As promised/threatened, here is the first in my multi-part series about the 2014 Gubernatorial race, as the four-year state and local election cycle nears its halfway point. (Hmm, that sounded as a nice way to justify a post written probably at least eighteen months before it REALLY SHOULD BE!!!! Today, The 53 looks at HoCo Executive Ken Ulman and how his candidacy can be successful in earning the Democratic nomination for Governor, and putatively, the Governor's Mansion itself! With no further ado, the reasons why:
1. Marylanders elect local executives Governor, not legislators. Beginning with William Donald Schaefer in 1986, every Governor exept for one (Bob Ehrlich) had previously served as an executive, either Mayor of Baltimore (Schaefer, O'Malley) or Prince Georges County (Glendening). The other major Democratic candidates for Governor are all currently statewide executives, and only one, Doug Gansler, had previously served in a countywide position, as State's Attorney for Montgomery County.
2. The Washington area logjam. All the major candidates are working to broaden their appeal statewide, especially in Baltimore City, where there is no natural candidate for Governor. Ken's the closest Baltimore City and County has to such a thing. If Gansler, Franchot and Brown can all split the DC suburbs, Ken does well in Howard, the Baltimores, Anne Arundel from Annapolis north, then he does well. No, I haven't crunched the numbers exactly, but chances are good that he can win.
3. Promoting Howard County--- but not too much. To a lot of people in this state, Howard County, and especially Columbia, is seen as a land of milk and honey. Why the hell do you think I call it that so much in this blog!?? If Ulman can depict himself as the champion of government innovation and quality improvements to make average people's lives better, that's a message that can play well. But he also has to deflect criticism that Howard County's affluent, educated citizenry make that possible.
4. Shading to the middle. My view is that all three of the other major candidates are more to the left edge of the Democratic Party-- certainly compared to the average Marylander, who is certainly more moderate. Semi-related to #3 above, if Ulman can appeal to those more center-left to center-right Democrats-- the same ones Bill Clinton won back to bring Maryland back to the blue column in 1992 (people forget that the state voted GOP for President in 1980, 1984, and 1988), he can stake unclaimed territory. And frankly, he's the only one of the four who could legitimately even attempt such a claim.
Mind you, none of the above is a commentary on specific items Ken Ulman has done or is doing. I am simply pointing out how I can see success for his path to the Governor's Mansion. What he does is, well, up to him.
Next, whenever I get around to writing it, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown!