Center Maryland On the Air

Center Maryland political columnist Josh Kurtz is scheduled to be a guest on this week’s Political Pulse, with host Charles Duffy. Josh will be discussing the latest political developments in Maryland and Montgomery County.

Political Pulse airs Thursday evening at 9 p.m. on Montgomery County Municipal Cable Channel 16. The show will be rebroadcast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m.

John T. Willis on Maryland politics and political history — VIDEO


John T. Willis, former Maryland Secretary of State and currently executive in residence at the University of Baltimore School of Public and International Affairs, talks with Center Maryland about the governor’s race, a recent book he helped write on Maryland politics and some facts about Maryland’s political history.

Having trouble seeing the above video? Click here to go directly to it.

Damian O’Doherty is a corporate communications strategist, a principal of KO Public Affairs LLC and co-founder of Center Maryland.

Josh Kurtz: Brown-Ulman Pre-nup Dictated by State Election Law

By Josh Kurtz

Marriages are always complicated; marriages involving lots of money are usually a little more complicated.

The same is true of political marriages.

So when Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman decided to run as a ticket in 2014, we started wondering how they were going to join forces financially. As you might expect, it’s complicated in certain ways — but in other ways, it isn’t.

The sheer amount of money we’re talking about is unprecedented: Ulman as of January had $2.1 million in his campaign account, and Brown had $1.6 million. But just because a lot of money is involved, the actual process isn’t unprecedented.

It’s a little like a marriage, with each spouse maintaining separate bank accounts, even as they establish a joint account at the same time.

Every time a candidate for governor in Maryland chooses a running mate, two things happen fairly quickly: the candidate for lieutenant governor has to set up a fundraising committee of his own if he doesn’t already have one, and the campaign sets up a joint account — not unlike a slate account, which is common enough in state and local races.

“They will form a slate, for all intents and purposes,“ said Jared DeMarinis, director of the candidacy and campaign finance division at the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Unlike many other states, candidates for lieutenant governor don’t stand before voters on their own. Their fates are tied directly to the gubernatorial candidates.

Nevertheless, “while they run as a ticket, they are separate candidates for campaign finance purposes,” DeMarinis said.

But there are rules and restrictions on what the joint committee can raise, based on what the individual candidates have raised. For example, if a donor has already “maxed out” to Brown and to Ulman, she can’t contribute anything to the new joint committee. What she can give to the joint committee is dictated by what she’s already given separately to the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.

The legislature this year imposed a cap of $24,000 on what can be transferred between slates and individual candidates, beginning in the 2018 election cycle. But that cap won’t apply to gubernatorial tickets.

This is hardly the first time a candidate for governor has chosen a running mate who already had a fundraising committee of his own. After all, Brown already had a legislative campaign account when he was tapped to be Martin O’Malley’s running mate in the 2006 cycle. Michael Steele had an all but dormant campaign account left over from his 1998 run for comptroller when he became Bob Ehrlich’s running mate in 2002. Howie Denis was a veteran state senator when he became Helen Bentley’s No. 2 in 1994.

But we’ve never seen anything on the scale of the Brown-Ulman financial alliance.

“By teaming up, they do create a very powerful fundraising entity,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause/Maryland, the government watchdog group.

And because he does not hold state office, Ulman, in contrast to Brown — or Brown’s rivals for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Doug Gansler and Heather Mizeur — can continue raising money during the 90-day legislative session next year (this is also true of all the Republican candidates for governor, except for Del. Ron George). But he’ll only be able to raise it for his own campaign account, not for Brown or for their joint account. Still, it’s one of the three entities that is now dedicated to getting Brown elected governor, so that’s an undeniable advantage.

Another thing we wondered — but no one has been able to tell us yet — is whether the Ulman campaign fundraising operation will be completely merged with Brown’s. In other words, will Ulman keep using Maryland political powerhouse Susan Smith-Bauk (finance director for former Gov. Parris N. Glendening) for his fundraising? Or will Maryland’s unrivaled top fundraiser, Colleen Martin-Lauer (whose firm handles Gov. Martin O’Malley, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Brown, among many others), take over Ulman’s fundraising apparatus?

OR will Martin-Lauer and Smith-Bauk join forces, like some Justice League of America comic in which Batman and Superman team up to fight evil?

The sheer volume of money that’s going to be spent on this year’s gubernatorial election raises one additional question: Whatever happened to public financing in Maryland?

Since establishing public financing for gubernatorial races in the early 1990’s, exactly one candidate has used it: Ellen Sauerbrey in 1994.

But there’s still more than $4 million sitting in a pot for a candidate who wants to accept spending limits — currently capped at roughly $2.35 million this election cycle — in exchange for every contribution of less than $250 being matched by the state.

Because that fund is so underutilized — it has been raided for other purposes related to elections — good government groups are pressing for the state to scrap it and instead establish a pilot program for public financing for legislative races. Companion bills by Sen. Paul Pinsky (D) and Del. Jon Cardin (D) went nowhere this year, but they’re expected to try again.

Alternately, there’s the idea of trying to taking public financing down to the local level, where campaigns often raise fewer dollars and a few big donors can make a big difference. “We’re talking to elected officials pretty much in every county,” Bevan-Dangel said. So far, though, no jurisdiction has signed up to be the first.

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

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

‘Groundhog Day’ in Montgomery County

Republicans At the Starting Gate

Gansler Hires Campaign Manager

Will 2014 Be a Republican Year Nationally — and in Maryland?

Back to the Future

Conviction Politics

Donald Fry: Baltimore City needs a reality check on proposed fees, regulations

By Donald C. Fry

Last week, the Baltimore City Council continued its recent frenzy of proposing well-intentioned legislation with potential, often unintended, consequences that could harm businesses.

In just the last two weeks, the Council has either proposed or acted favorably on bills to ban foam carryout cups and food containers, impose a fee on plastic and paper bags and, ironically, to limit service fees for buying tickets to concerts and sporting events – all of which would likely serve to increase the cost of doing business in the city or reduce potential revenue generation from sports and entertainment events that provide significant revenue to fund city services.

Also, the City Council passed a cumbersome bill to encourage local hiring by city vendors that, in addition to being unlikely to withstand constitutional muster, will instead impose impractical and costly bureaucratic requirements on them and, according to many business owners, will likely not result in increased hiring of city residents.

Meanwhile, the Council appears poised to impose storm water fees – a so-called “rain tax” – that will be significantly higher on businesses located in the city than fees to be charged by any other jurisdiction in the state.

This fee-focused flurry of activity and regulation under the City Hall dome has left business advocates scratching their heads and wondering: “What in the world are they thinking?”

Following is a quick rundown on the latest round of proposals emerging on Holliday Street.
Last Monday, a bill was introduced that would impose a 25-cent fee for each paper or plastic bag city businesses provide customers for their purchases. The bill’s sponsor, Councilman Brandon Scott, has said he intends to lower his proposed fee to 10 cents, reports Sun reporter Luke Broadwater.

The bill is supposedly intended as a deterrent to littering. Store owners would be responsible for collecting the fees and would be subject to penalties for late payment to the city.

It’s disappointing that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who opposed such a fee when she was president of the City Council, told the Baltimore Sun that she is now “open” to the fee.

Interesting, the proposed legislation would exempt food stamp users from the fee. While I understand the reason for such language in the bill, giving any type of exemption from this fee serves to confirm that the issue isn’t really about littering – it’s about revenue generation for the city budget.

Also this week, a city council committee sent a bill to the council floor that would ban the use of polystyrene foam products by carry-out food-service businesses in the city. Violators could be fined up to $1,000.

This bill is an effort to reduce foam cups and boxes that wash into the harbor, according to its sponsor, James Kraft. Though well-intentioned, the bill would increase costs for businesses, which point out that foam containers are less expensive than other types of carry-out containers and are not harmful. The reality is that the increased cost to business will only result in an increase in cost to city consumers.

City Council President Jack Young does not appear to favor the legislation. He told the Sun’s Luke Broadwater that littering is a “people problem” and inferred that the council can’t solve the problem by banning all potential litter. One would suggest that the same logic applies to the “bag fee” legislation.

Interestingly, Councilman Scott and Kraft both say their proposals are needed as a deterrent to littering. It’s worth noting that littering is currently against the law in Maryland, including Baltimore City, and carries penalties of up to 30 days in jail and fines of up to $1,500 for most who would litter.

All of this begs us to ponder the ultimate question to City Council members who would support imposing fees on bags or banning foam cups as a deterrent for littering: Do you really believe that the best way to control the behavior of customers is to punish the merchants?

On a different note, City Councilman Carl Stokes has introduced a bill not to increase a fee, but to cap service fees charged for concerts and entertainment. This bill was introduced as a consumer protection measure. But, as Baltimore Sun editorial writers have correctly pointed out, such a law could trigger the unintended consequence of driving popular entertainment acts away from Baltimore City, costing city venues millions in economic activity, not to mention decreasing tax revenue to the city.

Meanwhile, the Council will soon consider a number of potential amendments, exemptions, fee caps and credits relating to proposed storm water fees but, if enacted, the city’s base fee for businesses — $2,490 per acre of impervious surface –- would still remain the highest by far in the state.

Since the General Assembly is widely expected to take some kind of remedial action next session on the storm water enabling legislation it passed in 2012, it might be more prudent for the city to enact an initial fee structure for businesses that is essentially equivalent to Baltimore County’s fee.

In potentially enacting a significantly higher storm water fee than the county that surrounds it, the city once again would risk placing itself at a significant competitive disadvantage as a business location.

It’s disappointing that the administration has not taken a more active stance for business competitiveness on these fee-related issues. Such proposed policies are clearly not in sync with the mayor’s goal to bring 10,000 new families to the city.

Baltimore City has significant positives as a place to live and work – with many attractive and affordable neighborhoods, cultural institutions, attractions, superior health care and numerous other amenities. But it is well documented that city residents and businesses already live with high property taxes and high piggy-back income taxes, along with public safety and public school system challenges that detract from Baltimore’s many positive attributes.

When faced with the prospect of placing burdens and additional costs on the business sector that ultimately drives its economy and job creation, the city’s executive and legislative leadership must remember to perform a reality check of our competitors and refrain from piling on the fees and hurdles that will only exacerbate the city’s business-related competitive challenges and damage the perception of doing business in Baltimore City.

Donald C. Fry is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He is a regular contributor to Center Maryland.

Recent Center Maryland columns by Donald C. Fry:

Gaining traction for life sciences industry growth in Maryland

Maryland’s stormwater fees: a lesson in uneven policy making

Council should opt for ‘win-win’ approach, not ‘magic bullet’ for local hiring effort

Closing the ‘disconnect’ with elected officials over competitiveness

City takes constructive step toward strategy for job growth

Josh Kurtz: ‘Groundhog Day’ in Montgomery County

By Josh Kurtz

Now that Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett (D) has announced that he’s planning to seek a third term, let’s take a quick look at the options facing county voters so far in 2014:

• Leggett, 68, who was first elected to the County Council in 1986, served there for four terms, took time off to be Maryland Democratic chairman, and now has served two terms as executive.
• Doug Duncan, the former three-term county executive who served on the Rockville City Council beginning in 1982 and as mayor in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, before becoming executive in 1994.
• County Councilman Phil Andrews, who was elected to the job in 1998 after coming up short four years earlier, who ran Maryland Common Cause from 1988 to 1994, and whose political antecedents in Montgomery County, rooted in the county’s civic associations, are, well, dead.

In other words, more of same, more of same, more of same.

Leggett, Duncan and Andrews have distinguished records of public service and are deserving of respect. Although they have different strengths, each would be a fine steward of county government between 2014 and 2018.

But with the rapid demographic and economic changes underway, with the county in an intense regional competition on a variety of fronts with vital and innovative neighbors, with a whole generation of Montgomery voters barely aware of Duncan, let alone Andrews mentors like Neal Potter and Idamae Garrott, is it wrong to suggest that the county may be crying out for fresh leadership at the top?

Montgomery County looks a whole lot different than it did even half a decade ago, but its leaders – and not just elected officials, but business, civic and thought leaders – don’t. You go to staple events around the county – like the Committee for Montgomery annual legislative breakfast, or fundraisers for leading social service organizations, or the county executive’s annual arts ball, or the county Democratic Party’s annual spring ball – and you’ve stepped into a time machine, where it’s 1997 all over again.

A battle between Ike and Doug for county executive? Well, that puts some of these people in an uncomfortable position, because they may have to take sides. But in the end, it’s an internal squabble, and the county establishment can live with either result, because neither Duncan nor Leggett in Rockville for the next four years will provide any surprises.

County leaders have already put together a task force to examine the lack of sizzle in Montgomery nightlife. They ought to expand the committee’s portfolio to examine the lack of sizzle in the county’s political life. It’s a problem that desperately needs addressing.

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

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

Republicans At the Starting Gate

Gansler Hires Campaign Manager

Will 2014 Be a Republican Year Nationally — and in Maryland?

Back to the Future

Conviction Politics

Laslo Boyd: Does Doug Gansler Have A Plan?

By Laslo Boyd

A number of observers, including me, have wondered whether Attorney General Doug Gansler is waiting too long to get his campaign for governor up to full speed. The issue is certainly not whether he’s going to run. And it’s not whether he’s going to have enough money to fund his campaign. The question is whether he should be starting his public campaign now or at least soon.

The question got more attention recently after what one reporter called Lt. Governor Anthony Brown’s “jack rabbit start.” Brown formally kicked off his campaign and selected a Lt. Governor running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, at an unprecedentedly early date. He also picked up the endorsement of Congressman Elijah Cummings. Some have even suggested that Gansler has, by waiting, squandered the opportunity to be viewed as the inevitable Democratic nominee.

We won’t know until next June whether Gansler’s strategy was right or wrong. It is clear, however, that it’s the one he has had in mind for a very long time and that he’s not going to panic or change course because of anything that Brown is doing.

What’s the logic of waiting?

Even assuming that Brown has a decisive advantage going into the election — a proposition that Gansler surely does not accept—it is still true that both candidates will have to introduce themselves to the voters and make their cases for being elected. Neither holds an office that has any history of producing governors and neither is particularly well known statewide.

If you don’t start with high name recognition and a presumptive claim to the office — think Cory Booker in the upcoming New Jersey Senate race — the two routes to success with the demise of political machines are through television advertising or by building a political organization that identifies, mobilizes, and turns out voters on election day. Barack Obama had both in 2012, but neither of these candidates is likely to replicate his approach.

Gansler is opting for television as his way to win voters over to his side. He has already raised significantly more money that the combined total for Brown and Ulman. He will in all likelihood at least double his current total by the Primary next June. While there’s no guarantee of success, it is an approach that often works in statewide elections.

If you’re betting big time on a media campaign, waiting to get your campaign up and running has the benefit of not spending potential ad dollars on other expenses. And, again, investing in television rather than mailers or lawn signs or campaign buttons has become more and more a fact of life in modern elections.

Gansler will still have to hone a message and make the case that he has the experience and judgment to be governor. He will also have to navigate the surprises, mistakes and attacks that come with every campaign.

Will issues matter in this election? Hard to tell. Some Brown supporters argue that the proportion of African-American voters in a Democratic Primary is all that counts. Whether he has an automatic claim to them remains to be seen. Gansler is certainly counting on being able to hold down Brown’s margin in Prince George’s County—where he won in the 2006 Democratic Primary — and offset that with a big win in Montgomery County.

The outcome may then be decided in the Baltimore area. Can Brown run up a decisive victory in Baltimore City and will the turnout be high enough to make it significant? And what will happen in Baltimore County? That may well be a much more favorable jurisdiction for Gansler given historical voting patterns.

If you are Doug Gansler, you might be tempted to look at the Brown-Ulman ticket less as intimidating and more as a combination of two candidates with weaknesses. Brown was a poor third in fund raising and looks like he needed Ulman’s money to be competitive. Ulman, with an impressive record as Howard County Executive, was apparently unable to develop any real traction with voters in the year that he has been an active, albeit unannounced, candidate.

Gansler may have wished that Elijah Cummings stayed out of the race, but that wasn’t ever likely. How actively he supports Brown will be the more interesting question. And then there’s Martin O’Malley. For Gansler, the governor’s support was never a possibility and he has already started distancing himself from some of O’Malley’s policies. That will be much harder for Brown to do.

Candidates pick campaign strategies based upon their assessment of their own strengths and weaknesses and an appraisal of who their opponents will be. Gansler has already benefited from Comptroller Peter Franchot, also from Montgomery County, deciding not to run. The impact of Ulman joining Brown may be harder to sort out, but does not yet seem like a game changer.

At this point, Doug Gansler is undoubtedly very comfortable with his decision to wait until the fall before formally kicking off his campaign.

Laslo Boyd writes and consults about public policy, government, and politics. He is a regulator contributor to Center Maryland. His email is

Recent Center Maryland columns by Laslo Boyd:

They’re Off And Running, Sorta

Searching for Superman: The Future of Baltimore City Schools

Is Help Coming From Annapolis?

Tom Peddy: Voters did speak on referendum … in Baltimore County

By Thomas L. Peddy

The hotly debated issues of gun control and the death penalty attracted just 18,500 signatures, while the seemingly more mundane issues of Owings Mills traffic, preserving the County’s diminishing industrial opportunities and the undemocratic zoning process that makes those decisions attracted more than 170,000 signatures.

The 170,000 signatures on the zoning petitions represent a number that is more than half of the Baltimore County citizens that voted in the last election. Think about that statistic. Two issues of national interest, in which the whole state of Maryland had the opportunity to lend their voice, got a fraction of the support that zoning issues specific to Baltimore County voters received.

It is clear that local citizens are frustrated with the process and want their elected officials to make decisions in a collaborative process, incorporating expert input and based upon what is best for Baltimore County as a whole rather relying on a purely individual politically driven process.

A reasonable referendum process guarantees direct citizen participation in the decision making process.

It is time to reform the rezoning process. The voices of Baltimore County citizens should be heard; this issue deserves a place on the ballot in 2014.

Thomas L. Peddy is a principal of Foxleigh Enterprises, an owner of Green Spring Station whose existing retail property was downzoned in the last CZMP cycle.

Josh Kurtz: Republicans At the Starting Gate

By Josh Kurtz

You had to feel sorry for Harford County Executive David Craig (R) last week.

On what was supposed to be his big coming-out party — the day he formally declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor — Craig was upstaged not once, but twice: first by the announcement that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) was naming Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) to be his running mate, later by reports that former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) was thinking about running for governor himself.

Even the weather didn’t cooperate — the homey, All-American tableau Craig had envisioned, with an announcement on his front porch, was forced indoors.

Craig may have to get used to such indignities.

Of course, that’s the usual lot for Maryland Republicans who want to run statewide. They’re often forgotten, ignored, belittled.

The irony is, Republicans seem to be waging their most intriguing gubernatorial primary since 1994. The problem for them is that it’s coinciding with what may be the Democrats’ most intriguing gubernatorial primary since 1994.

Craig especially has reason to feel aggrieved. After all, he’s the state’s senior Republican officeholder, with years of local government and legislative service under his belt.

Craig no doubt imagined himself coasting to the nomination while at the same time watching the Democrats claw each other’s eyes out. Now he’ll have to punch his way through a primary that could wind up being every bit as contentious as the Democrats’.

Craig will, at the very least, have to compete with Del. Ron George for the GOP nomination. George, an Annapolis jeweler, also entered the race last week. If it remains a two-man contest, it will surely be the only GOP primary in the country next year involving candidates with two first names.

Beyond that, there are subtle contrasts between Craig and George. Although their positions may not be terribly different, Craig has a lifetime of public service, between his time in politics and his work as an educator. George, with less than eight years in the legislature under his belt, will surely tout his business background. Both are fiscal conservatives; George, the father of six, is considered more of a social conservative, though how much he emphasizes that during the contest remains to be seen.

George could be helped in a primary by the fact that he hails from the biggest Republican-leaning county in the state. At the very least, his presence in the race complicates Craig’s ability to round up support from the GOP establishment. Now, many of George’s colleagues in the legislature and from Anne Arundel may be inclined to sit on the sidelines for a while rather than throwing their support behind Craig.

For Craig, who turns 64 on Wednesday, running for governor — and serving, if he’s successful — would be the culmination of a distinguished political career. George, who will turn 60 later this summer, surprised many of his fellow Republicans by seeking statewide office — even though his legislative district, courtesy of the Democrats, was essentially carved out from under him.

Frederick County Commissioner Blaine Young, a social conservative and radio host, has been preparing to run for governor for months, and he’ll formally declare his plans in late summer. If he runs, he’ll be formidable in the GOP primary. He’s raised a lot of money and he’s adept at stirring conservative voters’ passions. But Republican insiders increasingly believe he’ll run for the new Frederick County executive post in 2014 instead of for governor, a race, in the general election at least, that appears more winnable for him.

Regardless of what Young does, another fiery social conservative is also likely to join the race — Charles Lollar, who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, back in 2010. Lollar is a dynamic speaker who will throw party conservatives plenty of red meat; whether he’ll have the campaign organization and cash to compete with some of the other candidates remains to be seen.

Unlikely to run, after months of exploring the possibility, is Dan Bongino, the former Secret Service agent who was the party nominee against U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) in 2012. Bongino now, improbably, has his sights set on running for Congress in the 6th District, which takes in Western Maryland and part of Montgomery County. Bongino lives in Severna Park — so if he winds up the Republican nominee against freshman Rep. John Delaney (D), we could have a less than optimal situation in which both congressional nominees are unable to vote for themselves (Delaney‘s Potomac home is in Rep. Chris Van Hollen‘s district, though just by a few blocks).

Bongino and Lollar epitomize one of the problems afflicting today’s Maryland Republican Party. They’re talented young guys with potential. But they insist on entering politics at the highest level. They’d enjoy more success if they started out lower on the political food chain, getting some seasoning serving in the legislature or running for local office — and they’d arguably be helping their party a lot more if they took the long view.

And what of Michael Steele? Is he really thinking of running for governor? Yes! He’s been making calls to elected officials and money people, gauging potential support. But will he pull the trigger? Probably not.

Steele is one of the most skillful politicians in Maryland when it comes to creating buzz and calling attention to himself. But anyone who thinks this is just another attention-grabbing maneuver is mistaken. Steele already enjoys plenty of attention — national attention — with his MSNBC gig and the new public affairs shop he runs with Lanny Davis.

Steele really wants to serve in public office — and he’s looking for vindication. It irks him that the GOP cast him aside as Republican National Committee chairman after such a successful year at the polls in 2010 — especially after his successor, Reince Preibus, was granted a second term even after the GOP wipeout on the ballot last year. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Steele is looking for a way back into the political game.

But Steele is also nothing if not a realist. His much ballyhooed and well-funded Senate campaign in 2006 fell 10 points short. He knows the odds working against any Republican wanting to run statewide. He might be the favorite for the GOP gubernatorial nomination (Young has indicated he’d defer to Steele), but will probably conclude that the nomination is of little value.

Steele is also keenly aware of history. Part of his calculation in 2006 was that African-American voters would be dispirited if Kweisi Mfume lost the Democratic Senate primary and would turn to him over Ben Cardin in the general election. But black voters sided with Cardin anyway.

In 2014, Anthony Brown will be trying to become the state’s first African-American governor. If he wins the Democratic primary, it’ll be hard for Steele to compete in the general election. If Brown loses the nomination, history has already shown that black voters won’t turn to the GOP in droves, even if Republicans have an African-American nominee to offer as an alternative.

The fact remains in Maryland that the Republican nominee, whomever he turns out to be, could run a flawless campaign and still wind up with just 42 percent of the vote. Republicans need chaos and bitterness to reign on the Democratic side before they can even ponder the possibility of being competitive.

Not that it couldn’t happen next year — in fact, it probably will. But for now, the Democratic race remains the main event, and the Republican primary, with all due respect to the participants, just a sideshow.

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

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

Gansler Hires Campaign Manager

Will 2014 Be a Republican Year Nationally — and in Maryland?

Back to the Future

Conviction Politics

Union Powerbroker Taking New Role

Why the Rush (Hour)?

Josh Kurtz: Gansler Hires Campaign Manager

By Josh Kurtz

Attorney General Doug Gansler, who has lagged behind his opponents for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination when it comes to setting up a formal campaign apparatus, has hired a campaign manager, Center Maryland has learned.

Gansler has tapped Carrie Glenn, a veteran of President Obama’s campaign and Montana politics, to be his new manager. The Gansler campaign is also planning to open a campaign office in downtown Silver Spring soon.

A Gansler spokesman declined to comment.

Glenn spent the 2012 cycle running Montana Democrats’ coordinated campaign – and it turned out to be a very good year in a conservative state. Although Obama lost Montana by 13 points, Steve Bullock, the Democratic attorney general, was elected governor by a 2-point margin, and Sen. Jon Tester (D) beat back a furious and well-funded Republican challenge to narrowly win a second term.

In 2008, Glenn worked for the Obama campaign in several states during the Democratic primaries and the general election, including in Montana, where she had previously served as field director for the state Democratic Party.

Gansler was an early and pivotal supporter of Obama’s in the 2008 election, at a time when most of the Maryland Democratic establishment – including Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, a Gansler rival for the gubernatorial nomination – backed Hillary Clinton for president. That’s a fact Gansler will push aggressively as he attempts to cut into Brown’s presumed strong support among African-American voters.

Although Gansler has far and away the most cash-on-hand of the three Democratic candidates for governor, he has deliberately hung back when it comes to waging a campaign. Brown formally declared his candidacy last month and named Howard County Executive Ken Ulman to be his running mate on Monday. While she has not officially delcared her intentions, Del. Heather Mizeur has been criss-crossing the state for months and makes no secret of her plans to run.

Brown’s campaign is being helmed by Justin Schall, who last year helped guide Maryland Congressman John Delaney to his upset victory in the Democratic primary (and previously worked for Hillary Clinton).

Mizeur’s campaign manager is Joanna Belanger, who has worked for national progressive groups like the Center for American Progress and NextGen, but has also worked for statewide women candidates, including Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee for governor of Florida in 2010, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Mizeur, like Gansler, is expected to open a campaign office in downtown Silver Spring soon – in the same location where she currently has an office for her consulting group. Brown’s campaign headquarters is in Largo.

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

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

Will 2014 Be a Republican Year Nationally — and in Maryland?

Back to the Future

Conviction Politics

Union Powerbroker Taking New Role

Why the Rush (Hour)?

Donald Fry: Gaining traction for life sciences industry growth in Maryland

By Donald C. Fry

Maryland’s claim as a leading center for the life sciences industry was ratified recently by Rosemarie Truman, CEO of the Virginia-based Center for Advancing Innovation.

The more than 500 life sciences companies in research-rich Maryland rank our state second in the U.S. for number of life sciences firms, Truman told members of the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Bioscience Committee at its May 23 meeting.

That’s the good news. The less-than-good news is that life sciences companies in more than two dozen other states generate more revenue, as a percentage of state Gross Domestic Product, than life sciences companies in Maryland, according to Truman.

What does this mean? It means, of course, that life sciences companies in our state appear to be underachieving. But to me another way of looking at it is that the opportunity in Maryland for commercial growth in the life sciences industry is substantial if we can get our policies better aligned to promote stronger industry growth.

Truman outlined for GBC members a recent benchmarking study and survey of Maryland life sciences companies conducted by the Center for Advancing Innovation, a nonprofit organization she founded that, among other things, specializes in accelerating technology transfer and commercialization.

The specifics of the survey are proprietary, but they confirm two compelling issues relating to the nature of Maryland’s challenges and opportunities for bioscience growth.

First, of course, is the challenge of attracting investors that is widely cited by virtually anyone in our state’s life science industry. Maryland has one of the smallest percentages of life sciences companies that have raised substantial private capital, according to the center’s findings.

A contributing factor might be a mismatch between types of life sciences companies here and the types of companies that attract investors, Truman suggested. For example, the overwhelming interest of biotechnology investors is in therapeutics and diagnostic companies. But the largest sector of Maryland life sciences firms is comprised of companies that provide research and development services – a sector that attracts much less comparative interest from investors.

Second, bioscience advocates here have often observed that, though there is an abundance of scientific expertise in Maryland life sciences companies, a lack of sufficient business management expertise constrains development. Survey findings confirm that perception, according to Truman.

Maryland government may have to examine its strategic approach to life sciences funding to ensure that state incentives are supporting companies that are best equipped to compete and to generate economic growth and job creation, Truman suggests.

Her recommendations included better evaluation of which life sciences companies receive state assistance and incentives, more business management coaching for life sciences firms, and stronger tracking of the performance of companies that receive state incentives.

Business advocates in Maryland continue to face the challenge of how to nurture a level of economic growth and job creation in the life sciences industry that reflects the abundance of research that exists within our state’s borders.

Admittedly, Truman’s findings and recommendations reflect one expert perspective on a complex economic development issue. But it does raise issues worth pursuing and suggests a logical framework for the next step to gain traction in efforts to grow Maryland’s life sciences industry.

Donald C. Fry is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He is a regular contributor to Center Maryland.

Recent Center Maryland columns by Donald C. Fry:

Maryland’s stormwater fees: a lesson in uneven policy making

Council should opt for ‘win-win’ approach, not ‘magic bullet’ for local hiring effort

Closing the ‘disconnect’ with elected officials over competitiveness

City takes constructive step toward strategy for job growth

Federal fiscal uncertainty could erode states’ infrastructure funding options