Cleaning up the election some more

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.

Comments

21 Responses to “Cleaning up the election some more”

  1. Inquiring Mind on November 7th, 2008 11:30 pm

    Sir:

    Your reasoning is a sure catalyst to another debacle in 2010.

    The reason that Harris lost was that he was outcampaigned by a better man for the job. The same ultra conservative core of the local party whose national counterparts have annointed Palin in this year’s presidential election gave Harris the support he needed to get the nomination over a solid man who would have been the victor this week. It’s that core elite of the party apparatus that is causing its increasingly terminal demise. That McCain-Palin won in the 1st District is meaningless because of the personal factors — had Hillary or Biden been the Democrat presidential candidate, either would have won.

    Again — did you get the wakeup call this week? It seems doubtful in light of your posts since them. Blaming he, she and man behind the tree will do nothing to save the GOP.

  2. Michael on November 7th, 2008 11:52 pm

    I strongly disagree on two points. One, the Republicans cannot succeed long-term by being Democrat-lite. This year’s local election was an outlier IMHO. Had Harris gone up against a candidate who couldn’t fool the electorate as well as Frank Kratovil did, plus been running in a more “normal” year for turnout, Andy would be the victor. Given the shellacking Republicans nationwide took, coming this close may have been a moral victory. Wayne Gilchrest would have been beaten by 10 points had he survived the primary.

    Secondly, I contend that the Democrats putting up a candidate who did have some attributes attractive to conservatives (particularly immigration and gun control) belies your point that the ultra-conservatives are ruining the GOP. Witness Frank throwing Martin O’Malley under the bus once he got through the primary, trying to disassociate himself from the Democratic liberal machine.

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In 2006 and 2008, for the most part, Democrats who succeeded in local elections ran as moderate-to-conservative. Unless you were in a large urban area, that was the way to win.

    You also didn’t address the likelihood that Frank will vote as a liberal despite the way he portrayed himself in the race. I’ve seen this many a time, enough to feel reasonably confident that Frank will make Wayne Gilchrest look Reaganesque.

  3. ShoreThings on November 8th, 2008 1:18 am

    I stand by my Indie. One thing that I strongly disagree with Democrats on is their support of organized labor. The sagging economy is not what has the automakers treading water. That blame goes to the unions that have saddled the big three with legacy costs for pensions and health insurance along with excessive wages that would have killed companies with weak cash flow years ago.

    I think you overestimate the impact of the blogger in question. While many local bloggers expressed their disdain for Harris because of his link to the noise maker, I think the impact could probably be measured in dozens of votes, definitely not hundreds or thousands. According to a pingback on one of my posts, the noise maker’s blog linked to my blog which resulted in a huge influx of 25 clicks. The blogger in question attracts lots of rubberneckers slowing down to look at the crash. The thought that any of the authors on the blog in question are taken seriously for their political commentary is laughable.

    Kratovil will definitely vote with the Democrats more than Gilchrest. You have one group to thank for that. The Club for Growth. Wayne Gilchrest would have won the general election if Andy hadn’t beaten him. He probably would have matched McCain’s totals in the district. Gilchrest got 76% and 69% in the last two elections, and the Democrats would not have dropped any cash to oppose him.

    I tried to warn Republicans 15 months ago about their efforts to support a more conservative candidate.
    http://shoreindie.wordpress.com/2007/08/02/would-harris-send-1st-district-back-to-dems/

    I also suggested that a primary win by Andy Harris would bring big cash from the Democrat ATM machine.
    http://shoreindie.wordpress.com/2008/01/29/a-1st-district-democrat-waits-in-the-wings/

    Harris and his campaign manager have been overconfident about their 1st District support ever since the primary win. They never showed any kind of meaningful campaign theme. Liberal, liberal, liberal and extremely liberal. They obviously ran a campaign to win three counties, not twelve. Apparently they thought that plastering the entire 1st District with campaign signs and occasionally waving them would be enough. Anybody that heard Andy Harris talk in person recognized that he was more interested in stirring up political fervor than providing common sense solutions. His attempts at being a human political road block in Annapolis are not adequate credentials for the bigger picture. You know as well as I do that he would have completely ineffective in a Democrat majority Congress because of his refusal to budge from his orthodoxy. You might not have been completely happy with Gilchrest, but you are going to be miserable with Kratovil. I, on the other hand, am quite content.

  4. jcinsby on November 8th, 2008 5:17 am

    Michael,
    People didn’t vote for Kratovil just because Joe supported Harris. It was because Harris embraced and supported Joe. Harris was the one visiting 300 W. Main St., Harris was the one posing for pictures everytime Joe had his camera out, Harris was the one sending his weekly election letter to Joe’s blog. Harris chose to be associated with Joe and this is what happened. Harris lost it on his own.

  5. Inquiring Mind on November 8th, 2008 7:10 am

    Unless Mr. Kratovil is an idiot, he will not become the darling of the ADA, although he probably will be a moderate, generally. That campaign rhetoric about his affinity to Pelosi, Reed, etc., is BS.

    Your mindset makes manifest the problem of the GOP: its leadership elite can’t understand much less accept the reality that their views are now so extreme that it cedes the silent majority to the opposition. Your observation about Kratovil seizing the middle ground is on the mark, but your suggested solution — to veer further right, Christian conservative, etc., is not.

    During the past 4 years, the Democrat leadership have reconstituted the party to address the problems that caused its debacle that peaked in the 2004 election. If the GOP does not do so at this point in time, it could result in a prolonged decline. Banking on a bad few years to salvage the party’s prospects is foolish. Recall that FDR survived his first and other terms.

    PS: had he survived the primary, W. G. would have won handily.

  6. Joe Albero on November 8th, 2008 8:05 am

    Michael, for what it’s worth, you give those other Bloggers way too much credit. We know what kind of traffic they get and it’s a joke.

    Let’s put it this way. If it weren’t for Salisbury News, Andy would have lost the Eastern Shore by massive numbers, period.

    We did our best but I suggest you look at your other factors and then include $2,000,000.00 worth of TV ads at the last minute.

    Great Post though.

  7. Bud on November 8th, 2008 9:51 am

    First of all, let me make something abundantly clear. I supported Frank Kratovil because he was the best guy for the job. Period. And, if you recall, I was highly critical of Harris long before I ever heard of Joe Albero. So, you can be mad at choice. I just ask that you get your story straight.

    Also, you are overestimating the value of these blogs. As of this morning, 349,821 votes have been counted. I guarantee less than 1% of these voters have heard of you, me, Joe or any of the others you lash out at.

  8. Final Frontier on November 8th, 2008 10:02 am

    That is a pretty lousy analysis of why you lost here. The truth is that we worked far harder than you guys did. While you were standing on corners waving signs, we were going door to door repeatedly. We followed up with voters repeatedly, even on election day. Harris lost tons of support here during his disastrous SU debate–can’t blame that on Joe, now can you? Speaking of SU, it and the hospital provide a solid intellectual base that tends to vote Democratic. The blogs you mention largely cater to a like-minded viewership, and may have swayed a few hundred votes at best (and that is being generous). Harris lost Wicomico County because he is a far right winger, ran a deceitful campaign, ran a negative campaign when the country was clearly sick of negative campaigning, and did not work as hard as Kratovil’s supporters did. His arrogance cost him the race. Witness his failure to speak to supporters on election night. What a nice guy. Unless Harris adopts a genuine spirit of humility, he has no chance of getting elected here. You and I both know how much incumbency helps a candidate, so Dr. Deceit would have an even higher hill to climb 2 years from now.

  9. Tulso Pulper on November 8th, 2008 12:15 pm

    Let’s not underestimate the Albero effect — as in Bud’s comment — or overestimate it (as Albero does). My guesstimate is that Albero cost Harris about 500-600 votes, and Harrison another 200-300. Not quite enough to turn the outcome, but almost and it could be more than that.

  10. Honestaby on November 8th, 2008 1:00 pm

    Michael, it is not mediocre blogsites that squeaked Kratovil in. It’s the National and State Democratic Party who came en masse and millions against Harris, and bought themselves a liberal vote in congress.
    It’s also worth mentioning, that the Republican party in the state of MD is worthless.

  11. Michael on November 8th, 2008 2:02 pm

    For once I agree with you, TP. Switch that number of votes around and you have a different winner.

    Honestaby, let’s not allow Kratovil or the Democrats to make the claim they have a mandate since it appears that Frank will win via plurality vs. majority – if he does make it to majority it’ll be something like 50.1 percent of the vote – hardly an overwhelming victory.

  12. Consideration on November 8th, 2008 3:08 pm

    You are surprisingly myopic in your analysis today. What Bud and Final Frontier are saying deserves serious consideration. Every normal person (i.e., a person who doesn’t spend his/her entire life on political blogs or sitting through central committee and/or club and/or council meetings, etc.) I know wondered what the Republicans were doing knocking off Gilchrest. If you don’t know anyone who thought that, your circle of friends is too small and you are out of touch. Look outside of your own little world and challenge yourself to grow some. Have you considered what happened in other counties where Harris was “expected” to sail to victory? In Anne Arundel, for instance, Kratovil may have lost, but he made an incredible showing in a legislative district that has elected a disbarred-attorney/realtor-subject-to-reprimand/criminal to represent it simply because he has an “R” next to his name. So, maybe Kratovil and his army of VOLUNTEERS (who have nothing to with Governor O’Malley or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid) worked their tails off, or lots of people really don’t care for Andy Harris and/or his tactics, or all of the above. Kratovil even won the first round of absentee ballots in Anne Arundel.

    And you ought to consider that maybe Frank has some good friends who are conservative who think he is a decent person able to represent the entire district, east and west, liberal and conservative, fairly. It wasn’t just “beltway liberals” who were out there volunteering for him on election day.

  13. Michael on November 8th, 2008 4:45 pm

    Again, I’m going to predict that those who voted for Frank Kratovil who thought he would have a conservative voting record will be sorely disappointed.

    And I’m not about to knock the hard work put in by the volunteers on our side. However, one cannot discount the effect the sheer bombardment of political advertising paid for by the DCCC had on the race.

    The only fact we can gather from this whole episode is that Kratovil is barely winning and will likely come out with under or right at 50% of the vote. All the rest is sheer speculation, but I think I’m closer to the truth than they are.

  14. Cuff-n-Stuff on November 8th, 2008 5:37 pm

    Why was it then that Kratovil got the most votes in Wicomico, Somerset and Dorchester out of all four candidates (Obama, McCain, Harris)? McCain only beat him in Worcester and Harris had the least in all counties except Worcester where Harris beat Obama’s count by 481. Something caused the lower shore counties to turn on Harris. Had Harris carried 98% of the vote difference from his total to McCain, he would have easily flipped the whole election. Obama was slammed for his associations, why not Harris for his?

  15. ShoreThing on November 8th, 2008 6:26 pm

    So I have to disagree about the Wicomico Co comment… If you look at Somerset and Kent Kratovil won 60% of both. Worcester he won 53%, Talbot 56%….

    Bobby E. better be looking very close at these numbers!

  16. Tulso Pulper on November 8th, 2008 6:58 pm

    Michael:

    The election is over, so why not try to determine the reason that Harris did do poorly on the lower Shore (see the Cuff-n-Stuff comment, above) instead of gross speculation “that those who voted for Frank Kratovil who thought he would have a conservative voting record will be sorely disappointed.”

    But since you went there, my guess is that he will be moderate, and generally conservative on certain things.
    Stupid, he ain’t.

  17. Mike on November 9th, 2008 7:24 pm

    Michael,
    I have to agree with what “Cuff” said. There is a big difference in the numbers for the lower shore counties. Now I also have to say as a firefighter, I used Albero and his venom spewing blog as a reason to pass along, to other firefighters in the upper part of the 1st district (mainly on the western shore), not to vote for Harris. Harris is no good for Maryland. Heck Michael, has he even thanked his own workers for the job they did? I know he hasnt thrown in the towel yet. But a sincere thank you for a job fought hard. And a big lets hope we win would be nice. But no. He hasnt said a word except we are waiting. Then back into seclusion he goes. He is only looking out for his own good. Not yours.

    I feel sorry for you folks on the shore during the assembly session in January. I’m sure he will get his payback then.

    Also, why is it so bad to not vote republican? I have been a life long republican and vote that way most times. But for crying out loud if the Dems are marketing something better then what the republicans have, my beliefs or not, I’m going that way. And it doesnt mean I am a bad person.

    By the way. Me voting dem or republ does affect my job. I work in the Defense industry.

  18. Two Sentz on November 10th, 2008 9:39 am

    Wow! I expected a much more gracious man in defeat. Sounds like you haven’t accepted it yet. You should take a lesson from your buddy G.A. Harriosn.

    By the way, I had always voted for Gilchrest but the reason I voted for Kratovil is that I saw the debate at SU. Harris was an arrogant, ignorant fool(the theocrat comment anyone?). He was bad mannered and ill-tempered. I don’t stand for that behavior from my own children, much less my Congressmen.

  19. Frank Keegan on November 10th, 2008 11:49 am

    http://www.baltimoreexaminer.com/opinion/_Maryland_power_good_for_America.html

    Maryland power good for America

    By The Baltimore Examiner Newspaper
    – 11/9/08

    When the 111th Congress convenes in January Maryland’s little delegation will wield immense power officially and even more unofficially. Every citizen of this state must have faith that such power will be used for the greater common good.
    We well know and trust Steny Hoyer, House of Representatives Majority Leader. We feel downright familial about Senate powerhouse Barbara Mikulski. And Sen. Ben Cardin, who brings a decade of Congressional connections to his first term, is a comfortable friend.

    Most of all, powerful Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi may have her heart in San Francisco, but her deepest roots draw from the rich soil of Baltimore’s D’Alesandro political dynasty.

    Of course, that bodes well for Maryland as Democrats take control of Congress and the presidency for the first time in 14 years. Let us not kid ourselves about having powerful people from our state in high office bringing certain benefits. It is inherent to all governance.

    But it also must bode well for all of America. Why?

    Because we know these folks grew to political maturity in the turbulent environment of Maryland public life.

    Here in this 2-to-1 blue state, the actual reality tends more toward purple. Dealing with conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans accustoms our politicians to the art of compromise. Political conflicts often cleave more along issue lines than party lines. No wonder our recent slogan was “America in Miniature.”

    Want evidence? We’re the state of the 1st Congressional District where President Bush endorsed liberal nine-term Republican dissident Congressman Wayne Gilchrest in a losing primary bid. Then Gilchrest endorsed centrist Democrat Frank Kratovil against conservative Republican Andy Harris. What did voters do?

    About 350,000 of them split evenly on Kratovil and Harris after support for Bush grew from 57 percent in 2000 to 62 percent in ’04.

    Pundits, prepare to scratch your heads when you ponder Maryland.

    That’s just the way we are, and it’s a good thing. It assures us that if this one-party Congress and historic new administration drift toward some kind of political rampage, leadership from Maryland will impose common sense for the common good.

    They know this most recent mandate for change in America is overwhelmingly a rejection of Bush administration aberrant policies than an embracing of President-elect Barack Obama’s vague, untested policies.

    Where Democrats take America in the next four years could determine our nation’s future for a century. Fate has placed daughters and sons of Maryland in positions of immense power to forge that destiny.

    We are comforted to know them, and that they will do the right thing.

    Find this article at:
    http://www.baltimoreexaminer.com/opinion/_Maryland_power_good_for_America.html

  20. Final Frontier on November 10th, 2008 4:47 pm

    You still don’t get it? Andy Harris no more represents the republicans on the Eastern Shore than Ted Kennedy would represent the democrats here. This is a centrist area, and when you rejected Gilchrest, you guaranteed a fight. Then you pick a guy who might fire up a certain faction of Republicans, but who was guaranteed to turn off moderates on both the Republican and Democratic side. All the crying that the DCCC bought the election is sour grapes–how much money did the Club for Growth pour into Harris’s campaign? I saw the list of contributors–very, very little money came from people on the Eastern Shore for Harris. Virtually all of the big bucks came from outsiders in the CFG. Finally, when are you going to call out Harris for being a selfish weasel for not appearing before his supporters on election night? That shows his true character. Even if he somehow manages to win the election over the next week or so, Harris has only solidified his status as an arrogant, selfish man out for his own glory rather than the people of District One. Seriously, he can’t come downstairs and tell everyone “thanks for all of your hard work, let’s see how this plays out?” No class.

  21. Maria on November 11th, 2008 1:47 pm

    Michael,

    The GOP has a lot of work to do. We need to start change the guard at the RNC headquarters. If it wasn’t for the economy the results may have been different who knows. Maryland will always be a blue state no matter what. Marylanders are culturally designed to be Democrat regardless how conservative or liberals the party candidates are. IT will take at least a generation for the GOP to make any strides in MD again. If Obama is sucessful in his first term which he will likely to be thanks to his surrogates from the drive by media; he will have a second term unless the GOP will reexamine what went wrong and find a younger telegenic candidate (i.e. Gov Palin) I hate to say this but iti is true.

    I watched the Today show this morning where Gov Palin, Alaska first dude was interviewed. I know she is very tead off about how the campaigned has vilified her but she tries not to show it. I hope that Palin would consider being in the national spotlight several years down the road. If I were in her shoes right now, I would keep a low profile for the next few years and let the aftereffects of this lost slowly die down. I think 2012 is too soon for her. Maybe 2016 would be better. She is still young, smart and telegenic which would help revive the GOP nationally. Palin has a great platform for energy independence and I think that she should spend time promoting this cause in Alaska. I read somewhere that she might be considered to head the Republican Governor’s Association. That would be great!

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