Bridging the gap

Sitting here and catching up from what was an extremely busy week (with next week promising more of the same) I had something of an “aha!” moment – not to be confused with the ’80s pop band by the way – where two seemingly disparate pieces of information just clicked together.

Let’s examine piece number one, shall we? For days (or is it months, or years? I sense a continuing theme here) Maryland Republicans have been divided into a number of camps, tribes which rarely come together except on a small handful of issues. In the last year, I think resistance to Martin O’Malley’s draconian Second Amendment upheaval (legally and laughingly officially known as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013) was about the only issue drawing universal resistance from Republicans, and even then they parted on how best to fight its enactment, whether through the court system of via referendum. In the end, the court system won out but, as it stands, in a month the law will take effect.

In the meantime, we couldn’t even get the GOP to vote as a group against Martin O’Malley’s bloated budget – yet we call ourselves the party of fiscal responsibility? I understand our alternative budget is DOA in the General Assembly, but at least put up a united front against O’Malley’s principles.

The long introduction I just completed leads me into an Examiner post by J. Doug Gill, where he takes a long look at how the party has been divided since the Ehrlich era of 2003-07.  This “bare knuckle brawl for irrelevancy” makes a number of valid points, although I don’t agree with its somewhat pessimistic outlook for the future. As Gill notes:

Any citizen of Maryland who has had it up to their well-spelunked pockets wants a strong, vibrant and relevant opposition party – and there are untold numbers who don’t care if it’s the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Tupperware Party.

The sooner some entity – any entity – sorts itself out and provides a credible opposition to the Democrats the better for all of us – including our friends on the left whose bank accounts are just as empty as ours – well, save for the union leaders and cronies and appointees, and, well, you get the picture…

But right now, and in its current incarnation, the only thing the Maryland Republican Party has learned from history is that they never learn anything from history.

Yet it’s not just about credible opposition – it’s also about creating a choice. This is something the majority party won’t do.

There was something about this Ballotpedia report which caught my eye. See if you can spot it, too – I’ll give you a moment and even put in a page break for the fun of it.

Read more

In print soon

August 30, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Delmarva items · Comments Off on In print soon 

Today is a very busy day and evening for me, so I’m just going to write a quick reminder that on Monday you will have a reason to buy or check out the Daily Times website: I will have an op-ed in the paper.

It’s also worth pointing out that Charles Lollar has his announcement tour planned out and will be in the area Thursday morning and early afternoon – alas, I will likely be working when he’s here. He’s at Bay Country Bakery in Cambridge at 8, an unspecified location in Derlin at 10, and Salisbury University at 12:25. Surely I’ll get a little more detail as the events near. Maybe the Daily Times can cover it?

So look for the piece Monday, read it, and tell me what you think!

Shorebird of the Week – August 29, 2013

August 29, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · 1 Comment 

This photo of Greg Lorenzo seemed to be most appropriate, as I took it shortly after he slid into second. On 38 of 45 occasions this season, Greg has been successful in swiping an additional 90 feet of enemy territory, leading the Shorebirds by a wide margin in that department and currently sixth-best in the South Atlantic League.

But for the longest time this season, it seemed like the hardest 90-foot distance for Lorenzo to travel was that space between home plate and first base. At the All-Star break Greg was hitting a puny .208 and only getting on base 27% of the time, but in the second half Greg has improved to a .279 batting average and .301 on-base percentage. Now those aren’t particularly outstanding, but in order to steal bases the trick is getting on base in the first place and Lorenzo has improved in that regard.

Admittedly, we were a little bit spoiled by Greg’s performance at the tail end of last year, where he went 24-for-72 in 19 games and swiped six bases. It capped off a season where he jumped from the Gulf Coast League to Delmarva in the total space of just 53 games, and was seemingly a breakout offensive campaign from a player who had never hit higher than .252 in any of his three previous seasons. So perhaps his .244/2/41/.612 OPS for 2013 is along the lines of what we should expect from Greg, a Dominican native signed by the Orioles in 2009.

Looking ahead to 2014, it’s not out of the question the 22-year-old may find himself back for a third tour of duty in Delmarva. Having said that, job one for Greg has to be finding a way to cut down on strikeouts. Granted, Lorenzo has over 500 plate appearances this season, which leads the team – Joel Hutter may end up with right around 500 as well – but not only is he near the top of the league in stolen bases, he’s fifth in strikeouts as well. (Of the four players above him, three are prototypical power hitters and the fourth looks like a draft bust from 2011.)

For many of the thousands of players who play professional baseball, raw speed is their calling card. But baseball is a funny game in that, unless you put the ball in play or force the pitcher into walking you, seldom do you get to first base. With 143 strikeouts and 22 walks, the old adage that “a walk’s as good as a hit” is something Lorenzo will need to heed in 2014 if he wants to advance beyond the South Atlantic League. In terms of raw batting average, Greg has done well in August, but that other phase of the game merits attention as well.

Finally, as a reminder: next week’s Shorebird piece will be a season review and selection of my Shorebird of the Year, followed the next Thursday by my picks and pans. Sometime in December I’ll induct the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2014, which will probably consist of two or three players, and then it will go dark again until April 3, 2014, when the Shorebirds open their nineteenth campaign on the road, with the home opener April 10.

Example across the fence

August 28, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Example across the fence 

With all the controversy over the battle to succeed former State Senator E.J. Pipkin and take over the District 36 State Senate seat, it’s been forgotten that Democrats have a similar controversy on their side of the aisle as well in District 15.

Of course, there are some obvious differences. Because soon-to-be-former State Senator Rob Garagiola announced his resignation well in advance (almost 90 days, in fact) there’s been plenty of time for various candidates to be vetted. As well, District 15 lies entirely within Montgomery County – it comprises much of the western half of the county – meaning only one central committee is involved.

Yet don’t believe politics wasn’t at play there, and it was covered well by the Maryland Juice blog (by my left-leaning counterpart and perhaps House of Delegates hopeful David Moon.) In particular, those who represented minority communities saw this as a way to achieve something they couldn’t at the ballot box. Bilal Ayyub had submitted his name for consideration on that community’s behalf, and noted in his withdrawal letter:

The members of the Committee have been heavily lobbied from the time Senator Rob Garagiola announced his intention to step down from his seat before the end of his term. The above activism as well as my own communications forced me to acknowledge that commitments were made prior to concluding the official vetting process.

Ayyub goes on to complain:

The leaders of underrepresented communities in Montgomery County are painfully aware that never in the history of Montgomery County has even one of the county’s eight state senate seats been held by a senator representing an underrepresented community. This historic inequity was highlighted by the 2010 census, which confirmed what many had suspected for a long time: most residents of the county are racial minorities. However, relative to their numbers, underrepresented communities have remained marginalized in Montgomery County’s political life.

This was a chance to “level the playing field,” continued Ayyub.

Instead, it appears that Montgomery County Democrats will elevate Delegate Brian Feldman to the Senate seat; this after he received endorsements from some of the real powers in that county party (as evidenced by the same Maryland Juice post): Delegate Kumar Barve, who serves as Majority Leader in the Maryland House of Delegates, County Executive Ike Leggett, and – most importantly – SEIU Local 500. He also got backing from his fellow District 15 delegates Aruna Miller and Kathleen Dumais, so you would think it’s fairly cut and dried. In fact, aside from the coverage of Moon and a couple brief Washington Post pieces, you might not know the little bit of conflict on this vacancy existed because the process has been long and dissent kept private.

So the question is why the Republicans’ process has been so controversial? Perhaps because we didn’t grease the skids for one person behind closed doors?

And while I don’t know the racial composition of all of the fourteen aspirants to the District 36 seat – I presume all are white, with one woman in Audrey Scott – it’s worth pointing out that no one has made a stink about that locally. Moreover, while Montgomery County is majority-minority according to the census, I don’t believe District 15 falls in that category. So why the presumed entitlement and reparation?

In short: don’t believe the Democrats aren’t having their own catfights about their process. It’s just that the media doesn’t pay as much attention to their infighting and the process isn’t nearly as transparent as ours.

WCRC meeting – August 2013

August 27, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on WCRC meeting – August 2013 

In what turns out to be the second of three consecutive club meetings featuring a gubernatorial candidate, a packed room enjoyed the presentation from Charles Lollar. While Lollar hasn’t formally announced – one item he mentioned was that this area will be part of his bus tour on September 5 – it’s clear he’s intending to run for the GOP nomination.

So, as is our usual custom with visiting dignitaries who travel from afar, once we got through the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduced our other distinguished guests we turned the meeting over to Charles, who brought his wife Rosha along.

Lollar started right out by telling those gathered it was “awesome” we began with the Lord’s Prayer. (It’s actually something I believe our late former president George Ossman started. We later paid tribute to George, who passed away last week and was remembered as “a great Republican and club member,” with a moment of silence.) Charles continued on that point, saying that religion was the fabric of our nation, He also contended that the political process of late was one of deciding between whether our rights derived from God or were passed along by mankind, “If you think our rights are from men, don’t vote for me,” said Lollar. “Rights and liberties…come from the Creator of our universe.”

Charles pondered what could happen next year given three items: the new majority of local elected officials statewide who belong to the Republican Party, the impact of fights over state Constitutional amendments such as the one permitting gay marriage, and the influence of conservative Democrats in rural areas upset about the current administration’s efforts to instill draconian gun control measures.

But Lollar urged those attending to gather as much information as they could before making a decision on the gubernatorial race. For his part, Charles claimed “we will represent you well…when you run your campaign from here,” pointing to his heart.

In going over some of his qualifications, LtCol Select Lollar pointed to his service in the Marines as a leader of men as well as the turnaround he worked at Cintas, taking a division lagging in the bottom 15% of the company and transforming it into a top five percent outfit. “I’m a completely boring person (in my personal life)…but I understand money (and) leadership,” Lollar said. He repeated the case later: “I have more leadership experience than all of them.” referring to all those running for the state’s top office.

Regarding social issues, Charles made the point that he would be “elected as governor, not priest.” That’s not to say he’s not a social conservative, but his focus would be on the fiscal side. “We’re in it until the budget is balanced,” promised Lollar.

Charles brought up a fantastic point, stating that a significant portion of the state’s budget came from the federal government and because of that Washington controls much of what our state government does. He gave the example of a western state which enacted an 80 MPH speed limit until they were threatened with the loss of federal highway funds, at which time they reverted back to the standard 65 MPH. (Pity.) The states lose their ability to govern themselves when federal funding becomes a significant part of their budget, he added.

One solution he advocated was a taxpayer’s bill of rights (or TABOR law) like Colorado adopted some years ago. Simply put, a TABOR law means annual spending can only be increased by the sum of percentage of population growth plus the rate of inflation. For example, in FY2012 Maryland’s population grew by 0.8% while inflation was measured in 2012 at 1.7 percent. Thus, the maximum budget increase allowed by law would be 2.5 percent. (In reality, Maryland’s budget grew just over 4 percent. Had the TABOR been in effect, Maryland taxpayers would have saved roughly $650 million this year.)

In answering questions, Charles explained how he could run despite the Hatch Act (he is now a reservist, not on active duty), deferred on a lieutenant governor choice by stating “we are strongly considering and praying” about who the person would be, but wishing to get the campaign off the ground first, and noted his “concern” about cancelling out loyal Republican votes in an open primary.

But one questioner seemed to catch Charles off guard a little bit, if only because he may not be familiar with Mark Levin’s recent book. Once explained briefly, Lollar opined it “sounds like something I would agree with.”

And there was the obvious ask: how do you win in minority areas? Charles noted he didn’t need to win outright, and victory was possible with just 35% in those areas (knowing he’ll roll up sizable majorities in places like Wicomico County.) But he’s been active there, and while there are some who he knows won’t be receptive to his message, he’s going at these communities with the statement that “the best entitlement program is a job.”

Finally, it was noted that with the recent endorsement from Blaine Young, the Frederick County Commission president would be an honorary chairman of Lollar’s campaign.

With that, we returned to the usual order of business, with the minutes being read, treasurer’s report given, and Jackie Wellfonder introducing another former WCRC leader who would promote her event later.

Giving his Central Committee report, county chair Dave Parker conceded, “it’s been a hard week.” Parker pointed out the “assault” on State Senator Rich Colburn by the Daily Times – an article which aroused one supporter to warn “we can’t let them get away with this” and call on the group to burn up the editor’s phone lines starting at 8:30 the next morning – and the circus surrounding the District 36 seat. He said he had personally spoken to Diana Waterman, who denied any allegations of impropriety, but still believed the “state level was doing its best to self-destruct.”

And after bringing up the upcoming events of the WCRC Crab Feast on September 7 (contact me for tickets, by the way – I still have a few left to sell) and our next Central Committee meeting on September 9th, he urged those in attendance to consider joining the Central Committee next year. There will likely be turnover, and “we need some troublemakers” on the Central Committee, said Dave.

The aforementioned WCRC president, E. Dee Monnen (who I referred to last week) was promoting the upcoming First District Bull Roast on September 21 in Queen Anne’s County. Unfortunately, she could not secure a local bus for the event but still urged us to attend and show support for our GOP candidates, including Andy Harris.

Also speaking on behalf of Harris, Shawn Jester added that he was pleased with the Fruitland town hall turnout of over 100 people.

We also heard from District 38C candidate Mary Beth Carozza, who gave kudos to those running the Wicomico Farm and Home Show. (I credited my volunteers; they did most of the hard work. All I did was badger them a few times and bring the big red bin of Central Committee stuff I now need to go through.) She was planning to attend a now-scrubbed legislative hearing on onerous state regulations on the poultry industry as well as visit with the Rural Maryland Council.

And while the Colburn supporter was stating her case against the Daily Times, one observer believed the Senator indeed exhibited “poor judgment” with these expenditures. Personally, I’m hoping they check into the campaign finances of some on the other side of the aisle just as closely.

Our next meeting will be September 23, and as I noted at the top we complete our gubernatorial trifecta with Delegate Ron George introducing himself to the club.

I would like to make one final comment. In many instances, we allow the visiting speakers to speak early figuring they have a long drive back home or to where they are staying. Few stay for the whole meeting, but Charles indeed stuck it out and spoke to several members afterward individually. That sort of gesture is not forgotten.

Singing kumbaya

I’ll get into it in much more detail tomorrow evening, but tonight Charles Lollar came to speak to a crowded room at our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. Within that room were a number of people who had most recently been at each other’s throats, including a long string of Tweets between two of the parties the other night.

A few counties over we have the spectacle of shifting votes, would-be aspirants dropping out, otherwise reasonably conservative candidates (based on voting record) being called not conservative enough. People are questioning the process, but shouldn’t we be questioning some of the players?

Now I’m not going to sit here and claim to be either the sharpest knife in the drawer or the conservative male answer to Dr. Joyce Brothers – who recently passed away, but was a television staple of my youth as a popular psychologist. (Surely this reference dates me, but I don’t care. Using Oprah as an example didn’t have the connotation I wanted.) But it seems to me, speaking as just a dumb hick from the Black Swamp of northwest Ohio, that there are a number of people who seem to be letting personal political interests get ahead of the conservative movement as a whole. Certainly I have my preferences in such things as the District 36 Senate seat race, but I’m not going to sit here and smear the others – perhaps the closest I come is questioning Audrey Scott’s bonafides for the position based on my observations of her past actions. But would she be better than a Democrat in the seat? Certainly. But I guarantee that someone will question my loyalty because no one is pure enough for them.

I get e-mail from the Campaign for Liberty folks and I follow the Cecil County Patriots online. But you wouldn’t think they agreed on probably half or better of the issues the way they carry on against each other. Listen, I don’t get along personally with all of my Central Committee cohorts in the respect that we hang out together at social gatherings. Some cliques have me on the A list and some have me standing out in the cold. But we all have a common goal, and that’s electing Republicans – mine might be more on the libertarian side than ones some others would prefer, but I’d rather make minimal progress with a moderate than be thrown for a loss by a Democrat.

So the situation I alluded to above may not be resolved for some time. Certainly I’ve always been a fan of Charles Lollar, so that was easy to sit through tonight. Even the David Craig county coordinator was on her best behavior. Because of that, I’m hoping the local Lollar crew will both attend the meeting and extend the same courtesy when Ron George comes next month. I’m sure they will.

It certainly would beat the question I had to answer when I was asked what a certain group of bloggers was thinking when they said whatever was said to offend the questioner. For obvious reasons I’m sensitive to that, although perhaps not as much as the club president who actually works with those guys on a regular basis. Who and what doesn’t matter so much as the question being asked in the first place.

You know, I get that politics is a blood sport for some. There are days I’d love to just sit and talk baseball all day, but I suspect I would move the conversation in a political direction after a while because it’s become my comfort zone. Yet while I don’t always like the hours or the nature of the work, having an outside job to occupy my mind several hours a day has the advantage of keeping me grounded and attuned to the real world. (Doesn’t always help my output here, though.)

So when I saw the gathering of people brought together by an overall cause – and this is not to single out Charles Lollar, because many of the same folks came to see David Craig last month and Dr. Mark Edney the month before, and will extend that courtesy to Ron George – it sort of surprises me that we can go astray over what, to 99% of the people out there, would be considered trivial things. Sometimes we have to take a step back and let life play out.

The first dropout

I wasn’t really surprised at a portion of this news, except for one thing:

I thought the idea was Blaine would drop out if Michael Steele got in.

So what this tells me is one of two things: either Charles made a better offer (because the polling data is really that good for Charles) or Michael Steele is taking a pass on the race. According to the Maryland Politics blog (part of the Baltimore Sun, so take for what it’s worth) Young called Lollar the “best choice.” I wouldn’t call that the strongest endorsement, and it’s interesting that Lollar’s nascent campaign hasn’t made as much of a deal out of it as it did Ben Carson’s backing, which was fairly soft-sold in and of itself.

I’m not sure how much help Blaine will be on the campaign trail since he’ll likely be doing his own fundraising and politicking for county office in Frederick County. Having a radio show to talk up Charles may be a help for Blaine, although my guess is that the show would come to a halt if and when Young files again for office.

And so ends our first effort for governor, one which had quite a bit of promise to begin with but really went downhill after the Patrick Allen allegations brought out by Mark Newgent at Red Maryland. These came out days after David Craig and Ron George officially entered the race, making the run a three-way battle. Blaine couldn’t take advantage of early momentum and events which were calculated to make a splash with certain groups, such as the one I covered at MACo last year.

We’ll see if Charles can make a better push than Young did.

Bongino: I won’t be a lifer

August 24, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Bongino: I won’t be a lifer 

Expanding on a possible “outsider vs. establishment” theme to get him through a Sixth District primary against at least two challengers (David Vogt and, more recently, 2012 aspirant Brandon Rippeon) Dan Bongino promised “I will always be one of you. I will never be one of them.”

At this time, the front of his campaign website has four promises he’s vowing to keep: in brief, they are donating half his salary to charity, not voting for anything which “exempts the political class”, no free vacations (or as he calls them, foreign junkets), and most importantly to me, a six-year term limit. On that point Dan says:

I will serve no more than 6 years or three terms in the House of Representatives. One cannot speak of term limits within a specific office while insulated within that office from the very people they are elected to serve.

That’s only half of what Andy Harris promised informally when he took office in 2010. But what’s most intriguing to me is that Dan will only be 46 when that time is up, in a year where nothing will be on the ballot except a Presidential election and his seat. I know the 2020 election seems a long way off, but if Dan holds true to his word he would be on the ballot in 2014, 2016, and 2018.

Now that doesn’t mean, of course, that Dan couldn’t serve just two terms in Washington and then decide to run for governor, presumably in this case against a Democratic incumbent. Another option would be what one could call the Martin O’Malley option: spend the two years between the end of the term and the election stumping for higher office. That would mean a 2022 run for governor, when the seat would be open unless a new governor is elected in 2018.

Needless to say there’s a whole lot of speculation in all this, but one has to ask: when Bob Ehrlich won a Congressional seat in 1994, did anyone foresee it as a springboard to the governorship eight years later? Maybe lightning could strike twice in Maryland.

Scott drops bid for District 36 Senate seat

After coming from nowhere and arousing a great deal of controversy in a quixotic bid to replace E.J. Pipkin in the Maryland Senate, the surprise choice of Queen Anne’s County’s Central Committee suddenly withdrew from the race late Friday afternoon, according to a story broken by Mark Newgent at the Red Maryland blog. In a communication to the committees in question and the state party, Scott told them that:

It is my hope that my withdrawal from consideration will permit Queen Anne’s County to revote for another candidate of their choosing.

(snip)

Now, with both Delegate (Michael) Smigiel and Delegate (Steve) Hershey each receiving a vote from a Central Committee, putting them each in a position to be the next State Senator, I do not wish for my presence in the race to interfere with either person being selected.

Had it remained a three- or possibly even a four-way race – Caroline County apparently hasn’t finalized its selection process – it would have been very likely Governor O’Malley would have selected Scott in order not to elevate a Delegate from the district. So unless Caroline stays home and picks a third name and/or Queen Anne’s makes a different choice, it’s likely O’Malley would be stuck with his preference of either Hershey or Smigiel. My guess would be Hershey.

Of course, there is still the possibility that no candidate could get a majority of the counties – four could win one county apiece, or Hershey and Smigiel could each take two counties. It’s brought up the thought of having special elections when these situations occur, but with 188 legislative districts in the state, filling each vacancy in this fashion could be very expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. So far this year, for example, we’ve had one death and two resignations, including Pipkin’s. It would make more sense to have such a law if the vacancy occurred in the first 18 months of the term, before the Presidential election (there would still have to be a special primary in many cases.) Having gone through an instance where our Central Committee had to select a “caretaker” delegate when Page Elmore passed away barely two months before a primary to replace him, it seems to me the system as is works sufficiently.

There’s no question I disagree with Audrey Scott on a number of issues, and I’m not convinced she would have been a good State Senator anyway. But I’m curious about who the “numerous Central Committee members” are who asked her to run in the first place. If they’re aware in any way how the political system works in Maryland, they would have had to know that at least one Delegate would seek the seat and would be a natural successor. So what purpose would there be in having Scott try for the position in the first place? Drumming up business for her son?

Anyway – at least until a seat for Delegate opens up – it looks like the Audrey Scott saga may end as quickly as it blew in earlier this week. All it seems to have accomplished is allowing some of us a little more fodder for the internet archives.

It also makes the Maryland Liberty PAC look a little foolish, as they got all worked up over the possibility of Scott moving up. Think they’ll take credit for her withdrawal?

Update 10:45 p.m.: You betcha. This just hit my e-mail box:

I could not be more proud to be a part of the Maryland Liberty Movement tonight.

We just received word that Audrey Scott has now officially dropped out of the State Senate race in District 36.

Our objective was to get this RINO out of the race and tonight we did just that.

Multiple sources are telling us that a huge number of emails and phone calls were flowing into Central Committee members.

This ultimately gave them the support they needed to stand up to the Establishment.

The question, though, is just how much influence they had since it was Scott’s decision. But regardless they got what they wanted this time.

Shorebird of the Week – August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the Week – August 22, 2013 

A few weeks back, I noted a pitcher who went from being a mediocre starter to an effective reliever. This week’s honoree went the opposite direction, becoming an effective Shorebird starter over the last half of the season since being elevated to the Shorebirds June 4 from extended spring training.

But Bennett Parry has been dominating of late, unscored upon in his last two starts against Kannapolis and Lakewood, a stretch covering 12 1/3 innings. In those two starts, the first of which gave Parry his second win of the season, he’s allowed just eight hits and three walks while fanning nine.

The tall 22 year old lefty, an afterthought in the 2011 draft as a 40th round selection out of Cal State-Northridge and the San Diego area – his alma mater Poway High School is famous baseball-wise for graduating the offspring of two famous Padres: Gary Templeton and Tony Gwynn – has impressed as a starter, pitching to a 2.10 ERA in seven starts coming into tonight’s game at Greensboro where he will take the ball once again. Conversely, as a reliever his ERA is a more pedestrian 4.41 in 16 1/3 innings. Parry has allowed 18 hits and has an 18/8 strikeout/walk ratio as a reliever, but improves to 26 hits allowed in 35 innings as a starter with a 30/10 strikeout/walk ratio. More telling, his WHIP as a reliever is 1.59 but declines to 1.03 as a starter. That’s one fewer baserunner every two innings, which leads to a marked difference in ERA.

So far in three professional seasons, though – and this includes two brief appearances with the Gulf Coast League Orioles in 2011 – his highest ERA is 2.84 and that’s where he stands right now. Bennett pitched to a 1-4, 2.70 ERA between the Gulf Coast League and Aberdeen last year, and has kept up relatively similar success with the Shorebirds. He’s kept racking up strikeouts at a pace of about one per inning, although his most recent two starts were slightly under that mark.

Certainly Parry can be useful as a lefty starter, and his body of work over the second half of the season makes him a contender for Frederick’s starting rotation next season.

Time for Dwyer to go?

August 21, 2013 · Posted in Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Time for Dwyer to go? 

The self-induced black cloud over Delegate Don Dwyer’s head just got a little darker last night when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. While he did not take a breathalyzer test (automatically forfeiting his license for 90 days in the process), the officer at the scene “could smell a strong odor of alcohol,” according to news reports. This comes after the boating accident for which he was blamed last year and even a citation for illegal crabbing earlier this year. Despite all this, Dwyer had announced plans for running for re-election next year, even conducting a gun raffle for a fundraiser.

But the political landscape is different than when he last won election in 2010 in a three-person District 31. That legislative district has been sliced into two subdistricts, and while I believe Dwyer lives in the larger one he was third in the last election and third won’t cut it this time. (The two-seat District 31B is also fairly narrowly Republican, as opposed to more heavily Democratic District 31A.)

And the outcry for Dwyer’s resignation is strong – particularly from fellow Anne Arundel County Delegate and gubernatorial candidate Ron George, who advised, “out of concern for others who could be harmed and for Don Dwyer himself, I call on him to resign and get help. His constituents deserve good representation.” In fact, this has been an issue during the General Assembly session as Dwyer missed almost half the votes I tallied on the monoblogue Accountability Project.

But if Dwyer wants to be in company of a group that’s generally forgiving of the largest number of human foibles, up to and including substance abuse and sexual harassment, perhaps he should follow through on something he posted on his “dispatches” earlier this year: switching parties and becoming a Democrat.

This would accomplish two things: not only does it bring Dwyer to a new political home among the most forgiving of folks, it also means Dwyer can reduce the time he needs to straighten himself out – after all, it only took Democrat and San Diego mayor Bob Filner two weeks to get well from years of sexual harassment.

But seriously, folks, Don Dwyer is a dead delegate walking. Whether he resigns or not isn’t the point, because his political career is probably over, either the day he resigns or after the 2014 primary election. (Unless somehow miraculously unopposed in the primary, he won’t win it.) The only advantage which could be gained from a Dwyer resignation would be that his successor would be the incumbent for 2014, although you can bet your bottom dollar the Baltimore Sun will, as often as possible, refer to that person as “reckless boater Don Dwyer’s successor.”

I’ve also found this evening a lot of discussion on social media about the unwritten Republican policy of endorsing incumbents. Officially, there is no such policy in the Maryland GOP but on the whole there’s that tacit understanding that the preference is that incumbents don’t receive a primary challenge. Of course, that goes out the window in Dwyer’s case but I think we all deserve a choice, even if it serves simply as a referendum on an incumbent. Looking at my potential state and local ballot, there are a number of Republicans who I believe need and/or deserve a primary challenger – but many of them will skate unscathed to the general election and perhaps a few fortunate ones will be unopposed there.

I suspect that, for those who don’t like Don Dwyer for whatever reason – whether strident political positions or not handling his obvious problems with alcohol – the third time is the charm and they won’t have him to kick around much longer. But wait and see what issues are swept under the rug (or excused, like another Delegate’s DUI offense) because the majority party engages in them – do you think this guy could stand a little anger management, or does “political thuggery” come naturally to him?

Whatever personal demons Don Dwyer has, public office is generally not the best place to deal with them. Maybe the local police make sure to check by the local watering holes to see if Dwyer’s Cadillac is there, but with scrutiny should come better behavior. Apparently not in this case.

One seat, fourteen applicants

Monday evening the list of applicants for E.J. Pipkin’s District 36 Maryland Senate seat came out, and there were several surprises on the list. We knew some of the names which would be on there, but there is no lack of aspirants for the job. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Steven Arentz, a Queen Anne’s County Commissioner elected in 2010
  • R. Scott Bramble, of Cecil County
  • Frank Frohn, a former member of the Queen Anne’s County Planning Commission and unsuccessful 2010 Commission candidate
  • John Graham, of Queen Anne’s County
  • Stephen Hershey, current District 36 Delegate from Queen Anne’s County (elected in 2010)
  • Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty and Red Maryland radio host
  • Tim McCluskey, a town councilman from Centreville since 2009
  • Audrey Scott, onetime mayor of Bowie, Secretary of Planning, and more recently Maryland GOP Chair 2009-10
  • Michael Smigiel, current District 36 Delegate from Cecil County (first elected in 2002)
  • Richard Sossi, former District 36 Delegate from 2002-10
  • Robert Thornton, Jr., former Delegate from Caroline County (1990-94) – elected as a Democrat
  • John Leo Walter, who ran for Congress in 2008, from Queen Anne’s County
  • John Walton, Jr., of Caroline County
  • Eric Wargotz, GOP Senate nominee in 2010 and former Queen Anne’s County Commissioner

So as far as I can tell, most of these officeseekers have already served in some capacity, while many others have run for office. I would imagine that most, if not all, of them would try once again if one of the two current Delegates in the mix (Hershey or Smigiel) is elevated to the Senate (and if they are eligible, based on my recollection of state law – see below.)

Personally, I think it’s going to be Smigiel’s seat to lose, but he probably has to get the backing of all four counties to be selected. If more than one name is sent to Governor O’Malley, it won’t be Smigiel who’s picked, not after his strident opposition to the cherished O’Malley gun law. If Caroline County stays home and picks Thornton as one of several names submitted he may be the choice as a former Democrat and current attorney. Martin O’Malley can also then say he addressed the unfairness of having one county not represented in Annapolis.

To me, the most intriguing names in the running are Langer, Scott, Sossi, Walter, and Wargotz.

Obviously Andrew Langer is a political activist and could be an interesting bomb thrower in the Maryland Senate as a TEA Party stalwart. I think he has a slightly better chance of being selected as a Delegate should a seat open up thanks to the elevation of Hershey – I believe if Smigiel is selected his successor would have to come from a county not already represented in the district, which would leave only Caroline and Cecil counties as possibilities because Hershey is from Queen Anne’s and Delegate Jay Jacobs, who is not seeking the Senate seat, comes from Kent County.

I see Audrey Scott, meanwhile, as a possible compromise, caretaker candidate who probably wouldn’t run again in 2014. It’s not like she hasn’t come in to finish someone else’s term and opted not to run again, although she may then assume some position will be handed to her. Also worth mentioning: she’s the only woman in the field.

From what I gather, Sossi is running for the poetic justice of succeeding the guy who allegedly helped orchestrate his defeat in 2010 by Hershey. I suppose he could then run in 2014 as being the tan, rested, and ready candidate.

Most may not have heard of John Leo Walter, but I remember him. Lost in the bloodbath that was the 2008 First District Congressional primary was Walter’s principled, conservative campaign. Maybe this is his time, although he is probably the darkest of horses in this race.

And after passing up the 2012 Senate campaign and thoughts of climbing into the gubernatorial ring, it’s worth pointing out that Eric Wargotz has trimmed his aspirations back to where some probably thought they should have been all along.

It’s interesting to me that, when I did the research into one of the candidates, I came across this Free Republic thread from 2003 when Jeannie Haddaway (pre-Riccio) was selected for the then-vacant District 37B Delegate seat in a similar situation – four counties were involved there, too. At that time, both Caroline and Wicomico selected Jim Newcomb of Dorchester County but Haddaway was Bob Ehrlich’s choice as her name was submitted by Talbot County, which at the time was the largest jurisdiction in the district. But there were only six shooting for the seat back then as opposed to the fourteen-person scrum we have this time.

(As an aside, there was a fascinating mention of then-officeseeker Stevie Prettyman, who remains on Wicomico County Council to this day:

Stevie Prettyman, current Wicomico County Council member, supports conservative spending and agreed with the other candidate that Maryland citizens are over-taxed. Prettyman said building bonds with Democrats would be a key strategy if selected.

“You have to cross the aisle,” Prettyman said. “You have to be able to hold hands for a common goal – and that common goal is the best for the people you serve.”

To some, it seems to still hold true even when there’s only one Democrat on County Council because we’ve not managed to elect a GOP County Executive.)

I would imagine that the timetable has been set so that there’s plenty of breathing room before counties are required to submit nominees. Will the four counties go with the conventional wisdom, or will they break ranks and allow Martin O’Malley to select a centrist Republican who would bend to his will as he did when former Delegate Richard Weldon resigned in 2009? At that time, Frederick and Washington counties split and Charles Jenkins was picked over Michael Hough, who then ran against Jenkins and won the seat in 2010.

No one can be certain at this time. While Smigiel has claimed he has the votes, that’s not necessarily true.

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