- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2018


It’s far too easy for politicians to fall into the D.C.-centric trap — that is, to view their state from inside the Beltway.

It’s been the point-of-view since the Beltway started circling the inner suburbs of Virginia and Maryland in 1961, when federal government jobs dominated the region’s workforce.

Welcome to the 2018 primary election races, where Virginia’s congressional contenders bash President Trump, Maryland gubernatorial contenders align themselves with the their state’s congressional officeholders and D.C. contenders wallow incestuously among themselves.

In Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, Democratic contender Dan Helmer compares Donald Trump to Osama bin Laden, saying in a TV ad: “After 9/11, the greatest threat to our democracy lived in a cave. Today, he lives in the White House.”

Whatever you think of the president, “our democracy” did not live in a cave following 9/11. (Thank God!)

As for the D.C. Democrats running for mayor and the D.C. Council, suffice it to say their politics are so oleaginous that a low voter turnout next Tuesday on Primary Day shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Maryland Democrats, meanwhile, are scrambling to rise to the top of the 2018 class running for governor. The goal, as you know, is to topple Republican Larry Hogan in November. Getting there, though, isn’t easy.

Arguably, the front-runner is Ben Jealous. Yep, that Ben Jealous, the face of the NAACP from 2008 to 2012, when he worked with tea party leaders on prison reform (including in Texas, of all places). In his run for governor, Mr. Jealous has been traipsing around Maryland, relaying his progressive platform and assuring voters that he’s as mindful of the Free State’s blue streaks as he is of the changes ahead for Maryland.

He is sort of a Bernie Sanders look-alike.

Mr. Jealous’ chief Democratic primary opponent is Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, a traditional liberal who appears to be anointed by the state’s traditional Democrats. In fact, a new Baltimore Sun-University of Baltimore poll shows Mr. Jealous and Mr. Baker in a dead heat, tied with 16 percent of the vote and three times the support of their nearest competitors.

The tie reflects the fact that Mr. Baker isn’t the shoo-in he thought he was. Perhaps, too, because Mr. Hogan remains popular among Democrats: He’s no conservative and still claims high statewide popularity for the job he’s already done.

Last week, my column laid out reasons why Mr. Baker can’t seem to get out of his own way regarding education. This week, I add the issue of transportation, since Mr. Baker released his transportation plan Monday. And like his schooling ideas, his transportation plan is just more of the same.

Mr. Baker said he doesn’t believe that “highway expansion alone can ease traffic congestion, and in many cases supersizing Maryland’s highways will only supersize our traffic headaches.”

An interesting comment since only a fool for a politician would suggest in 2018 America that “highway expansion alone can ease traffic congestion.”

His press release stated: “As Governor, Rushern Baker will conduct a statewide review of traffic signal timing on the most congested state roads. Through technology, the sequencing and timing of traffic signals can be optimized based on traffic loads and commuting patterns.”

Whoopee! Another transportation study while the state sucks up gas taxes as motorists suck up gasoline.

I’m sure Mr. Baker will put his best people on that study.

Oh, and here’s another Mr. Baker’s greatest hits: He wants to establish “transit only corridors” to limit when and where you can drive to and from. Can you hear the sucking sound behind that one?

Look, Maryland Dems are not stuck behind a rock and a hard place. They already know whether Mr. Jealous or Mr. Baker holds the best return on their investment.

We just have to wait until the June 26 primary to find out.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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