(Nov. 28, 2014) Maryland Republicans earned an unprecedented win on Nov. 4, picking up 50 seats in the House of Delegates for the first time in history, as well as capturing the governor’s office for only the second time since 1967.
Republican Minority Leader Nic Kipke, District 31, spoke with Ocean City Today/Bayside Gazette about the party’s mandate while on route to a speaking engagement at Captain’s Table in Ocean City on Thursday, Nov. 20.
Kipke was in town to address the Republican Women of Worcester County.
“They asked me to stop down and give everybody a recap of the election and what that means for Maryland,” he said. “Our election win for us was a historic win. In the House of Delegates, we picked up seven seats, which puts us at 50 members, which is a record high.
“No one ever anticipated that we would win that many seats. We’re also very excited that we increased our membership in the senate and of course now we have the opportunity to have Larry Hogan as our governor.”
Kipke called the election, “a loud message from the voters.”
“They want to see a government better managed and a government that taxes less,” he said.
Even with 50 seats, Republicans only make up 35 percent of the 141-member delegation. Kipke said the Democratic advantage is “not as bad as it seems.”
“The governor of Maryland has the strongest budget authority of any governor in the country,” he said. “Our constitution requires that our governor create a budget, and the only thing that the legislature can do is cut the budget, so electing a fiscally conservative governor like Larry Hogan will result in budgets that grow more slowly and reduce the depression that has resisted over the last eight years. That alone is a reason for all Marylanders to take a sigh of relief.”
Current Gov. Martin O’Malley administration looks poised to impose phosphorus restrictions on fertilizers used on Maryland farms, a move that could affect thousands of Eastern Shore farmers. The topic became an election issue, and Kipke said the Republican delegation continues to take notice.
“Unfortunately Gov. O’Malley consistently shows that he cares more about his own political endeavors than about the quality of life for Marylanders,” he said. “We in the House Republican Caucus have stood firmly in support of Maryland farmers. That will continue, and we are going to work with them and resist extremist measures like this that are purely rooted in politics.”
In Worcester County, Kipke said he relies on liaisons such as newly elected District 38C Del. Mary Beth Carozza.
“What I’ve heard from her is that economic development has suffered, and this is something that is consistent with most of Maryland outside of the areas that border Washington, D.C.,” he said. “Private sector employment is stagnant or decreasing and growing overall slower than the national average.”
For Marylanders to have a strong quality of life, said Kipke, they need access to quality jobs.
“We’ll make sure people like Carozza are in a position in the General Assembly where she can be an advocate for tourism, agriculture and other areas that are emerging for Maryland’s job market,” he said.
Carozza will participate in an orientation meeting in December and be sworn in on Jan. 14.
“This is a pretty critical transition period,” she said. “The leadership is putting together a statewide bus tour for the new members, and I think that time together going around the state with a bipartisan initiative will really give a good opportunity to begin to develop some strong working relationships across the aisle.”
Carozza already has a working relationship with several members of the Maryland General Assembly dating back to her time in the Gov. Robert Ehrlich administration, including two members who moved from the House to the Senate, Addie Eckardt [District 37] and Gail Bates [District 9]. She also had initial conversations with Kipke and District 7 Del. Kathy Szeliga on what her role could be.
“I’ve sought their guidance on the best way I can serve the Shore, and they know that I’ve been focused on economic opportunities, tourism, agriculture and high-tech,” she said. “I believe that they will support my efforts to try to secure committee assignments that would allow me to work on those priorities. I also expect to be one of the members that would play a key role in advancing the Hogan-Rutherford agenda.”