An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Friday, October 28, 2005


People who put themselves forward are an odd breed. Some are really selfless advocates for what they think are policies that will help the public, improve society, or just satisfy a particular problem. Others have clearly always wanted to get into politics and see their big chance. Some crave the approval of the public or want attention. Over the last few months candidates have been coming out of the woodwork for local and state positions. I’m not talking about those marquee names you here bandied about for Senate or Governor. What kind of characters put themselves forward for the Maryland legislature, or for local office like county council? Let’s see. This is not a voter guide and I don’t work for the League of Women Voters, so it’s just impressions and no, I’m not putting names with profiles.

Now this next comment is not about one candidate. It’s not about a first term county councilman looking to move up, former candidates for state legislature, a long-time congressman in a secure district dreaming of another open senate seat, or a former city councilwoman hoping for a seat in the state house of delegates. In case this point has not been clear, the first thing you’ve got to do to move up is to secure your base. This isn’t the same thing as winning election, it takes more work! You have to stay in touch with people after the election, keep working to be sure your grassroots believes you have served them well, and never take anything for granted. So just because your district is secure doesn’t mean you have enough support there to take it for granted.

One local professional who has been active on federal policies has recently started putting himself forward as a potential successor for the anticipated opening a county council district. The candidate is certainly well versed in federal policy, has a good head on his shoulders, and is probably politically fairly in sync with the rather liberal district, but was surprisingly unable to put forward a rationale for his candidacy or for why people should vote for him. Ooooooooooooooh! That can’t be good. Montgomery County is surely one of the most politically savvy places in the nation, so if you think you can garner support from people without having a decent pitch, maybe this isn’t the ball game for you.

The recently completed 18th legislative district replacement process (for retired Del. John Hurson) that featured nine declared candidates produced a new delegate, but may well have encouraged a number of competitors to get into the race next year for a full four year term. Of the several young candidates who were never seriously in competition for the seat at least a couple can be assumed to have been planning for the future, and one expects to see them gearing up for 2006 any day. They join a bumper crop of young democrats running for the legislature in Maryland. The older candidates who didn’t win the replacement process are also reasonably likely to take another shot, maybe their last shots.