On the eve of a new legislative session, Maryland Democrats convened in Annapolis for an annual luncheon Tuesday where they talked some about priorities for the year ahead — but mostly crowed about the recent past.
After an election year in which President Obama increased his victory margin in Maryland, the party gained a seat in Congress and voters upheld some major Democratic legislative priorities, there was much mutual admiration for legislators to share before they plunged into the work of the legislative session, which officially begins Wednesday.
According to Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), the Democratic party’s nationwide victories in the 2012 election “started in Maryland, and they started in 2010.”
In the 2010 midterm elections, he said, “Democrats didn’t do well nationwide, except in Maryland. ... Our governor, Governor O’Malley, ran on Democratic values, on protecting the rights of all of our citizens, investing in education, investing in health care, investing in protecting our environment.”
“We were successful in Maryland!” he said, “And we showed the nation, run on what you believe in! The voters will reward you. We did that in Maryland.”
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s praise was more blunt: “Why in the hell can’t the rest of the country be like Maryland?” Mikulski (D-Md.) asked.
At the lunch, Gov. Martin O’Malley outlined his agenda for the session, including addressing gun control, “crime and punishment” and funding for transportation.
Several speakers recognized Mikulski for her recent appointment as the first female chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“It has come my way, and I am ready for it,” she said. “I’m glad I broke a glass ceiling, and now I’m ready to break a few knuckles.”
Mikulski also praised Maryland Democrats for their work in Virginia.
“Not only did we reelect our senator here, but we also helped Tim Kaine get elected in Northern Virginia. Having Mark Warner and Tim Kaine as our pals across the Potomac is as important as the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, without the traffic jams.”
Mikulski and O’Malley gave Maryland Democrats credit for turning Virginia blue in the presidential election.
“It was not inevitable that Virginia went for President Obama,” O’Malley said. “We made 60 percent of the persuasion phone calls into Virginia, made by Marylanders.”
O’Malley also welcomed Rep. John Delaney (D), who unseated Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) in November, taking the number of Republicans in the Maryland congressional delegation from two to one.
“We could almost do ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and end it with, ‘And a brand new Democratic congressperson,’ ” O’Malley sang. “We had so many good things, after all the hard work that each of you did.”
By the time state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) took the stage, there wasn’t much left to say. “I feel a little like Elizabeth Taylor’s last husband on the wedding night,” he said. “I know what to do, but not how to make it interesting.”