Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has angered some of his fellow Democrats by aligning himself closely with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, has tacked back toward his party's mainstream with enthusiastic praise for Hillary Clinton's performance before the House Benghazi committee.
In a posting on Facebook Thursday night, Franchot wrote that he was "disgusted by the spectacle that has unfolded on Capitol Hill" as Republican House members interrogated Clinton in an 11-hour marathon that yielded little new information about the 2012 attack that killed four Americans in Libya.
"[Chairman] Trey Gowdy and the other Republican members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi have embarrassed themselves, dishonored a bipartisan tradition of principled congressional oversight, and confirmed that this investigation has been nothing more than an inexcusable waste of time and taxpayer dollars," Franchot wrote.
The comptroller, who was elected as a Takoma Park liberal but shifted sharply to the right on fiscal issues, praised the former secretary of state for her "inexhaustible patience" in dealing with "partisan lightweights."
"The stature gap in that hearing room today couldn't be any more profound," Franchot wrote.
The comptroller's statements set off an extended debate among Franchot's followers, including conservatives who expressed dismay at his position.
"As a Republican, I voted for you, but those statements make me sorry I did," one critic wrote.
"You have done a fairly good job of bipartisanship in this state, until this comment," said another.
Franchot did not back down in his reply Friday.
"I will still call them as I see them, regardless of who it makes uncomfortable. And I'll reiterate that yesterday's hearing was a botched partisan exercise," he said.
For the comptroller, the exchange was an opportunity to remind Democratic primary voters that he is still one of them on national issues despite his vocal support for Hogan on the Board of Public Works. Meanwhile the House Republicans presented an easy target, having disappointed conservative commentators at the same time they were angering Democrats.