We’re Through the Looking Glass

Two weeks ago I wrote about the importance of the House Republican Caucus, and how important it was that they band together to negotiate favorable terms with any potential speaker.

Last week I wrote about the bizarre involvement from Maryland Democratic Party Chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, threatening to use party resources to attack those who support a candidate for Speaker other than the choice of the Democratic Caucus. I also wrote: “What passes as the establishment candidate, Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh, clearly does not have the votes to wrapped up to have the support of the Democratic Caucus, much less to get the 71 votes she needs from the entire chamber to be elected speaker.”

That was clearly prescient. Now it turns out that both candidates for Speaker are trying to lean on Republicans to drag them over the finish line, writes Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox in the Post:

McIntosh has pledges of support from a majority of House Democrats, who hold 98 of the 141 legislative seats, with Busch’s vacant. But she does not have the 71 votes needed to win Wednesday’s election outright.

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While in the past the Democratic caucus has united around whichever speaker candidate wins the backing of a majority of Democrats, Davis has said he may ask his Democratic supporters to join Republicans in voting for him on the House floor.

McIntosh also began reaching out to Republicans on Monday, calling people in leadership of the GOP caucus and rank-and-file members, according to people familiar with the phone calls.

It was the clearest sign yet that neither candidate is confident of winning enough Democratic votes to become speaker, and of the extent to which the competition is cleaving the legislature’s Democratic majority in two. It would be unprecedented in majority Democratic Maryland for a speaker to be elected with more Republican than Democratic votes.

Let’s point out however that it is not unprecedented, as there have been three Republican Speakers of the House. You just have to go back to 1918 to find one.

The point of all of this is the fact that we are truly through the looking glass here. Two weeks ago it seemed like a long shot that Republicans would truly get to be kingmakers in this election for Speaker; but now we’re here and it looks like the House Republican Caucus truly holds the balance of power. This is a truly unprecedented amount of leverage for any legislative Republicans in the modern era.

It’s a good time to point out that many Eeyore Republicans and Facebook warriors were lamenting the idea of the Republican Caucus casting their lot with any of the Democrats. However, it would be important to point out that the decision to cast their votes as a block as created an unprecedented amount of chaos and disorder within not just the House Democratic Caucus but the Maryland Democratic Party writ large. Deep fissures have formed in the party over this intersectional car wreck that has the Democratic Party cracking along racial, gender, and sexual lines. And it’s going to take a long, long time for the Democrats to fix these wounds. If you’re one of those people who whined on Facebook about this, you owe Nic Kipke and the House Republican Caucus and apology.

As I said on last night’s episode of The Air Raid, you may never see anything like this Speaker election in Maryland Politics again. They’re gonna write books about this.

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