Wild Speculation About The New Year, 2010

Posted on December 31, 2009


It’s the last day of 2009, the last day of the decade. Let’s have some fun. Nobody can predict the future, but that’s not going to stop me from making a few wild speculations about things that might happen in 2010.  Herewith, wild guesses based on nothing more than a hunch.

  • No ambitious Republican is going to sit out the 2010 election. The voters may not be so hostile to incumbents, or so favorable to Republicans, for another decade. That’s especially true in Maryland.
  • Bob Ehrlich, former governor of Maryland, is the only Republican with state-wide recognition, so he can run for any available office, all of which are currently occupied by Democrats.
  • For a sure thing, Mr. Ehrlich could return to the House of Representatives. He would win by a landslide in District 1 against Rep. Frank Kratovil, the freshman Democratic congressman on the Eastern Shore.
  • Or Mr. Ehrlich could run for Maryland’s top office against Gov. Martin O’Malley. But according to an analysis of voter statistics by blogger Adam Pagnucco, Gov. O’Malley would probably win.
  • Might Mr. Ehrlich consider running for comptroller against Democrat Peter Franchot? Mr. Ehrlich would be the favorite in that contest, in my opinion. And can you imagine the drama of Comptroller Ehrlich and Gov. O’Malley together on the three-member Board of Public Works.
  • Could Sen. Barbara Mikulski possibly be vulnerable in a statewide race for re-election? Like I said, 2010 will be a tricky year for incumbents, especially those who have been around long enough for voters to blame them for any and all perceived problems. Sen. Mikulski is popular throughout Maryland.  But so is Gov. Ehrlich.  An Ehrlich-Mikulski election would be a spectacle to behold.
  • Sen. Mikulski might consider following the example of former Attorney General Joe Curran’s decision to retire while still at the top.
  • Speaking of retiring with dignity, maybe State Senate President Mike Miller, whom Adam Pagnucco gleefully refers to as “Big Daddy,” might want to reconsider retirement. Neither re-election in his Prince Georges County district, nor re-coronation as Senate president, is guaranteed forever, in my opinion.
  • Despite the favorable conditions for Republicans, they will not increase their minority in the Maryland Senate, and could actually lose a seat. Several Republican incumbents will not be running for re-election.
  • For example, Del. Jim Mathias, a Democrat and former mayor of Ocean City, is the favorite to win the lower Eastern Shore seat being given up by retiring Republican Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus. Just my opinion.
  • Sen. Jim Brochin, a Democrat with independent tendencies, has defeated two of the best Republican candidates in Baltimore County, in 2002 and 2006. Are there any viable Republicans left to challenge him in District 42, of will Sen. Brochin get a free ride in 2010?

Leaving aside politics, let’s speculate on the economy. I can’t help myself.

  • It looks like a double-dip recession to me, with the second dip in 2010.
  • The stock market has taken a big, big bounce in the second half of 2009. Ever hear the expression, “Too good to be true?”
  • Will the price of gold hit a peak, and begin a long decline? Yes, but probably not in 2010. Ever hear the expression, “What goes up must come down?”
  • The New Year will be miserable for airlines and airline travelers.
  • It’s too late for the newspaper industry to save itself from long-term self-destruction. But can blogs and other new media fill the gap?
  • It will be another dismal year for the hotel industry. But hopefully hotels in Ocean City will continue to out-perform the industry.
  • Real estate prices will not come back much in 2010. In my opinion, residential and commercial property values will more likely continue a slow decline in 2010.
  • The Chinese economy is growing so quickly, it’s sucking up much of the world’s economic growth potential. So no significant improvement in U.S. unemployment in 2010.

And on a lighter note:

  • The Baltimore Orioles will break out of their losing streak. 2010 would be their first winning season in a decade. On what evidence do I base that wild prediction?  As sportscasters say about a hitter who’s in a slump, the Orioles are just plain overdue for a change in luck.
  • Maryland will not make a single dime on slot machines in 2010.
  • Newsie Erin Burnett, an Eastern Shore native, will break out of the relative obscurity of CNBC business news. I’m guessing that Ms. Burnett will soon be promoted to a more prominent anchor role on either MSNBC or plain vanilla NBC. Or perhaps she will become a high-profile foreign correspondent, parachuting in to cover the big story of the day anywhere in the world.

The sun will come up on schedule every day in 2010, but sometimes it will be blocked by clouds. With apologies to Bull Durham, “Some days you win, some days you lose, and some days it rains.”

— Bernie Hayden