The possibility of two high-profile ballot measures — repeal of the Maryland Dream Act and same-sex marriage — may make the 2012 election in Maryland anything but boring.
Ordinarily, a presidential election year in Maryland is pretty predictable. No Republican presidential candidate has carried the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988, and no Republican has won a Senate race since Mac Matthias in 1980. In 2008 Maryland delivered Barack Obama one of his largest victory margins.
Though President Obama’s approval rating nationally is languishing in the mid-forties, his approval in Maryland is just north of 50 percent — thanks largely to the overwhelming support of African American voters. Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin will be seeking election to a second term, and, in the midst of the 2010 Republican tidal wave, Cardin’s senior counterpart, Barbara Mikulski, cruised to reelection with 60 percent of the vote.
Maryland’s congressional districts were just redrawn as well, and the state went from two safe Republican districts (the 1st on the Eastern shore and the 6th in Western Maryland) to one — with Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s district redrawn to include a host of new Democratic voters from Montgomery County.
Normally, one would expect 2012 to be a year in which Republicans and conservative Independents and Democrats might stay home — but there’s reason to believe that 2012 will be anything but a normal presidential election in Maryland. Indeed, 2012 may reveal serious divisions within the state’s Democratic electorate and the create some strange political bedfellows.
During the 2011 legislative session, the General Assembly passed a controversial measure known as the Maryland DreamAct. Under the bill, signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley, the children of undocumented residents would be granted the opportunity to attend Maryland colleges and universities and pay in-state tuition. The public backlash to the new law was significant, and with precious little effort or money an opposition group quickly gathered enough signatures to suspend the law and place it on the 2012 ballot. By design, it is very difficult in Maryland to mount a successful petition drive against a piece of legislation, but organizers gathered twice the number of required signatures.
[Continue reading Todd Eberly’s post at The FreeStater Blog.]
Todd Eberly blogs at The FreeStaterBlog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.