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Republicans in Maryland are partying today like it’s 2002, after businessman Larry Hogan beat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown by a 51.5% to 46.8% margin and in the process becoming the first Republican to hold that office since Bob Ehrlich won a dozen years ago.

Hogan ran a smart campaign by focusing on jobs, taxes and the state of the Maryland economy, reminding voters that the O’Malley-Brown administration was responsible for over 40 tax increases during the last eight years and that i was time for a change which fit perfectly with his Change Maryland group which he started several years ago and served as the base for his campaign launch.

This election was much like 2002 when Ehrlich, ran against Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend- who added her maiden name in an effort to try and woo voters who liked the Kennedy clan, but who was a very weak candidate much like Anthony Brown was this year.

Brown was handicapped by the tax and spend record of the Democrats and failed miserably in trying to spark any enthusiasm from the Democratic base.

Even so, the race was Browns to lose with a 2-1 registration advantage that should have all but guaranteed him a victory.

Instead he stumbled much like Townsend did by losing counties that O’Malley had either won or was competitive in his two victories.

Here were the keys to Hogan’s victory;

Baltimore County – won by 52,000 votes which is comparable to Ehrlich’s 64,000 vote margin in 2002.  In 2006 the margin was just 8,000 votes and in 2010 he lost by 1,000 votes.

Howard County- won by 5,000 votes.  Ehrlich’s margin of victory  in 2002 was 10,000, but lost Howard by less than 700 votes in 2006 and 10,000 in 2010.

Montgomery County- lost by 61,000 votes. Ehrlich lost by 67,000 in 2002, but that grew to 78,000 in 2006 and 109,000 in 2010.

By winning Baltimore and Howard and reducing the deficit in Montgomery, Hogan robbed Brown of the votes he needed to offset the traditional Republican strongholds on the Eastern shore and Western Maryland and cleared a path to victory.

Hogan was criticized by some Republicans for spending so much time and money in Montgomery County, where it’s virtually impossible for a Republican to win, but the goal wasn’t to win as much as it was to get 40% of the vote.  Hogan fell short of that with almost 37%, but that was far better than Ehrlich’s 30.5% in 2010 comparable to Ehrlich’s 38% from his winning campaign in 2002.

The Brown campaign may go down as the worst Democratic gubernatorial effort in Maryland history, as he garnered 43,00 fewer votes than Townsend- who was the standard bearer of bad campaigns until yesterday and was a whopping 275,000 votes less than O’Malley received in 2010.  All this while Hogan increased the Republican vote totals by 70,000 and was more than Ehrlich had managed to get in the last two elections.

While winning the governor’s race is a big deal in deep blue Maryland, the reality is that Hogan will be severely limited in what he can accomplish over the next four years as he still faces an overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature, but any progress he makes by blocking and  slowing down ruinous Democratic policies will be a victory for all Marylanders.

MDCANIt isn’t easy being a conservative in Maryland, and if last weekend’s MDCAN  Turning the Tides conference was any indication, it won’t get any easier in 2014.

The conference hosted by what was original called Maryland Conservative Action Network, and is now the Maryland Citizen Action Network, had been building steam since its first conference in 2011 with 100 plus attendees, growing to an estimated 350 last year.  But since that conference, the organization has lost two key players, and decided to change its name slightly, making some conservatives wonder whether or not MDCAN was trying to move away from its conservative roots.

This slight bit of turmoil showed this past weekend when the organization held its fourth conference with just over 100 registered attendees and maybe 75 actually in attendance.  But that shouldn’t really be that surprising as the agenda was more workshop oriented and lacking any star power whatsoever.  There wasn’t a politician in sight- which might be a good thing in many cases, but in an election year its inexplicable.

Admittedly, last year’s attendance would have been hard to top, but it is an election year and a great opportunity to get conservatives energized for the elections.  And politicians will show up for an audience of almost any size, especially when you’re Republican in Maryland.

Now there’s nothing wrong with nuts and bolts training, but it shouldn’t be the main feature of a conference that has built a reputation for discussing the hot political topics and was creating a buzz around the state.  All of that is lost now.

While there was some controversy during the youth panel when immigration came up, MDCAN really lost credibility when it allowed Scott Strzelczyk of the Western Maryland Initiative to explain why he thinks that part of the state should secede and that there should be 200 states, not 50.  No wonder the liberal media thinks conservatives are kooky.

Maybe next will be better, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

In 2008 the Maryland legislature passed a tax on millionaires with the belief that individuals who earn more than $1 million per year were not paying their fair share of taxes and could easily afford to pay more money to the state government.

Last year the state comptrollers office said that based on tax returns files through the end of April the number of returns filed by Marylanders with more than $1 million in taxable income dropped by a third to 2,000 and that tax receipts from that group were down $100 million.

That information was just reinforced by a report by Montgomery County that showed a 27% decline in millionaire tax returns filed in 2007-2008 in the county which is the wealthiest county in the state.

While most liberals scoff at the idea that the tax has been a factor in the sharp decline in tax returns filed by these wealthy individuals Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett speculated that people who own homes in other states are now establishing residency elsewhere which has contributed to the tax revenue decline.

Maryland legislators badly miscalculated that targeting the wealthy would only have a positive effect on revenue and that despite the recession taxpayers would stay put because they are so in love with Maryland.

Yet despite the dramatic loss in tax revenue the legislature is poised on extend the tax when it expires this year.

They apparently think nothing of chasing away the very tax base that provides the money to fund their projects.

And you wonder why they can’t balance the budget?