Baltimore Democrat joins the House tea party
Del. Curt Anderson has joined the Maryland tea party. The Baltimore Democrat, who told The Sun last night that he might run for city council president, said he agrees "100 percent" with the group's approach to holding the line on taxes and reducing the size of government.
The newly formed House of Delegates' tea party caucus, a group led by conservative Del. Mike Smigiel of the Eastern Shore, announced today that it elected Anderson vice chairman. Smigiel said he is "very pleased" to have a Democrat involved in leadership.
Other caucus officials include Del. Justin Ready and Del. Michael McDermott, new Republican House members. Del. Neil Parrott, another Republican newcomer, is drafting the mission statement for the group. Smigiel said other Democrats also have expressed interest in the caucus.
Anderson, a delegate from 1983 to 1995 and since 2003, said in an interview this afternoon that the group's "purely fiscal" focus was what attracted his interest. Smigiel and other House tea partiers said they plan to stay away from potentially divisive social issues altogether.
"Their constituency may be conservative," Anderson said, "but just as mine in Northeast Baltimore, they feel that taxes are already too high."
Anderson said he thinks Baltimore residents agree with the tea party philosophy of reducing the size of government instead of raising taxes. He said he hopes his membership in the tea party caucus will send a signal to his fellow Democrats.
"Those who are in leadership need to know that Marylanders can't afford to pay more taxes," he said. "Maybe if they hear it from the rank and file, that might color the way they consider the budget."
Anderson said he plans to vote against any hike in the gasoline tax. A proposal recently introduced by the Senate majority leader calls for a 10-cent increase. But Anderson said he "probably" would vote for higher alcohol taxes, saying they haven't been raised in decades and "don't affect the scope of people" that the gas tax does.
As for how tea partying could affect a bid for city council president in heavily Democratic Baltimore, Anderson said all candidates for citywide office run on a platform of reducing property taxes.
"The government should be a helpful entity," he said, "not just something that is constantly trying to find new ways to tax citizens."