Josh Kurtz: Around the State

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By: Josh Kurtz 

Word on the street in Annapolis is that Baltimore County Del. Steve DeBoy (D) is reconsidering his decision to retire.

DeBoy, the thinking goes, is less than thrilled with the lineup of liberals that has formed to replace him. What’s more, as he ponders a race for Baltimore County sheriff – in 2018, when veteran Sheriff Jay Fisher (D) is expected to retire – he is wondering whether he’ll be in a stronger position to run as an officeholder rather than someone who has been out of the public eye for four years, even with his 32 years of law enforcement experience.

DeBoy did not respond to phone messages and an email left at his Annapolis and district offices. But when he announced his plans not to seek reelection in 2014, just days after the end of this year’s General Assembly session, he made it clear that redistricting was a factor in his decision.

For the past several election cycles, the 12th legislative district, consisting of territory in Baltimore and Howard counties, has been divided into two House subdistricts, one centered in blue-collar Catonsville, the other slouching toward more conventionally liberal Columbia. But in the last round of redistricting, the district was unified, with the biggest swath of territory now in Columbia. In other words, in a Democratic primary, liberals will rule, and centrists like DeBoy may struggle.

"The two worlds of what I presently have as my base [in Baltimore County] and what's out in Columbia are obviously going to be polar opposites," he told the Baltimore Sun in April when he announced his retirement.

Coincidentally, DeBoy’s fellow District 12 House incumbents – Del. Jimmy Malone (D), who shares DeBoy’s working class roots and geographical base, and Liz Bobo (D), a leading Annapolis progressive – are also headed to the exits, meaning the district’s House delegation will consist of nothing but newbies. And so far, the nine candidates competing in the Democratic primary – most, though not all, based in or around Columbia – have taken liberal positions, from supporting gay marriage to legalizing marijuana to enacting single-payer health care.

So DeBoy, who turns 58 on Jan. 2, may be wondering whether he was a little hasty in deciding to retire. He may be worried that the district’s blue-collar precincts will go underrepresented in Annapolis. One sign that he may be reconsidering is that his Facebook page, essentially dormant for the past six months or so, is showing signs of life.

It seems inevitable that the House of Delegates will become more politically polarized in the next term, so keeping a moderate voice like DeBoy’s may have some appeal. The question, of course, is whether, in the newly-drawn district, a centrist Democrat, even a popular incumbent like DeBoy, can win.


Add two more names to the list of ex-officeholders who may be seeking political comebacks in 2014.

In Baltimore County, former Del. Connie DeJuliis (D) – she was known as Connie Galiazzo when she represented the Dundalk area in the legislature from 1991 to 1994 – is telling associates she plans to challenge state Sen. Jim Brochin in the June 24 Democratic primary.

Brochin, who is disliked by many Senate Democratic leaders, was once thought to be a dead man walking. Democrats seemed only too happy to sacrifice him during the most recent redistricting; his northern Baltimore County district has been made even more conservative than it already was.

But Brochin is nothing if not hard working and persistent. He has been going door to door like a fiend. And no one is suggesting that the likely Republican nominee, former Baltimore County GOP Chairman Chris Cavey, is an unstoppable political force. So Brochin may just survive the general election – depending on the overall political environment in the state and nation.

Now a possible DeJuliis candidacy adds a new wrinkle. DeJuliis has the type of profile that could prevail in a Democratic primary. She’ll presumably have labor support, thanks to her husband Ron DeJuliis’ labor ties. And women often have built-in advantages in Democratic primaries.

But DeJuliis, who is now 66, last ran a campaign in 1996, when she took on Bob Ehrlich, then a freshman Republican congressman. And Brochin’s head start may be hard for her to overcome.

Still, this one will be fun to watch, if it comes to fruition.

Meanwhile, in Prince George’s County, former Councilman Tony Knotts (D) is gearing up to run for a House seat, on a ticket led by state Sen. Anthony Muse (D).

Knotts launched a run for county executive in 2010, when he was termed out on the Council, but abandoned his bid just before the filing deadline because he wasn’t gaining much traction. It probably didn’t help that he was one of three Council members being sued by a developer who accused them of shaking him down for political contributions.

There are several different political cross-currents at play in Muse’s district – not the least of which is Del. Veronica Turner’s decision to challenge Muse in the Democratic primary. Turner’s candidacy is being sustained almost exclusively by the Service Employees International Union, and will be an interesting test of labor’s strength this Democratic primary.

At the same time, Del. Jay Walker (D), who had contemplated a Senate bid of his own, has now decided to seek reelection on Muse’s ticket. A third Senate candidate, lawyer and former Capitol Hill aide Brian Woolfolk, is also running. He hasn’t gotten much traction yet, but he’s a credible contender and may be poised to take advantage if the Muse-Turner battle becomes bloody.

Muse, of course, is one of the most interesting – and one of the most transactional – characters in Maryland politics. He appears to be playing footsie with Doug Gansler’s gubernatorial campaign right now.

Assuming DeJuliis and Knotts run, you can add their names to the list of ex-officeholders seeking seats in the legislature in 2014, which includes: Bob Flanagan, Mike Gisriel, Art Helton, Cheryl Kagan, Sue Kullen and Gareth Murray.


 Speaking of redistricting, political junkies might enjoy poring through the Court of Appeals’ ruling on the most recent legislative map, which was finally released last week. Anyone expecting consistency will be sorely disappointed.

In its analysis of the post-1990 Census map, the court found that the state redistricting plan came “perilously close” to violating the “due regard” section of state law because it included 18 districts that crossed counties, including five shared districts between Baltimore city and Baltimore County. In 2002, the court threw out the map approved by the legislature in part because it contained 22 border crossings. The map the court redrew had just 14 border crossings – none between the city and Baltimore County.

So, ironically, if not predictably, the court this year spent a good bit of its 86-page decision rejecting challenges to the latest map by justifying one district that touches both the city and Baltimore County. “It is clear from the facts contained in the record that the crossing between Baltimore City and Baltimore County served a constitutional purpose,” the judges wrote.


All six declared candidates for governor appeared on the same stage yesterday morning, addressing the annual breakfast of the group Committee for Montgomery. It wasn’t a debate, just a chance for each candidate to answer a series of questions and then give a three-minute closing statement.

The three Republicans – David Craig, Ron George and Charles Lollar – all sounded fairly moderate themes, which was appropriate for the largely Democratic audience. In fact, it was hard at times to tell they were Republicans. Craig in particular impressed with the depth and breadth of his experience.

On the Democratic side, the battle lines, even with the format, were clearly drawn, and the upside and downside of the O’Malley legacy were clearly on display.

Anthony Brown seems content to remind people that under O’Malley, schools continue to perform well, new gun safety laws were passed, the state legalized same-sex marriage and the DREAM Act, and transportation and infrastructure are about to see an infusion of cash.

Doug Gansler was perhaps the most aggressive, criticizing the O’Malley administration for the problems associated with the launch of the health care exchange, for shifting a portion of the responsibility for teacher pensions to local governments, and for higher taxes.

And Heather Mizeur simultaneously seemed the most passionate and the most relaxed – not a bad place to be.


This is my last column of 2013. Happy holidays, everybody! Thanks so much for reading and for all your feedback. The column will return on Jan. 7.

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at .


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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.