Barbara Goldberg Goldman & the 2022 Maryland gubernatorial race

Barbara Goldberg Goldman resigns from the Maryland Democratic Party

Maryland Democrat Barbara Goldberg Goldman in December 2021 posed a relevant and pressing question in an email to a handful of her fellow Democratic Party insiders.

“Which candidate(s) have a better chance in the General election of beating an attractive female Hogan team member for whom both Dems and Repubs have expressed genuine likeability,” Goldberg Goldman inquired.

Good question.

Which candidate(s) amid the Maryland Democratic gubernatorial field is/are best positioned to defeat former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz (R) in a general election matchup?

Maryland Democrats have an opportunity to rally behind a candidate team that appeals to a wide swath of the Maryland electorate, far beyond their standard Party base.

Wes Moore and Aruna Miller are running for Maryland governor in 2022

Maryland Democrats should not underestimate Kelly Schulz.

Schulz is endorsed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and she has the Hogan campaign apparatus working on her behalf.

That’s good news for Schulz and bad news for Maryland Democrats.

But the former state Commerce and Labor secretary is locked in an unnecessary political primary with an objectively unqualified Trump shoe shiner.

Dan Cox is a QAnon conspiracy theorist and a Frederick state delegate.

(Though what he does for his district is a question on the minds of his constituents.)

As his gubernatorial running mate, Mr. Cox has chosen Queen Anne’s County attorney Gordana Schifanelli, the real-life Agatha Trunchbull.

If Dan Cox squeaks out the Republican gubernatorial nomination in July, the 2022 race for Maryland governor is effectively over.

Take heart: There’s no way Dan Cox wins a Maryland general election, no matter how many outrageous Facebook posts he publishes.

Barbara Goldberg Goldman’s now-infamous email 

Goldberg Goldman’s subsequent sentence is what landed her in proverbial hot water.

“Consider this,” Goldberg Goldman wrote: “Three African-American males have run statewide for Governor and have lost.”

Barbara Goldberg Goldman's now-infamous email spurred race questions

Does Barbara Goldberg Goldman, the Maryland Democratic Party’s Deputy Treasurer, at the time, fundamentally believe that Black men are unelectable statewide in Maryland – because they’re Black?

She at least deserves the benefit of the doubt – to explain what she meant and perhaps clarify her comments.

But Goldberg Goldman stopped short of explaining what she meant.

It’s hard not to look at her email and muse, “Wow, is that really what she meant?”

Though, Goldberg Goldman’s comments didn’t specifically claim that Black candidates are less likely to win statewide on the basis of their race.

Nonetheless, her comments are left to interpretation.

And some people have interpreted Barbara Goldberg Goldman’s comments as racially insensitive.

Now the damage is done.

“Maryland is not a Blue state,” she later wrote.

“It’s a purple one. This is a fact we must not ignore.”

Indeed, Goldberg Goldman is correct: Maryland’s political tides are changing.

The last two gubernatorial elections have proven that Maryland voters are willing to reject political extremes on both sides and try out the space in between the 45 and 55-yard lines.

“In the last 20 years, only eight have been with a Democratic Governor. We need a winning team. IMHO,” Goldberg Goldman concluded.

Unless subsequent and unreleased emails exist in which Goldberg Goldman clarifies her comments, you know there’s but only one outcome in this situation.

Barbara Goldberg Goldman resigns from the Maryland Democratic Party 

Goldberg Goldman played a crucial role in President Joe Biden’s 2020 Maryland presidential campaign, in which she helped lead the Maryland Women for Biden grassroots network.

Goldberg Goldman helped chair Women for Biden during the 2020 presidential election

Somebody slipped Axios a copy of Goldberg Goldman’s email sometime between December 2021 and March 14, 2022.

And on March 13, Axios reported Goldberg Goldman’s comments.

The story then snowballed.

Goldberg Goldman resigned from the Maryland Democratic Party the following day, on Monday, March 14.

Goldberg Goldman resigned from the Maryland Democratic Party on Monday, March 14, 2022

Here’s the rub on Goldberg Goldman:

She’s a well-known and well-respected Democratic activist.

Much of Goldberg Goldman’s political activism is centered around championing racial equity.

Anybody who knows Barbara Goldberg Goldman knows exactly where she stands on many of the defining political issues of the day.

Did any of the recipients of Goldberg Goldman’s original email reach out to her with questions? Did they pick up the phone and call her to ask what she meant?

Goldberg Goldman’s comments undoubtedly deserve scrutiny.

Black candidates can, of course, win statewide in Maryland. To believe otherwise is foolish.

Though racism does exist in Maryland.

No matter how many times some slack-jawed backwoods bucolic reasons that the Confederate flag flying from the truckbed of his rusted-out Chevy pickup represents his heritage, well, it doesn’t.

Kim and Kanye’s marriage lasted longer than the Confederacy.

What did Barbara Goldberg Goldman really mean?

 You might wonder whether Barbara Goldberg Goldman’s fellow Democrats offered her the benefit of the doubt after reading her now-infamous email?

At the very least, was Goldberg Goldman offered an opportunity to explain her comments privately to friends and colleagues before the local and national press got hold of her email?

When reached by Axios, Goldberg Goldman said she regrets her choice of words.

“It neither accurately expresses nor depicts my views, and does not represent my lifelong commitment to supporting Democratic causes and candidates.”

Shopping an email of this nature to a major political news outlet in the middle of a competitive gubernatorial race feels, oh you might say, just a tad bit political.

When reached on March 14 by the Washington Post, Goldberg Goldman apologized for her December 2021 email comments.

“I am well aware that words matter despite how they might be interpreted, and I sincerely apologize.”

John B. King Jr., a former U.S. education secretary who served in the Obama administration, was first to call Golberg Goldman’s comments racist and insinuate that Goldberg Goldman herself is a racist.

King released a statement Monday morning, March 14, calling on Goldberg Goldman to resign from the Maryland Democratic Party.

“This kind of backward thinking has no place in the future of the Democratic Party in Maryland,” King said, “nor is it acceptable coming from a party official.”

Goldberg Goldman publicly backs and raises money on behalf of one of King’s opponents – former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.

Later that Monday, several more Democrats, including Mr. Perez, issued statements critical of Goldberg Goldman’s comments and calling on her to step down from her position with the Maryland Democratic Party.

It’s unclear whether Mr. Perez is moving forward with a political fundraiser previously scheduled at Barbara Goldberg Goldman’s home.

Shifting Culture

American culture has dramatically shifted over the last few years.

The country is slowly but surely coming to terms with its original racial sins.

Racism and racial insensitivity must be met with severe and harsh consequences.

But please know this: Barbara Goldberg Goldman is not a racist.

The Washington Post reported former Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett’s reaction to Goldberg Goldman’s comment.

He said Goldberg Goldman’s comment was “unfortunate and inartful.”

But Mr. Leggett noted that Goldberg Goldman “raised a question that African Americans across the country have been asking for a long time about running in statewide races.”

“He added that Goldberg Goldman’s comment do not reflect her character, noting that she has been a strong supporter for years of Black candidates, including him, Baker, Barack Obama and Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), a former lieutenant governor.”

Today’s societal rules demand immediate outrage and trial by tweets and hashtags before getting to the bottom of a story.

People don’t care what someone meant to say. There’s zero room for error.

It’s 2022: Mistakes aren’t allowed.

Growth isn’t possible.

Canceling somebody and potentially ruining their life is the only surefire way to rectify a public mistake.

It’s a sad state of affairs today, isn’t it?

The fallout for the individual doesn’t matter. The truth sometimes doesn’t matter.

Public shaming matters more these days, whether or not the truth reveals itself.

In modern politics, some people wait for the right moment to strike – and they’ll stop at nothing to ruin a political opponent’s life.

Once more, the truth sometimes doesn’t matter.

Public shaming is the mission.

This is, unfortunately, the going rate these days.

And people wonder why the need for mental health  services have skyrocketed in this country over the last 10 years.

Racism absolutely must be condemned swiftly and universally.

The consequences cannot be anything less than severe.

But, once again, Barbara Goldberg Goldman is not a racist. She’s never been a racist.

What matters now, however, is the perception of Barbara Goldberg Goldman.

And, frankly, it’s beyond unfair to Goldberg Goldman.

At most, this Maryland political story might have a shelf life for another few days.

But when the story eventually fades from public view, do you think the Maryland Democratic Party and some of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates might want to entertain finding the answer to the first part of Goldberg Goldman’s December 2021 question?

Which Democrat is likely to win in November in a matchup with Kelly Schulz?

Peter Franchot?

Sure, Peter Franchot has a dedicated political base that hasn’t buckled.

Thanks in large part to Len Foxwell‘s political astuteness over the last decade, Mr. Franchot, the state’s comptroller, is politically positioned as an Annapolis outsider fighting against the implacable “Annapolis Machine.”

Yeah, but that’s just marketing; it’s excellent marketing.

Franchot has won four statewide elections in a row; he’s well-positioned to win in July.

But can he win in November?

Maryland Democratic Party insiders are mostly unenthused by Peter Franchot.

The Democrats are likely to rally behind Franchot if he does win in July – but they indeed aren’t gung-ho over the possibility of electing a 74-year-old wealthy white guy from Takoma Park as their next governor.

Sure, Franchot is more than qualified; he has the necessary political experience for the job.

But how come, as of late, Peter Franchot commits to a gubernatorial candidate forum and suddenly cancels at the last moment?

Are there new episodes of “Murder, She Wrote” released on Hulu that Mr. Franchot cannot miss?

Committing to a candidate forum and suddenly and inexplicably canceling is a pattern with Franchot.

What’s going on with him?

Peter Franchot versus Kelly Schulz 

Kelly Schulz is in the prime of her political career.

She has an opportunity to make history as Maryland’s first female elected governor – a Republican, no less!

Juxtapose Kelly Schulz and Peter Franchot on a stage together in October 2022.

For political context, think back to the Nixon-Kennedy presidential debates.

That’s not the best optics for the Democrats.

A 70-something-year-old career politician from Takoma Park versus a small business owner mom-turned state delegate turned-Labor and Commerce secretary?

The Democrats know they have a perception problem if they nominate Mr. Franchot.

Schulz and Woolford are running for governor

Who is the anti-Franchot candidate? 

If state Democrats are serious about winning in November, they better figure out soon amongst themselves the anti-Franchot ticket.

Peter Franchot isn’t exciting.

Who’s the anti-Franchot candidate?

Do you want the inconvenient answer, or do you want the truth?

Wes Moore and Aruna Miller 

The only viable anti-Franchot candidate is the Wes Moore and Aruna Miller ticket.

You all know it.

Rushern Baker? 

Rushen Baker – come on.

He’s a great guy with the right experience.

But his last campaign flopped.

Much of the Maryland Democratic establishment supported Baker’s 2018 gubernatorial bid, yet he lost to Ben Jealous?

Fast forward to 2022: Mr. Baker’s Prince George’s County executive predecessor couldn’t bring herself to endorse Mr. Baker this go-around.

One of Maryland’s most important rising political stars, Angela Alsobrooks, has thrown political might behind Wes Moore and Aruna Miller’s gubernatorial ticket.

Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks endorses Wes Moore's 2022 Democratic gubernatorial bid.

It doesn’t appear that Mr. Baker is handling the news well.

His campaign released a statement akin to a kindergartner’s reaction when denied ice cream after dinner.

Doug Gansler?

Doug Gansler is an excellent and pleasant guy.

He’s a formidable attorney, too – but he’s just not breaking through this time.

There’s still time – but July is just around the corner.

Tom Perez 

Barbara Goldberg Goldman is backing Tom Perez for governor.

At least for now.

Do Maryland Democrats want to risk running the former Democratic National Committee chair at a time when President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s approval ratings are in the dumper?

Have you seen the latest polling?

Tom Perez’s gubernatorial campaign is about hopeful as contractors finishing the Frostburg replica of Noah’s Ark.

John King?

From which lane is John King running?

The hardcore progressive lane?

The center-left Team Obama alumni wing lane?

His political brand is all over the place.

John King has no on-the-ground support in Maryland. He wasn’t involved in state politics to any degree within the last five years to have much support.

Marylanders aren’t familiar with John King beyond his small support in pockets of Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

Moreover, Mr. King’s gubernatorial campaign is quite dull and equally uninspiring.

He appears focused on winning the most progressive enclaves of Maryland, and then, you might guess, he’ll spend the least amount of time required in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore, pretending to show interest in how the other side lives.

A Look Back at the Maryland Democratic Gubernatorial Nominees 

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

If the Maryland Democratic Party banked on the Kennedy name to win the 2002 gubernatorial election, then please let Kathleen Kennedy Townsend serve as an immutable cautionary tale:

Stop running bad candidates.

KKT’s campaign was an objective disaster.

Had Ellen Sauerbrey run for governor a third time in 2002, perhaps even she could have beaten Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Anthony Brown 

Then Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown wasn’t an ineffective statewide gubernatorial candidate.

Quite the opposite.

Brown, now an elected Maryland congressman running for Maryland attorney general, is a solid guy, a good man, whose impeccable professional credentials are unquestionable.

There’s no denying that Anthony Brown was a model gubernatorial candidate.

But Mr. Brown’s campaign had a certain air of inevitability about it.

There’s no way Brown could lose to Larry Hogan.

But he did lose to Larry Hogan.

And what did Maryland Democrats learn?

Not much.

For the most part, though, Mr. Brown’s stunning upset loss to Larry Hogan was far less about Anthony Brown and so much more about Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Anthony Brown suffered from the perception that he was Martin O’Malley’s third term.

Mr. O’Malley’s eight years as governor left the majority of Marylanders feeling politically fatigued.

Larry Hogan’s campaign team served him well.

The Hogan campaign stuck to the script; it didn’t get trapped into discussing the wedge social issues.

Once more, for those in the back: Mr. Hogan had a real message.

Mr. Hogan presented himself as the avuncular, next-door neighbor you’d trust to take care of your pets while you’re drinking whiskey at The Spinnaker hotel before catching an Uber to your third lobbyist-thrown MACo party.

Larry Hogan and Boyd Rutherford in 2014 ran on kitchen-table issues, as politically cliché as that might sound.

Their back-to-back victories are worth studying.

Ben Jealous 

Susie Turnbull, the insider of all Maryland Democratic political insiders, still grumbles aloud on social media about nasty bloggers who dared to ask Ben Jealous, her former gubernatorial running mate, questions beyond his favorite flavor of pizza.

Think about how many Democrats refused to back Ben Jealous in 2018?

Larry Hogan’s campaign did a pretty good job defining Jealous far before Jealous had an opportunity to define himself.

Plus, from the very outset of the campaign, Hogan was expected to win, regardless of who the Democrats put up to take him on in November 2018.

Jealous didn’t have the money to compete.

And he hired inexperienced staffers to run his show.

He skipped MACo in 2018 and blasted the event as some drunken lobbyist pub crawl.

Okay, that might be true for the evening time festivities, but MACo is a built-in opportunity for gubernatorial candidates to schmooze with Maryland’s locally-elected officials.

Bottom line: Ben Jealous is a nice guy – but he was an awful candidate.

Maryland Democrats are desperate to win in November, but do they know how to win? 

Try this exercise.

Ask the 2022 Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidates to unwind for you their strategies and tactics for winning back disaffected Republicans and unaffiliated voters.

Please wait for it.

Wait for the boilerplate, preprogrammed memorized response written by a consultant who couldn’t tell you whether Hagerstown is in Missouri or Maryland.

Have you watched some of the Democratic gubernatorial forums and debates?

You’d be better off watching an episode of Darcey & Stacey.

Most Democratic candidates haven’t a clue how to win in November – and they know that you know it.

Dan Bongino’s words of wisdom

Dear God, how could this Maryland blog mention Dan Bongino?

Hang with us.

Former Marylander Dan Bongino – a three-time losing Republican candidate turned popular rightwing media personality – would tell his 2012 U.S. Senate campaign staffers never to put in writing what you wouldn’t want on the front cover of the Washington Post.

It pains us to point out that Dan Bongino is the broken clock that’s right twice a day.

The dust will soon settle.

But you have to wonder one thing.

How long will it take one of these Democratic candidates or the Maryland Democratic Party to pick up the phone and once again ask Mrs. Goldberg Goldman to cut a fat check?

Politicians are so predictable.

Ryan Miner Administrator
Ryan Miner is Editor & Founder of A Miner Detail, a Maryland Politics Blog.