On Tuesday, Peter Franchot announced he will seek re-election as state comptroller rather than run for governor in 2014. Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, joined WBAL TV to discuss the impact of this news on Maryland’s political landscape. According to Norris, Franchot’s decision “certainly makes a difference in the race.” Norris predicts potential candidates in the 2014 race include Lt. Governor Anthony Brown (D), Attorney General Doug Ganzler (D), and Harford County Executive David Craig (R).
Norris also appeared on Maryland Public Television’s “State Circle,” where he offered an outlook on current Governor Martin O’Malley’s potential presidential campaign in 2016. “Looking at it from today’s perspective one would have to say that a small state governor in a deep blue state probably doesn’t have a great chance of getting the nomination. On the other hand, people said the same that about Jimmy Carter and they said that about Bill Clinton,” Norris remarked.
“Now that the governor’s proposal to expand gambling in Maryland has passed at the ballot box, some state senators and delegates who backed the controversial measure are looking to collect,” writes reporter Annie Linskey in today’s Baltimore Sun.
The idea that those legislators who backed Gov. O’Malley in his support of the gambling legislation would seek benefits in return for its passage is not a new concept to Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy. “I think it is a nearly universal phenomenon in legislative bodies,” he says. “It is a matter of bargaining and cooperation among people. It is human nature.”
Linskey suggests that Baltimore City and County would like to access additional funds for school renovations, while Montgomery County’s top funding priority is transportation.
Political science professor Thomas F. Schaller’s latest Baltimore Sun column responds to the claim that “President Obama won re-election because Americans want ‘free stuff’.” He argues that “contrary to what talk-show conservatives imply, many government programs skew toward middle-class and upper-income Americans” and usage of federal benefit programs is near universal, rather than tied to political affiliation.
Schaller writes, “according to political scientists Suzanne Mettler and John Sides, 96 percent of Americans have benefited from at least one (and typically more) of just 21 federal programs, ranging from student loans to the mortgage interest deduction, from the employer health care exemption to Medicare. Most of the remaining 4 percent are too young yet to have benefited but will. We’re all beneficiaries.”
Schaller also commented for a Washington Post story recapping the election in Maryland and Gov. O’Malley’s prominent role in the passage of ballot measures on same-sex marriage rights, gambling and education for undocumented immigrants. “It was almost as though he was standing for a second reelection,” Schaller told the Post. “To a certain degree, his administration was on the ballot.”
In the wake of Maryland’s vote for Question 4, UMBC professors T.H. Gindling (economics) and Marvin Mandell (public policy) recently discussed their study, “Private and Government Fiscal Costs and Benefits of the Maryland Dream Act” on NBC Washington news. Their interview highlights the net positive economic impact that each incoming class of undocumented students would have, due to factors such as decreased incarceration rates (and thus lower incarceration costs) for college versus high school graduates.
Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, commented on Maryland’s passage of both Question 6 (approving same-sex marriage rights) and Question 7 (approving gambling expansion). Of Question 7 he remarked, “Frankly, I’m surprised that it passed statewide,” suggesting that voters might have been swayed by the promise of using increased gambling revenues to boost education funding.
Laura Hussey, assistant professor of political science, told Patch that Gov. O’Malley’s vocal leadership style might have encouraged voters to turn out for the issues he supports. “It’s only recently that we’ve seen Democratic leaders take strong stances on issues like the Dream Act,” Hussey said. “Eventually, some of their voters are going to follow behind them.”
Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, has offered insight on topics from Maryland ballot measures to the advertising wars throughout the election season.
He recently commented in a Patch article on early voting, stating: “There is little or no evidence that early voting matters in overall turnout or in overall turnout among sub groups of voters—elderly, young, minorities, etc. So I am not inclined to say anything about this except that turnout is up.”
Why the increase in turnout of early voters? Norris told WBAL, “We’ve got at least three ballot questions that are very emotional in nature.” Norris will provide election commentary tomorrow night on WBAL.
Update (11/8/2012): Norris appeared on WJZ, where he commented that voter turnout will likely not be as high as the last presidential election, but, “that prediction could be upset…by the fact that we’ve got ballot questions that people are very, very invested in.” He also provided election night commentary for WBAL as the returns came in and commented on the election results in the Daily Record (on Governor O’Malley’s plans and on the gambling referendum).
According to the Daily Record, the Maryland Democratic Party is accusing MDPetitions.com (used to help petition three state laws to referendum over the last year) of violating campaign finance laws. Website founder Del. Neil C. Parrott has responded by saying, “Here we have the Maryland Democrat party trying to use scare tactics” to prevent voters from striking down the referenda.
Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, comments that with so many hotly debated issues on the ballot this year, Maryland is getting a taste of types of accusations that more politically-diverse states experience regularly during the election season. Norris notes that using online tools such as MDPetitions.com to put issues on the ballot is a major way that Maryland conservatives are trying to increase their reach; he predicts that in the next General Assembly session laws will likely be adopted to “restrict the ability to petition legislation to the ballot.”
Norris also discussed early voting and the same-sex marriage referendum in the Gazette.
Today’s Gazette reports on clergy in Prince George’s County who are encouraging parishioners to vote against the referendum to expand gambling in Maryland and in Prince George’s County in particular. But Laura Hussey, assistant professor of political science, remarks in the article that clergy who talk politics from the pulpit are less common than some might expect.
Hussey suggests that this is in part because the multifaceted nature of ballot questions, such as the gambling referendum, can make it difficult to take a clear religious stance. “It’s an issue that doesn’t lend itself to being easily decided by the average voter,” she says.
Update (10/27/2012): In a later Washington Examiner article, Hussey remarked on the meaning this election’s historic ballot measures have for voters in Maryland, an overwhelmingly Democratic state where presidential and senatorial races are usually a foregone conclusion. Hussey said, “Here citizens have an opportunity to weigh in, to cast a vote that means something.”
Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy, commented Sunday on the Washington Post‘s finding that out-of-state gambling companies and their allies have spent $56 million in the fight over Question 7, which would allow a Las Vegas-style casino to be built in Prince George’s County.
A Post poll revealed that 51% of likely voters say Maryland’s existing slots program has been a “good thing” for the state, but that 55% are not confident that the plan to expand gambling will produce more money for schools, as proponents suggest.
“I think one has to conclude the ads are making a huge difference,” said Norris, continuing, “People don’t trust politicians, and they’re being told politicians sold them a bill of goods. I think that resonates.”
Today’s Gazette highlights the Prince George’s County Board of Education race between District 1 candidates David H. Murray ’14, economics, and Zabrina Epps, CCBC academic adviser.
Murray told the Gazette, “One of most important things we have to do is try to recruit the most effective teachers we can.” He supports an external audit on the school system’s operating budget, to redirect funds toward increasing teacher pay.
As one of three candidates in Prince George’s County who are currently university students, Murray argues that his age and familiarity with the school system as an alumnus afford him an important perspective on issues that matter to students and faculty today.