Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Race to Succeed Mike Miller for Senate President BEGINS NOW // Maryland Juice Straw Poll Ballots Are Trickling In

Here we go! Ballots are trickling in for Maryland Juice's 2012 Straw Poll. We are polling State Senators on a range of questions about the Senate Presidency, including whether they think the multi-decade reign of Mike Miller should now come to an end. More importantly, we are asking Senators who they would choose to succeed Mr. Miller and about basic rules to establish accountability and transparency for leadership elections.

Senators -- don't be so scared! Hurry up and get your ballots in. Some of your colleagues have already mailed their ballots. Besides, I have no plans to open these until I have a critical mass of ballots in-hand. Then, I will open them all at once.

Let me give you a few hints as to why the time is ripe for a leadership change:
  1. Do the Math: Let's start with some basics. There are 47 State Senators - 35 Democrats and 12 Republicans. 18 Democrats can trigger a leadership change, and even fewer could do it with the help of a couple Republican Senators. Last year 16 Democrats signed a letter calling for leadership election rules. Add to those Democrats anyone disgruntled by redistricting (ie: people who Miller screwed with Districts that they may lose, along with a few racial/ethnic minority legislators upset by the way the process unfolded). Also add to the list of potential recruits any Senators smart enough to realize Miller is playing them against each other by acting like they are potentially next in line for leadership or a committee spot. Folks, it is a zero-sum game -- your odds are better in an election. Plus, that is more predictable. Do you really want to be brown-nosing with no guarantee of a return on your investment? A made-up leadership position doesn't count as a return on investment. If the Democrats still can't find enough votes to overtake Miller based on this math, there is always room to cut a deal with a couple sympathetic Republicans.
  2. Disrupt Now or Lose Another 20+ Years: If State Senators do not act NOW, they will leave Mike Miller too much room to appoint his successor (ie: another chance for a 30-year reign of unrepresentative rule; another missed opportunity to push for leadership elections instead of direct rule by the Senate President). Look down the road, and you will realize the games will begin sooner than later. Many, many Senators are not likely to stick around in 2014. Rob Garagiola is already running for Congress, Jim Rosapepe is running for Comptroller, Jamie Raskin may be running for Attorney General, etc. Furthermore, Norm Stone is likely to retire, as are a number of other long-time Senators. Other Senators yet may be pressured to resign or might face stiff primary opposition -- looking in your direction Senator Currie. Now think for a second about who might be running for these newly opened State Senate seats. In Montgomery County alone, we could see Cheryl Kagan, Saqib Ali, Brian Feldman, Tom Hucker and others making 2014 runs for State Senate. These folks don't have any particular reason to support Miller for leadership, and some of them have ample reason to try and tear him a new one. Besides, if those of us in MoCo and other counties have our way -- we are going to pressure candidates to pledge NOT to support Miller or any Miller clones for leadership. Those days are over. If the endorsing groups (ie: labor, environmental, progressive, civil rights, etc) also push candidates to make the same pledge, who will these candidates stand with -- a Senate President with a limited shelf-life or the groups that can help them win their elections?
  3. Demographic Shifts: The demographics of the Free State now make Mike Miller's politics very unrepresentative of Maryland's Democratic voters, and arguably unrepresentative of the Free State as a whole. Miller can't control the growing influence of the Washington suburbs any longer. My theory is that a new leadership challenge will have to emerge as a ticket of Senators from some combination of MoCo/Prince George's/Baltimore/HoCo/Frederick, etc. This is the only way to prevent Miller from playing his usual divide-and-conquer game. Senators, stop falling for this stupid trick! It is sooooo obvious -- do something about it instead!

Much more on the race to succeed Mike Miller soon!

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