BREAKING/EXCLUSIVE: Delaney Endorsements

The Tuesday morning double dose thunderstorm has landed and it’s hitting hard. Tornadoes are possible. Get the kids into the storm cellar. This one’s a biggie:

Multiple sources confirm to Maryland Scramble that Congressman John Delaney will be making endorsements in the four marquee MD races: US Senate, CD4, CD8 and the Baltimore mayoral contest. His endorsements, expected to be announced shortly, will be as follows:

MD Senate: Donna Edwards

CD4: Anthony Brown

CD8: Kathleeen Matthews

Baltimore: Sheila Dixon

In return for the endorsements, which will be backed by financial support (I am unable to determine the extent or nature of the support at this juncture), each candidate has agreed to back Delaney in his 2018 bid for governor, which has been widely anticipated since, well, forever. Or at least 2012, anyway.

This story is still developing. Stay tuned.

Rushern Baker

Josh Kurtz has an article at Center Maryland about Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.  It’s a good read about one of Maryland’s most interesting political figures. Kurtz discusses Baker’s recent – albeit unsuccessful – efforts to bust Prince George’s almost 40 year tax cap and provide more funding for schools. Then he gets down to some analysis.

But in the end, the episode proved to be vintage Baker, for better and worse. Here is a good man, a man of integrity and vision and, yes, courage, who nevertheless seems incapable of muscling some of his top policy and political priorities through. At a minimum, it has become increasingly apparent that Baker needs better political instincts – and advice, and follow-through.

Baker’s political acumen becomes an ongoing question not just because he still has 3 ½ more years at the helm of one of Maryland’s most important – and challenging – jurisdictions, but because Baker is one of the top Democrats mentioned as possible candidates for governor in 2018. In fact, given his own abilities, the demographics of the statewide Democratic electorate and the fact that he leads the jurisdiction with the most Democrats in the state, by many standards Baker ought to be considered the early Democratic frontrunner, even in a field that could include such top-flight politicians as Congressman John Delaney, U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

But can Rushern Baker ever fulfill that potential?

Baker’s push for more education spending followed a pattern: identify a pressing problem in the county; advance a bold solution, often with little notice and not much time before other politicians have to make a decision; win the enthusiastic support of The Washington Post editorial board – which amounts to nothing in Prince George’s County – and then scramble to achieve the goal, usually with very mixed results.

After discussing some of Baker’s other political decisions, Kurtz comes to his conclusion:

Which brings us full circle. Rushern Baker is a good man – and incidentally, one of the nicest guys in Maryland politics. When his term ends in 2018 he’ll be able to say he transformed Prince George’s County from a hive of corruption into something better, that he’s put the county on the road to being what most residents aspire for it to be. If Baker decides to seek higher office, that will be an important and legitimate part of his campaign narrative.

But you can’t help thinking that with a little more political savvy, Baker would be accomplishing a whole lot more – and that his political misfires could become a handicap as the 2018 election comes into view.

 Kurtz makes a critical point here that I think doesn’t just apply to Rushern Baker. And to be clear, I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with Kurtz, as I don’t know much about Baker at all. But the general point about judging “political savvy” is huge, and I think Kurtz would agree that it’s not just about the candidate but those he surrounds himself with. 

When assessing politicians, particularly when they seek to move up at moments of opportunity like we are presently experiencing, the question isn’t just one of comparing one candidate to another, but of assessing each candidate’s political operation. Who does he or she turn to at key moments of decision? Who provides the sounding board, the sage advice, the insight, to the candidate? Who provides the political savvy?

Because when we vote to elevate a state senator or a delegate or a former County Council member or a former lieutenant governor or s former state’s attorney or even a former corporate executive/news anchor to Congress, or a sitting congressman or woman to be a senator, we’re not just getting the name on the ballot. We’re also getting all the networks and support systems that candidate brings with him or her to office. And it’s vastly better to make judgments about those systems and networks now, before we vote, than it is to find them wanting after the election is over.

Kurtz, by the way, provides consistently good analysis. Lest you think that I find everyone wanting. Which I don’t.

Delaney Makes A Move

Well, now we know what John Delaney has been up to while he’s been ignoring my increasingly pathetic pleas for his attention. He’s been crafting his attack on the values of the political party of which he claims to be a member.

Washington is paralyzed by extreme political rhetoric that creates powerful sound bites but poor policy. The big legislative updates that we need to compete in the 21st century and to raise living standards have been blocked by a reluctance to seek common ground.

With Washington already broken, the last thing we need is a left-wing version of the tea party. But I am worried about where some of the loudest voices in the room could take the Democratic Party.

Rejecting a trade agreement with Asia, expanding entitlement programs that crowd out other priorities and a desire to relitigate the financial crisis are becoming dominant positions among Democrats. Although these subjects may make for good partisan talking points, they do not provide the building blocks for a positive and bold agenda to create jobs and improve the lives of Americans.

Oh, please. Spare me the Both Sides Do It bullshit. Leave that to the lazy media lapdogs, like Politico. “Legislative updates” haven’t been blocked by a “reluctance to seek common ground,” but by a Republican congressional wing hell-bent from day one on denying the first African-American president any accomplishments at all. It’s not like they’ve been shy about it, either. 

Although some of what Delaney proceeds to outline are beneficial goals I agree with, the tone and rhetoric of the whole enterprise is Democrat-bashing. And on education, he sounds like Arne Duncan. Teachers’ unions, take note.

Second, we should create ways for the next generation to access education, which is the ultimate equalizer. The solution is to ask high-income Americans to help pay for it, which I believe they would be happy to do if they knew that 100 percent of the new money would be targeted at proven educational strategies with high levels of accountability. A new focus on universal pre-K and more affordable higher education at results-driven institutions are especially important.

Reformist buzzwords all over that paragraph. And another thing: rich people “would be happy” to pay for education? You got some data to back that up, Congressman? ‘Cause I got some serious doubts about THAT.

This next paragraph might be my favorite part, calling on Democrats to, well, stop being Democrats.

Additionally, we need a philosophical shift in the Democratic Party, a new willingness to support programs that create pathways for nongovernmental and philanthropic innovation and investment to help solve the problems of society. We should embrace approaches, such as social impact bonds, that combine private-sector capital and expertise with public-interest goals to produce better government services. Such changes will require Democrats to leave our ideological comfort zone and move away from the idea that government, and government alone, is the answer to our problems.

Yeah, because “private-sector capital” did such a great job in 2008. Last time I looked, it was the guvmint that bailed out the banks, not th other way around. I’m fine with my party’s philosophy, thanks.

Which leads to his big finish. Democrats shouldn’t be fixated on regulation of banks and other financial institutions. More important things to worry about.

Lastly, some in our party continue to engage in time-consuming rhetoric attacking banks that has little chance of producing more financial reform and distracts from far more consequential areas of economic risk, such as climate change, chronic underinvestment in the next generation and our broken immigration and housing finance systems.

News flash: Republicans deny the reality of climate change, won’t fix the immigration system because their party is dominated by bigots and nativists, and are just fine giving housing and other finance systems back to the banks that nearly destroyed our economy less than a decade ago. Why the #*#*} are you complaining about a “left-wing Tea Party” when you know (or ought to) that the right-wing version is already doing such a fine job mucking things up in Congress?

Question: why did Delaney write this, and why now? Here’s what I think. This isn’t about fixing things in Congress. This will piss off progressives, who either knew before – or certainly know now – that he’s not one of them. Politico will trumpet Delaney as “sensible.” Somebody will write another couple of articles about the “civil war” in the Democratic Party, which will still be total bullshit. And then it will fade into D.C. obscurity.

But I suspect that John Delaney doesn’t care about any of that. It’s about establishing himself to the center of the spectrum for his run for governor in 2018. That’s the office he’s always wanted.

Read the article again. Change a couple of nouns and adjectives here and there, and it’s tailor-made as a manifesto for Delaney to wrest back the right-leaning Dems and independent voters who put Larry Hogan into office in 2014.

Jobs, infrastructure, education reform. All red meat state level issues, and all were part of the Hogan special sauce. Throw in some hippie-punching for good measure (the media LOVES that), and boom. John Delaney finally did what I’ve been all but begging him to do – announce his candidacy. But not for Senate, and not in 2016. Governor in 2018. He’s “Larry Hogan Lite.” Let the games begin.