Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Sedimentary Stone

A fixture in the State Senate since 1967 is my current Maryland State Senator, Norman Stone. The 74 year old State Senator represents the 6th legislative district and his long tenure makes him the longest serving sitting State Senator. Prior to his tenure in the State Senate, Stone served in the House of Delegates from 1963 to 1967.

Norman Stone is an interesting legislator. Key aspects of his current voting record can be viewed here. Based on this and his historic approval ratings from interest groups - the Sendimentary Stone is a mixed bag.

On issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, Stone has come down on the side of social conservatism 80-90% of the time. He has actively opposed indoor clean air acts, supports requiring proof of citizenship to get a drivers license, and has a strong rating from firearm rights groups. Yet, he supports a ban on cell phone / texting while driving and bans on certain food colorings - issues which are generally more in line with the progressive idea that "big government" must protect us.

On the fiscal front - Stone is all over the map. He's been in support of increased spending legislation and increased environmental regulations. While, in the same session he votes actively against tax increases. Stone opposed a sales tax increases, supported removing certain computer sales taxes...while in the same breath he supported increasing income taxes on millionaires and the establishment of a "living wage" for certain state workers.

The dichotomy in his voting record shows a man who wants to serve two masters - the conservative constituents of his district and the liberal leadership of the Maryland Democratic Party. No person can serve two masters forever and with an election coming up, Stone may end up picking one of the two. Will he kowtow to the liberal leadership and walk down the progressive pathway to fend off a primary challenge? Will he realize that he represents a more conservative people than the state at large? Or will he continue operating as the sedimentary mixup of views with no apparent cohesive political philosophy? Time will tell - as the campaign for 2010 has only just begun.

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