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May 2013:

Watershed Election Year

May 6, 2013

Posted in: News

Speaking of watershed, 2014 will truly be a watershed election year in the state, and in Howard County in particular.

Gov. Martin O’Malley and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman are limited to two terms, creating opportunities for other politicians to move up. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is expected to announce his bid for governor early in May. Attorney General Doug Gansler is expected to do likewise in the fall. Ulman has been discussed as a running mate for Brown.

This may seem early for a general election that is 18 months away, but the party primaries that used to be in September have been moved to June 24 next year. The filing deadline was just changed to Feb. 25 in a bill the governor is expected to sign. Few serious candidates can put together a campaign and fund it without many months of preparation.

Not only will O’Malley and Ulman be out of their current offices, four of Howard County’s 11 state lawmakers are retiring, and at least two or three more are running for other offices.

Last month, two-term Sen. Jim Robey, the former Howard County executive and police chief, said he would end his 48 years of public service that started as a young patrolman. Dels. Jimmy Malone and Steve DeBoy are also leaving the House of Delegates, although DeBoy doesn’t see this the end of his political career. And Del. Liz Bobo, another former Howard County executive, announced last year she would retire after 20 years in the House.

The Race for Executive

Sen. Allan Kittleman, the West Friendship Republican who succeeded his father Robert in the Senate, is expected to run for county executive. Del. Gail Bates (R-District 9A) has said she will run for his seat. Trent Kittleman, the senator’s stepmother who ran for Howard County executive in 2010, has filed to run for delegate to replace Bates in the two-member District 9A.

Everyone is waiting for Del. Guy Guzzone to announce his political plans for 2014. He had long been mentioned as a possible candidate for Howard County executive to succeed his friend Ulman; both served on the county council together. But observers now expect him either to stay in the House, where he is now an Appropriations subcommittee chair, or run for Robey’s seat.

If Guzzone doesn’t run, that will leave county council member Courtney Watson as the leading Democrat for executive. Jon Weinstein, who ran for the House of Delegates in 2011, will likely run for her seat on the council.

County school board member and physician Janet Siddiqui, the top countywide vote-getter for the board last year, has announced she would run for a seat in District 13. County council member Calvin Ball is also eyeing Robey’s seat.

There are still incumbents who haven’t announced their plans, and perhaps a score of political wannabes in both parties waiting to see who runs for what. They are putting pressure on incumbents to make their decisions.

Terri Hill Endorsed

Democrats Bobo, Steve DeBoy and Malone have disagreed on many of the big issues in their decades at the State House: taxes, gambling, gun control, same-sex marriage, the death penalty. But the three veteran delegates have come together to endorse a candidate to replace them: Terri Hill, a Columbia plastic surgeon who grew up in its most liberal precincts.

In the redistricting following the 2010 Census, the single-member District 12B that Bobo represents in West Columbia was combined with the two-member District 12A dominated by Baltimore County precincts, from which DeBoy and Malone hail. DeBoy and Bobo said the three had initially talked about running as an incumbent ticket in the three-member district, and “we would have won,” DeBoy insisted, despite their political differences.

Hill sees herself as the successor to Bobo, who said Hill has “a passion for social justice, economic justice and environmental justice.”

Hill’s mother, Ethel Hill, was one of the first elected members of the Howard County Board of Education, and ran for the House of Delegates in 1994, being beaten by Liz Bobo. Hill’s sister, Donna Hill Staton, was appointed to the Howard County Circuit Court by Gov. Parris Glendening, but lost a contested election to Lenore Gelfman in 1996. Staton, who became a deputy attorney general for a decade, now serves on the state Board of Education.

Hill is the second physician to announce for delegate in District 12. Dr. Clarence Lam is also running for what are now three open seats. That many openings could easily attract 10 to 12 candidates.

With Hill, Lam and Siddiqui running, that makes three physicians seeking to serve in the 188-member legislature where there is currently only one doctor, Del. Dan Morhaim of Owings Mills, who has endorsed Lam.

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