Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Guy's surprise

Rare is the morning that I am surprised reading the Howard Section of the Baltimore Sun. This was one of those mornings. And this was the story.

Two-term county councilman and presumptive Democratic candidate for Howard County executive Guy Guzzone said yesterday he would not run for the office for personal reasons, throwing the contest wide open.

Reporter Larry Carson understates the implication of Guzzone's decision. Indeed, by next November, we could have, in addition to a new county executive, an entirely new county council.

The path to the Democratic nomination for county executive had been cleared for Guzzone. Now with him out of the race, the field is wide open and likely includes councilman Ken Ulman, school board chairman Courtney Watson, police chief Wayne Livesay, and who knows who else. While it's still early, I would say Ulman has to be the favorite, and if he runs, that guarantees four open council seats. If you throw David Rakes' seat in the mix (which I think is as good as open at this point), that leaves every district up for grabs. At the risk of overstating things, Guzzone's decision could start a massive restructuring of the county political landscape.

Instead of county executive, Guzzone has opted to run for the House of Delegates in District 13, where a victory, it seems, is very likely--it is a strongly Democratic district. The race for county executive, on the other hand, will be fiercely contested, time consuming, and potentially ugly. Therefore, it is understandable that Guzzone, whose father's health is deteriorating, doesn't want to desert his family in their time of need. For that reason, I respect his decision, which he explained thusly:

"I'm the classic sandwich generation person at this time," said Guzzone, who revealed his decision in a letter to supporters. "All we really have to give to other people is our time. I intend to do that."

Howard County resident and blogger David Wissing, who writes only occasionally about county issues and is slightly to the right of me, thinks Guzzone's decision is based on fear that he'll lose the seat.

Now a race for the House of Delegates in his district would probably be a lot less stressful than a bruising County Executive race since the delegate seat is a reliable Democratic seat, but it does make his excuse for not running because of “family” reasons a little hollow. I hate to be cyncical, but it appears of the reason Guzzone bowed out of the County Executive race was because he was scared he would lose countywide to Chris Merdon and would rather take the easy way out and guarantee himself victory next year.

Well, in addition to the increased stress of the race, the county executive position requires a year-round commitment, whereas the General Assembly is only in session for three months. Moreover, running a government, I would imagine, takes significantly more time and energy than politicking with fellow delegates in Annapolis. But, perhaps David is right. Perhaps Guzzone was looking for the easy way out. Neither David nor I can say for sure.

As an aside, David, whose blog I read and enjoy daily, should know that cynicism is a choice. If one really hates being cynical, one can choose to not be so. Am I nitpicking here? You bet. But isn't that what blogs are all about?