It appears now the Maryland GOP will have to dig a little harder to find a candidate for Attorney General. Those who had hoped Richard Douglas would formally enter the race – a number which included me – will be disappointed to learn he’s taking a pass:
Exploring a race for the privilege of serving as Maryland Attorney General left me with the clear conviction that, under current circumstances, I would be obliged to put campaign responsibilities ahead of responsibilities to my new family. I am unwilling to do that.
I considered a race seriously because of our sitting Attorney General’s habitual failure to perform bedrock duties of his office:
- To expose and eliminate corruption at all levels of Maryland government.
- To hold all Maryland officials accountable (himself included) without favoritism.
- To inform Marylanders fully and impartially about the implications of legislation, taxation, regulation, and judicial action for Maryland job growth and manufacturing.
- To reduce barriers to individual, educational, and commercial success.
- To shield young workers from high health insurance costs and prevent “physician flight”.
- To help single mothers collect child support and protect their children from crime.
- To make Maryland government friendlier to the families of deployed military personnel.
- To fight mistreatment of aliens by Maryland authorities.
- To improve conditions in Maryland jails for inmates and corrections officers.
- To resist federal usurpation of Maryland state authorities.
- To return common sense, integrity, and transparency to Maryland government.
- To make Maryland a better place for all.
My conscience will not allow me to enter the Attorney General’s race. In the future, circumstances may permit me to re-enter competitive Maryland politics. Maryland is worth it. When the time comes, I will reassess the potential for making a positive difference.
Instead, Douglas vowed to “consider ways to effectively improve Maryland state government’s performance on public corruption, official integrity, and return on taxpayer investment.”
But with only about six weeks remaining before the filing deadline, the prospects of Republicans whiffing on the post for a second consecutive cycle loom considerably larger. Before 2010, the last time the AG slot had been uncontested was 1986. Douglas was ideal for the party since he had recently run a statewide campaign against Dan Bongino for the U.S. Senate nomination, losing to Dan by 5 percentage points, or 10,831 votes. Richard carried half of the state’s 24 jurisdictions, however, including here in Wicomico County. With the prospect of four Democratic contenders beating each other up during the primary season, the prospect of a single Republican avoiding the mudslide may have made this a winnable race. While most of the AG candidates in recent memory failed to crack the 40 percent barrier, the 1994 election saw Richard Bennett lose by a 54-46 margin to incumbent Joe Curran, who was then seeking a third term. Potentially the 2014 election could be a wave election for conservatives like 1994 was, even in Maryland.
There’s also the question, though, of whether the sins of the incumbent AG will reflect on any of those running to replace Doug Gansler as he runs for governor. Certainly each will promise to do a better job than Gansler, at least until they’re sworn in and continue the same old pattern of rewarding political friends while ignoring the foes who point out clear language in the state Constitution.
So that’s two good potential candidates who passed up the race. Jim Rutledge was a grassroots favorite for the 2014 AG nomination after losing the 2010 U.S. Senate primary to a better-funded Eric Wargotz, but he chose to instead run to become the president of the Harford County Council in 2014.
So the question for Maryland GOP leadership to ask: Surely there’s an ambitious conservative attorney out there who would like to run?