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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Brown Poll Shows Big Lead, New Spots for Schulz and Baron, and More

Retired Judge Katie Curran O’Malley (D) and Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) are running for attorney general in 2022. Photos from campaign, Getty Images.

U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown has a solid lead in the Democratic primary for state attorney general — at least according to a recent poll conducted for Brown’s campaign.

Brown and retired Baltimore City District Court Judge Katie Curran O’Malley are battling in the primary to replace two-term Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), who is retiring.

Brown started the campaign better known than O’Malley; he was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014, is serving his third term in Congress, was lieutenant governor for eight years, and also spent eight years in the House of Delegates.

O’Malley spent 20 years on the bench before retiring last fall. But while this is her first campaign for political office, she’s not exactly a newcomer to politics. She’s married to former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D) and is the daughter of former Attorney General Joe Curran (D).

The Brown poll, by the national Democratic polling firm Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, was taken April 27-May 1. It surveyed 600 likely Democratic primary voters and had a 4.1-point margin of error.

The poll found Brown with 44%, O’Malley with 25%, with 28% of voters undecided. The result is “largely unchanged” from a survey the polling firm conducted for Brown in November, when the congressman led O’Malley 46% to 23%, the campaign said in a memo dated May 10.

According to Garin-Hart-Yang, “Congressman Brown continues to lead by thirty points in the Washington, D.C. media market — led by his massive advantage in his home of Prince George’s County, which has the largest share of Democratic voters in Maryland and he continues to lead in the Baltimore media market. Congressman Brown garners more than 60% of the vote among Black voters, and he also holds double-digit leads with both men and women.”

The polling firm says Brown “remains the clear front-runner to be the Democratic nominee,” yet injects a note of caution, given the high number of undecided voters. “But further survey findings indicate that undecided and soft voters find various aspects of Anthony Brown’s background and platform to be highly appealing, and that he has the potential to grow his support as the campaign gets into gear.”

Neither campaign has begun airing ads yet ahead of the July 19 primary and both candidates have been raising money at an aggressive clip. O’Malley defeated Brown in a straw poll of more than 300 voters at the Western Maryland Democratic summit on Saturday.

On your radio

Former state Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, one of the Republican candidates for governor in the July 19 primary, began running a radio ad Monday that spotlights high gas prices and the issue of “parental rights” in their children’s education.

The 60-second spot begins with Schulz introducing herself personally and professionally, including her service in Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan’s cabinet and as a Republican delegate from Frederick County.

“I put myself through college as a waitress while raising two boys, mostly as a single mom,” she goes on to say. Then, Schulz pivots to the issues.

“Like you, I feel the pain of inflation every single day,” she says. “Yet progressive politicians in Annapolis raised the gas tax and tied it to inflation — making life even more unaffordable for hard-working Marylanders.”

That’s a reference to the state gas tax increase that the General Assembly passed in 2013, which included an annual cost-of-living adjustment. Republicans tried unsuccessfully during this year’s legislative session to repeal that provision and freeze the gas tax.

Schulz next turns to education in the ad, where she says, “But that’s not all. They also want to restrict our rights to be involved in our kids’ education,” and goes on to tout her Parents’ Bill of Rights, which was the topic of a video and TV ad she has been running.

Asked what Schulz was referring to when she said “progressive politicians in Annapolis” are restricting parents’ rights “to be involved in our kids’ education,” Mike Demkiw, a campaign spokesman, replied in an email: “Interest groups and partisan politicians have consistently let parents and children down by keeping them in failing schools. As highlighted in Kelly Schulz’s Parental Bill of Rights, she’ll empower parents by fighting to provide real choices in education ranging from public charter schools to PTECH Schools, while continuing to record fund schools. If Washington DC and New York City were successful in implementing these changes, there is no reason why we cannot get this done in Maryland.”

The Schulz campaign said the radio spot would be airing on stations across the states and would be part of the “high six-figure” ad buy that the campaign announced earlier this month.

Lawyer seeks to throw Cox off the ballot for Jan. 6 activities

An attorney is seeking to remove Del. Daniel L. Cox (R-Frederick) from the 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary ballot based on his presence in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.

Brian Marron, the attorney and a Montgomery County resident, filed a complaint in Anne Arundel Circuit Court last week against Maryland Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone, alleging that the State Board of Elections failed to uphold its responsibility to ensure that Cox as a gubernatorial candidate is in compliance with state and federal law.

According to the complaint, Marron was following up on a February letter sent by Chrissy Holt, the chair of the group Our Revolution Maryland, requesting that the State Board of Elections conduct an investigation into whether Cox had violated his oath of office.

“Based on Dan Cox’s actions leading up to and during the January 6th insurrection, we urge you to convene a full investigation into the question of whether he violated his oath of office to uphold the US [sic] Constitution by ‘engaging in insurrection or rebellion’ or giving ‘aid and comfort to the nation’s enemies,’” Holt wrote at the time.

Cox arranged tour buses to take constituents to the rally held in support of President Trump that occurred shortly before rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of the 2020 presidential election results on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Pence is a traitor,” Cox tweeted as the insurrection wore on, referring to then-Vice President Mike Pence. But the lawmaker denies any participation in the insurrection.

In the complaint, Marron alleges that Cox did participate, citing stories from Maryland Matters, a first-hand account of the event from one of Cox’s co-organizers published in The Tentacle, a conservative website in Western Maryland, and in social media posts from people that Marron “indicates” purchased tickets to attend the Trump rally.

Cox did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

In response to Holt, Lamone earlier this year said that “the State Board of Elections does not have authority to investigate this type of complaint.”

But according to the court filing, Marron alleges that Lamone was “reframing and ruling on an [sic] separate topic (enforcing a delegate’s oath)” in her correspondence with Holt.

The complaint states that Marron found both letters attached to a document for an April 27 State Board of Elections meeting, but they weren’t discussed. He alleges that the State Board of Elections has neglected to ensure that all candidates are in compliance with the law, based on Lamone’s letter and its failure to address the investigation request.

Lamone declined to comment on Monday evening. A court hearing on Marron’s suit has been scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Earlier this year, a group of voters in Georgia filed a lawsuit to keep U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) off the ballot for her behavior and rhetoric connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection. But a judge ruled that she was eligible to appear on the ballot because there was no evidence that she planned or participated in the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Up the down staircase with Baron

Former nonprofit leader and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jon Baron launched his second 2-minute advertisement on Monday, which featured Baron walking up an escalator in the wrong direction to illustrate his reiterated argument: that implementing the same policy prescriptions and government programs will not work but evidence-based solutions will.

The video opens with Baron holding a newspaper in his left hand and a coffee mug on a plate in his right, rushing out of a Metro station. “Apologies for the multitasking, but every minute counts when you’re as… important as I am,” Baron quipped.

While staying in place as he walked up an escalator that was moving down, Baron addressed “fellow Marylanders.”

“We can’t just keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing for decades — rolling out one unproven government program after another and expect a different result,” he said.

His running mate, former TV reporter Natalie Williams, suddenly appears next to Baron, but unlike him, she is going down the escalator in the right direction. She told him that he was going the wrong way.

“It’s like walking up the escalator — we’re not getting anywhere!” Baron said, halting his ascent up and throwing both of his hands in the air, letting the escalator move him down instead.

While moving up the escalator of the Metro station with Williams in the next scene, Baron said he plans to partner with businesses to provide effective job training to every adult in fast-growing industries like healthcare and technology, contending that job training has been proven to increase income earnings by as much as 40%.

He also said he would work with employers who provide paid internships to trainees.

“Under our plan, the state pays for the training, the employer pays for the internship and the economy gets skilled workers — everyone benefits,” Williams said.

The spot ends with a behind the scenes blooper with Baron running out of breath while walking up the escalator, showing exhaustion by sticking his tongue out. “Jon, what are you doing?” Williams said.

“This is tough,” he said.

The Baron campaign said the ad would first be seen as part of “a significant ad buy on Facebook” and would also go on the candidate’s various digital platforms. The campaign said it would begin airing ads on TV soon.