Well, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
So perhaps it was a good way to introduce himself to those whom prospective 2014 gubernatorial candidate Blaine Young wanted to influence, as he held a meet-and-greet event in Ocean City earlier tonight. Aside from a couple signs on the wall, this was pretty much the extent of the campaign paraphernalia.
There was a handout I picked up, though – three pages of the “major accomplishments” the Frederick County Commission has achieved since Young came on board. This was likely an attempt to convince backers at the individual county level – which probably explains the timing, given that the annual Maryland Association of Counties summer gathering hit the beachfront resort this week – with the lead item on the first page titled “Budget Impacts.”
While the room was set for perhaps 100, I would say the crowd rarely exceeded half of that at any particular time as guests came and went. As I was told beforehand, this wasn’t a formal event – Young said he “will be talking to people individually as they mingle.” So he held court with an ever-changing group in the front of the room while others conversed in surrounding areas. Perhaps most notable among those circulating around was Harford County Executive David Craig, who’s also (okay, almost certainly also; I’ll leave that 1% proviso) running for governor. Craig and I actually talked a little about the recently-passed gambling legislation, though.
Speaking of gambling, Worcester County Delegate Mike McDermott was also one of the visitors. I told him I wasn’t happy with his vote on the gambling bill, but he pleaded his case as to why he was one of the five Republicans who said yes to O’Malley’s scheme. I’m expecting a more formal missive from him in the next couple days, which I’ll be happy to dissect. I did learn something interesting, though – from what I was told, a number of Delegates changed their votes to be against the bill in the final tally once the result was known. I’ll find out for sure when I do the research since it’s a vote for the monoblogue Accountability Project.
Thus far, though, I have found it interesting just how the three odds-on leaders in the Republican gubernatorial sweepstakes have conducted their campaigns:
- David Craig has probably had his organization working the longest of the three, even including an overture to state political bloggers like me almost a year ago. As part of that event I got a thumb drive with everything I need to know about David (still have it, as a matter of fact.)
- Larry Hogan is probably the furthest from making the official announcement that he’s in, but if Larry indeed is in the running he has a ready-made social media setup thanks to Change Maryland.
- Meanwhile, Young is focusing more on raising both money and his profile – this event and getting 80 volunteers to come to Crisfield two years before the election have done a nice job with the latter, according to at least one veteran political observer (who I’ll leave nameless since we weren’t speaking on the record. But he was on the record here.)
So the meet-and-greet can’t necessarily be judged like other political events. Certainly I’m sure Young would have liked more people to show up, but if those who did got a favorable impression about his campaign then the event achieved its purpose. Later on, when there’s a need for money or manpower, the true measure of the event’s success would be known. And I had a good time catching up with some people I hadn’t seen in awhile while meeting a few nice new folks.
It wasn’t quite what I expected, but any time I can go to Ocean City and relax a little bit I’ll take it. Now I see why MACO does this every year.