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.