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Dan Rodricks Commentary and conversation on life in Baltimore, Maryland and the USA

Dan Rodricks: Maryland GOP loses some ground after a Trump (or Hogan) bump

Nobody asked me, but I wonder: Is the Republican Party growing in Maryland because of the popularity of Larry Hogan, the first GOP governor to win re-election here in more than 60 years, or are Maryland Republicans leaving the party because of the Trump presidency?

I looked at the numbers from the state election board, and here’s what I found: Republican registration showed some nice growth — about 68,000 new voters — between 2014, the year of Hogan’s election, and 2016, the year of Donald Trump’s. That could have happened because of Hogan’s popularity, but my hunch is these were new voters excited by Trump’s candidacy. Either way, the trend did not continue: The GOP lost ground in Maryland after Trump’s election. By November 2018, it had 6,773 fewer registered voters than it had on Election Day 2016.

The Maryland Democratic Party, on the other hand, showed steady growth each year, gaining more than 150,000 voters since 2014. Also rising: Unaffiliated voters, with 56,465 more registered independents in 2018 than in 2014, and the bulk of that growth has occurred since Trump’s election.

Nobody asked me, but a text message does not suffice as a thank-you for a wedding gift, Christmas gift or birthday present. An e-mailed thanks is better, but not much. Gratitude should be expressed either in person or, preferably, with a pen on a note card, and sent to the giver by post. To quote Ramses: “So let it be written, so let it be done.”

And speaking of Yul Brynner: The recent death of Carol Channing reminded me of the time (1976) someone stole the Broadway legend’s full-length white mink coat from her Baltimore hotel room, and that reminded me of the time (1984) Brynner’s handmade shoes were stolen from a Japanese restaurant on Charles Street. After the closing sellout performance of “The King and I” at The Lyric, Brynner and his wife went to Shogun — now Cazbar — and the couple removed their shoes, per custom, as they entered a private dining area. During dinner, someone — police suspected an autograph-seeking fan who had been rebuffed by Brynner — got off with his $850 custom-made leather shoes. While police recovered Channing’s $30,000 mink, no arrest was ever reported in connection with the theft of Brynner’s handmade John Lobbs, size 11. But the upscale clothier, Bernard Hill, sent him a new pair before the actor left town.

Nobody asked me, and I realize I’m arriving late to this party, but “Schitt’s Creek” on Netflix is the funniest show in the video stream right now. The Rose family has removed to a rundown motel in a small town that the once-wealthy patriarch, played by Daniel Levy, purchased as a joke. Financially ruined by a corrupt business manager, the Roses have to adjust to life on the lean, and the show’s premise will remind baby boomers of “Green Acres,” or “The Beverly Hillbillies” in reverse. The humor runs from sophisticated to goofy to crude, and back to goofy.

Nobody asked me, but few smells linger like that of popcorn burned in a microwave oven.

Nobody asked me, but, on State of the Union night, it will be interesting to see if Nancy Pelosi can give, without noticeable distress, the traditional introduction: “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and distinct honor to present to you the president of the United States.”

I risk repeating what so many others have said about Dave Durian, but his example is worth the emphasis, so that his grieving family will know how widely respected he was. I was in Dave’s orbit weekly on TV Hill (and Radio Knob) in the mid-1980s and for some of the 1990s, and, like thousands of other Baltimoreans, listened to his news reports almost every weekday. We admired Dave for his professionalism, his never-flustered presentation of news on television and radio, his quiet good humor, and his day-in-day-out amiability. “He was one of the good ones,” said former WBAL-TV and WMAR-TV anchor Rudy Miller.

Doug Roberts, the actor and voice-over specialist, co-produced The Beltway Gourmet segments with Durian on WBAL-AM for 21 years. In 2005, when Ray Lewis opened his rib restaurant in Canton, the Ravens great appeared briefly at a press conference, and reporters were warned he was on a tight schedule. “We were told we’d get one minute with Mr. Lewis and not a second more,” Roberts recalled.

Durian and Roberts needed a good quote for their recorded report. “Ray,” Durian called out, “I see on the menu that you’re using your mother’s recipes. Could you give me the one for ribs?” Lewis laughed. “Are you kidding me?” he said. “If I gave you my mom’s ribs recipe, she wouldn’t speak to me again for the rest of my natural born life!”

End of press conference. Dave smiled. “We had our quote,” Roberts said. “Dave could get a good quote out of anybody.”

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