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Political Notes: Poll finds Moore on ‘solid footing,’ AG joins transgender health brief while lawmakers back trans colleagues, delegates come and go, and more

Gov. Wes Moore (D). File photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

A majority of Maryland residents say they approve of Gov. Wes Moore’s (D) job performance during his first three months in office.

A poll released by the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College found that 53% of those surveyed approved of Moore’s early performance. Another 26% said they disapproved while 20% said they didn’t know.

The results are the first look at how state residents perceive the newly minted executive who was sworn in on Jan. 18.

Mileah Kromer, director of the Goucher poll.

“Being plus 27, effectively, looking at the approval minus disapproval, is a good place to be four months into office,” said Mileah Kromer, a professor of political science and director of the Goucher College poll.

Moore’s initial numbers lack the eye-popping approval numbers enjoyed by former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) over the bulk of his two terms. Kromer said the survey results are “solid footing” for the new governor. Kromer called Hogan’s 65%-70% approval ratings “the exception not the rule.”

“It’s always good to be popular and everybody wants to be popular but having a mid 50s approval rating works perfectly fine if you share party identification with the majority of the state legislature,” said Kromer, adding that Moore may never hit Hogan’s approval rating but also “doesn’t need to.”

The poll, conducted April 18-23 by Goucher College in partnership with The Baltimore Banner, asked 800 Maryland residents their opinions of Moore’s performance and other issues. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%.

Marylanders, however, are divided when it comes to their views on the direction of the state and the economy.

A plurality of those surveyed, 47%, said the state was headed in the right direction while 42% said the state is on the wrong track. The results are statistically similar to answers given in September.

When it comes to the economy, 47% said they held a mostly positive outlook compared to 46% who held negative views. The results are similar to those expressed in a September 2022 poll by the college.

Residents were also asked to respond to a variety of policy goals they felt were extremely or very important for Moore to address in his first term including:

  • 83% called on Moore to reduce crime.
  • 83% called for improving public schools.
  • 79% wanted improvements to the economy and jobs.
  • 77% favored ending childhood poverty, a top priority for Moore in his first legislative session.
  • 60% said there should be a focus on addressing racial equity issues.
  • 48% called for a focus on improving public transportation.
  • 41% favored expanding renewable energy sources such as offshore wind and solar.

In solidarity with trans lawmakers

Two openly gay Maryland state legislators have signed on to a national letter that LGBTQ+ lawmakers sent to the state House speakers in Montana and Oklahoma — where trans legislators were recently disciplined.

Arranged by the advocacy group State Innovation Exchange, the letter decries the moves to censure Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) and Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner (D).

“As state legislatures across the country eviscerate healthcare access for transgender youth and adults, deny the right to education and individual self-expression, and undermine our essential freedoms, LGBTQ+ legislators and our accomplices are fighting back,” the LGBTQ+ lawmakers wrote. “While it may be uncomfortable for some lawmakers to be confronted with public outcry and forthright debate, that is the purpose of the legislative process and the freedom your constituents and duly elected representatives inherently have in your state capitols, and every state capitol in our nation.

“As LGBTQ+ lawmakers, we refuse to be silenced.”

The letter was signed by 52 state legislators, who said there are more than 300 LGBTQ+ lawmakers in statehouses across the country. The Maryland signatories were Dels. Ashanti Martinez (D-Prince George’s) and Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery).

Brown joins brief against transgender health ban

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown (D) joined eight other attorneys general in an amicus brief filed Tuesday to support health care rights for transgender people.

The brief requests that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida rule in favor of four transgender youth and their parents, who filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida in March opposing its ban on gender-affirming care.

According to the lawsuit, part of the Florida rule specifically bans medical doctors from diagnosing a patient with gender dysphoria for the distress that arises when a transgender person cannot live consistent with their gender identity.

In addition, the ban in Florida prohibits Medicaid coverage of treatment that was previously available.

“For as long as I’ve been advocating for access to quality, affordable healthcare, I have always stated that healthcare is a right and that means that denying access to that care based on gender identification is a violation of a civil right,” Brown said in a statement. “To specifically target people who rely on Medicaid for healthcare is not only appalling, it is discriminatory. I will always fight for equal access to healthcare for everyone.”

The other attorneys general on the brief are from California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

Although several Republican-led states enacted similar bans, Maryland lawmakers approved expanding the state’s Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care beginning Jan. 1. Some of the treatments that will be covered if the bill is signed include fertility preservation, hair alteration and hormone therapy.

Delegates come and go

W. Gregory Wims was sworn in Tuesday as the newest member of the House of Delegates — just as another vacancy has come up in the chamber.

Wims, a Democrat, was appointed last month by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee to represent District 39, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Kirill Reznik, who left the seat he’d held for almost 16 years to become an assistant secretary at the Maryland Department of Human Services.

District 39 takes in Montgomery Village, most of Germantown and parts of unincorporated Gaithersburg.

Wims is a longtime business, community and political leader in the county. He was surrounded by family Tuesday as he was sworn in by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County).

He will serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, Wims said. The committee, which considers legislation dealing with education, elections and taxation, among many others.

Wims said the assignment was a good fit, as his first job was a Head Start teacher in Montgomery County, where he was the first Black man to hold such a position.

“I believe strongly that God has put me here,” Wims said, after “50-some years of volunteering not only in District 39, but throughout the state of Maryland.”

Just before Wims was sworn in Tuesday, the chamber lost another member to the Moore administration on Monday.

Del. Tony Bridges (D-Baltimore) announced Monday morning that he was leaving his post representing District 41.

Bridges said he made “the very tough decision” to “take on a role that will allow me to serve the state of Maryland on a larger scale” as assistant secretary in the Department of Transportation.

Bridges said his resignation date will be May 15 and he will start in his new role later that week.

The Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee will pick his replacement.

“I have no doubt that the central committee will make the right decision and submit a candidate to the Governor that will continue to work for the best interest of the district,” Bridges wrote in a letter to constituents. “While I may no longer be the representative of the 41st, I am still a resident and committed community member who will always fight for the best interest of the community. Thank you again for allowing me to be your representative.”

Meanwhile, the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee will meet Thursday evening to pick a replacement for former Del. Darryl Barnes (D), who left the legislature to join an Annapolis lobbying and government relations firm.

Mack is back

The timing was purely coincidental, but Kenneth Reichard, who headed U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s Montgomery County’s office for the entirety of Cardin’s Senate tenure, retired last month. Cardin himself announced Monday that he would not seek another term in 2024.

Reichard was a familiar presence at events throughout Montgomery County for years. Last month, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who represents Montgomery, saluted Reichard, whom he called Cardin’s “aide-de-camp,” with his regular “Local Hero” award. Cardin picked up on that theme on Twitter.

“A local hero to Maryland, a personal hero to me,” the senator wrote. “For the better part of two decades, Ken Reichard has been a lifeline to Montgomery County, helping make sure that no citizen is left behind.”

Reichard has been replaced on Cardin’s staff by Kevin Mack, who has held a variety of jobs in the political arena, including as district director for former U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), who represented Montgomery County and Western Maryland. More recently, Mack served as political director for David Blair for the wealthy businessman’s near-miss 2022 campaign for Montgomery County executive, and before that he had a contract to perform a variety of jobs for the Montgomery County Council.

Mack also ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Delegates in 2018. His first day working for Cardin was Monday.

Jawando first to declare

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D) was the first to declare his candidacy after Sen. Ben Cardin (D) announced Monday that he would not seek reelection in 2024.

Jawando announced his candidacy in a video released early Tuesday.

An at-large councilmember, Jawando is also a civil rights attorney and formerly served in the Obama White House as Associate Director of Public Engagement and at the U.S. Department of Education as an advisor to Secretary Arne Duncan.

“There’s a ‘Big Lie’ in America. No, it’s not about Donald Trump or his delusions that he won the election — the real ‘Big Lie,’ the one you feel every day, that pits neighbors against neighbors, it’s the one that says, ‘For you to do well, I have to do worse,’ that we can’t take care of each other, and still prosper, that if some people get ahead everyone else has to be left behind,” Jawando said in the video. “I’m running for the U.S. Senate because I believe we can build a shared prosperity in Maryland that lifts everybody up and leaves no one behind. That would be really big.”

Jawando is one of several Democrats expected to pursue the open-seat race.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) and U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) have already assembled political teams for Senate campaigns. Others who are likely to consider the Senate race include U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8th), Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. (D), U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3rd) and Ben Jealous, the party’s 2018 gubernatorial nominee who is currently executive director of the national Sierra Club.

Steven Henry Seuferer, a Democrat, and Moshe Landman, of the Green Party, had previously filed for candidacy with the State Board of Elections.

All rise!

Are you worried about the direction and legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court? The League of Women Voters of Maryland, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and the group For the People Maryland are hosting a forum on Wednesday afternoon on that very topic.

Scheduled to speak: Mark Graber, a University of Maryland Regents professor and Constitutional scholar; Leslie Proll, senior director of Voting Rights with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; and Jon Sherman, litigation director at the Fair Elections Center. They’ll discuss previous Supreme Court decisions and their impact on democracy, current cases before the court that could erode voting rights, and possible remedies.

The forum is at 1 p.m. in the law school’s Westminster Hall, 519 W. Fayette St. in Baltimore.

(Disclosure: The David and June Trone Family Foundation has been a financial supporter of Maryland Matters. Jamie Raskin and Will Jawando have been featured guests at Maryland Matters fundraisers.)


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Political Notes: Poll finds Moore on ‘solid footing,’ AG joins transgender health brief while lawmakers back trans colleagues, delegates come and go, and more