Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Happens if Anthony Brown Leaves? (Updated)

Rumors are swirling that Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is under consideration by the Obama administration for a cabinet job. If he leaves, what happens next?

Governor Martin O’Malley will have to pick a replacement, subject to approval by the General Assembly. And that will be very interesting. Lieutenant Governor picks in the recent past have been made for the sake of regional and demographic ticket-balancing. Of the five statewide officials other than Brown, three (O’Malley and Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin) are from the Baltimore area, two (Attorney General Doug Gansler and Comptroller Peter Franchot) are from Montgomery County, four are male and all five are white. That leaves obvious gaps in representation that the Governor will be urged to fill. But this time around, there may be other considerations besides ticket-balancing as the Governor will be the favorite in both the 2010 primary and general elections.

Our informants have named these people as possibilities:

1. Prince George’s State Attorney Glenn Ivey
Ivey is a highly-regarded prosecutor, even by many in Montgomery County. (That is rare for any Prince George’s politician.) He is particularly praised for trying to rein in the county’s notorious police department and avoiding the appearances of impropriety that have dogged many of the county’s other politicians.

Ivey’s selection has two hurdles to overcome. First, he is generally believed to be running for County Executive in 2010. Second, rumor has it that he turned down an offer from O’Malley to be his number two in 2006. County Executive or Mayor may be a better route to the Governor’s office than a Lieutenant Governor position. Still, one source says the dropoff after Ivey is “huge.”

2. Senator C. Anthony Muse (D-26)
Aside from Ivey, Muse may be the most prominent Prince George’s politician not under investigation. By picking Reverend Muse, O’Malley could patch up his relations with black churches in the wake of the slots referendum and deny Prince George’s County to any primary challenger. On the other hand, Muse would generate objections from the GLBT community and he is also rumored to be running for County Executive.

3. Delegate Dereck Davis (D-25)
Davis is a four-term Delegate and Chair of the Economic Matters Committee at the ripe old age of 41. He is the pick that most resembles Anthony Brown. But would he want to leave his chair and enter a largely ceremonial office for the chance of someday running for Governor? Davis’s departure would give Speaker Mike Busch an interesting choice for his replacement on Economic Matters.

4. Labor Secretary Tom Perez
Perez has performed excellent work for the Governor in pushing his slots referendum, but he is probably a more likely Obama cabinet pick than is Brown. One thing is for sure: Tom Perez is going places.

5. Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith
I know what you’re thinking: why would O’Malley pick another white male politician from the Baltimore area? The logic behind this pick would be to give Smith the full-time job of raising money and making the rounds of the state. Why? That would set him up nicely to take on the Governor’s arch-enemy, Peter Franchot, for Comptroller in 2010.

6. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett
Leggett has several advantages to the Governor aside from demographics. First, he is a former Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and has relationships across the state. Second, because he will be 69 in 2010, he may have no ambitions for the Governor’s seat and that will make life in Annapolis a bit easier for O’Malley. Third, he can be counted on to be a low-key team member. Fourth, he may be the one Montgomery County politician who is acceptable to the rest of the state. And does Leggett truly want to deal with the next two brutal budget cycles in cash-starved MoCo?

Best of all, Leggett’s ascension would set off a chaotic fracas for the County Executive’s chair in Rockville. At least four County Council Members will go for it!

Update: I cannot let this discussion pass without reference to Maryland’s most significant Lieutenant Governor choice: William Donald Schaefer’s pick of Melvin Steinberg in 1986. Steinberg, then the President of the Maryland Senate, became embroiled in a feud with the hot-tempered Schaefer and was shut out of all administration duties. After losing to Parris Glendening in the 1994 Governor primary, Steinberg endorsed conservative Ellen Sauerbrey four years later. But none of this makes Steinberg the most important number two pick in the state’s history. What is really important is the identity of Steinberg’s successor as Senate President.

You guessed it: Big Daddy Mike Miller. And so out of small acts are empires born!

Update 2: The Examiner and the Gazette have more, including speculation that County Council Member Valerie Ervin might get the job.