By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Sept. 6, 2018) Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, a Republican, said she is unafraid to draw distinctions between herself and Democratic Sen. Jim Mathias in the campaign for the District 38 Maryland Senate seat.
Carozza was elected four years ago to a newly created District 38C seat in the Maryland House of Delegates, following service in several federal and state administrations and campaigns, including the campaign to reelect former Gov. Robert Ehrlich and with the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security.
She said residents of Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties started to encourage her to run for state senate about two years ago.
Carozza said there are two main advantages to switching houses in the Maryland General Assembly.
“When you are one of 47 in the state senate, you have a stronger role, so that gives you a stronger voice,” she said. “Number two, Gov. [Larry] Hogan is on track to be reelected as our governor and I am the true, strongest partner to Gov. Hogan.
“I truly believe that he needs two terms in order to effect lasting change and I’m sensitive to that because, when I worked for Gov. Ehrlich, we did not have our second term and I know how much more we could’ve done,” Carozza added.
Then, she was an advisor. Now, she’s an elected legislative official and “on track to be in the state senate where I can be a very strong – even stronger partner – with Gov. Hogan on the priorities for the shore.”
“I absolutely am convinced that moving from the delegate position to the state senate position will strengthen my advocacy for the shore and for all three counties,” Carozza said. “I have to make the case and earn the trust for the promotion.”
While Mathias has emphasized running as an independent legislator, Carozza said it is important to run as a team with the current governor.
As in the previous campaign, Carozza said she spent many months “in listening mode” before publicly announcing a decision. When she did so, Hogan was by her side.
“Whether it was talking to the watermen, farmers, seniors, health care professionals, teachers [or] families, I consistently heard that they want government to work and be responsive, they want limited government, they like the track that Gov. Hogan has set us on in changing Maryland, [and] that there has been a focus on jobs, economic development, tax and regulatory policies that keep our seniors and our small businesses here in Maryland,” she said.
“As I heard that, I thought … I could do more for the shore in the state senate,” Carozza continued. “The easiest action I could have taken was to run for reelection, because I did win close to 74 percent of the vote and I would’ve been on track to win my reelection. [But], I was willing to take the risk.”
She officially announced her campaign last November at Ocean City Elementary School, where she was once a student.
“The highlight [was] having Gov. Hogan not only attend, but endorse me on the spot,” Carozza said. “Since that announcement, it has been a whirlwind.”
Before the legislative session resumed in January, Carozza said she took part in eight different Christmas parades and hosted three small fundraisers.
“On top of all that, I have kept a full-time schedule as delegate with all of my official meetings, the preparation for session, the chamber meetings, the health care meetings [and] the small business visits, leading up to session,” she said.
Door-to-door visits started in February and, although she did not have a challenger during the primary, Carozza said she ran “like I was 20 points behind.”
“I wanted to also run up Gov. Hogan’s numbers, because I see my job as running up [and] supporting his numbers on the shore, so we can offset any support that may not be as strong across the bridge,” she said.
She said 38C Delegate-elect Wayne Hartman helped in Ocean Pines and throughout the rest of the district by distributing “Hogan-Carozza materials,” including handouts and yard signs. Meanwhile, she focused on other areas in the senate district in Somerset and Wicomico counties.
“As a result, my primary numbers were very strong,” she said. “I believe that laid the groundwork for then the general election, which would be a continuation of everything that we’re doing as far as the grassroots listening visits, the social media to raise my name and visibility in areas I don’t represent, and to begin to draw the contrast between the current senator and myself.”
Carozza said there is a clear contrast in voting records and “in working with and partnering with Gov. Hogan,” as well as “a general approach to our local partnerships.”
She pointed to a record of “consistently voting to sustain Hogan’s vetoes,” including with bills related to paid sick leave and school accountability. Carozza said that could be crucial if Republicans manage to pick up five seats in the Democratic-controlled senate.
“It forces more consensus on the beginning of the process,” she said. “There’s no incentive for the other side, if they really want to ramrod an issue, like the paid sick leave bill, to work with us on the front end.
“This defining contrast between the two of us on the vetoes is very, very key,” Carozza said. “I do not – and will never – have to check with [Senate President] Mike Miller on how I’m going to vote on an issue, to see if they have enough votes to override the governor and, then it’s OK, then you can vote your district, which is the complete wrong approach to representing District 38.”
She also drew a contrast between Mathias’ support of “taxpayer funded, heroin injection sites in our community” described earlier this year in a mailed political advertisement from the Republic Party that said, “Jim Mathias Is Making It Easier To Get Heroin Than Ice Cream!”
Senate Bill 288, to which the ad referred, was described as “an act concerning public health – [the] overdose and infectious disease prevention supervised drug consumption facility program.”
“I want to be clear: I strongly opposed that – he sponsored it,” Carozza said. “I understand [Mathias] has also said we’re not ready for it yet – I would argue the shore would never be ready for that approach. Maybe it works in Amsterdam, maybe it works in New York City, but it doesn’t work on the shore.”
She added, “I differentiate between that mailing and the issue.”
“That was not my mailing and I certainly would not have gone as far as that mailing went because, with the contrast and the facts, you didn’t need to go that far,” she said. “But, I want to be clear: the contrast – the issue – is very clear.”
The other major contrast, according to Carozza, is her alliance with Hogan.
“I’ve been endorsed by Gov. Hogan – I endorse Gov. Hogan – and Jim Mathias is associated with [Democratic candidate for governor] Ben Jealous,” she said. “He may not be endorsing him, but has he denounced some of the socialist policies that Ben Jealous has advocated?
“I am a strong partner to Gov. Hogan and I certainly denounce Ben Jealous’ socialist policies,” she continued. “I believe that my voters know that there is a clear difference.”