The Potential Ripple Effect of Jim Smith’s Withdrawal

Last year, it seemed obvious that Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith was going to try to district shop his way into the State Senate when he moved to legislative District 7 in order to challenge for the seat left by Andy Harris’ run for Congress this year. So it was somewhat surprising that Smith would drop out of the race, particularly in light of the huge war chest he had ammassed when he was contemplating a run for Comptroller.

That, however, does bring attention back to the stunt that Smith and his political backers are trying to pull with the Baltimore County Council.

Smith’s campaign appartus, led by his son Michael Paul Smith and his former law clerk David Gildea, are trying to assemble a County Council full of Democrats who are at the beck and call of Baltimore County’s Developers. One who have to presume that Smith’s withdrawal will allow him to refund contributions made to his campaign in an effort to redistribute that money to the candidates his campaign team are trying to buy off to do the bidding of the developers.

And incidentally, guess who is most poised to benefit by the generosity of this potential class of County Council Members? Attorneys for Developers. And who would be better connectd to get a piece of this windfall than two development attorneys named….David Gildea and Michael Paul Smith.

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Of course, what is the most interesting of all is the people Smith and Company have selected as their chosen ones to represent the interests of these developers:

  • In District 1, it’s Tom Quirk. Quirk served with Gildea on the Board of the Community College of Baltimore County; his wife, Siri Svaeren, is a former Special Assistant to Jim Smith in the County Executive’s office;
  • District 5’s choice is Gorden Harden, who served 14 years on the planning board, owns an insurance company in Owings Mills, only recently moved to the 5th District and, according to court records has carved out quite a niche for himself as a professional defendent in a variety of matters.
  • In District 6 it’s Cathy Bevins, who also worked six years in constituent service (reporting to Siri Svaeren, no less) who has been a personal friend and client of Michael Paul Smith for nearly two decades.
  • The next, unannounced addition to this unofficial slate will be Vicki Almond in the 2nd District, who other than being formerly in the employ of State Senator Bobby Zirkin, has no noted connection to Smith or Gildea other than the meeting Bryan Sears reported upon back in January.

All of these candidates are political neophytes, selected by Michael Smith and David Gildea over other, more qulaified candidates (even in Democratic primaries) who are poised to serve as nothing more than yes men and women for Baltimore County Developers if they are elected to the council. The money being raised for these candidates by the developers gives a whole new meaning to “retail politics.”

Jim Smith’s withdrawal from the Senate race may mean good things in Annapolis, with the winner of the J.B. Jennings vs. Al Redmer Republican primary poised to retain the seat for the minority in Annapolis. But Smith’s decision, and the possible redistribution of wealth to the candidates hand picked by Smith’s cronies to serve as fronts for the developers agenda could have far reaching reprecussions for voters across Baltimore County and across Maryland for the next decade.


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