Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Heather Mizeur, Baltimore's Schools, and the Future

Having lived most my life in the Baltimore Metropolitan region, and worked for politicos who represented much of the area in Congress, I’m more plugged into local politics in the areas I know personally than I am other parts of the state. But as I try to carve out a post-partisan niche for myself in the blogosphere, I have been working to expand my horizons.
In that vein, I have watched from a distance the career of Delegate Heather Mizeur, who represents District 20 in the Maryland General Assembly.
Mizeur is perhaps the quintessential Takoma Park liberal. She’s a former staffer to Senator John Kerry, chair of the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign in Maryland, and member of the DNC Executive Committee. Ideologically she and I probably bear little in common, except on social issues. But a former State House colleague of mine turned Annapolis lobbyist always had glowing things to say about her.

Recently, I happened upon this item on fellow blogger David Moon’s Maryland Juice blog. I didn’t pay it a whole lot of mind at the time. More Montgomery County intramural drama, I figured. Just another example of a politically savvy legislator enhancing her profile in advance of the shifting lines which accompany the legislative redistricting process.
Then, I picked up today’s Baltimore Sun, and saw that Mizeur co-bylined an op-ed about school construction funding in Baltimore City.
Yes, that’s what I said…school construction funding in Baltimore City.

Granted, some elected officials in Baltimore occasionally act like their counterparts in Montgomery County, but I’m pretty sure that Baltimore hasn’t yet switched jurisdictions. Unless, of course, there was some secret codicil to the redistricting plan I hadn’t heard about.

All kidding aside, what really is going on here? Why has Mizeur taken such an interest in the city’s schools?

In all fairness, Mizeur’s committee assignment in Annapolis – she serves on the House Appropriations Committee, where she is vice chair for education and economic development – might have something to do with it.

Or, perhaps she’s trying to broaden her name recognition in the service of future ambitions.

I’m not exactly sure what she’d run for in the near future. Next year’s congressional dance card looks to be pretty full. Also, as one of the most visible supporters of the marriage equality movement in Maryland, Mizeur will be pretty busy with that if – as many expect – it passes the legislature and winds up on the 2012 ballot.

As for 2014, other candidates – including her fellow Montgomery County Delegate Kumar Barve – are already jockeying to run for Comptroller if the incumbent, Peter Franchot, jumps into the governor’s race.

I suppose she could also run for the 20th District Senate seat should incumbent Jamie Raskin relinquish it in favor of a run for Attorney General of Maryland.

With the new legislative redistricting map yet to be drawn, speculating about Mizeur’s ambitions – or the ambitions of any other legislator, for that matter – is difficult.

Still, given her experience as a Hill staffer and DNC ties, I’d guess that Mizeur’s ultimate goal is the U. S. Congress, perhaps the 8th District House seat currently represented by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, often mentioned as a likely candidate for the U. S. Senate one day.

I’m interested to see how this all plays out. But, it may be a while before I blog about Montgomery County politics again. Keeping track of all these different players with their interlocking ambitions is starting to give me a headache.

In the meantime, one last point to make about Mizeur. She has demonstrated fundraising prowess, as reflected by the event she held last summer featuring singer Melissa Etheridge. Now, I don't make a habit of attending Democratic fundraising events - or, for that matter, anyone’s fundraisers at this point. But, if she manages to score Lady Gaga at some future event, I'm so there. 

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