Friday, November 05, 2010

Winners and Losers: General Election Edition

Who's hot and who's not listed below.

1. Senate President Mike Miller
Mike Miller lead his caucus to a two-seat gain against serious headwinds. He raised the money vital to victories by Frederick County and the Lower Eastern Shore. You can be sure those new senators will be very, very grateful. Ditto for Nancy King and Jennie Forehand who he supported against tough primary challengers. More importantly, who will run against him? And don't Democrats wish they had more strategists like him at the national level? He bestrides the Maryland Senate like a colossus.

2. Center Maryland Democrats
Oh sure, many like to vilify "Big Daddy" as Adam likes to call Mike Miller. However, Miller's strategy of mixing centrist and liberal politics has worked mighty well not to just keep Maryland Democrats in power but to claim the center and an enormous share of offices for the Blue Team. While some lament that Miller is not Dennis Kucinich, Miller gets that people like Barbara Mikulski win big not because they are seen fighting liberals--they are--but because they care about ordinary people, work hard, campaign hard, and form alliances as needed. Moderate Dems (Frank Kratovil who gave it his all excepted) did fine in this election. And look how well marching in ideological harmony has worked for the Maryland Republicans.

3. Openly Gay and Lesbian Candidates
Three new openly gay and lesbian legislators will join the House of Delegates next year, including Mary Washington who will be the first open African-American lesbian delegate. Prior to the election, there was one openly gay senator and three lesbian delegates. All easily won reelection. Maryland is a good place to be. BTW, if you want to see just how great Maryland is, just juxtapose winners two and three on the list.

4. Michael Steele
Much of politics is being in the right place at the right time. Michael Steele is one lucky man. Who knew after so many unsuccessful careers that he would luck out as RNC Chairman? He doesn't need to retire to play a Muppet on the Daily Show just yet. "Lesbian bondage fiasco" completely forgiven and forgotten.

5. Montgomery County
Sen. Brian Frosh comes back as Chair of Judicial Proceedings. Sen. Rich Madaleno moves up on Budget and Taxation. Del. Sheila Hixson runs Ways and Means in ways that a congressional chair can only envy. Ineffective Herman Taylor replaced by Eric Luedtke and joined by other talented new legislators like Ariana Kelly, Bonnie Cullison, and Aruna Miller. An effective delegation chair in Brian Feldman. Two statewide officeholders in Doug Gansler and Peter Franchot. We still have a ways to go but we haven't had it so good in awhile.

6. Doug Gansler
OK, it's gotta feel sweet to be the only statewide elected state official in the country without a general election opponent. A guy who some dogged as a showhorse in 2006 has steadily gained a reputation as a workhorse and built relations around the State. If he keeps it up, he'll be formidable in 2014 even though he'll surely face some talented, stiff competition.


1. Maryland Republicans
Even in the best year for Republicans since 1994, the Maryland Republican Party went nowhere. Instead of retaking the statehouse, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich lost to Gov. Martin O'Malley by more. In the General Assembly, Republicans made no headway--losing two seats in the Senate and gaining six in the House. Their strategy of fearlessly moving right has essentially ceded much of the State to the Democrats. New Republican Theme Song: Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees (Life Goin' Nowhere Somebody Help Me.)

2. Public Transit
All three major transit projects proposed for Maryland are jeopardized because there is absolutely no constituency for public transit in the new Republican House majority which has vowed to shrink government. Rep. Jim Oberstar, a fine public servant, leading advocate for public transit, and Chair of the House Transportion Committee, lost his seat. Metro and MARC need money and Tom Davis is no longer around to play regional statesman.

3. Montgomery County
If you didn't like the Maryland Senate's proposal on teacher pensions in the last session, just wait until next year. Republicans made gains on many county councils and commissions. Moreover, in many cases, the Republicans are new hard-right members who defeated incumbents in primaries. The constituency to protect teacher pensions in the counties outside of Montgomery has shrunk and the General Assembly will react accordingly.

4. Alex Mooney
Frederick Sen. Alex Mooney was so busy demonizing gays and liberals in general in an effort to get out to the front of the pack for the Sixth Congressional District when Rep. Roscoe Bartlett retires that he lost his hold on his district which was no longer so congenial to hard-right Republicans. And he can hardly blame this loss on the Democratic tide. Buh-bye.

5. School Board Insurgents
Shirley Brandman, Judy Docca, Pat O'Neil, and Mike Durso cleaned the clocks of a group of candidates attempting to move Montgomery's School Board in a more ideological, conservative direction less focused on producing quality schools for all our kids. And they did it without the benefit of a party line and against highly organized opposition.

6. Robin Ficker
He can't hold on to his law license without landing in trouble, can't attend basketball games, and can't win elective office despite his peripatetic changes of residence. Even the Democrats he supports lose. Heck, he can't even place in the top five on this list. But no one can doubt his passion for politics--or this blog.