Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Democratic Wave in Maryland

As reported by David Lublin here and by Sharon in MD here, Maryland Democrats have a lot more to celebrate than the victories of Martin O'Malley and Ben Cardin. Democrats made gains in both the State Senate and the House of Delegates, blowing out of the water Ehrlich's effort to get rid of the Dem's veto-proof majority (not that it would matter much with O'Malley in the Governor's Mansion). The extent of the gains will likely depend on the absentee ballots, which won't be counted until Monday. Moreover, the progressive wing of the party has a number of new champions in both houses, including about a dozen strong progressive newcomers from Montgomery County alone. And if Jean Cryor does indeed lose to Craig Rice, who ran a strong campaign that surprised many in the county political establishment, it would mark the first time in my (admittedly limited) political memory that Montgomery County has not had a single Republican elected official. Correct me if I'm worng, but I think that completes the trifecta of Maryland's largest jurisdictions, with Montgomery joining Prince George's and Baltimore City in being Republican-free zones.
One of my favorite incoming state senators told me a couple weeks ago that if both Steele and Ehrlich were defeated, we would be destroying Republican morale for a generation. There's some truth to that. But as we enjoy the fruits of victory over the next couple of years, there are a few things Democrats would do well to remember:
1. Those who govern well win. The wave election was a result of scandal and mismanagement by George W. Bush and by Republican leaders at the state level, like former Governor Taft in Ohio. Democratic leaders need to keep their noses clean and fulfill as many of their election promises as possible.
2. There are some big issues confronting Maryland. To begin with, changes in federal rules about accounting promise a huge deficit for state and county governments. At the same time, funding needs to be maintained or increased for education and school construction, crises in the health care and juvenile justice systems need to be addressed, and serious environmental problems need to be confronted.
3. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. I hope that we have a much less contentious election in four years. But Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele will probably not just go away. In four years, we should be ready for an even stronger challenge by Republicans, even if it never materializes. That means continuing to build the base, but also expanding the base in the large swaths of the state that voted Republican.
4. We need to address the cracks in our own base, beginning with addressing the concerns of many African-Americans who have felt slighted by the party.
Lots of challenges to deal with. Four years to do it. Time to get crackin'.


Blogger Stephanie Dray said...

I think it's important that we expose Ehrlich and Steele for who they are, and crush their careers now so they can't come back to haunt us later.

What they did in this election with homeless people was so reprehensible I'd like to see them both in jail. Marylanders should know about it now, so that we don't have to deal with them again.

11/08/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger andy k in MD said...

Democrats should focus on the Black community, of course. However, I see a BIG chance for Democrats to court the latino vote, both in the city and around the state. During a flush above patterson park last night, we talked to literally HUNDREDS of Latinos who were not registered to vote.

Granted, some of them may not be eligible, but a good amount must be. We need to recruit democrats who can speak Spanish, and head to these areas and register these voters! They all smiled when the word "democratic" was uttered and seemed proud that someone took interest in their opinions.

Of course, only a FLUSH got us in contact with these voters, not cavassing. They need to be registered and Democrats need to start printing bi-lingual materials.

Especially in Western Maryland, Democrats could make gains in registrations if we target latinos.

11/08/2006 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mdman said...

The MD Democratic party needs to take lessons learned from this election and build on them for the next election. We need to revitalize the Democratic party all around the state. Unfortunately, the Democratic wave was concentrated where it usually is: Baltimore and its suburbs and the Washington suburbs. We need to build now in the more rural areas of the state to oust Bartlett in 2008 and to make inroads on the Eastern Shore.

Attention to the expectations of the African-American community need to be addressed, as well. That will be difficult, given that there will be no openings at the top of the ticket next cycle, but some key appointments need to come from that community. How about Secretary of State?

Let's hope that O'Malley makes good use of Anthony Brown

11/08/2006 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mdman said...

You mentioned that in your memory, Montgomery County did not have a single Republican elected official. In what capacity? There have been some Republican members of the County Council. Don't forget Connie Morella in Congress just recently. There may have been been a Republican county exec at some point in the last 20 years or so, but I may be wrong on that score.

11/09/2006 10:09:00 AM  

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