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WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Smith: Hard To Tell If Franchot-Hogan Shopping Trip Is Bipartisanship, Theatre, Or Both

Howard County Library System via flickr

Comptroller Peter Franchot has a finely tuned political ear – and little regard for political correctness. He realized early that former governor William Donald Schaefer was in decline and ready to be knocked off – by his own party. Franchot stepped up.

Franchot saw the anti-tax sentiment of Marylanders peaking as the 2014 election loomed. Earlier actually. He declined to pamper reliable Democratic voters as he was defeating Schaefer.

This year, Franchot sounded like an orthodox Republican as he ran for re-election. Politicians forget, he said in a radio ad, that tax money comes out of your pocket. His 63 percent victory led all tickets.

As one of three Board of Public Works members, he was a major irritant to Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. And now he’s trumpeting a shopping trip with governor-elect Larry Hogan as bipartisanship. Hogan’s a Republican, you may recall. Shop local, the two men chorused.

There he goes again, said the political world.

So does this really signal bipartisanship? Does this mean the Board of Public Works will be a smoother-operating machine? Will Franchot be a consistent vote for Hogan? 

The answer is probably "yes." Will that help Hogan govern?  Almost certainly.

What Franchot’s doing now offers moderately amusing theater.  Those who want problem-solving, not orthodoxy, will be pleased.

Will it help Franchot if he still wants to be governor? As always, separating political shadow from substance is a challenge.

Your comments are welcome at [email protected].