Steven, Clarksville: Are [Gov.-elect Martin] O'Malley and [House Speaker Michael E.] Busch going to get slots approved in Maryland? This is really important as it will make the horse breeding industry robust and improve racing quality in Maryland.
Nitkin: Gov.-elect O'Malley is a supporter of slot-machine gamblingto protect racing industry jobs, particularly those at Pimlico in Baltimore.But slots was not a major campaign issue, and I don't foresee O'Malleyspending much political capital to get an authorizing bill passed. Busch continues to be personally opposed to slots, and, more importantly, leads a chamber that appears to be opposed to slots, even after the election. The bottom line is that slots approval is not likely in the next year.
Theresa, Baltimore: Many of the deputy director and secretary positions wereappointed positions under Ehrlich's administration. For example, DHROffice of Community Services has so many deputy directors with only one ortwo employees in a unit. How does a transition team evaluate theeffectiveness of keeping many of these former political appointees and/orif some of the state offices need to be dismantled or collapsed with otherdepartments? How does a transition team work?
Nitkin: There are many lines of communication between state agenciesand the O'Malley camp. Many of those close to O'Malley have a good idea ofhow many state agencies are functioning, and where they want to makechanges. Expect nearly every secretary position -- the head of the agency --to change quickly. After that, changes at the deputy level will take placeover time. Part of how the transition team will operate will be to reachout to previous state agency managers who have kept in close contact withtheir former workplaces to get the ground-level intelligence of how Ehrlichappointees are operating.
Pat, Baltimore: David, a comment thread in a blog I read suggested thefollowing: That if [Gov. Robert F.] Ehrlich [Jr.] and [Lt. Gov. Michael S.] Steele had changed the offices they ran for, the outcome might have been different. Black city and Prince George's County residents may have been comfortable voting for Steele for governor as a protestto the O'Malley term as mayor. Steele would not have gotten bogged downwith many of the national issues which had little bearing on the governor'srace. As for Ehrlich, many Baltimore County voters (Reagan Democrats) seemed tocome home to [Sen.-elect Benjamin L.] Cardin. Ehrlich had already won running for a national office in Baltimore County, and those Reagan Dems may have been more likely to voteRepublican with a candidate they were familiar with. Don't know if this istrue or not, but would be interested to hear your opinions as a politicalobserver.
Nitkin: I don't know if the outcome would have been different, but Ido know this: Gov. Ehrlich seems to prefer (and function better) in thelegislative branch of government; and Lt. Gov. Steele used to talk oftenabout running for governor in 2010, in the years before Paul S. Sarbanesannounced his retirement. So, sure: Ehrlich would have loved (and may stilllove) to be a senator, and Steele would have liked to be governor.
Steele has no natural base of support, having never been elected tooffice on his own, so I don't think he would have had a good shot atbeating O'Malley for governor. Any strong Democrat will carry BaltimoreCity and Montgomery and Prince George's counties by wide margins. O'Malleywon this year because he ran evenly with Ehrlich in Baltimore County. It'shighly unlikely that Steele would have done better than Ehrlich inBaltimore County.
Ehrlich may indeed have been a strong candidate for Senate, but hewould have had a hard time overcoming the national winds pushing Democratsin state after state.
Gary, New York, N.Y.: Does rail transit for Baltimore seem more likely now underan O'Malley administration? Do you think he will appoint a moretransit-friendly transportation secretary?
Nitkin: The short answer is yes, rail transit for Baltimore is morelikely in an O'Malley administration. I would not be surprised if the nexttransportation secretary is more inclined to support rail transit, but itwill probably remain a low priority overall.
Steven, Fallston: Given the issues of questionable ethical actions anddecisions, is Sheila Dixon really a viable candidate for mayor?
Nitkin: Based on what we know today and given that she will be mayorfor nearly a year after O'Malley is sworn in, Sheila Dixon will be a viablecandidate for the office during next year's election.
Ira, Owings Mills: Do [Rep. Roscoe G.] Bartlett and [Rep. Wayne T.] Gilchrest retire in disgust in 2008 now that they are in the minority? Are [Del. Patrick L.] McDonough, [Sen. Andrew P.] Harris, and [Sen.] E.J. Pipkin the frontrunners to succeed Gilchrest, and [Sen. Alex X.] Mooney the frontrunner for Bartlett?
Nitkin: I have heard no scuttlebutt yet that Bartlett and Gilchresthave plans to retire, but anything is possible in politics. The names youmention would all be viable candidates for Congress.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun