Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Politics and Policy With Anthony Brown, Part Three

By Marc Korman.

After discussing a few policy issues with Lieutenant Governor Brown, we shifted to the political landscape.

Brown’s answer to my question of how often he came to Montgomery County, which gave O’Malley/Brown more votes than any other county in the state, was the nice and political “not enough.” He discussed the effort both he and the Governor make to get outside of Annapolis to see state programs, meet with business leaders, and engage with the community. The “Maryland Capital for a Day Program,” where O’Malley goes to different locations around the state with his cabinet to perform state business, demonstrates that effort. He also said Montgomery County would be a more frequent destination in the future, which is not a surprise given its importance in Maryland elections both for votes and fundraising.

Brown also compared his boss to the previous two governors, who he experienced as a member of the General Assembly. Not surprisingly, he had a lot of nice things to say about his boss’ policy aptitude and political sense, admitting he was learning a lot from working for him.

But I also asked about their specific interactions with the legislature. Governor Ehrlich was notorious for not engaging in the legislative process, though to be fair he was a Republican dealing with overwhelming Democratic majorities. But to paraphrase Brown, Ehrlich had no interest in governing at all and when he left there was no evidence of his presence in state government. Brown said that when he first came to the legislature in 1999, Governor Glendening was engaged with legislators and his policy people were always willing to help with bills. Brown has tried to emulate that approach. He also refuses to sit in his office and have legislators come to him, but likes to make the most of his legislative experience to engage directly with his former colleagues on whatever issue needs whipping.

At my request, we mostly skipped discussion of 2010 in favor of longer term politics. When I asked Brown about his future, he said his goal has always been to put his skills to the best use possible to serve others. When the O’Malley/Brown Administration comes to an end, that could mean running for governor in 2014, returning to his private legal practice, or taking advantage of other opportunities. But his focus was on his current job as Lieutenant Governor and reelection, though he did return to the thought of a gubernatorial run and signaled he was more likely than not to head in that direction.

After our meeting, Brown went to do a little politicking with the Montgomery County Young Democrats, where a large turnout welcomed the only statewide elected official to not claim some Montgomery County tie.