As a Democrat, I really don’t have much business weighing in on the Republican gubernatorial candidates. But, I did approach all the Republicans in the race, and the candidates themselves made it very easy for me to pick my favorite among them. Only one of them bothered to answer my questions, and that candidate happens to agree with me on all of my three priority issues. Thus, my endorsement goes to David Craig.
As I pointed out in my Mizeur endorsement post, I think it does tell something about a politician when they respond to a citizen activist like me. If a politician doesn’t care about my views during the election season, how can I expect him or her to care about me after the election?
I realize that no Republican is likely to care about my endorsement in their gubernatorial primary. However, I want to point out that my election reform advocacy is very much non-partisan in nature. In reality, due to the Democratic dominance in Maryland politics, my efforts are mostly aimed at reducing the power of Democratic incumbents and party insiders. Frankly, I am a bit surprised that Maryland Republicans have not been hopping on the good governance bandwagon in greater numbers. It is one of the issues that could help them find a way out of the political wilderness.
When I started this blog last fall to advocate for electoral reforms, my intention was not to endorse any gubernatorial candidates. My only goal was to bring my priority issues—slates, sample ballots, and gerrymandering—into the political discussion during this election season.
However, as I kept at it, it became clear to me that in good conscience I can only support one of the candidates in my own party. That candidate is Heather Mizeur.
First of all, of the three major Democrats in the race—Mizeur, Anthony Brown, and Doug Gansler—Mizeur was the only one who had the courtesy of responding to my questions. I had three simple, relevant questions for the candidates. Despite repeated contacts, the Brown and Gansler camps never bothered to answer my inquiries in any way—not even to say “No comment.” It is not very promising when a candidate is that unresponsive during a time when they are supposedly fighting for every vote.
Second, Mizeur agrees with me on two of my three questions. She supports outlawing candidate slates and reforming our redistricting process. Even though she is not supportive of outlawing sample ballot advertisements, I suspect that getting rid of candidate slates would greatly diminish the use of such advertisements. I will even give it to Mizeur that there could be constitutional challenges outlawing sample ballots.
I also must give Mizeur credit for highlighting the issue of gerrymandering and need for redistricting reform during the campaign. Again, nothing from the Brown and Gansler camps. Thus, there is only one candidate I can count on to advance good governance reforms and to challenge entrenched Democratic party insiders. In a state controlled by one party (my own party), that is a quality I consider to be very important.
As I have been going through the websites of the Maryland gubernatorial candidates, I have been very surprised about the fact that not a single candidate has had anything on their “issues” pages about my three priorities: slates, sample ballots, and gerrymandering. – Well, I do realize that the slate and sample ballot issues are so completely off people’s radar that I didn’t expect the candidates to highlight them. Gerrymandering, on the other hand, is a topic that has gotten much more public attention, so I was amazed that no candidate had made it part of his/her agenda.
Because of this total lack of attention to my priority issues, I was very happy to read today on the Washington Post website that Heather Mizeur is calling for redistricting reform. Props to Mizeur for having the guts to call for this desperately needed change. I hope other candidates will follow her example.
Democrat Cindy Walsh was the third candidate to provide answers to my three questions. Her responses are below (in red):
- If elected, will you actively work to outlaw candidate slates? – Yes
- If elected, will you actively work to outlaw “sample ballots” used by candidate slates as political advertisements? – Yes
- If elected, will you actively work to establish an independent, nonpartisan system for drawing legislative and congressional districts? – Yes
In addition I will fight to make public financing for all candidates mandatory.
So, as of now I have three candidates who have had the guts to answer this citizen blogger’s three simple questions: Walsh, Shawn Quinn, and Heather Mizeur. I’m really hoping other candidates will follow these three and reveal their stances on the questions.
Now that the February 25, 2014 filing deadline for candidacy has passed, we know who all is in the Maryland gubernatorial race. According to the Maryland Board of Elections website, these are our gubernatorial hopefuls:
Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman
Doug Gansler/Jolene Ivey
Ralph Jaffe/Freda Jaffe
Heather Mizeur/Delman Coates
Charles U. Smith/Clarence Tucker (no website)
Cindy Walsh/Mary Wingate-Pennacchia
David Craig/Jeannie Haddaway
Ron George/Shelley Aloi
Larry Hogan/Boyd Rutherford
Charles Lollar/Ken Timmerman
Brian Vaeth/Duane Davis
Shawn Quinn/Lorenzo Gaztanaga
I have submitted my three questions to all of these candidates. As of today, only Heather Mizeur and Shawn Quinn have had the courtesy of responding to my questions. I will continue reporting the responses and non-responses I receive from the candidates here on this blog.
Doug Gansler, Maryland Attorney General, finally made his entry to the Democratic gubernatorial primary contest official, and now his campaign website seems fully functional. After having been surprised by the Brown and Mizeur campaign sites for their complete lack of information on their issue platforms, I was pleased to see that Gansler actually has a relatively robust “issues” section on his site. Based on the campaign sites, one could consider Gansler’s claim to be the “ideas candidate” justified.
On his website, Gansler details six “good government” proposals. They all revolve around transparency and access to public information. While these are obviously important issues, I hope that our next governor will take a broader view of what “good government” means. Current total dysfunction in Congress cries for non-partisan redistricting reform. I also hope that our next governor will understand how corrosive Maryland’s system of candidate slates is to our basic democratic values.
Props to Heather Mizeur for being the first Maryland gubernatorial candidate to answer my three questions related to good governance! Here are her answers (in red), submitted via Twitter:
- If elected, will you actively work to outlaw candidate slates? – Yes.
- If elected, will you actively work to outlaw “sample ballots” used by candidate slates as political advertisements? – No (more than slates use sample ballots, voters find them helpful, likely unconstitutional to prohibit).
- If elected, will you actively work to establish an independent, nonpartisan system for drawing legislative and congressional districts? – Yes.
So, not only was Mizeur the first to respond, there were two “yes” answers. Not bad at all!
Since I am a reasonable guy, I will be the first to admit that she makes some valid points about sample ballots. But—and I may be over-interpreting her Tweet here—I get a feeling she has not thought through all the negative impacts these “helpful” sample ballots have, especially on the lower ballot races. I will try to engage her on this in the coming months, so stay tuned.
I am now getting ready to undertake the actual work I intend to do with this blog—to find out where all the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial candidates stand on the good governance issues of my concern. The natural first step in this process was to go to the candidates’ websites to find out if they have articulated their positions on these issues.
I started with the two declared candidates on the Democratic side, Anthony Brown and Heather Mizeur. What I found on the two candidates’ websites was nothing short of stunning.
I did not find anything on the websites about the two Democratic candidates’ positions on slates, “sample ballots” or redistricting. But honestly, I did not expect to find anything on these specific topics. What completely caught me by surprise was the total lack of information about the candidates’ platforms on the websites—on any issues. Go check it out if you don’t believe me: http://anthonybrown.com/ and http://www.heathermizeur.com/.
When you go to Brown’s website, you will find out about all the wonderful endorsements he has received. When you go to the Mizeur site, you will see that she is attending tons of events all over the place. But no “issues” or “platform” section on either site explaining where the candidate actually stands on issues of concern to Maryland voters. Is this really what our politics has become? It’s not like Brown and Mizeur just entered the race a few days ago, or that they are complete newbies to politics.
On this blog, I intend to stay focused on the good governance issues I care about. But I could not let this observation go without mentioning it. This makes me embarrassed to be a Democrat.