With less than eight weeks left until the Nov. 6 general election, the Maryland gubernatorial race continues to be one of the most interesting in decades.
Last week, on the state’s first day of school for public school students, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan announced an executive order to create an Office of Education Accountability to oversee items such as grading requirements, budgets and child abuse.
The campaigns for Hogan and Democratic nominee Ben Jealous agreed Thursday, Sept. 6 to hold only one public debate later this month. Earlier this summer, Hogan requested two and Jealous five.
On Thursday evening at a rally in Montana, President Donald Trump openly criticized Jealous without saying his name for a proposed policy to allow free college tuition for all Marylanders.
“Maryland is a huge Democratic state in terms of the numbers, but Hogan and the [Republican Governors Association] have spent millions defining [Jealous] for the last two months,” said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s, Maryland. “I can’t wait until I get to teach this election because it’s just such an outlier so far from so many past gubernatorial elections.”
One example Eberly has explained rests with the Hogan campaign’s more than $9 million cash on hand, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in Maryland.
A recent Gonzales Research poll showed Hogan with 52 percent of voters would elect him, compared to 36 percent for Jealous.
But Jealous and the state’s Democratic Party continue to push an initiative to bring one million voters to the polls. The party opened three offices Friday and Saturday in Baltimore City and Montgomery and Baltimore counties with a goal to hire dozens of organizers in every part of the state.
A “Blue Wave Rally” to feature Jealous, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) will take place Saturday, Sept. 15 in Rockville.
Meanwhile, Jealous introduced a proposal Thursday called “Innovation Maryland” that seeks to reduce the sales tax from 6 percent to 5.75 percent and make it competitive with neighboring states.
According to the plan based on estimates by state Comptroller Peter Franchot, out of state online sales taxes would increase revenue between $50 million to $150 million annually. In addition, the document outlines the state Department of Legislative Services has projected to close an interest loophole and tax revenue from hedge fund managers as ordinary income would bring in another $58 million to $78 million in revenue per year.
Jealous plan also proposes “to raise the women and minority business procurement target above the current 29 percent, which is simply too low in a state where half our population is female and nearly half identify as minority as well.”
While celebrating the grand opening Friday of the first deaf-owned brewery on the East Coast in Hyattsville, Streetcar 82 Brewing Co., Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said he isn’t surprised about the economic and business proposals Jealous has presented.
“The policies he is advocating we just see them as anti-business,” Rutherford said. “It will take us back to the way we were four years ago when businesses were leaving the state and people were leaving the state.”
He said the Hogan campaign’s two goals to help increase small businesses in the state is to work closer with county governments and restructure some of the regulatory structures “so it doesn’t stand in the way of entrepreneurs like [Streetcar 82] from growing.”