Democrat John Olszewski, Jr. announces his intent to run for the open Baltimore County Executive seat. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)
Like many of my neighbors in Baltimore County, I care very much about the way in which our county is governed. And yet it seems each year I become disenchanted with various candidates for county office. The reason? Because they just cannot seem to tell us the truth. Take former Del. John Olszewski or "Johnny O," as he likes to call himself, who goes around saying he is a progressive ("Olszewski: I support common sense gun laws," April 9).
I recently attended a candidate forum in which Mr. Olszewski repeatedly referred to himself as "the most progressive candidate in the race for county executive." He is, at least according to his record, many things, but progressive is definitely not one of them. For example, he has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. To his credit, he earned it: Mr. Olszewski voted against the 2013 assault weapons ban. He also voted to allow domestic abusers to keep their guns. A man beats up a woman and Johnny O votes to let him keep his gun. Now, such unwavering loyalty to the NRA can be described many ways, but it is in no way, shape or form "progressive." Indeed, it is not even Democratic.
The same could be said of his vote on stem cell research. Virtually all Maryland Democrats — and all true progressives, yours truly included — support stem cell research. It offers the most promise to help us treat horrible diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Juvenile Diabetes. But Mr. Olszewski voted no. Again, his vote may be principled, but it is in no way "progressive." Finally, when he was in the House of Delegates, he voted "pro-life" or, as we progressives prefer to say, "anti-choice." He even voted to oppose any abortion after the first trimester — a position not only at odds with the U.S. Supreme Court, but markedly more conservative than even the most regressive dark-red states.
Mr. Olszewski should own his record, not try to disguise it. Personally, with so many right-wing votes, I think he would fare better running in a Republican primary than in a Democratic one. But he has the right to join whichever party he wants. He should not, however, call himself a "progressive." In fact, he is anything but.