The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Sorry, O’Malley; Your Policies Will Get Other Governors Fired.


Over at Politico, the reelection of Gov. Martin O’Malley in Maryland is interpreted as a sign that raising taxes may not be as politically dangerous as many think.

Republicans relentlessly pounded Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley for raising income, sales and corporate taxes during his first-term.

It didn’t matter.  He disposed of his predecessor Bob Ehrlich by a whopping 14 percentage points during a historic national Republican wave.

O’Malley, now in charge of helping other Democrats get elected as chair of the Democratic Governors Association, was hardly defensive about his hikes in a recent interview — to the point that an aide attempted to reign him in.

That doesn’t mean you should expect tax hikes to appear on bumper stickers — but it could signal a pivot towards taking a run at the Republican reputation for being the fiscal adults in the room.

Indeed, raising taxes in myriad ways didn’t hurt Martin O’Malley. But it helps to be a Democratic incumbent in the sixth-most Democratic state in the union; the state with the fourth-highest percentage of African-American voters (who vote at least 9:1 Democratic most years); a state with 22.4 percent of its workforce employed by the government and only 5.3 percent self-employed; and a state where Democrats have won the governorship every cycle since 1966 with one exception:  Ehrlich’s 2002 gubernatorial win.

In other words, O’Malley enjoyed some of the friendliest territory any tax-hiking governor will face in the modern age. If Democratic governors in other states want to emulate O’Malley’s policies, they’ll probably find a tougher reception.

Tags: Martin O'Malley


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