Endorsements and other fun stuff in the Maryland U.S. Senate race

It seems to me that, much as I could probably like the other eight gentlemen seeking the Republican nod to charge up the hill that is Senator Ben Cardin, I only get to hear a lot from two of the ten contenders. And the dynamic between their campaigns is generally interesting, although I have to concede the advantage in communication goes to Dan Bongino over fellow candidate Rich Douglas. This list is culled just from items this week, which are coming at me in rapid-fire fashion.

On Monday, Bongino struck first by calling the current electoral process “a nest of corruption.”

The current electoral process is a system designed to benefit the political insider interested in a tacit game of tit for tat, enabled by big government’s involvement in the private economy. The fundraising model, which is a necessity to run a modern campaign, is so corrupted by insider dealings that absent tremendous wealth, there are few ways to escape this nest of corruption.

In my 17 years in law enforcement, I have never run across a racket so ruthlessly protected by those in power. I have had numerous potential donors confide in me that they believe in our campaign, but cannot be revealed on public record because they have been targeted in the past by political machines.

Republicans in Maryland (and most other states, for that matter) should know going in that they will likely be financially outgunned by Democrats, and Ben Cardin was sitting on $2.3 million back in September. Fortunately for Republicans, Ben will have to spend some of that to get through his primary but will still have a significant advantage on Dan.

But I’m not going to take the second part of the statement at face value until someone decides to step forward and name some names. I’d actually be more worried about blowback if the gay marriage bill went to referendum based on what happened with donors who favored California’s Proposition 8 a few years ago.

The next day Douglas, who now sports the campaign tagline “New Blood,” hit the incumbent on the PIPA angle, calling Senator Cardin’s flip-flop from co-sponsor to opponent “double-talk…Marylanders have an absolute right to be concerned.”

Douglas continued:

Stopping internet piracy is crucial. But here is what’s really going on with PIPA. Mr. Cardin hastily signed up to co-sponsor a bill which provides sweetheart overseas process service rules for Hollywood, and increases legal burdens on American internet service providers. He was caught flat-footed by alert Maryland constituents. Now he is trying to backpedal.

In the Senate, co-sponsorship of a bill means you own it.  A Senator conscious of his duty would ask hard questions before putting his name on a bill which will force American businesses and citizens to step into the shoes of federal prosecutors to protect Hollywood.

If you read my post on PIPA (and the companion SOPA bill) you would agree that Douglas and the rest of us should be concerned that we haven’t heard the end of this. At several points we thought Obamacare was dead, too, particularly after Scott Brown was elected.

So far, so good. I prefer to see the contenders both piling on to the one who deserves it for poorly representing the people of Maryland.

But Bongino got the drop on the race by snagging two key endorsements; one of them was the candidate I supported in the Senate race two years ago:

Jim Rutledge, former U.S. Senate candidate, has officially endorsed Dan Bongino, candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland.

“Dan Bongino will bring to the U.S. Senate what has been seriously lacking for some time in Maryland; a person that can truly relate to and speak for the average Maryland family,” said Jim Rutledge.  “Dan has an impressive life story and an accomplished record on the front line of law enforcement rising from the ranks of the NYPD to the Secret Service.  Washington is awash with a culture of corruption.  Dan Bongino is a man of courage and integrity. Dan Bongino knows that jobs, opportunity, and prosperity can only thrive in a free-market economy.  We need a new beginning here in Maryland and that will start when we elect Dan Bongino.”

He also got the endorsement of the Red Maryland website, which favorably compared both Douglas and Bongino but gave the nod to Dan based on “the energy Bongino (has) on the stump.”

These endorsements aren’t completely surprising, though. Bongino has been cultivating the support of the TEA Party audience that Rutledge won over two years ago, and Red Maryland has somewhat of an anti-establishment viewpoint when it comes to Maryland GOP politics. Fairly or not, Rich Douglas is perceived as the choice of the GOP old guard.

And Rich countered with a notice which exhibited his strong points and interests. It wasn’t an endorsement, but it was an interesting story nonetheless.

Today Richard J. Douglas, candidate for the U.S. Senate (R-MD) called on Congress to add Cuba to the text of the Jackson-Vanik law passed in 1974 in response to the Soviet Union’s refusal to permit Jewish emigration.

“Just four hours from Miami, Fidel Castro continues to imprison a Jewish man from Maryland, Mr. Alan Gross, because of Mr. Gross’s faith,” said Douglas. “Ben Cardin, Maryland’s own U.S. Senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has done nothing about it.”

I have to say it’s a good human interest story, but there’s only a select audience familiar with the reasons for the amendment in the first place – honestly, I’d never heard of it. The law has made news in recent days, though, because President Obama is considering its repeal. Alan Gross is a USAID contractor who was accused of being an American spy.

And on and on it goes.

I will say, though, that it appears Dan Bongino has the inside track on the nomination at this stage of the game. Remember the poll I had up last week? I can pretty much guarantee you that what I ended up with won’t be reflective of the results, but there is a lesson to be learned. This is how it turned out:

  • Dan Bongino, 255 votes (93.75%)
  • Robert Broadus, 7 votes (2.57%)
  • William Capps, 6 votes (2.21%)
  • Rich Douglas, 4 votes (1.47%)
  • Rest of field, no votes

Now there’s no way Dan gets over 90% of the real vote – not even Michael Steele, who was a prohibitive favorite in 2006 because he had both name recognition and the Maryland GOP’s fairly blatant backing, got 90 percent in the primary. Of course, there are a number of perennial candidates who always run but rarely do well (as examples, Corrogan Vaughn is in his fourth try for statewide office and John Kimble has run for either Congress or the Senate in 9 consecutive cycles dating back to 1996) so there are really only a few who have a shot. Of those in the race, Joseph Alexander has actually performed the best since he received 6% of the vote two years ago and finished third.

But this poll proves a point that Bongino’s backers have their ear to the ground (or at least read this website) and the support base to see this opportunity to make a little bit of news. This time I changed the rules so there couldn’t be endless repeat voting, so it was more work to rack up vote totals.

In many ways this race is like the 2010 nominating contest, with Bongino filling the role of Jim Rutledge (naturally, because he was endorsed by Jim) and Douglas showing some similarities to Eric Wargotz, who had more of the perception of being the “establishment” candidate. Whether there will be a seven-point split statewide remains to be seen, although if this scenario held true Bongino would waltz to victory on the Lower Shore (in 2010 Rutledge won the four-county area by 1300 votes, or by 9 percentage points.) In fact, this area is probably one of Dan’s strongholds.

But winning the Lower Shore is a tiny fraction of the statewide vote, and many factors will go into who wins the overall battle. I’m encouraged, though, that all the candidates seem to be hammering away at the incumbent rather than each other – too bad our Presidential hopefuls won’t do the same.


One Response to “Endorsements and other fun stuff in the Maryland U.S. Senate race”

  1. Al Reasin on January 27th, 2012 8:30 pm

    We, the Cecil County Patriots, had a forum last night, Jan 26th, with 6 of the GOP candidates attending. It was moderated by a senior toastmaster gentleman and assisted by his daughter. I took a video of the event which will be uploaded to YouTube in the near future. Some of the candidates didn’t stay seated and I didn’t respond quickly enough to capture their full image. And some candidates didn’t use the mic so they may not be heard properly on the video which I have not reviewed.

    We should have it on our website ( http://www.cecilcountypartriots.com ) or at least a link to the address.

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