Over the last few days, the Chief Executives of the State of Maryland and of Howard County presented their respective "State of" addresses. But these speeches sounded more and more like audition reels for higher office.
Governor O'Malley's speech even was presented in, shall I say, a more august, fashion. It was delivered with a teleprompter (which hardly seems necessary since the entire audience is within the House of Delegates chamber-- do they even show the address live anymore other than on the web?) and boasted the presence of members of the diplomatic corps--several foreign ambassadors!
And the speech itself was kind of meh, if you're a Marylander. Nice that we're looking at repealing the death penalty and gun control. But nothing really on a comprehensive transportation vision, other than that Maryland's traffic sucks. So overall, nothing new, although it was all presented slickly-- dare I say, in a Presidential fashion?
County Executive Ulman's speech was in many respects, his boasting of Howard County as "a model for Maryland" and clearly invited observers to use the county's current state of affairs as a living resume for his candidacy for Governor. But he at least keep with the traditional setting. And he did cover new ground. Maybe this was brought up because of the setting (the annual Chamber of Commerce luncheon) but he did mention that a cybersecurity company is moving to Howard County. More businesses in Howard County are always good things.
These men are clearly in transition towards the next stages of their political careers. These speeches will serve to add to the political and leadership vacuum that has already begun to form as they aspire towards their high offices. In the state we have already seen a shift of policy leadership towards the legislative leaders. In the county we have yet to see this, although School Superintendent Renee Foose is certainly stepping up and taking responsibility in several areas.
This vacuum will only get stronger in the coming months, and as we know, nature abhors it! But how will it be filled? That remains to be seen.