Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Can He Win?

Last night approximately 125 people turned out at a fundraiser at Apple Ford to hear Senator Allan Kittleman talk about the upcoming General Assembly and his own future political plans.

Most of the attendees were primarily interested in his political plans. Though he hasn't formally announced his intentions, it is widely understood that Allan would like to be county exec in 2014. On the surface, he would seem to have a pretty good chance. He’s smart, likable, and a political moderate with deep roots in Howard County. There’s just one problem; he’s a Republican.

It’s not so much an ideological problem as it is a numbers problem. There are 90,072 registered Democrats in HoCo and 56,330 registered Republicans. In order to have a shot, he’d need to win over the 38,799 unaffiliated voters and perhaps a few of the 3,567 “others” as well (Green Party, Libertarians, etc.), not to mention a Dem or two.

No doubt he is somewhat heartened by precedent. In 1990 a similar moderate Repub named Chuck Ecker squeezed out a victory over incumbent Dem Liz Bobo in the exec race. He easily won reelection in 1994. Chuck won because Liz had lost the center.

That won’t be the case this time around. There won’t be an incumbent and the presumed Dem candidate, Councilperson Courtney Watson, has played to the center in her six years on the council.

It could come down to the likability factor.

Allan understands all this of course. Last night he quipped that he’s a Republican that doesn't scare Democrats. This is true and it may get a few Dems to take a harder look at him rather than dismiss him out of hand due to his party affiliation. In order to win, however, he’ll need to put forth a vision for the county that gets voters to pay attention. In a county where, on the whole, things are pretty good that may not be so easy to do.
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