I was tipped off to a developing situation in Cecil County which involves their State Senator, E. J. Pipkin. Rather than allow the voters of Cecil County to make their choice or making a simple endorsement in their local races, he’s jumped into the proceedings by violating Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment.
The two flyers pictured here are part of a barrage of mailings and robocalls that Pipkin is using in Cecil County against Robert Hodge, a candidate for County Council, and Tari Moore, who’s running for the newly-created County Executive position.
But the Cecil County Patriots group objects to Pipkin’s interference, charging that the candidates he and Delegate Michael Smigiel are backing – Jim Millin for County Council and Diane Broomell for County Executive – were handpicked by the state officials as puppets for their agenda. One local observer added “this all goes back to the unionization issue that he tried to force on our local government, and the teacher pension shift…(Pipkin’s) attacking two candidates who he despises because they are very popular, very conservative, and very independent of him.”
The Pipkin tactics remind me of how he conducted the 2008 primary battle between he, Andy Harris, and then-Congressman Wayne Gilchrest. In that race, Pipkin spent over a million dollars – almost all his own money – on glossy mailings and flyers which promoted his conservative record while calling opponent Andy Harris a “dishonest Baltimore politician.” Harris has returned the favor in this race by endorsing Hodge and Moore.
But there is one area where I can agree with the Cecil County Patriots. For example, in Mullin’s case he’s a proponent of “sav(ing) literally thousands of acres of our Eastern Shore from sprawl and development.” As I’ve often pointed out, if an area doesn’t grow it shrivels and dies so Mullin seems to be throwing his lot in with the zealots who would tell people where they can live and work, knowing that’s just the start of government control.
On the other hand, it’s interesting that the Cecil County Patriots object to a candidate who “organized the first two TEA Parties in Cecil County” and was the impetus behind an elected school board as Broomell claims. They’ve managed to get through the Byzantine process of getting an elected school board for their county as opposed to our efforts here in Wicomico, which seem to have run into a brick wall.
But the real question is why Pipkin is using such scorched-earth tactics in a primary, a strategy which could damage Hodge and Moore should they survive to the general election. The GOP contest for Executive is already a seven-person scrum, with three running on the Democratic side; meanwhile, the council district Hodge is running for already has a Democratic opponent in place for November who’s unopposed in the primary. While I’ll grant there’s not the strong Republicans serving in the General Assembly from Wicomico County that Cecil County can boast, I would be floored if any of our local Republican elected officials carried on in this manner in a contested GOP race here – of course, none have the means that Pipkin does.
There’s probably something to like about most of the GOP hopefuls in Cecil County, and this year is a key election in their history because they’re electing their first County Executive. Yet this interference in the Cecil race may mean both Senator Pipkin and Delegate Smigiel draw primary opposition in 2014. (Pipkin got 72% of the vote in his 2010 primary against one opponent, Smigiel was unopposed.)
I think in closing it’s worth noting something E.J. Pipkin wrote back in 2007, a paragraph in a lengthy e-mail I used for a post:
The “right” to put oneself forward for office, to be judged by voters, and to represent your friends and neighbors is a basic fundamental component of our representative government. This system relies upon individuals being willing to discuss their ideas, their backgrounds, their strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and their vision for how to improve the lives of those they wish to represent.
It seemed like the Cecil County race was doing just fine until Pipkin decided to put his thumb on the scale and alienate a number of voters for no good reason. Senator Pipkin, you should let these individuals have the necessary discussion, back the winner against the Democratic challenger, and save your money for your own next race.