As I write this, AP has called the race between Andy Harris, Frank Kratovil, and Richard James Davis for Kratovil in the First Congressional District, but it may yet qualify for a recount based on its tightness. It bears pointing out that having Davis in the race as a Libertarian alternative may have cost Andy Harris the election – ironic because E.J. Pipkin’s entry into the primary race was thought to create a similar effect to hand Wayne Gilchrest the nomination on the Republican side.
But my ire was raised by something else. Andy Harris lost Wicomico County by about 5,500 votes or so, and barring an extremely big effort by Frank Kratovil on the remaining absentee and provisional ballots (in truth, those may tighten the race to some extent), the final margin will be much less than Kratovil’s margin of victory here – in other words, I could correctly argue that if it weren’t for this county Harris would be a shoo-in.
Obviously we were going to have an uphill battle here, with the hill being built up even faster by two factors: the local paper being firmly in Kratovil’s camp because of their connection with the deposed Wayne Gilchrest, and Gilchrest’s final Benedict Arnold-like action of endorsing Frank Kratovil. However, neither of these actions truly came as a surprise.
Something that did surprise and anger me was how the local blogosphere went against their own interests and turned their guns on Harris – all because of one man. Yes, it was that support by ONE MAN by those who would normally be on the conservative’s side that Kratovil allies gleefully jumped on, stirring up the blogging world more.
I know that some of these bloggers come by their allegiance honestly – bloggers like ShoreIndie (maybe that should be ShoreLeftie if there’s truth in advertising) or Tom Wilson at Lost on the Shore, or all the Two Sentz guys spewing the blue b.s.- they’re liberal and make no bones about it. But then you had people who I would have thought fell into the moderate to conservative mode who came out publicly for the Obama ally Kratovil, simply because Harris had a particular supporter.
And don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot not to like about the blogger in question, particular in his treatment of the Wells family. Certainly I’ve been the target of his barbs on many occasions. But in being against Harris simply because a particular person was for him strikes me as cutting off the nose to spite the face. So it was distressing that, for the short-term gratification in piling on a blogger who in the grand scheme of things isn’t all that important, a number of other bloggers took their eyes off the ball, forgetting what’s truly best for our district.
In the entirety of the campaign, there were a couple items to be critical of the Harris campaign for, and I called bullshit on those occasions. Probably Andy’s campaign’s two biggest mistakes were the reuse of footage in the “Kratovil is a liberal” ad (which overshadowed the truthful message of it) and the blind alley of hammering Kratovil on particular cases as a State’s Attorney, a move which brought a swift defense from his fellow State’s Attorneys. Instead, I’d have preferred the rote response every time Frank brought up the Club For Growth – “the Club For Growth stands for lower taxes, less red tape, and school choice – does that mean you’re for raising taxes, more business-strangling red tape, and keeping kids in the failing public schools, Frank? And considering that many of the Wall Street types you condemn are or were Democrat politicians, you may be barking up the wrong tree there.” I’m sure that the sentiment can be done better on the fly, but alas, it was not to be.
In my coverage of the race, I gave the Kratovil side of the story too. But I reserved the right to be critical because I could smell his “what people wanna do is say what people wanna hear” style of politics a mile away. Frank’s not “independent”; he was bought and paid for by Martin O’Malley, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and all the inside-the-Beltway special interests. Unfortunately, that message wasn’t spread effectively and what ultimately failed the Harris side was having to play defense too much.
That’s my assessment of Andy’s campaign. But I sure hope for a rematch in 2010 because then Frank Kratovil will have a record he’s almost certainly going to run away from. See, the problem with pissing me off is that I actually ENJOY researching legislative records. And I can cherrypick votes like you folks did too.
And I better not hear a cross word next time from the local and Maryland bloggers who went against their best interests simply because one guy they didn’t like happened to be a Harris supporter.
That means you, Bill Duvall. You want a carpetbagger? Who moved to the Eastern Shore to spring his political career since he knew he was the wrong race to succeed where he grew up?
That means you, Tim Patterson. You don’t even live in the district, but you rendered all your worthwhile criticism of liberals absolutely meaningless by putting up one post endorsing Frank Kratovil.
That means you, Pro-Maryland Gazette contributors who cower behind anonymous screen names. If you were truly Pro-Maryland you’d have supported Harris, or at least come up with better arguments to support Frank Kratovil aside from ONE supporter of Andy Harris. The same goes for “Cuff-n-Stuff” at Off The Cuff.
In my post about Election Day in pictures and text, I alluded to the fact that someone took my picture while I was working the polls for another blog. He wouldn’t say which blog it was but conceded something along the lines of his blog dying soon after the election. Well, if it’s one of these blogs who set out to destroy Andy Harris because of a particular supporter, perhaps it would be good riddance. I’ve noticed that Duvafiles has apparently bid its goodbye to the local blogosphere, and there’s likely others soon to follow. There always is.
I don’t hide either my name or my thoughts when I write. Maybe it creates more trouble for me than it should, but I’m always taking the long-term view of what’s best for my adopted home. Putting a Democrat in Congress is like the first cockroach in your kitchen; if you don’t exterminate that first one quickly they’re damn near impossible to get rid of. Look at how long Norm Conway has “represented” my House of Delegates district by voting with the far-left in Annapolis rather than for what’s best for the Shore.
So with whatever blame should be properly assigned to the Harris campaign for getting bogged down and defensive in the election runup, the local conservative blogosphere also has to look in the mirror and ask themselves whether the immediate gratification they got from seeing one blogger’s chosen candidate fail will be worth the poor representation we’ll suffer from for at least the next two years.
We have enough issues with the manner in which the state and nation will be run for at least the next two years to have this infighting. I’ve said my piece on this issue in order to clear the air – it was difficult enough to run as a Republican this year because of a perfect storm of bad economic news and an uninspiring candidate at the top of the ticket. We didn’t need the crap stirred up by those folks on the center and right to hand a House seat to an I-95 corridor liberal, but we managed to do so anyway.
It’s a mistake we CANNOT repeat in 2010.