I suppose everyone who writes a column on a recurring basis periodically writes one that makes predictions. So, here are my predictions for 2012. If the good Lord and The Hearld-Mail allow me to continue writing for another year I’ll publish a scorecard next year to “fess up” on how well I do.
Since 2012 is a presidential election year, several of my predictions will revolve around that event. Nationally I predict Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential standard bearer and will choose Rick Perry as his running mate (the last time Massachusetts and Texas teamed up there was a Democratic victory).
As you may recall, neither Romney nor Perry is my favorite — I still like Mike Huckabee and Chris Christy. Neither are running at this time, but Romney looks like the best possibility to unseat Obama. My second national prediction is that a Republican (whomever) will win the presidency.
Although I’m convinced that the Maryland 6th District’s congressional race is a toss-up, if Roscoe Bartlett really runs, I predict he will edge out Rob Garagiola. If Bartlett is not in the finals then I believe Garagiola wins. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin wins re-election hands down. Overall I believe the Democrats will lose five seats in the U.S. Senate and 15-20 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
At the state level I expect approval of the “Dream Act” (allowing the children of illegal immigrants to register in Maryland’s Community Colleges as in-state-students) will be upheld by the voters.
In Maryland I believe that fringe groups continue to polarize the voters with “sky is falling” rhetoric. In 2007, Gov. Bob Ehrlich, recently voted out of office, told a local Rotary Club that “Maryland voters have spoken; and a more liberal agenda is on the horizon.” Although I do not support illegal immigration, no one has shown me a compelling reason to not support the education of young people (a lack of education is the number one reason that keeps folks from making good decisions) whether legal or illegal.
Gov. Martin O’Malley, I predict, will push through legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Maryland. Personally I oppose, on religious grounds, the use of the word marriage in any legislation that allows a contractual union between persons of the same sex.
Conversely, I totally support the granting of equal civil rights to all persons regardless of their sexual persuasion. On this divisive issue I have always hoped that Maryland would simply approve a civil union agreement between same-sex individuals and let religious denominations grant “the state of marriage” based upon individual religious doctrine and convictions.
I believe that the state will increase the gas tax by as much as 15 cents per gallon (probably with incremental increases over a three year period). Jurisdictions that support the increase will, as usual, get the lion’s share of the revenue accrued from the tax increase.
Our delegation’s rigid and unswerving allegiance to no new taxes will place us with the lambs. I, like most Americans, am not a supporter of new or increased taxes; however, when faced with degradation of essential government services, such as road maintenance or road improvements, even ardent fiscal conservatives need to look at the revenue side of government (taxes) for relief.
Although I believe the rate of unemployment nationally will remain above 7 percent, I feel confident that locally Washington County’s rate will fall below the national average by the beginning of the fourth quarter of calendar year 2012. County government (and yes I know I’m prejudiced) is working hard to incentivize new and existing businesses to expand or move into our community. Jobs remain local government’s priority one.
I predict that finally the City of Hagerstown will develop a workable plan, centered on a stadium project to keep the Hagerstown Suns in our community.
The rudiments of this plan are already well known; the county, private investors and the state await the leadership of the city to put details in the plan. To define my prediction, I believe that if Mayor Robert Bruchey and the current city council do finally take on this leadership role and are able to sign a long-term contract with the Suns to keep them in town, then Bruchey wins re-election; if the Suns declare that they are leaving town then Bruchey and any of the current city council that run for re-election will be defeated. “Bob, the tipping point is now, get it done!”
I’ll publish a scorecard in late December of 2012.
Art Callaham is a Hagerstown resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.