Todd Eberly: “Maryland’s Democratic party is in disarray.”
We can only hope he is right!
Writing at The Freestater blog, St. Mary’s College political science professor Todd Eberly had much to say after the rout of Garagiola-the-great by newcomer John Delaney in the new 6th District. (By the way, some of Garagiola’s hate-filled rants about Delaney arrived at my home and I’m glad to see that such negative campaigning had little effect).
Readers may have already seen Eberly’s post, but I’ve been away and wanted to be sure to post this for my archives. I hope also to post (today?) some similar discussions about the Republican Party in the wake of Maryland’s primary last week.
Eberly began with this (emphasis mine):
Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola’s defeat in the MD-6 legislative primary will have reverberations felt well beyond the district. In many ways, the Garagiola defeat is a sign of hard times ahead for the Maryland Democratic party. [yippee!–ed] First, let’s address the Garagiola loss. Garagiola is a powerful member of the state Senate and he enjoyed the backing of most of the Democratic party establishment in the state. Senate President Mike Miller drew the district for Garagiola and Steny Hoyer backed Garagiola in the primary. John Delaney was a novice politician running in a Democratic primary on a platform of fiscal conservatism. Gargiola had the backing of the unions and Moveon.org. By all accounts, Garagiola should have won a closed Democratic primary. So why did he lose? Because Maryland’s Democratic party is quite different from most other state Democratic parties.
Nationally, the Republican and Democratic parties have sorted rather neatly into two ideologically homogeneous parties. The Democrats have become the home of political liberals and the Republicans are home to conservatives. More moderate voters either loosely associate with one party or the other or eschew both. The ideological sorting is especially evident among elected officials and it began in earnest at the end of the 1960s.
But something odd happened in the Free State. In many respects the great American ideological realignment passed Maryland by. Maryland remains home to a species long thought extinct by many a political observer – the conservative Democrat.
A lesson for Democrat bigwigs and Republican power brokers alike—do not pressure candidates to get out of a primary! There is often a boomerang effect! Voters don’t like it when they learn the Establishment is trying to railroad the election (Romney campaign now or the Ehrlich v. Murphy campaign of 2010!).
In the Senate, Majority Leader Rob Garagiola was supposed to be heading to Congress. Mike Miller gerrymandered a district just for him – MD-06. This would then create a reverse domino effect of open positions and allow for some advancement – even if it meant advancing to a figure head position like majority leader. It would also prove that loyalty to Miller can mean great things – like his endorsement and a tailor-made congressional district. But then a novice named John Delaney crushed Garagiola. The high powered help provided by Martin O’Malley and Steny Hoyer delivered nothing to Garagiola. The early pressure placed on Delaney by party higher ups to stay out failed.
O’Malley not much help! Eberly continues:
With regard to Governor O’Malley, he was quite cautious during his first term. After an initial special session and modest tax increases the Governor spent the rest of his term holding most spending flat and avoiding any groundbreaking or controversial issues. Then he won reelection, then he became chair of the Democratic Governors Association, then he started thinking about 2016…. then things changed.
As his national star has risen O’Malley’s Maryland star has dimmed.
An aside: The Democrat party leadership in Annapolis has apparently crashed as we saw in the closing chaos of the General Assembly earlier this week, here.
Finally, here is one last snippet that gave me a chuckle! The Republicans new weapon!
Perhaps more challenging for the party has been the Republicans’ newly discovered weapon – the internet driven petition initiative and referendum. Now, when conservative Democrats cast a vote “for the party” on a tough issue they can’t rely on voters’ short memories. Likewise, even if they vote against the issue the petition and referendum will keep the public focused on it – it’s only a matter of time until a hot button referendum vote coincides with a state election. The presence of same-sex marriage and the Maryland Dream Act on the 2012 ballot may well boost Republican chances in the 2nd, 6th, and 8th districts and in the senate race.*** Imagine the impact in a non-presidential election.
Read Eberly’s whole analysis.
*** That means you—Nancy Jacobs, Roscoe Bartlett, Ken Timmerman and Dan Bongino—those two issues will bring Independents and Conservative Democrats to your side, don’t blow your opportunity by going squishy now!