Del. Levy defends O’Malley

Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — Del. Murray D. Levy took to the airwaves Friday to defend Gov. Martin O’Malley’s sagging popularity.

The fourth-year legislator went toe to toe with Senate Minority Whip Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard, Carroll) during a five-minute segment called ‘‘Political Face-Off” on Maryland Public Television’s ‘‘State Circle.”

Host Jeff Salkin asked both men about the impact of two polls released earlier in the week that showed O’Malley’s approval rating take a nosedive.

‘‘Obviously, nobody wants bad poll numbers. But the governor, I refer to him as the poor guy that cleans up after the party,” said Levy (D-Charles), who was on the show once before. ‘‘He’s the fellow that had to come in and correct and fix the problems that the state — the legislature and the governor — have created over the past four years. And he did just that. He did it with great leadership.”

Kittleman countered that the governor’s decision last week to comply with the federal Real ID Act was an acknowledgement of the low approval ratings.

But Levy argued that polls don’t influence policy and O’Malley will rebound once the public understands that tax increases passed during the November special session were necessary to invest in education, health care and more.

‘‘I think these numbers are temporary,” he said. ‘‘If we work through these programs, the governor keeps moving with his agenda and the economy does not stay down for long and recovers, I think ... most [people] will feel we’ve done the right thing.”

Kittleman again replied that the public won’t soon forget the tax hikes and rising electricity bills.

‘‘I understand the Republicans are gleeful about these poll numbers, but I believe in 2010 the governor is going to be reelected strongly and I think he’s doing the right things for the citizens of Maryland,” Levy retorted.

The plunging popularity in O’Malley’s first year in office is similar to another politician who had a tumultuous first year in the polls — fueled by a shaky economy — only to recover by the end of his term, Levy said.

‘‘Let me remind you that in 1981, when [President] Ronald Reagan was first elected, he precipitated the recession to get inflation down. His poll numbers that following year were so bad people were calling him a one-term president, but in 1984 as the economy improved, he was wildly successful, served two successful terms and I will remind people that he started off with tough decisions and a bad economy.”

They used to befriends, anyway!

It’s said in Annapolis that Dels. Kevin Kelly and John F. Wood Jr. are two of a dying breed of conservative Democrats. So what’s a little fun among friends?

Kelly (D-Allegany) pulled a fast one on Wood (D-St. Mary’s, Charles) last week.

Wood was none too happy that he was allegedly listed in a recent edition of our sister publication, The Gazette of Politics and Business, as supporting U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president.

Turns out Kelly, a class clown in the legislature, fabricated the real list and e-mailed a copy to Wood. Kelly chuckled when confronted about the gag and Wood was left with egg on his face.

Kelly may want to remember that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Pols seekReagan recognition

A bipartisan group of state senators wants Maryland to commemorate a day in honor of America’s 40th president.

The resolution, sponsored by two Republicans and Democrats, would establish Feb. 6 as Ronald Reagan Day in Maryland. Sen. Roy P. Dyson (D-St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles), who served in Congress during Reagan’s two terms, is one of the backers.

He remembers Reagan as a strong leader and a compassionate man who often inquired about the health of Dyson’s then-ill father.

The resolution was proposed in 2003, but no action was taken despite having 18 co-sponsors.

‘‘The more years that pass since Ronald Reagan passed the more we recognize the great statesman he was and how he led us through the Cold War,” said Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore, Harford), the bill’s chief sponsor. ‘‘... It’s appropriate to begin considering whether you commemorate him [throughout] the state.”

Reagan, who died in 2004, would have turned 97 this Feb. 6 if he were still alive. His legacy is so great that there’s a whole group of voters who identify themselves as ‘‘Reagan Democrats,” Harris said.

His resounding re-election victory in 1984, when he won 49 of 50 states (except for Minnesota, home to Democratic nominee Walter Mondale), might be the most one-sided presidential contest in American history.

‘‘He may go down as the last president in the country who can unify us to that great extent,” Harris said.