(BALTIMORE – August 5, 2018) – In 2003, the once prominent bank building on North Avenue served as the campaign headquarters for then City Council President candidate, Councilwoman Catherine Pugh. And the woman she lost to that year, Sheila Ann Dixon, was only four years away from becoming the city’s first Mayor, facing another democratic challenge from another council colleague, Keiffer Mitchell.
Now, Pugh is Mayor and her old campaign office is being used by a Mitchell-backed candidate, Republican Governor Larry Hogan – who also has the support of other prominent Democrats such as Dixon. And they were on hand yesterday, welcoming the first-term governor and his Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford to Baltimore, as they opened their city campaign operations with an impressive gathering of current and future city voters.
“We have always made Baltimore a priority in our administration,” said the Governor, as he ran off a list of accomplishments that he and Rutherford have brought to Baltimore over the past three and a half years. From record funding for city schools to the demolition of hundreds of vacant houses, the Hogan administration has a tangible record that voters can see and feel, not just far-fetched ideas that, if implemented, would cost the taxpayers of Baltimore and Maryland millions of dollars in increased taxes.
“We have brought $5.5 billion in aid to the city over the past three and half years, more than any governor in the history of the state,” Hogan stated yesterday, to the applause of the hundreds of area voters who had gathered to welcome the gubernatorial candidates.
The Hogan camp was the first gubernatorial campaign to open a Baltimore City operation, showing that they are not willing to concede the democratic stronghold to their challengers, Ben Jealous and Susan Turnbull. Their investment in the city was evident months before Saturday’s opening, as their field campaign has been led by a young, former Towson University basketball star, Braysia Hicks, who has been leading an impressive contingency of young Hoganites since Jealous was battling other democratic challengers for his party’s nomination earlier this year.
Hicks, an impressive African American millennial who has a love and admiration for local politics and its history, has used her connections to former Towson alum to assist her in helping to get out the word of what the Hogan/Rutherford administration have done during their first-term, and asking questions as to what the voters of Baltimore felt were the issues they should continue focusing on over the next four-years.
“It’s clear that Democrats in Baltimore City are tired of the same old, tired rhetoric that they’ve gotten from their party leadership, while walking out of their doors only to feel like they are living in a third-world country,” says democratic Hogan supporter, Doni Glover. “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining! The Hogan administration has been a breath of fresh air for those of us who have gotten tired of the political promises that never seem to materialize for the average citizen, while developers and big money corporations continue prospering.” Glover said that this administration have chosen to reallocate those resources to the little guys, who according to the prominent business owner, are the cornerstone of a prosperous Baltimore.
One such example of that investment has been the Republican administration’s focus on investing in the Ruth Kirk Recreation Center, a monumental effort led by the son of the late, great former state delegate. That gentleman, Arthur “Squeaky” Kirk, was tasked with announcing the dynamic duo [Hogan/Rutherford] to the crowd yesterday. “I am proud to be a vocal supporter of these two great gentleman, who have used their positions how they were intended, putting the people of this city and state first, leaving the partisanship and politics out of it, which shows in their leadership.”
Reflective of that leadership was an administration that responded immediately to the request of those of us at the local NAACP, to bring added resources to Baltimore in the wake of Freddie Gray’s passing and the riots that followed. Not only did they send their community relations guy Steve McAdams down to Charm City with tractor trailers filled with essential materials such as bottled water, food, clothing items and more; but the Governor and Lt. Governor came down themselves, to walk the streets of Sandtown-Winchester, hooping it up with children and speaking directly to those affected by the conditions of this community.
And while the Hogan/Rutherford administration has not been perfect, dropping the ball on issues such as the red-line project and turning the mass transit bus system into a clusterfuck, it’s clear that they are not the typical promise the world, do-nothing politicians. However, that doesn’t seem to be the perception of area democrats, who took to the park across the street from the new Hogan campaign offices yesterday to articulate their frustrations with the republican administration.
“You can’t just put up a fancy looking billboard on top of your campaign office building and think that’s going to deflect from the inactions of your administration,” says Councilman Brandon Scott, a second-term city councilman who was recently a Lt. Governor candidate himself, alongside attorney Jim Shea. “Whether it be their lack of funding for our children’s education, to them all but ignoring the violence that has occurred across the City of Baltimore since the 2015 riots.
“It’s one thing to come to Baltimore for some photo-ops during the unrest, but where have you been since? Where are you when the cameras aren’t here,” questioned Scott, who has thrown his support behind the Jealous/Turnbull team that beat him in the June democratic primaries.
Alongside Scott yesterday was another local councilman, Zeke Cohen, as well as recently re-elected state delegate Brooke Lierman, all three rumored to have future political aspirations. Cohen and Scott have been said to be on an expanding list of possible mayoral candidates in 2020, challenging Mayor Pugh – highlighted by this reporter just last week; while Lierman has been positioning herself to be a possible running mate for one the rumored democratic gubernatorial candidates in 2022 (with the anticipation that Jealous loses this November).
“These three merely want to make a name for themselves for their future political careers, but cannot articulate one viable argument as to what the Jealous administration will do on behalf of the people that the Hogan camp hasn’t already done, or plan to do once they are re-elected,” said Glover, a political commentator with a radio show on WOLB 1010 AM on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m.
“What have Brandon, Zeke or Brooke done for Baltimore? I certainly haven’t seen any of the ‘Three Musketeers’ over here in the streets of Sandtown – before, during or after the riots. At least Larry and Boyd have made a concerted effort to effect change in my community, while these folks [Democrats] have chosen to ignore the needs of communities like Sandtown for decades, because they feel as if blacks are just supposed to automatically support them because their democrats. Those days are over buddy, you better do something that people can see and feel, or else you won’t control the Governor’s Mansion for the next twelve years, let alone the next four,” Glover continued, alluding to the possibility of Rutherford carrying on the GOP representation as the leader of the great state of Maryland once Hogan leaves in four-years due to term limits (if they win this November).
Hogan is trying to become the first Republican Governor to get re-elected since Theodore McKeldin accomplished that fete in 1954, and most political analysts have him and his running mate [Rutherford] winning this year’s election by a comfortable margin. However, they clearly are not taking anything for granted, which is why they have decided to open offices in Baltimore City and other democratic battlegrounds that they intend on being competitive.
Having received 22% of the vote in Baltimore City 4-years ago, the plan for November for the Republican administration is to garner over 30% of the vote, according to their campaign. And looking at the aggressive field plan that Hicks has been implementing over the past few months – micro-targeting area voters to inform them of the vision for the next four years – it looks like that is a reasonable goal. “I’m confident that we are on target to not only win re-election, but to do so impressively,” says Hicks. “And I am willing to do what needs to be done to help us reach that historical goal.”