One thing I’ve noticed in the rampup to Larry Hogan’s big announcement is a significantly increased tempo in media operations from Change Maryland, and the report released yesterday was more than just a little thorn in Martin O’Malley’s side – nope, this was more like a shiv stuck in there and twisted around a couple times. Sadly, pay for play may be considered business as usual in Maryland, but this also demonstrates that Martin O’Malley’s grandiose presidential dreams were cemented into place as the 2010 returns came in.
The always-quotable Hogan remarked:
Our preliminary research indicates a disturbing ‘pay to play’ pattern emerging from the O’Malley-Brown Administration where some DGA donors received a substantial, and increased, state benefits before and after making a contribution. Did the Governor solicit large contributions to help further his national aspirations and reward those donors with huge state contracts and/or implement policies that help them significantly?
Our initial research of DGA financial records is just the tip of the iceberg. It establishes a troubling trend which, when complete, may require a deeper investigation.
Could this investigation be a centerpiece of a Hogan administration? Perhaps, although having an Attorney General who won’t sweep this under the rug (i.e. a Democrat) would be of great assistance in this regard. I think Richard Douglas could sink his teeth into this one.
And while the allegations are against Martin O’Malley, whose Maryland electoral days are likely behind him, you have to wonder how much of these broad brushstrokes will tar Anthony Brown, the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination. And considering all this went on under the nose of Brown’s chief rival, Attorney General Doug Gansler, he may be in for a share of blame, too.
This obviously leads me to wonder about the timing of Change Maryland releasing its promised January report when you consider that Hogan’s announcement is also slated for sometime that month. My belief is that the report will come out just a day or two before the official announcement, giving Larry a longer news cycle to build momentum for his race.
But it also pushes me into thinking that the 2014 election could be one of the muddiest in Maryland history. We’ve already seen evidence of this in the internecine Democratic fighting between Brown and Gansler – interesting how the state trooper incident and underage drinking allegations came out at just the point when Gansler was beginning to get a little traction in the race.
So I got to wondering who was the one that went way back to 1992 and started the meme which Jeff Quinton reported on regarding Hogan’s position on abortion? One has to take this in context, though: Hogan was running for a Congressional seat at the time (as opposed to a state office) and there was a ballot question regarding abortion law which was petitioned to referendum but handily kept in place by state voters at the time. (Question 6 of 1992 passed by a 62%-38% margin, and was the last referendum until 2012.) Being pro-choice was perhaps the safer electoral move at the time – besides, it took less than four years for Barack Obama to do an about-face on gay marriage so it’s possible Larry has gravitated to a more pro-life perspective in the last 22.
Of course Democrats know that the Republican base is primarily pro-life, so what better way to sow seeds of discord among a select group of GOP primary voters than to bring up the abortion issue? Frankly, that’s not a top-drawer concern for many voters, even in the GOP, but that five percent who identify it as their key issue can make a difference in a multi-person primary. (Aside from the notion that Hogan favored keeping abortions legal, he’s right on the money about overturning Roe v. Wade and sending the issue to the states. It’s a battle best fought in Annapolis…and Dover, and Columbus, and Austin, and so forth.)
But if someone is digging that deep to find dirt about Larry Hogan, perhaps there’s something to the notion that we weren’t buried face-down as deep as some would have thought eight years ago. 2014 seems like a nice time to emerge.
This one really, really, REALLY showed me how much common sense the other party has.
I was sitting here minding my own business when I came across an e-mail from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. It started out like this:
I love the Baltimore Ravens — I always have. And because there are few things better in life than good crabcakes and the reigning champs, I want to share them both with you.
That’s why I’m inviting ten supporters and their guests to join me in Baltimore to watch the Ravens take on the Detroit Lions on Monday, December 16th.
I’ll leave aside the fact that Ms. Rawlings-Blake is old enough to remember the Baltimore Colts, and that the Ravens are a relatively new creation thanks to Art Modell – who is the exception to the rule that we should never speak ill of the dead. (Nor do I care for crabcakes, but I would gladly take a plate full of lightly battered rockfish.)
But being an NFL fan, and in particular a fan of those aforementioned Detroit Lions, I knew that game was in Detroit. So why would you advertise such a party? Anyway, after the obligitory money appeal the mayor fesses up:
Just because it’s an away game doesn’t mean we can’t show some hometown pride here in Baltimore. Food and drinks are on us — all you have to do is show up (but bonus points if you wear some purple).
What we probably won’t know until after the fact is where they are having this shindig. Are they going to use a stadium luxury box or other facility there? (M&T Stadium indeed hosts these types of events.) I guess if the Ravens are pimping Obamacare, they would feel at home hosting a Democrat fundraiser too. Or maybe they can have it at the Hilton Baltimore – they have plenty of room as well.
My guess is that Rawlings-Blake, who is now DNC secretary, is trying to get her fundraising commitment to that group in. You honestly don’t think she’s gotten the gig from taking good notes or faithfully recounting the meetings, do you? It’s all about the Benjamins, baby. Otherwise you could save yourself the donation to that most worthless of causes and catch the game at the local Greene Turtle or Buffalo Wild Wings. (The company might be better, too.)
But if there’s one thing about Maryland I would like to see purple, it would be the political color of the state come 2014. Just make sure to have the reddish hues in the right places, like statewide offices and the General Assembly. The U.S. Senate seats can be blue for a couple more years afterward, leaving a nice shade of violet.
Now if you turned a shade of purple with rage upon reading this, I could think of better places to donate – like the tipjar at the top of the page. I’m in need of upgrading my server and that costs money; every little bit helps. Thank you for your support!
Last week I said that Change Maryland may get to 70,000 Facebook friends by the end of the week; alas, I was apparently off by a couple days. Maybe it was the weekend ice storm which slowed them down, but Larry Hogan’s group eclipsed the mark earlier today. Here’s some of what the founder had to say:
The growth we’ve seen in the last few weeks is incredible. This further cements what we’ve been saying over the last two years: Marylanders, regardless of party, are ready to say enough is enough, and they’re ready to stand up together and fight back for a change.
When I started Change Maryland, my goal was to provide average Marylanders the chance to hold their elected officials accountable. I had no idea what kind of reaction we would get, so to say I am humbled by this amazing success would be an understatement, and I’d like to sincerely thank each and every person who has made this possible.
This campaign to Change Maryland has never been about Republicans vs. Democrats. It’s much more important than that. This is about all Marylanders and the future of our state. It’s about our children and grandchildren’s futures. It’s about all of us, working together to save the state that we love.
All that is great, and Larry’s group is undeniably one of the leaders in pointing out a number of flaws in the state’s current fiscal philosophy. But what I’m anxiously awaiting to find out is what prescriptions a Hogan adminstration would have to address the problems should he be fortunate enough to move into Government House thirteen months from now. We know all about the dozens and dozens of tax increases which have been placed into effect by Martin O’Malley and his (mostly) Democratic allies in the General Assembly; it’s a litany the release alluded to this afternoon:
The group has gained much attention for its various studies on the economic impact of the O’Malley-Brown Administration on the state, including a report detailing the 40 tax increases that have already taken $9.5 billion from the state economy and will take $20 billion by 2018. They also conducted the Tax Migration Study that showed 31,000 Marylanders leaving the state after the administration’s historic tax increases, taking with them an additional $1.7 billion.
But which ones would be the most likely to be set aside and which ones will be found to be necessary for maintaining a balanced budget in this state? And speaking of that end, what will Larry’s spending priorities be?
Obviously I don’t want to diminish the achievement of Change Maryland, which simply by its name has an image of reversing some of the state’s downward trend over the last seven years. But the question has to be asked about whether all 70,000 will be on board once Larry has to stop identifying the problems and begin to address them with a gubernatorial platform.
I’m not privy to his formal announcement date aside from being told it would be next month, but if Larry wanted to speak to some of the state’s leading conservative activists, he may want to consider having Change Maryland sponsor the Turning the Tides Conference on January 10-11 in Annapolis. That would be a great way for any candidate to consider showing off his or her conservative side.
This portion of my dossier will focus on what I call the role of government: simply put, does the candidate seem to believe in the concept of limited government? More importantly, can I be confident they will show leadership in putting government in its place?
People may mistakenly believe the pro-liberty movement wants no government, but few would consider unfettered anarchy their true objective. Yet government should have limits, and those prescribed in our Constitution would serve as a good guide for restoration of its proper role. After all, Article 6 of the Maryland Constitution Declaration of Rights spells this concept out:
That all persons invested with the Legislative or Executive powers of Government are the Trustees of the Public, and, as such, accountable for their conduct: Wherefore, whenever the ends of Government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the People may, and of right ought, to reform the old, or establish a new Government; the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
In my opinion, we definitely need to “reform the old” and establish a new pattern of leadership which will rightsize the state’s government to an appropriate level.
So here are some of the things each of the current candidates had to say about this.
David Craig: As Governor, I will focus on fixing the systemic breakdown in Maryland’s criminal justice system. Department of Corrections management will be held accountable if any cell phones are allowed in prison.
At the very least, crimes committed with guns should be tried in federal court so offenders are not eligible for parole. (E)arly release schemes must be reviewed on the basis of the impact on crime, not what’s best for the criminal.
I will appoint judges who end the revolving door on crime.
Feel-good legislation will be replaced with vigorous enforcement and prosecution of gun crimes.
Speed camera contracts, enabled by state law, will be terminated.
I will work to re-align Maryland’s spending on welfare programs with other states in the region including unemployment compensation, food stamps, Medicaid, home energy assistance and other programs.
To increase transparency, state government will be required to use social media and other web-based platforms to disseminate information on their actions to the public. (campaign website)
Craig said Maryland Governors need to engage the U.S. EPA on mandates like the one on which the state rain tax law is premised.
“There is no reason the Governor of Maryland should assume a subservient status when it comes to conforming with federal government wishes,” said Craig. ”Maryland is not leading, we’re following, which is a shame because we have more at stake in protecting the Bay than any other state.” (press release, July 1, 2013)
An interesting question was how he would deal with the federal government. Craig would lean on the Republican Governor’s Association which, as he noted, had grown from 13 states when he was first elected in 1979 to 30 now. (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)
Craig referred to his experience of reaching out to those on both sides of the aisle and that the way that he approaches people helps him have a better chance at a successful legislative agenda. (Raging Against the Rhetoric, June 2013)
Ron George: Requiring independent audits of all departments and agencies, including our Medicaid, Welfare, and state health insurance. Cutting any waste found within these audits. Improve needed efficiency and effectiveness. Flow money more directly to its intended target, cutting out government “middlemen”. Eliminate duplicative services across state agencies. Level funding whenever the economy slows.
Implementing the state’s transparency software that the O’Malley/ Brown administration cut funding to.
Removing the pressure of one-size fits all state mandates on local governments because the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
Allowing and encouraging the enforcement all existing laws. Remove ineffective and over-reaching laws.
Better defining roles, for Sheriffs, state and local police in ways that allow each to better do their work.
Making sure (Constitutional rights) will not be infringed upon. Ron George believes the strength of our state lies with the individual and each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored. (campaign site)
Bringing in professional, independent auditors to review every department and agency will allow us to root out the waste and redirect funds to programs where they will do the most good. Independent audits work. (Baltimore Sun, August 8, 2013)
“My plan for governor is one that’s very regional. I believe that you have to have a different solution for what’s going to work in Baltimore, what’s going to work in Prince George’s County, you have to find ways to make things work. I believe in building an economic base, a tax base, a strong one, in Baltimore City.” (interview with Kenn Blanchard, September 9, 2013)
He said a state grant with a payback provision makes sense, because if it spurs a local economy, it increases the tax base. If private firms aren’t stepping up, “you need a grant to close that hole,” he said. The state “awards a lot of grants we never see a payback on. The money is gone.” (Kent County News, August 22, 2013)
Explaining that he suggested a state health care insurance exchange be created in 2007, George said problems with the Obama Administration’s health care fix are that, “It centralizes control and it’s one size fits all.” (Dorchester Star, August 25, 2013)
Charles Lollar: ”If you think our rights are from men, don’t vote for me,” said Lollar. “Rights and liberties…come from the Creator of our universe.” (WCRC meeting, August 26, 2013)
Charles believes in the dignity of the individual. We are a free people able and chartered by our Constitution to self-govern. The role of government is to provide avenues, not to be the yoke. (campaign website, “Platform”)
Reform sloppy and incompetent government practices that dispense discrimination and pick winners.
Manage departments so they are more responsive, efficient, accountable and transparent. Require independent audits of government departments and agencies.
Reduce the cost of operating state government by streamlining the bureaucracy; managing the size of government, not by cutting government jobs, but through attrition and eliminating waste. (campaign website, “Accountability”)
“Our Founding Fathers never wanted this country to have full-time politicians. Ever…I’m proud of the fact I have very little political experience.” (blogger interview, June 24, 2013)
Responding to concerns that many foreclosures don’t meet long-standing legal criteria dictated by Federal or State law, the NAACP recently asked Governor O’Malley to sign an executive order to halt foreclosures until the claims of illegal practices can be investigated.
“I am supporting the NAACP in the fight for a moratorium on foreclosures and to stop the flood of people losing their homes illegally,” Lollar said. (press release, November 18, 2013)
In looking at the body of work David Craig brings to the table, I can find a lot to like about his record as a tax reducer. He also hits the correct notes on fighting crime (which is a legitimate function of government) but I’d be curious to know where he stands on the failed War on Drugs, which needlessly drives up the prison population.
He gets points for being willing to dump the speed camera program (better known in these parts as “scameras”) as perhaps he understands that the idea of these isn’t really safety, but a feelgood way of passing yet another “sin tax.” But why stop at bringing entitlements down to the level of surrounding states? Why not provide leadership by putting into motion the idea of sunsetting them entirely? That would certainly show he’s not subservient to the federal government, even at the risk of losing federal money.
I also don’t get the idea of reaching across the aisle – aren’t they the ones who messed things up in the first place? I want conservative, pro-liberty proposals and a leader who can make the opposition vote the correct way by using the people as his lobbyists, sort of like this guy named Reagan did. Out of 13 points, I think I will give David 8.
In looking at what Ron George had to say, it’s obvious he wants a leaner, more efficient government. But the question is whether he wants a smaller government, since these concepts aren’t necessarily mutual. Having 10 people enforce an unnecessary mandate is not much better than having 20 people enforce it.
Moreover, the idea about “a grant with a payback provision” – isn’t that a loan? I’ve never liked the idea of a governmental entity being a pass-through for anything.
On the other hand, if he goes the step beyond eliminating waste and begins eliminating mandates and laws, then we may be getting somewhere. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous section, George was partially responsible for allowing them to happen because he voted for the bills. Admittedly he may be moving farther to the right as his political career continues, bucking the common trend, but until I see specifics I can only guess he will be the type of governor who will streamline things but keep them in place for some future Democratic governor to abuse. This is why I added the last bullet point about the exchanges, because he’s backed away a little bit from them of late now that Obamacare has been shown to be a failure (note the quote is from August, before Obamacare took effect.) So I will give him 6 of 13 points.
Similarly, Charles Lollar borrows Ron George’s idea for independent audits, but only wants to make cuts through attrition. I have news for you, Charles: in order to rightsize government, some of those excess workers will have to be forced to join the private sector, otherwise we will be right back in the same boat once your term is up and some Democrat comes in again.
But there is one thing I’m beginning to notice in the statements Charles is making: a distinct strain of populism. Most conservatives would agree with the assertion that rights and liberties come from the Creator of our universe, but would those who prefer limited government want to have the state come in and stop foreclosures (by executive order, no less) because one advocacy group says so? By the same token, I used the example in an earlier piece about denying Pepco a rate increase, a stance which stemmed from a meeting where Pepco wasn’t represented to give its side.
It seems like Charles is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Granted, this tends to be the time where policy specifics are in short supply but Charles has fewer than his competitors. I’m having a hard time reconciling the varied messages with the underlying principles he’s seemed to espouse over the last few years, particularly on the Second Amendment – a stance which endeared him to many and gave him the impetus to run for governor. So I can only give him the same 6 points that Ron George received.
I’m actually close to the end for these three candidates, with a look at Larry Hogan to follow once he establishes his platform in the coming months. The next part will focus on Joe Biden’s three-letter word: j-o-b-s.
By the way, I omitted the Democrats from this part entirely because their idea of the role of government seems to be that of overlord. I’m not into that.
When I heard the news Thursday that former South African president Nelson Mandela had died and then yesterday that Barack Obama was going to South Africa for this leader’s funeral with wife Michelle in tow, I was thinking that there was another former world leader’s funeral that he had recently missed. Breitbart reminded me of the details:
Interestingly, the Obamas did not got to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral back in April of this year. In fact, no high ranking official from the administration was sent to the Iron Lady’s funeral.
For the Iron Lady, the official United States delegation included former Secretaries of State George Schulz and James Baker III; a month earlier a sitting and former member of Congress comprised part of the delegation sent to Venezuela for the funeral of strongman Hugo Chavez. So the actual visit of the Obamas for Mandela’s service is sort of a “big f—ing deal” and will require a much larger entourage.
So why is it suddenly so important that Obama go to South Africa? The cynical will make the case that Barack is America’s luckiest president – every time something he’s botched threatens his election or his approval rating, the world comes along and gives him something to grasp. For example, the Chris Christie embrace of Obama after Superstorm Sandy blunted whatever momentum Mitt Romney had just before the 2012 election.
Now the utter failure and unpopularity of Obamacare will be broomed from the headlines for a few days, with the timing of the Obamas’ trip to South Africa coinciding nicely with the start of his annual Hawaiian Christmas holiday. This will give him almost an extra week either out of Washington or preparing for one trip or the other. All this will give his brain trust a chance to figure out new ways to blame Republicans, which will be handy because a budget battle awaits Obama’s return from Hawaii.
Among the rest of us, the reaction to Mandela’s death has run the gamut, although those in the political realm have tended to be apologists or politicized the death. Personally, it didn’t affect me one way or the other, as Mandela was a leader of another time and his country isn’t really a leader on the world stage. Nor was it completely unexpected as he had been ill for several months.
But I just found the priority Barack Obama made in attending his funeral and flying our flags at half-staff in Mandela’s honor a little puzzling, considering some of the other deaths the world has seen lately.
Moreover, we may yet see the passings of former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush – both of whom will turn 80 next year – and it will be interesting to see how they are honored by Barack Obama if this should happen during the remainder of Obama’s term.
It doesn’t surprise me anymore that Christmas has not only become commercialized, but politicized. Our friend from the other side, DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee, sent out his message and it landed in my mailbox the other day:
The official organization charged with electing Republicans to the House — the national Republican Party! — thinks that telling people “Happy Holidays” is something that only liberals do. They’re even selling coffee mugs and t-shirts with that claim and using the proceeds to elect more Republicans. It isn’t just divisive. It’s offensive. As Democrats (and Americans) we want everyone to enjoy whatever holiday it is that they’re celebrating this time of year. And that goes for our Republican friends, too.
They link to a space where you can Tweet greetings to Republican friends from the DNC. I guess my question for Mo is who’s really offended by being told Merry Christmas? Those Scrooges would probably sneer back if you told them to have a nice day.
Dan Bongino was one to fire back:
Too often we stand down when confronted with the dismissal of long-standing traditions in order to appease those who would use feigned offense for political gain. There is no reason to shy away from the words “Merry Christmas”. So as we begin to celebrate this joyous season, I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
So who did Dan offend? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? The whole thing started when the National Republican Congressional Committee placed in their gift shop a T-shirt which said “‘Happy Holidays’ is what liberals say” on the front and “Merry Christmas” on the back. A few days later it was pulled, but only because the shirt sold out.
I understand there are a few people who don’t celebrate Christmas, but the greeting has become shorthand for the sentiment expressed in the term “happy holidays.” So Merry Christmas to you, and make sure to put coal in the stockings of those few liberals who are offended. Not only is that a good sentiment, but environmentally incorrect as well – a great twofer!
As is now the tradition of the first Thursday in December, we interrupt the boring winter Hot Stove League routine to bring back a Thursday evening Shorebirds post. Once again I take the time to announce my SotWHoF page will be reopening tonight with two new inductees.
I predicted last year this might be a small class, figuring that players who were can’t-miss prospects from recent drafts had already made their debuts while the other prospects from Delmarva were concentrated at the advanced-A and AA levels as 2012 closed. My prediction was borne out as the two Shorebirds of the Week who were added to the 40-man roster during the 2012-13 offseason were the two who got to The Show.
In order of major league debut, the two honorees are:
- Zach Clark, who debuted (and made his only appearance) May 1, and
- Jonathan Schoop, who played five games after his September 25 debut – the last five games of the season.
In terms of actual impact by a particular class, this was the leanest crop of prospects ever. Even in 2010, when I had Brandon Snyder as my sole inductee, he played in ten games. Combined, my pair this year played in six.
But that doesn’t necessarily serve as a predictor of future results. Clark, who is now a student at Knuckleball U. with master teacher Phil Niekro, could conceivably use that pitch to stay in the big leagues well after the age of 40 (he turned 30 in July.) Meanwhile, Schoop could end up being the successor to Brian Roberts in Baltimore, showing some signs of brilliance at a tender age. Considering what has become of the Class of 2011, which had seven members but only one full-time major-leaguer just two years later (four of the seven did not play in the big leagues in 2013, and one didn’t play at all) it’s anyone’s guess how this small cadre will do as the seasons progress.
As is often the case, I like to use the twin predictors of those who are added to a team’s 40 man roster and/or participate in the Arizona Fall League as a gauge of the following year’s class. So the list of possibilities on the 40-man roster front are Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa, and Michael Ohlman, all added to the Orioles roster – although Gamboa was just as quickly removed – along with Jarret Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Martin was sent to the Dodgers in a trade for Dana Eveland in late 2011.) Berry, Ohlman, and Martin also played in the Arizona Fall League, with Berry having the best numbers. Ohlman was a “taxi squad” player who could only see limited action and Martin was ineffective in 13 appearances.
However, since only Martin has (briefly) played above the high-A level it’s not likely we’ll see any of them play in the majors during 2014.
Out of the remaining Oriole AFL participants, only Branden Kline and Eduardo Rodriguez were selected as Shorebirds of the Week. Based on his 2013 season and polish shown in the AFL I would think Rodriguez has the best chance of making it to The Show next year. (He did not need to be added to the 40-man roster for protection.) Kline is coming off an injury-riddled 2013 and may well be Delmarva-bound again in 2014. He was added to the AFL roster more for the purpose of getting some innings in, not necessarily as a hot prospect.
There are some other players who I think have an outside chance of making it next year: pitchers Jacob Pettit, Oliver Drake, and Sean Gleason, outfielder John Ruttinger, first baseman Christian Walker, and utility players Garabez Rosa and Ty Kelly. Kelly was sent to the Mariners organization in a midseason trade, so he could suit up for Seattle by season’s end. For some in this group, they’re approaching the end of their opportunity as they advance in age – it would be another Zach Clark-style story if they made it.
I suspect when all is said and done there will be another small class next season, on the order of two to three players. It’s hard to predict the out years but I suspect 2015 and 2016 may see another bumper crop.
In the meantime it will also be interesting to see how many of the enshrined players who didn’t make it to the big league level in 2013 make it back next year. Some careers already seem to be in decline, but there are others who could be surprises next season. It’s simply fun to watch as well as select the future possibilities who start out as Shorebirds of the Week.
Finally, I’m going to try something new, an idea which was suggested to me at the end of the season. Sometime around the start of spring training I’m going to try and predict the ten most likely new faces on the Shorebirds. It will be fun to see how it plays out, and may be the bulk of my choices next summer.
After all, we are only seventeen weeks away from the return of Shorebird of the Week. I just hope there’s an exhibition game for pictures because we start out with a week on the road – otherwise my first two picks may be from 2013 photos. Yet they could be the future Hall of Famers.
On several occasions I’ve bemoaned the fact there are no polls in the Republican race, aside perhaps from internal polls not released to the public. It has given somewhat outsized importance to website-based polls such as the Red Maryland poll or the Red White Blue poll, neither of which are scientific. The same goes for a poll sponsored by the Gazette newspaper, which as I write this has Larry Hogan with a slight lead over Charles Lollar, with David Craig and Ron George trailing significantly; on the other hand, George has won the last two Red Maryland polls. The proof that the internet-based polling may be overblown is the amount of cajoling the candidates (or supporters) have done to solicit support, particularly in the Gazette poll since it’s a “reputable” news site.
- David Craig on Facebook Monday: “Please take a moment to show your support by casting your vote for me in this online poll.”
- Ron George on Facebook Monday: “Please take a moment to vote in today’s Capital Gazette online poll, ‘If the Republican primary were today, who would you vote for as the nominee for governor?’”
- Larry Hogan on Facebook Monday (via Change Maryland): “First online poll since our Harvest Party with Change Maryland‘s founder and Chairman Larry Hogan in it. Please click on this link to cast your votes.”
- Charles Lollar on Facebook Tuesday: “Good Morning Lollar Supporters! We are only a few points away from taking 1st place in this poll. Please vote for Chares Lollar, the only candidate that can win in the General Election. Vote from your computer, your work computer, your phone. Together WE can do this!”
That’s just one of several appeals, mainly from the Lollar and Hogan camps. But Larry is going one better, based on a newsletter I received yesterday:
Earn points by helping us Change Maryland by sharing our posts, by getting your friends involved, and by engaging in the conversation. Use your Change Maryland points towards getting Change Maryland stickers, T-shirts, hats and awesome polos!
I was thinking I already have the sticker, and as much as I’ve pimped the group over two years I could qualify for being clad head to toe. The group continues to add followers and may have 70,000 before the week is out. But the political world isn’t based on Facebook likes or easily-manipulated internet polls; the question is how real voters will really react when the ballots are cast in June.
As I have often pointed out, a poll such as the Red Maryland poll or Gazette poll simply is a basis of knowing how many people are in the devoted 1% of followers – consider that if you believed a number of internet polls, we would be talking about President Ron Paul right now. But in real life he rarely cracked double digits in any primary.
Regardless, this all means the gubernatorial race isn’t taking much of a holiday break.
Update: Steve Crim of Change Maryland alerted me to the fact this Change Maryland point promotion has been underway since June – I already have 116 points!
After the 2010 election, where Norm Conway barely carried the Worcester County portion of his former district by 311 votes over Mike McDermott - and just 665 over third place finisher Marty Pusey – I’m sure statewide Democrats didn’t want to take a chance on an upset in 2014 given Worcester County’s trend toward the Republican Party. So they drew him into a single-member district which mostly held onto the far western end of his existing territory here in Wicomico County but also gave him some new voters close by Salisbury University, knowing that this part of his old district was perhaps the area which backed Norm the strongest.
It took awhile for a local Republican to answer the challenge, but Delmar mayor Carl Anderton, Jr. wrapped up the process of filing yesterday and is now on the June 24 primary ballot. Anderton, who is also the current president of the Maryland Municipal League, seems to be the young, energetic challenger Republicans were looking for once the district was drawn. Conway, who will be 72 in January as the General Assembly session begins, has spent over half his life as an elected official – he was first voted onto Salisbury City Council in 1974, moving to the General Assembly in 1986. (Interestingly enough, according to his official state bio, Conway was also a Maryland Municipal League officer, but only as a regional vice-president.)
Anderton has served as Delmar’s mayor since 2011, replacing longtime mayoral fixture Doug Niblett.
The candidacy of Anderton serves as a reminder why it’s so important to have a political “farm team” in place. While it may seem like a mismatch in terms of political experience, one has to really ask what having an entrenched, longtime politician has really done for a county which has seen its workforce shrink by nearly 2,000 in one year (July 2012 – July 2013) and a net loss of 1,573 jobs during that same period.* The only reason unemployment fell from 8.5% to 8.3% was the bottom falling out of the workforce – otherwise unemployment would be well over 10 percent. If that’s the mark of a successful chair of the House Appropriations Committee I’m afraid to know what failure would be like.
It will be interesting to see the platform Anderton develops, but one thing is clear: the incumbent is going to point to a few key votes where he was allowed to depart from the Annapolis majority in order to save face in his district. Ask yourself: where was his leadership against all these issues in the first place?
* Here are the actual numbers:
July 2012: 54,801 in workforce, 50,161 employed, 4,640 unemployed, 8.5% unemployment rate
July 2013: 52,964 in workforce, 48,588 employed, 4.376 unemployed, 8.3% unemployment rate
Frankly, I’m disappointed with how this came out. One of the more important issues of our time and only one candidate is really discussing it with any sort of depth. For example, David Craig released this statement on September 30:
The Affordable Care Act has become a flash point in Congressional negotiations to continue government operations and for good reason. The unpleasant surprise with this law is that it’s not really affordable at all. Maryland’s least expensive Obamacare plan will be 83% higher than the lowest-cost plan sold in the state this year.
People are struggling with the worst economic recovery in our lifetimes, have faced down record tax, fee and toll increases, and now they are forced to pay 83% higher insurance costs. This is a massive health care tax politicians are attempting to brand as something else, and they are forcing people to buy it.
This came after he said on August 5:
These are only the initial, visible cracks in the foundation of the health care law, which like other federal public policy experiments, Maryland rushes into without conducting due diligence. I’m concerned about the cracks we don’t see yet.
Yes, you should be concerned. You’ve identified the problem, so what will you do about it? That’s what I want to know. I can’t give any points if I don’t see solutions.
On the other hand, Ron George discusses this at least briefly on his campaign site (as part of economic development) and elaborates as he answered my direct question.
Remove Obama Care and replace with a free market model that focuses on lowering costs with the ability to purchase healthcare plans across state lines. (campaign site)
I have always fought mandates from federal to state to local and will join other Republican governors in doing so. These mandates are violations if our 10th Amendment. I have proposed opening the borders to create greater competition of insurers. A free market health care system works. But we need to have tort reform or we will lose our physicians. I founded and chair the bi-partisan Doctors Caucus with 430 physicians on our advisory. I saw this coming. I will not move ahead with any form if government run health care. Period. (direct query, November 16, 2013)
I’m a little leery of any sentence which exists as the one word “period,” given recent promises by some President, but I will take Ron at his word for the sake of argument. He picks up a significant part of the free-market solution so I’m giving him five of the seven points available.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any answer I was expecting from Charles Lollar so I can’t award him anything.
Obviously there’s room for improvement for two of the candidates here, but the final four parts promise a lot more discussion. Next up is the role of government, which is somewhat of a broad subject but I think I’ll be able to focus it.
As a follow up and way to revise and extend remarks on Friday’s post about the Alliance for American Manufacturing, I decided to dig a little bit more into who they are and what they are proposing. The idea of “Made in America” is a sound one, for a number of reasons, but as I pointed out the AAM seems to have many of its eggs in the protectionist basket. To some extent, they have a case: even their attempt to furnish their Washington, D.C. office with exclusively American-made goods fell a little short:
Our tour began in one of the small offices, where (AAM executive director Scott) Paul showed off a desk from Washington state. But things took a turn downhill from there, when we got to the products on the desk.
“You can’t find phones, video display terminals,” says Paul. “I mean, none of that is American-made.” Paul couldn’t find American-made computers, either, though that may change following Apple’s announcement that it plans to make some Macs in the United States.
But then I found an entire AAM-backed legislative agenda, for which they linked to this subpage on the website of Delaware’s junior Senator Chris Coons. In it, we find a number of top-down legislative proposals in the areas of skills training, exports, access to capital, and “conditions necessary for growth.” At the time of its last update, about half of these proposals hadn’t been introduced as bills, with the last introduced bill being S.1400 in July of this year – either the website is not often updated or these proposals have languished on the back burner of a do-nothing, obstructionist Senate. This to me is quite telling as most of the sponsors are Democrats, who have the majority in the body.
It should be pointed out, too, that the Alliance for American Manufacturing is the brainchild of the United Steelworkers union and a “select group of America’s leading manufacturers.” The list of this select group isn’t widely disseminated, but the AAM describes that:
Leo Gerard, the International President of the United Steelworkers, and CEOs of Steelworker-represented manufacturers understood that. These leaders launched AAM in 2007 to build on the success of the “Stand Up For Steel” coalition.
The roots of that coalition date back to the 1990s, so this fight is an old one under a relatively new name since the AAM was founded in 2007. Essentially it’s a union partnership with the closed shops under its wing; a business-labor pact in name only.
Now that you understand its roots, it becomes more clear why they prescribe their menu of solutions. The steel industry is long known as a bastion of protectionism, given the charges of foreign steel dumping a decade or so back.
So are there any other solutions out there? The competing group to AAM is the National Association of Manufacturers, a group whose board is representative of over 200 industrial leaders. Their vision is somewhat different than that of the union-backed organization, although there are elements of protectionism and top-down dictates in their plan as well. Most worrisome to me is their advocacy for immigration reform, which is needed but must be done in such a manner that law-breaking is not rewarded at the expense of those who went about it in the correct manner.
Yet NAM makes one sound point:
Because of our tax, tort, energy and regulatory policies, it is 20 percent more expensive to do business in the United States than it is in the countries that are our nine largest trading partners — and that excludes the cost of labor.
And it’s not like the problem is new, particularly here in Maryland. I mentioned Friday that Ron George is perhaps the gubernatorial candidate most attuned to the problem (David Craig has his own plan as well), although all but one of the players involved at the time had their say at an October manufacturing summit. Moreover, outgoing Governor Martin O’Malley was even forced to pay lip service to the issue.
But we have had this discussion for several years, and the prescriptions which were suggested a half-decade ago languished on the bookshelf while Maryland developed a growing reputation as a state hostile to business. It’s sort of strange that what I wrote on Friday – as a person who had never seen this report – nailed their first point about “a competitive and stable business environment.” They also talked about the need for a “balanced approach” to energy rather than the heavy emphasis on renewables, which is another pet peeve of mine. (Little did they know at the time the report was compiled – just five short years ago – that America and a portion of Maryland were sitting on an energy gold mine.)
In short, the solutions to the problem seem to be there and many fall into the conservative, pro-liberty camp. If we tell the radical environmentalists and regulators to go pound sand because we have work to do, chances are more of us would indeed have more work to do and more prosperity to spread around.
Today marks the 3,615th post in the (now) eight year lifespan of this website.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m heavily into milestones because to me they best represent certain points in life. For example, I usually mention the fact I’m on a post number with a multiple of 500 as it should be sometime in 2014 when I make it to 4,000. By the same token, almost every December 1st since this site’s first anniversary in 2006 I’ve written a piece about where this enterprise has been and where it is going. Today won’t be an exception.
One would have figured this to be a down year for monoblogue because it wasn’t an election year in 2013, but the signs point to my readership actually increasing slightly. For most of 2013 the readership line on my Google Analytics stayed 10% to 30% ahead of 2012′s numbers, aside from a barely slower summer this year. Unfortunately my Analytics was down for about a month last fall; however, I determined from looking at my StatCounter reports that naturally my October 2012 numbers were 58% higher than 2013′s but those figures from November of last year vs. November of this year will likely be nearly identical once I get the summary later this week. So I would expect October 2014 to be a banner month, and the state probably did me a favor readership-wise by pushing the primary to June, which is generally one of my slower months. It won’t be next year.
I chalk that increase up to being a better promoter of my work, although I think being named one of the country’s best state-based political blogs by the Washington Post didn’t hurt, either.
When I wrote this summary last year, I had two writing goals in mind for 2013. One was to finally make it to CPAC, and even though it was just for one day I indeed attended the venerable event held outside Washington, D.C. It allowed me to meet a number of my cohorts from around the country, which was a plus. Certainly it would have been more helpful in that regard if I could have made it to the Blogger’s Bash, but when you are an hourly employee and work comes on someone else’s time schedule sacrifices sometimes have to be made.
One way I was hoping to escape that economic necessity was by working on my second book; alas, I made very little progress on that front. Maybe I haven’t sold myself on the idea I’ve chosen, which I think is unique but requires more dedication than I’ve given it. Perhaps I’ll find a little more time in 2014 but honestly I’m not holding my breath with my current situation.
Yet I think there is a way I can provide a useful service. Not everyone agrees with my methods, and others pout about how they believe I judge moral equivalence, but those who exist behind the scenes and don’t seek to grab the headlines or attention are perhaps the most loyal members of my fan base. If my numbers went up (or at least held serve) between an election year and a non-election year, that seems to indicate I have a fair idea of what I’m doing and have some talent. Never mind I’ve also outlasted dozens and dozens of Maryland political sites – go back to this list and ask yourself where the others went.
So the question becomes one of how I improve the situation to make myself more useful to the pro-liberty movement? I know readers have helped a little here and there by rattling the tip jar or buying my book – for some reason, November has been by far my best sales month of the year – and I certainly appreciate the support. But while monoblogue serves me as a great base to practice my craft, this enterprise isn’t nearly enough financially – and that’s all right. Unless people are going to start throwing a couple grand a month at me to advertise here, I really don’t think that by itself monoblogue is going to be my financial savior. It’s a hobby which takes on the average an hour or two of my day and it makes a small profit, so I’m okay with that.
But in reading a lot of the GOP candidate websites, I have to say that their writing style and conveyance of message leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve talked to insiders who complain about the same thing, and actually alerted one of the gubernatorial candidates about a glaring error in his platform, which has since been fixed. Yet when reading the websites on the other side, I don’t often see these problems – the message may be counter-productive to the state as a whole, but it’s presented in a readable way. So maybe I can be of service? I mean, I won’t work for free, but I don’t think I’ll be all that expensive and proofreading is really your friend. Just let me know.
As for the site itself, I think it’s in a pretty good place. It may need some freshening up in spots and those improvements will come as needed. On the front I just discussed I have a couple advertising leads from candidates, but I’d love some good ads for products and services which will appeal to a potentially large Maryland-centric audience. (I can think of a couple businesses which could use exposure throughout the state, but are locally centered around Salisbury. They would be great clients if they want to take the leap.)
One feature I think will become a jewel is the one I started recently called GO Friday. (The GO stands for “guest opinion.”) It’s off to somewhat of a slow start but there’s true potential for growth there. GO Friday was intended to give voice to up-and-coming bloggers trying to build their own audiences out of my reader base, but it’s open to anyone with a good opinion. It also gives me a breather to work on other avenues, such as the aforementioned potential writing tasks.
And don’t think I’m abandoning some of my other features like Shorebird of the Week or Weekend of local rock. I think there’s still plenty of mileage left in both, although the latter hasn’t been as prominent lately.
When I started this enterprise, I said from the beginning it wouldn’t be totally political because then I’d get burned out. There are days I’ve struggled to keep pace with my personal goal of daily updates (and I missed one this year because of an internet outage) but with that rare exception it’s been one goal I’ve accomplished. Fortunately I’m not prone to writer’s block and have something I want to say so the combination works well.
Anyway, this is where monoblogue is at as it begins its ninth year. Hope you enjoy the ride as long as I do.