At a candidate forum in what has become one of Maryland's bluest regions, three of the candidates hoping to lead the state next year strove to show off their progressive credentials.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Del. Jolene Ivey and Del. Heather Mizeur all turned out for the event, hosted Jan. 8 by the Columbia Democratic Club at Ridgely's Run Community Center in Jessup.
Ulman is running for lieutenant governor alongside current Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Ivey is running for the same spot on a ticket with state Attorney General Doug Gansler and Mizeur is campaigning for governor on a bill with Prince George's County pastor Delman Coates.
Ulman spoke with the confidence of a man on home turf.
"You know me, we've all worked together," he told the group.
He touted Howard's successes during his tenure, from nationally ranked schools to a top library system. He said the Columbia Democratic Club had helped play a role in making Howard County "reliably progressive" and that his running mate, Brown, is part of an administration "that has helped make Maryland a reliably progressive state" with passage of bills approving the DREAM Act, marriage equality and tougher gun regulations.
But Mizeur said state politics had become ensnared in "an establishment system that tends to go on without a conversation about what our hopes and dreams are."
She said she wanted to bring "an unapologetic progressive voice to Annapolis," and with it push policies such as legalization of marijuana and a more progressive tax code.
She also highlighted her work to keep shale gas drilling, commonly called fracking, at bay in the state until studies looking at the practice's safety are complete. A few days later, her campaign honed in on the issue, saying Ulman and Brown's campaign platform made "vague statements" about fracking.
Ivey said she and running mate Gansler knew how to shake up the status quo.
"We both take an independent stance sometimes that can make some people uncomfortable, but it works for me and it seems to work for him," she said.
She pointed to a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses as one recent progressive accomplishment that made her proud.
All three candidates said they see the state's youth as a top priority: each said providing some level of universal pre-kindergarten classes was essential to Maryland's future.
District 12 candidate examines campaign funds
On Wednesday, Maryland state and local candidates filed their annual campaign finance reports, and political observers hastened to get a first sense of who is entering 2014 with a strong financial lead.
District 12 House candidate Adam Sachs pre-empted the rush and released a campaign finance analysis of his own last week, which takes a look at the funds collected by all 11 members of Howard County's State House delegation in 2012.
Sachs found that nine of 11 of the delegates and senators received more than half of their donations from business-related entities and political action committees, he wrote on his website.
"There's no denying that money from businesses, corporations and special interests has an influence on the legislative process, whether through securing more access to legislators, getting a key provision in a bill or keeping one out, preserving the status quo or potentially even swaying votes," Sachs said in a statement. His full report is at sachsfordelegate.org.
The candidate from Columbia said he wants to ban corporate and PAC contributions to state candidates and implement a public financing system for state elections.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun