A new tax in an election year?

State Senator Richard Madaleno wants to impose a new tax in an election year.

The Gazette reports:

Madaleno said last week that he will refile the bill, which would allow Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot to collect sales taxes from Maryland affiliates of Amazon and similar online retailers in the state.

The move could generate $7.5 million annually for the state and help plug a multimillion-dollar budget gap next year, Madaleno said.

Governor O’Malley is being forced to trim the state budget by about $400 million and $7.5 million seems like a drop in the bucket.

The cost Democrats would pay is much greater than the benefit they would receive. From a publicity perspective, do the Democrats really want to raise taxes again, especially in an election year?

Should this new tax pass, each and every news story will not only mention how Democrats are raising taxes, but they will also remind voters of Gov. O’Malley’s billion dollar tax increase in 2007.

If the Democrats are smart, they will oppose this tax because the cost politically is far greater than the benefit.

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Maryland worth fighting for – except when it’s not

If you were to visit former Governor Bob Ehrlich’s website www.bobehrlich.com you wouldn’t find many interesting items, but one thing stuck out.

On the homepage it says next to a picture of the former gov, “Our Maryland, Always worth fighting for.”

Question: If the former gov thinks Maryland is always worth fighting for then why has he been so hesitant to declare his candidacy?

The former gov hasn’t always been so focused on fighting for Maryland. Shortly after the 2006 election the former gov was not talking so glowing about the future of Maryland. The Washington Post reported “Ehrlich said “a return to public life is unlikely,” given Maryland’s lurch to the left Tuesday.”

After his first ever electoral loss, it should come as no surprise that the former governor was depressed. Obviously time has healed some of the wounds.

Phrases like “always worth fighting for” shows the good money is on Ehrlich running again, though no one knows whether he can actually win. If he does run, it should make for a much more interesting race.

What’s Jack Johnson Running for?

The Washington Post’s “Maryland Moment” blog has a great scoop.

Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson is “very much, definitely” considering a run for statewide office.

The County Executive is term limited in 2010 from seeking office again.

Wagner also provides these tidbits:

Johnson said he has been raising money, and plans to embark on a statewide listening tour after Labor Day to “see what interest there is” in him running.

Johnson said his tour will include visits to the Eastern Shore and the Baltimore region, and that he “should have a good feel” by November of whether he’ll throw his hat in the ring.

Asked if he was considering a run for governor, he said he’d “just stick with ‘statewide office’ ” as his answer, implicitly declining to rule out a challenge to incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Back in February, Jack Johnson had floated this idea to the Gazette Editorial Board but he had been pretty quiet since then.

As an African American candidate, Johnson should be able to count on the African American community as  a strong base in a Democratic primary. When you add in that his home base is in PG County and the Greater Washington Suburbs of Montgomery and Charles (which make up nearly half the Democratic Primary vote), Johnson could be a serious contender.

George Owings for Gov or George Owings Ploy (GOP)?

George Owings, former Delegate and Veteran Affairs Secretary under Bob Ehrlich, is considering a primary challenge to Governor Martin O’Malley.

Owings is an old-school Southern Democrat. His is a lost breed of Democrat who avoids controversial social issues and thinks government has an important role to play, but also believes in low taxes and responsible spending.

Thus he has absolutely zero chance of winning a Democratic primary in Maryland.

So, why is he running?

A George Owings Ploy (GOP)?

A George Owings Ploy (GOP)?

The benefit of a blog is sometimes you can float a theory without hard evidence. Anytime we do that here, we will make sure to tell you this is just a theory and not a fact.

Now, let us theorize:

George Owings was asked to jump in the Democratic primary by former Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich. In 2002, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s no name primary challenger Robert Fustero garnered nearly 20% of the vote. The discontent in the primary will divide democrats only 6 weeks before the election. Owings will run almost entirely on the platform that O’Malley raised taxes and didn’t control spending which sounds eerily familiar to what Ehrlich will be running on in 2010 if he jumps in. In return for Owings entering the race, Ehrlich will help him raise some money behind the scenes and will give him another job in his Administration.

The entire theory above is just that, a theory. I don’t have phone records or emails to prove all of this has occurred, but it sure sounds plausible doesn’t it? Look forward to seeing your comments.

O’Malley Praised for Stimulating Website

Governor Martin O’Malley is receiving praise from the Good Jobs First advocacy group for the website he created to show how Stimulus money is being spent. Washington Post Reporter John Wagner has the full story up HERE . Colorado, Washington, West Virginia (the real question is whether any of their residents can actually use the website…), New York, and Pennsylvania are the other top sites according to the group.

You can visit Maryland’s Stimulus website by clicking HERE

Here is a fun map that shows projects in your county.

O’Malley/Smith in 2010?

Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith has over $1,000,000 in his campaign account and is term limited so what is he going to do next?

Democrat insiders are starting to wonder if Governor O’Malley will have Lt. Gov. Brown on the ticket in 2010. The two have had an aloof relationship since they took control of the State House in 2007. O’Malley and his team do their thing, while Brown does BRAC.

The theory goes that Lt. Governor Anthony Brown will take a job in the Obama Administration to build up his national stature and connections before coming back to Maryland in the future and running for a federal office (Senate or Congress). If Brown leaves before the 2010 election, O’Malley will add Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith to the ticket as his running mate.

The Obama folks have already snatched up Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Transportation Secretary John Porcari, so another high-profile Maryland pick doesn’t look out of the question.

This would make a lot of sense if Republicans nominate Bob Ehrlich. For Ehrlich to win, he needs large numbers in Baltimore County. Jim Smith could help O’Malley win Baltimore County. If the Democrats win Baltimore County it is next to impossible for a Republican to win statewide.

The question for O’Malley is does he lose support among black voters. He’s already fairly unpopular among the state’s black electorate (as far as being a Democrat with soft numbers goes.) Anthony Brown was O’Malley’s Michael Steele in the 2006 race, a dynamic the Ehrlich/Cox ticket knows well.

Brown has never been a part of O’Malley’s inner circle, and the whiz kids on the second floor of the State House seem more intent on giving Brown something to keep him out their hair than looking to the decorated veteran for advice.

The question for Brown is what does he gain by staying with O’Malley? Not that much, really. 2014 is a long way off and the field already looks crowded from here, with one big dog, a la Gansler, preparing for that battle.

Now what about Smith? What does he gain from running with O’Malley? Aside from a cushy job as the governor’s number 2, it looks like the governor becomes the big winner in this deal.