Now that the elections are over, it’s time to look forward. I decided to do that by looking at both political parties and identifying some stars to watch.
Because I have spent so much time blogging about GOP politics, I decided to start with the Democrats, though I plan to follow this up with a look at Republican stars this weekend. This list contains both new and old names. The one thing they all have in common is that they emerge from the 2010 election cycle empowered as well as poised to make a difference.
Bill Ferguson: The 27-year-old school administrator knocked off Democratic baron George Della in the 46th District State Senate primary this year. He won by waging an energetic, progressive campaign focusing on education reform. Now he heads to a legislature where his vanquished primary opponent had been a fixture for decades. It will be interesting to see if he takes his insurgency approach to
. Will he hit the ground running in terms of legislative output, or will he allow some of the more senior senators to mentor him and show him the ropes? Annapolis
Jim Smith: The outgoing Baltimore County Executive leaves office with his popularity intact, and with the gratitude of Governor Martin O’Malley. Smith is getting much of the credit for the governor’s surprisingly strong performance in
. Now there is talk that Smith will serve as the state’s next Secretary of Transportation or in some other capacity. If gubernatorial politics in 2014 plays out as some people expect, perhaps Smith will emerge as a candidate for Attorney General. Baltimore County
Jim Mathias: The popular former mayor of
captured the seat held by retiring GOP Senator Lowell Stoltzfus. But the race looming down the road is what makes Mathias a Democrat to watch. If, as expected, the state legislature tries to gerrymander Congressman-elect Andy Harris out of office, Mathias could emerge as his principal challenger if outgoing Congressman Frank Kratovil does not go for it himself. Ocean City
Keiffer Mitchell: The former Baltimore City Councilman and mayoral candidate returns to public office as a freshman member of the House of Delegates. Smart and charismatic, Mitchell strikes me as having much more to offer as a public servant than the quality of his unsuccessful mayoral campaign implied. Now he will have a chance to prove it. Will he try to re-enter City politics, or will he stick with
for a while? Stay tuned. Annapolis
Ken Ulman: The Howard County Executive cruised to reelection, and his coattails probably contributed to Governor O’Malley’s solid victory there. Most politicos cite Doug Gansler, Peter Franchot, or Anthony Brown as future gubernatorial candidates. But Ulman is a moderate suburban Democrat who has effectively managed a local government during very challenging economic times. None of the other candidates I mentioned can make that claim.