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Election 2022

Political Notes: More Climate Talk, a Moore Poll, New Ads, Boebert in Md., and the FOP Endorses for AG

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John King spoke about his climate plan outside the Wheelabrator trash-to-energy plant, which he promises to close if elected, in Baltimore on Tuesday. Screenshot.

Democratic candidates for governor are continuing to use climate change as part of their closing arguments to voters.

Last week, on the day the U.S. Supreme Court drastically curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, author and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore stood on the shore of the Patapsco River, outlining the steps he’d take to combat climate change during his first 100 days in office.

On Tuesday, another Democratic contender, former U.S. Education Secretary John King, also traveled to South Baltimore — standing in front of the Wheelabrator trash-to-energy plant to tout his climate plan. The scene was a little less bucolic and considerably louder than Moore’s event, as King sought to draw contrasts with current state leaders and his Democratic primary opponents amid the din of the plant.

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According to his campaign, King is alone among the Democratic candidates in proposing a “Green New Deal” and opposing all natural gas pipelines, in pledging that Maryland will only use clean electricity by 2030 and will hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2035, and in promising to close the Wheelabrator plant and the Curtis Bay medical waste incinerator in Baltimore.

King said his opponents are “not willing to commit to the bold actions that we need to tackle the climate crisis” at a time when “it has never been more important for the state of Maryland to lead.”

“He’s treating it like an emergency,” said Josh Tulkin, executive director of the Sierra Club Maryland chapter, which has endorsed King for governor.

The Wheelabrator plant has particularly irked environmentalists, because under current state calculations it is receiving credits for creating renewable energy, even though city officials say it is the worst source of pollution in Baltimore.

“We all know that burning trash is not renewable energy,” King said.

In a related development, King is up with a new 30-second TV ad suggesting that a lifelong educator has the right credentials to be governor.

“The great thing about the idea of a teacher as governor, is that teachers know it all starts with listening — to students and parents,” he says in the ad. “That means hiring more teachers and counselors, helping kids in high-need schools, improving access to mental health services, and seeing each of our students as whole people. That’s how a teacher thinks, and how a governor should too.”

>> RELATED: Read more about candidates’ views on climate change in our Climate Voter’s Guide. 

Another Dem primary poll, this time from a candidate

In contrast to some recent independent polling, which showed a close three-way Democratic race for governor with Moore, Comptroller Peter Franchot and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez as the leading contenders, the Moore campaign on Tuesday was trying to characterize the primary as a two-way race between Franchot and Moore.

The Moore campaign released a poll Tuesday of 601 likely Democratic primary voters taken June 25-27, showing Franchot at 21%, Moore at 20% and Perez at 16%.The survey, conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, the pollster for the last three Democratic gubernatorial nominees, had a 4.1-point margin of error.

Rounding out the field in the Moore poll: King at 5%, former state Attorney General Doug Gansler at 4%, and former Clinton administration official Jon Baron at 1%. Fully one-third of voters remained undecided.

Polls financed by campaigns are often viewed as less reliable than independent surveys. One of the most eyebrow-raising things about this poll is that Garin-Hart-Yang did not test former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker — who suspended his campaign in June but will remain at the top of the ballot, and had finished in fourth place in other recent surveys. He could still have a decent showing, especially on his home turf.

While the Moore campaign did not release the poll’s crosstabs, there are a couple of numbers worth considering: Moore’s statewide name recognition level, according to Garin-Hart-Yang is now at 66%, just 3 points behind Franchot, who has been in statewide office for 15 1/2 years. The poll also notes the high approval ratings of two of Moore’s high-profile supporters, U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D).

Last Thursday, Ben Jealous, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor and a Moore supporter, released an eight-minute video criticizing Perez’s civil rights record — even though he described the two as friends. This suggests that the Moore campaign may fear Perez more than it’s letting on —  since Jealous might be expected to have a bigger beef with Franchot, who reneged on a pledge to support the Democratic nominee for governor four years ago when Jealous won the primary.

Meanwhile, Moore is out with two new 30-second TV ads, one which highlights his support among elected officials in Prince George’s, and another which features him in a town hall setting.

“Nothing will change with the same ideas coming from the same people,” he tells the audience at the town hall.

Guess who’s coming to dinner

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), the MAGA superstar who recently decried the separation of church and state and became famous for operating a gun-themed restaurant, is coming to Maryland next week to headline the Frederick County Republican Central Committee’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner.

The event takes place next Wednesday at the Walkersville Fire Hall. The invitation for the dinner features a picture of Boebert with a gun strapped to her leg.

Frederick County is becoming increasingly purple. The open-seat county executive race, between state Sen. Michael Hough (R) and the winner of a three-way Democratic primary will probably be a tossup in the fall.

Boebert will no doubt help the Frederick GOP raise money and put fannies in the seats. But is her brand of politics — she recently joked that Jesus needed an AR-15 to avoid crucifixion and started off Pride month in June by tweeting that the left is “grooming” children — the kind Frederick Republicans need in November? Stay tuned.

Local FOP picks local guy for AG

This may have been a bit of a “home game” for Montgomery County attorney Jim Shalleck, one of two Republicans running for attorney general. But the Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 has endorsed Shalleck’s bid.

“FOP Lodge 35 appreciates your support of law enforcement officers in Montgomery County,” FOP Lodge 35 President Lee Holland wrote in a letter to Shalleck. “You have demonstrated through years of practice and service as a prosecutor and defense attorney, that you have the knowledge to lead the office of the Attorney General. “There is no doubt you will restore the criminal justice process to keep Maryland safe.”

Shalleck is a former prosecutor who has run unsuccessfully for public office four times. He is squaring off for the Republican nomination against former Anne Arundel County Councilmember Michael Peroutka.

>> RELATED: Catch up on earlier endorsements in the attorney general race here.  

Harden’s 15 minutes

Dave Harden, a national security consultant and one of two Democrats competing for the right to take on U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) in the fall, has been consistently overshadowed by Heather Mizeur, a former state legislator for Montgomery County who ran unsuccessfully for governor eight years ago.

Mizeur has an intensely loyal following and an uncanny ability to generate publicity, but Harden did pretty well himself when he was featured this weekend in a New York Times opinion piece, complete with a Rock Hall dateline, by Farah Stockman, a member of the paper’s editorial board. For local color, the article also features Capt. Rob Newberry, the voluble head of the Delmarva Fisheries Association.

The story carried the headline, “The Democrat Who’s Flipping the Campaign Script.” It was all about the challenges of running as a moderate Democrat in a conservative district; how Harden is framing his message, and how voters are responding.

“Mr. Harden is trying to chart an alternative path for Democrats in rural areas,” Stockman writes. He’s no fan of Donald Trump. He left a 22-year career in the Foreign Service in 2018 because he didn’t want to serve the Trump administration…Mr. Harden is trying to walk a difficult line, appealing to voters who are angry about government overreach without turning off the Democratic base.”

How did this piece come about? Apparently Harden and Stockman knew each other when he was posted in the Middle East and she was a foreign correspondent there. Small world — and a nice boost for his candidacy.

As for the Times, the Stockman story appeared the same day there was an article in the Times Magazine about the declining number of Democratic moderates on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. This piece was far less nuanced than the Harden piece — and featured the primal screams of pols once affiliated with (or who greatly admired) the group known as the Democratic Leadership Council, which formed in the 1980’s to counter leftward creep of the party then (Jesse Jackson once famously referred to the DLC as “Democrats for the Leisure Class”).

Which only goes to show, in national politics, that old is new again. Or something. Clearly the Democrats are already preparing for the circular firing squad that will inevitably follow their likely losses at the polls this November.


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Political Notes: More Climate Talk, a Moore Poll, New Ads, Boebert in Md., and the FOP Endorses for AG