Tax Collector Counts Shout-Outs at Dem Rally: Zero

Democratic leaders cheered early and often at a luncheon in Annapolis Tuesday -- but none of the cheers were for Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D). Photo by Bruce DePuyt

He received more votes in the last election than any political candidate in Maryland history.

He carried Baltimore City and 20 of Maryland’s 23 counties, including right-of-center jurisdictions where Democrats traditionally struggle.

And yet, when Maryland Democrats gathered on Tuesday for their annual pre-General Assembly session rally and luncheon at an Annapolis hotel, it was like Comptroller Peter V. R. Franchot (D) didn’t exist.

Everyone else of note who attended was recognized, to jubilant applause, multiple times. Or so it seemed.

The new Democratic county executives? Stand and take a bow!

The new delegates and senators? On your feet, people.

The Democrats in Maryland’s congressional delegation? Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp? Recently-defeated party chairwoman Kathleen Matthews? All were asked by at least one VIP speaker to stand and be recognized.

Even the people serving the meal and the reporters covering the event (!) were given standing ovations from a crowd that wanted to show its support for workers and independent journalism.

Franchot’s name was never uttered, even though the program stretched nearly two hours and included copious speech-making.

Franchot
Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D)

The omission was not lost on the state’s tax-collector.

“Yeah, well, that’s fine,” he said good-naturedly, when approached by a reporter after the event.

“I’m a happy person. I’ve got 1,620,264 votes that make me very happy. And I was sitting next to the distinguished treasurer and the distinguished attorney general. I guess they mentioned Brian, but — “

“He was recognized and stood,” the reporter offered helpfully.

“Yeah, well, there you go,” Franchot said.

Was the failure to recognize the comptroller accidental, or was it payback for his close affiliation with the state’s popular Republican governor?

Franchot didn’t offer a theory either way.

“I know there are some Democrats who are angry that Franchot wasn’t a team player,” said St. Mary’s College political science professor Todd Eberly. “It is odd that to think that, in a gathering of Democrats, that you wouldn’t acknowledge the most popular elected Democrat in the state.”

Eberly said the snub — if that’s what it was — is ironic, given the willingness of party leaders to stress bipartisanship when it suited them.

“Look what [Senate President] Mike Miller did. His campaign arm helped pay for advertising that highlighted [Senators] Kathy Klausmeier and Jim Mathias’ connections and cooperation with Gov. [Larry] Hogan, as a way to bolster their reelection. In one case, it’s celebrated as grand strategy and in another, it’s a betrayal.”

Ben Smith, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, denied that Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the party’s newly elected chairwoman, skipped Franchot out of animus. (Or a desire to protect him from the curse of tepid applause.)

“The chairwoman’s remarks were focused on the new legislators and the new county executives, and then just introducing the speakers. She was very happy to have the comptroller in attendance, so it wasn’t anything conscious, by any means, on our part.”

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