Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Election night in Maryland,from where I sit…. who wasn't there spoke volumes.

I will freely admit it; I am a political junkie, especially on the local level. I will also admit, I couldn’t go to bed on election night especially when the all of the news outlets had Brown out to an early lead in the Maryland gubernatorial contest just minutes after the poll closed. Most of the national outlets had declared Brown the winner months ago. Some, including I believe MSNBC, had Brown winning the election even before he announced he was running. I am clearly exaggerating, but you get the point, this was Maryland, things are supposed to go this way.

Despite the huge odds faced by challenger Larry Hogan in taking on the Goliath also known as the Maryland Democratic Party starring Martin O’Malley, I just had a feeling Hogan might be able to eke out a victory and put a severe cramp into the third term bid for O’Malley. Maybe it was more of a desperate hope than a good feeling but the fact remains, I couldn’t go to bed until it was decided.

My spirit was slightly bolstered when around 10:00 PM Hogan went ahead in the results, much to the chagrin of all of the national pundits and talking heads. I was jumping between national and local coverage as the night wore on. Eventually I stuck with the local stations as they all had people out at the respective campaign headquarters. Reporters on the scene described the mood at Brown headquarters as “hopeful” and “optimistic” as some of the expected returns from what they thought would be heavily democratic areas had yet to be posted.

Reports from the Hogan gathering reported the atmosphere as “subdued” and “highly anticipatory” Not since the 2002 Governor’s race when Republican Bob Ehrlich upset the preordained coronation of Kathleen Townsend could folks have even imagined the possibility could exist. The big question remained, could Larry pull off the unthinkable once again?

Who could ever forget the 2009 quote made by the illustrious and perpetual President of the Maryland State Senate Thomas V. Mike Miller. Speaking about Maryland Republicans to Baltimore Sun reporter Laura Smitherman Miller barked, “We’re going to shoot 'em down and we’re going to bury them face down, deep and far. So deep and far it’s going to take 20 years for them to come out the other side. They’ll see China from there. But I was wrong. It’s going to take 40 years for them to recover from what we did to them in 2008."

The results kept coming in and Hogan’s lead did nothing but widen despite all of Millers previously threatened shoot’in and burying. As the evening wore on, a few of the victorious Democratic candidates on hand at the Brown camp agreed to be interviewed. The tap-dancing and preliminary finger pointing that I sensed in their commentary gave me a warm and fuzzy but I wasn’t quite ready to break open the champagne, at least not yet. Eventually, it was reported that Brown was ready to concede, I thought perhaps I had fallen asleep and was now dreaming.

The local coverage then went back to Brown HQ where all of the notables present had assembled on the stage behind an empty lectern festooned with a large Brown/Ullman sign. To say the mood there was a bit less than joyous would be an understatement, the looks and body language said it all, words like stoic, resigned, funeral like, and pallor come to mind. As the gathering stood and appeared to be mourning I noticed that none of the usual campaign headquarters music could be heard and the looks on the faces of the gathered were priceless. For a real stomach turner, flashback to the Paris Glendening crowd gloating and dancing to the sounds of The Wind Beneath my Wings, pass the Rolaids.

Instead tonight, long faces and small talk were the order of the day, disbelief was in the air. The various reporters on the scene did their best to babble on awaiting Anthony Browns anticipated arrival. Some of the anchor desk folks were still holding onto a shred of hope that Brown could pull it off.

I am thinking if the viewer’s knew it would have been such a trouncing, they all would have left the coverage early and when back over to one of the many mindless talent shows that dominate today’s airwaves. The anchors and reporters were doing their best to keep it close, and interesting.

Some of the notables present on the stage were Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings and Dutch Ruppersburger. My guess is, they had to be there, they were on the ballot and had been successful in their respective reelection bids. I thought it was mildly entertaining when first Hoyer, then Ruppersburger both left the stage prior to Browns arrival after what I am sure they considered too long for an esteemed member of Congress being made to wait, regardless of the circumstances. Unfortunately for them, they would have to return.

Eventually Hoyer, Dutch, running mate Ulman and both the Brown and Ulman families made their way to the stage, Anthony Browns arrival was imminent. Again, the body language shown by the participants was a hoot. Who got hugs, gave them, who received glares and cold shoulders and from whom, classic stuff. If only I had the foresight to run the DVR thing, or better yet, if I even knew how to.

Upon reflection the next day, the thing that I found most interesting was who was not present on the stage for the wake. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin were nowhere to be seen, maybe they had other plans for Election night, perhaps a rousing game of Mahjong took precedence. The Mikes, Miller and Busch were not spotted, probably out digging some burying holes down in some Calvert County cornfield I suspect.

Let’s not fail to mention the biggest, most notable, ‘no show’ of them all, Governor Martin “gee I really, really, really want to be the President” O’Malley. Here is a guy who will normally knock down small children, senior citizens and pets to get in front of a camera. The fact that he wouldn’t show up to offer his friend, protégé, right hand man, and personally selected successor even an ounce of consolation or condolence for a job done spoke volumes. Simply amazing and truly unbelievable on the surface, but when you give it some thought, completely expected, especially given the players and the stakes.

It is my humble opinion if the results had went the other way; you would have needed the National Guard as security to keep the aforementioned politicos from elbowing their way to the stage to once again bask in the limelight of an election night victory here in the one party rule state of Maryland.

I can see it now, Martin, flashing that big Irish grin, sleeves rolled up, tie loosened, arm around Tony, hoisting his arm in the air like a prizewinning boxer. Of course, he could have also used the moment to give but a few interviews to tell the cameras how smart the Maryland voters were and how this reaffirms the mandate started by his administration, in other words, welcome to my third term.

You don’t suppose that the absentees purposely chose to abstain from attending do you? I can’t imagine that Marty’s handlers advised him they thought it would be best if he not be seen with a, and I hesitate to use the word, ‘loser.’ They wouldn’t do that would they? After all, aren’t they the party of compassion, tolerance and feelings?

I am sure they were all busy with previous commitments that they made for election night in Maryland that did not involve celebrating another Democratic trouncing that we have all come to expect on the first Tuesday in November here in the free State.

While it is way too early to know for sure, one can certainly be hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we might be moving toward a more balanced form of governing in Maryland. A person can dream can’t they? The more I think about it, the more I realize I just have to ask, how’s that shovel ready burial project working out for you there Mike?

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