5 Democrats Voted for Filibuster

Posted on November 23, 2007


At the bitter end of the recent unpleasantness in Annapolis, Senate Republicans mounted a final filibuster to make the Maryland Special Session crash and burn.

They couldn’t do it on their own. The Republicans have only 14 senators, and three of them were absent for the final vote, including the minority leader, Sen. Lowell Stoltzfus.

To the consternation of Senate President Mike Miller, five Democrats joined the 11 present Republicans in the wee hours of Nov. 19, and voted against a motion to cut off debate on the tax bill. The first two votes on cloture failed, 28-16, one vote shy of the 29 votes needed to end debate. It was after 2 a.m. Here are the five Democratic senators who voted to keep talking all night:

  1. Norman Stone, District 6, Dundalk and Essex, Baltimore County.
  2. Kathy Klausmeier, District 8, Parkville, Perry Hall, White Marsh, Rosedale, Baltimore County.
  3. James Brochin, District 42, Towson, Timonium, Smith-Greenspring, Baltimore County.
  4. George Della, District 46, South Baltimore City.
  5. Jennie Forehand, District 17, in the heart of Montgomery County.

Wait a minute! Jennie Forehand? What is Sen. Forehand doing, voting with four senators from the Baltimore area to scuttle the tax bill? Twice! Finally, on the third cloture vote (and after a phone call from Gov. Martin O’Malley), Forehand relented and joined the majority of Democrats voting to end debate, 29-15.

With the talking ended, the Senate passed the tax bill, 24-20.

The political geography of the anti-tax filibuster is worth noting.

The city of Baltimore is heavily Democratic. Its suburbs used to be reliably Democratic, too. Not anymore. Carroll County, to the west, and Harford County, to the northeast, have changed from Democratic to Republican over the past two decades. Baltimore County, which surrounds the city on three sides, is split. All the state senators, and most of the delegates, in the districts bordering the city are currently Democrats. But many of them are uneasy Democrats, as shown by the filibuster vote and the ensuing tax vote. (District 7, northeast Baltimore County, does not border the city, and has a Republican senator, Andrew Harris.)

On the west side of the city, the Democratic senators in Districts 10, 11 and 12 voted with the Democrats on cloture. But the senators on the north (Brochin), the northeast side (Klausmeier) and the southeast side (Stone) went with the Republicans. And so did Sen. Della from the city. Perhaps the gentrification of Federal Hill, Canton, Fells Point, Locust Point and South Baltimore is making Della’s city district as conservative as neighboring Arbutus and Dundalk, in the county. (Digression: Is gentrification creeping into Highlandtown? Yes. And where do all the working-class people who used to live in those neighborhoods live now? Good question.)

Whew, that’s enough inside baseball. No, wait, there’s more.

It’s worth noting that several Democrats who voted for cloture turned around a few minutes later and voted against the tax bill on final passage. Sen. Forehand stayed with the Democratic majority on the final tax bill vote.

Democrats who voted against the tax bill were Brochin, Klausmeier, Stone, Della. Also, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, District 11 in Baltimore County, Sen. James DeGrange, District 32 and Sen. John Astle, District 30, both Anne Arundel County, and Sen. Roy Dyson, District 29, Southern Maryland.

And Sen. Rona Kramer, District 14, Montgomery County.

And that’s all I have to say about inside baseball for tonight.  — Bernie Hayden