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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political notes: Can marijuana ballot question boost turnout? Plus, ‘Unite the Right’ changes its name, and more

Woman holding a small cannabis plant in her garden. Getty images.

Will Question 4, the statewide ballot question legalizing recreational marijuana in Maryland, boost voter turnout this fall? And if it does, could that accrue to the Democrats’ benefit?

The answer to the first question is yes, according to polling commissioned by the Yes on 4 Campaign, the entity that is working to make sure the ballot initiative passes.

The poll of 762 registered voters, taken Sept. 11-19 by Victoria Research, a Takoma Park-based survey research firm, and Sojourn Strategies, a social impact consulting group, found, as other public polls have, strong support for the cannabis measure, with 69% of voters saying they planned to vote yes. The poll had a 3.7-point margin of error.

In Montgomery County, 68% of voters said they supported the ballot question; in Prince George’s, it was 65%; in Baltimore County, it was 74%. In Baltimore City, 83% of voters were on board. A whopping 87% of voters between the ages of 18 and 39 supported the measure.

But digging a little deeper, the poll suggests that the ballot question could in fact be a motivating factor for different segments of the electorate, especially people of color and younger voters.

Thirteen percent of poll respondents said they might not vote, but when that group was reminded that marijuana legalization was on the ballot, 52% said they were more likely to vote — including 64% of Black voters. Sixty-one percent of people of color younger than 40 said they’d be more likely to vote knowing they could support marijuana legalization.

“Our new poll data shows that Marylanders are more likely to vote when they learn that marijuana legalization is on the ballot,” said Yes on 4 Campaign Chair Eugene Monroe, a former player with the Baltimore Ravens. “We are working hard on digital mobilization and advertising that reaches voters who might otherwise stay home in November. Each day, we are having more conversations with Maryland voters who know marijuana legalization will bring jobs and justice to historically underserved communities.”

Could some of these numbers impact political races in certain competitive areas? The poll showed that in the 1st congressional district, where former state Del. Heather Mizeur (D) is seeking to oust six-term U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R), there is 71% support for the ballot initiative. But of those less likely to vote, 51% said they were more likely to cast a ballot when reminded about the marijuana measure.

A ‘Unite the Right’ rally by any other name

Radio talk show host and Republican provocateur Kim Klacik plans to push forward with her GOP rally later this month — despite a controversy about the event’s original name that led gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox to cancel his appearance.

Cox abruptly withdrew from Klacik’s Oct. 22 “Unite the Right” rally on Monday, after reporters began asking about it. A prominent Jewish group said it appeared to be the first time since the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va, that anyone had sought to use that name.

Klacik, an unsuccessful congressional candidate who now hosts the midday show on WBAL Radio, rejected any connection between the violent clash in Central Virginia and her gathering, which is scheduled to take place at a restaurant in Arnold. She said her goal was to bring together a state party that has appeared fractured and to raise money for Republican candidates.

On Tuesday she announced in a social media post that the event is now called “Maryland United: 1776 We’re United.” The development was first reported by the Baltimore Banner.

“Unfortunately, some were likening our rally to one that occurred in 2017, which there is no relation,” she wrote. “All invited candidates were invited before the final details were discussed, including the name. The buck stops with me.”

She did not indicate whether she was aware of the now toxic connotation of the name “Unite the Right.” (A simple search generates thousands of references to the Charlottesville melee that left one woman dead and dozens injured.)

Cox and his running mate, Gordana Schifanelli, were among several GOP office-seekers listed as VIP guests at the event. They immediately withdrew in the face of questions about the use of the inflammatory name.

Gary Collins, political director for 2nd District congressional hopeful Nicolee Ambrose (R), said she “was never invited and would have never accepted an invitation to attend this event.”

“She is livid her name was used without her permission,” he added. “In the strongest possible way, she thinks the organizers of this event are not only insensitive, but plainly stupid.” Ambrose is running against Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D).

LaToya Nkongolo, an Anne Arundel County activist who initially served as a co-organizer, has also withdrawn from the event, saying she was not aware that Klacik had opted to go with “Unite the Right.” “We know Charlottesville very well,” Nkongolo said. “We know the horror that rocked the entire country.”

MoCo Business Hall of Fame lunch coming up

One of our favorite political schmoozefests of the year, the Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame lunch, is coming up on Oct. 25 at the Universities at Shady Grove.

The annual fundraiser, which funds scholarships for business students at the campus, usually draws dozens of politicians, from Montgomery County and beyond. We distinctly recall being there eight years ago, less than a week before Election Day, watching then-Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, and businessman Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee for governor, standing near the entrance of the ballroom where the luncheon was taking place, greeting arrivals. Both told us their ticket was going to win; only one was right.

The four business leaders being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year are: Timothy Chi, co-founder of WeddingWire and CEO of The Knot Worldwide; Bonnie Fogel, founder of Imagination Stage; Jeff Galvin, CEO and Founder of American Gene Technologies; and Haroon Mokhtarzada, co-founder and CEO of Truebill (now Rocket Money).