ANNAPOLIS — One day before the Maryland General Assembly reconvenes, the state’s Democratic Party held its 20th annual legislative luncheon Tuesday to tout how the party reflects the community.
With about 60 new members and a record 72 of the 188 state lawmakers being women, party leaders enthusiastically proclaimed the party’s diversity.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of electricity among our veterans and our new members,” said Delegate Jazz Lewis, 29, (D-District 24) of Glenarden, who’s now vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “We have more women. We have more folks of color [and] more young people. The ideas brought forth by that is going to make us better.”
The luncheon came amid an ongoing government shutdown affecting roughly 800,000 federal employees nationwide — 420,000 working without pay and 320,000 furloughed. An estimated 23,000 of those workers reside in Maryland, which Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) said feels the brunt of the shutdown because of the state’s proximity to D.C.
Schiff presented the keynote address and said the country “is in a very precarious moment,” especially while President Donald Trump hounds Congress to approve funding that includes nearly $6 billion to construct a wall along the Mexican border.
The House already approved legislation to reopen the government, but without money for a wall. The Senate reconvenes Tuesday afternoon, but need Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to initiate discussion for a vote on several bills.
Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and pledged to expand an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, said the country also received internal harm from elected officials.
“The damage that Russia did to our democracy was nothing compared to the damage that our own president and his administration did to our Congress,” said Schiff, one of the most outspoken critics of Trump. “Under an ordinary administration, [it] would be the champion of democracy and would be pushing back against authoritarianism of democracy, but that is not at all what has happened.”
He also praised Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), the new chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that plans to push certain mandates on the Trump administration, as a powerful ally, friend and orator.
“I view Elijah as one of two moral leaders in the House along with [Rep.] John Lewis,” he said. “He has the kind of voice where if you read the back of a cereal box he could make it sound like Shakespeare.”
The same day Democrats held its luncheon, Gonzales Research & Media Services of Arnold, Maryland, released a poll that shows only 34 percent of voters approve “of the job Trump is doing as president.” About 73 percent of Black voters support the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to begin an impeachment process to remove Trump from office.
However, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s support continues to rise at 77 percent, including 71 percent among Black voters. In addition, 67 percent of voters say things in Maryland are “moving in the right direction.”
“[Hogan’s] particularly impressive standing with state voters continues as he heads into his fifth legislative session as Maryland’s executive,” according to the poll from Patrick Gonzales, whose company conducted the poll between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4 among 809 registered voters.
The poll has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.5 percentage points.
Meanwhile, the state’s Democrat Party chairwoman, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said after the luncheon some of the ideas Hogan has touted came from Democratic proposals.
“In this legislative season, we think Governor Hogan is going to continue his rope-a-dope tactics … usurping ideas off the Democrats,” said, Cummings, wife of Elijah Cummings. “We certainly want to put him on notice that we’re watching.”