Brochin Gets Top Dem Score on Business Group Report Card; 45 Republicans Perfect

A leading Maryland business group came out with its annual scorecard of the General Assembly Tuesday, and as usual, the legislators who are outliers are more interesting than those who vote in line with their party. For example: state Sen. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) got a 75 percent score – highest for any Democrat – in Roll Call 2018, the annual publication of Maryland Business for Responsive Government. MBRG considered 10 Senate committee and floor votes and a dozen House committee and floor votes from the 2018 legislative session to grade the lawmakers. No Senate Republican scored lower than 83 percent on the MGRG report card for 2018 – and that distinction belonged to the late H. Wayne Norman of Harford County, who died on March 4, about two-thirds of the way through the session. His widow, Linda Norman, replaced him, so the 83 percent is a combined total for the two senators. Ten Republican senators racked up 100 percent scores.  Maryland Business for Responsive Government President Duane Carey  “We keep score – we keep all the legislators accountable for what they do,” said Duane Carey, president of the business organization. “You can really learn a lot about what a legislator thinks about business and the economy.” Brochin has scored 75 percent in the past two MBRG report cards. He has a 48 percent lifetime score since joining the Senate in 2003. Brochin represents a conservative district that runs from Towson to the Pennsylvania border, and frequently has found himself at odds with the Democratic mainstream. Brochin is now running for Baltimore County executive, and has railed against real estate developers and their attempts to influence the political process in the county. On Tuesday, Brochin was endorsed by another Democratic rebel, state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, a popular figure in Baltimore County. “Baltimore County is at a crossroads, and needs a bold, independent leader at the helm to chart a course for a strong future for its citizens,” Franchot said in a statement. Behind Brochin among Senate Democrats in Roll Call were two Anne Arundel County lawmakers who are retiring this year – James E. DeGrange Sr. (67 percent) and John C. Astle (57 percent). Next were two powerful committee leaders – Senate Judicial Proceedings Chairman Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) and Budget and Taxation Chairman Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-Baltimore/Howard), who got 50 percent each. Kasemeyer is also retiring at the end of the year. Eight Democratic senators had 13 percent scores, the lowest for the chamber in the previous session. Three Democratic senators are being heavily targeted by Republicans this election cycle, and their grades were mixed on the MBRG scorecard. Sen. Ronald N. Young (D-Frederick) was among those scoring just 13 percent. Sens. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) and James N. Mathias Jr. (D-Lower Shore) each scored 38 percent. Klausmeier was at 80 percent a year ago and Mathias was at 47 percent. Klausmeier and Mathias are being taken on by first-term House members. Klausmeier’s foe, Del. Christian J. Miele (R), had an 89 percent score, while Mathias’ challenger, Del. Mary Beth Carozza, was one of 35 House Republicans with perfect 100 percent scores. Among House Republicans, Del. Meagan C. Simonaire of Anne Arundel County, had the lowest score – 80 percent. Del. Sheila E. Hixson of Montgomery County had the highest score among Democrats, at 40 percent. Both were excused from voting on several of MBRG’s key votes, which could have had an impact on their scores. Two House Democrats scored zero on MBRG’s roll call – David Fraser-Hidalgo of Montgomery County, whose wife was ill and died during the course of the legislative session, so he missed four of MBRG’s dozen key votes, and House Economic Matters Chairman Dereck E. Davis. Davis is considered an ally of key industries, so his score shows that interest group report cards aren’t always infallible. Legislative delegations from five rural counties got perfect scores on the MBRG report. Prince George’s County’s all-Democratic delegation finished the lowest, with a 16 percent average. The delegations from three central Maryland counties that are considered political battlegrounds fared respectably: Anne Arundel County lawmakers averaged 63 percent, Baltimore County’s were at 55 percent, and Howard County’s scored an average 48 percent. Carey said business leaders should use the scorecard as a barometer of whether to get behind lawmakers who ask for their support. “All we need to do is tell them we’re paying attention,” he said. MBRG also has a political action committee with about $150,000, the MBRG Maryland Job Growth PAC. Carey said the PAC will likely fund supportive Republicans and Democrats, but that a strategy for doing so won’t be finalized until after the June 26 primaries.  To see Roll Call 2018, click here. jkurtz@marylandmatters.org

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here