July 2022 Maryland Gubernatorial Power Rankings
THE END IS HERE
Welcome to the FINAL installment of The Duckpin Maryland 2022 Gubernatorial Power Rankings. Polls close in120 hours. These rankings will list, in my estimation, the contenders for the office of Governor of Maryland on a 1-10 scale.
The rankings are a combination of polls, data, political environment, and gut feelings. It is not necessarily a ranking in order of who I think should be elected Governor, but who is best positioned to win the November General Election at that time. Think of it as a snapshot in time.
So here’s a comprehensive list of the power rankings from the time we started them until now.
I forgot Mike Rosenbaum even ran for Governor until I compiled this chart.
Now, onto the list.
#10: Dan Cox (Previous: 10)
Cox continues to be an object of mockery for just about everybody. Repeated spelling issues with basic things, like the names of his running mate and his primary opponent. Crying for debates only to chicken out from one. Begging the establishment he claims to hate so much to save him. And he’s already playing the blame game, which explains all of it. Cox is acting like a guy who knows the jig is just about up. Probably why Donald Trump left him high and dry without an actual rally.
#9: Robin Ficker (Previous: 9)
Robin Ficker is on TikTok which is as surreal as it sounds and is back taking pictures with people on the Boardwalk, where most of the people are out of state. But hey, he at least gets to take pictures with half the people on the beach which isn’t at all weird.
Ficker also managed to use campaign literature to promote his real estate business. Gotta respect the hustle on that one, even if the “U.S. Armed Forces” thing is dubious considering he was kicked out of West Point.
Robin Ficker hasn’t won elected office since 1978. He won’t this year either.
#8: David Lashar (L) (Previous: 8)
Lashar is the rare Libertarian candidate who has public sector experience to go along with private sector experience. And he has a narrow path to victor, a scenario that would involve Dan Cox winning the Republican primary AND a radical Democrat winning the Democratic Primary. Is it likely? No. But that one scenario has a slightly higher probability of happening than Cox, Ficker, Jain et al winning a general election.
#7: Jon Baron (D) (Previous: 7)
The policy expert and former non-profit executive was the little engine that could throughout this election. Baron may be running, but he is going to face problems heading into any serious campaign. The Democratic primary voter has shown that they are looking for a firebrand with unserious and bombastic policy solutions. Not a policy wonk and technocrat. Nor will friends making comments like “I immediately presumed that he would be running as a Republican” help at all with the left-wing primary base. His video about shaving was kinda funny though.
#6: Former U.S. Secretary of Education John King (D) (Previous: 6)
King is still a relative newcomer to Maryland Politics. He also has no baggage with him from years and decades of Maryland Democratic Party inside baseball. King had a high ceiling in his race, with many of his Obama connections likely to find their way back to Washington in new roles with the Biden Administration. But it never really translated into much of anything.
#5: Former Attorney General Doug Gansler (D) (Previous: 5)
Gansler rocketed up this list based on his performance at the Western Maryland Democratic Summit straw poll. A second-place finish is awfully surprising to those only casually observing the Democratic Primary. Straw polls, of course, don’t win elections. But it is an interesting data point for a candidate that has not fared particularly well in public polling. Does he still have baggage? Absolutely though he claims that people don’t care about it. But Gansler seems like he is on the way up.
He is, however, the one candidate in the Democratic field that is talking about crime. A new ad released today focuses on that, which is something that will definitely appeal to Hogan Democrats. Is that enough to drag Gansler into a competitive race? Doesn’t seem like it did.
#4: Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) (Previous: 4)
There’s nothing normal about Peter Franchot’s political trajectory. He was a radical left-wing Delegate turned budget conscience Democrat and now turning back into a radical left-wing Democrat in order to run for Governor. He fills no natural lane in this election; progressives distrust him, moderates distrust him. The Len Foxwell debacle hurts him in a number of ways, though less now that Foxwell has politically shanked his mentor and is siding with Gansler. He has an even large bank account (claiming $3.3 million cash-on-hand) and high name ID though, and that counts for something. But it seems as if his margin for error is rapidly shrinking. The latest development is Franchot’s alleged involvement in the Takoma Junction Project; we’ll see what shakes out from that. The disastrous rollout of his running mate was even more troubling for Team Franchot. Say what you will about Len Foxwell, but the Franchot political operation did not make these kinds of mistakes on his watch. Nor would Franchot have made goofy promises he can’t control, like promising to let teachers board first at BWI Airport. Franchot looks like he is fading down the stretch due as much to his political careerism as it is his perceived “conservatism”. It looks like Franchot’s thirty-six-year career in elected office is just about over.
#3: Former DNC Chairman Tom Perez (D) (Previous: 3)
Perez passed Franchot because it’s clear that Perez’s union endorsements are meaning something significant. Perez has added Nancy Pelosi’s endorsement to that of the UFCW endorsement; The UFCW endorsement is still amusing because the socialists have accused Perez of being a union buster. That help addresses Perez’s problem at this point; that he’s been out of Maryland local politics for over ten years at this point, and the landscape of the Maryland Democratic Party has radically changed since then. While he did serve as one term as a Montgomery County Councilman as Maryland Secretary of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, he has been focused on federal and national politics since 2009. But he was not at all helped by being a former DNC Chairman after Terry McAuliffe bombed his campaign and lost to Glenn Youngkin out in Virginia, something that the far left of the Democratic Party quickly pounced on. Perez told Maryland Matters that he has the network to compete and the union endorsement helps. It’s not the MSTA endorsement, but it will be interesting to see if other endorsements follow. Prior to serving as Chairman of the DNC, Perez was the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and the Secretary of Labor under Barack Obama. Perez’s last attempt at statewide office, in 2006, crashed and burned after he was disqualified from running for Maryland Attorney General.
#2: Wes Moore (D) (Previous: 2)
Wes Moore looks like the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor today. I would have never guessed that at this time last year. But in 2018, Maryland Democratic voters did the same thing; they nominated an out-of-state Democrat with tenuous connections to Maryland, no government experience, and no proposing real solutions. The only difference between Wes Moore and Ben Jealous is that Moore isn’t as gaffe-prone and he chose a running mate in Aruna Miller with actual governing experience. Once the votes are counted, I think we will find that Moore has overcome the ads and won himself a nomination.
#1: Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz (R) (Previous: 1)
She got The Duckpin endorsement, but this spot remains well-earned. Kelly Schulz is the only credible Republican running for governor, and the Goucher Poll again boosted her immensely. That poll showed that people want a candidate who is not super-Trumpy and will govern similarly to the way that Larry Hogan has governed. It showed that Larry Hogan remains extremely popular in Maryland and that a candidate sharing his profile would do very well. The only candidate in the race who checks that box is Secretary Schulz. Schulz has an intriguing profile for a statewide candidate; former Delegate, secretary of two cabinet Departments, and a resident of Frederick County, now solidly a swing district. She’s been increasing her statewide profile, keynoting the Red Maryland Leadership Conference in 2021. Slow and steady often wins the race; just ask Larry Hogan about that, and the Schulz campaign is laying the groundwork for a long campaign in that model. Fringe Republicans are kvetching that the Schulz campaign is attacking Cox; what it tells me is that the campaign is taking nothing for granted and it’s a reminder that nobody is the winner of the primary until they win the primary no matter how much of the overwhelming favorite they are. It’s also a sign that the Schulz campaign is positioned to be very aggressive in the General Election campaign. In fact, they’ve already started.
Dropped Out: None