On Jan. 6, when Congress meets to count electoral votes, some members may object from the floor on whether or not to accept each state’s electoral college submission, and if there is such an objection from at least one member of each House, the members will go on record on whether to approve. The result appears to be a foregone conclusion; in practice neither House will agree to overturn a certified state outcome (Democrats will organize the House, while in the Republican Senate only a minority of Trump ultras at most will contest Joe Biden’s victory.)
Whatever you think of this, much of it is not new; a version of it happened four years ago. Even though Donald Trump had obviously won a lawful victory in the 2016 electoral college, a few left-wing Democrats insisted on mounting a floor challenge. What followed is choice enough to quote, from a 2017 account in Slate:
Senate President Joe Biden oversaw the proceedings. On the Democratic side of the aisle, a half-dozen or so members, including Reps. Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, Raúl Grijalva and freshman Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Jamie Raskin, switched seats to take turns raising objections. The objections varied from state to state. In North Carolina the objections hinged on the state’s effective disenfranchisement of black voters. But most objections referenced Russia’s interference in the election.”
Biden was having little of it, and banged the gavel loudly, because none of the members were able to find a senatorial co-signator, thus voiding their objections. The much more populated Republican side of the aisle booed or called out “order!” following each denied objection. When Rep. Jayapal gave her objection, Biden finally said, “It is over.” Republicans gave him a standing ovation.
I am pained to record that lefty Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), one of the loopy few that day, represents my own community in the House of Representatives. If circus-like proceedings do unfold this coming Jan. 6, Raskin will be one of the few Democratic members not in a good position to complain.
The Maryland Senate late last month by a 37-8 vote approved a very modest cut in income tax rates for higher earners (a quarter of a point to .15 point, depending on bracket), which is being paired with an expansion of EITC and the personal exemption benefiting lower earners. The eight senators who opposed even this very modest gesture of relief were all Democrats from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties:
C. Anthony Muse
Raskin, regarded as one of the most left-wing lawmakers in Annapolis, is now trying to succeed Chris Van Hollen as U.S. Congressman from my district, CD-8. I can only imagine how high tax rates would be if Raskin were setting them.
I’ve been predicting for a while that public wrath over the gerrymander would stir up Maryland politics not so much because of what Republicans do — they are a minority in the legislature and the Democratic leadership of Michael Miller and Michael Busch applies strict discipline to keep its majority in line on this issue — but because it hands a big issue to insurgent or independent Democrats who don’t have to worry as much about staying on those gentlemen’s good sides.
And that’s exactly what’s now happening in the battle for the open seat in MD-8, my own Congressional district. At the Democratic debate this past weekend in Frederick, self-financed businessman David Trone tore into fellow candidates Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Kumar Barve for voting for the map, which he called an “abomination.” To quote the Washington Post, Trone “scoffed at Raskin’s proposed solution — a regional reapportionment effort by Maryland and Virginia state legislators — as ‘silly’ and ‘a waste of time and rhetoric.’” Candidate Kathleen Matthews, who like Trone is running as a first-time candidate with some distance from the powers that be, was also critical of the map, calling it “the result of an old boys network protecting themselves.”
It’s no secret that Democrats’ own primary base includes large numbers of voters who loathe and despise the gerrymander. And a series of prominent mavericks, including Heather Mizeur and Donna Edwards, have vocally criticized the process and sometimes proposed far-reaching reforms. So the Democrats may be fated to see the infighting in their own party go on until they heed the public call for reform.
Links on the debate: Bill Turque/WP, Louis Peck/Bethesda Magazine. More links: Maryland Reporter, Phil Andrews/Baltimore Sun (opinion piece by former Montgomery County Council member), my House testimony (see 7:00), WBAL, Josh Bollinger, Easton Star-Democrat (Sen. Hershey: legislative leaders love to make state first in other areas, but this sure is an exception),. Earlier here, here, etc.
The text of Gov. Hogan’s State of the State is here, including a warning that we “face an $18.7 billion unfunded pension liability” among other serious fiscal and economic challenges, which apparently was not what some incumbent lawmakers wanted to hear. Richard Vatz gives the speech high marks. Middle-of-the-road political analyst Todd Eberly, while liking the substance, thinks Gov. Hogan should have led off with a more conciliatory tone, but says what’s “downright ridiculous” is the overwrought reaction of leading Maryland Democrats and their allies, which “really shows how coddled the establishment has been in this state.”
Part of that ridiculous reaction: Senate Democrats, including Sen. Nathaniel McFadden (D-Baltimore) and Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Silver Spring), are showing their displeasure by holding up uncontroversial cabinet nominees just because they can. So mature of them!
P.S. I’m not the only one who thinks leading Democrats overplayed their hand in their reaction to the speech. The editorialists at the Baltimore Sun think so too.
The restriction, seen as unenforceable given the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1963 decision in Torcaso v. Watkins, lingers on in Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas as well as Maryland. [New York Times] A general revision of the Maryland Constitution for other reasons would appear to be the best practical chance of getting rid of the embarrassing relic; the Times quotes Del. Jamie Raskin (D-Silver Spring), who comes off well, and Sen. Chris Shank (R-Hagerstown), who alas comes off less well.
Despite Torcaso, the largely forgotten restrictions have served as fuel for culture warriors: in Austin, Texas, of all places, a council candidate has raised the question of whether her opponent can serve in office under the Texas Constitution considering what she alleges is his religious unbelief. [Texas Monthly]
When transit-oriented development begins to get real for Montgomery County neighbors — in particular, when a substantial apartment building is proposed atop the Takoma metro at the D.C. border — you might expect progressives to be all in favor of it, given its recommended benefits in averting sprawl. Yet leading progressive Democrats like Chris Van Hollen, Heather Mizeur, and Jamie Raskin instead play along with locally powerful NIMBY forces demanding lower density. David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington wonders why.
Filed under DC area, Policy