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Monday, February 1, 2016

Case for Maryland being the first state primary


       As we wait tonight to hear how the caucus vote goes in Iowa after the candidates have been spending thousands of hours of campaigning in that state it always brings up a question.  How did Iowa get to be first for picking a president?  A state that doesn't come close to representing the Country as a whole.  A state that chose Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee in its last two caucuses.   A state that is 97% white and mostly rural where supporting the production of ethanol seems to be the major economic issue.
    I know that some of the rationale for having Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two tests for candidates running for president is that they are small states that force candidates to meet the voters on a one to one basis and not rely on political ads in choosing a candidate.  So I get that you might not want to have the first tests in California or New York but how about Maryland? With just around 6 million population we rank around the middle of the pack in state population or about twice what Iowa has.  We are a manageable size state geographically coming in 42nd on geographic size or 16 places smaller than Iowa.  We have a nice mix of urban, suburban and rural sections.  Racially we are a better representation of the Country with about 25% African American, 4.5% Asian and 4.0 Hispanic.  We also have milder climate (this past week the exception) than either Iowa or New Hampshire in which to campaign in January.  I haven't even got to the better restaurant choices in our State!  In Iowa fine dining involves anything you can put on a stick.  I'll take blue crabs and Smith Island cake any day.
      OK so I will get to why Maryland will never be allowed to replace Iowa or New Hampshire.   We are seen as a deep blue state with a lot of federal employees. What maybe lost is that a fair number of those employees are military personnel and not liberal bureaucrats.  Heaven forbid that having a highly educated population with an intimate knowledge of government should ever been seen as a positive quality.  On the question of being too "blue" in our voting pattern I would point to the fact that two of the last three governors have been Republican and liberal Howard County has two of our last four county executives as Republicans.   Having Republican candidates run in Maryland would probably be a boon to the more moderate candidates than you get in Iowa and that might be more beneficial to the Republicans than what we have seen lately.
      So I will sit back tonight and enjoy the circus that the Iowa caucuses have become and wait again to see Maryland discounted as a place in which candidates should ever step foot except to raise campaign money.  The only consolation we have is that once one of them is elected president we are always a convenient place to visit to highlight one of their programs because we are close enough to DC that they can visit and still be home for dinner.

   Maryland should be an interesting test in the Democrat primary this year as my sense is that we are an even split between Clinton and Sanders.  Our former governor doesn't seem to be getting much love from his former constituents.

P.S. 1
     Another question is how is South Carolina the 3rd state to vote?  If you want to get a real test of the new South voters it would make more sense to have North Carolina be that test for candidates.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post. A few things: (1) Maryland will never be first, or near first. It's too blue, despite Hogan and Ehrlich. Both are seen as winning largely because the D's got overconfident and put forth incompetent candidates whose purpose was to cement the legacies of their predecessors, rather than actually, you know, govern the state. Why are we too blue? Let's consider the vote over the last 60 years in the Presidential elections. Maryland voted R in 1972, when everywhere but MASS did; and in 1984, when everywhere but MINN did (and DC, of course). Most times it hasn't even been close. And it's not going to be close this year, either; the only question for the D nominee is whether he/she will win Maryland with 60% of the vote or 75% of the vote.
(2) SC got to go third because they have had very powerful and influential politicians, dating back to Strom Thurmond on the R side and Fritz Hollings on the D side. NC doesn't have that - who's the last NC politician that was nationally known? Jesse Helms, maybe? (Technically, SC's not third; the Nevada caucuses are third.) That's also been MD's problem. We don't have anybody who's a force in either party. Hoyer would be closest, but "number 2 in the House minority party" doesn't really swing it.