Just about every elected official wants to claim a mandate to either change one thing or preserve another. Let's take a quick overview of the recent election results and evaluate who can legitimately claim a mandate and for what exact purpose.
Republicans scored rather sizable electoral wins for the next United States Congress. They will maintain control of the House of Representatives and will gain control of the Senate for the first time since 2006.
Individual GOP candidates for Congress certainly ran in favor of various policy changes, but as a group they were mainly known for solid opposition to the initiatives of President Barrack H. Obama.
The President has taken little notice of the voter rebuke of his administration. He's offered no compromise on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He's issued a veto threat to a recent tax reform bill. Finally, he's announced executive action that would have the effect of allowing folks to stay in our country despite Congress not passing a bill to change the law.
The next Congress may have various tools to respond to the Obama immigration actions, but the most impactful means of accountability would seem to be via the budget process. There is likely to be division within Republican ranks on how far to go down a government shutdown path in order to change the President's executive actions on immigration.
In Maryland we observed an electorate that was sick and tired of repeated tax and fee hikes over the last eight years. Gov.-elect Larry Hogan ran a campaign focused on fiscal issues and how state government can improve outcomes for middle class families.
In his transition selections, Hogan has emphasized broad outreach across party lines. Surely, one of his goals will be to avoid partisan rancor for as long as possible with the Democratic majority General Assembly.
My guess is Democrats are in somewhat of a state of shock that Hogan defeated sitting Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. I would anticipate one and possibly two years worth of honeymoon level cooperation between the Hogan administration and the General Assembly. After that, my prediction would be more friction in the last two years of Hogan's term.
Hogan will also have a number of allies at the county level that can be expected to embrace his initiatives at that level of government. For example, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, who formerly represented both Carroll and Howard counties as a senator, will no doubt champion Hogan initiatives in the very influential Maryland Association of Counties.
Our next Board of Carroll County Commissioners will feature two familiar faces in commissioners Richard Rothschild, District 4 and Doug Howard, District 5. They have voting, rhetorical and relational records from the last four years. I'd anticipate certain patterns from them will continue for the next four years.
It is more intriguing to attempt to determine the policy initiatives that the three new members will embrace. They will include Steve Wantz in District 1, Richard Weaver in District 2 and Dennis Frazier in District 3.
All three won with strong backing of the local teachers' union and law enforcement. All three emphasized spending more on salaries for public school teachers and deputies. None of the three gave much detail in terms of a plan that would pay for such acceleration in the rate of spending associated with enhancing those salaries.
The next county budget process will force our new commissions to state whether new taxes will be the basis of their plan to raise salaries for county funded staff. By campaigning for greater spending, do they now have some sort of implied mandate to raise taxes?
If the tax hike path is supported by the next board of commissioners, I would predict some rather interesting public meetings and letters to the editor for the next six months.
Michael Zimmer writes from Eldersburg. His column appears on Fridays. Email him at email@example.com.