Comment on commentary

Recently I read commentary from Alex Rosenwald from the NetRightNation blog, part of which I’ll detail below:

When Republicans win, the Democrats launch holy war. There is no insult, attack or underhanded assault that could possibly be considered out of bounds. But when the Democrats and liberals win, both parties are supposed to join hands and sing kumbayah. Sure, the Democrats want to bury the hatchet—right in the Republicans’ backs. This is a prescription for disaster and a generation of irrelevance. Mr. Obama should be challenged and fought every step of the way.

There are countless examples of bi-partisan bills that have failed. The Financial Bailout of 2008, supported by Senators McCain and Obama, has only increased the national debt and put the Country in a more challenging downward spiral. Others include: Campaign Finance “Reform”, which banned soft money. There is No Child Left Behind, which spends excessive federal money on a program that has produced miserably for helping improve the quality of education in America. And then, there is “The Prescription Drug Benefit”, notably the largest expansion of the welfare state since the LBJ Years–to name a few of the bi-partisan “achievements” in Washington.

Now, let’s go back to the bedrock question: is the GOP still relevant? Well, if it continues to support failed, liberal policies, it will become little more than a footnote in history for having failed to offer a compelling conservative alternative to the Big Government socialism engineering.

If two people are doing the same job, one is redundant. And it’s usually the copycat who evanesces. So the Republicans have taken a hit. Now, they have to decide whether they want to roll over and play dead, or hit back. Right now, they seem to be reaching for the embalming fluid.

For most of my adult life I’ve been a card-carrying member of the Republican Party, and for the better part of ten years I’ve represented anywhere from a few square-block precinct to an entire county in the GOP apparatus. Since I’ve been involved, I’ve seen the items Rosenwald mentions come to pass and take the party and country farther and farther from its conservative roots, usually with the tacit approval of those who run the party at the state and national level. One example I’m not fond of is the Ohio Republican Party attempting to avoid primary fights and backing more moderate candidates they believed were more “electable.” In 2006 that strategy caused the state GOP to pretty much go “splat” as they lost the Governor’s chair and other statewide offices.

To use a more recent example, the conservative candidate here in the First Congressional District lost a close election to a more “moderate” candidate who almost totally eschewed the Democrat party label (but not their money.) Thus, many on the other side have argued that Andy Harris was “too conservative” for the district.

My contention though is that in this election at least 50 percent voted for a candidate who favored lower taxes and less government – two linchpins of conservative thought. Others voted for the more centrist candidate because of the perceived abrasiveness of the conservative Harris, perhaps not knowing fully the principles of Frank Kratovil but instead believing his line about being an “independent” candidate. I also happen to believe that had Wayne Gilchrest won the GOP primary Frank Kratovil would have won by running as a more conservative Washington outsider.

Regardless, First District voters may end up being somewhat surprised by what their centrist candidate actually votes for in Washington.

Republicans have tended to run away from the principles that won election for Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich because of a perception (created in part by the mainstream media) that to win and get things done they needed to be “bipartisan.” In truth, that’s how George W. Bush won in 2000, by pledging a “new tone” and working with Democrats to accomplish what he termed “compassionate conservatism.” While he did get the most conservative portion of his agenda passed (the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts), many of the domestic issues Bush is known for are what Rosenwald complains about in his piece. Unfortunately, Republicans who were somewhat apprehensive about the increased size of government programs and the budget were still loathe to cross their party’s President – which also explains in part why the Gingrich-led Congresses of 1995-2000 were more successful in advancing conservative principles than the later GOP-controlled bodies of 2001-2006.

Rosenwald is right in thinking our party stands at a crossroads. For at least the next two years, the only Republican body of significance may be the House of Representatives (depending on how the runoff election today tomorrow in Georgia turns out.) Unfortunately, the GOP won’t have a lot of control but perhaps they can take some pages out of the Democrats’ book and become obstructionists, hold hearings just to embarrass the Obama Administration – in general do their job at being the opposition.

If we stick to principles, we have the better ideas for the direction our nation should take.

Interestingly, I’m working with Rosenwald on a future post – the details will be out soon.

WCRC meeting – November 2008

Tonight our hearty band met for the final time in 2008 as a post-election gathering. For those of you who thought it would be much like a wake, it really wasn’t that bad. In all honesty our expectations were only unmet in one race, that race being the First Congressional District battle. More on that in mere paragraphs.

But first we did our usual club business (that being recitations of the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, reading of the October minutes, and Treasurer’s Report) and heard a reminder about our upcoming Christmas party. It was also noted that the attendance was better than expected with no speaker scheduled this time around, with about 30 members making the meeting.

Because there wasn’t a guest speaker, the meeting promised to be a little more brief than usual. In their report, Mark Biehl, President of the Lower Shore YR’s, reported simply that the club’s next meeting is December 11th at Vinny’s La Roma Restaurant and that they’re doing a canned food drive locally on December 13th. He also was pleased about the continuing uptick in membership, although that may subside now that the national election is past.

Having a headquarters turned out to be extremely successful, reported Bonnie Luna and Cynthia Williams, and after accounting for the expenses it turned out that the freewill donations made were enough to cover, with a little bit left over. Personally I think it behooves the club to give 10% of that sum back to the community – it would be an amount that wouldn’t have to be voted on by the membership (not that they’d object anyway.)

The longest portion of the proceedings by far was the Central Committee report by Dr. John Bartkovich. In a nutshell, he rehashed the two GOP races on both a national and local scale.

In asking those who were there what they thought was the issue with McCain, the consensus was that three issues did his candidacy in, with the obvious being the poor economy. There was also the perception of his term being Bush III and a lack of appeal to the conservative base of the party, save for his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. If you ask my opinion (and even if you don’t because I’m writing this post) the only reason McCain won our county was Palin. I haven’t yet seen the turnout numbers for our county or the First District, but I’m betting our side’s turnout dropped below 80 percent in Wicomico County and 75 percent for the district.

Speaking of the First District, the opinions on Andy Harris’s failure were more divergent. Some of these have been discussed here before in post and commentary (Eastern Shore vs. Western Shore, a perception of Harris’s arrogance because of the SU debate, the $2 million worth of DCCC television ads, and having a Libertarian in the race who siphoned a bit of conservative support) but perhaps the largest factor in the eyes of those attending was Wayne Gilchrest’s endorsement of Frank Kratovil being just enough to tip the soft GOP’ers and independents Frank’s way. Personally I think the $2 million did more damage but then again I saw my precinct’s results and while McCain carried it easily Andy didn’t. That makes a case for Gilchrest’s endorsement being a tipping point. (On the other hand, there were few if any ads attacking John McCain, which serves to bolster my contention.)

In any event Bartkovich did think that the future for the local GOP was still “bright” and was “exceedingly grateful” to all the volunteers who stepped to the plate (well over 100 different volunteers staffed our headquarters during the campaign, for example.) Our local party is still “viable” and will prove that in 2010.

One other interesting question John asked was the sense of who would be the Presidential candidate in 2012. Most of those attending naturally thought…Bobby Jindal. Even though Sarah Palin is “principled” I think the perception was she’ll be too damaged by the constant bad press she’s gotten as the early front-runner. Other names mentioned were 2008 also-rans Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

It was a pretty interesting meeting since I hadn’t spoken to most of the attendees since the ballots were counted almost three weeks ago. While I have a Central Committee meeting in a week, I think the tenor will be more similar at the upcoming Maryland Republican Party Fall Convention a week from Saturday.

By tradition, the club doesn’t meet in December so our next meeting is scheduled for January 26, 2009. When we next gather we’ll kick off the process of nominating and electing officers for 2009 and possibly begin hearing from the hopefuls in the upcoming Salisbury city election as well. Because that’s a non-partisan ballot we could have some people stop by who wouldn’t normally show up at the Republican Club; for that we’ll have to wait and see.

Harris concedes First District race

It was a bittersweet day in Salisbury today; the weather was nice for this outdoor event but the results of Election 2008 finally sank in as Republican State Senator Andy Harris conceded the votes weren’t there to win the First Congressional District seat over Democrat Frank Kratovil.

State Senator Andy Harris faces questions during his concession press conference in Salisbury this afternoon.

Standing in front of the old courthouse, Harris read from a page of prepared remarks before taking questions from the press gathered for the appearance.

State Senator Andy Harris made a last-minute change to his speech. Accepting the pen back is Upper Shore campaign director Pat McLaughlin (right), looking on is local blogger Joe Albero (center).

Andy Harris speaks in front of media assembled from both Salisbury and Baltimore. It really wasn't as chilly as the woman suggests it was.

In his remarks, Harris gave thanks to the veterans who served and spoke about this “journey” he had traveled over the last year and a half. He also thanked his family, his volunteers, and the “amazing, hardworking” people of his district who sought a “piece of the American dream.” Andy also brought up the fact that his parents were immigrants to America and perhaps never dreamed their son could have the opportunity to run for Congress, yet he had.

After noting he had spoken to opponent Frank Kratovil earlier that morning, he wished Frank well in Congress and said it was time to “come together as Americans united.” Meanwhile, Andy needed to go back to work in the Maryland General Assembly to lower taxes and cut spending in Annapolis.

A small group of perhaps two dozen supporters were present to wish Andy well and thank him for making the effort.

In front of about two dozen supporters who took time from their lunch hour to attend, Andy answered a few quick questions after giving his concession speech. In not winning, Andy simply stated that Americans had “delivered a message for a different direction”, and while he didn’t agree with it he respected the decision. While the question about whether the campaign was too negative came up, Andy saw it more as a “vigorous debate” and when asked what he’d do differently kiddingly remarked the obvious, “win the election.”

After he sidestepped a commitment to run again in 2010, the final question that was asked was whether not being from the Eastern Shore hurt Harris in the race, to which he responded it “may have been a hurdle.”

Here is where I take off the reporter hat and begin the editorial.

Unless the Eastern Shore begins growing rapidly, we’re always going to share a Congressman with another part of the state. While the two sides of the Shore are different, there’s nothing that ever said we were “entitled” to have a Congressman from our side of the bay – prior to Wayne Gilchrest, then-Congressman Roy Dyson lived in southern Maryland. Neither Frank Kratovil nor Andy Harris grew up on the Eastern Shore, and while Kratovil hails from Maryland, the D.C. suburbs are a far cry from the lifestyle we have here.

It will be interesting to see just how often Frank comes around to our part of the state now that he’s won. One knock against Wayne Gilchrest was that he didn’t seem to be around all that often, and odds are Frank Kratovil has that EZ-Pass all set up to zip back and forth across that Bay Bridge he lives in the shadow of. The question is just how often the car will roll any farther down Route 50.

I’d rather have a Congressman who lives on the other side of the bridge and represents a good conservative viewpoint than one who happens to live on my side but won’t often vote that way.

Cleaning up the election some more

As I write this, AP has called the race between Andy Harris, Frank Kratovil, and Richard James Davis for Kratovil in the First Congressional District, but it may yet qualify for a recount based on its tightness. It bears pointing out that having Davis in the race as a Libertarian alternative may have cost Andy Harris the election – ironic because E.J. Pipkin’s entry into the primary race was thought to create a similar effect to hand Wayne Gilchrest the nomination on the Republican side.

But my ire was raised by something else. Andy Harris lost Wicomico County by about 5,500 votes or so, and barring an extremely big effort by Frank Kratovil on the remaining absentee and provisional ballots (in truth, those may tighten the race to some extent), the final margin will be much less than Kratovil’s margin of victory here – in other words, I could correctly argue that if it weren’t for this county Harris would be a shoo-in.

Obviously we were going to have an uphill battle here, with the hill being built up even faster by two factors: the local paper being firmly in Kratovil’s camp because of their connection with the deposed Wayne Gilchrest, and Gilchrest’s final Benedict Arnold-like action of endorsing Frank Kratovil. However, neither of these actions truly came as a surprise.

Something that did surprise and anger me was how the local blogosphere went against their own interests and turned their guns on Harris – all because of one man. Yes, it was that support by ONE MAN by those who would normally be on the conservative’s side that Kratovil allies gleefully jumped on, stirring up the blogging world more.

I know that some of these bloggers come by their allegiance honestly – bloggers like ShoreIndie (maybe that should be ShoreLeftie if there’s truth in advertising) or Tom Wilson at Lost on the Shore, or all the Two Sentz guys spewing the blue b.s.- they’re liberal and make no bones about it. But then you had people who I would have thought fell into the moderate to conservative mode who came out publicly for the Obama ally Kratovil, simply because Harris had a particular supporter.

And don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot not to like about the blogger in question, particular in his treatment of the Wells family. Certainly I’ve been the target of his barbs on many occasions. But in being against Harris simply because a particular person was for him strikes me as cutting off the nose to spite the face. So it was distressing that, for the short-term gratification in piling on a blogger who in the grand scheme of things isn’t all that important, a number of other bloggers took their eyes off the ball, forgetting what’s truly best for our district.

In the entirety of the campaign, there were a couple items to be critical of the Harris campaign for, and I called bullshit on those occasions. Probably Andy’s campaign’s two biggest mistakes were the reuse of footage in the “Kratovil is a liberal” ad (which overshadowed the truthful message of it) and the blind alley of hammering Kratovil on particular cases as a State’s Attorney, a move which brought a swift defense from his fellow State’s Attorneys. Instead, I’d have preferred the rote response every time Frank brought up the Club For Growth – “the Club For Growth stands for lower taxes, less red tape, and school choice – does that mean you’re for raising taxes, more business-strangling red tape, and keeping kids in the failing public schools, Frank? And considering that many of the Wall Street types you condemn are or were Democrat politicians, you may be barking up the wrong tree there.” I’m sure that the sentiment can be done better on the fly, but alas, it was not to be.

In my coverage of the race, I gave the Kratovil side of the story too. But I reserved the right to be critical because I could smell his “what people wanna do is say what people wanna hear” style of politics a mile away. Frank’s not “independent”; he was bought and paid for by Martin O’Malley, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and all the inside-the-Beltway special interests. Unfortunately, that message wasn’t spread effectively and what ultimately failed the Harris side was having to play defense too much.

That’s my assessment of Andy’s campaign. But I sure hope for a rematch in 2010 because then Frank Kratovil will have a record he’s almost certainly going to run away from. See, the problem with pissing me off is that I actually ENJOY researching legislative records. And I can cherrypick votes like you folks did too.

And I better not hear a cross word next time from the local and Maryland bloggers who went against their best interests simply because one guy they didn’t like happened to be a Harris supporter.

That means you, Bill Duvall. You want a carpetbagger? Who moved to the Eastern Shore to spring his political career since he knew he was the wrong race to succeed where he grew up?

That means you, Tim Patterson. You don’t even live in the district, but you rendered all your worthwhile criticism of liberals absolutely meaningless by putting up one post endorsing Frank Kratovil.

That means you, Pro-Maryland Gazette contributors who cower behind anonymous screen names. If you were truly Pro-Maryland you’d have supported Harris, or at least come up with better arguments to support Frank Kratovil aside from ONE supporter of Andy Harris. The same goes for “Cuff-n-Stuff” at Off The Cuff.

In my post about Election Day in pictures and text, I alluded to the fact that someone took my picture while I was working the polls for another blog. He wouldn’t say which blog it was but conceded something along the lines of his blog dying soon after the election. Well, if it’s one of these blogs who set out to destroy Andy Harris because of a particular supporter, perhaps it would be good riddance. I’ve noticed that Duvafiles has apparently bid its goodbye to the local blogosphere, and there’s likely others soon to follow. There always is.

I don’t hide either my name or my thoughts when I write. Maybe it creates more trouble for me than it should, but I’m always taking the long-term view of what’s best for my adopted home. Putting a Democrat in Congress is like the first cockroach in your kitchen; if you don’t exterminate that first one quickly they’re damn near impossible to get rid of. Look at how long Norm Conway has “represented” my House of Delegates district by voting with the far-left in Annapolis rather than for what’s best for the Shore.

So with whatever blame should be properly assigned to the Harris campaign for getting bogged down and defensive in the election runup, the local conservative blogosphere also has to look in the mirror and ask themselves whether the immediate gratification they got from seeing one blogger’s chosen candidate fail will be worth the poor representation we’ll suffer from for at least the next two years.

We have enough issues with the manner in which the state and nation will be run for at least the next two years to have this infighting. I’ve said my piece on this issue in order to clear the air – it was difficult enough to run as a Republican this year because of a perfect storm of bad economic news and an uninspiring candidate at the top of the ticket. We didn’t need the crap stirred up by those folks on the center and right to hand a House seat to an I-95 corridor liberal, but we managed to do so anyway.

It’s a mistake we CANNOT repeat in 2010.

Election Day 2008 in pictures and text

As promised this evening, a few of the pictures I took yesterday. I haven’t looked around yet (didn’t peruse the local sites today) but I believe some other blog has a picture of me on their site too.

Anyway, this was my home for the day yesterday:

My polling place and also where I worked to get those last-minute mind-changers. I also was a turnout checker for Andy Harris, so every couple hours I'd pop in and see how the numbers were stacking up. The rain you see occurring in the picture was a pretty steady companion, I think there were only a couple fairly brief (about an hour) periods where it didn't rain.

There weren’t a whole lot of signs out for the candidates, either.

I took this picture fairly early on, you'll notice the excessive Democrat signs and few GOP ones. I had that situation rectified by midday thanks to a few very helpful folks who returned with their yard signs. I ended up with about even totals.

Since you see part of the church sign, you can guess the rest:

Who am I to question His will? But like the movie title once said, 'The Gods Must Be Crazy.'

My favorite sticker for the day. It was on one of the few cars actually parked close to where I stood.

All we need is a red magic marker on 'VP 08' and a black Sharpie to write 'President 2012' and we could possibly make that work.

One thing which really disappointed me was having no one else work the poll. Maybe it’s because I’m a veteran of a different area and things are different here, but even in 2006 I had plenty of company – not this year. It’s nothing for me to work a 13 hour shift like this, I did it for a number of years in Ohio. (And yes, I’ve worked some miserably rainy Election Days before, but even colder.)

Speaking of disappointment, that’s what would soon be on a lot of these faces over at the Fountains later that evening:

When I walked in, the room was pretty full - by 11 most of these fine folks had left. Basically when Virginia was called that was the end.

It wasn’t the fault of the woman to the right of this picture. Along with my Central Committee cohort Bob Laun, Bonnie helped put this together and also served as the McCain co-chair with Laun here in Wicomico County.

Mark McIver, local Harris campaign coordinator, addressed us while his wife Hala (left) and Bonnie Luna (right) look on.

But hope springs eternal, as the Young Republicans got their start in 2008 and hopefully will be a force to be reckoned with come 2010. Here’s their President, Mark Biehl.

Mark Biehl of the Lower Shore Young Republicans also made brief remarks.

I want to personally thank the two folks in my last picture for their hard work to get Andy Harris elected – in fact, the work’s not done yet since absentees have to be counted and there could very well need to be a recount after that. We’re down but not out!

Hala and Mark McIver have worked their tails off to get Andy Harris to Congress. Hopefully fortune smiles on us with the absentee ballot count and the REAL candidate - not the flip-flopper - is sent to Washington despite the fact Wicomico County voted against its best interests.

Finally, it’s not a picture but text from Andy Harris:

My parents immigrated to the United States to flee Communism with the hope of a better life for themselves and their children.  Their experience taught me early on to believe in and trust the democratic process in America, where we have a fair and just system of laws in place to make sure every vote cast is counted fairly.

I will work with the County Boards of Elections and Mr. Kratovil’s campaign to make sure that we come to a conclusion quickly, so that we can get back to work for the people of the First District.   I have complete confidence in our election system and the men and women responsible for making sure that the process of counting each vote is fair and straightforward.

Similarly, Frank Kratovil concluded his official release by noting:

The most important thing right now is to make sure all remaining votes are counted; representatives from my campaign will work with the Board of Elections in each county to make sure this process goes smoothly.

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Not pleased is an understatement.

But that’s the way the ball bounces I suppose. I’ll be interested to see how the precincts break out.

Of course, when McCain only wins 52.5% of the vote in a county that Bush and Ehrlich both carried with 60-plus percent that’s not a good sign.

And 56 percent for Kratovil? All I have to say is be careful what you wish for. Needless to say, plan on me keeping a REALLY sharp eye on how he votes, assuming he hangs on to his overall margin. You all got your precious Eastern Shore representation, but like the actual geography of Frank’s home location yards from the Bay Bridge, I suspect you’ll find his moderatism and independence are of the same ilk – just enough to say they are there, but not enough to really be meaningful. In fact, I think neither will be found by the end of the first half of the 111th Congress.

Then again, none of that may matter now since there’s going to be some fingers on the scale, so to speak, now that Question 1 has passed. It doesn’t surprise me that it did, but still it’s disappointing.

I almost feel more sorry for my friends in Delaware though because they’ve REALLY screwed the pooch in that state. To go from a 22-19 GOP majority in their House to a 26-15 Democrat one and to elect a Governor who reminds me of Martin O’Malley – I guess that is some good news for Maryland since Delaware will definitely lose a lot of its attractiveness.

Anyway, I suppose I have to rethink my educational approach a little bit because obviously the class didn’t learn its lessons as well as I thought they did. (I also have a few choice words for a number of my blogging cohorts, but that comes under separate cover.)

I didn’t get many pictures from the day, either. Definitely I was disappointed with the weather and for obvious reasons there wasn’t much to celebrate. But I’ll carry on nonetheless later today and probably spend most of the remainder of the week cleaning up the tangled wreckage of Election 2008 before moving on to other subjects I’ve neglected over the last few weeks.

Folks, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a mixture of disappointed and angered over how this turned out. The votes were against us, but neither my cause nor my determination has been defeated. I just have to work twice as hard, that’s all, because in the end I still know I’m right.

Tomorrow we meet at dawn…

Back on July 10, 2007 I introduced the two “Campaign 2008” folders that I have for tomorrow’s election. However, I’m certain I begin discussing the election earlier than that because the speculation was rampant about Andy Harris making his Congressional run two months before that.

So we’ve been at this election thing for about 18 months now, and it’s been almost 9 months since the primary back on February 12th. The finish line is in sight for all those volunteers, paid staff, and candidates who have worked so hard to get this far – it’s unfortunate in a way that half or more of those people will find themselves disappointed after the votes are counted.

Being a Republican in two places that are primarily Democrat-controlled, I’ve had more than my share of bitter defeats. But I have a pretty good feeling about this election, particularly on a local level. I think more than a few people will be surprised when it’s all said and done.

One thing that I should stress even though it’s a bit of inside baseball – your votes will count more than you know, especially for John McCain. The more votes we get for McCain in Wicomico County, the better our voting strength at future conventions if a measure passes at our upcoming Fall State Convention. It’s a proposal to base voting strength on actual votes for statewide office rather than on the number of registered Republicans. With this area being fairly conservative and a significant percentage of registered Democrats voting GOP in the privacy of the ballot box, we could do a lot to help the Eastern Shore advance in the state party hierarchy.

There may or may not be a posting tomorrow because I’m going to hit the hay once this is done; maybe I’ll check comments quickly during breakfast but my plan is to vote and then do my assigned duties at my polling place. I will have my camera so my plan is to have plenty of pictures of Election Day and Night 2008.

If you happen to vote at the polling place on East Gordy Road, I will see you there. But tomorrow is a day the conservatives within the view of my website can begin the slow process of taking back this country from the liberal Democrats who threaten it and the RINO’s who have done serious damage to our party. Let’s get the ball rolling now so we can finish the job locally in 2010. (And yes, I already have a Campaign 2010 category so I’m getting earlier and earlier!)

Our opportunity awaits – let’s take advantage of it. We CAN win if we turn out every Republican! Let that other party be the lazy one.

The letter and the aftermath

A couple days ago a letter came out, signed by 20 of the 24 State’s Attorneys in Maryland, that defended Frank Kratovil from the charges Andy Harris leveled about his conduct as Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney. Among the signatories of the letter from the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association was Wicomico County’s Davis Ruark, who took the additional step of endorsing Frank Kratovil – Ruark’s first endorsement for political office in his career. (The letter itself was only to defend Frank and was not intended as an endorsement.)

While I know Davis to some extent and would consider him a friend, I think he’s in the wrong here. To me he’s allowing professional courtesy to stand in the way of an question which does need to be resolved. I’ve not seen this as a question of being “soft on crime” as the MSAA letter suggests, but more of a question of judgment.

When Frank Kratovil went into this race, he had to assume that his record as a prosecutor would be fair game, just as his side has pored through every vote Andy Harris has made in the State Senate to find ones which could be shown to be politically unpopular. Obviously some cases Kratovil’s office pursued were going to stick out as ones which weren’t resolved in a manner that served the public as well as they could have. However, the appearance of impropriety comes when contributors to Frank’s campaign have cases plea-bargained down to greatly reduced punishments for the perpetrator.

My question is whether it would not been more proper for Frank to refuse or return the contributions from those who practice on the other side of the courtroom in Queen Anne’s County, simply to avoid any of the smell or accusation? It’s a very small percentage of the contributions he’s received, so the coffers wouldn’t be drained all that much. Instead, he’s kept every penny insofar as I know and certain cases which involved those defense attorneys have been pled down. Perhaps it was to get a bigger fish, but once again the trouble could have been saved had Frank Kratovil placed his campaign coffers off-limits to those he could reasonably ascertain would be opposing him in court. This would be a non-issue.

Having said that, though, I’d like to bring up another point I touched on last night.

One of the major controversies in this months-long slog of a campaign has been whether Frank Kratovil said “solve” or “solved” during an appearance at Salisbury University back in October, referring to whether the bailout fixed our economic problems. At first, the Daily Times wrote it as “solved,” only retracting after Harris came out with a commercial quoting the original Daily Times article. (There is dispute whether the Daily Times either corrected or retracted the original article, part of the confusion may be from a follow-up story. So I’ll rescind the original statement as shown; however the point remains that the “solve” controversy has obscured what my next paragraph leads to.)

What’s being missed though are all the other things that Frank is on record saying from his own website, radio interviews, and other sources, but then later changing his tune to suit the audience. We’ve seen him shift on a number of issues like offshore drilling and health care, drop the endorsement of him by Governor O’Malley like Martin was a bad habit, and tone down his left-wing rhetoric from the primary – such as his call for fighting global warming with the “same effort as going to the moon” or reconciling his current energy plan with his thought that Americans “waste a lot” from that same forum cited previously.

While Frank attempted to paint Andy Harris as a “finger in the wind” politician, the game plan for Frank is and has been that “what people wanna do is say what people want to hear.”

Let’s put aside the claims and counterclaims. I can tell you that I’ve met both candidates, at least briefly, and neither is the ogre the other makes them out to be. Frank Kratovil seems like a decent enough guy, but I believe he’s completely and utterly wrong on the majority of the issues. I can also tell you that there’s something wrong with our system of government when even a campaign that involves being one of 435 members in a body (which means one vote’s not going to make much of a difference 98% of the time) makes me cringe at the depth it’s descended to on both sides. I guess absolute power, or even the quest for the little bit involved here, does corrupt absolutely.

Despite all that, the decision needs to be made on what the First District thinks will be the voting pattern of each candidate. From the beginning, I’ve seen this as a race between a person who will vote in a conservative, prudent manner and has been proven to do so for ten years in the Maryland State Senate (even against a Governor of his own party at times) against a person who may or may not do so depending on how much intestinal fortitude he has to stay “independent” when his party has bankrolled his campaign to the tune of nearly $2 million and other special interests have chipped in six figures as well. Frank Kratovil could begin in the middle like Wayne Gilchrest finished, but the trend among all but the most conservative members of Congress is to drift leftward as the years in Washington go by. Do we want to take a chance on an entrenched Ted Kennedy-type representing us in 10 or 12 years? And if Barack Obama wins the White House, do we want someone to embrace his change toward socialism or fight it tooth and nail?

These are the questions voters who haven’t already cast their ballot need to ask themselves.

A summary of monoblogue endorsements

On Wicomico County’s ballot we have the following decisions to make:

  • President and Vice-President of the United States
  • Representative in Congress, Congressional District 1
  • Judge, Court of Appeals, Appellate Circuit 1
  • Judge, Court of Special Appeals, At-Large
  • Judge, Court of Special Appeals, At-Large
  • Question 1 – Constitutional Amendment: Early Voting, Polling Places, Absentee Ballots
  • Question 2 – Constitutional Amendment: Authorizing Video Lottery Terminals (Slot Machines) to Fund Education
  • Question A – (Wicomico County) Charter Amendment: Permit Refunding of Obligations
  • Question B – (Wicomico County) Charter Amendment: Extension of Obligation Maturity Date, Clarification of BAN Terms


As long-time readers probably recall, John McCain was far from my first choice for the GOP nomination. My support for him was tepid at best and I had a few thoughts about at least looking into Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin as my vote. However, two things changed my mind.

One was seeing just how unqualified Democrat nominee Barack Obama was to be President based on the company he keeps. Obviously one cannot always choose who works with you, but the pure radicalism of many of Obama’s closest associates gives me pause. Furthermore, the answer, immortalized on video, that he gave to Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher regarding “spread(ing) the wealth” showed his true intentions. America was meant for equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. The pie only gets bigger if there’s incentive to make it so, and Obama’s economic ideas do little to incentivize one’s work ethic or building of wealth.

The second piece of the puzzle fell into place when McCain picked Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Appealing to conservatives (actually just plain appealing) because of her status as the only major-party nominee to have executive experience and her reformist, fiscally conservative approach to government in our 49th state, she balanced the ticket nicely and brought enthusiasm to a campaign which was sorely lacking in anything to excite conservatives.

While the ticket is still far from perfect and neither candidate is going to completely halt the federal government’s lurch toward expansion, given the choices and the world situation there’s only one obvious pick for President and that’s John McCain.

First Congressional District:

This has been a race I’ve hammered on for most of the last two months, because it’s a race where the Democrats think they have a chance to steal a previously Republican House seat. Like their strategy in 2006, the national Democrats backed a candidate who can be called a moderate or even a little right of center on some issues but loyal to the liberals inside the Beltway on issues that count.

It’s a race where the mudslinging hasn’t ceased since Frank Kratovil went negative back in October. Kratovil and his Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee backers have pounded on selected points of Andy Harris’s State Senate record while Harris responded by questioning the integrity of Kratovil’s dealings with criminal defense attorneys and whether Kratovil said the bailout “solved” the problem. In short, it’s a campaign that hasn’t been angelic on either side to say the least.

What we’re voting on though is the predicted representation that one of these two will provide the district in Congress – will they vote in accordance with what the district’s wishes are? Despite the few votes cherrypicked by the DCCC in an effort to impugn Harris’s overall record, the fact remains that Harris is a reliably anti-tax, pro-smaller government vote in the Maryland Senate. All but one of the State Senators in his district endorsed Harris early on (the holdout being primary opponent E.J. Pipkin), so any criticism of how he gets along with his colleagues can be answered with that. Moreover, Andy’s stances have remained very similar throughout the campaign – there’s been no need to tailor his message between primary day and the general election.

Conversely, Frank Kratovil was against drilling for oil before he was for it (but only in selected areas, many of which have been found to be dry holes.) Kratovil claims to be pro-Second Amendment but only wishes to enforce the existing laws, saying nothing about rolling back some of the extreme anti-gun legislation Congress has passed or will certainly revisit after safely being re-elected. Being for universal health care (read: socialized medicine in the tradition of Great Britain or Canada) in the primary became being for universal health coverage once he had to face all of the voters. Gone were the photo-ops and endorsements from Martin O’Malley once the primary passed as well as the talk about being pro-choice. Frank knew none of that played in Peoria, let alone Port Deposit or Princess Anne.

Because Frank hasn’t served a day in any legislative body, all we have to go by as a predictor of his performance in Congress is his words – the problem is that through all the denials, parsing, and shifting of positions we have no idea whether the Frank Kratovil who ran left to win the primary or the Frank Kratovil who decided to run through the middle in the general election campaign is the real one.

One of Frank’s very first votes in Congress will almost certainly be to retain Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House. That alone is good reason to leave him as the State’s Attorney in Queen Anne’s County and elevate Andy Harris from the Maryland Senate to Congress.

Judge races:

Unlike some other states, Maryland judges only have to be rubberstamped occasionally to continue in office until they reach a mandatory retirement age. In this case, we have one judge who is running to retain her seat while two others face the voters for the first time in their position. Deborah Eyler, appointed by Governor Glendening and Robert Zarnoch, appointed by Governor O’Malley, haven’t done anything completely objectionable. Nor has the Appellate Circuit Judge Sally Adkins, but her appointment came under the interesting circumstance of being the only name submitted the first time. A resubmission with three candidates still resulted in Adkins being picked, so perhaps this is a chance to send a message to the nominating commission by ending Adkins’ term.

Questions 1 and 2:

I’ve already covered both of these in more lengthy previous posts, but I urge a NO vote on both Questions 1 and 2.

Questions A and B:

These issues for Wicomico County voters are proposed to clean up some sections of the county charter, but also extend the obligation time for county bonds from 25 years to a possible 30 years.

Question A is a common-sense proposal that allows Wicomico County to refund outstanding bonds, notes, and other obligations early if they find it financially advantageous to do so. For that reason, Question A deserves a YES vote.

While Question B is appealing from a year-by-year standpoint by allowing smaller payments each year on bond debts, the fact that obligations last longer and interest accrues for a longer period doesn’t work well with a revenue cap. Since the county has proven its need for the cap, the better course is to limit bonding to 25 years; thus the vote on Question B should be a NO vote.

And we thought this would be kind of a sleepy election? If you haven’t done so, get out and vote on Tuesday.

Let’s get more liberals mad!

This commercial ought to do the trick:

And if you want more hard-hitting truth, this site places it right in the name: Kratovil IS O’Malley!

It sure looks like Martin and Frank are best buds here. This is from the Kratovil newsletter, November 28, 2007.

“Frank is dedicated, tenacious and energetic and he will make a great Congressman.”
Martin O’Malley, MD Governor

Great for raising taxes? Given the backdrop, this picture likely was taken even earlier in the year.

And whatever happened to this approach? This comes from newsletter number 2, December 19, 2007:

“Democratic candidate Frank Kratovil, the State’s Attorney for Queen Anne’s County, said he was focused on promoting a positive, issues-oriented message. ‘Voters want to know how you are different,’ said Kratovil, 39, a first-time candidate for U.S. Congress. For Kratovil, a Democrat running in a moderately conservative district, that means emphasizing his twelve-year-career as a prosecutor.”

Politicker MD
December 11, 2007

(Emphasis mine.)

Hey, when Andy Harris pointed out Frank’s career as a prosecutor, he went whining to his cohorts instead of answering the questions. And Kratovil may have figured even then that the DCCC could be the ones who do the negative ads.

And just days later, where was Frank?

Monday, December 17
Governor Martin O’Malley Reception for Frank Kratovil

And you know how Frank was trying to look a little more moderate? How about this one?

If elected, Kratovil emphasized that he would focus on a number of areas, including helping the United States achieve universal health care, and bringing an end to the war in Iraq.

Politicker MD
December 18, 2007

(Again, emphasis mine.)

Finally, it may be good to bear in mind the following, from another newsletter:

“As Kratovil explained, this is not an Eastern Shore versus Western Shore election because the winner of the election needs to represent the entire district.”

The Avenue News
April 16, 2008

Yet how many of his sycophants think the Eastern Shore needs to be represented by someone who lives there? (Such that he does, when you figure Stevensville is a stone’s throw from the Bay Bridge.) I’m sure all of the counties in the district would like the Congressman to hail from there and the fact is, prior to Wayne Gilchrest, the district was represented by someone on the Western Shore.

And you know those people who want to pit this as an O’Malley vs. Ehrlich tilt and note who won the 2006 election? Just try these numbers on for size, and check out just who won every county in the First Congressional District. I’d take those numbers any day of the week – maybe that’s why Frank Kratovil ran away as fast as he could from Martin O’Malley once the primary was over.

I’ve seen a lot of Democrats in my day – remember where I was born and raised. Frank Kratovil is the same as 95% of the rest. He’ll come campaigning and saying just how centrist he is then go to Washington and vote to tax you more, spend more money, and create lots of work for government bureaucrats. While there’s quite a few Republicans who exhibit a lot of those same traits, I don’t take Andy Harris for one of those because I’ve examined his voting record and he stands on principle, not politics.

Recently I wrote a letter to the Annapolis Capital after they unwisely endorsed Frank Kratovil. I don’t think it ever was published and I’ve given them a week or so to do it, so I’ll go ahead and place it here now.

It appears your October 23rd endorsement of Frank Kratovil for the First Congressional District seat is based on two factors: the happy accident of Mr. Kratovil relocating just a stone’s throw across the Bay Bridge to practice and bide his time before running for political office and, on the other hand, your attribution of “lone wolf” status to Andy Harris for a few selected Maryland Senate votes.

In their debate at Cecil College, Kratovil is quoted as saying about Harris, “What people wanna do is say what people want to hear.” On the contrary, it’s Frank Kratovil who has practiced political expediency from the beginning of his campaign. For one example, once Kratovil secured the Democratic nomination it was clear that the endorsement from Martin O’Malley wouldn’t serve him well in the general election so it was under the bus for the Governor. Joining O’Malley beneath the wheels was any public mention of his party affiliation because he now bills himself as an “independent” – yet Frank’s not independent enough to refuse nearly $2 million of campaign cash from Democrats inside the Beltway.

 Conversely, you describe Harris as, “bright, engaging and knowledgeable about national issues,” but feel Andy wouldn’t be a “consensus-builder.” If building a consensus is about selling out your principles for short-term political gain, then we’re poorly served as a district and as a nation. Andy Harris has consistently shown that he stands for smaller, less intrusive government that leaves more money in the pockets of all citizens, not just those deemed to deserve it because of their income status.

You’ve endorsed a “finger to the wind” politician, I’m supporting a man who has a solid core set of beliefs and will stand up for what is right. The First District needs Andy Harris in Congress.

And I stand by that statement, so I’ll be out on Tuesday (and maybe even before that depending on how my weekend goes) trying to place a REAL Congressman in Washington, not some dimestore phony who will change his positions with the wind (and drop unpopular politicians when it’s politically expedient. By the way, before you say it, President Bush endorsed Wayne Gilchrest in the primary, not Andy Harris.)

On Tuesday or whenever you send in your absentee ballot prior to then, vote for Andy Harris.

By the way, if you folks on the left are mad now, wait ’til you see the subject of my next post.

Odds and ends no. 14

Subtitled, the Election 2008 edition.

While I’m not a “highly influential member of the media” like Rush Limbaugh, I do get quite a bit of e-mail from a number of sources. I’ll always at least glance through them, and if something really interests me enough to do a post I’ll sit down and do one that evening. Obviously a lot of Andy Harris-related material makes that cut because of the impending election. Still others I mark as unread and place in a folder I call “Blog ideas”. Right now that folder is really full and I know that some of these are time-sensitive because they have to do with the campaign. I really could spend my weekend just cranking out posts if I had that kind of time.

By what may be a stroke of good fortune, I have to clear two time slots before Tuesday for possible breaking stuff which I may have confirmed tomorrow; items I feel would be quite attractive for readers. Thus I decided a little bit of closet cleaning was in order, and it was a chance to resurrect a category of sorts I hadn’t utilized since April. This is the stuff I’d love to write about further but there’s only so many hours in the day.

To begin, an article by Doug Bandow at the blog touches on something I discussed yesterday, and questions whether the “specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures” which Franklin Roosevelt instituted did anything but extend the Great Depression by another seven years. And I also came across a post on that same website from Hans Bader (who I’ve cited before) that neatly explains Barack Obama’s “spread the wealth” theories.

Speaking of Obama policies, I have Adam Bitely at NetRightNation to hat tip for finding a not-really-all-that-surprising Townhall article by Amanda Carpenter. Did you know that not only is ACORN a group of scofflaws when it comes to registering voters, but a batch of deadbeats when it comes to paying their taxes?

Adam also gets the credit for sending me a link to this from Fred Thompson:

Hey, Fred, where was this during the campaign? I guess he’s a better pitchman for others than for himself.

I hadn’t heard from the folks at Freedom’s Watch in awhile, but this is an excellent video about DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer and his drive for a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the Senate:

It’s worth reminding folks that Schumer’s group was the brains behind the “Bought By Big Oil” website that I compared to being bought by Big Labor a few weeks back.

Why not another video while I’m at it? We all know that Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania has been a critic of the Long War. This week the group Vets For Freedom began buying airtime for an ad that essentially calls him a liar.

His GOP opponent is Lt. Col. (ret.) Bill Russell, a 28 year veteran who most recently served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Naturally the VFF PAC is supporting him, as are many others in the conservative media world.

Vets For Freedom also released their own voting scorecard earlier this month – the topic being war-related Senate votes in 2007. Not surprisingly, John McCain’s 93.5% rating garnered him an “A” for the year while Barack Obama flunked with a score of 0.5. Joe Biden was among three Senators (Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders of Vermont were the others) with a big fat zero. The best of a bad local lot (all F’s) was Delaware’s Tom Carper with a 33 rating, while Barbara Mikulski won the Maryland race against Ben Cardin 29 to 14.

It’s a nice idea, but the VFF report’s one glaring weakness is not covering House votes. We only elect 34 Senators this year but all 435 House members are up and it may have been more helpful to figure their votes out too.

To wrap this up, perhaps an Obama win wouldn’t be all that bad for the GOP. At least that’s what Newt Gingrich says. I know Newt is a history buff and his reasoning is sound, but there’s a big difference in eras I don’t think he’s accounting for. This came from Jeff Quinton at the Inside Charm City site, as Newt appeared two weeks ago on Bob and Kendel Ehrlich’s weekly radio show.

Well folks, I hope you enjoyed this political potpourri. It took my file down from 36 items to 14 (some of these were discarded), with most of those not being time-sensitive. In truth, most of them are environmental items that can wait – hey, I’ll need something to write about after November 4th.

Just so you know in advance, I’m probably going to slow down my pace just a touch between the election results coming out and the holidays. Normally I shoot for 11 posts a week (2 per day Monday thru Thursday and 1 on Friday through Sunday) but with the slow news cycle I may trim it back to 8 or 9 a week. It gives me a bit of a break, but I also have some heavy research posts planned in there as well. So don’t worry – regardless of result Tuesday I’m not going anywhere!

Andy Harris found a plumber for himself

I have to say it’s a bit stilted, but we all know a workingman like “Jim the Plumber” too:

Surely someone on the other side will shortly figure out who this is and try to smear the guy, just like his more famous counterpart. Personally, I like Andy’s more recent radio ads a lot better.

There’s three I’ve heard recently, but the best two that have stuck with me are the one featuring former Secretary of Agriculture Lewis Riley touting Andy’s farmer-friendliness and a spot describing Andy’s pro-life leanings. (It may have been better if they mentioned Frank Kratovil has the financial support of NARAL Pro-Choice, but you can look that up yourself at the FEC website.)

I knew I left an opening regarding my statement about the company Frank Kratovil keeps; in particular Harris being occasionally seen with some other local blogger and supporter who shall remain nameless but has a site with my adopted hometown and the word “News” in its name. Well, I think I see Andy more than I do that other guy and I’ve also noticed that the site in question isn’t getting all the exclusivity anymore. Look at it this way – Andy has to work with a couple other guys who are under FBI investigation so we can’t always choose our company. Bob Ehrlich and Lewis Riley, though, they’re both stand-up people.

Also, this item makes me question more the company Kratovil keeps, particularly those under his watch:

In March of 2007, Frank Kratovil declined to prosecute Robert Wayne Dwyer on 15 of 17 counts relating to child sexual offenses. Faced with the possibility of a lifetime in jail, Dwyer is now free in the community. (Source: Case No. 0M00014525)

In October 2007, Lawyer Richard M. Karceski became the official representation of Donna Ann Jones who was charged with 14 counts of burglary. Richard Karceski donated to Kratovil’s campaign on 12/4/2007.  In February 2008, the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorneys office dropped 12 of the counts against Donna Ann Jones resulting in her getting a slap on the wrist. Since that time, Richard Karceski has donated again to the Kratovil campaign and Donna Ann Jones has violated her parole. (Source: Case No. 17K07006775, Karceski donation on 12/4/2007 – FEC Reports)

If I were a betting man, I’m sure that some blogger on the Kratovil side is going, “yeah, you cherrypicked two cases out of how many successful prosecutions Kratovil has made!!” Well, that’s no different than cherrypicking a handful of votes out of the thousands Andy Harris has cast and calling them bad for Maryland families (which in my opinion, most of those cited were not) – and Andy’s not responsible for public safety like Frank is. I especially loved that quid pro quo which the Jones case leaves open to question.

Changing subjects, at the moment I’m hanging with the big boys. I was invited to add my two cents to the Ballotpedia website and as the old saying goes, “I seen my chances and I took ’em.” There may be other opportunities in my future to contribute on a national scale so stay tuned. In the meantime, let’s get Andy Harris into Congress!