Bill on No. 2’s Gets Through Chamber No. 1

    The House of Delegates gave its approval on Tuesday to a measure that would alter the way gubernatorial tickets are formed.

    Currently candidates for governor are required to select a running mate in the primary. But under a proposal sponsored by Del. Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery), gubernatorial hopefuls would run solo.

    If they win their party’s nomination, they would then have 21 days to select a ticket-mate.

    The change would allow nominees to select from among their defeated rivals, creating a sense of party unity after a potentially bruising primary.

    “It’s a step in the right direction toward more civility and less divisiveness,” said former attorney general Douglas F. Gansler (D), who ran for governor in 2014.

    Many gubernatorial candidates end up with relative unknowns because of Maryland’s political calendar, which packs elections into the same cycle. If a county executive or state senator were to run for LG and lose, they’d quickly find themselves out of a job.

    “You often have candidates picking lay people and people who have no familiarity with government,” said Gansler. “Unless you’re a clear frontrunner, you have a difficult time getting an elected official to leave his or her job to run with you.”

    Barve has frequently said he was moved to offer his bill after seeing a photo of former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and former state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D) — and thinking it unfortunate that the two couldn’t have run together in 2018. Instead, the two competed against each other in the gubernatorial primary.

    The House approved Barve’s bill 96-41.

    Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County) said she voted against the measure because voters are entitled to know the identity of a gubernatorial candidate’s running mate prior to the election.

    “Having that information, when a voter goes to vote in the primary, is important,” she said.

    One observer suggested that Republicans were moved to vote against the bill out of a fear that two Democratic heavyweights could form a super-ticket in future elections.

    House Bill 268 requires a constitutional amendment and requires a three-fifths margin in both chambers. If it passes, it would be subject to a voter referendum in November.

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    Bruce DePuyt
    Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.