Josh Kurtz: Speaking of the Hogan Effect (And Other Tidbits)

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So Del. Kathy Szeliga (R) is running for U.S. Senate with the full backing of Congressman Andy Harris’ political machine and the support of three of the state’s five Republican county executives. And Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R) is also actively pondering the race.

Here is yet another example of how Gov. Larry Hogan’s upset victory last year is transforming Maryland.

Szeliga or Glassman would be the underdog against either of the two Democratic members of Congress currently running for Senate – or against Congressman Elijah Cummings (D), if he runs and winds up as the Democratic nominee. But would Republicans of this caliber be seeking the job – even without having to sacrifice their current seats in 2016 – if Hogan hadn’t paved the way in 2014?

It will be hard for any Republican to replicate Hogan’s performance next year. The presidential election year electorate – in Maryland and most everyplace else – is dramatically different than it is in midterm years. It’s younger, it’s more racially diverse, and it’s more liberal.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t Democrats who won’t be receptive to Szeliga’s message, or Glassman’s. A Senate bid by either won’t be an exercise in futility, especially if Hogan remains popular, and it could pay future dividends, even if they lose. Glassman and Szeliga are formidable players in the state GOP, and a statewide bid will raise their visibility.

Will Glassman take the plunge?

The poll he released last week certainly had encouraging numbers for him. But the sample size of likely Republican voters – 302 – was shockingly low.

None of the potential GOP candidates is particularly well known at this point. But if the poll was supposed to be a muscle-flexing exercise for Glassman, it would have been more persuasive if it were bigger and more comprehensive.

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Speaking of Hogans, congratulations to the governor’s half-brother, Patrick Hogan, for his new gig as vice chancellor for government relations at the University System of Maryland.

It’s amusing that Hogan is replacing another Hogan (no relation), P.J. (also Patrick) Hogan, who held the job for a decade before decamping to the lobbying world, as Center Maryland first reported.

P.J. Hogan, who spent 10 years in the state Senate, became a top adviser to former Chancellor Brit Kirwan while at USM, and being a Republican-turned-Democrat, he was a centrist with credibility on both sides of the aisle.

Patrick Hogan, who spent eight years in the House of Delegates before going to work for his brother this year, is likely to become a top adviser to the new chancellor, Robert Caret. Patrick Hogan may also have bipartisan cred: His appointment was hailed by House Speaker Mike Busch (D) and Appropriations Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh (D) – despite Hogan’s role as the staffer guiding the governor’s partisan-masquerading-as-nonpartisan push for redistricting reform.

“As a member of the House, Patrick worked across the aisle to find solutions to solve problems across Maryland,” Busch said.

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Speaking of the governor, congratulations of the clean bill of health, which Hogan announced on Monday afternoon.

It’s likely that his high poll numbers these days are fueled in part by his high-profile advocacy for cancer patients and causes after his own diagnosis and treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

This week, it was going to bring him national attention – a profile on “Fox News Sunday.” But Friday’s terrorist attacks bumped Hogan off the program; the profile will air later this month. He remains, however, the state’s most visible advocate for cancer patients and their families – and a man greatly transformed by his experience.

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Speaking of Hogan’s poll numbers, congratulations to a potential Democratic challenger, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (D), for being one of nine people named Governing magazine’s “2015 Public Officials of the Year” last week. He was joined on the list by the nonpareil California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), among others.

Prince George’s’ transformation in Baker’s five years as executive is extraordinary when you think about it, especially considering where the county was when he took over – riven by corruption and dysfunction. Between Baker’s governing reforms and his zeal for boosting education and economic development, the county is being put in a position to compete (and cooperate) with its richer neighbors.

Of course, Governing’s imprimatur hardly guarantees future political success. Just ask two 2013 winners, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) and former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D). We all know what happened to Brown last year; Kitzhaber was arguably one of the best governors in America – until he was undone by a scandal surrounding his fiancée and her consulting work for the state. He resigned earlier this year.

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Speaking of Prince George’s Democrats, we had to laugh at the news release that landed in our inbox last week heralding the decision of former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D) to endorse Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D) in the Senate race.

If ever there was a given in politics, it was that Ervin was going to support Edwards. The two are good friends, dating back to their childhood together on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. Ervin and Edwards have been mutual advisers – personally and politically – for years. It’s entirely possible that Ervin’s recently aborted congressional campaign never got off the ground in part because she was spending too much time helping Edwards’ Senate campaign. And it would not be surprising to see Ervin become Edwards’ chief of staff if Edwards makes it to the Senate.

But Edwards and her principal opponent for the Democratic Senate nomination, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, seem to be trying to upstage each other when it comes to endorsements. Last week, Van Hollen announced the endorsement of the founders and former leaders of the group Progressive Maryland. So Edwards countered with an endorsement from Ervin, a progressive leader in the state.

All of which suggests it’s going to be a very long five months until the primary…

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Speaking of Democrats, we reported some weeks back that operative Lisa Bianco, who has worked for Maryland Congressmen Steny Hoyer and John Delaney, among others, was set to become campaign manager for Wes Moore – if Moore decided to run for mayor of Baltimore.

Well, Moore is staying on the sidelines. But Bianco has landed on her feet. She has become political director for an organization called NewDEAL, a self-described “national network of pro-growth progressive state and local leaders working to expand opportunity for all Americans in the changing economy.”

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) are the co-chairmen. Marylanders associated with the group, according to New DEAL’s website, are Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D), state Sen. Bill Ferguson (D), state Del. Andrew Platt (D), Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), and Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer (D).


Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at . Follow him on Twitter -- @joshkurtznews

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Josh Kurtz has been writing about Maryland politics since late 1995. Louie Goldstein, William Donald Schaefer and Pete Rawlings were alive, but the Intercounty Connector, as far as anyone could tell, was dead.

But some things never change: Mike Miller is still in charge of the Senate. Gerry Evans and Bruce Bereano are among the top-earning lobbyists in Annapolis. Steny Hoyer is still waiting for Nancy Pelosi to disappear. And Maryland Republicans are still struggling to be relevant.

The media landscape in Maryland has changed a lot, and Kurtz is happy to write weekly for Center Maryland. He's been writing a column for the website since it launched in January 2010.

In his "real" job, Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily down on Capitol Hill. But he'll always find Maryland politics more fascinating.

Kurtz grew up in New York City and attended public schools there. He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. He's married with two daughters and lives in Takoma Park, Md. He hopes you'll drop him a line, or maybe go out for a meal with him, because he's always hungry -- for political gossip.