Friday, December 31, 2010

Four Winners, and Four Losers, in 2010


Mike Miller: The Senate President begins the 2011 legislative session absent his two least favorite Republican senators – Andy Harris and Alex Mooney. And, one of his favorite political blood sports – redistricting – is just around the corner.

David Gildea: The Towson development attorney and his law partner were criticized for their aggressive fundraising activities on behalf of Democratic candidates for the Baltimore County Council. But you can’t really argue with success, as at least three of the non-incumbent candidates they supported won. Their election, along with the election of pro-development Kevin Kamenetz as County Executive, elevates Gildea's status as a player in county politics and governance. 

Black Voters: Now comprising 30 percent of the state’s population, Maryland’s black electorate once again demonstrated that it is the foundation of Democratic dominance in Maryland. Some predicted that black turnout might drop into the low teens without President Obama at the top of the ticket. That, of course, did not happen, and black voters propelled Governor O’Malley to a bigger margin of victory than many of us expected. It will be interesting to see what the state’s black political leaders do to leverage this surging force in Maryland politics.

Insurgent Republicans: From newly-elected Baltimore County Councilman (and possible future county executive candidate) Todd Huff to Senator Chris Shank in Western Maryland, Republicans who challenged tired incumbents were often rewarded. Despite the disappointing outcome at the top of the ticket, state Republicans leave 2010 with something they have long needed: The makings of a political farm team consisting of young, energetic, upwardly-mobile candidates.


Julius Henson: This one is a no-brainer. Henson has always operated around the margins of respectability, but his involvement in the infamous election night robocall attempt to trick black voters into staying home from the polls eliminates any credibility he had as a consultant.

Joe Bartenfelder: The affable, conservative former Baltimore County Councilman was rightfully upset over some of the red meat tactics employed by Kevin Kamenetz during their Baltimore County Executive primary battle. But his kind-of-but-not-really “endorsement” of Ken Holt in the general election is something Baltimore County’s Democratic establishment will not forget anytime soon. This could limit his political options in the future.

Paul Schurick: As critical as I was of some of Team Ehrlich’s campaign missteps, I think Paul Schurick delivers some value as a strategic communicator. Now that his thirteen year run as Ehrlich’s political guru has ended, and a return to Womble Carlyle is no longer an option for him, one has to wonder what options remain for this Henry Gondorff of state politics and his cronies in Martin O’Malley’s Maryland.

The Tea Party in Maryland: The Tea Party movement in Maryland was a non-factor in state elections this year, as evidence by the fact that two of its darlings – Brian Murphy and Jim Rutledge – lost their respective races handily. It never approached the level of relevance and organization evident in other states, and its influence will only wane over time.


  1. Perhaps it is piling on a bit, but it is hard to imagine a list of losers from 2010 without including Bob Ehrlich. He spent four years complaining that his loss in 2006 was a result of the national anti-Republican mood. He ran in the best year for Republicans in recent memory. He started with state wide name recognition and a weekly forum on the State's premier radio station. Early in the campaign he was in a statistical dead heat with the incumbent.

    Yet, despite all of these advantages, he got stomped by 14 points. He lost to his most hated rival. He squandered his stature in the Maryland Republican party by running a lackluster, unimaginative, energy-less campaign. The Ehrlich-centric focus of Maryland Republicans was exposed as a near fatal condition.

    Bob Ehrlich was clearly the biggest loser of 2010.

  2. Agreed, Anonymous.

    If anything, he should be there in place of Henson. Nobody really knows or cares about who he is (they know now, but will they remember for long?) but the whole issue seriously impacted Ehrlich and the credibility of his party.

  3. Todd Huff for county executive!!! I'm hearing that rumor everywhere. He'll beat Kamenetz.

  4. Huff knocked off one career politician. He has the guts and the grass roots support to tackle Kevin The K.

  5. Well, I certainly weighed including Ehrlich himself, but decided against it for two reasons. First, it would have seemed gratuitous. Second, Ehrlich is still employable. So, I included the person most directly responsible for his loss (Schurick) and the person directly responsible for the scandal that threatens to taint Ehrlich's legacy (Henson) instead.

  6. Richard, I would be interested in what you hear about Ehrlich's employability. One wonders what value he brings to Womble. Given his drubbing, what possible use could he have as a "government affairs specialist"? He is OBVIOUSLY not exactly a go to guy in Maryland, and he is now eight years removed from the Hill and one would suppose his utility there is minimal.

    I have heard Womble will be cutting ties with him, if they already haven't, and that Bob is thinking about starting his own lobbying practice, which is laughable given the way he was defined in the campaign.

    I would love to hear your thoughts.

  7. I think Ehrlich does bring value as a Capitol Hill lobbyist. Enough of his Hill friends/classmates are in positions of power now that, if he wants to pursue that career avenue, he should be successful at it.

    I'm just not sure he wants it, which is why he's looking at alternative career tracks (e. g. trade associations). It may be hard for him to go from being "the guy" (as in a legislator, congressman, or governor) to becoming yet another lobbyist amid the hustle and bustle of Capitol Hill.

    As for him starting his own lobbying practice, that's a non-starter in Martin O'Malley's Maryland. If he lobbies in D. C., he'll join an existing firm if not Womble's Washington shop.

  8. Todd Huff is a breath of fresh air in Towson, the Buford Pusser of Baltimore County, unafraid to engage a corrupt, in-bred establishment. He's definitely running, and Kamenitz is definitely going down!!!

  9. I agree. I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Huff speak at a forum sponsored by the Sparks-Glencoe Community Council and North County Preservation. It was at the Oregon Ridge lodge.

    Mr. Huff was crisp and eloquent. He had strong command of language and delivered his points in an articulate manner. He offered clear and logical points on zoning, development case law, and regulatory issues.

    I am 70 years old. I would be quite content to head into the sunset of my life knowing that Mr. Huff was in command of Baltimore County. My neighbors agree.