The late Huey Long, a progressive and Democrat, knew well that “all politics is local” before the phrase became popular in the 1930s.
Indeed, Democrats love headlines as much as reality-TV drama king Donald Trump loves driving the discussion. The Donald is so good at it that other prominent Republicans have begun to mount serious attacks.
Long, who made a name for himself during the heyday of newspapers and radio, was good at it, too.
There’s no Kingfish grabbing voters’ attention this election season, although there are two Democrats, Bernard Sanders and Hillary Clinton, who use close impersonations of the progressive who crisscrossed Louisiana to rub the noses of the privileged class into the rural and muddied homesteads of the poor and disenfranchised. Long pushed his agenda all to way to Washington and a U.S. Senate seat.
Quality of life and other domestic issues were Long’s specialty, and he hammered them all year long — not just when he was vote-seeking. To the chagrin of many, such issues aren’t even on the Democratic Party’s front burner. So, here’s a head’s-up.
Locally, voters and taxpayers in Prince George’s County gave Rushern Baker a crimson-red X for failing the blizzard test, which left homeowners snowed in for days on end. Teachers and schoolchildren were severely affected.
The county executive, a black Democrat, got another red mark after school and police officials learned a former public school employee and volunteer named Deonte Carraway had been sexually abusing and videotaping children in Glenarden, a majority black town in majority black Prince George’s. At least 17 children were victimized, and some of the crimes happened on school and county government property. To date, three lawsuits draw the bull’s-eye on Prince George’s County Public Schools.
Mr. Baker and the school system get another red X, this time because a school bus was nabbed managing a pimp who was pimping a teenage girl.
The bust happened in Montgomery County, where school bus driver Raleigh McClam, 36, and Saivon Sharpe, 22, were charged with abusing and trafficking a 16-year-old. Mr. Sharpe also faces a firearm charge. Mr. McClam was released on $100,000 bond.
That he’s out and about puts considerable weight on Mr. Baker’s already heavy shoulders.
Here’s the gist of the sex-trafficking scheme: Mr. Sharpe asked the girl if she wanted to make money. He had sex with her. Mr. McClam put ads in the escort section of a classified ads website. The two men rented two hotel rooms in Montgomery County. The girl collected money for sex.
That Mr. Baker has three substantial marks for mishandling affairs that directly impact children and their well being does not bode well for his political future.
Prince George’s is term-limited, which means a third consecutive term isn’t in the cards for him. Mr. Baker could ponder a congressional run, a gubernatorial bid or another seat in the state legislature from whence he came — which seems unlikely.
No, Mr. Baker is a marked man. He’s a marked man not because he’s black. He’s a marked man not because he is a Democrat. He’s not even a marked man because he sucked up to the Hillary crowd. In fact, Mr. Baker endorsed former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, whose campaign for president petered out.
Mr. Baker is a marked man because he forgot that “all politics is local.”
He now needs to scramble to figure out the dollar and cents regarding all three X’s, and how he plans to take care of his family after he leaves office.
Perhaps Mr. Baker will emerge victorious by proxy in the Maryland Senate race since he turned his back on Rep. Donna Edwards and endorsed Rep. Chris Van Hollen to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski. We’ll find out when voters hit the polls on April 26.
In the meantime, Mr. Baker needs to crisscross the county and get stakeholders’ take on his Democratic way of doing business. Bringing big business to P.G. is great, but taking care of local politics means far more to families than a casino at National Harbor.
Their children deserve more — especially stringent background checks of adults hired to engage with them.
Pimps as school bus drivers? Pedophiles and sex abusers as volunteers?
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.