As Bryan Jacoutot documented here three months ago, Maryland’s health exchange was a complete failure. In private industry or nearly any other field of endeavor, an employee who is responsible for such a visible failure would be subject to demotion or firing. But this is politics. And this is Maryland.

So the Washington Post recommended that the employee responsible for this fiasco … should be promoted. In its endorsement ahead of the June 24 primary the paper with the largest circulation in Maryland endorsed (Lieutenant Governor) Anthony Brown for Maryland governor. The key paragraph in the endorsement is here:

No doubt, Mr. Brown, who is Gov. Martin O’Malley’s anointed successor, is a mainstay of the Democratic establishment and a paragon of the status quo. That status quo includes the state’s blatant failure to build a functioning online market for private health insurance — a failure over which Mr. Brown presided, or was supposed to preside. It also includes substantive accomplishments, including making the state more welcoming to gays and immigrants and replenishing the transportation fund in support of public transit.

So let’s see if I get this. Despite the fact that Brown messed up his most significant assignment as Lieutenant Governor – concrete failure – that should be balance out by the fact that he made Maryland more welcoming – an ephemeral accomplishment at the best? As far as the transportation fund, taxing people is what government does best. Had he (and his boss, Governor O’Malley) replenished the fund while limiting the growth of government, that would have a real accomplishment. But taxing and spending is hardly a defining skill for an executive.

Then there’s the previous paragraph that’s also kind of baffling.

Still, Mr. Brown strikes us as the best candidate and the one most likely to improve what Democratic leaders concede is the state’s anemic track record in attracting and retaining jobs and employers. Unlike Mr. Gansler, Mr. Brown has not scattered spending promises (often without plausible funding sources) like grass seed. Unlike Ms. Mizeur, he will not inspire panic attacks in the business community.

Gansler, is Doug Gansler, currently Maryland’s attorney general. I’m not a fan of Gansler. But his website is a good source of information about the “state’s anemic track record in attracting and retaining jobs and employers.”

Despite our ample talent and skill – we have the second most advanced degrees in the nation – despite that we are the wealthiest state in the nation, too many Marylanders cannot find work, exacerbating a growing economic divide in our state.  Lt. Governor Brown will be the first to tell you Maryland has recovered all of the jobs lost during the Recession.  But we were losing jobs before the Recession, and we have lost jobs in 6 of the last 8 months, leaving 76 percent more Marylanders unemployed today – 82,000 more people out of a job – than when Lt. Governor Brown took office.  Ask any one of the 1,600 applicants who applied for just 35 jobs with Shenandoah Family Farms in Hagerstown if the Lt. Governor fully appreciates the state of the economy and the financial struggle thousands of Marylanders face; ask any one of the 400 workers who were laid off when the original Good Humor ice cream plant closed two summers ago.  For these and countless other Marylanders, their answer is likely no.

There are plenty more specifics of the negative business climate that exists in the state of Maryland. How does Brown respond to this?

Instead of debating whether Maryland has a so-called “business friendly” climate or is hostile to business, Ken Ulman and I believe the more productive approach is to forge a stronger partnership between the public and private sectors. Through this partnership, we will identify our strengths and weaknesses, find ways to improve Maryland’s business climate, and encourage private sector investments in job creating activities here in Maryland. This should be our goal, regardless of where Maryland’s economy currently ranks.

It’s a “debate” whether or not Maryland is business friendly? Really? Even in its endorsement the Washington Post acknowledges that it’s a problem. The state of Maryland’s business climate is not a debate Brown wants to have; it’s one that he’ll lose. So he evades the issue.

Now Anthony Brown has some nice PowerPoint friendly diagrams to explain how he’d promote job growth. (Raising the minimum wage? I thought he was trying encourage business to come to Maryland.) Brown’s plan doesn’t match the specifics of Gansler’s (which also features some nice PowerPoint ready illustration but also suggests some tax relief *gasp* to help small businesses grow.) Gansler’s plans still are too government oriented for my taste, but they show that he’s put some thought into his program. Anthony Brown has not.

So why is the Washington Post endorsing Brown? The editorial acknowledges his two biggest failings. 1) Brown’s failure to get his highest profile job done and 2) his service in an administration that’s gutted Maryland’s economy.

Anthony Brown is also the choice of the vast majority of Maryland’s Democratic establishment. I guess they feel an obligation to promote the Lieutenant Governor and, possibly, realize that not doing so is an admission that the past eight years of Governor O’Malley have been less than successful for the state.

But what’s the Washington Post’s excuse? I thought the point of the fourth estate was to make government accountable. Acknowledging that a candidate has failed in his position and then endorsing him anyway is unforgivable for a publication that claims to be independent. I guess they feel that no Lieutenant Governor should be left behind.

Thanks to my pal Pillage Idiot for the inspiration.

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[Photo: Maryland GovPics / Flickr ]