A change in tempo

Generally the interregnum between Election Day and New Year’s Day is a dead zone for politics. Admittedly, there are exceptions – Obamacare passed the Senate in a series of late-December votes culminating on Christmas Eve, leading to the potential for coal in a lot of stockings four years on; about the only use allowed for it anymore. But for the most part, the political world is placed on the back burner in November and December.

But I’ve noticed the Maryland gubernatorial campaigns are pressing on at an increasing pace these days, and there’s probably no stopping anytime soon as they try to blunt the impact of the presumptive new entrant, Larry Hogan. While Hogan and Change Maryland have continually been critics of the off-tune Martin O’Malley/Anthony Brown second term, the pace of Hogan’s criticism has picked up in recent weeks in preparation for what appears to be a gala announcement at the state’s upcoming Republican convention. One can argue that the Hogan candidacy was already priced into the market – for example, I received two mailings yesterday from the David Craig campaign proclaiming that “governor is not an entry-level position” and that David has “The experience we need. The leadership you can trust.” But when you consider he was talking about making a January decision, the fact Hogan moved his timetable up may be an indication that he feels the race would be getting away from him if he waited.

Larry also seems to be using the toughest rhetoric, saying Anthony Brown “intentionally misled” voters on Obamacare and accusing Martin O’Malley of “cherry-picking data.” Hopefully he will remain on that path of making the race a referendum on disastrous Democratic policies.

One offshoot of this potential Hogan entry will be how it affects fundraising by the other candidates. We won’t have our first indication of how any of the candidates are progressing on that front until mid-January, but it bears mentioning that several gubernatorial candidates will have to put fundraising on hold during the General Assembly session: all three on the Democratic side (Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Delegate Heather Mizeur) as well as GOP Delegate Ron George. This is true unless they are taking public financing, and I doubt any Democrat will live under those spending limits.

So this won’t matter as much to the Democrats who are already pretty flush with cash, but Ron George will be at a disadvantage during that crucial time just months before the primary so he’s passing the hat now. If money gets more scarce with Hogan jumping in he would be placed at the largest disadvantage.

I suspect the race will be trimmed to three once again before the primary begins, but it’s anyone’s guess who the odd person out will be.