Tag Archives: Kathy Szeliga

In miniature, April 4

Mostly links from before the pandemic crisis hit:

  • Richard Vatz: To have passed the extravagantly expensive Kirwan education bill, with the handwriting already on the wall as to the state’s looming fiscal crisis, “is revelatory of the utter irresponsibility of Maryland’s lawmakers.” [Bryan Renbaum, Maryland Reporter]
  • Montgomery County SWAT team shot Duncan Socrates Lemp in his home, and questions won’t go away [Jim Bovard/American Conservative, C.J. Ciaramella/Reason]
  • “Maryland Charges Big Fines for Skipping Small Tolls” [Meg Tully, Maryland Reporter]
  • Happy to get a request from Pennsylvania to reprint and distribute my chapter on redistricting and gerrymandering found on pp. 293-299 of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers (2017). Check it out;
  • Senator Michael Hough (R-Frederick, Carroll) proposes limiting lawmakers to 20 introductions of general bills in a session [Danielle Gaines, Maryland Matters]
  • Eastern Shore educators, fellow students unprepared as mental illness, violence mainstreamed into everyday classrooms [Mike Detmer, Dorchester Star, Bryan Renbaum, Maryland Reporter (Del. Kathy Szeliga, R-Baltimore and Harford, urges legislative action)]

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Szeliga, on the marriage battle: “It’s definitely been settled.”

At the WBFF debate for Republican Senate candidates in March, interviewer Kai Jackson (at 35:30) asked a question on same-sex marriage. This might have seemed a set-up for candidate Chrys Kefalas to volunteer something about his own pathbreaking role as a candidate who was gay (and engaged to be married, to radio personality Tommy McFly). But Kefalas didn’t personalize his answer; while indicating his support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, he also emphasized that he took seriously conservative concerns that legal changes might curtail the liberty of religious institutions, and would work to uphold religious liberty if elected.

Equally interesting was the answer of Minority Whip Del. Kathy Szeliga, who was to go on to win the primary in a runaway, and was generally perceived as running to Kefalas’s right. “This has been a divisive issue in the past but it’s definitely been settled. It was settled on the ballot here in Maryland and it’s been settled in the courts.” Del. Szeliga then added that the voters whose concerns she was running to address were worried not about gay marriage but about the troubles of the U.S. economy and the poor performance of federal programs like the Affordable Care Act.

Del. Szeliga’s answer, it seemed to me, would not have been out of place in an interview response by Gov. Larry Hogan or presidential candidate John Kasich. It signaled that she intends to go after the votes of independents and moderate Democrats this fall, a smart strategy for a Republican running statewide in a state like Maryland.

That wasn’t the only favorable portent on Maryland Republicans’ ability to move beyond past divisions on the marriage issue. Two years ago I wrote with some dismay (“An endorsement no one should want”) about how dozens of Maryland Republican candidates had received (though it was less clear whether they had sought) high ratings from “the group associated with Robert Broadus called Protect Marriage Maryland,” which “stands out for its intense hostility toward gay people, its very explicit grounding of that hostility in religious doctrine, and its willingness to use invective seldom found in polite company any more.” This time around, whether because Protect Marriage Maryland was less active or because fewer candidates pursued its endorsement or filled out its questionnaire, its endorsement page limited itself to endorsing a single Republican, Senate candidate Dave Wallace, who came in fifth. Robert Broadus himself ran for the Republican nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives in District 4, but finished third, behind George McDermott and David Therrien.

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The Maryland primary vote

Despite Maryland’s geographic diversity, the Donald Trump sweep last night was convincing and across-the-board. According to preliminary results, he ran up crushing margins in the parts of the state where he was known to be leading, including the Eastern Shore, with Worcester his best county at 73%, Dorchester at 71, and Somerset, Caroline, Wicomico, and Queen Anne all in the 64-68 range. In Western Maryland, he carried Allegany with 65 percent and Washington with 60. He broke 60 percent in Harford, Charles, Cecil, and Kent.

Equally impressive was Trump’s performance in carrying every suburban county as well as Baltimore City. Although one poll had showed him lagging Kasich by 20 points in the D.C. suburbs days before the election, he won both Montgomery and Prince George’s and even succeeded in carrying Howard County by four points over Kasich. Those three counties, plus Baltimore City, were his only under-50-percent showings; Frederick County, at 51 percent, was his next weakest. (Disclosure: I did some volunteering with Kasich’s effort in the final weeks of the contest.)

Despite talk of strategic voting for Kasich by Cruz supporters, Kasich finished only 4 points ahead of Cruz. And despite talk of a highly regionalized race between the two, Cruz was not as weak in the D.C. area, nor as strong in rural Maryland, as all that. Cruz did top Kasich by 5 to 10 point margins in Hagerstown and points west, and led him by modest margins in Southern Maryland. But Kasich’s vote exceeded Cruz’s in five of the nine Eastern Shore counties. Of the big suburban counties, Cruz managed to beat Kasich by 4 points in Frederick and one point in P.G., and otherwise trailed him by margins of 4-10 points in Baltimore, Harford, and Anne Arundel, 13 in Montgomery, and 17 in Howard.

My friend Chrys Kefalas’s bid for U.S. Senate proved no match for that of House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, whose well executed campaign occupied much the same ground Kefalas had tried to stand on, combining plucky biography with Larry-Hogan-style cheerful problem solving. Between a fund-raising edge, broadcast, 5 mailings, a raft of endorsements from influentials, and solid debate performances, Szeliga did exactly what she needed to do to lock down the nomination, and will now face the heavily favored Democrat Chris Van Hollen in November.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s convincing win is not unexpected, nor is that of Democratic Senate nominee Chris Van Hollen. It’s worth remembering that Van Hollen was deeply involved in the partisan Democratic push for an IRS crackdown on conservative-leaning nonprofits that led to the Lois Lerner scandal.

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