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June 24, 2008

Political Street Gossip Part 5

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Yesterday, we ended our discussion of Frederick’s delegation races in 2010 with an observation about Sen. Alex Mooney's vulnerabilities. Here's some proof of that.


He barely squeezed out a 1,000 vote victory against a virtually unknown challenger in 2006, Democrat Candy Greenway. This time around, his opponents will be better known and better funded.


He's likely to face a GOP primary challenge, and there are already potential names being floated. An earlier promise to protect anonymity means that a certain Urbana-area resident/writer/pundit will benefit from a few more months of working in the shadows, but when (or if) he finally emerges, it promises to be a very interesting race. Senator Mooney would face a charismatic, eloquent, and organized opponent who can match him on the core conservative issues.


The Democrats showing interest in the District 3 Senate seat reads like a Who's Who of local politics over the last 10 years. Del. Galen Claggett seemed interested in moving across the big marble lobby to the Senate Chamber. He has the name, the resources, and political smarts to pull that off. The only thing standing in his way is…


County Commission President Jan Gardner, although far from a declared candidate for state office, seems to harbor some serious interest in the District 3 Senate race. The Democratic primary would be bare-knuckle brawl and maybe the most interesting political race in many years. Mrs. Gardner seems to thrive in Annapolis. She was a high-profile presence among committee leaders and Gov. Martin O'Malley's staff while serving as the president of the Maryland Association of Counties.


She would run as a darling of the anti-growth, environmental, pro-public education movements. As with her county races, she would be a powerful force given the depth and breadth of her core supporters. Delegate Claggett, on the other hand, would be favored by the business community, sort of like a hand-picked go-to guy for the development community.


These two fought like cats and dogs over zoning and ethics changes the last several years. Try to imagine how those festering wounds would play out in a primary for the Senate seat occupied by Mr. Mooney. You'll need one of those rain barrel-sized buckets of popcorn for that show!


Depending on which one emerged victorious, and how much damage was done by the other, Alex Mooney would have his most serious electoral challenge ever. All the more reason why he'll likely prefer an open path to Congressman Bartlett's seat, knowing his chances were better to appeal to the traditional conservatives in the sixth congressional district than with the rapidly changing demographic in the Frederick-area state legislative district.


It's quite possible that Mr. Claggett will examine his role as a freshman in the Senate, and contrast that with his increasingly significant leadership position with Speaker of The House Michael Busch, and opt to remain in the "lower Chamber." He really has evolved into a power-player; yet in the Senate he'd merely be a lowly freshman, forced to curry favor with long-serving President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller. Even then, he'd have nowhere near the influence he does in the House.


Assuming David Brinkley seeks to retain his District 4 Senate seat, he might have to re-hash some personal stuff, but there are no credible challengers out there at this point, save Republican County Commissioner John L. "Lennie" Thompson, Jr. Mr. Brinkley's only vulnerability might be with GOP values voters, and Mr. Thompson will posture in his white-suited best form. Don't ever count this guy out; only a fool would.


Del. Sue Hecht looks almost unbeatable at this point, but that could change. Former Delegate Patrick Hogan has gained maturity in his years out of office, and has done an admirable job garnering resources for the YMCA. District 3-A is a solidly Democratic registration district, although District 3-B is leaning that way, too.


Over in District 4, Del. Paul Stull and his lovely wife Joanna have had their share of medical challenges, and he will always do the right thing for the Stull's first. If he decides he wants another four year term, his cachet is such that he can probably have it. Firefighters and the entire agricultural community rally around Paul every time his name is on a ballot.


Del. Joe Bartlett, if not running for his father's seat in Congress, will have some work to do to get re-elected. He needs to have some electoral scars repaired, not the least of which was the efficient campaign and fundraising assistance of his former wife, Melissa.


The only other delegation member that has given any indication about their intentions is its elder statesman, Del. Don Elliott (R., Frederick/Carroll). He seems interested in serving another 4-year term. Hopefully he will, as he is one of the most effective legislators I've had the honor to work with. He's also a really fun breakfast companion and a great teacher!


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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