Maryland's primary may be 13 months away, but ready or not, the 2014 election campaign cycle is about to hit full stride.
If it seems early, it is. With the primary now in June instead of September, new legislative districts, and an existing law that prohibits state incumbents from raising campaign funds during the 90-day legislative session that starts in January, candidates can't afford to wait much longer to toss their hats in the ring.
What should make this coming election cycle of greater interest to Howard County residents are the substantial changes that will be taking place. County Executive Ken Ulman has hit his term limit and appears to be setting his sights on a run for governor or lieutenant governor. Democratic Council member Courtney Watson and Republican State Sen. Allan Kittleman, among others, are said to be considering a run for county executive. Add these potential open seats to the announced retirements of Sen. Jim Robey and delegates Jim Malone, Steve DeBoy and Liz Bobo and there's a good chance the political landscape in Howard will be significantly different by the end of next year.
Whether that difference is a good thing or a bad thing will likely depend on your political bent. But the time to start paying attention has arrived.