Are they scared?

The start of the general assembly session had the usual features which include selecting presiding officers, meeting people that we have not seen in a while and the annual call for bi-partisanship and looking to reach across the aisle and blah blah blah. If it seems that I am cynical about this tradition of singing kumbya between Democrats and Republicans…all I will say is that I have been writing about state politics for four years, you would be cynical too.

Despite U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) urging state lawmakers to follow the lead of President Barack Obama (D) of more citizenship and less partisanship, the air was thick with the latter. This was apparent when I spoke with state Democratic chairwoman Susan Turnball, it was kind of a surprise that after pushing for citizenship, she quickly reverted to partisanship when she said that the economic woes were due to eight years of bad management; blaming President George W. Bush (R) for deficits and unemployment.

Then later in the evening, as I was covering the March on Annapolis rally on Lawyers Mall, I saw three Democratic volunteers pass out fliers, criticizing former Governor Robert Ehrlich’s fiscal policies, which by the way left a surplus at the end of his term. My colleague at Red Maryland Mark Newgent said that state Democrat New Media director Isaac Salazar was tweeting photos with the usual insults attached to them in reference to tea party attendees. When Newgy pointed out Salazar’s visiting the rally, the two gentlemen had a quick back and forth with Salazar feeling free to call the attendees racist. For the record, the people I interviewed and talked to about the rally were ever so nice to me, in addition to Corrigan Vaughn and Charles Lollar, the latter gentleman who spoke at the march (spare the usual “wheel them out” comment, it’s not going to fly with me.)

I have to ask if the Democrats are scared about being judged on the past two to four years? It’s rather telling if you think about it. There seems to be a concerted effort to turn the clock back to a time when people were not happy with the job that President Bush is going. Another question that needs to be asked; are state Democrats so afraid of an Ehrlich rematch, they are starting to kick the propaganda machine into overdrive early and often? While you ponder that question (and looking at the source of the flier and what the flier actually says) you be the judge. Let’s look at their three points:

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BOB EHRLICH proposed the Largest-Ever Increase in State Spending
Keep in mind Governor Martin O’Malley (D) not only proposed the largest tax increase in state history, but he said that it would solve the state’s budget problems. Did I mention the $2 billion budget deficit that the General Assembly needs to balance before sine die…this year?

BOB EHRLICH exceeded the Spending Affordability Guidelines
The fine print is that the guidelines are recommendations.

BOB EHRLICH was criticized for reckless spending
Let’s complete the sentence; Bob Ehrlich was criticized for reckless spending by The Baltimore Sun. The Baltimore Sun that endorsed Ehrlich’s opponent in 2002 while using race in the process. The same Suns who lost to Ehrlich in court over access and endorsed O’Malley over Ehrlich (R). Now would be a good time to note that there was a cup full of sour grapes on the Sun’s part in said endorsement. In fact The Sun is the only major newspaper in the state to endorse O’Malley if I recall correctly.

The Democrats have much to worry about, especially in a climate that has Mr. Obama’s hocus pocus starting to lose its magic. Say what you will about New Jersey and Virginia, it’s still a loss for the Democrats and it’s also still a sign.

(crossposted at Maryland Politics Today)

P. Kenneth Burns is a contributor to Red Maryland. He is the editor of Maryland Politics Today and President/Executive Producer of The Maryland News Company. His email is

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