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"DeMarco Factor" to be Immortalized in a Book

Most Annapolis insiders know Vinnie DeMarco as the indefatigable advocate for universal health care, beloved by progressive Democrats and dismissed by conservatives. As executive director of the nonprofit Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, he's a familiar face to reporters, a friendly nudge, always looking for publicity for his causes.

Now comes a book by Michael Pertschuk, a consumer advocate and former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, that immortalizes DeMarco and his story as a template for successful grassroots organizing.

"The DeMarco Factor: Transforming Public Will into Political Power," to be published next spring by Vanderbilt University Press, chronicles DeMarco's successful campaigns against the National Rifle Association, the tobacco lobby, Wal-Mart and the health care industry.

Pertschuk explains how DeMarco, a former leader of Maryland Young Democrats, has organized since the 1980s broad coalitions of health policy advocates, unions, churches and faith communities and even some business interests to help defeat the state's gun and tobacco lobbies with tougher gun control laws and higher cigarette taxes. In 2007 he worked with General Assembly leaders on a major expansion of Medicaid in Maryland.

The timing was good: House Speaker Mike Busch (D-Anne Arundel) made the legislation his priority and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) was eager to sign it. Enrollment in the state-federal medical insurance program for the poor has exceeded predictions.

According to DeMarco, the book will be fun reading for Maryland political junkies, with appearance by lawmakers, governors, reporters, industry players, advocates and policy wonks.

By Lisa Rein  |  June 26, 2009; 12:07 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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