Josh Kurtz: Maryland Power Couples

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By: Josh Kurtz 

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. Here’s hoping you’ve got the flowers, chocolates, champagne, etc., taken care of.

To mark the Hallmark holiday, we are presenting a list of Maryland power couples. A few words about it before we start naming names:

First, this is not meant to be the definitive word on power couples. It’s one quick attempt to have some fun. No doubt we’ve omitted many worthy candidates.

Second, this list is heavy on people in Maryland’s political realm, where power is relative. Maryland is home to current and former members of presidents’ cabinets, corporate chieftains, media heavyweights, and world-renowned artists. But if they’re not really connected to the power centers in Annapolis and local government, they aren’t likely to be listed here.

Third, we fault ourselves for not identifying more powerful gay couples. We know you’re out there, and we apologize.

Lastly – and this will come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention – Annapolis sure is a small town. And lobbyists sure are…well connected, from the hearing room to the bedroom.

So with these caveats and observations, we bring you the list. It starts with the ultimate power couple, and then continues in alphabetical order:


ANGELA ALSOBROOKS AND ERIC BRYANT: She’s the Prince George’s County state’s attorney, with an unlimited political future. He’s a partner in one of Annapolis’ top lobbying firms and has close ties to several top Maryland pols.

SUSAN AUMANN AND KARL AUMANN: She’s a Republican delegate from northern Baltimore County. He’s a member of the state Workers Compensation Commission.

ROBIN DANA GILL BRIGHT AND VINCE CANALES: She’s a district court judge in Prince George’s County. He’s the former president of the county’s Fraternal Order of Police who is now running for a County Council seat.

SUSANNE BROGAN AND DAVE BLIDEN: She’s the state’s deputy Budget secretary, and he’s the longtime head of MACo who has moved on to a private legal and consulting practice.

KARMEN WALKER BROWN AND ANTHONY BROWN: She’s the director of government and regulatory affairs for Comcast, the media powerhouse. He’s the lieutenant governor who’s hoping to make history in a few different ways with his campaign for governor.

LYNN CALIGIURI AND TONY CALIGIURI: She’s a fundraising consultant with close ties to prominent Eastern Shore politicians. He’s the former chief of staff to ex-Rep. Wayne Gilchrist (R) and now serves as a regional vice president for the National Wildlife Federation and as chairman of the board of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

KENDEL EHRLICH AND BOB EHRLICH: They remain THE power couple for a Maryland GOP unwilling – or unable – to move on. Both are influential powerbrokers and commentators and some Republicans believe Kendel Ehrlich may yet have a political career in front of her. Some people note that this couple’s power is measured by their ability to blow up the Republican party and not get blamed for it.

ERIN FAVAZZA AND JOHN FAVAZZA: She’s an Annapolis veteran currently working in the Prince George’s County legislative affairs shop. He’s the former chief of staff to House Speaker Mike Busch (D) who has moved on to the lobbying world.

JESSICA FELDMARK AND JOSH FELDMARK: Husband and wife powers in Howard County – she’s chief of staff to County Executive Ken Ulman (D) and he heads the county’s Office of Environmental Sustainability.

LINDA GOTTFRIED AND BRAD GOTTFRIED: She’s a prominent nonprofit executive in Southern Maryland and he’s president of the community college there.

VICKI GRUBER AND TOM LEWIS: She’s the indispensable right hand to state Senate President Mike Miller (D) and he filled a similar role for two House speakers before moving on to Johns Hopkins’ formidable lobbying shop as vice president for government and community affairs.

SHELLEY HETTLEMAN AND JEFF HETTLEMAN: She’s a veteran of Baltimore-area community groups and Jewish organizations and former campaign manager for Sen. Ben Cardin (D) who is now a candidate for a state House seat. He’s a VP at the Shelter Group, the Baltimore-based developer of senior housing and multifamily units.

MARK HODGE AND RICH MADALENO: Mark is an official in the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and Rich is a Democratic state senator.

JOLENE IVEY AND GLENN IVEY: She’s chairwoman of the Prince George’s County House delegation and candidate for lieutenant governor. He has stepped back from politics for the moment, but as a former Prince George’s state’s attorney, former chairman of the Public Service Commission and former top-level Capitol Hill staffer, he may not be done.

KRISTIN JONES AND JOE BRYCE: She’s chief of staff to House Speaker Mike Busch (D) and he’s the invaluable longtime legislative liaison to governors who has become a lobbyist.

LISA HARRIS JONES AND SEAN MALONE: First these two powerhouse lobbyists went into business together, then they married each other. She’s a lifelong friend of Stephanie Rawlings Blake, and he’s tight with Martin O’Malley.

ANNE KAISER AND NANCY LINEMAN: Anne is a delegate from Montgomery County (chairwoman of the county's delegation) and rising star on the Ways and Means Committee. Nancy is a Prince George’s County prosecutor who also is the legislative liaison for the state’s attorney’s office.

MARY KANE AND JOHN KANE: She’s taking a break from the political hurly-burly as president and CEO of the D.C.-based Sister Cities International. But he remains a powerbroker through the Greater Washington Board of Trade and his transportation company, and he still dabbles in state and local politics from time to time. No one would be surprised to see either of them run for office again one of these days.

PAM KASEMEYER AND ED KASEMEYER: She’s a lobbyist with an especially robust health care portfolio and he’s chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

SHEILA KAST AND JIM ROSAPEPE: She’s a top-flight journalist with a varied resume, currently hosting the morning show on WYPR Radio. He’s a state senator and former U.S. ambassador to Romania.

LAURA LIPPMANN AND DAVID SIMON: She’s the Baltimore Sun reporter turned literary queen of the city, and he’s the angry Baltimore Sun reporter turned angry celebrity TV producer – and is featured in the book: "Stuff White People Like." They’re the envy of journalists everywhere.

JACQUELINE AND TOM MANGER: She’s the COO of West Creek Capital, the Bethesda-based investment firm, and a stalwart in the Montgomery County arts scene. He’s the county’s unflappable police chief.

SHARON AND GLEN MIDDLETON: She’s a Baltimore City councilwoman and he’s one of the state’s top union leaders.

MARILYN MOSBY AND NICK MOSBY: She’s shaking up Baltimore politics with her campaign for state’s attorney, and he represents West Baltimore on the City Council.

GLORIA MURPHY AND DON MURPHY: Baltimore County GOP stalwarts who wage their battles with great energy, creativity and humor – and often find themselves at odds with the party establishment.

HANNAH POWERS AND ROB GARAGIOLA: His power was undeniably greater when he was state Senate majority leader and presumed future congressman. But it’s hard to leave them off the list. They work for the same lobbying firm now, and he’s young enough to resurrect his political career at some point if he wants to.

MAUREEN QUINN AND KUMAR BARVE: She’s a member of the state Workers Compensation Commission and he’s House majority leader.

SARAH BLOOM RASKIN AND JAMIE RASKIN: A former Maryland commissioner of financial regulation, she currently serves on the board of governors at the Federal Reserve, and has been nominated by President Obama to be deputy Treasury secretary. He’s a Maryland state senator, American University law professor and civil liberties advocate.

LAURI RODICH AND DAVID RODICH: She’s a politically active business consultant in Montgomery County and he’s executive director of the Service Employees Union Local 500.

NIK SUSHKA AND DAVE KUNES: Progressive activists extraordinaire who have been the past two presidents of the Montgomery County Young Democrats. In her day job, she coordinates service learning programs for Montgomery College. In his day job, he works for Del. Tom Hucker (D) and consults with unions and other liberal groups.

MARIA TILDON AND CHUCK TILDON: She’s the senior vice president of public policy and community affairs at Care First Blue Cross Blue Shield in Baltimore. He’s vice president for government relations and strategic partnerships at United Way of Central Maryland.

KAREN WHITE AND ROB JOHNSON: She “went national” many years ago – she’s currently political director for the National Education Association. But she remains a force in Maryland politics – and a mentor to women candidates and operatives throughout the state. He is partner at one of the most successful lobbying firms in Annapolis.

KAREN AND RON YOUNG: They’re not as powerful as they once were, but they remain an enduring force to be reckoned with in Western Maryland politics. She’s expected to run for a House seat after a losing bid last year to be mayor of Frederick – a job he once held. He’s seeking reelection to the state Senate.

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.