Maryland Politics’ 2020 Winners and Losers

WINNERS 

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

2020’s biggest political winner.

The moderate Republican governor earned national acclaim and stratospheric poll numbers at home over his handling of the deadly COVID-19 crisis. Hogan will provide future crisis management scholars with a positive case study.

Hogan’s leadership, while not perfect, was damn-near close to perfection.

The governor’s quick and decisive actions in the early days of the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly saved the lives of many Marylanders, for sure.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman

Faced with a difficult re-election bid in red-leaning Anne Arundel County, the first-term Democratic county executive decides against an opportunistic shift to the middle and instead opts to govern as the unrepentant progressive that he is.

Voters who claim to value authenticity in their political leaders should look closely at Pittman as having a robust political future.

Some may call him vanilla. Others call him effective. You decide.

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott

The young former Baltimore City Council president deftly maneuvered through a field of eminently qualified mayoral candidates to become the mayor of Baltimore City in a time of turmoil.

Mr. Scott is now faced with a restive Council in flux and a very ambitious City Council president already on the prowl for his next rung on the ladder.

Hagerstown Mayor Emily Keller 

The councilwoman-turned-elected mayor is the first female to be elected mayor of Hagerstown.

Passionate, pragmatic, and productive, Emily Keller, in coordination with an all-star and diverse City Council, is ready and willing to get her hands dirty as the chief promoter and marketer of a City with incredible promise.

Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Greg Slater

Larry Hogan’s new MDOT Secretary turns in a tour de force in his first year on the job.

Slater successfully negotiated an agreement with the Board of Public Works to move along the I-495/270 beltway widening/bridge replacement project.

He was instrumental in completing the embattled Chesapeake Bay Bridge redecking project ahead of schedule, and, for good measure, the much-despised and obsolete toll booths were finally removed after years of complaints.

Slater is now the best MDOT Secretary since John Porcari faced the enormous task of putting the Purple Line project back together.

The I-270/495 road widening project is the most important state transit project of our lifetimes. Local lawmakers must stop stalling and get the work done. No more politics. No more catering to the extreme partisans in Takoma Park and Silver Spring.

Do your jobs, locally elected officials; please stop impeding progress.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks

The first-term Prince George’s County Executive makes it through a year of crisis with no serious errors or miscues. In an emerging 2022 gubernatorial field of aging white men, this Democratic super-star remains a candidate with unlimited upside.

Marylanders: Angela Alsobrooks should be the number-one draft pick for governor in 2022.

Montgomery County Councilman Andrew Friedson

The freshman Montgomery County councilmember from Bethesda is the consummate, middle-of-the-road voice of reason and a tonal counterpoint to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s often-erratic “leadership.”

Senate President Bill Ferguson 

The youthful Senate president handles everything thrown at him – a global pandemic, a landmark school funding bill, the gigantic shadow of the ailing Mike Miller – with dignity, integrity, honor, and class.

House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones

Maryland’s new House speaker showed Marylanders that she is a serious leader during serious times. She avoided all political confrontations and kept together her House caucus on paramountly important legislative issues.

Bobby Zirkin 

The Maryland super lawyer. The consummate champion for women. A lawmaker’s lawmaker.

A former state senator with 21 years of pragmatism and moderation under his belt, former state Sen. Bobby Zirkin kicked off a new adventure this year: ZS Public and Government Affairs.

Zirkin is coming back to his policy roots, opening a “full-service lobbying firm dedicated to providing aggressive and competent service to its clients in the world of legislation and politics.”

Public school teachers, school support staff, school administration officials, and school personnel

There are countless examples of our public school officials – teachers, especially – stepping up to help our children navigate the complexities of virtual learning.

These public servants are heroes. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Len Foxwell

The former longtime chief of staff to Maryland Comptroller Peter V. R. Franchot took a sad song and made it so, so much better.

Foxwell announced in late December that he launched Tred Avon Strategies, a “full-spectrum communications, media relations and public outreach” strategy firm.

The Eastern Shore native is Maryland’s brightest political operative and communicator. Foxwell’s new gig allows him to spread his wings and be himself in the most unique way possible. A Miner Detail cannot wait to see Len’s new career take off!

Congratulations, Len!

Delegate Brooke Lierman 

The Baltimore City lawmaker launched her bid for state comptroller in mid-December and quickly consolidated institutional political support amid her fellow lawmakers and the Annapolis power brokers.

Lierman is a talented and sharp political operator. Marylanders should expect her to run a formidable primary campaign.

Maryland Matters 

Josh Kurtz’s Maryland Matters this year solidified its standing as the premier news outlet for Maryland politics. Maryland Matters’ reporting is fair, independent, and nonpartisan.

We encourage you to subscribe to Maryland Matters’ daily newsletter and dip into your wallets to support them financially.

Stephen Austin 

The former Montgomery County Board of Education candidate lost his primary bid (you would think he would be placed in the loser’s column) amid a largely contentious field of qualified candidates.

Mr. Austin, the middle-of-the-road native Texan, built a grassroots movement that cultivated an ideas-based campaign; he shook the central power structure of the Montgomery County political machine in a way that no candidate ever has.

Austin relentlessly refused to be bullied by a toxic cabal of bad-faith elitist political operators, led by former Montgomery County Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse, whose obsession with Austin was  – and still is – verging on the clinical side of matters.

Kimberly Large Miner 

A Miner Detail Editor in Chief Ryan Miner’s brilliant and intrepid wife. She’s the brains behind the entire Miner family.

Tangentially involved in Maryland politics, the beautiful and bold Mrs. Miner, from the ashes of a family tragedy, took suicide prevention activism and made it her life’s mission: Since June, Kimberly has been working with several local Montgomery County organizations and Montgomery County Public Schools to destigmatize mental health issues and prevent youth suicide.

Kimberly is a steel magnolia.

LOSERS

Roy McGrath

The governor’s short-lived former chief of staff who resigned this summer after seemingly double-dipping into taxpayer money (the infamous six-figure severance package) is also in hot water over his management style as the one-time head of the Maryland Environmental Service.

Not so long ago, McGrath was riding high as the governor’s chief of staff.

A few months later, McGrath was seated adjacent to his lawyer after being subpoenaed by a legislative oversight committee, responding to skeptical lawmakers’ questions: “On the advice of counsel and pursuant my legal rights, I respectfully decline to answer that question.”

McGrath’s fall from grace is one of Maryland’s biggest political scandals of 2020.

Will he recover? We’re optimistic.

Former Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine 

Kleine is Montgomery County’s former chief administrative officer who resigned after a months-long ethics investigation after it was discovered that he ripped off county taxpayers.

Mr. Kleine was cited for ethics violations related to a book that nobody will ever read, and he was further dinged for having a relationship with two contractors.

He was fined $5,000, a small drop in the proverbial bucket, compared to his $280K taxpayer-funded salary. (That is an outrageous amount of money to pay any county public employee.)

County Executive Elrich refused to fire him and looked the other way, keeping his head in the sand.

Some leader Elrich turned out to be. No surprise there.

Kudos to the Montgomery County Council for doing its part in holding Kleine accountable by forcefully demanding stiffer penalties.

Mr. Kleine’s uncinematic resignation from Montgomery County government should have been a warning to any organization eyeing him for a future job – public or private.

Apparently, Mr. Kleine’s public misdeeds were not enough for Earnst and Young to look the other way.

Montgomery County Public School parents

Montgomery County voters rolled the dice and elected Lynne Harris as its new at-large member of the Montgomery County Board of Education.

As usual, the down-county consortium chose someone so far outside of the mainstream to represent Montgomery County’s school system – our children – on a Board of Education that desperately needed a massive overhaul and change in personnel (from the top on down).

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings 

Once considered the heir apparent to capture her late husband’s 7th Congressional District seat, the intellectual progressive firebrand has all but burnt her political capital after two stinging losses.

Dr. Cummings has a political future – but where?

Cecil County residents 

Cecil County thought it would be funny to elect the much less funny version of Rodney Dangerfield as its county executive.

At least the late Mr. Dangerfield got some respect.

This is not going to end well for anyone, especially Cecil County taxpayers. In fact, Danielle Hornberger‘s election is an embarrassment to all Marylanders.

Kimberly Klacik 

It pains A Miner Detail even to utter this carnival barker’s name.

She lost big in the 7th Congressional District race to a seasoned and skilled political talent.

Are you following Klacik’s Twitter feed? Please don’t. It’s a bumbling mess of conspiracy theories and silly commentary that promises to make you dumber.

Mrs. Klacik claims her Democratic opponent’s 100,000+ more votes in a general election were stolen from her. To add the icing to her cake, she’s picking fights with Gov. Larry Hogan, who probably doesn’t even know her name.

How much money does One America News Network need to pay Klacik to never again run for office and instead spout her ill-informed political views in front of an audience of white men over the age of 65 without college degrees?

State Delegate Dan Cox

This Frederick lawmaker is the worst of the worst amid Maryland’s dwindling Republican House caucus.

Noted quack Dan Cox dabbles in QAnon conspiracy theories. He even partook in suing Gov. Hogan, a member of his own political party, over Hogan’s COVID-19 stay-at-home executive order. (Cox, of course, lost in court.)

Frederick County Republicans are not sending their best.

Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire 

Maryland Republicans: You get what you pay for.

PUSH

Congressman David J. Trone 

The 6th Congressional District representative didn’t make any major waves this year. He kept his head down in Congress and did the work he promised voters he would do.

Trone soundly defeated his Republican opponent this November. He heads back to Congress for a second term as a member of the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Look for Trone to begin to drop serious feelers into the 2022 Democratic gubernatorial primary. He certainly has the cash on hand to compete.

The City of Hagerstown

On the one hand, the Hub City ushers in a new era of progressive, NextGen leadership.

On the other, it gets left standing in Major League Baseball’s reshuffling of its minor league farm system – the victim of terrible ownership from the Bruce Quinn era and the inability of civic leaders to achieve consensus on a new downtown ballpark plan.

You’re up to bat, Mayor Keller and City Council.

The Hogan Administration

While Gov. Hogan basks in the national spotlight, his administration often appeared adrift in a sea of incompetence and corruption.

For starters, the unemployment fiasco.

What about the pricey and useless South Korean test kits that were oversold and underdelivered?

And, again: Roy McGrath’s raid on the MES treasure chest.

Either Hogan wasn’t minding the store off-camera, or he accomplished national fame despite subpar performances from his team of professionals.

Hogan does have his communications shop to thank, led by the talented Michael Ricci and Shareese Churchill.

State Senator Jim Rosapepe

On the one hand, the veteran state senator hops aboard Joe Biden’s presidential campaign very early and, perhaps, punches his ticket for a second ambassadorial stint.

But on the other hand, the man who has longed to be Maryland’s comptroller – for years – seems to have been outhustled and outgunned at the outset by Brooke Lierman.

We’ll see what happens.

Talbot County 

On the one hand, the genteel bastion of coastal wealth on Maryland’s Eastern Shore surprised political observers by giving Joe Biden a narrow win in November – a harbinger of a potential political realignment.

But on the other hand, Talbot County (pronounced tall-butt) earned national attention for all the wrong reasons this summer for clinging to its Confederate statue that sits on, of all places, the courthouse lawn.

The county’s identity crisis will remain one of the more interesting subplots in Maryland politics in the coming years.


Feedback/Questions? Ryan@AMinerDetail.com

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Ryan Miner Administrator
Ryan Miner is the Editor in Chief, Founder, Senior Political Reporter and Publisher of A Miner Detail. He is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.
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