The high road

For the most part, the votes are counted in the 2013 elections. A few conservatives won, but others lost – and that’s always disappointing. I’m going to leave the finger-pointing to others, but some reactions to the Virginia and New Jersey races worth sharing came from national heavyweights Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh as well as new media names like Peter Ingemi, Soopermexican, and Dan Riehl.

But for now I’m going to focus on the state races, which despite being a year away have attracted a fair share of headlines. One sidebar story to most, though, is roiling Maryland’s conservative new media, as it’s full-on open warfare between blogs and personalities supporting gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar vs. blogs and personalities which are claiming to vet Lollar for a number of issues ranging from out-of-state tags on the announcement tour bus to pulling a salary during his 2010 Congressional campaign to missing key GOP events.

I thought one generous olive branch was extended by J. Doug Gill on his radio show this evening. Why not talk out these issues and get some explanation from the guy on top, the leader of the campaign?

I know people on both sides of this issue; for example I’m friends with Jackie Wellfonder and work with her closely as part of Wicomico County Republican Club leadership – having met her as a local leader in the Dan Bongino Senate campaign, yet I also know Julie Brewington as an earnest believer in her cause who worked in the development of the local TEA Party as well as the former Americans for Prosperity chapter we had here. She also stuck her neck out to try and change Annapolis by running for office. Certainly, the results weren’t what Julie would have desired because she finished last, but few people make the commitment to run for such elected office. I consider her a friend as well. Sad thing is that there’s probably 80 percent or more common ground there but Julie is a local leader for Lollar and Jackie is on record as pining for Larry Hogan, so there’s now plenty of animosity there.

Yet look where this infighting has gotten us – talk of blackmail, mea culpas on subjects better left unsaid (and really irrelevant to the campaign), and talk of “vicious attacks.” I don’t know which wheel squeaked first – although as you’ll see below I have a guess – but I hope my wheel is the one that squeaks last. If Charles Lollar is running a poor campaign, the voters will figure that out soon enough. There isn’t a campaign among the four Republicans with a realistic shot of winning the nomination that I wouldn’t support when compared to the Democrats in the field who promise the same old bromides of tax, spend, and redistribute in an effort to buy more votes.

My gosh, if we as conservatives have enough pride to not fall for the redistribution trap, let’s not get bogged down in this crap. If people spent half as much time and energy working out the obvious flaws in Lollar’s campaign – and yes, the lack of a website for a week was a legitimate criticism of an unforced error, as were some of the missed appearances – as they did in figuring out ways to trash the Red Maryland crew, which may be of use to them later, they would stand a much better chance of winning.

I think it was a main protagonist of Red Maryland, Greg Kline, who got this whole ball rolling with his June assessment that Lollar “does not seem ready to be a serious contender for the Office of Governor of Maryland.” Since then, the Lollar camp has seemed hypersensitive to any criticism from that direction, which includes by extension Wellfonder (a Red Maryland radio host) as well as Jeff Quinton (also a former Red Maryland radio host.) Moreover, the blowback even extends to the Steve Hershey appointment. It almost seems like a cynical attempt to “slime the messenger” is at play here.

Now you can trust me when I tell you this “erstwhile contributor” to Red Maryland has had many differences with them over the years. But I have to say that they are an important piece of Republican politics in this state, for better or worse. I would have more respect for those running the Lollar campaign if they pointed out the differences between their guy and the other Republicans running than I do with their spending time worrying about what a group of bloggers thinks. If you disagree with Kline’s assessment, prove him wrong and step up your game.

As for myself, it’s time to concentrate on the issues. I think Sunday I’ll break out the first of several parts of my dossier, which is pretty much complete in several areas, so look for that.

20 thoughts on “The high road”

  1. Mike,

    I have talked to both sides in person, and on line. I like you have friends on both sides of this embarrassing exposition . I have ask them both to stop the bull shit. I even told both sides they were acting like petulant 12 year olds. I even know of one person who told the two main characters ( no need to name them, we all know who they are) to make out already and get it over with. I have ask repeatedly what the end game was, or exactly what good could come from any of this dysfunctional behavior. All of this to no avail .
    I sincerely hope they will take your ( as usual )words of wisdom to heart and stop the asinine juvenile behavior.

  2. Hey Michael, I just have a question (an honest one, too);

    Do you think Quinton going after me was over-the-top? He’s crossed a lot of lines, but someone threatened to do to him exactly what he did to me, so I can’t really work up any outrage over it.

    I get that this is a ridiculously low level we’ve reached now, but I think we were there after I got stepped on.

    Obviously, impartiality is not a thing possible for me at this point.

  3. The problem with the “Can’t we all just get along” business is it’s always one sided.

    When a Mitt Romney or a Gabriel Gomez winds nominations we are told to work for them and put aside our dislike of them.and we do

    But when a Ken Cuccinelli, or Sharon Angle or Christine O’Donnell wins the nomination the establishment either runs away or actively attacks them.

    Until the GOP decides the voters who elected them in 2010 like their customers then there is no reason why we should trust the.

  4. Michael,

    Several issues need to be addressed here. First and foremost, you say “Sad thing is there’s probably 80 percent or more common ground there but Julie is a local leader for Lollar and Jackie is on record as pining for Larry Hogan, so there’s now plenty of animosity there.”

    1) You’re a better writer than that. To use the word pining is not only insulting, it’s highly inaccurate to classify my support of another candidate is “pining”.
    2) Any animosity would be on the behalf of Ms. Brewington, not myself as I frequently communicate with members of the Ron George team as well as the David Craig team. Why? Because it is the opposite of animosity, I have worked hard to cultivate relationships and establish a mutual respect, which is one of the primary things Ms. Brewington is obviously quite resentful and envious of. I have no problems with anyone on any other campaign and we work very well together. So to state that there is “animosity” simply because we’re supporting different candidates is categorically false. There may be animosity on Ms. Brewington’s end but not on mine.

    As someone who has something called an “accountability project”, I would hope accountability matters to you. I would also hope that the Lolllar campaign would consider taking J. Doug Gill up on his offer or any of the other Red Maryland hosts for that matter. You indicate that the Lollar campaign would be better served by pointing out differences with other candidates than being concerned with what a group of bloggers thinks. Well as you know, bloggers are the ones that typically ask the questions that the main stream media will avoid or may not even be aware of. Do you not support local candidates having open dialogue with local new media??

    And considering accountability. J. Doug Gill asked an excellent question last night. Mr. Lollar presents himself as a second amendment advocate but is against ‘stand your ground laws’? I’ve heard this from multiple sources and also heard that his campaign staff was even advised to NEVER bring up the issue around him because they knew it would be a problem for the campaign. Doesn’t accountability and integrity matter? Don’t his supporters deserve an answer regarding that issue? “Slime the messenger” indeed, they are sliming the people asking the right questions.

    Finally, as my friend Pete indicated, the kumbaya approach only goes so far. If we can’t hold our own team accountable and question them on the issues, we’re no better than the talking point spouting, false messiah worshipping, kool aid drinking leftists. I aspire for better than that.

  5. No Boisvert nobody threatened you with blackmail. While you may be an apologist for their behavior, I’m pretty sure you’re bright enough to see the difference.

    Speaking of apologies, Michael you owe one to Greg Kline. Your premise is so full of BS and just another cheap shot at Greg. Not sure why you have a vendetta against him, but don’t act like you’re an innocent bystander in all of this.

    Once again, I look forward to the dossiers that will get us to your predetermined outcome….

  6. Okay Jackie, here’s the way it is:

    First of all, the definition of “pining” is as follows: “to yearn intensely and persistently especially for something unattainable.” Perhaps a Larry Hogan candidacy is not unattainable, but at the time it seemed to be. Larry seems quite happy doing Change Maryland. So when you write, “I’ve not been able to achieve the level of enthusiasm I normally would for a candidate I’d support,” I would definitely consider that yearning. And as one who believes “words mean things” you should know I say what I mean and mean what I say. If you find that “insulting” I can’t help you there.

    Secondly, I took pains not to blame either party for animosity because it’s not productive. If one wants to delve further into the subject to see who says what, the answer will be more obvious. I will not dispute the fact you work hard to cultivate relationships, just as I’m sure Julie does for her line of work. But given Julie’s history I can see why she’d be a little more caustic. That’s certainly no excuse for the actions of others on her team, but in Julie’s case I can clearly see she’s no Red Maryland fan.

    As to your third point, let me quote what I actually said:

    I would have more respect for those running the Lollar campaign if they pointed out the differences between their guy and the other Republicans running than I do with their spending time worrying about what a group of bloggers thinks.

    I thought when I wrote that it was an indictment on their tactics regarding you, Red Maryland and Jeff Quinton. So here I am being questioned on my motives? Seriously? Of course I want dialogue between candidates and bloggers. So have you asked the “stand your ground” question of Charles? I know I wasn’t aware of that. If you can substantiate the assertion about that, you have a legitimate story which deserves clarification.

    Finally, there’s accountability, but while we should be asking the tough questions they should be distributed equally. And we walk somewhat of a fine line here because we generally only have access to one side. Sure, I’d love to grill Anthony Brown but he won’t give bloggers the time of day because he’s afraid to; meanwhile we’re doing his opposition research for him. We need to keep that in mind.

  7. For what do I owe Greg an apology? Because I made this point?

    I think it was a main protagonist of Red Maryland, Greg Kline, who got this whole ball rolling with his June assessment that Lollar “does not seem ready to be a serious contender for the Office of Governor of Maryland.” Since then, the Lollar camp has seemed hypersensitive to any criticism from that direction, which includes by extension Wellfonder (a Red Maryland radio host) as well as Jeff Quinton (also a former Red Maryland radio host.) Moreover, the blowback even extends to the Steve Hershey appointment. It almost seems like a cynical attempt to “slime the messenger” is at play here.

    It’s called opinion, Brian. We all have them. And in following it up with the second opinion calling the Lollar crew “hypersensitive to any criticism from that direction,” one would think the reader would determine that they are taking things way too seriously, going personal instead of just addressing the issues. As I told Jackie, I say what I mean and I mean what I say.

    And honestly, I’m not even sure I have a vendetta against Greg. But I am sure you’ll enjoy the dossiers, seeing that they are done as a compare-and-contrast on particular issues I believe are important. Doing them has certainly opened my eyes.

  8. Yes you do owe Greg an apology. Greg has not written or discussed the Lollar campaign, save for discussing my pieces, since that piece. After Greg’s piece, CHARLES THANKED US for our honest assessment and critiques, so to even drag Greg’s name into it when me, Jackie, and Jeff have been doing reporting is to be disingenuous at best, or intentionally dishonest at worst. You are painting Greg with a brush of something he has not even been involved with.

    Seriously: you damn Greg for being a lawyer, then drag him into an issue he has little if anything to do with. I don’t know what he ever did to you, but I can only assuming it’s jealousy.

    As I have said before, and as I said on last night’s Red Maryland Radio (, you can do all of the dossiers you want because everybody knows that they are pre-ordained to lead you to endorse Lollar because you’re a Lollar guy. You’re welcome to that opinion of course. But don’t pretend that isn’t how this is going to end.

  9. I stand by the fact that using the word pining was a poor choice and makes an insinuation. But after hearing Greg and Brian’s show last night, I think they addressed the reasons why pretty well. And have I asked Charles? No, because my calls to his campaign manager went unanswered. I just found out that information recently. I’ve even since then reached out to him personal via a mutual friend that he does communicate with so we’ll see. Also offered a proposal but I largely suspect that invitation will be rebuked as well. We’ll see. And the fact of the matter is, I have talked to Larry and know that the candidacy is indeed NOT unattainable. Otherwise, wouldn’t have publicly come out and supported him. But y’all keep hoping for that “unattainable” thing. At least I was forthright in who I’m supporting.

  10. Michael, thank you for the article. I believe it’s a pretty fair assessment of an unfortunate situation, where people who oppose Charles Lollar, have decided to attack people who support him, in a personal and vindictive character assault, because they can’t attack his character, as it’s impeccable. I am amused however at the level of credit they give me as some sort of puppet master, while simultaneously insulting my intelligence. It’s sad that the same people who claim to want to “vet candidates” have used such tactics and then show outrage for criticism for their unscrupulous behavior. Perhaps they need to vet their sources.

    Ultimately there is a lot of emotion and rage coming from the Red Maryland people. If you dare cross them, they will go after you, as you have seen, Michael. You have a lot of credibility and your respect for your work here. To say otherwise is just trying to throw more mud.

    One last thing, Jackie, I can assure you there is nothing about you I would be jealous of. I feel sad for you, really.

    All of this energy could be put to better use. I hope those folks figure that out.

  11. Brian,

    All I have said is that, in my interpretation of the situation, the whole Lollar/Red Maryland blowup can be traced to about that time of Kline’s post. That’s all I said – it doesn’t matter whether Greg has written anything else or not, he wrote the piece I quoted; thus he is involved in that respect.

    If anything, I think I wasted my time writing the next two paragraphs where I criticized Lollar’s campaign for being hypersensitive to criticism from the blogosphere and worrying about what a bunch of bloggers thinks. Did you read that or stop because I made a statement about your colleague?

    Since I didn’t listen to your show last night, I’ll just go about my business. But this whole conversation reminds me of the old saw about how one draws the most flak when they’re over the target and hitting it.

  12. I have to add, regarding the Red MD poll and other allegations, I am amused and flattered that some one might think of my computer skills so highly in any other circumstance, however it is insulting and false, to portray me or anyone associated with me as a computer “hack.” I would remind the author, I am not a political candidate. Also, the scurrilous allegations without any fact to support such charges could potentially be grounds for civil litigation or criminal charges. But most importantly, when we have such threats to our states citizens financial well being with taxes and regulations it is more than folly, it is a gross misconduct in journalism and unconscionable to hurl personal unsubstantiated attacks. They would be better served to focus on those hell bent on destroying business, jobs and rights of all Marylanders as Charles Lollar and his team are doing everyday. His focus is solely on defeating those that are hurting the lives of millions of Maryland residents.

  13. @Mr. Griffiths – Quinton’s recitation of the facts doesn’t include any of the elements of blackmail, since the comment on his own blog was made in the comments section (which means Quinton could’ve easily made it public) and Quinton makes no claim that the release of the information was conditional. (Which, you know, is the blackmail part of blackmail)

    So, *assuming* everything Quinton said is *true*, his headline is a gross mischaracterization to cast himself as victim. (And to differentiate between when he is the targeter or the targeted.) Which is typical bully strategy; as soon as his target resists his bullying, he immediately games everyone around him into thinking he’s the aggressed.

    Also, while I disagree that this nonsense started around the time of Mr. Kline’s assessment, (my issues with you start from when I met you and didn’t know you who were) he’s not “dragging Greg’s name into this”. It’s Michael’s assessment that’s when the Lollar campaign got sensitive to RM criticism – hardly some attack against Mr. Kline.

    @Mrs. Wellfounder – I thought the word “pining” was perfect to describe an endorsement of someone who hasn’t gotten into the race yet. What kind of insinuation can be made when you made your support explicit? But thanks for the heads-up that he plans too. What’s he waiting for?

    @Team Red Maryland – I think it’s a little bizarre that, at the slightest critique of your people, you immediately start throwing accusations that the critiquer is biased. I mean, if the bias accusations against you aren’t valid, maybe you should be more restrained before you make them against people who criticize both sides in this mess.

    I understand Mr. Schwartz doesn’t have Quinton’s blind, burning, mindless, shrieking hatred of Karen Winterling, but that hardly makes Mr. Schwartz a Lollar partisan.

  14. Thanks for again providing a fair and well-researched analysis. The folks involved in this need to take your advice and step away from the self-destruct button. They need to step back and look at the big picture. They need to stop focusing so much on themselves, and if they are really interested in helping the person they are supporting, they need to disengage from the personal crap which is continuing to be perpetrated in the comments here. It’s pretty obvious to me as an outside observer that there is hypersensitivity coming from both sides, and none of this is helpful to anyone. There are things that folks interpreted from your words that simply are not there, but their response makes them lose credibility. Keep calling them the way you see them, Michael. Folks like me appreciate honest, candid reporting that does not mimic supermarket tabloids, which is what some of the blogs do.

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