Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CD5: MD GOP House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell Challenges Rep. Steny Hoyer // MD Legislators Weigh In (anonymously)

Numerous news outlets are reporting that Maryland's House GOP Leader Anthony "Tony" O'Donnell is challenging Rep. Steny Hoyer for Congress in the newly redrawn 5th Congressional District. This race would pit Maryland's Statehouse Republican Leader against Congress' Democratic House Minority Whip. Del. O'Donnell kicked off his campaign with a video announcement:

The Washington Post reported on this CD5 development:
Maryland House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert) plans to launch an uphill bid Wednesday for the 5th Congressional District in which he will argue that long-time incumbent Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) is part of what’s wrong with Washington....

O’Donnell, who is kicking off his campaign with the release of a video, argued that the environment has become better-suited to change and that he starts off better-known than recent Hoyer opponents. O’Donnell promised “a spirited, spirited campaign.”

In a preview of what’s to come, O’Donnell said Hoyer’s voting record is “nearly identical” to that of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), but added: “Maryland’s 5th Congressional District is on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, not the western shore of the San Francisco Bay.”
Maryland Juice, in turn, would like to remind Mr. O'Donnell that CD5 is not Tea Party territory and it is nothing like Sarah Palin's Alaska. In fact, the WaPo article continued:
The new 5th remains comfortably Democratic. Roughly 65 percent voted for President Obama in 2008 and 63 percent for O’Malley last year.
Anonymous Sources Weigh In: I asked a few Democratic legislators to tell Maryland Juice readers what they know about Mr. O'Donnell. Here's what they had to say (note: we'll post new responses as we receive them):
  • Legislator 1: "I have a good relationship with him, but he's very thin-skinned and volatile. Takes everything personally. This might be a very different campaign for him. Assume Steny won't have to go negative but he may have surrogates who do with or without coaching. And there's not really anyone like him elected in Prince George's or Charles, which is much of the District. They'll be in for a rude awakening." 
  • Legislator 2: "Tony O'Donnell is a poster child for why we need anger management classes. He can come across reasonable enough, and if you catch him at a bar he even has a chubby jolliness. Dress him up in a red hat and he's fit right in as a mall Santa Claus. But in heated debates on the floor, he turns into a raving lunatic. His face shades a bright red, like a pudgier version of the incredible Hulk. He screams into his microphone, and often punctuates his speeches by slamming his microphone into his desk petulantly. He flings veiled insults around the floor, and yet takes enormous offense at the smallest perceived slight, even when in jest. He's also a very shrewd political operator when facing the public, and can hold his own in spewing Republican talking points. The question for Tony is who will show up on the campaign trail: Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde."
  • Legislator 3: "It would be like my nephew playing one-on-one hockey against Alex Ovechkin. Tony's smart, but not super smart.  He's not really polished.  He's easy to anger and you can see it in his face.  He's alright to have a drink and a few laughs with."

MD GOP Leadership Crisis: Maryland Juice would also like to point out that the Maryland GOP is heading into a new legislative session with a leadership crisis. In the last few months, Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney jumped into the CD6 race, Senate Minority leader Nancy Jacobs resigned her leadership post to run for CD2, and now the House Minority Leader is also running for Congress. Notably, this means that a significant portion of the Maryland Republican leadership will be forced to pander to the Tea Party in coming months. Can the future become any more bleak for the MD GOP? They can't win this state with a Tea Party platform. Maybe they don't get that yet....

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