I have generally associated Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend news dumps with the party of our current President, but Governor Hogan took advantage of the impending holiday weekend to announce he’s allowing 39 Senate and 45 House bills to become law without his signature. Hogan is vetoing just six bills at the end of this session, with two of them being crossfiled versions of a bill that would increase renewable energy mandates that will be featured on my monoblogue Accountability Project. In his veto letter for HB1106/SB921, Hogan conceded the idea was sound but that this measure took things too far when ratepayers are already shelling out a collective $104 million in compliance fees in 2014, the last year for which data was available.
The renewable portfolio standard wasn’t the only mAP bill Hogan vetoed – two other ones had to do with transportation and the fallout from Hogan’s decision to pull the plug on Baltimore’s Red Line. Back in April, Hogan vetoed the infamous Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016 only to have General Assembly Democrats rise up and override him. The veto vote was the one I used for the HB1013 slot of the mAP.
Hogan also chastised General Assembly Democrats for their support of SB907, which would have mandated a $75 million annual payment toward a replacement for the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge, which carries U.S. 301 over the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. Hogan noted that this project is already in the pipeline, calling the legislation “absolutely unnecessary.” This will also be an mAP vote.
A third bill that I didn’t use as an mAP vote – but which also deals with transportation – was HB1010, which would have created the Maryland Transit Administration Oversight and Planning Board. Governor Hogan called it “a sophomoric attack on sound transportation policy,” noting also that the board would be stacked with members from the urban counties.
The other two bills Hogan vetoed were comparatively minor. One dealt with a proposed mixed-use project at Morgan State University in Baltimore, while the other claimed the proposed Maryland Education Development Collaborative ran afoul of the state constitution by placing General Assembly members in a position where they would be doing executive functions.
I’m sure some part of the equation whether Hogan vetoed the bills or not had to do with the likelihood of a veto being sustained, so here are the margins of passage for each of these bills:
- HB1106: House 92-46, Senate 32-14. Override possible by 11 votes in House, 5 in the Senate.
- SB921: Senate 31-14, House 91-48. Override possible by 5 votes in Senate, 9 in House.
- SB907: Senate 33-12, House 90-50. Override possible by 7 votes in Senate, 7 in House.
- HB1010: House 87-51, Senate 28-19. Override possible by 6 votes in House, but Senate can uphold veto if all 19 maintain their votes.
- SB540 (Morgan State): Senate 41-0, House 113-22. Override likely: Senate would need to find 19 votes and House 35.
- SB910 (MEDC) passed without objection in both houses, but will likely have GOP support for a veto. If so, they need 5 Senate Democrats or 7 House Democrats to join them.
Given those results, I’m quite disappointed Hogan didn’t veto more bills. Not only does it put Democrats on record opposing a popular centrist governor, but it also slows down the General Assembly and hopefully makes the more centrist members of the majority rethink their support of bad legislation. It was pointed out to me recently that Hogan won 71 legislative districts but only 50 Republicans were elected to the House – thus, in theory the GOP can get a majority for the first time in generations in 2018. Dream big. (Sometime I should look into this claim.)
One other issue with this is that Hogan’s slow veto deliberations removed any opportunity to petition the most egregious legislation to referendum. However, I say this knowing that we aren’t taking advantage when opportunity knocks – I honestly believe felon voting should have been petitioned to referendum (as an act this year thanks to the veto override vote, it could have.) Let’s see if 80 percent really oppose it.
So it will turn out that the vast majority of bills on my mAP – all of which I opposed for the floor vote – will become law anyway. I think we’re reaching way too far across the aisle in this state considering how little we get in return, so in my view Hogan should have really played hardball. At some point a number of these bills are going to bite us, but now we won’t even get the luxury of a repreieve for a few months. Thanks, Larry.
Projected as the everyday center fielder for the Shorebirds, Cedric Mullins has done nothing to jeopardize his position on the squad. He unseated last year’s center fielder, Ademar Rifaela (who now spends most games over in right field) and is doing those things a prototypical center fielder does: bat leadoff, lead the team in stolen bases, and collect a fair share of extra base hits he’s legged out. Millins is tied for the team lead in triples with (surprisingly) catcher/DH Yermin Mercedes and trails only Mercedes in doubles. There’s no doubt Mercedes can hit a ball hard and far, but Mullins can find a gap and put himself in scoring position in a multitude of ways.
Mullins has also been consistent thus far in his career, trading a .264/2/32/.709 OPS slash line in 68 Aberdeen games last season for a .256/2/14/.726 OPS line this year. He’s already swiped 12 bases in 39 games (out of 14 attempts) putting him on pace to break his mark of 14 by midseason. A 13th round selection from Campbell University last year, the 21-year-old switch-hitter has the advantage of playing a few times a season in his birthplace of Greensboro, North Carolina. (So far, though, he is 0-for-9 there with five strikeouts and a walk in two games; he was a healthy scratch on Monday.)
But it seems like Mullins is, for the most part, doing the things he needs to do to continue moving up the ladder. At this point he has about a 2-to-1 ratio of strikeouts to walks, which is hindering his on-base percentage (it’s .326, which is right around league average but a few points below the Shorebirds’ mean – yet also consistent with his .333 mark for the IronBirds last season.) On the other hand, the walk-drawing machine D.J. Stewart has an OBP that is 164 points above his batting average, so if Mullins can just bring his K/BB numbers to be equal he would be a more definite offensive threat, with an OBP roughly 100 points above his batting average. (League average is about 75 points, so 100 points over would be exceptional.)
Thus far Mullins has been the solid-average player the Shorebirds seem to have a lot of this year as they compete for the first half SAL title. It may not get him accolades, but players have made good careers out of being consistent and dependable.
The fact that Memorial Day occurs on a somewhat rare fifth Monday of the month this year provided the WCRC with an “extra” meeting this year, and they took advantage by scheduling something that’s becoming a tradition: the annual Legislative Wrapup. All six Republican members of our local delegation (from Districts 37 and 38) were invited – but thanks to a number of calendar conflicts, only two of them came. It was ladies’ night for the delegation as Delegate Mary Beth Carozza and Senator Addie Eckardt gave their accounts of the recently completed session. (Delegate Chris Adams made the attempt to stop by, but came just after we wrapped up.)
So once we did our usual Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of distinguished guests, Eckardt got the meeting underway by praising the state’s $42 billion budget, which needed no new taxes for balance. The reason for this was that the Hogan cabinet was finding more efficiencies in their respective departments, enabling the state to become more business-friendly. One way they were doing this was through fee reduction, although Eckardt noted that some Democrats were fretting that fees were getting too low. Yet the budget allowed for a reduction in the structural deficit and did not feature a BRFA, the omnibus bill where spending mandates are often buried. This year’s spending had “full transparency,” said Addie.
But the push to reduce taxation was one goal of the Augustine Commission, explained Addie. Sadly, the broader tax reform package could not pass thanks to the question of passing a package mandating expanded paid sick leave - despite the fact changes to the earned income tax credit would have helped thousands of working Maryland families that I thought the majority party deigned to represent.
On the other side of that Augustine coin, Addie continued, was the idea of being responsive to constituents; to “change the tenor of government.” This went with a drive to bring things to the county level, as Addie noted “local control is important to me.”
One complaint Eckardt had about the session was the “crusade to get the Red Line back.” It led to the passage of what’s known as the “Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016.” (I call it the “Revenge for Not Funding the Red Line in Baltimore” Act.) While the bill overall is terrible, Eckardt noted it was amended somewhat to give local jurisdictions a little more priority.
And while she was pleased Wicomico County would be receiving an additional $8.7 million from the state for various projects, Addie was more passionate about a series of initiatives to bolster mental health and combat addiction around the state. She was also happy to see the Justice Reinvestment Act pass, which was a bipartisan effort at criminal justice reform. The state was also doing more to address mental and behavioral health, particularly since she claimed later in the evening it took someone who was addicted and incarcerated two years to re-integrate fully. This led to a discussion about what the state and local governments were doing to deal with the issue of homelessness, to which Muir Boda revealed the city of Salisbury would be embarking on a Housing First program modeled after one in the state of Utah.
Between Eckardt’s main presentation and the later discussion about mental and behavioral health issues, we heard Delegate Carozza’s perspective. She began by praising the club for being a group of workers and doers when it came to advocacy, with the optimistic view that “this is our time…Governor Hogan is turning the state around.” But that was a process which would take at least eight years, said Mary Beth. As an aside, she also believed that Kathy Szeliga was “the candidate that can win” the U.S. Senate seat, which would also lay the groundwork for Larry Hogan’s re-election campaign.
Both she and Eckardt, added Carozza, were in the position to support the budget thanks to their respective committees. They could succeed making suggestions for “walling off” funds for supplemental budget proposals, of which there were two or three each year. And while this budget allowed for what Carozza termed “a well-rounded tax package,” only a minor tax break for Northrop Grumman made it through. But the “good news” out of that was that it was making Mike Busch and Mike Miller talk about tax relief, making it a stronger possibility we may see some in 2017.
As for some of her priorities, Carozza was happy to see the bomb threat bill she sponsored make it through the General Assembly in its second try. (A similar proposal was introduced by then-Delegate Mike McDermott in 2013, said Mary Beth.) She commented about how the broad community support, combined with the “sense of urgency” provided by a series of bomb threats making the news earlier this year, allowed the bill to pass easily. Another bill she was happy to shepherd through was the ABLE bill, which allows the disabled to save money for dealing with their medical-related expenses without jeopardizing their means-tested benefits.
She also stressed that killing bad bills was a part of the job as well, citing the defeat of the poultry litter and “farmer’s rights” bills where she praised Delegates Carl Anderton and Charles Otto as they “led the charge” against those measures. Mary Beth also took the unusual step of personally testifying against the assisted suicide bill and worked to amend the sick leave bill to exempt more seasonal employees. On that bill, she predicted “we’re going to see it again next session.”
Even after hearing all that information, we had some business to do, like the treasurer’s report and Central Committee report that Dave Parker delivered. He called the recent state convention the “get over it, people” convention, noting the party seemed pretty well unified afterward. Even local radio host Don Rush had difficulty finding disunity among a group of Republicans who were his guests last Friday, Parker added. On the other hand, “Hillary can’t close the deal” on the Democratic side.
I added my two cents about the convention to his report, pointing out the National Committeeman race was perhaps the biggest bone of contention and that was relatively minor. But the Fall Convention may be interesting because we will be electing a new Chair, and the question is whether it will be someone who will work more for Larry Hogan’s re-election or to bolster the GOP numbers in the General Assembly. A Hogan win, I added, would make redistricting the key focus for the second term – personally, I think we should strive for single-member districts and Eckardt agreed based on its impact to minorities.
Shelli Neal updated us on the Greater Wicomico Republican Women, who would be holding their next meeting June 16 at Adam’s Taphouse. They had two tickets to the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield to raffle off as part of a membership meeting for the newly-christened organization.
Another fairly new creation was the Wicomico Teenage Republicans, which had “a great start of a club” according to Nate Sansom. While their next meeting was slated for this coming Friday, they planned on taking a summer break and reconvening in August once school started back up. With a group of “passionate people, happy to be involved,” Sansom believed his group would focus on statewide campaigns like Kathy Szeliga’s as well as the local We Decide Wicomico campaign for an elected school board.
Representing the statewide College Republicans, their Chair Patty Miller was hoping to reach each county Central Committee at one of their meetings over the next few months and “see what they need from us.” Her first stop will be this week in Calvert County.
Jim Jester reminded us the Crab Feast would be September 10, but stressed the need for more volunteers – particularly to handle admissions and the silent auction.
Shawn Jester pointed out the WCRC Scholarship winners had a brief story in the Daily Times. But, since the subject was volunteering, he was also looking for people to help out at Third Friday, which we missed this month because no one was available. On that note, a signup sheet was passed around. (We will also need help for upcoming events such as the Wicomico County Fair, Good Beer Festival, and Autumn Wine Festival.)
After all that discussion, and seeing that we had a legislative update where the topic wasn’t addressed, I added one thing to the conversation. General Assembly Democrats sponsored a large number of bills this year that mandated spending. To me, this is an effort to handcuff Larry Hogan when it comes to budgeting but also leaves less room for tax reform. Many of these bills may become law without Hogan’s signature, but they will be law just the same. It’s an issue that I think needs a strategy to address, perhaps a reverse BRFA to eliminate mandates.
We are going to try and get the guys who didn’t show up this month to come to our June meeting, so stay tuned. It will be June 27.
The other day I received a reminder that Heritage Action had updated its Congressional scorecard. And for those who believe that our Congressman Andy Harris isn’t as conservative as he makes himself out to be, it should be noted that his 90% rating puts him in the top 20 on Congress overall, or the 95th percentile if you will. It’s a score that Harris currently shares with some of the more libertarian heroes of Congress, such as Justin Amash and Thomas Massie, as well as Presidential candidate Marco Rubio. (Ted Cruz was among the top 3 at 100%, along with Mike Lee and Ken Buck of Colorado.)
But one weakness I’m finding with the Heritage Action scorecard is just what issues they consider important – there’s no easy way to determine what bills and votes they deemed important enough to include. Certainly I trust the Heritage Foundation to be a conservative watchdog as they have been for many years, but it would be nice to have their scorecard reflect what the scores are based upon.
On the other hand, I present no such problem with my monoblogue Accountability Project because I explain just why I vote as I would. (By and large, it’s opposition to the lunacy Democrats put out on an annual basis, although I am also far more of a budget hawk than most as well.) In this year’s roster of legislation, there were anywhere from five to fifty-odd votes per bill on my side in the House and two to twenty per bill in the Senate. None of those I sided with this year became law, unlike last year where I won a couple.
If you follow monoblogue on social media (and you should) you’ll notice I’m making steady progress on this year’s edition, which I am slating to release June 6. Actually, what pushes this into June is a fairly recent phenomenon.
Back when Martin O’Malley was governor, I never had to worry about vetoed bills and pretty much everything that was placed in front of him by the Democratic-controlled Maryland General Assembly was signed in short order. But with Larry Hogan in office, I have to pay attention to what’s called the “date of presentment.” This tripped me up last year in discussing the post-session because I thought Hogan had 30 days after session to sign/veto bills, not realizing there was a date of presentment involved. (O’Malley always seemed to sign things as quickly as possible.) This year the date of presentment was May 1 (20 days after session) so the drop-dead date for a Hogan veto is May 31, or 30 days after presentment.
Where this affects me is what I call the “disposition” of each bill. Not only do I tally the votes, but I make sure readers know the fate of each bill. It was easy (if depressing) when MOM was in office because I could simply write something along the lines of “Governor O’Malley signed this bill May 5.” Now I have bills that are allowed to become law without Hogan’s signature and actual vetoes to deal with, so it makes me wait until the coast is clear June 1 to figure out final disposition. Hence, I have to wait to put it out. In truth, the compiling is easier than ever because I’ve done it so long and can fill out the spreadsheet I use rather quickly.
So you are two weeks away from getting your hands on this hot little item, which so far has been a great horse race as I compile votes and find multiple members still have a chance at a perfect score. Now if we could only get that number of perfect scorers up to 188, or at least a good working majority in each chamber, this state may be getting somewhere.
Back on Tuesday I promoted Marita Noon’s most recent column on social media with the promise to do a Maryland-centric follow up “If I think about it this week.” (I planned to all along, but sometimes I forget so I figured I better cover myself.) Anyway, the passage that piqued my interest was this one:
In California, where (billionaire and liberal Democrat political backer Tom Steyer) has been a generous supporter of green energy policies, he helped pass Senate Bill 350 that calls for 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. California’s current mandate is 33 percent by 2020 – which California’s three investor-owned utilities are, reportedly, “already well on their way to meeting.” It is no surprise that California already has some of the highest electricity rates in the country. Analysis released last week found that states with policies supporting green energy have much higher power prices.
In doing research for the monoblogue Accountability Project, which I am in the process of completing now, I stumbled across two bills which dovetail nicely with both this article and another recent commentary by Noon regarding solar power mandates and incentives. I’ll tackle the latter issue first.
For several years the state of Maryland has mandated a certain percentage of electrical power be derived from renewable sources, with a proposed new version of the law (HB1106/SB921)retaining the 13.1% share required for 2017 but increasing the carveout for solar energy from 0.95% to 1.15%. This bill also proposed that the share of both renewables and solar power increase at an accelerating rate, eventually ratcheting up the requirements to 25% and 2.5%, respectively. While that would be great news for the solar industry, it would be bad news for consumers – according to the information provided with these bills the increase in monthly electric bills to an average consumer if this measure is enacted could be as much as $3.06 per month by 2020. However, Maryland’s Department of Legislative Services cautions (page 7 of the Fiscal and Policy Note) predicting this increase can only be “for illustrative purposes” because of all the factors involved.
The reason behind the rate increases is the payment to the state called the Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP), which also is affected by the bill. The proposal actually would decrease slightly the ACP for all renewable energy sources except solar from 4 cents to 3.75 cents per kilowatt-hour, or, in a more practical term, from $40 per megawatt-hour (MWh) to $37.50 per MWh. (An average home is considered to use 1 megawatt-hour of electricity per month.) It also gives utilities a temporary break on the solar energy carveout, where the fee for a shortfall would decrease from a scheduled $200 per MWh in 2017 and 2018 to $195 and $175 for 2017 and 2018, respectively. The fee would increase in the out years, however.
When the Fiscal Note predicts that the state itself would incur an additional $2.2 million in electrical costs by 2021, it’s obvious that this proposal would be a costly one for consumers. At this point the bill is in limbo, as it was passed by both the House of Delegates and Senate but has not been signed or vetoed yet by Governor Larry Hogan.
Now let’s turn to the most recent commentary from Noon, where she notes California will mandate 50 percent renewables 14 years hence. Unfortunately, Maryland is not that far behind them as they just enacted SB323, which will take effect in October. Instead of letting this silly notion that our little state can actually do something about climate change by reducing our energy consumption expire – as it would have with no action - this bill instead maintained a 25% by 2020 mandate and increased the mandated energy reduction to 40% by 2030. As an analysis Noon used in her piece shows, Maryland is among the states with the highest electricity bills and follies such as these are a reason why.
Don’t get me wrong: I am definitely for energy efficiency, but it should be in terms of consumer choice rather than government fiat. Those who create and pass the laws rarely embark on any sort of dynamic cost/benefit analysis for their policies, so in this case they’re not considering the effect on ratepayers and job creators in balance with the very dubious pie-in-the-sky notion of affecting our climate. (After all, if it was once warm enough to have the polar expanse of Greenland actually be green, as it was around the turn of the previous millennium – well before the Industrial Revolution or the car-happy society we inhabit now – then how much effect do we really have?) We can hardly predict with any certainly the weather two weeks from now, so why should we trust the accuracy and inerrancy of a climate forecast for 2050 when it’s used as an excuse for confiscatory policy that indirectly benefits those making the forecast?
As I brought up the monoblogue Accountability Project earlier, it shall be noted that the votes on both these bills will be used for this year’s mAP. It’s a shame that just 39 Delegates out of 141 and only two (yes, two!) Senators out of 47 have the potential for getting both these votes correct. Maryland has a relatively powerful environmental lobby thanks to its straddling of Chesapeake Bay, but these were cases where the state’s budding attempt to be more business-friendly and hopefully end its economic reliance on big government should have held sway. While Governor Hogan erred in signing the climate change folly, he can do a more concrete favor for businesses and ratepayers by vetoing HB1106/SB921 and creating a proposal to sunset the ACP for next year’s session.
And while we are at making energy policy, I encourage Governor Hogan to follow the lead of his friend and cohort New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and remove Maryland from the membership rolls of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Utilities (and their ratepayers) will thank him from getting us out from under that wealth transfer boondoggle.
Selected out of the University of Oregon last year in the 3rd round, Shorebird lefty Garrett Cleavinger was named as the Orioles’ organizational pitcher of the month for April. So once I saw him pitch in a game and got his picture, it was high time I selected him as a Shorebird of the Week. While he had pretty impressive numbers with Aberdeen in his first taste of pro ball (6-1, 2.16 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 25 innings over 19 appearances) one red flag was the 18 walks he allowed – more than the 14 hits.
So perhaps one of the reasons Cleavinger, who just turned 22 last month, earned the top honor was the fact he’s cut his walks way down while ostensibly facing better competition. In 22 2/3 innings so far this season, Garrett has cut the free pass rate in half, allowing nine thus far. Even better, he’s struck out 33 so far to rank fourth on the team behind three members of the starting rotation. Cleavinger is wiping out hitters at a torrid pace, improving on a great strikeout rate from last season – for his career so far, he’s averaging 12 Ks per nine innings. So far on the season, Garrett is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA in 22 2/3 innings, over 10 appearances. (It’s a very impressive 10-1 career record for Garrett with an equally gaudy 2.08 ERA.)
One thing the Orioles seem to be doing with Garrett is stretching him out for possible starting duty. While none of his appearances with Aberdeen lasted more than two innings, four times this season Garrett has thrown three innings in a game, generally coming in as the backup pitcher once the starter gets his five innings in. Cleavinger has one save on the season, but tends to be the setup guy in the sense that he’s covering the later innings – it’s just one guy instead of the typical big league program of a 7th inning guy and 8th inning guy setting up the closer.
It would not shock me to see Cleavinger selected to the SAL All-Star team then get a promotion to Frederick immediately afterward. The Orioles seem to prefer to move their early-round college guys up the ladder rather quickly, and perhaps if Cleavinger had the walk rate he sports for Delmarva last season as a member of the IronBirds he may have skipped us altogether. I think by year’s end we will see how his stuff plays in the Carolina League.
If you have read my site over the last couple weeks, you’ll know that I had a fascination with how the slates of delegates and alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention came together. As it turned out, there were four of them:
- The Conservative Club slate, which was the first one out. It featured ten Delegate and nine Alternate Delegate candidates, of which only seven actually ran. Four of those on the Delegate ballot were state elected officials.
- The Trump slate, which obviously featured more backers of Donald Trump to add to the total he has. Of the 22 they fielded, seven were state (or federal) elected officials. Both the Trump slate and Conservative Club slate featured the soon-to-be-elected as National Committeeman David Bossie, who was the overall top vote-getter among Delegates.
- The Cruz slate, which as I was told was an unofficial slate but featured those who worked for and trusTed Cruz. Their 22 hopefuls had just one state elected official, but two others who ran unsuccessfully in recent elections.
- And finally, the Unity slate, which was an effort to bring all of the camps together. It intentionally excluded current state elected officials.
Out of 96 who ran, 67 (by my count) were on one of the slates, and while it didn’t guarantee election it bears noting that only Steve Schuh, who had the advantage of hosting the convention, beat the odds and won without being on a slate. The other 21 victors were on at least one slate.
So how did the slates fare?
- The Trump slate. It was no surprise that this slate was built for success, as it was heavy on elected officials. All but one of those who ran for Delegate finished in the upper half of the field, with five of the eleven slots taken by Trump backers. Collectively they received a healthy 30% of the vote. The success was even more pronounced in the Alternate Delegate field, where the names were less familiar so voting was based more on the slate. Again, all but one finished in the upper half of the field and an amazing eight of the eleven were chosen, overwhelming the rest with 46.6% of the vote.
- The Conservative Club slate. Had they ran with a full field, they would have presented a decent challenge to the Trump backers. Still, all but one of their ten Delegates finished in the upper half and they won four of the eleven slots when you count Bossie. House of Delegates member Deb Rey would have made it five but she just missed the top eleven by an eyelash. They finished with 26.5% of the Delegate vote as a group. As for Alternate Delegates, two of their choices did not actually participate in the election. Of the seven who did, six finished in the top half of the field with one making it to Cleveland. Their 23% of the vote was solid for just seven participants – had they fielded eleven, they may have made the low 30s.
- The Unity slate. In a race based as highly on name recognition as this one, not taking elected officials was destined to cut into overall success. Their Delegate field ran the gamut from third overall to 60th (of 61), with nine finishing in the top half and three of the top eleven Delegates. Overall they picked up 23.6% of the collective vote. On the Alternate Delegate side they placed seven in the top half and advanced four to the national convention – Marcus Alzona just missed making it five - scoring 33% of the Alternate Delegate vote.
- The Cruz slate. Out of their 11 selections for Delegate, just six finished in the top half and only two in the top twenty – their best Delegate finisher was Deb Rey, who as I noted just missed the field in 12th. Collectively they picked up only 17.8% of the ballots. The news was a little better for the Alternate Delegates – although only three finished in the top 20, two of those made the Cleveland field. The Cruz crew got 23.8% of the Alternate Delegate vote overall.
So in terms of those going to Cleveland, the score was Trump 13, Unity 7, Conservative Club 6, and Cruz 2. This adds up to more than 21 because David Bossie was on both the Trump and Conservative Club slates, Kory Boone was on both the Conservative Club and Unity slates, Cynthia Houser was on both Trump and Unity, and Alirio Martinez, Jr. and Christina Trotta had the trifecta of Conservative Club, Unity, and Cruz. (No wonder Trotta finished third and Martinez eleventh.)
But how did the monoblogue Slate do? Here’s the list I voted for, which began with crossing out the Trump backers and most of the elected officials.
- Don Murphy (3rd, Unity)
- Deb Rey (12th, Cruz/CC)
- Maria Pycha (14th, Cruz)
- John Fiastro Jr. (16th, Unity)
- Faith Loudon (19th, Unity)
- Michael Smigiel (21st, Cruz)
- William Campbell (22nd, Cruz)
- Julie Brewington (27th, Cruz)
- Gus Alzona (34th, Cruz)
- Donald Frazier (40th, Cruz)
- Patricia Fenati (43rd, Cruz)
- Christina Trotta, 3rd (Cruz/CC/Unity)
- Gloria Murphy, 6th (Unity)
- Alirio Martinez, Jr., 11th (Cruz/CC/Unity)
- David Dobbs, 18th (Cruz)
- Chike Anayanwu, 21st (Cruz)
- Daniel Lathrop, 23rd (Cruz)
- C. Paul Smith, 25th (Cruz)
- Samuel Fenati, 27th (Cruz)
- Luis Puig, 29th (Cruz)
- Nathan Weirich, 30th (Cruz)
- Robert Charles, 34th (Cruz)
Combined the monoblogue slate received 22.6% of the total Delegate vote and 27% of the total alternate vote – not counting the 100% of the votes that mattered, which would be mine.
So I pray that these folks who are going to Cleveland make some wise decisions for us when it comes to the platform, rules, and even perhaps reconsideration of the presumptive nominee if he continues to drift away from what I’ve always understood to be Republican principles on all three legs of the conservative stool.
Having done this before and not been on any sort of slate, my advice to those of you wishing to try in 2020 is to get on one. Unless you have stratospheric name recognition in the party, it’s highly doubtful you’ll advance to the national convention based on past results. It’s a sad state of affairs that this process generally benefits the “establishment” but it is what it is, and the best way to combat it seems to be putting together a slate. Remember, the bottom half of this field was littered with non-slate hopefuls, distasteful as that may seem.
When I last left you, I was commenting on having to get up at 6:45 for breakfast. Given that this was our election day and the polls were yet to open, this was the scene around the hotel on available spaces.
Aside from the Coke can (which, as an aside, is a drawback to this hotel because Pepsi products are difficult to come by), I often wonder what non-political guests think about all this. I’m sure they are amused.
On the way back to breakfast from putting my stuff in the car (on a glorious morning) I snapped this shot of the convention hall.
One tangible improvement was our county signs, which have finally been upgraded after a decade.
Our breakfast speaker was introduced by the recovering MDGOP Chair Diana Waterman, who was thrilled to report her hair was growing back after the chemo and surgery she has endured for her fight against breast cancer.
She called Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh “a great Republican.” Schuh began his remarks by noting this was the “most unusual election in at least 100 years.”
But Schuh went on to praise Donald Trump for tapping into several “electoral undercurrents,” particularly when he brought up the issues of immigration and national security. Yet while he said the “misgivings were understandable,” Schuh has “come to peace with a Trump candidacy.” Steve then outlined a number of stark differences between Democrats and Republicans: the role of government, immigration, Second Amendment, free speech (where the Left uses “shoutdowns as a weapon of choice”), taxation, private property, and life itself. It was a “belief in limited government and personal responsibility” that set the two major parties apart, Schuh added.
Schuh’s rather brief remarks allowed me to grab a good seat for the convention itself, which featured a number of reports in the morning. I wasn’t satisfied with how most of my photos came out inside the hall, so you will have to read about most of what was said inside without the visual aids.
Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides welcomed us to his city, noting that the Maryland GOP “got involved in my race in a very big way” and allowed him to win by a narrow 59-vote margin. Encouraging us to note on social media that the event was being held in Annapolis, Pantelides also called both County Executive Schuh and Governor Hogan “mentors to me.” His was the one city in Maryland with Republican leadership across the board: mayor, County Executive, and Governor, Mike added. Solid Republican principles and leadership could provide solutions, concluded Pantelides.
This photo of Congressman Andy Harris came out all right, and so did his message. He warned us that the Democrats have “a lot of assets” to throw at Governor Hogan in two years, so we needed to raise millions of dollars to assist him. But there were some advantages we had, too: for example, the sign denoting the reduced toll rates at the Bay Bridge is “like a Republican ad.”
Turning to the national scene, Harris noted we could not have another four years of liberal policy. And even though he endorsed Ben Carson in the GOP race, he came out to say, “I’m a Donald Trump guy 101% now.” He also told us there was no fight between Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, despite what the media would lead you to believe.
We had two legislative reports, one from Delegate Nic Kipke and the other from Senator J.B. Jennings.
Kipke believed that we were “at the precipice of…another surge of Republicans” added to the House ranks. “There are a lot of seats in play for us,” he assessed, particularly when Larry Hogan won in 21 more House districts than the Republican House candidates did. And the Democrats “are losing their minds” about it: Kipke gave the example of the bill allowing felons to vote before completing their sentences. Despite the fact 80% of Marylanders disagreed with this, and many of the General Assembly Democrats agreed with the veto, “the Democrats require compliance,” said Kipke – so the veto was overridden.
There were Republican-backed items we should be proud of, though, said Nic – another budget with no new taxes, the elimination of preschool testing, and the adoption of P-TECH schools, beginning in Baltimore City. Republicans are “leading on issues, big and small, that make sense,” said Kipke. He also awarded their Republican of the Year award to state Executive Director Joe Cluster.
Regarding the felon vote, Jennings later added that it actually failed 28-18 the first time, but was allowed to be reconsidered and passed 29-18.
One thing Senator Jennings stressed was the devious ways Democrats tried to flout the rules; in one example they tried to put one Senator on two committees, which is a no-no. They also worked hard to fix bad bills to make them more palatable.
But the problem Senate Republicans have is that “we are short five votes.” Getting to 19 votes would allow Republicans to sustain filibusters and kill the worst legislation. And there may be a lot of it next year: Jennings remarked that year 3 of an administration is where major pieces of legislation come out.
In between the legislative reports, MDGOP Chair Diana Waterman gave her report. She opened by welcoming new members but also remembering members who had recently passed, including my late cohort Blan Harcum who passed away earlier this year. She also announced the traditional June Red, White, and Blue Dinner would be pushed back to a date in early September because of the convention.
Diana also had a comment about the so-called “Republican war on women” when she asked “where is the ‘war on women’ when the Republicans have two (federal candidates) running and the Democrats have none?”
Waterman also gave the newly created Chairman’s Elephant Award to Dwight Patel, but the key remark to me was an offhand one where Diana referred to chairing “my last convention” in November. If so, Diana would conclude a remarkable four-year run where she took over a party in crisis and guided it to electoral success.
We then heard from our National Committeewoman and National Committeeman, respectively Nicolee Ambrose and Louis Pope.
Much of what they said was a rehash of what they told the Executive Committee on Friday night, although this time Nicolee came equipped with a slideshow. Here are the party’s goals for the new Precinct Captain recruitment program.
She also had a lot of these handy flyers to distribute.
I’m only giving you the top five – for the rest, come see us when we are out and about in the community.
Louis reiterated that this year’s convention “will be about unity,” for it’s the RNC’s “#1 job” to elect the President. And while Pope believed the GOP has “an amazing array of tools to make sure we win this year” and has “tremendously expanded minority outreach” over the last four years, it all comes down to our candidate. Pope conceded that “Trump changes our plans quite a bit,” and added it may “take a little bit of sculpting of (Trump’s) policies” to have effective minority outreach. But Louis also contended the “Trump effect (on downticket races) is not going to materialize.”
Pope’s remarks concluded the morning session. I went out to eat my lunch (with Andy Harris, no less) and saw this nice display from someone who would like to join him on Congress.
I was less interested in this swag, although I could have picked up a Cruz hat, too.
I also spied the potential National Committeeman making last-minute preparations.
One other task I had to perform was voting for Delegate and Alternate Delegate. Because I refused to add to the Trump slate I only voted for four winners, including the guy voting immediately after me.
At these conventions it seems like Don Murphy is my shadow. But he and Gloria should enjoy Cleveland, since they were two of my four that won.
The system was neat and easy – we knew the winners five minutes after we voted, as I will explain shortly.
Up first was the National Committeewoman election. Since that was a walkover for Nicolee Ambrose, I can simply comment that she had one of youngest members of the General Assembly, Delegate Robin Grammer (a member of the “Dundalk Revolution”) nominate her and Senator Steve Waugh second her. Both were results of the hard work Nicolee has done to elect more Republicans as both flipped Democratic districts. And I really liked Waugh’s line about how Republicans “focus on putting air conditioning in the classrooms and not transgenders in the bathrooms.”
We then had the National Committeeman election. Because the nominating and seconding speeches came in alphabetical order of the candidates, Bossie’s went first. Nominating Bossie was the highest elected federal official in the state, Andy Harris, who said David represented “a new way of thinking” that we need.
But the jaws hit the floor for the seconding speech, as Joe Steffen notes on his site in more depth. None other than Nicolee Ambrose delivered the dagger to her associate’s heart. “This is serious, serious business,” said Nicolee, and “we need a fighter.”
Despite that blow, Pope could counter with some firepower of his own. Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford nominated Pope, recalling how he had worked with Louis for years in the Howard County party and that he’s been fighting for the GOP. His seconding speech, delivered by Martha Schaerr of Montgomery County, added that Pope was “a tireless, trustworthy leader.”
The focus shifted back to Bossie for his remarks, and he closed the sale by saying “I believe I can bring a lot…to the Maryland Republicans.” It was “critical to have new blood in leadership,” David went on, and while he promised to raise Maryland’s profile, he also said “we must not cede ground to liberal Democrats, anytime.”
Pope could only appeal to the masses with his experience and passion, countering, “I’ve spent a lifetime working for the Republican Party…I stand on my record of accomplishment.”
But Pope’s defense was to no avail. It was clear when the first four jurisdictions to report (Allegany, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore City and County) picked Bossie by a combined 56-8 margin that the rout was on. In terms of our voting system the count was 365-188, but in actual bodies it was 182 to 91 – a perfect 2-to-1 margin. Pope only carried eight counties (Caroline, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Howard, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, and Talbot) and in four of the eight it was a 5-4 verdict. Only Garrett (6-0), Caroline (7-2), and St. Mary’s (7-2) were big wins for Pope. (Wicomico County was 7-2 for Bossie.)
This was an emotional moment as the baton was figuratively passed, but we still had work to do.
There was a resolution that would allow the Bylaws Committee to perform what I would call a curative function, making minor changes to the bylaws in places where references were incorrect, misspellings, and so forth. They would report and we would review changes at the Fall Convention. That passed by a voice vote with one objection.
The first Bylaw amendment was an effort to both restore voting rights to the various ancillary organizations (Maryland Federation of Republican Women, College Republicans, Young Republicans, etc.) and set standards for their inclusion. But after some discussion and debate, it failed by a 188-361 vote (105-167 in terms of voters,) falling far short of the 2/3 majority needed.
The second one was less controversial, although there was enough of an objection to a lengthy lame duck period for party officers to transition after our organizing conventions (such as will occur this fall) that the date of takeover was amended back to January 3 rather than based on the day after the Governor or President of the United States is inaugurated. As amended it passed 438-99, although the amendment barely passed 283-258. (It was behind until Montgomery County sealed the deal.)
All this concluded just in time for the Delegate and Alternate Delegate results to be revealed.
As I said above, I only ended up voting for four winners: the two Murphys, Christina Trotta, and Alirio Martinez, Jr.
We then got to hear from our candidate for U.S. Senate, Delegate Kathy Szeliga.
Kathy thanked us for her support, then added that Bossie and Ambrose are “going to do a great job for us.” She also added that the fourteen U.S. Senate candidates are “unified and together.”
And while she gave something of a standard stump speech recalling her middle-class background, she noted that the business they created was “struggling like many small businesses in the country.” Repeating her message that Washington is broken, she chastised the Democrats for electing their “golden boy” Chris Van Hollen, pointing out that since he’s been in office the national debt has tripled and calling Van Hollen an “attack dog” for Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid.
“Together we can change Washington,” the candidate, who Nic Kipke had earlier called “relentless,” concluded.
Our final task was to select electors, which necessitated us gathering in groups by Congressional district. Our district has the largest number of Central Committee members so we all crammed into one corner of the hall to hear several nominations. For the second time in a row, I nominated the First District winner: Diana Waterman, who prevailed over five others. The others will be Tony Campbell, Jane Roger, Faith Loudon, Cathryn Grasso, Dick Jurgena, Loretta Shields, and Alan McMahon.
Once Diana Waterman announced her choices for the at-large electors would be Ellen Sauerbrey and Michael Steele, we could finally adjourn. Next time is slated for Frederick this November – the question is whether it will be a wake, a celebration, or some combination thereof?
Before the season began, the baseball pundits were excited about two players ticketed for the Shorebirds, as they were the first two players Baltimore selected in the 2015 amateur draft. While he was considered a 1st round selection, Ryan Mountcastle was actually the second choice for the O’s but the first high school player Baltimore picked, taken from Paul J. Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida.
Mountcastle seems to be a slow starter at each new level. While he had two hits in his pro debut, he started in a 4-for-27 slump for the GCL Orioles last season before rebounding to hit .313/3/14/.760 OPS in 43 GCL games. Later last year with Aberdeen, Ryan only hit .212 (7-for-33) in 10 games to wrap up the season. But the Orioles seem to be willing to push the 19-year-old prospect, and he had some growing pains here, hitting just .162 in 18 April games.
But the turn of the calendar may have been the impetus to get Mountcastle going, as he has hit .412 in May (14-for-34) to bring his average up to a very respectable .245 mark. While that’s not going to win a batting title, it’s a positive development to create a .245/1/8/.653 OPS slash line. It puts him in a good position to be in the high .200s by the end of the first half – and remember, he’s playing against competition that averages a couple years older. (One interesting split Baseball-Reference features is performance against older/younger players, and Mountcastle likes younger pitching – he’s 2-for-4 with his home run and a double against pitchers younger than he. Too bad there’s so few in the SAL.)
Another area playing the full season will allow Ryan to develop is his fielding, which is reasonable but not consistent (6 errors in 25 games.) With the exception of 3 GCL games where he played third base – and committed two errors - Mountcastle is being developed as a shortstop and has had plenty of opportunity to be a consistent part of the lineup. Granted, as a first round pick the Orioles invested thousands of dollars into, he will have a lot longer leash and more of a shot than the guy they picked in the 24th round.
Continuous improvement, though, will allow the Orioles to believe they are getting their moneys’ worth.
(Update: I was surprised to find Bossie read this piece and sent along pages of additional Presidential Coalition donations since 2006, to the tune of almost $140,000.)
Do you think Louis Pope is feeling the heat? I got a second letter from him Monday; this was the letter I alluded to Monday evening and was hoping to get to yesterday.
There were one passage in it that I found interesting. It talks about his opponent’s lack of party experience and Pope’s fundraising ability:
I now have competition in my race for re-election. My opponent has not yet served in any of the (party-related) jobs listed above, nor on a Central Committee or any party office. I wholeheartedly invite him to become more involved on the local & state level over the next few years. Experience pays in politics and I am one of the most experienced members of the Maryland Republican Party as well as the RNC. My seniority on the committee is important as I am able to direct RNC resources and funds back to Maryland.
The final piece of the puzzle needed for success at both the MDGOP and RNC is the ability to continually fundraise. Virtually ALL of our money comes through donations and you can only get those by making thousands of phone calls along with e-mails and letters to my personal donor base. Over the last two decades I have helped raise millions of dollars for MDGOP and our local & statewide candidates in Maryland, as well as Presidential candidates. (Emphasis in original.)
As we have seen in the last several months, GOP voters are perfectly comfortable with eschewing experienced politicians for someone who has done practically squat for the Republican Party until the day he decided to run for President representing it. And perhaps this is the problem with Pope’s experience: those who have stayed in an office too long tend to lose touch with their electorate, and become immersed in a world divorced from reality. Pope moved up the Republican ranks over a couple of decades, making it to state party chair in a good year to do so (2002.) And it seems the glide path for a former party chair involves serving in a different capacity with the RNC, since both Pope and former National Committeewoman Joyce Lyons Terhes were state party chairs at one time – Audrey Scott thought she could get in on that, too, but the Central Committee voters thought differently four years ago.
But I have to question whether that much in “resources and funds” accrued to the state party before Larry Hogan became governor. When I first became a Central Committee member in 2006, the Maryland Republican Party was worse than bankrupt financially – for years we were saddled with debt and things really didn’t come around until Hogan was elected. (And note that he used public financing to do so.) Perhaps Pope escaped Audrey Scott territory by being less than specific about dates and fundraising totals, but there were a lot of lean years while Pope was in office.
But Bossie’s organization has been no slouch, either. As part of the Citizens United umbrella, their Political Victory Fund has donated $119,000 so far this cycle to 40 different candidates, including a $5,000 shot in the arm to Kathy Szeliga’s Senate campaign (as well as a radio ad) and $3,500 to Andy Harris. In addition, this 2014 release shows the Presidential Coalition (another offshoot of Citizens United) donated over $33,000 to state candidates during that cycle.
I don’t doubt the Republican establishment likes Pope, as he’s been one of their loyal footsoldiers for many years. But perhaps it’s time for a new chapter, some fresh ideas, and a different style. One thing that struck me about Pope’s letter was how much it looked back at accomplishments rather than forward at goals. While there’s the idea of supporting the GOP nominee for President, the fact that Donald Trump begins with a “yuuuge” 325,000 vote deficit here in Maryland to Hillary Clinton (in a state which only has 677,000 unaffiliated voters compared to almost exactly 1 million Republicans) means that a more realistic goal is to concentrate on keeping a Republican governor and chipping away at the Democratic majority in the General Assembly – if the GOP succeeds there, they can finally control redistricting for the first time in decades and perhaps have districts more fairly drawn based on geography and not politics.
As I said a couple weeks ago, twelve years is enough. Looking back into the past is nice, but I prefer to look forward when I can.
By Cathy Keim
Yesterday morning I attended the 6th Annual National Day of Prayer Breakfast at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. The Midway Room was packed with about 500 guests, and the event was the usual mix of local dignitaries, pastors, and citizens. There was the Presentation of Colors by the Color Guard of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance led by Sheriff Mike Lewis. The Salisbury Christian School Concert Band provided breakfast music and an assortment of local leaders led the invocation, prayers, Bible readings, and singing.
All in all, it was a pretty standard ecumenical religious event. However, I know that I felt a difference. Instead of taking it for granted that we were meeting with the general approval of the majority of the citizens in our county, I wondered how many of our fellow citizens would view the event with derision or suspicion? In fact, a fellow guest shared that he had heard some folks poking fun at the gathering.
It is not just my imagination that the public’s attitude towards Christians has shifted from acceptance to suspicion. Where politicians would once attend church (at least for public view), now there is no need for that.
I was speaking to a young man about a character reference for a job just last week. In the past, his pastor would have been petitioned for a letter, but now that might not be who you want to write your reference.
The guest speaker at the prayer breakfast was Randy Singer, a lawyer and pastor, from Virginia Beach. He addressed the change in our nation by comparing us to Rome in the time of Nero and the Apostle Paul’s imprisonment. Even those of us with public school educations know that Nero was one of the very worst Roman emperors. From that unflattering comparison, Mr. Singer assured us that while our country is in distress, we are not without hope.
People can endure much, but when hope is lost, people languish. Mr. Singer pointed to the lengthy difficulties under which Paul had suffered for years and yet this is what Paul wrote from prison in Philippians 1:3-8 (NIV):
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Christians in America, we are to have hope that whether we are in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, we all share in God’s grace with the Apostle Paul. I do not know how many more public meetings of Christians will be endorsed by our elected leaders. The need for Christians to stand firm on multiple principles such as marriage, gender, pro-life, assisted suicide, and freedom of speech, just to name a few, will be put to the test if you have escaped thus far.
Just stating the Biblical truth that marriage is between a man and a woman can jeopardize your employment. Countless companies and organizations are coercing employees to submit to seminars to prevent “discrimination.” If somebody objects, then they are forced to take more courses or be fired. We can lament the change in our country and feel discouraged, or we can emulate the Apostle Paul and look to our Lord Jesus Christ with hope that we are living exactly in the time that God intended and that He will see us through the murky path ahead.
Yes, America has changed and many of us would say not for the better, but we are to share the hope that is within us, not to obsess on the decline of the nation that we love.
Where once the civil religion and Christianity were viewed as the almost the same thing, now Christianity is portrayed as repressive, old-fashioned, boring, or worse. The materialists, atheists, and progressives do not need to wrap themselves in a civil religion to gain acceptance. We are in a new time and place in our country or so the materialists, atheists, and progressives would say.
However, God gave this promise to King Solomon in ancient Israel because He knows that proud men will overreach and when they do this is what must be done:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
II Chronicles 7:14
Christians, continue to pray, work, and engage in your community, not with fear or a sense of loss for what was, but with the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are living right where we are meant to be.
Remember when Dylan Bundy blew into town a few years ago and was flat-out untouchable at this level? It took 17 innings for an opponent to score an unearned run on him (after he retired the first 26 pro batters he faced.) But this week’s Shorebird of the Week has that inning streak beat, as Christian Turnipseed pitched his first 33 2/3 professional innings without giving up a run of any sort – that streak, which began when he made his pro debut last year, finally came to an end April 22.
Now Christian isn’t your prototype pitching prospect like Bundy was. Short and stocky for a pitcher – he’s listed at 5′-11″ and 214 pounds – the 23-year-old native of Colorado went to Georgia Gwinnett College, from which only a handful of minor leaguers have come. (One is a former SotW from last year, Zeke McGranahan.) But so far he has defied the odds of a 28th round selection and had strung together 25 consecutive scoreless appearances before Greensboro got him for three runs last month. In eight innings so far this season, Christian has allowed just those three runs on five hits, striking out 11 while walking four, for a WHIP of 1.13. (For his brief career, Turnipseed has a WHIP of 0.74, which translates to about 7 runners per 9 innings. It’s tough to score runs with so few on.)
Turnipseed projects strictly as a reliever – his latest appearance against Greenville tied his career long of two innings. He’s picked up 13 career saves in 25 appearances, with four of those coming with the Shorebirds. (Having given up no runs, he obviously hasn’t blown any saves either.) I just waited to name him a Shorebird of the Week until his string was over so I wouldn’t jinx him. Since he turns 24 later this month, continued success here may merit a midseason promotion to Frederick just as Turnipseed split time between the GCL and Aberdeen last year.
It may give him a calling card besides his unusual last name.