Josh Kurtz: Tomorrow’s Headlines Today!

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It’s primary day, at long last — and of course, in a lot of places, that’s tantamount to Election Day.

So before the votes are even counted, here’s our take on the top storylines:

• Sarah Palin a flop in Maryland! There’s no way Brian Murphy is going to beat former Gov. Bob Ehrlich in today’s GOP gubernatorial primary. That doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who follows Maryland politics even casually.

But because the world revolves around Sarah — at least where the national media are concerned — this will be a big deal.

Luckily for Palin, she has also weighed in on a couple of other key primaries today. She endorsed the otherwise toxic Christine O’Donnell late in the Republican Senate primary in Delaware over Rep. Mike Castle, a moderate in the mold of former Maryland Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R).

If O’Donnell upsets Castle in the primary –- and a poll released Sunday night showed her with a slight advantage –- the Republicans’ chances of flipping an otherwise winnable Senate seat in November diminish dramatically. But if she prevails, Palin and the energy of the tea party will get all the credit.

Palin’s reputation is also on the line in the New Hampshire GOP Senate primary, where this time she endorsed the party establishment favorite, former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. But a more conservative candidate is gaining on Ayotte, and if he winds up being nominated, the Democrats again will have a better chance of winning in November.

Regardless of what happens, Palin will be a big part of the national conversation tomorrow. It’s a rare reason for liberals to root for Bob Ehrlich tonight.

• Race still an issue in Baltimore city elections! We’re not prepared to say who’s going to win today’s Democratic primary for State's Attorney between incumbent Patricia Jessamy and challenger Gregg Bernstein, though if you stuck a gun to our head — ho ho ho — we’d say Jessamy. But whoever wins, the resentments will linger. And linger. And linger. And the mayoral election is just around the corner.

• Incumbent Senators lose — a sign of more carnage in November?! At least nine state Senators are in some legitimate danger of getting knocked off today: George Della (D-Baltimore City), Nat Exum (D-Prince George’s), Jennie Forehand (D-Montgomery), David Harrington (D-Prince George’s), Nancy King (D-Montgomery), Rona Kramer (D-Montgomery), Mike Lenett (D-Montgomery), Donald Munson (R-Washington), Edward Reilly (R-Anne Arundel). Some — it says here at least four or five — will lose. Pundits will cite these results as a very bad sign for Maryland incumbents in November.

But come on, primaries carry their own dynamic. Each Senate district is small enough so that, with a limited primary electorate turning out to vote, longtime resentments come to the fore as much as anything. So sure, it’s an anti-incumbent year nationally. But just because Don Munson may lose to Del. Chris Shank (R) by a handful of votes tonight doesn’t mean 10 of his Senate colleagues are instantaneously vulnerable in November.

• Kamenetz Beats Bartenfelder, Holt Scrambles to Solidify East County Support! Prediction: Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz will beat his fellow Councilman Joe Bartenfelder in the Democratic primary for county executive.

Ironically, this is good news for both the Democrats and the Republicans. In Kamenetz, the Democrats get the savvier, more hard-nosed and better-funded nominee. But a few Reagan Democrats in the industrial sections of the east county may be unhappy, giving Ken Holt, the Republican nominee for county executive, a chance to make some inroads.

Holt is a financial adviser and gentleman farmer, so it isn’t the easiest sell. But having Ehrlich at the top of the ticket will help some.

• A star is born in Prince George’s County! It looks like the third time will be the charm for Rushern Baker in his quest to become executive of Maryland’s second largest jurisdiction.

Combine his fiery oratory with his Boy Scout earnestness and good looks, his brains and his willingness to roll up his sleeves and work with all elements of his diverse county, and a statewide star is definitely in the making. If he makes good on some of his campaign promises and brings real reform — and measurable success — to the county, watch out!

Baker, of course, would be wise to keep his eye on the ball and not pay too much attention to the hype and fawning pundits like me.

And if Sheriff Michael Jackson somehow prevails tonight, he can thank … the King of Pop (RIP)!

• Race still an issue in Prince George’s County elections! Even if he wins today’s primary, Baker will have a hard time in certain precincts shaking the rap that he’s the “white” candidate, the candidate of the Washington Post, the candidate of north of Central Avenue.

Combine that with the fact that County Councilman Tom Dernoga — who unlike Baker, really is white — could win today’s primary for State's Attorney (though Angela Alsobrooks is probably the favorite), and some African-American voters will walk away mad.

And … why does this majority-black county have four white Senators, anyway?

• Transgendered Legislator Makes History in Maryland! Transgendered candidate Dana Beyer, running for the House in Montgomery County’s District 18, has a pretty good chance of winning her primary. She’s running against a unified slate of incumbents, but she’s got enthusiastic supporters and the Washington Post endorsement in a district where that matters a lot.

• New D.C. Mayor – Maryland Angle! D.C. Council President Vince Gray seems poised to knock off incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in today’s Democratic primary. He’s got Maryland connections: Prince George’s Del. Jim Proctor (D) is his cousin, lobbyist extraordinaire Bruce Bereano is a former fraternity brother, and ex-Rockville Mayor Susan Hoffman is an old friend.

• Worse Than Pols: The Media! If there is one prediction here that you can take to the bank, it’s this: Regardless of what happens tonight, regardless of what happens between now and Election Day, my friend Blair Lee, the political commentator, will blame the liberal media.

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at .

Previous Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

20th Century Comes to Baltimore County

Primary Colors

Murphy the Smurf

A Gene for Public Service

No Agnew Here

The Full Montgomery

Shock and Tawes

Uly's Gold

Death and Deadlines

Bad News for Democrats From Washington to Washington County

Mr. Smith Goes ... Where?

End of the Line for Vallario?

Mission: Control

Post Plays Favorites

Red Storm Rising

Michael & Me

Wanted: Fresh Blood

Taylor-Made

Black and Blue?

Slugfest

Take Me Back to Old Virginny

The Political Lives of Peter Franchot

Bob and Weave

How to Make Prince George's County King

Kane is Able

To Be Frank

Gay Rights and Political Wrongs?

The Washington Post Goes to War

Snow Job

Unsolicited Advice for Ehrlich — Wait Till 2014

The Early Bird Gets the Worm?

Wayne's World May Be Another Planet

Miller Time Comes Early

Owings Owes an Explanation
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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.