Opinion: The Dems’ Arrogance Just Might Keep a Republican in the Governor’s Mansion

Governor's Mansion
Government House, the governor's mansion, in Annapolis. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

If there’s one thing that Maryland Democrats never lack, it’s confidence.

To a certain extent, they should be confident. Maryland Democrats continue to hold a massive registration advantage over Republicans, one that has been exacerbated by an exodus from the GOP in the wake of the Jan. 6 attempted coup d’etat at the U.S. Capitol. They also will continue to benefit electorally as long as Republicans, both at home and nationally, continue to embrace Donald Trump as a de facto party leader while refusing to do anything about the elements of the party that remain disconnected from reality.

But Democratic confidence in Maryland continues to border on arrogance.

As longtime Maryland political watchers and students of history are well aware, Maryland has historically had a “middle temperament,” not drifting too far to either extreme. This means that Maryland is usually immune from radical swings to the right or, as in the case of modern Maryland Democrats, the far left. Maryland’s Democrats have insulated themselves in a certain kind of bubble that makes them think the electorate is as far to the left as they are. They can do this, to an extent, due to the nature of Maryland’s political geography.

Maryland’s political geography sees the predominant number of Democrats in just three jurisdictions — Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. This is augmented by Democratic majorities in Baltimore, Charles and Howard counties. But these Democrats are overrepresented in Annapolis due to ridiculously partisan gerrymandering that maximizes the number of uncompetitive districts that send solely Democrats to the General Assembly. This means that instead of doing their best to represent all of their constituents, these delegates and senators are realistically only representing the radicalized Democratic base since their votes are the only ones they need in order to keep being re-elected.

It’s that non-competitiveness that generates some of the more out-there socialist-leaning policies that so many Democrats want to champion in the General Assembly. Policies that will continue to move base Democrats further and further to the left.

In that regard, change is about to come in Annapolis.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s redistricting commission will submit new legislative districts that are not based on any partisan political leanings or the residences of any politician, present or future. With a limited ability for the General Assembly to pass an alternative plan, this will force comfortable far-left leaning Democrats to run in more competitive districts with legislative records that may not necessarily be comparable with the Democratic lean of their districts. Combine that with the likely institution of single-member districts and the political realities of the Democratic drift toward socialism become untenable.

The Democrats’ continued drift toward socialism becomes all the more puzzling when you look at recent statewide electoral results.

Ben Jealous ran for governor on a socialist platform in 2018 and, in combination with the worst statewide campaign in the history of Maryland, squandered every advantage a Democratic candidate could ever possibly ask for. Jealous, who for some reason is pondering a second run for governor next year, likes to claim that he got the second highest number of votes in state history.

But he lost to the candidate with the most votes in state history by a comfortable margin, no doubt thanks to Gov. Hogan’s middle political temperament and Jealous’ radicalism.

It’s no coincidence that so many Republicans, myself included, were practically begging Democratic voters to nominate Jealous. Feel free to do it again.

I’ve been doing power rankings for the 2022 gubernatorial election over at The Duckpin for a few months now. The Democrats look like they are going to fall into the same trap they fell into in 2018 — a large field in which the candidates try to run to the left in order to win the primary only to be outflanked by the Republican nominee with a middle temperament, only this time the likely Republican nominee will be Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.

At the end of the day, Democratic arrogance is no skin off my back. Maryland’s interests will be better served with Boyd Rutherford continuing the successful legacy of Larry Hogan than with any of the Democratic candidates.

But I am intrigued, as a political observer, to see if the arrogance of Maryland Democrats continues and whether or not they learned anything from their 2018 defeats.

— BRIAN GRIFFITHS

The writer is a columnist for the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, publisher of The Duckpin and host of The Duckpin Podcast. He can be reached at [email protected].