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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: House GOP Wants Frosh to Sue Biden, Navarro’s MoCo Endorsement Has Statewide Implications, and More

House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel, left, and Minority Whip Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. House Republican Caucus photo.

House Republican leaders in Annapolis have written to Maryland’s Democratic attorney general, Brian E. Frosh, suggesting that the AG might want to consider suing President Biden every once in a while.

Frosh said he found the query “astonishing.”

In a letter sent Monday that’s sure to accomplish little except spotlight GOP talking points, House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany) and Minority Whip Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. (R-Carroll) noted that when President Trump was in the White House, Frosh frequently took advantage of the Maryland Defense Act of 2017, a measure that authorized the attorney general to sue the federal government without the governor’s approval. The resolution laid out that the attorney general could take such action if the health, safety, civil liberties, economic security or environmental health of the state were jeopardized.

“Shortly after the MDA was adopted, you zealously and tirelessly sued the Trump Administration at every turn while ignoring your duties as the top law enforcement official in the State to combat rampant crime and the soaring murder rate in Baltimore City,” Buckel and Shoemaker wrote. “You also turned a blind eye to the practice of Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s decision not to prosecute entire categories of misdemeanor crimes. You also sat idly by while the State Board of Education usurped the local control over schools and forcibly masked them with little or no scientific justification during the COVID 19 Pandemic.

“None of these safety or health concerns of Maryland residents were able to distract your laserlike focus on suing President Trump and his Administration numerous times and then glowingly crow about it.”

Since President Biden took office in January 2021, “your zeal and ardor to carry out your marching orders as set forth in the MDA to take action ‘based on federal government’s action or inaction that threatens the public interest and welfare of the residents of the State’ has waned considerably,” the Republican lawmakers asserted.

They argued that Frosh showed “no interest in safeguarding and protecting the health of Maryland residents” when he decided not to join 21 other state attorneys general — all of whom are Republicans — in suing the Biden administration over its attempts to lift a provision in federal law that enabled the U.S. Border Patrol to prohibit the entry of people into the United States. A federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s attempts late last week.

Buckel and Shoemaker also chastised Frosh for not doing more to challenge the Biden administration’s “porous borders,” which, they said, are allowing the smuggling of mass quantities of illegal drugs and human trafficking to take place.

“Because of this, anything we do in Maryland to combat human trafficking is little more than spitting in the wind,” the lawmakers wrote.

The GOP House leaders also took up the cause of parental rights and education policy.

“Your Office has also failed to safeguard and protect Maryland’s workers and school children using the MDA to challenge the Biden Administration’s rescinding of President Trump’s commonsense executive order ensuring no government funding goes to anti-American or racist and sexist training, like Critical Race Theory (CRT), in the workplace,” they wrote. “Furthermore, your Office has not used the tool of the MDA to sue to ensure that federal education funds are not spent on K-12 schools that compel faculty members, students, or any other individual to affirm the tenets of CRT.”

“Most disturbing,” Buckel and Shoemaker said, was Frosh’s “failure to safeguard and protect the civil liberties of parents who voice their first amendment rights when advocating for children before local and state boards of education, only to be labeled ‘domestic terrorists’ by the Biden Justice Department.”

In response, Frosh said he was tempted to take a page from the late U.S. Sen. Stephen M. Young (D-Ohio), who was famous for his caustic responses to correspondence he did not like, and wondered whether “some lunatic has gotten hold of [the Republicans’] stationery.”

“We sued Trump because he violated the law repeatedly,” Frosh said. “And we won repeatedly.”

Frosh defended his office’s record on fighting crime in Baltimore, saying this year alone the AG’s small Organized Crime Unit made a major fentanyl bust and also prosecuted two gang-related double murders. As for issues like parental rights and critical race theory, he said, “It’s all these phantom issues that Republicans are running on these days.”

Not all politics is local

It probably isn’t all that surprising that Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro (D) decided to endorse businessman David T. Blair Monday in the Democratic primary for county executive. Navarro, the senior member of the council, has worked closely with County Executive Marc B. Elrich (D) for many years, and with the other leading contender in the primary for executive, County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D). She clearly has strong opinions of both — and they contributed to her decision to back Blair.

Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro (D).

“I heartily endorse David Blair for County Executive because I believe he will bring the right leadership ability and experience that will move us forward towards a more innovative and economically vibrant county as he builds on the progress we have made in many crucial areas,” Navarro said in a statement. “This COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated our challenges, but it has also opened exciting opportunities for innovation, equity and shared prosperity. David understands the importance of bringing everyone into the conversation, including traditionally underrepresented communities, and has a proven record of visioning and executing big, bold ideas.”

Blair, who finished just 77 votes behind Elrich in the Democratic primary four years ago, said he was honored “to have Nancy’s support and to get her insight into how we can be most effective in making a better Montgomery County for all.”

But there may be a side benefit for Navarro in her endorsement of Blair.

Navarro, who is term limited from seeking reelection to the council, is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket headed by former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). And the Baker-Navarro campaign, as we pointed out last week, is almost broke, with just $14,000 on hand a week ago.

Baker is the only top-tier gubernatorial candidate in the state’s public financing program, which means the campaign gets matching funds in increments based on the amount of money it’s raised — but it’s also limited to the size and types of contributions it can receive. Last week, the campaign applied for $34,000 in matching funds, according to campaign finance records.

Blair is a wealthy guy who knows a lot of wealthy people. And while he has so far been neutral in the 10-candidate gubernatorial primary, might he be willing to ask friends and supporters to kick the maximum allowable under the public financing system to the Baker-Navarro campaign, which is $250? That’s not a ton of money, when other candidates in the Democratic primary are raising millions of dollars. But it’s not nothing — and it can add up.

Segal pens book on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

If foreign policy expertise was a prerequisite for running for governor, Dr. Jerome Segal, a college lecturer who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination as a Bread and Roses socialist, might well be in the lead.

Segal speaks repeatedly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and now he’s published a book about it, called “The Olive Branch From Palestine: The Palestinian Declaration of Independence and the Path Out of the Current Impasse.” It was released last week by the University of California Press, and comes with a forward from no less an eminence than Noam Chomsky.

So how does this relate to Segal’s longshot bid for governor? Segal has attempted to inject foreign policy (or foreign policy-adjacent) discussions into the primary debate.

He has called on the state to reverse the so-called anti-BDS executive order imposed by outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan (R), which forbids state contracts with businesses in the state that boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank. He has criticized Democratic primary opponents, including Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot and Wes Moore, for their pledge to extend the executive order.

Segal has proposed initiatives that draw on the fact that Camp David, site of famous and historic Middle East peace negotiations, is in Maryland, to establish new conflict resolution institutions in the state. He also seeks a transformation of U.S. policy in Central America to ease the immigration crisis.

Segal argues that it’s perfectly appropriate for governors to be talking foreign policy.

“Maryland can make a major contribution, not just through technology, trade and investment,” he said. “Our national government has become dysfunctional in many areas. Immigration policy is the most dangerous because, worldwide, the magnitude of the flow of refugees is so great, that there is fear, and right-wing-authoritarians are using it to undermine democracy. Governors must step up.”


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Political Notes: House GOP Wants Frosh to Sue Biden, Navarro’s MoCo Endorsement Has Statewide Implications, and More