In an election year filled with political twists and turns – from the contentious and crowded Democratic Primary field for Governor to start the year, to the idiotic partial government shutdown to end it; 2018 has proven to be a historic year for Maryland politics.
As DMVDaily takes you through the year of politics in Maryland, selecting our own men and women of the year while highlighting the good, bad and ugly of this year’s politricks; we start with one of the most shockingly sad stories in Maryland politics – the passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Kamenetz, the 60-year old Democrat who was a husband and father of two, suddenly passed away in the middle of the night on May 10th of this year. Before his passing, Kamenetz was considered the front-runner of a crowded field of democratic candidates looking to take on the first-term incumbent Republican Governor, Larry Hogan.
However, the Towson statesman would never get an opportunity to make it to the June 26th Primary elections, after he was awaken at 2:00 a.m. on this fateful May morning, complaining of chest pains, later succumbing to a rare undiagnosed and unknown cardiovascular disease. The former councilman and two-term county executive left behind his beautiful wife Jill and two children, Dylan and Karson; and lasting memories for those of us who admired his straight-shooting style of politics. (RIP sir)
It was the state’s gubernatorial contest that led to us determining Maryland’s Man of the Year, and in part, Maryland’s Women of the Year.
Lawrence Joseph Hogan Jr., born May 25, 1956, became only the second Republican re-elected as Governor of the great state of Maryland, since the 1950’s as Theodore McKeldin. And if this wasn’t a remarkable fete in and of itself, especially in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than a two-to-one margin in voter registration; Hogan did so after being diagnosed with stage three non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2015 (a little over one year after taking office), and being declared cancer-free one year later.
Hogan, the former Secretary of Appointments during the administration of the last Republican to serve as Governor of Maryland, Robert Ehrlich (2002-2006), formed a group called ‘Change Maryland’, amassing hundreds of thousands of angry Marylanders under the Martin O’Malley administration, using that as a springboard to his remarkable victory in 2014 – in which nobody except DMVDaily even thought he could win the Republican primary, let alone defeat Democratic Lt. Governor Anthony Brown in the General election.
Along with his friend and running mate, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Hogan became a beacon of hope for Republicans across the state, and country; consistently having approval ratings above 70% and governing as centrist, taking us back to the days of the McKeldin administration. Becoming one of the only Republican Governors in the country to both thwart President Donald Trump, while also working to pass progressive legislation such as the Justice Reform Act – progressive re-entry reform legislation; Hogan is now poised to write his own ticket on the national stage if he so chooses.
And while Hogan’s victory helped him achieve the title of Maryland’s Man of the Year, it’s the sudden withdrawal of another gubernatorial candidate and her remarkable rebranding that helped Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings win the crown of Maryland’s Female of the Year.
Rockeymoore-Cummings, a Texas native and founder of Global Policy Solutions – a successful consulting firm in the nation’s capital – first entered the Maryland gubernatorial contest in late 2017, as one of nine democratic candidates looking to challenge the first-term republican governor. However, after only a few months on the campaign trail, Maya chose to withdrawal from the contest to take care of her ailing husband, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings.
But that wasn’t the end of the story for the persistently successful Baltimore resident. In fact, she took advantage of the statewide prowess she gained on the campaign trail, and announced a surprising challenge to her friend and the powerful chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, Kathleen Matthews. And while many political insiders and democratic bosses wrote off her challenge for chairwoman as a mere inconvenience, Maya put together a competitive strategy with the goal being that of one thing – victory. And not no moral one either!
With the assistant of some powerful women leaders from across the state, especially in Baltimore and Howard counties, Rockeymoore-Cummings closed out the year of elections by defeating the incumbent Matthews by a wide margin – despite Matthews receiving an endorsement from Maryland’s senior United States Senator Ben Cardin to the members of the state’s democratic state central committee minutes before the vote.
And it’s this kind of selflessness, resilience and perseverance that has tipped the scales in favor of Maya as we name her Maryland’s Queen of 2018.
Of course, we had to honor Baltimore City’s man and woman of the year as well. And who else would we even consider choosing for Man of the Year, than someone who won not one, but two elections in the same year (and we aren’t talking about the Primaries and the General).
Senator-elect Cory McCray, the first-term 36-year old state delegate who chose to challenge his district’s longtime and entrenched state senator; not only knocked off one of the city’s most powerful state legislators, but he also wound up knocking off the first vice-chairman of the state’s democratic party, making him second in command to Chairwoman Rockeymoore-Cummings.
McCray, who just five years ago was plotting and planning on how we could overcome a crushing defeat after unsuccessfully running for democratic state central committee in the 45th district; decided to form a political club with a few friends and political activists, before taking advantage of a vacancy for state delegate – and masterfully parlaying that into a victorious election. But he wasn’t done quite yet.
After his election, his political group known as the BEST Democratic Club, then turned their attention to the city’s council races; successfully helping members Shannon Sneed, John Bullock and Kristerfer Burnett all take seats on the City Council. Then him and another young whipper snapper by the name of Antonio Hayes, who was a freshman state delegate like McCray, decided to take on the powerful state senators who had held onto power one term too many in their opinion. (Nonetheless, they were successful)
And another state delegate to take advantage of that anti-incumbent, progressive surge that swept across Baltimore in 2018 is our Baltimore City Woman of the Year, Senator-elect, Mary Washington. And while Dr. Washington isn’t a part of the younger class of state delegates, or a member of the BEST, and has served in the House for two terms instead of one; she took advantage of the voter frustration aimed at incumbents, nonetheless. And it was her insatiable pride and determination that led us to naming her the city’s Woman of the Year!
Congrats to all…and we will address the good, bad and the ugly of 2018 in Part Two of this article!