December 19, 2021
By: Ryan Miner
Following tradition, A Miner Detail features its yearly Maryland Politics winners and losers.
Maryland Politics 2021 Political Winners
Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones
Maryland Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) has put her imprimatur on the Maryland General Assembly, authoring and guiding a sweeping Black Agenda through the legislature this year.
Speaker Jones’ one-time political rivals are no longer roadblocks to her.
(Maggie McIntosh (D) is retiring at the end of 2022, and Dereck Davis (D) was elected Maryland’s state treasurer.)
The Speaker shuffled her leadership team to reflect her allegiances and policy priorities.
It’s Jones’ House; she’s in complete control.
The Cardinal Richelieu-like chief of staff to Speaker Jones and the late Speaker Busch successfully engineered the passage of Jones’ ambitious legislative agenda.
Alex Hughes even managed to settle a few political scores upon her exit.
She leaves the State House as the most accomplished, formidable, and feared legislative aide in decades.
What’s next for Hughes?
She’s opening an Annapolis-based public affairs shop, where she’ll become one of the most sought-after political minds for decades to come.
Put Hughes in season 4 of HBO’s hit drama Succession as Logan Roy’s protégé.
State Treasurer Dereck Davis
State Treasurer Dereck E. Davis now has a lifetime sinecure, a car, and a driver.
Davis, elected by his former legislative colleagues, will sit at the table on Maryland’s prominent three-member fiscal panel.
He was sworn in as Maryland’s 24th state treasurer Friday, Dec. 17.
You might imagine Davis drawing frequent contrasts over the next year with Gov. Larry Hogan’s policies and Comptroller Peter Franchot’s style.
Hagerstown Mayor Emily Keller
Emily Keller, the ebullient young mayor of Hagerstown – the first female in history elected to the job – has outlined a forward-thinking blueprint for revitalizing the aging Hub City alongside Hagerstown’s majority-female City Council.
She is the public face of Hagerstown and the future of Western Maryland politics.
Mayor Keller is best at staying out of the political weeds, putting partisan politics aside, and building worthwhile coalitions.
She’s the right leader at the right time to lead.
Salisbury Mayor Jake Day
What more can Marylanders say about Salisbury Mayor Jake Day?
The Easton Shore’s dynamic young mayor returns a hometown hero from a yearlong military deployment and picks up right where he left off.
Salisbury has become a model of economic transformation, livability, and civic engagement for other small cities across the country.
You can imagine a Governor Day in the next 10 years.
U.S. Attorney Erek Barron
Erek Barron lands his dream job and ensures that Maryland has an ear and a friend in the upper echelons of the Justice Department.
Congratulations, Mr. U.S. Attorney.
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley
Mayor Gavin Buckley cruised to re-election this year, recovering gracefully from the stumbles of inexperience early in his first term.
Annapolis is on the map as one of America’s best cities.
Congressional Candidate Heather Mizeur
The former District 20 representative re-emerged from a self-imposed political sabbatical to challenge longtime Maryland embarrassment, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R).
Mizeur, a progressive Democrat and Eastern Shore transplant, is a proven fundraiser, a buoyant campaigner, and a wise political tactician.
Suppose Mizeur wins the 1st District’s Democratic primary.
She’ll give Andy Harris all he can handle and then some in a general election that’s now slightly less favorable to Republican nutters.
The Ivey Family
The Iveys are the Kennedys of Prince George’s County – all without a manipulative bootlegging patriarch or an “Uncle Ted problem.”
Prince George’s County Councilwoman Jolene Ivey (D-District 5) is making moves and waves – all in a positive way, however – on the Prince George’s County Council.
State Del. Julian Ivey (D-Prince George’s) is a rising progressive fighter and a magnetic presence in the House of Delegates.
And, now, the Ivey-family patriarch, former State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey – emerges as the early frontrunner for the District 4 congressional seat that Anthony Brown is vacating for a run for Maryland attorney general.
Frederick City Alderwoman Katie Nash (D)
In November, Katie Nash – community activist and Annapolis lobbyist – was elected to Frederick’s five-member Board of Aldermen.
Nash loves the City of Frederick, and the City of Frederick loves her.
She’s tough but always fair.
She’s brilliant, relentless, ferocious, and compassionate.
Frederick City residents are lucky to have Katie Nash representing Maryland’s second-largest city.
Laurel City Councilman Martin Mitchell
This year, the young progressive leader ran a first-class textbook race for the Laurel City Council.
Laurel residents rewarded Mitchell with the highest vote total of any candidate.
Big things are expected ahead for this intelligent and effective public servant.
Wes Moore and Aruna Miller
If you know anything about the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, you know the “AA” patch worn on their shoulders represents duty, honor, bravery, and loyalty.
An 82nd Airborne combat soldier is always ready to tactically maneuver an obstacle – a skill that could certainly come in hand in Maryland politics.
And it’s Wes Moore, an 82nd Airborne combat veteran, who is taking Maryland politics by storm.
Mr. Moore’s campaign bridges political progressivism and pragmaticism. His candidacy is an olive branch to rational politics.
Which of the other gubernatorial candidates can do that?
Forget narrative for a moment; Moore is the fresh-faced insider/outsider who could fundamentally transform Annapolis politics.
State Del. Stephanie M. Smith (D-Baltimore City) said this about Moore:
“What Wes represents is someone who not only the Maryland Democratic stalwarts could be excited about, but also independents, younger voters, voters of color. He could appeal to lifelong Marylanders, urban voters, suburban voters.”
Smith is right.
His decision to tap former state Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery) as his running mate is an all-around brilliant tactical move.
Aruna Miller is a skilled and politically nuanced progressive. She has a deep understanding of state government and is well-respected by state Democrats and Republicans.
Moore and Miller have significant work to do in the lead-up to the June 2022 primary. They’re widely unknown in large pockets of Maryland’s Democratic electorate.
But it seems like several state lawmakers are gravitating towards the Moore/Miller ticket.
Only time will tell.
Mr. Kunes is Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker’s (D) get-it-done, non-nonsense chief of staff.
Kunes’ proverbial finger is on the political pulse; nothing gets by him.
Hucker’s office is known for its excellent constituent services – because Dave Kunes runs a tight ship and always places constituents’ interests first.
If you want something done in Montgomery County, run it first by Dave Kunes; whatever you need, it’ll get done – quickly.
Simply the best political news outlet in Maryland.
This year, Maryland Matters has a new editor: Danielle Gaines – a well-deserved promotion for one of Maryland’s finest political reporters.
Founding editor Josh Kurtz’s dream is a reality. Because of it, we’re all more informed.
Check out Maryland Matters‘ website makeover.
Please consider donating to the worthy cause of keeping local political news alive and well in Maryland.
State Senator Nancy King
Maryland State Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery) deserves special recognition for her commitment to Montgomery County traffic relief.
King is a reliable proponent of Gov. Hogan’s commonsense traffic mitigation plan.
Stay strong, Sen. King!
State Senator Cheryl Kagan
Cheryl Kagan is someone who grows on you over time.
The Montgomery County state senator is a political force, a bad-ass, and one of Maryland’s hardest-working state senators.
Kagan’s Annapolis clout is sure to rise over the next four years.
Maryland Politics 2021 Political Losers
Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson
Maryland’s Labor Department, run by Tiffany Robinson, in 2020 and 2021, categorically failed thousands of unemployed Marylanders.
In early January 2021, nearly 43,000 unemployment claims remained unprocessed.
Tens of thousands of Marylanders’ unemployment benefits were stuck in some pending purgatory, awaiting investigation and further approval by Labor Department officials.
Unemployment claimants called their state representatives for help.
Even lawmakers couldn’t get Tiffany Robinson (or her staff) to return their phone calls.
In February, A Miner Detail reported that unemployment claimants unwillingly played a game of telephone round-robin.
Officials told the unemployed to hang up and dial a different number.
Tiffany Robinson must have had a brilliant solution, right?
She told claimants to call the Labor Department’s unemployment insurance division.
“I know some people still have a hard time getting through,” Robinson said, “but there’s the option for the callback if they’re early enough in the queue to get that option.”
Is your head spinning?
Earlier this year, Robinson’s chief Labor Department spokesperson cavalierly posted smiley photographs to Instagram of herself and her family vacationing in sunny Hawaii.
It must be nice to trek off to Hawaii while unemployed moms and dads worry sick (and still worry) over whether they’ll have enough money at the end of the week to buy food for their families.
Talk about a lesson in self-awareness.
Do you know who isn’t smiling?
The countless unemployed Maryland families who lost their homes and cars to the bank lenders – no, they aren’t smiling.
And why the hell did Maryland’s Labor Department switch online portals during the middle of a global health pandemic?
Beacon 2.0 is a trash system (if you can even call it a system).
Gov. Hogan and Secretary Robinson failed to hold but even one press conference last year to explain the administration’s failures and what it intends to do to fix its mess.
But the governor’s top spokesperson made sure to find time to chastise the press for being mean, channeling his inner Greta Thunberg.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hogan handed out COVID-19 $40K vaccination checks like candy on Halloween.
What a stupid idea.
The state rewarded people for doing their civic duties.
Where’s your family’s check?
Yet, the governor and his staff couldn’t find the time to fix Beacon 2.0, a rusty, broken-down piece-of-shit system.
The governor and his press people instead embarrassingly blamed state Democrats.
Who is in charge of Maryland’s Labor Department, Mr. Hogan?
Essentially, you are. The buck stops with you.
The bottom line is that unemployed Marylanders still suffer today because Tiffany Robinson and her Labor Department staff failed to do their jobs.
If the Labor Department cared about the mess they made, they’d take responsibility and own their mistakes.
What Marylanders have gone through because of state government is unforgivable.
It’s absolutely unforgivable.
Tiffany Robinson should have resigned long ago.
But she maintains the governor’s confidence.
Some Maryland families have lost nearly everything over the last 20 months.
It was Tiffany Robinson’s job to help them.
But at least she’ll get to keep her job for another year.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot
2021 is a lost year for the putative Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, to put it charitably.
Peter Franchot took a stick of dynamite to his once-formidable Eastern Shore coalition with his bizarre call to eliminate the seafood harvesting industry.
The introduction of his running mate, Monique Anderson-Walker, blows up with the discovery of thousands of dollars in unpaid state tax liabilities and recent Prince George’s County ethics investigations.
The comptroller ends the year under a cloud of scrutiny from civic and Democratic Party leaders after inexplicably missing a series of gubernatorial candidate forums – including one sponsored by the highly influential Committee for Montgomery.
Mr. Franchot has another big problem on his hands.
He can’t seem to bring himself to condemn his longtime social media hitman.
His buddy’s horrific Facebook attacks, so often aimed at elected officials, prominent Maryland Black leaders, and women, are out of control.
Eventually, the lackey may find himself on the receiving end of a credible libel lawsuit. It’s the perfect time of the year to shop around for a personal injury endorsement rider.
It’s unclear whether Mr. Franchot’s social media bulldog is doing schtick for attention, but other times, the lackey’s local pharmacy may have missed a prescription refill.
Paging Sibley Hospital’s seventh floor! Code Red!
Behind closed doors, Team Franchot may dismiss their obsequious fanboy as “that strange, aging man who loves Peter Franchot a little too much.”
Sooner or later, though, the mysterious rug doctor could force Franchot to denounce him publicly.
Still, though, Peter Franchot is on pace to become Maryland’s next governor despite a year filled with avoidable missteps.
Franchot is a moderate Democrat with an excellent relationship with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.
Many middle-of-the-road Marylanders aren’t looking to the far-left to run their state.
Franchot, like Hogan, makes sense to a large swatch of Maryland’s voting population.
And Mr. Franchot is flush with cash.
That helps – a lot.
He could probably launch a television onslaught tomorrow in the Baltimore and D.C. media markets if he wanted.
Plus, Franchot has a built-in political advantage that his primary challengers probably envy: He’s well-known statewide, and he won big in four consecutive statewide races, since 2006.
The average Marylander even likes Mr. Franchot. His folksy charm and New England smile are reassuring.
Like it or not, Peter V.R. Franchot is still Maryland’s Democratic frontrunner at this year’s conclusion, albeit a bit more tenuous.
To win the Democratic primary, Mr. Franchot should clean house.
Franchot can kick off 2022 with a brand-new campaign staff worthy of a Democratic frontrunner.
Woke, out-of-touch elitist consultants are giving you bad advice, Old Friend.
Peter, watch the clip below from The Newsroom, one of the best-ever HBO series.
Do you want to be governor, Peter, or do you want to f*** around?
This year, the hard-charging young GOP operative with Maryland political ties was rocked by revelations that his firm, McShane LLC, worked in cahoots with the Nevada-based Proud Boys.
McShane’s alt-right learning political consulting firm recruited the violent political extremists in a failed effort to delegitimize Joe Biden’s convincing victory over twice-impeached former President Donald Trump.
It was Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a Las Vegas-based political activist who brilliantly infiltrated McShane and Company’s dirty little cabal and blew the whistle on their attempts at overthrowing a legitimate presidential election.
“She spent months pretending to be a devotee of Trump’s hard-right policies,” the Washington Post reported.
Ashton-Cirillo outed McShane’s consulting firm and other high-ranking Nevada GOP insiders for cozying up to the neo-fascist, exclusively male organization that promotes and engages in political violence.
(You should expect to see Ashton-Cirillo as an essential contributor to A Miner Detail in 2022.)
Mr. McShane’s brand of loony-bin politics came under further scrutiny after his lead client, white nationalist Congressman Paul Gosar (R-QAnon), “joked” about killing progressive New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) while on the House floor.
Of course, McShane doubled down on defending Gosar, his political hero.
While a dance card that looks like a roll call from the Jan. 6 insurrection might play well in a few dusty western outposts, it hardly makes McShane employable on the more cosmopolitan East Coast, Maryland, especially, right?
Or does it?
“Welcome home, Rory,” exclaims Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire and state Del. Nic Kipke!
Nic Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) and Dirk and Jessica Haire’s working relationship with Rory McShane could be described only in the words of a former, twice-impeached U.S. president:
Check the January 2022 Maryland campaign finance reports to discover McShane’s price for polling on behalf of Jessica Haire’s county executive campaign.
Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire
What would you say this Dirk Haire DOES all day long for his beloved Maryland Republican Party?
Mr. Haire is noticeably estranged from Maryland’s franchise player, Gov. Larry Hogan.
(If you were Larry Hogan, would you want anything to do with the Trump wing of the Republican Party?)
Where was Dirk Haire during the mayoral races in Frederick and Annapolis, the two marquee political races of 2021?
Missing: Dirk Haire. Legislative redistricting.
You would think the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party would involve himself in the most critical political issue this year.
To call Dirk Haire a waste of space is to render a grievous insult to other wastes of space.
Signed that “Obscure Liberal Blogger.”
Susan O’Brien is the Comptroller of Maryland’s Director of Communications and one of Annapolis’ most notorious public scolds.
This summer, O’Brien was flagged for hypocrisy when she showed up at a jam-packed Michael Franti concert in Ocean City without wearing a face mask as the Delta variant was rapidly spreading.
Efforts to rationalize these images on social media are met with snickers and rolled eyes from the Treasury Building to the City Dock.
Do as we say, paupers, not as we do.
Gov. Hogan’s former chief of staff is the gift that keeps on giving.
Roy McGrath resigned as the governor’s chief of staff in August 2020 after The Baltimore Sun reported that he wrangled a $233,650 severance when he was “CEO” of the Maryland Environmental Service before Hogan brought him on board as his top aide.
Hogan said he wasn’t aware of the payout, nor did he approve it.
But McGrath, who has since moved to sunny Florida, says Hogan authorized the severance in a sort of wink-wink nod-nod kind of agreement.
But the facts support Hogan’s assertion that he knew nothing of McGrath’s apparent double-dipping sticky fingers.
McGrath now faces a multitude of state and federal charges.
If convicted, he could spend a whole lot of time behind bars.
You would think Mr. McGrath might opt to remain silent until his day in court.
But McGrath is every criminal defense attorney’s worst nightmare.
This guy just won’t shut up.
McGrath wrote an op-ed about the ordeal published in The Baltimore Sun on Nov. 30. He says he’s writing a book about the incident to clear his name and expose Hogan, whatever that means.
Don’t be surprised if Roy McGrath buys himself a megaphone and shouts about his innocence alongside random Florida street corners.
Roy, if you’re reading this, please listen to your lawyers and help them help you.
You’re not helping your case.
Cambridge Mayor Andrew Bradshaw
“Cambridge city commissioners voted Monday to move forward with removing the mayor, who faces more than four dozen charges, from office.”
Andrew Bradshaw, 32, was charged in November with 50 counts of “distributing revenge porn,” according to officials.
Cecil County Executive Danielle Hornberger
Danielle Hornberger’s election is the handy work of Andy Harris and Dirk Haire.
Last November, Cecil County residents elected an objectively unqualified individual to run their county government.
The majority of Cecil County’s electorate would instead blow up their local government than fix it by electing rational adults.
Danielle Hornberger is literally in charge of running Cecil County government.
That alone should scare the hell out of every thinking adult with a middle-school education.
Hornberger’s election naturally elevated some of Maryland’s finest, from Lawrence Scott to a host of other sleazy, Trump-like cockroaches, now slithering about Elkton, gumming up the works
Inexplicably, Hornberger appointed an out-in-right-wing-la-la-land evangelical, anti-gay pastor to lead the Cecil County Ethics Commission.
The pastor’s church doctrine states that women are to “graciously submit to the will of their husbands.”
In June, Maryland’s state prosecutor filed criminal charges against the former director of the Cecil County Board of Elections for allegedly falsifying campaign finance documents – get this – on behalf of Danielle Hornberger.
“The prosecutor cited Hornberger’s candidacy and finance report irregularities, but she faces no charges,” The Cecil Times reported.
Surely the county executive’s county personnel are in order.
Hornberger’s hand-picked county administrator abruptly resigned in October, not even a year into her first term.
Dan Schneckenburger’s resignation shocked Cecil’s county council and left them scrambling to find a replacement.
One more thing.
Cecil County sources confirmed Hornberger and the county’s director of Emergency Services were caught in a “compromising” position.
That’s Hornberger and her friend’s business – no judgment – but a superior and a subordinate mixing it up on work time is like chapter one in the “Don’t Do This In The Workplace” HR manual.
Prince George’s County School Board
2021 was yet another year in which this Village of the Damned became too distracted by infighting, factionalism, and political skullduggery to focus on the children’s education.
And that’s your Maryland politics winners and losers for 2021.