- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Joe Biden isn’t taking any chances when it comes to Democrats givin’ a lickin’ to Republicans Larry Hogan and Boyd Rutherford in Maryland’s gubernatorial election come November.

The former vice president is the keynote speaker at — wait for it — the marquee fundraising event for the Maryland Democratic Party on Saturday, June 30, a mere four days after primary voters decide who will take on Mr. Hogan. The shakedown will be held at Camden Yards.

Mr. Biden didn’t have to get in the weeds during the race, but, oh, what a wide path Maryland voters had to clear to get to the June 26 primaries.

There are eight Democrats’ names on the ballot, a Libertarian and a Green Party candidate.

The name of the late Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamentz is on the ballot. He died May 10 and his running mate, Valerie Ervin, sought an OK from the state election board and a state judge to replace her name on the ballot as a gubernatorial contender, but they shook their heads. Not enough time, not enough money. Which simply isn’t true.

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As I mentioned, the Democrats are tripping over themselves to beat Mr. Hogan, the Republican who persuaded Maryland voters to turn their backs on two-time Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in 2014. The leading Hogan contenders hold considerable name recognition in the blue Old Line State, such as former NAACP leader Ben Jealous and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, and the novelty brother-sister ticket of Ralph and Freda Jaffe.

The primary money is already in the bag for Messrs. Jealous and Baker, as well as former Michelle Obama aide Krish Vignarajah. The Jealous campaign drew $12,000 from comedian Dave Chappelle and wife Elaine, and $12,000 from billionaire George Soros (who has long been in the habit of putting his money in blue barrels). Mr. Baker has received $6,000 from Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

The Democrats are touting the post-primary event as a U-N-I-T-Y rally, the opportunity for Maryland voters across the spectrum of the rainbow to pool money, regardless of economic station and political stripe, to kick a Republican out of the governor’s house.

This, despite the fact that Larry Hogan is no Donald Trump Republican, and the polls back him and his politics.

For there’s this, just in this week: An estimated 40 percent of Maryland Democratic voters are undecided about the primary.

If that news, which is from a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, is any indication, Democrats need to scrap their playbook — immediately.

When asked if they would vote for Mr. Hogan or a Democrat, 50 of respondents chose Mr. Hogan — regardless of the Democrat.

If there were a head-to-head match today between Mr. Hogan and Mr. Baker? Mr. Baker draw the short stick, 39 percent to Mr. Hogan’s 51 percent. Ditto in a match with Mr. Jealous. Ms. Vignarajah fared worse, pulling only 35 percent in her favor.

So what gives?

“I’m sort of shocked by how popular Gov. Hogan is among primary Democrats,” surmised Keith Haller, a veteran pollster and president of Potomac Inc. “His job approvals are over 70 percent, and that’s sort of unheard of for a Republican governor in one of the nation’s bluest states. His personal popularity is also staggeringly high.”

If Marylanders like Larry Hogan that much, it’s going to take more than monied outsiders to take him down.

It’s also going to take more than worn sermons to preach to the new choirs of Maryland.

Sure, people like Joe, because, well, he’s Joe. Still Joe Biden can’t possibly spend every week from now until the Nov. 6 general election writing a new sermon and delivering it from the Catoctins to the Chesapeake Bay. Joe’s got a life.

Besides, the poll shows that voters like what they already have, and that’s Larry Hogan as governor.

To blemish his “staggeringly high” popularity would call for mudslinging of an unthinkable caliber.

Let’s not revisit the Oreo cookie incident when conservative black Republican Michael Steele was the running mate of Robert Ehrlich in 2002.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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