Within the first week of his inauguration four years ago, newly elected Gov. Larry Hogan asked to meet with me. As a lifelong moderate/conservative Democrat, I had been fortunate to have been in the Maryland Senate 12 years representing central and Northern Baltimore County, and I had been through this routine before with two previous governors.
Both Govs. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Martin O’Malley had promised to work both sides of the aisle, and nothing could have been further from the truth. Instead, they galvanized their bases, governed from the hard right and hard left, and left the party not in power disenfranchised with little to no input. Maryland was no better off for it.
Governor Hogan asked me what we could agree on and what I thought our differences would be. He listened, and over the next four years we worked together. By far, The Justice Reinvestment Act of 2016 was the most bi-partisan effort I had ever seen a Republican governor undertake. The Hogan administration worked with our committee (the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee) to decriminalize marijuana and expunge the records of those with misdemeanor offenses, which inhibited them in their job searches after they had gotten released from prison. I clearly remember sitting in the Joint Committee Hearing Room listening to the study by The Pew Charitable Trusts and watching the Hogan administration embrace the findings and work with our committee to give first time non-violent criminals a second chance. For once, during my time in the Senate, it wasn’t about D’s and R’s.
Governor Hogan didn’t stop there. For three years, I stood by his side while he attempted to put the redistricting map in the hands of an independent commission and out of the hands of politicians. He knew that if he won re-election that he would be drawing the maps, but nevertheless he put state and country ahead of party by trying to change a system that has divided this country.
The third thing that differentiated this governor from the previous two was an initiative that I had been working on for 12 years. It’s called Prior Bad Acts, and it made sexual predators accountable for previous sexual assaults that had not yet been adjudicated. Think of the Bill Cosby and Jerry Sandusky cases. My bill allowed previous victims to come forward and say “this happened to me.” Until this year, it was not permissible evidence in Maryland. I told Governor Hogan this three years ago, and he has partnered with me ever since. In April of this year, together, we got it passed. Prosecutors across the state say it’s a game changer.
So now it’s time for another election, and my choice is simple. I’m going to support the candidate for governor of Maryland who appeals to my most inner-hope for Maryland and for our country. I choose working both sides of the aisle, putting public policy ahead of party, and ideas over ideology. It’s the type of senator I’ve tried to be over 16 years, and it’s the type of governor I’ve always wanted. I found that in Larry Hogan, and that’s why I’m supporting him for re-election in 2018.
Jim Brochin, Towson
The writer, a Democrat, represents District 42 in the state Senate.