It could be argued that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan had some influence in controlling the impulses of the General Assembly next door.
Both Maryland and Delaware have legislatures controlled by Democrats, with the First State having a Democrat as governor. Nevertheless, Delaware bills that include legalizing recreational marijuana and increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour in coming years went nowhere.
While Gov. John Carney is clearly to the left of the moderate Republican, the First State’s chief executive seemed to take a page out of the Hogan playbook by showing little or no enthusiasm for the minimum wage and marijuana bills. Senate and House leaders seemed to be of a similar mindset.
Hogan has been able to hammer out bipartisan legislation and burnished his independent credentials by floating the idea of running against Donald Trump who is more unpopular in Maryland than in Delaware.
He also the popular step of lowering tolls for Maryland drivers and even tried to cut the gas tax. It proved to be a quick way to connect with voters from both parties.
But in a speech earlier in the year before state business leaders, Hogan proclaimed he will take a tougher stance with Democrats in the remaining years of his second term
Pointing to his popularity and the many Democrats who crossed over to vote for him in a landslide victory last year, Hogan said legislators are holding back his agenda that included relieving traffic congestion along the Beltway and inexplicably toughening penalties for repeat offenders using firearms.
Hogan realizes that second terms often result in stalemates. Just ask, former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who saw many of his initiatives go nowhere. It did not help that Markell was not part of the “club” that served in the Legislature.
Carney, who has closer ties with legislators than Markell, has faced similar struggles.
One example is an effort to gain a constitutional amendment that would set aside money in good times for upcoming downturns. It’s wise policy, with bipartisan support, but does not fly with liberal Democrats who would prefer to spend the windfall.
Carney was able to convince legislators to set aside $100 million, an amount that would be gone in an instant, even in a moderate recession.
Meanwhile, Hogan has chosen to cement his moderate legacy in hopes that a few Dem opponents come around or get turned out of office.
Here’s to a more comfortable Tuesday.
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