Gizzi on Politics: NY Surprise; Maryland Opening; California Rumors

Monday, 29 Apr 2013 01:24 PM

By John Gizzi

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New York State Republicans were left speechless last week by the announcement of Greg Edwards, one of their brightest stars, that he would not run for governor in 2014 or seek re-election as Chautauqua County executive.

As lieutenant governor nominee in 2010 on both the Republican and Conservative Party ballot lines, Edwards impressed audiences with his speaking style and knowledge of state issues.

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox had listed Edwards as one of the party’s five potential opponents to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino had said he would support his former running mate for the top job.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is now the Republican most talked about to oppose Cuomo.

Maryland Republicans See Gubernatorial Opening

With Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley termed out of office in 2014, Republicans see an opportunity to take advantage of a Democratic clash for the top office and possibly take the governorship for only the third time since 1966.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who has O’Malley’s blessing, could become only the fourth black governor of any state since Reconstruction. But Brown faces a primary challenge from at least one other heavyweight Democrat, state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who has $5.2 million in his campaign kitty — more than twice as much as Brown.

Among Republicans, the most oft-mentioned names for the gubernatorial nod are those of Harford County Executive David Craig and Larry Hogan Jr., namesake-son of a former congressman and head of the ChangeMaryland reform group.

Strickland Eyes McKeon’s District

Amid mounting rumors that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon will step down in 2014 after 22 years in Congress, intrigue is surrounding who might succeed the Republican in his California House district.

Former State Sen. Tony Strickland is thought to be considering an end to plans for a rematch with Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley in the very competitive 26th District and instead run in McKeon’s securely Republican 25th District.

The two districts are neighbors and, as the much-read Flash Report on California politics noted recently, “McKeon and Strickland are close — in the 2012 Assembly primary between Scott Wilk and Patricia McKeon (Buck’s wife), Strickland, who had endorsed Wilk, first pulled that endorsement, and then endorsed McKeon, no doubt endearing himself to the congressman.”

Although Strickland could be branded a “carpetbagger” by potential McKeon heirs, such as state Sen. Steve Knight and Ventura County Board of Supervisors Chairman Peter Foy, he has represented significant parts of the 25th as an assemblyman and later as state senator.

Left Favors Wyden Over Baucus as Finance Chairman

Although they wince at his past efforts with Republicans to craft Medicare reform legislation, liberal Democrats in the Senate made it clear they prefer Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon as chairman of the tax-writing Finance Committee over Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who is relinquishing the gavel.

Baucus, who announced last week he is retiring in 2014 after 36 years in the Senate, was considered by liberals as the classic Washington game-player, who helped George W. Bush pass his 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut.

In addition, Baucus was one of only four Democrats to vote against the Senate budget on the grounds that “$1 trillion in tax increases is too much.” Baucus was also one of four Democrats in the Senate to oppose the Manchin-Toomey compromise measure on background checks for gun sales.

Even though Wyden worked with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and former GOP Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas on Medicare reform proposals, the one-time Gray Panthers lobbyist was on the other side of those Baucus votes that disappointed the left.


John Gizzi is a special columnist for Newsmax.com.

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