Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jim Hubbard: Delegate to the Gas Stations

The 2010 primary election in Maryland is three months away, and campaign signs have been popping up all over Bowie. It seems like the signs are up earlier than in years past, and there is an overabundance of large signs. Jim Hubbard and Michael Jackson have the most large signs, but mini billboards for Rafael Hylton, Shukoor Ahmed and Rushern Baker have been seen around Bowie as well.

Jim Hubbard appears to be the Maryland House of Delegates candidate that District 23A gas station owners are supporting almost exclusively. If an area gas station has a large political sign on display, chances are that it's a sign for Delegate Jim Hubbard.

The gas station on the corner of Laurel Bowie Road and Old Chapel Road historically displayed campaign signs for conservative candidates. Signs stood in this gas station in 2002 supporting Audrey Scott for County Executive and Paul Ellington for Mayor. Today there is an eight foot wide sign supporting Democratic candidate Jim Hubbard.

Large Hubbard campaign signs can be seen at Whitehall Shell, the Sunoco on Route 197, the former Citgo on Old Chapel Road and the Chevron at the corner of Route 450 and Route 3. There appears to be widespread support for Hubbard among independent gas station owners.

Maryland House Bill 736 (2001rs) may be the reason area station owners support Hubbard. Jim Hubbard co-sponsored HB736 in 2001 to create price controls on the sale of gasoline in Maryland. Independent gas station owners claimed that large convenience store chains like Sheetz, Wawa and Royal Farms were selling gasoline at or below cost in an effort to drive the independent stations out of business. Once HB736 was signed into law by then Governor Parris Glendening, the State of Maryland began forcing some stores to raise gasoline prices when the prices became too low.

Supporters of the bill claim that without price protections, the large convenience stores and other discount chains would offer gasoline at or below cost to attract customers, the independent gas stations would be driven out of business, and the large chains would then raise gas prices once the competition is eliminated. The net effect would be less competition and higher gas prices for Maryland residents.

Detractors of the bill point out that some retailers want to offer lower gas prices today, but they're not allowed to because of HB736. They claim that the net effect is higher gas prices for Maryland residents.

Supporters and detractors of HB736 do agree on one thing: the bill is good for the independent gas station owners, and that may translate into real estate for Hubbard campaign signs in 2010.

It's also possible that the willingness to host Hubbard campaign signs is more about the future than the past. Independent gas station owners have lobbied for a law to eliminate "zone pricing" by gasoline wholesalers. Zone pricing is the method used by the wholesalers to vary the price of gasoline by area in order to get the highest price that consumers in that area will pay. For example, gasoline in zones with fewer stations will be more expensive because there is less competition. Consumers in Bethesda will pay more for gasoline because they have more disposable income. If wholesaler zone pricing is eliminated, drivers in Bethesda will continue to pay more for gas than drivers in Bowie, but more profit would go to the station owner and not the wholesaler.

A bill was sponsored in 2008 to establish a task force to study the elimination of zone pricing by gasoline wholesaler, but the legislation did not pass, and Hubbard was not one of the sponsors. Time will tell if the Maryland legislature picks up the issue again.

See pictures of Hubbard campaign signs at area gas stations below.

Click on the following links for related information.

Sunoco at the corner of Old Chapel Road and Laurel Bowie Road

Whitehall Shell on Route 197

Former Citgo near the intersection of Old Chapel Road and Race Track Road

Chevron at the Corner of Route 450 and Route 3

Sunoco at the intersection of Annapolis Road and Whitfield Chapel Road in Lanham/Seabrook near the Capital Beltway

Enterprise Shell on Annapolis Road in Lanham/Seabrook

Forbes BP Amoco at the corner of Annapolis Road and Forbes Blvd in Lanham/Seabrook

Seabrook BP Amoco on Lanham Severn Road in Seabrook

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for mentioning my name in your blog. I was not planning to begin putting signs very early. Being an underdog, I needed to go out and hustle and have our signs as well. I guess all news/publicity is fair and may help get the name out.