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Daily Record: Hogan, Franchot play greatest hits on latest tour stop

GLEN BURNIE — An unsuccessful attempt to unfetter the state’s craft brewing industry will return to Annapolis in 2019 “with more bells and whistles,” if Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot has his way.

Franchot made the promise Thursday to bring back his top priority next year while sitting next to Gov. Larry Hogan, who said if he wins re-election in November, he will redraw the electoral map in a way that may make Democrats regret killing his attempts at reform over the last three years.

The pair spoke to a gathering of business leaders at luncheon organized by the Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce. While not the first roadshow for the pair, it was the first time they have appeared together since the end of the 2018 General Assembly session using the format they’ve taken around the state in a show of bipartisan chest-bumping and forearm bashing.

“The governor and I work together,” said Franchot, a Democrat. “We look for opportunities where we can agree rather than disagree. Everywhere I go in the state of Maryland — Democrats, Republicans, independents, liberal, conservative, moderate — and they say, ‘Thank you for working together because it gives us a little spark that’s going to spread in Annapolis’ and ‘Hey, how about a chance it might actually spread to Washington?'”

The comptroller called his relationship with Hogan, a Republican, “the lighted path forward in American politics.”

Franchot was effusive in thanking Hogan for assistance in passing other legislation, including the Taxpayer Protection Act in 2017 and Hogan’s executive order requiring public schools to open after Labor Day.

The comptroller then vowed to bring back his top 2018 priority — a bill he says will make it easier for craft brewers to do business in Maryland.

“There isn’t a craft brewer in the country that would touch Maryland with a 10-foot pole right now,” Franchot said.

Franchot said the legislature, in turn, “blames me. They need someone to blame and they can’t blame the governor so they blame me.”

“I’ve been trying to help the industry one beer at a time,” Hogan quipped.

Speaking after the meeting, the comptroller stressed the importance of the industry to state agriculture and said he hoped to expand his bill to help other startup alcohol businesses in Maryland, including craft distilling. Another bell and whistle, Franchot said, would likely be some kind of economic development proposal, though he offered no specifics. Politically, the Hogan-Franchot roadshow it appears to have benefits for both.

For Hogan, the pairing fits well with the bipartisan brand he has tried to develop since being elected in 2014 in a state where he will need not only his Republican base but a significant number of Democrats and independent voters to back him to win a second term.

For Franchot, a recent Goucher Poll found the former legislator once known as a “Takoma Park Liberal” is as well liked by Republicans as he is members of his own party.

Redistricting case

Hogan expressed frustration over the General Assembly’s inability to pass some legislation important to him, including a redistricting reform law that would create an independent, non-partisan commission.

“They stuff it in a drawer, never even discuss it and say we’re not doing anything. They’re holding on to their power,” Hogan said of the legislature. “So, in spite of their failure to act, the Supreme Court is going to act and if the people of Maryland decide to re-elect me in November, I will re-draw the districts in 2020 after the Census and… we will have free and fair elections in Maryland. We will draw districts the right way.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on a gerrymandering case involving Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. Hogan said he’s optimistic.

“I think we’re going to win that case and we’re going to be able to make some headway,” said Hogan.

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