11.26.13 Nobody for governor?

We  Takoma Park lefties should be jumping for joy over our own Heather Mizeur’s run to be the first female, first gay governor in Maryland history. And, in case you haven’t noticed, she’ll be happy to let you know how progressive she is. Local heroes, Progressive Neighbors (PN) have endorsed her, seven months before ballots are to be cast.

Here’s the problem for those who have paid attention: Mizeur has been running for the next or the next-next higher office ever since she set foot in Takoma Park and declared for city council in 2003. She won, of course. And quit halfway through a measly two-year term, so that she could run for the Democratic National Committee and then state delegate, representing District 20 (“D20” ­– Takoma Park and Silver Spring). Yeah, she’ll say she resigned the city council early because she and her wife had found their dream house in another ward. Still, Mizeur abandoned her seat and was more absent than present towards the end of her brief tenure.

And now, after two terms as a back-bench Maryland delegate, Mizeur isn’t content in the shadows. So, without having run anything much larger than a one-staff delegate’s office, she declares herself tanned, rested, and ready to be in charge of the whole damn state. Who doubts that her first move should a miracle occur would be to form a White House exploratory committee?

I get that most politicians are ambitious. The same drive that makes them run for class president in sixth grade (guilty as charged, says your blogger) has them gazing longingly at the next office up the line. But really, Mizeur’s rush towards glory is in a special class.

It’s an open topic of conversation in Mizeur’s neighborhood that she hasn’t even been living in that dream house on the corner of Maple and Tulip Avenues recently, but rather in an apparently dreamier place on the Eastern Shore (not exactly next door to D20). Political insiders tell me that she has stopped attending district events, now that she has her eyes on a bigger prize. Reminds me of those Takoma Park City Council days.

Yes, I agree with Mizeur’s positions the overwhelming amount of the time. But, when a vortex of ambition like her declares to the Washington Post that if she doesn’t win this race, she’ll “be done with politics,” the disingenuousness overwhelms the good she says she wants to do. Mizeur can’t possibly think she’ll win this race. This is all practice for when she does it for real, next time.

Mizeur is smart and capable, for sure. But she has no background in running organizations, nonetheless a state. One might have thought she would balance her ticket with experience, but instead she went even greener (as in “not ready”) by selecting pastor Delman Coates to be her running mate.

I wish PN had not endorsed Mizeur, at least not this early (it’s only November!). But I get why they did: (1) supporting Mizeur pulls the whole debate left; (2) Anthony Brown couldn’t be bothered returning their questionnaire; (3) Doug Gansler is out of the question.

Speaking of whom, I was surprised that the Beach Week antics had such legs for frat boy Gansler. I found much more disturbing “trooper-gate,” in which this one-man traffic hazard abused ethics, his drivers, and the law. A man this arrogant would be a distinct danger to the public good in an executive position. As governor, Gansler could – and evidently would – do whatever the hell he wanted. Impunity, anyone?

Gansler’s character flaws have done the candidate a favor by obscuring his policy flaws. He’s long-time death-penalty advocate and touts corporate tax cuts as a major platform plank. He’s been attacking Martin O’Malley for raising revenues at all (which the state sorely needed) and ranting against recent gasoline tax increases that are win-win for our budget and environment. Who needs Republicans when you have this crap coming from Dems?

In three weeks of conversations with elected officials and political activists, I can’t find a single one who knows why Anthony Brown is running or what he stands for. I’m told he refuses to take a stand on issues like fracking, because his main priority is winning endorsements, not taking positions. I have been looking to Brown to stop Gansler. But can I really mark my ballot for someone who doesn’t give me any reason to? And I am indeed offended by his brush-off to Progressive Neighbors. None of this bodes well.

So, we’re back to Mizeur. I may well vote for her, because at least she stands for something positive, if not as authentically as one might hope. But if I thought she could actually win the nomination, there’s no way I could pull the proverbial lever. Not only do I doubt her readiness for the job,  but – here’s the scary part – that very fact would make her vulnerable to a GOP challenge in November. (Can you say, “KKT”?*)

Bottom line: Vote for Brown to stop Gansler. Vote for Brown to stop Mizeur. Can’t think of any other reason to vote for Brown.

The best one can say about the Maryland gubernatorial campaign is that at least it’s not quite as distasteful as Virginia’s contest between a 13th-century Taliban and a slimy political operator. Or is it?

*KKT = Kathleen Kennedy Townsend whose incompetence as the Democratic nominee in 2002 led to a Robert Ehrlich victory, first for the GOP since Spiro Agnew.

©2013  Keith Berner

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