Not only is Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) speaking at a ceremony Saturday to rename the Harry W. Nice Bridge in Charles County the Harry W. Nice/Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge, as Maryland Matters first reported earlier this week. He is combining that appearance with a fundraiser for businessman Bill Dotson, the Republican who is seeking to replace Middleton in the state Senate.
Hogan’s appearance at the renaming ceremony is already fraught with political controversy.
When Hogan in December 2016 announced funding for a new Potomac River crossing where the Nice Bridge is, his aides prevented Middleton, a Democrat, from participating in the ceremony. The governor was mad, they suggested, about a funding scheme for the project that Middleton had proposed.
But now, with Republicans looking to flip five state Senate seats currently held by Democrats and Middleton not on the ballot following his defeat in the Democratic primary at the hands of CPA Arthur Ellis, the GOP is hoping to put Middleton’s District 28 seat in play. By having Hogan publicly pay tribute to Middleton at the bridge renaming ceremony, Republicans clearly hope that some Middleton supporters who are unhappy with Ellis will consider voting for Dotson instead.
And if there was any doubt that this corner of the world is a political hotbed, Maryland Matters has learned that Hogan plans to headline a $25-a-head “get out the vote cookout” for Dotson right down the road from the bridge, just minutes after the ceremony.
“The Bill Dotson for State Senate team invites you to join us for hot dogs, hamburgers, sodas and kids activities with America’s most popular Governor,” the invitation says. “Meet Bill Dotson who as your next State Senator will work WITH Governor Hogan to cut taxes and regulations, provide record funding for education and bring money back to Charles County to improve our traffic gridlock !!”