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Smith: Maryland Leaders Shows Rare Bi-Partisanship

Tom Chalkley
Credit Tom Chalkley

Remember when cooperation between political leaders was almost routine? Can’t remember back that far? Neither can I. 

Maryland may have had more of it than many states. The late Senator Mac Mathias was one of the last of the bi-partisan practitioners. It was easy for him, you might say. He was a liberal Republican. You don’t remember any of those? Mathias was a member of the Mathias party. He knew, obviously, that Maryland tended to be lock-step Democratic. So he obscured his party affiliation. He was aMarylander, working for Maryland.

History may not be repeating itself today but we have seen some moves in the direction of Maryland-driven leadership. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, met this week with Maryland’s Congressional delegation – all but one of which is Democrat. Offering due respect to the state’s chief executive, the state's senators and delegates made a field trip to Annapolis, his turf. Well they might have.

The state wants to become host to the national FBI headquarters. With thousands of jobs on the line, the push may be about as important as any economic development effort either side can make. Hogan handed his guests a list of 130 things he wants help on. They want positive action on two critically important business development projects: the Red and the Purple subway lines, one in Baltimore, one in the District of Columbia suburbs. 

But getting back to how unusual cooperation: Even when the stakes are high, bi- partisanship doesn’t always happen in the U.S. Congress.  Dysfunction – the absence of any cooperative spirit – makes our government look foolish and contrary to the national interest. Yet dysfunction persists.

So, once again, let’s hear it for Maryland.    

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Fraser Smith has been in the news business for over 30 years. He began his reportorial career with the Jersey Journal, a daily New Jersey newspaper and then moved on to the Providence Journal in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1969 Fraser won a prestigious American Political Science Association Public Affairs Fellowship, which enabled him to devote a year to graduate study at Yale University. In 1977, Fraser was hired away by The Baltimore Sun where in 1981, he moved to the newspaper's Washington bureau to focus on policy problems and their everyday effect on Marylanders. In 1983, he became the Sun's chief political reporter.