With Labor Day’s passing, the race is on toward the November general election. It’s clear some of the contests, including the battle for Senate District 38 and the governor’s seat, are about to ramp up their messages. The question is how negative will the Senate and governor’s races become through dueling marketing campaigns.
As it has been in every recent election since Republican Lowell Stoltzfus gave up the seat after 18 years, the lower shore’s senate race is going to be a divisive one. The state’s Republican Party has identified the seat held by Mathias as critical to any hope Gov. Larry Hogan has to achieving his goal of securing enough Republican support to block the Democrats from overriding his vetoes of state legislation. Hogan needs five seats to change from Democratic to Republican in the next election. It appears the seat held by Mathias, however, is his top priority. That is probably due to his close ties with challenger and current Delegate Mary Beth Carozza.
Mathias is accustomed to being targeted but has been successful in retaining his seat despite competent challengers who led organized campaigns. An argument could be made that Mathias has never faced such an experienced and significant foe than he does in this election. Carozza is indeed a formidable opponent for Mathias. The Worcester County residents will surely escalate their campaigns soon as they head toward November’s vote.
How negative it will be has yet to be seen, but clearly the Maryland Republican Party is going to throw a lot of money at ads blasting Mathias as a liberal and in the pocket of Senate President Mike Miller. That strategy played out in April, six months before the vote. In turn, Mathias has maintained the high road and has said he will do so again in this election no matter what his challenger and opposing party do with their messaging. In April, the GOP spent money slamming Mathias for sponsoring a bill that would have created an Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Supervised Drug Consumption Facility program under the authority of the local health departments. The ad materials intentionally misrepresented the situation and most Republicans even commented privately it was out of line. While strongly opposing any sort of program like the one outlined in the bill sponsored by Mathias and others, Carozza said in April, “This mailer was put out by the Maryland Republican Party without consultation or knowledge of my campaign.”
While the negative public campaigning has been fairly quiet since April on the Senate front, the same cannot be said for the governor’s race. Daily emails are being distributed by the Hogan campaign painting Democratic nominee Ben Jealous as a fanatical extremist. Jealous made headlines this week when he suggested a small decrease to the state’s 6 percent sales tax (he recommends 5.75 percent as part of his “Innovation Maryland” economic growth package.) Hogan has been firing shots ever since.
“If there was anyone naive enough to believe that Ben Jealous might actually cut the sales tax, he assured them today that any such relief would be very short-lived,” said Scott Sloofman, Hogan for Governor communications director. “The truth is that Ben Jealous is going to raise taxes on every Marylander to finance his massive spending plans which would double the state budget and wreck our economy. Marylanders simply can’t afford Ben Jealous and his reckless tax and spend plans.”
Last week in this space I included excerpts from former United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore CEO Kathleen Momme’s statement on her ousting from the non-profit organization. Momme made it clear she was terminated and an attempt was made using donor funds to keep her quiet through a financial settlement.
While the United Way did not directly respond to the donor funds claim, the organization’s Board of Directors did issue an official statement last Friday.
“Many of Ms. Momme’s comments were unfortunate and/or incorrect. Between May and June 2018, four of the nine members of the United Way’s paid staff resigned, in part, because of serious concerns they had with Ms. Momme and the work environment she fostered,” the statement read. “In response, the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors retained an independent human resources consultant to conduct a thorough investigation, which included interviews of current and former staff, among others. The consultant also interviewed Ms. Momme and provided her with the opportunity to respond to the concerns the staff raised. Following the investigation, the Board of Directors reviewed the consultant’s findings in consultation with legal counsel and voted unanimously to terminate Ms. Momme’s employment.”
According to the statement, “The United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore is conducting an executive search for a new CEO. In the interim, Pam Gregory will serve as interim CEO. We are excited to move forward into our 2018/2019 campaign season and working together positively to impact the lives of our friends, neighbors, and family members right here on the Lower Eastern Shore as we have for the last 73 years.”