First of all, *Shameless Plug Alert!*
I’m scheduled to be on the AM Salisbury program (WICO-AM 1320) tomorrow morning at 7:40 with Bill Reddish, and I’ll give you my fearless prediction of election results for Tuesday. That and other thoughts about the political race as our part of the primary campaign winds down.
If you’ve seen monoblogue anytime in recent weeks, it’s tough to miss that bright yellow banner on the lefthand column proclaiming my endorsement of Andy Harris’s Congressional campaign. I’ll backtrack a bit and go into my main reasons later. You may also have noticed that after Duncan Hunter’s exit from the race, I haven’t chosen to endorse any Presidential candidate. This is simply because the ones I like kept dropping like flies, leaving me with fewer and fewer palatable choices.
In the end, I decided to go back to what I originally wrote. While subsequent events have given me some reason for pause, I strongly recommended Mike Huckabee in the first place, and I believe he still merits your vote on Tuesday.
There are two key reasons that I believe this should be done. First of all, I do like Mike’s message on health care – it was one of the strongest categories he had compared to the others in the field (I’m not crazy about a federal smoking ban though.) He also scored well in the area of energy independence, and made enough points to stay near the top of my list in most other areas.
More importantly, at this time he is the anti-McCain and he won two of the three contests this weekend, in Louisiana and Kansas. (McCain won in blue-state Washington.) The reason I say this is that Huckabee is the conservatives’ last opportunity to keep John McCain’s feet to the fire and attempt to move him rightward on at least a few issues. It’s obvious by election results that McCain would have a hard time winning in the South, which has been a GOP stronghold for a generation.
Unlike Bob Dole in 1996, I can’t see John McCain giving up his Senate seat to devote his full attention to running for President. (Would it have helped John Kerry in 2004? Perhaps. But I doubt either Hillary or Barack Obama would give up their seat to run full-time either so it may not be such a disadvantage this time around.) To me, yes John McCain made a good speech at CPAC, but if he’s serious about doing many of these things I’d like to see him introduce bills like the McCain Permanent Tax Relief Act of 2008 while he’s in the Senate – he could get a good head start on his platform right now. (The same goes for Obama and Clinton, but we know they wouldn’t dare.) And if I were fortunate enough to run for and win a spot as a Delegate to the Republican National Convention at our state convention, I’d much rather be a Huckabee delegate than a McCain one.
Now I’ll turn to Andy Harris and my original endorsement of him. (Also check out this post for his Salisbury schedule tomorrow.)
In looking for a Congressional candidate, I looked at the same issues I did for the race for President. What I want in a Congressman is a person who would think the same way I do on the floor of the House, but perhaps without as much of the urge to choke the living shit out of Nancy Pelosi when she says or does something stupid and against the Constitution. And when I did my research on the issues, Harris stood head and shoulders above most of the rest of the field – only John Leo Walter kept up with him as far as principles go. (Walter would be an asset in state politics as well. Let’s hope he continues his political career.)
While some see Harris as phony, it’s not the impression I’ve received in my dealings with him. (If you want a phony politician, I know this guy well and he is.) And the idea that he’s bought and paid for by the Club For Growth? With goals like this, I’d be honored to have their backing myself. At least some of those are good first steps to restoring a more appropriate federal government in terms of size and scale in my book.
Now, I understand that there are two primary objections to the way Andy Harris has ran his campaign. The first is district-wide and the second is more parochial and local.
Generally, a campaign starts out by introducing the candidate with a positive, soft-selling ad campaign that emphasizes the officeseeker and his or her family. However, I can see the point where this may not have worked here against an entrenched incumbent Congressman, particularly one whose voting record had been in question for some time. The ads were too harsh for my taste, but what’s done is done and I’ve also taken the time to meet and talk to the candidate in person, which is something we should all try to do. Unfortunately, the others in the race chose to respond in kind and we have the last couple months of commercials, mailings, print ads, etc. to show for it.
On the second point, let me just say that I brought Andy Harris to the local blogosphere’s attention way back in May when he first considered running. Unfortunately, that era was the time of the former sbynews.com domain and I can’t verify when Joe Albero started talking about him – I think it was around the time of the Tawes get-together in Crisfield in July since he and I were both there. It would have been my preference to get the weekly Harris columns rather than Salisbury News but he asked first so I’ll give him due credit there. (Besides, I do get plenty enough other info from Andy’s campaign.)
Now I want to speak about the others in the race, beginning with the incumbent.
What got my goat about Wayne Gilchrest was his vote against oil exploration in ANWR – putting caribou before consumers. In an era when a large chunk of our oil supply comes from nations hostile to our interests, it makes no sense to cordon off vast areas of domestic supply, barring them from exploration. Yet that’s what Wayne did. Sorry, conservation won’t cut it and alternative energy is still years away. The ANWR oil could serve as a bridge to that point.
The rest of the district became upset with his Iraq vote, and more recently he may have stepped in it again. About minute 27 Wayne says:
“I was not elected by the general public to go there and be an echo chamber for some mythical Republican icon. Uh, whatever that is. I don’t know if it’s Rush Limbaugh or Hannity. Two pretty uninformed people when it comes to a lot of issues like energy and global warming and immigration.”
I guess in Wayne’s eyes disagreement equals “uninformed.” I happen to agree with Rush that we should secure our own energy – even if it’s oil – that global warming is a myth insofar as mankind causing it, and that we need to crack down hard on illegal immigration. Sounds like conservatism to me.
One other Gilchrest item to note – on Friday I received a mailer that told me Wayne Gilchrest was “Fighting for US” on the issues of fiscal responsibility, reforming immigration, and protecting the Bay. But it came from the group Republican Majority for Choice, and oddly enough didn’t say a thing about that particular subject. Just food for thought.
In any other race I’d probably like E.J. Pipkin, but I’m not sure that there was a groundswell of anti-Harris, anti-Gilchrest voters crying out for a third alternative to jump in at the last minute. Perhaps if he hadn’t ran for the Senate just four years ago, or entered the race back in the summer, I might have seen him as less of an opportunist. He does have the expertise on financial issues that’s needed in any legislative body so there’s nothing wrong with keeping him where he is.
Joe Arminio and Robert Banks are good people; unfortunately, the dynamics of this race pretty much assured they weren’t going to have much of a chance. Arminio may well be one of those people who we may look back on in twenty years and wish we’d followed his advice, but his presentation of the issues went over the head of many, many voters for whom arcane economic theories make their eyes glaze over. As for Robert Banks, I am curious if he lives in District 7. If so, perhaps he may be considered for a spot that’s vacated by Harris or his successor should Harris ascend to Congress.
In listening to Rush on Friday, he espoused that, assuming McCain is likely the nominee and the Democrats add somewhat to their majorities in Congress, we need to pay particular attention to House and Senate races to find our conservative leaders. In that instance, Rush told the audience to look to promising people in their state legislative bodies to run for the future and I was sorely tempted to call in and tell him the future is now in our First District. We have a chance to put a good conservative voice in Congress, so let’s not blow it. Vote for Andy Harris on Tuesday.
Crossposted on Red Maryland, because the First District deserves to know.