the day -- yeah, a Baltimore city councilman said the turnout was heartbreaking and one other individual said in 58 years or since 1958, I should say, he has not seen a lower turnout than this. Of course, the numbers are not out as yet.
BUSHRight. But it's looking around the -- Montgomery County was around 16 percent and that was beneath the predictions that everybody was putting out of 20 percent statewide. So if that's what the highest or the largest jurisdiction in the state was turning out, there you go. A lot of it had to do with changing it. We saw some issues in D.C. with changing, moving the primary up, though, D.C. did in April.
BUSHMaryland has a different issue where they couldn't have it in April because candidates who are in the general assembly or elected to statewide office, which were all three Democrats who were in the race, couldn't fundraise or do any of those sorts of things during the legislative session until it ended in April. But then, holding it in June, this is -- it's summer vacation. I just think that was a big thing that was just -- it was moving the timeframe to the middle of the summer when a lot of people are on vacation and, you know, voting isn't necessarily at the forefront of their minds.
BUSHAnd the campaign may have turned some people off, too, particularly between the top two candidates on the Democratic side 'cause it was a pretty vicious gambling campaign.
NNAMDIIt's been called the ugliest Democratic primary in the country, Mark Plotkin.
PLOTKINYeah, bitter. We should mention that really the death toll, death knoll for Gansler was that he even lost Montgomery County...
PLOTKIN...and which nobody thought would occur, that they gave that to him. Michael Martinez, your producer, told me he just won three counties, three rural counties and...
BUSHYeah, I'm looking at that right now. And in the city of Baltimore, Heather Mizeur out-polled him in the city of Baltimore, too. And Gansler, at the end of his campaign, really started trying to focus on getting more Baltimore votes and he finished third there.
PLOTKINAnd Brown won with some -- Gansler got 15 percent and Prince George's was -- Brown was in the 70s.
NNAMDIIt was a greater disappointment for Gansler, but people give Heather Mizeur a lot of credit for running a strong race.
PLOTKINYeah. I mean, people wrote her off as somebody with no real rationale for even running. She had just been a delegate for a very short time. She lived in Berkeley East, Tacoma Park, Maryland. There were all -- that her appeal was going to be very limited. They were talking about here in single digits as just an irritant and she almost beat Gansler.
BUSHShe got over 20 percent so she performed well better than the polls did. And I think maybe a lot of the part about her was people don't know here. She has a very dynamic personality. She has that ability to do that. So when she was out doing more -- and she was doing more of door to door sort of stuff 'cause she didn't money, that really attracted quite a few people.
PLOTKINWe should go to why the primary was in June because of the fact that -- and I think they're gonna have to work this out better or create the time to mail absentee ballots to military people so that they get back in time. But everybody has, for the lack of a better more elegant word, freaked out about this and they should realize that there is a certain time and I think it is far too early. The April primary in D.C. is a more dramatic example.
PLOTKINJuly and August would've been worse.
NNAMDIPut on your headphones because Ken in Gaithersburg, Maryland had another hypothesis on why, in fact, the turnout was so low. Ken, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KENYeah, hi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. And, frankly, I think the reason the turnout was so low is 'cause it had all the excitement of a local race for dogcatcher. There was nothing exciting about any of the races.
NNAMDIWhat do you consider exciting, Ken?
KENWell, I mean, there was, for example, for me, there was nothing that really grabbed me by my shirt. There was nothing that was -- there was no candidate who was addressing any of the issues of, say, employment or traffic, or really any of the major issues facing either Montgomery or Frederick County. It was basically a rollover election.
NNAMDIWell, Matt Bush, I'm pretty sure the candidates themselves would say sure, we addressed the issues, but maybe because we didn't address them in dramatic enough ways for Ken.
BUSHI think that's possible. And transportation was such a big issue and it really didn't get a whole lot of play. In fact, I remember in the first debate a lot of that, that was the one out in College Park that David Gregory moderated, a lot of that was focusing on the controversies over the beach photo and the healthcare website. And at the beginning of the race, that became the narrative and I don't think that really was gonna excite anybody to go to the polls.
NNAMDIWhat challenger is up against Brown in the general election? That would be Larry Hogan. He's a businessman, former cabinet official from the Bob Ehrlich administration. Didn't seem to have too many problems beating the field on the Republican side, Mark, but that is almost not certainly to be the case come November.
PLOTKINWell, look, the Republican Party is in terrible shape. It would be a political miracle if Larry Hogan won. They're outnumbered 2 to 1. The last time was Bob Ehrlich who beat a very flawed candidate, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, before that. And Kojo is going to start rolling his eyes with Spiro Ted Agnew in 1966 who beat George, your home is your castle, Mahoney and he was the liberal, a Rockefeller Republican at that time.
PLOTKINThis is the fifth most Democratic state in the United States, the bluest of blue. Larry Hogan won because of name recognition. His father, I'm dating myself again, was Larry Hogan who -- this is Larry Hogan, Jr. Larry Hogan, who was actually a Republican congressman from Prince George's County when the racial composition was far different. The Republican Party doesn't have a chance and I'll eat this microphone if Larry Hogan beats Anthony Brown, just because the party just doesn't have the numbers and just tell me where the vote comes from.
PLOTKINI asked Michael Martinez yesterday -- I was getting gas, listening to your excellent election-eve -- what did Michael Steele say that would attribute -- besides the political pablum he usually serves up -- about -- I think the reason they won is that Ehrlich was a better candidate than Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. And then Sauerbrey came within 5,000 votes of Glendening, the first time. How did those two things happen, I ask you?
NNAMDIThose two things happened, as according to Michael Steele, because in those days Maryland was a different state in terms of its red/blue division. But we've got to take a short break. When we come back we will be joined by the Democratic nominee for attorney general of Maryland, Brian Frosh. You can call us with your questions or comments for him at 800-433-8850 or send email to email@example.com. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our Maryland election wrap up. The primaries were yesterday and if you have comments about them, give us a call, at 800-433-8850. We're talking with political analyst and BBC contributor Mark Plotkin, WAMU 88.5 reporter Matt Bush. And joining us now in studio is Brian Frosh. He is the Democratic nominee for attorney general of Maryland. He's currently a member of the Maryland Senate who represents a district in Montgomery County. Senator Frosh, thank you so much for joining us. Welcome and congratulations…
SEN. BRIAN FROSHThanks for having me, Kojo.
NNAMDIYou trailed in polls throughout this primary. To most people it seemed that your biggest obstacle was the fact that the leading candidate for most of the race, Jon Cardin, has one of the better known last names in all of Maryland politics. What was your strategy for closing that -- in the eyes of many -- name recognition gap, if you will?
FROSHWell, you know, Kojo, I think what most people missed was the leader in all of those polls was undecided.
FROSHUndecided was 50 to 70 percent in those polls. And so people weren't going to make up their minds until the last couple of weeks. And the attorney general is usually a race that is down ballot -- well, it's always down ballot, but it's one that people usually don't focus on until the very end. And so we kind of back-loaded our media, we back-loaded our big effort. And that's when people started to focus and we hit them just as they tuned in.
PLOTKINKojo is always too civil, too polite. And I'd like to take a different tack. How did you push William Frick, who was going to run for attorney general, out of the race?
FROSHWell, I didn't push him. But he decided, right up at the deadline, to run back for delegate. And that was very good for me. He's not only a Democrat from Montgomery County, he's in my district. And so that was, that was a big help.
PLOTKINLet me ask you this follow up, your predecessor talked about his membership, Doug Gansler, and the Association of Aspiring Governors, the AAAG. Once you're elected to attorney general, should we assume, Brian Frosh, that you will soon afterwards be running for governor?
FROSHAbsolutely not, Mark. No. Attorney General's the last office I'm going to run for. This is what I want to be. I think I can be a great attorney general. And I don't aspire to anything else.
BUSHNow, I saw last night a tweet that you -- when you were holding your, holding your victory party and you were talking about what kind of attorney general you're going to be. And someone said you quoted Elvis. So what -- explain.
FROSHSo I got a call from a reporter and he said, who are you going to be like? What kind of attorney general are you going to be? When Elvis Presley went to audition at Sun Records the first time they said to him, so who do you sound like? And he said, "I don't sound like nobody." And I'm -- there are two role models for me in Maryland, as attorneys general, Joe Curran and Steve Sachs, they're my role models, but I'm not going to be like anybody else. I'm going to be Brian Frosh.
NNAMDIYou said in your victory speech that you're going to fight like hell for justice. In more specific terms, what does that mean to you, what issues do you see yourself focusing on?
FROSHI mean, I think the things that people care about in Maryland, the things that my legislative career has been focused on, have been justice issues. And I use those terms somewhat broadly, but people want to feel safe in their neighborhoods, so criminal justice is a big issue. They want clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, they want environmental justice. They want to be free from scams and frauds and cheats because that afflicts every Marylander, and especially the most vulnerable among us, our senior citizens.
FROSHAnd people want equal opportunity. And to me that mean a fair shot at the American dream of a quality education for all the kids. So each one of those…
NNAMDIBut you won't be in the business of making laws any more…
NNAMDI…you'll be in the business of enforcing laws.
NNAMDIWhat kind of mentality change does that involve for you?
FROSHWell, it is a big change, but I've been practicing law for more than 35 years. And many of the laws that the attorney general is charged with enforcing are laws that I've written or helped lead through the general assembly. So it does require me to put on a different hat, but I'm still looking at it in the same frame. I'm going to do what is right for people, what'll improve their lives and protect them.
PLOTKINLet me ask about the body that you're leaving. You've chaired a committee. Who will chair that committee next? And second, Mike Miller keeps on threatening the state Senate president. Well, I don't know how you can be alive and still have a building named after you. That in itself is quite an accomplishment.
BUSHYou be the Senate president for 25 years, that's how you do it.
PLOTKINYes, thank you.
FROSHMake that 28.
BUSHOh, it's 28, sorry. I got the, got the time wrong.
PLOTKINHe's a lawyer. He's very precise.
PLOTKINBrian, tell me what you see that body and is Miller going to stay? Who's going to secede you? And do you see any change in the makeup or the flavor of that state legislative body?
FROSHMark, this'll be an historic year. There'll be a large turnover in Senate. So I can predict one thing for certain, Mike Miller will continue to be the president of the Senate. He is extraordinarily adept, skillful and he knows his members. And he'll continue to be the president of the Senate. As to who will be the next chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee…
PLOTKINDo you have a recommendation? We're trying to make a little news here.
FROSHI have a lot of -- I have a lot of friends who are…
PLOTKINName some of them.
FROSHWell, Jamie Raskin is a very close friend. Bobby Zirkin is a friend. They're both contending for it. I'm not sure who else aspires to that position. But the one thing I can tell you is that the decision will be made by one person, that's Mike Miller. And he's not going to be interested in recommendations from anybody else. He knows these folks. He knows the Senate. He'll make the choice himself.
NNAMDIYour committee work in the Senate has given you a prominent role in so many of the issues that are part of this ongoing conversation about the state's political identity, like legalizing same-sex marriage, repealing the death penalty. This follows up on the conversation that we had with Michael Steele yesterday. There's a sense among a lot of people that Maryland is moving farther and farther to the left. How do you see it?
FROSHI think the things that we've done are common sense, appropriate for the time. I mean, marriage equality, I think, was overdue when we passed it. I think it's been a great step forward. Repealing the death penalty was also a very important step. It's -- the death penalty doesn't work. It doesn't deter crimes. And we run the risk of executing innocent people. The Firearms Safety Act, which is another major bill that people put in that category and one that I'm very proud of, is, again, commonsense legislation.
NNAMDIYour predecessor Doug Gansler argued that he thought the death penalty was a good prosecutorial tool. How do you feel about that?
FROSHWell, I, as I say, I don't think it was a deterrent. And we have a poster child in Maryland for abolishing the death penalty. His name is Kirk Bloodsworth. He was convicted of a brutal rape and murder. He was sentenced to death, served on death row, tried again, convicted again and sentenced a second time to life without parole. He was innocent. And that was ultimately proved nine years after he was sentenced to death.
NNAMDIOur guest is Brian Frosh. He is the Democratic nominee for attorney general of Maryland. He's currently a member of the Maryland Senate who represents a district in Montgomery County. You can find live video streaming of the conversation we're having with him at our website, kojoshow.org. Where, if you're lucky, you'll see a photo -- you'll also see live streaming of Matt Bush, WAMU 88.5 reporter. And if you're unlucky, you'll also see Mark Plotkin, a political analyst who joins us in studio. Mark?
PLOTKINWhat a wonderful segue. There is a rap on Maryland that you are not business friendly, you're driving rich people to leave Maryland and move to Virginia. Doug Gansler, your predecessor, said that -- if you should get elected -- offered a $600 million tax cut. He said, can't afford to pay for pre-K for four-year-olds. Take on those two issues and respond to the, what Kojo was talking about, the attack that you have -- you've hurt Maryland's business-friendly climate. You're driving companies away to move and you're not attracting new companies.
FROSHYou know, Virginia is suffering much worse than Maryland is at the moment, economically. They've been much slower to recover from the recession than Maryland has. So I'm not so sure that we have a business-unfriendly climate. The state is attracting new businesses, bringing in new jobs. It's a great place to live. It's a great place to work. We have knowledge centers around the state that our economy is dependent upon and built upon.
FROSHThe NIH, NIST, Johns Hopkins University of Maryland. So we're doing -- right now we're doing better than Virginia is. In the long run I know -- they're making -- they're making huge cuts in Fairfax County, they're making huge cuts to their education system, letting teachers go. And I think in the long run we're going to outperform Virginia.
PLOTKINBefore I forget, it seems like the governor is running for president already. He happened to be in Iowa. I'm sure it was a coincidence. He's always wanted to go to Iowa.
FROSHIt's a nice time of year.
PLOTKINYeah, does Attorney General Frosh, if he should be elected, is he the first out of the box in terms of elected officials to endorses Martin O'Malley for president?
NNAMDIAnd we had a question from Jack, who couldn't stay on the line. "Do you think Martin O'Malley can beat Hillary Clinton?"
FROSHWell, that one I couldn't possibly predict. But let me, let me tell you, I'm a huge Martin O'Malley fan. The three initiatives that we just talked about, marriage equality, repeal of the death penalty, Firearms Safety Act, I worked closely with him. Each one took guts, it took skill. He had both. He helped punch them over the goal line. I'm a big, big fan. And I think he'd make a fine president. I think he'd make a great president. I'm not, you know, it's like getting struck by a meteor, but he's in the running. If Hillary Clinton does not run, I think he's in the top tier.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to all. Are there ideas for bills that you're pretty confident you'd be asking the general assembly to pass if you're sworn into this job in January?
FROSHSure. There was one that I sponsored.
NNAMDITell us a few.
FROSHThere was one that I sponsored this past session that I think would a nice confluence of policy between the general assembly and the attorney general. I sponsored legislation along with Delegate Ben Kramer, that would give the attorney general the authority to prosecute abuse of vulnerable adults. And there's physical abuse, there's financial abuse, and often the local states attorneys, who are beleaguered by brutal rapes and murders and other crimes, don't have the time to take these on. But you -- there are patterns.
FROSHAnd when somebody is stealing from vulnerable adult after senior citizen, after senior citizen, it may be appropriate to give the attorney general that authority. I think it is appropriate.
PLOTKINWho has the authority now?
FROSHLocal states attorneys. And this wouldn't take away their authority, this would layer on the ability to give the attorney general that discretion, too.
BUSHIn a more immediate issue, the turnout yesterday was very, very low. Now, the attorney general obviously has a lot of influence on the elections and on when they're set. What will you do -- will you change the primary date if you're attorney general? Would you move the primary date up? What can you do to have it in there because obviously the date that was picked yesterday, here at the end of June, really suppressed turnout.
FROSHIt did. The attorney general doesn't have the authority to change the date. It's up to the general assembly. And the reason it was moved back is because there's a federal law that requires it to be 45 days before the general election. And that puts it before Labor Day in some years. And so the general assembly struggled with that.
FROSHWe ultimately landed on, I guess, the fourth Tuesday in June. It's not ideal. I mean it's terrible. It was after school ended this year. But I think it's unlikely that it's going to get moved. Partly because the general assembly doesn't want it too close to the end of the session because they -- we are tied to our desks in Annapolis.
BUSHAnd you can't fundraise.
FROSHAnd you can't fundraise. And if you've got competitors who aren't incumbents, they're out there, they're fundraising, they're knocking on doors.
BUSHWhat prior to Memorial Day, would that be too close? Like maybe the Tuesday before Memorial Day?
FROSHI mean, you could -- well, I mean, any time -- the further back you move it, the more it troubles the members of the general assembly. So I just think as a matter of politics it's unlikely that it's going to be moved very much.
PLOTKINI have to unrelated questions. What happens…
PLOTKINWhat happens to Doug Gansler? Is he through? Is that his political obituary, a bright, young guy, twice state's attorney, twice attorney general done?
NNAMDII'm sure Doug Gansler is very interested in your plans for his future.
FROSHYes. I couldn't predict what his political future is. He has a very bright future. He's a great lawyer. He's very talented. And…
PLOTKINWho did you vote for?
FROSHThat I wouldn't say. The, I mean, the reason is…
FROSHNo. The attorney general's supposed to be independent. And I didn't run with any of the candidates for governor. I like them all.
PLOTKINCan I venture a D.C. question?
PLOTKINDid the role of the attorney general being independent, being elected, what powers it has, I know the Constitutional questions and the determination between the split between federal jurisdiction and local jurisdiction, but if you should be elected, what powers should an attorney general have? And if they're outlined in the District as being so restrictive, does it really affect the performance of that individual?
FROSHWell, obviously, if you have more power as attorney general, you have additional capacity to affect change. And Maryland's attorney general is quite powerful. I mean, represents every single state agency and defends the state when it gets sued. And brings suit on…
PLOTKINBut you're an independent entity because you were elected.
FROSHThat's exactly right.
PLOTKINWe might have in D.C. an elected attorney general that doesn't have that same degree of independence.
FROSHWell, I think the independence is important. Because the attorney general has to be able to say no to the chief executive. And you get into all kinds of trouble when you don't -- if I can give a quick example of…
FROSH…an area where that makes a huge difference. Steve Sachs was attorney general, elected in 1978, walked into office and families of adults with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses were essentially being warehoused against their will in Maryland. And the state bureaucracy said, defend us. And General Sachs said, this isn't defensible. This is a violation of their Constitutional rights. We're going to figure out a way to set them free.
FROSHAnd there -- that has not -- that process has not been fully concluded. We still have much work to do for those folks, but we were holding them against their will in terrible conditions. And there's a great example of an attorney general who affected change by saying no to the chief executive.
NNAMDIWell, you are not, General Frosh, at least not yet.
MR. BRIAN FROSHNot yet.
NNAMDIYou still have an election to go through in November, but congratulations. Once again, Brian Frosh is the Democratic nominee for attorney general of Maryland, currently a member of the Maryland Senate who represents a district in Montgomery County. And good luck to you.
FROSHThank you very much. Great to be with you.
NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break. When we come back, we continue this conversation on the Maryland election wrap-up. If you have questions or comments about any aspect of it, give us a call at 800-433-8850 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our Maryland election wrap-up. We're talking with political analyst and BBC contributor Mark Plotkin and WAMU 88.5 reporter Mark Bush, and inviting your calls, 800-433-8850. What do you think the Maryland Republican Party needs to do if it's going to mount a competitive campaign for governor in the fall with Larry Hogan on the ballot?
NNAMDIWhat do you think the next priorities of the next governor of Maryland should be regardless of who wins the general election? 800-433-8850. A lot of people were following the Republican primary in Mississippi last night, where U.S. Senator Thad Cochran held off a primary challenge from Tea Party bet Chris McDaniel. And he did so with the help of a lot of black and presumably Democratic voters. But, Mark Plotkin, you see a particular significance in relationship to the District of Columbia.
PLOTKINWell, yes. And this is a bit of a stretch, but I don't think it's an unreasonable stretch. First of all, this was a runoff. In the primary, McDaniel won but did not get the requisite 50 percent. Most of the times when an incumbent is in a runoff, he loses whether he finishes first or second, because the most dedicated and committed seem to go to the most ideologically driven. Cochran is an old school gentleman elected to the House in 1972 with Richard Nixon.
PLOTKINElected to the Senate in 1978, didn't even want to run supposedly. McDaniel was a Tea Party favorite. The entire establishment of Mississippi, the governor, the Senator Whittaker, they all came out for him. Brett Favre, the famous quarterback who's a Mississippi native. And then John McCain was imported in to talk about Cochran as a veteran. Here's the deal. There is no party registration in Mississippi, so anybody can vote in a primary runoff.
PLOTKINBut there is a restriction. If you voted in the Democratic primary previous to the runoff, you could not vote in the Republican runoff. Very few Democrats actually -- black Democrats, which are 36 percent of the registered voters in Mississippi, the highest in the country, by the way, in terms of African American participation -- very few voted in the Democratic primary because Travis Childers is a very conservative Democrat.
PLOTKINSixty thousand additional people voted in the runoff more than in the primary. Almost universally, the primary has more people than the runoff because it's another election two weeks later. He won with black Democrats.
NNAMDIAnd we have a lot of black Democrats here in Washington, D.C. So I want you to make that connection before we run out of time.
PLOTKINAnd the point is, will Thad Cochran say thank you, thank you to the constituency that put me over the top. And then when it comes to matters of D.C., not a majority African American population but surely a sizable one anymore, will he remember that? And will African American constituency groups remind him of that? He has once done it, and that was when the Utah-D.C. vote.
PLOTKINHe did not vote for Utah and D.C. Do we have another representative. But he did vote for cloture to cut off debate. And I called him and he got on the phone and he said, I did it because I thought the discussion should be debated.
NNAMDIAnd so, if he thought it could be debated, maybe he can be pushed a little more in the direction of approving it. In Maryland, Matt Bush, an insurgent conservative scored an upset in a key Senate race in Frederick County. Tell us about that.
BUSHSo that was Michael Hough, a delegate. He defeated the Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley, a very moderate senator from Frederick who had been there a long time. Another Republican incumbent senator lost also yesterday out on the eastern shore. Richard Colburn lost to Delegate Addie Eckardt. So -- and another Republican delegate won a different race. It was Steve Schuh, who won the GOP primary for Anne Arundel County executive.
BUSHAnd the delegate -- the Republicans in the state and the House of Delegates far more conservative than the ones in the Senate. So they were successful yesterday in three big races to win those. It shows that Maryland Republicans at least want a little more aggression in their Republicans -- or in their legislators at least to fight some of the things that have happened. In the last eight years, Democrats have been able, in particular in the last four to push through an awful lot of legislation because of the advantages they have in the statehouse.
BUSHAnd Republicans in the primary yesterday getting rid of a few of them that thought maybe were compromising with them too much. And wanted a more aggressive stance.
PLOTKINBut, Matt, for federal -- and Kojo -- for federal offices, they really are shut out.
PLOTKINNobody thinks that a Republican is going to beat Ben Cardin or Barbara Mikulski when they're up. And they control seven -- Democrats control seven of the eight congressional seats and nobody thinks they can win for attorney general or for governor. So these are internal ballots -- battles for the soul of the Republican Party. But in terms of expanding the electorate and winning more elections, they're still in deep doo-doo.
NNAMDIIn the meantime, what is that doing to the state? I think that's what Howard (sp?) in Gaithersburg, MD wants to talk about. Howard, your turn.
HOWARDHi, Kojo. Love the show. I would like to point out -- there was a comment by one of your panelists earlier about high taxes in Maryland driving people out and going to Virginia. I would like just to mention that we moved here in the 90s. I'm a biochemist and my wife is in the health care industry. We moved here from California to get away from the effects of low taxes. We are most happy to pay our taxes and we like what those buy. And I'll take my answer off the air.
PLOTKINWell, Republicans feel that they have an opening with high taxes. And I will say, just briefly, that all the taxes and fees that were increased by Martin O'Malley, I think, will be an issue in tax-free New Hampshire and maybe in the Iowa caucuses as well.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call.
BUSHThere was an interesting comment that he made there that there are people who believe that. When we were doing the profiles prior to the election, when we did -- when we spoke to Ike Leggett who won his third...
NNAMDIHe's coming up next year.
BUSHRight. He'll be going to his third term, it looks like, in Montgomery County as executive. One of the questions we talked about was affordable housing and comparing it to D.C. and saying something about property taxes being higher in Montgomery County. His response was, that might be true but you get what you pay for, meaning school system. And he said, yes, you might live here, you might have to pay more in taxes but you will get an awful lot more. And I think that's exactly what the caller there was just saying. So there is some people who do believe. There are some people who do believe them.
NNAMDIAnd that seem to work for Ike Leggett.
BUSHYes, it did.
NNAMDIBecause he maintained his seat as county executive in the face of a challenge by the man who held that seat for two terms before he did, Doug Duncan.
NNAMDIFor three before he did, Doug Duncan. What do you make of what happened there?
BUSHAgain, it wasn't a race that have a lot of strong personalities in it. But it was something that, all told, the three candidates there between the prior two county executives and Phil Andrews who was longtime county councilmen. There were five terms as county executive and eight terms on the county council between the three of them. So experience was clearly not an issue in this race.
BUSHBut it really became a lot of what's gonna be different? What are you gonna do to make sure you're not just stagnating in the county there that continues to see an increase in population? They're beginning to see some newer problems emerging there. What were they going to do on that? And the current county executive, the voters, I believe we got about 45 to 46 percent of the vote last night signing with him and saying, well, we like the direction the ship is going in why go back to something different or go to something different in a new way?
NNAMDINot enough difference among the candidates?
PLOTKINWell, first of all, the demographics have changed. Doug Duncan was the county executive, what is it, eight, nine years ago.
PLOTKINAnd served three terms. And it is now, I think, a majority minority county, which was not the case with Doug Duncan. I wan to salute Doug Duncan on another level. He went through a terrible bout of depression. And he had to drop out of the governor's race. He came back. He rebounded. And for anybody who went through that terrible illness and sickness and to come back and to run for office and to be straightforward and open about it and talk about it, I thought was a wonderful example and he should be applauded for that.
BUSHHis answer on that when we did the profiles, he said was, mental illness is not a problem. Untreated mental illness is. And I -- he said that I am an example that treatment does work and he wishes that people would accept it.
NNAMDIHere now is Matt in Severna Park, MD. Matt, you're on the air, go ahead please.
MATTHi. I was wondering if the panel had noticed what happened in the Anne Arundel County council seat. I know it's pretty local, but a guy named Michael Peroutka won against an incumbent. And he was actually the Constitutional Party's nominee for president and he's kind of a character. He's been accused of being maybe a white supremacist and now he's...
BUSHWow. Which district is this?
NNAMDIIn Anne Arundel County Council?
MATTAnne Arundel County Council?
BUSHDo you know which council district it is?
NNAMDIWhat council district?
MATTI think it's four, but I'm not 100 percent sure.
BUSHIt is four.
MATTHe beat Dick Ladd, L-a-d-d, who's the incumbent, last night.
NNAMDIWell, he will be someone to watch...
BUSHI have to look at this a little more now.
NNAMDI...in the future. We'd have to look a little more closely.
PLOTKINBefore the hour lapses, the chutzpah award goes to Julius Henson...
BUSHWell, there were a few that could get that.
BUSHTiffany Alston tried to run back for her seat and lost, too, yeah.
NNAMDII was going up to that 'cause we have a little more time. Go ahead.
PLOTKINBut Julius Henson, if you don't remember who he was, he was a Democratic political consultant who worked both sides of the party stripe and was convicted of the robocalls for Bob Ehrlich, telling black voters that the election was another day or I can't remember.
BUSHI think he told them it was over.
NNAMDIHe told them it was over.
PLOTKINOh, it was over. Thank you.
NNAMDINo need to come out.
PLOTKINThank you. And he was sentenced with the stipulation that he never work in a political campaign. And the chutzpah comes in that he did not work in any other political campaign, he ran himself as a candidate. And supposedly he's waiting a -- he's appealed the decision by the judge. But I thought that that should be acknowledged.
NNAMDIAlong that same -- you're right. Along that same line, Matt, what were the other races you were tracking? In the Washington Post today, Marc Fisher wrote a piece about candidates with scandals trailing them, most of whom were apparently defeated with the exception of longtime State Senator Ulysses Currie who reelection in Prince George's County.
BUSHAnd he won very easily over Melony Griffith. Two that did lose, Tiffany Alston who lost her seat after a conviction. She tried to run for it again yesterday and lost narrowly. Also who lost, Don Dwyer, the Anne Arundel County Republican delegate who, in the last two years, has been convicted of drunk and boating and drunk and driving. He lost dramatically.
PLOTKINBoating and driving.
BUSHSo he lost his reelection bid as well. Ulysses Currie stays and he's a powerful senator. He's been there. He has a lot of seniority. He'd be a tough person to knock out. But remember, he was not arrested, he was just censured by his colleagues...
NNAMDIThis is true.
BUSH...for something unethical that happened. And a law was basically written and passed to prevent, you know, to prevent something similar like that from happening again.
PLOTKINWe should mention one historic fact, which Kojo always resents this what he considers minutia, which I consider very...
NNAMDIYou mentioned Spiro Agnew already.
PLOTKINNo, we're not going to do it. If Anthony Brown should be elected, he will be the third elected African American.
NNAMDIAnd I'll tell you why I didn't mention that.
NNAMDIBecause Doug Gansler, early on in his campaign essentially implied or actually said that the only reason I've heard this guy give for running for office is that he wants to be the first African American governor.
NNAMDIIn response to which, Lieutenant Brown, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown may spent a lot of time saying, no, that is not the reason I want to be governor.
PLOTKINAnd in fact, the other two were Doug Wilder of Virginia and present and incumbent governor of Massachusetts from Chicago, Duval Patrick. But the point -- we're going back to Gansler, I thought the most damaging and incriminating, and he has a tendency to say things that he shouldn't say. The most, I thought, damaging thing was to, for somebody who'd served in the military, to say get a real job.
PLOTKINI mean, just appalling. And I think people remember that. There is in conscription, Anthony Brown volunteered. He was not an administrator, he was a helicopter pilot.
BUSHAnd he is the highest ranking politician in the U.S. who served in the second Iraq War.
PLOTKINVery good. I mean, you just don't say things like that. These are flippant remarks that hurt Doug's chances to advance.
NNAMDIHow about Rushern Baker, the Prince George's county executive? He had no opposition, but he endorsed no one in the governor's race, but he is not likely to pay any significant penalty for that.
BUSHIf he was able to run -- when we had him on here a few months ago and we discussed that, he took many of the same steps that Adrian Fenty took in D.C. and took them in Prince George's County. Obviously, Adrian Fenty only lasted one term and was voted out. Rushern Baker did not face any opposition yesterday. I think his popularity seems to have been proven in Prince George's County with the things that he has done. And he's, again, in a way like Ike Leggett, more of a very soft spoken, easy going person. And I think that maybe contributes to the popularity.
NNAMDISo he seem to find himself between a rock and a hard place when it came to endorsement because on the one hand...
NNAMDI...Anthony Brown is from his county, served with him in the general assembly.
NNAMDIOn the other hand, Doug Gansler's running mate...
BUSHRunning mate is Jolene Ivey who also served with him, yes.
NNAMDIAnd he's the godfather of one of Jolene and Glenn Ivey's children.
PLOTKINJust two other races that I want to mention that were interesting to me. Duchy Trachtenberg got clobbered...
PLOTKIN...by Roger Berliner in District 1 for the Montgomery County Council. My friend Glenn Simon (sp?) said that Berliner...
NNAMDIWe only got 30 seconds.
PLOTKIN...excuse me -- that Trachtenberg went Nixonian on...
BUSHThere is one outstanding council race, too, but we'll get to that in the last one.
PLOTKIN...and the incumbent. And the other was an open seat with Cheryl Kagan beating Lou Simmons who had a good record in the House of Delegates.
NNAMDIWhat's the race?
BUSHSo on District 5, which is the eastern part of the county, 217 votes replaced -- differentiate Tom Hucker and Evan Glass right now. So they have to go through all the absentee and provisional ballot.
NNAMDIMatt Bush, WAMU 88.5 reporter. Mark Plotkin, political analyst. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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