Blog post by Larry Richardson
Larry Richardson is the vice president of government affairs at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. He is an attorney who brings over 25 years of lobbying experience to the Chamber where he advocates on behalf of the Maryland business community to grow jobs and reduce regulations.
Twenty-two days from today, the incessant radio and television commercials urging you to “vote for [fill in the blank]” will officially end. The thousands of lawn signs touting candidates from the United States Senate to governor to councilmember to school board member will start to disappear (although we know some of those seem to live in perpetuity)!
The 2018 Maryland General Elections officially “begin to end” in 10 days—early voting commences on Thursday, October 25th and runs through Thursday, November 1st. The “end of days” will occur as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, November 6th, the traditional Election Day.
While generally referred to as the mid-term elections, called “mid-term” as it is the middle of the presidential term of office, this election cycle in Maryland is primarily about the state and local offices. This is where the day-to-day impact on Maryland business is paramount.
On the state level, the entire 188-member Maryland General Assembly delegation (47 seats in the Senate and 141 in the House of Delegates), as well as the offices of governor and lt. governor, attorney general, and comptroller will be determined on November 6th.
As of today, there are 16 seats in the Senate and 37 seats in the House that will see new faces. Eleven Senators chose to retire, and five were defeated in their primary contests. In the House, 30 incumbents chose to retire or seek a different office; seven lost their primary races.
That number is definitely expected to increase on November 6th.
This is where you – and your employees – can make an impact.
For those of you too young to remember, in November 2002, incumbent Western Maryland Delegate and two-term Speaker of the House Casper Taylor was defeated by Republican challenger Leroy Myers for the House seat in District 1C. Speaker Taylor, a strong champion of video lottery terminals, or slot machines, was replaced as speaker by delegate and current Speaker Mike Bush who was not nearly as supportive of gaming legislation as his predecessor.
Long story short, in 2003 legislation to establish slot machines at Maryland’s race tracks did not pass. After substantial discussion, modifications, and five years of time, gaming legislation in the form of a referendum was enacted, paving the way for the first of five casinos to open in the year 2010.
What does this have to do with 76 votes?
That is the margin by which Taylor lost to Myers. Had Taylor won that race, he would have returned as speaker in 2003 when the slots bills were first introduced. Given that Senate President Mike Miller and, to an extent, Governor Robert Ehrlich were in support of placing slots at horse racing tracks, there was the strong probability that slots legislation would have passed back in 2003.
Voter turnout in District 1C for the 2002 elections was roughly 56 percent; which means roughly 44 percent of eligible voters chose NOT to vote in that election. There were 20,471 residents registered to vote in District 1C.
Taylor lost the election by .37 percent of the registered voters.
This is not an isolated scenario. In the 2018 primaries in June, of the contested races in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, 15 primaries were decided by 500 votes or less, 10 of them by less than 282, six by 73 votes or less. One race was decided by 12 votes.
One of the most notable examples occurred just last year in our neighboring State of Virginia, where a House of Delegates race between incumbent Republican David Yancey and Democrat challenger Shelly Simonds ended in a literal tie. On January 8, 2018, the name of each candidate was placed in separate digital film canisters and placed in a bowl. Sound archaic? Believe it or not, it’s true.
The winner, drawn at random by a Virginia election’s official, contained the name of the Republican incumbent Yancy.
What made this especially significant? Yancy’s selection gave the Republican Party a 51-49 advantage in the Virginia House of Delegates. Had Democrat Simonds’ name been drawn, there would have been an even 50-50 split in the House.
This is why it is imperitive to exercise your right to vote. In short, voting matters. Your vote matters. Apathy will have an impact.
These elected individuals will be the ones to shape and implement policy for Maryland over the next four years. Legislation that impacts you, your business, your employees, and your family over the next four years will be decided by those that receive the most votes come November 6th.
This election cycle also has added meaning for elections well beyond this one. The winner of this gubernatorial contest will have, as their responsibility, to draw the Congressional and General Assembly District boundaries for the next 10 years.
This upcoming election will very well determine the direction for the creation, expansion and sustainability of jobs and business for years to come.
76 votes changed the introduction of gambling in to Maryland.
Just 76 votes.
Is it worth the gamble?
VOTE for jobs. VOTE for what you believe in. VOTE.
Learn everything you need to know about registering, your candidates, and your polling place at our Vote for Jobs resource page!