Josh Kurtz

Josh Kurtz

Josh Kurtz has been writing about Maryland politics since late 1995. Louie Goldstein, William Donald Schaefer and Pete Rawlings were alive, but the Intercounty Connector, as far as anyone could tell, was dead.


But some things never change: Mike Miller is still in charge of the Senate. Gerry Evans and Bruce Bereano are among the top-earning lobbyists in Annapolis. Steny Hoyer is still waiting for Nancy Pelosi to disappear. And Maryland Republicans are still struggling to be relevant.


The media landscape in Maryland has changed a lot, and Kurtz is happy to write weekly for Center Maryland. He's been writing a column for the website since it launched in January 2010.


In his "real" job, Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily down on Capitol Hill. But he'll always find Maryland politics more fascinating.


Kurtz grew up in New York City and attended public schools there. He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. He's married with two daughters and lives in Takoma Park, Md. He hopes you'll drop him a line, or maybe go out for a meal with him, because he's always hungry -- for political gossip.

Josh Kurtz: The Ficker Finger of Fate

Whatever happened to the Good Old Days in Montgomery County, when Robin Ficker, consistently, was Public Enemy No. 1? Year after year, Ficker, the gadfly extraordinaire, the chronic candidate who lucked into a seat in the House of Delegates from 1979 to 1982 and has been trying to claw his way back to respectability ever since, has won the enmity of the Montgomery County political establishment by doing the things that gadflies do.  Specifically, Ficker would advance a ballot question – usually to lower or limit taxes or to impose term limits on county officials – and watch with glee as the establishment scurried to defeat him. Predictably, there would be a unity news conference – or a series of them – featuring Democrats and Republicans, business and labor and civic leaders and environmentalists, coming together to say why Ficker’s prescription (or sometimes just Ficker himself) was plain wrong, a threat... Continue reading
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Josh Kurtz: John Sarbanes’ Crusade for Campaign Finance Reform

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has, quite properly, won plaudits for his push to reform the way congressional and legislative district lines are drawn in Maryland. But Hogan so thoroughly dominates the political headlines in the state, it’s easy to forget that another prominent Maryland politician has an equally worthy reform agenda: That’s Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes’ legislation to create a public financing system for congressional elections. As he marshals arguments for his bill, The Government By the People Act, Sarbanes likes to cite a quote generally attributed to James Madison: “Government should be dependent on the people alone.” So to limit the influence of Big Money on elections and the American political discourse, Sarbanes envisions creating a public financing system that provides a pool of money (the Freedom From Influence Fund) for congressional contenders. Candidates who raise contributions in increments of $150 or less would be eligible for a 6-1 match... Continue reading
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Josh Kurtz: Hogan’s 70% Solution

Say this for Gov. Larry Hogan (R): He finds a way to spin every single policy debate into political gold. Hogan’s latest move, ordering public schools across the state to open after Labor Day and close by June 15, was done with his typical brute efficiency and simplicity. This is a complex and textured issue, to say the least, but not for Hogan. He’s right, his critics are wrong, and in his view they should be prepared to suffer the political consequences. Probably they will. The edict will very possibly be overturned – perhaps by Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), perhaps by the courts, perhaps by the Democratic-controlled legislature. Critics have marshaled many persuasive arguments against it. But is anyone willing to bet that when it all shakes out, even if the policy is thrown out on the merits, Hogan won’t still come out looking like a winner? And just as... Continue reading
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Josh Kurtz: Numerous Political Battles on the Horizon in Prince George’s County

A battle is brewing for control of the Prince George’s County House delegation in Annapolis. Del. Michael Jackson (D), backed by some of his fellow freshmen, is putting out the word that he wants to become delegation chairman. But the current chairman, Del. Jay Walker (D), plans to seek a second two-year term. The fight for the gavel is just one of many political battles on tap in Prince George’s – some this year, others percolating in advance of the 2018 election cycle. All provide reminders that Prince George’s remains one of the most fascinating places for politics in Maryland and in the D.C. region. The county’s 24-member House delegation could vote on its next leader as soon as mid-September. In a recent interview, Jackson refused to cast his decision to run for chairman as an attempt to unseat Walker. In fact, he said he wasn’t sure Walker was running again... Continue reading
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Josh Kurtz: Postcards from MACo

OCEAN CITY – MACo is Maryland’s version of Fellini’s “Satyricon” – one surreal and disturbing scene after another. Officially, the Maryland Association of Counties annual summer convention is a professional gathering with a series of policy discussions. But outside the frigid expanse of this city’s convention center, it’s a sweatfest and a schmoozefest and a boozefest, a place where political theories and rumors are swapped like trading cards – some as nonsensical and flimsy as a summer romance, others more likely to last. This year’s MACo was especially significant because it was Republican Larry Hogan’s first as governor – last year at this time he was undergoing chemotherapy. Attendance swelled, and there was a dizzying, record-setting number of political fundraisers and lobbyist and special interest receptions, perhaps owing to the presence of Hogan and his entire cabinet – or the anxiousness of many political people to bring on the 2018... Continue reading
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