Some political observers argue the power in the state’s dominant Democratic Party has shifted down Interstate 95, and the fact that none of the candidates for the state’s executive are from the Baltimore area is evidence of that trend.
Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city, has dominated state
politics, especially in the Democratic Party, for decades. Two of the past four
governors were Baltimore mayors, and a third governor, the lone Republican, was
from Arbutus. No candidate in recent memory has been elected governor
without carrying Baltimore County.
But when gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Doug Gansler of Montgomery County selected Prince George’s County Del. Jolene Ivey as his running mate instead of a Baltimore area candidate it demonstrated to some the influence Baltimore has lost.
Reinforcing the idea that Baltimore’s influence is waning is the ticket of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, of Prince George’s County, and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Although Howard County is still in the Baltimore media market its planned suburban neighborhoods are seen as far removed from many of the issues affecting Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
"They belong to a different world," said Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University.
Hassan Giordano, a Baltimore based political observer and blogger, acknowledged the rapid growth in the Washington, DC, suburbs has reduced the other large metropolitan Maryland area's clout.
"It could be an ongoing trend because Baltimore City has been losing population which diminishes its power," Giordano said.
But he said that it’s too soon to start writing the epitaph for the Baltimore area’s political power and Crenson said it could just be chance that candidate slates seem skewed toward the District side of the state.
"I suspect this is an artifact of more the luck of the draw, and who was available to run on the ticket," he said.
Giordano said he expects Del. Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County to select her running mate from the Baltimore area.
"Baltimore still has a lot of chairs and co-chairs [of committees] in the Senate and the House. It’s not like we’re going to lose all our power," he said.
A presumed shift in political power away from Baltimore is in accordance with changes in the state’s demographics.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the combined population of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in 2012 was 1.8 million people, compared to 1.4 million in Baltimore County and City.
Between 2000 and 2012 Prince George’s population increased by 77,949 people, and last year it was estimated Montgomery County’s population reached more than 1 million, up 127,637 from 12 years ago.
Baltimore County experienced only a moderate population increase, from 756,037 to 817,455 during the past 12 years, and Baltimore City’s population followed a decades long trend by losing 27,312 residents between 2000 and 2012.
Also, there are now more Democratic voters in the Washington suburbs.
During the last gubernatorial general election in 2010, 376,641 Democrats from Montgomery and Prince George's counties voted. That’s compared to the 313,971 Baltimore City and County Democrats who voted in that election.
The difference was even more pronounced during the 2012 presidential elections, when 591,637 Democrats cast ballots in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties compared to 442,268 in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
Despite the demographic advantages for candidates from the Washington suburbs, the door could be opened for a Baltimore candidate to win the Democratic nomination for governor because the DC-area pool is diluted with more candidates.
U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a former Baltimore County executive, indicated that he still hasn’t ruled out running for governor. He said he will make a decision by Thanksgiving.
"If Dutch Ruppersberger got in he certainly would have an edge," Crenson said.