CECIL (Hogan) CHATTER: Crow on Moore’s Menu at Hogan Chowdown; Sen. Hershey Gets Hogan’s Ear, or More?
CROW on MOORE’S MENU at HOGAN CHOWDOWN?
Governor-Elect Larry Hogan is hosting a breakfast meeting in Annapolis on Tuesday 12/9/14 at the swank Treaty of Paris restaurant with the five Republican County Executives in the state, including Cecil County Executive Tari Moore. But the seating arrangements at the intimate gathering could be a bit awkward.
That’s because another attendee is Alan Kittleman, the newly elected GOP County Executive in Howard County. Moore endorsed his Democratic opponent, Courtney Watson, in the November election—much to the dismay and amazement of local and state fellow Republicans. [ SEE previous CECIL TIMES report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2014/10/cecil-county-exec-tari-moore-breaks-gop-ranks-to-support-democrat-in-howard-county-exec-race-republicans-conservative-uproar/ ]
Negative response to Moore’s action was swift and strong especially among GOP conservatives, some of whom vowed to seek retaliation at the party’s state convention with a resolution to censure Moore for her defection.
But that talk fizzled in the love-fest of the state GOP convention in Ellicott City this past weekend, where a banner proclaimed, “We’re Back,” and Republicans were so giddy with their newfound power in Hogan’s election as governor in November that there was no room for any finger-pointing at other Republicans.
And even dissident “Campaign for Liberty” ultra-conservative factions were muted, with two of their candidates for party office going down to defeat but with a gentler than usual rhetorical profile.
So Moore dodged another intra-party bullet, just as she did when a formal convention resolution to censure her for her brief defection from the GOP was tabled two years ago. That move came after she changed her political affiliation to “unaffiliated” so as to prevent the local Republican Central Committee—then ruled by the “Smipkin” political organization led by Sen. E.J. Pipkin and Del. Michael Smigiel—from controlling appointment of her successor to a seat on the new County Council.
But Moore still faces more subtle political heat—or could it be a political chill—since Kittleman’s solid win in November. Kittleman, the former state Senate minority leader and a more moderate Republican in the mold of the new GOP governor, pulled off an impressive win in a majority Democratic county– where his predecessor as County Executive, Ken Ullman, was the Lieutenant Governor ticket-mate of the Democrat, Anthony Brown, that Hogan defeated for governor.
So which of the two County Executives do you think will have a higher level of the new governor’s affections and trust?
Kittleman has taken the high road and not commented in public on Moore’s defection to his opponent’s camp. So perhaps he’ll even be so polite as to pass her the plate of muffins at the breakfast in Annapolis.
But Moore clearly has some political fences to mend. And that could require her to do a bit of “eating crow” in Annapolis.
HERSHEY GETS HOGAN’S EAR, OR MORE?
State Sen. Steve Hershey (R-36) is one of the few Eastern Shore politicos named to Governor-Elect Larry Hogan’s down-in-the-trenches transition team. That is, the folks who will be really helping the new governor revise and reform state government– and not just have a ceremonial title like another group of beyond retirement age names on a list of advisers for the new GOP governor.
Hershey told Cecil Times on Monday that he is already working with the new Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford on review and evaluations of state agencies and departments dealing with land use, environment and energy—including the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Planning, and the Public Service Commission that oversees and regulates public utilities.
Even before being elected as a Delegate from Queen Anne’s County in the sprawling 36th District covering four counties (including Cecil County) on the Upper Shore, Hershey knew his way around Annapolis– as a senior official with the state Planning and DNR departments as an appointee during the administration of the state’s last Republican governor, Robert Ehrlich.
That’s where he met Larry Hogan, who was then the GOP governor’s appointments secretary.
Hershey has had a personal meeting with Hogan since the election, since they already knew each other from the Ehrlich administration. Asked if there was any discussion of a possible senior level appointment in the new administration, Hershey replied that there was “a conversation with the governor-elect, but nothing specific.”
Hershey took a low-profile in much of the District, especially in Cecil County, after his initial 2010 delegate election. But in Annapolis, according to Cecil Times statewide sources in both political parties, Hershey gained a positive reputation as being engaged on state issues and willing to work across party lines.
And since Hershey’s appointment to the state Senate seat formerly held by E.J. Pipkin, who suddenly resigned to move to Texas, Hershey has been a more engaged presence in Cecil County and dealing with regional issues.
So the new state political landscape since the election of Hogan raises some new statewide possibilities for Hershey—and a potential local political nightmare in Cecil County and District 36.
If Hershey were to win a coveted senior-level appointment in the new Hogan administration, the Republican Central Committees in the four counties of District 36 would go through a process to select a replacement for his Senate seat—just as they did to replace Pipkin when he resigned.
Long story short, that process was a several months nightmare of machinations, do-overs and—according to many members of local GOP Central Committees—bullying by former Del. Michael Smigiel of Cecil County who desperately wanted the Pipkin seat. The four GOP committees deadlocked, with the result that Gov. Martin O’Malley broke the tie and picked Hershey over Smigiel.
Smigiel was solidly defeated for re-election as a Delegate in the recent June GOP primary and he has been uncharacteristically quiet since his defeat. But if there were a new Senate slot opening, the sleeping bull moose might strike again.
But Smigiel no longer has his legislative aide employee, Andi Morony, to do his bidding—as when she chaired the Queen Anne’s County GOP committee and unilaterally decided that a contested tally should be re-decided in Smigiel’s favor—and a new Cecil County GOP committee is independent of the old Smipkin political machine.
This is not just a local worst-case-scenario—but one that has been discussed, with much dread, in state political circles. But some of the non-local worriers are unfamiliar with the changed local political landscape.
So if Hershey does get a post in the new Hogan administration, there could be a whole new scenario of local competitors for his Senate seat, and not just a Smigiel’s ghost last stand.