Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Poll indicates county could be election key

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, July 19, 2006

From The Sun 

Howard County is up for grabs in this year’s gubernatorial election, a Sun poll shows, and the results locally could be crucial statewide.

“We know we fought the JV team” in 2002, when then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend carried her party’s banner, said state Republican Party Chairman John Kane.

“He’s a ’94 congressman, at the elbow of [former House Speaker] Newt Gingrich, who’s brought home that [Karl] Rove-Bush type of rhetoric,” said Tony McGuffin, Howard’s Democratic Party chairman.

So what?  I like Newt Gingrich.  He has been unfairly criticised.  He is a great thinker, speaker, and motivator.  He is more mainstream than the MSM and the public relations arm of the DNC made him out to be.  I will say that he made some personal mistakes I could not forgive.  However, as a leader and thinker there are few people who can compare to him.  I am aquainted with a guy who now works for Gingrich.  His wife and in-laws are very liberal.  When he told them he accepted a position with Gingrich’s think tank they were appalled to the point they would not talk about it.  Now that it became a family issue and to keep the peace Gingrich met with his in-laws.

Result?  They are still Democrats, but they now have a great deal of respect and appreciation for Gingrich.  His wife told me that she never would have thought that she and her family would ever come around to agree with Gingrich on anything.  She says it remains a topic of holiday conversation and probably will remain so for a long time. 

Remove the prism of the MSM and the DNC and you will get to see and appreciate the real Newt Gingrich.

When Rick Tyler (Gingrich’s spokesman) came to speak at the Howard County Republican Club meeting he delivered one of the best messages I heard in a long time.  He discussed the Republican Party as the birth place of civil rights and personal responsibility.  I have to get the text of his remarks to post here.  It was awesome.  Rick reminded us of two MSM publications, Time and Newsweek articles that were published before Gingrich became speaker of the house.  They published cover stories titled “How Mean Will Gingrich’s America Be?” and “The Gingrich Who Stole Christmas”.  Now honestly – do you think they poisoned the well of reasoning regarding Gingrich?  Did they give him a chance?  No, they set expectations.

As for Karl Rove?  I don’t really care for him – but McGuffin’s refrain is consistent.  Rove-Bush rhetoric.  Scare tactics.

Brian Harlin, chairman of the county Republicans, said, “I understand people’s feelings at a national level about the party — people come down on either side of the [Iraq] war.” But people agree, he contends, that Ehrlich is doing “a very good job.”

In other words, all politics are local.  Some people may cast a anti-Bush or anti-Washington vote.  I think most will vote on the issues.

Republican officials such as Kane and Bo Harmon, Ehrlich’s campaign manager, stress the state of Baltimore’s schools as a negative for O’Malley.

“Education is a top issue for Howard County voters,” Harmon said. “The governor has improved test scores all around the state. … Do we want to risk those improvements by switching to someone whose schools in some cases have lower than a 4 percent pass rate?”

“That’s simplistically idiotic,” said Councilman Guy Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat running for House of Delegates. Democrats said Ehrlich is no more responsible for Howard’s good schools than O’Malley is for decades of academic problems in Baltimore.

“The governor is using it as a political weapon to attack Martin O’Malley,” said Rick Abbruzzese, an O’Malley campaign spokesman. O’Malley and Ehrlich share the same authority over schools, he said — the power to appoint school board members.

Well, it is an issue.  O’Malley has had nearly a decade to turn things around in Baltimore City Schools.  He failed to take responsibility.  The track record is clear.   I would agree that a sitting Governor can do more harm to the school systems than help them.  I give Ehrlich credit for letting the local jurisdictions run their systems.  O’Malley could have made progress and he didn’t.  I don’t think he tried unless it was a media issue.

Democratic leaders, however, are optimistic about their prospects in Howard this year, fueled partly by gains in voter registration since 2002.

According to county elections board figures, Democrats have gained 11.6 percent in registrations, compared with an 8.5 percent gain for the GOP. Registered Democrats number 81,763, compared with 61,234 Republicans. The board listed 34,834 independents and fringe party members.

Independent voters made up the fastest-growing group — a nearly 30 percent jump over four years. They now make up nearly a fifth of all Howard voters.

This doesn’t mean much to me at all.  Look at County Council District One.  A majority Dem. district and Merdon has won two elections with vast majorities.  People don’t vote strictly along party lines in General Elections.  Registration counts mostly during the Primary.  Most of my Democratic friends tell me they are registered Democrats so they can vote in the Democratic primary so they can keep the nuts off the ballot.  They then vote Republican in the general election.  I have a very good friend who sheepishly told me, “I switched my registration to Democrat, but believe me I am still a Republican.  I just need to vote in the Democratic primary.”  I hear it a lot.

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One Response to “Poll indicates county could be election key”

  1. observer said

    I am glad to see MacGuffin take over the chairmanship of the Democratic Club in Howard County. It is clear every time that he speaks that he is one of those EXTREME LEFTISTS that even most democrats will run from. His leadership in Howard County will do for local Dems what Howard Dean has done for the DNC.

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