Ten reasons McCain lost

Editor’s note: in contacting Scott Migli about the report, I found out it’s available from the Wilson Research Strategies website here.

Sure, I’m a bit behind the curve on this one but then I didn’t have all this polling data Scott Migli of Wilson Research Strategies shared with us during our luncheon session last Saturday after the Maryland Republican Party Fall Convention.

Scott Migli of Wilson Research Strategies discusses what caused John McCain's numbers (shown in red on the chart) to plummet during a luncheon session for the Maryland Republican Party last Saturday.

Migli’s presentation broke the GOP loss down into ten points. What I’m going to do here is give readers my impression on whether I felt the reason was correct and maybe the flaw in the strategy.

  • This was a winnable race after the convention. Failure on the economy cost McCain and Republicans.

John McCain did not leave the Senate after he was nominated, unlike Bob Dole in 1996. Because he was still in the Senate, I think he could have taken some time out as the underdog and introduced his agenda in advance of the election in order to look proactive and like a leader. Certainly he would have better spent his time in Washington off the campaign trail talking about the bailout introducing some alternatives instead.

  • We didn‘t put the mistakes of the past behind us fast enough and McCain wound up tied to them.

In illustrating this point, Migli used two pieces of data: the right track/wrong track numbers and President Bush’s approval/disapproval ratings. The Democrats and media (but I repeat myself) succeeded greatly in painting McCain as “McSame” or “Bush III” and McCain did run a fairly defensive campaign.

  • McCain‘s failures on the economy killed him. A floundering embrace of a big government solution only hastened his demise.

Many say that had McCain voted against the bailout he may have won the election; after all another polling result Migli showed was a CBS News poll from early October showing 51% of Americans were against the bailout and just 31% supported it. This also goes with the next point.

  • McCain failed to draw a distinction of fundamental ideological vision with Obama.

Again, voting no on the bailout would have helped him draw a distinction – Lord knows John McCain couldn’t seem to gain any traction during his debates with Barack Obama. And while we thought that Barack Obama was very liberal (based on his voting record) he successfully connected with less-informed (because they read or watch the drive-by media) voters as a moderate – 55% of voters thought his philosophy was “about right” while just 40% thought Obama was “too liberal”. The best Democrat of modern times on that score was Bill Clinton in 1992, who had 56% of voters convinced he was “just right” and he won too.

  • Go Negative is not a winning strategy in and of itself. We have to give voters a reason to vote for us.

To an extent this is true, but many on the conservative side thought McCain was being TOO restrained against his Senate colleague and other Democrats. There was so much material the pajamas media and conservative commentators had come up with to engage Barack Obama on – not just his associations with Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright or the dozens of “present” votes in the Illinois Senate, but directly tying him in with the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae fiasco as a huge recipient of campaign cash from those groups. We kept waiting on McCain to name the names we knew helped cause the subprime mortgage crisis but once he did it was barely in passing. And when you compare spending $300 billion we didn’t have to buy “bad mortgages” to “a tax cut for 95% of Americans” that was no contest.

  • At the Congressional level a bad year was made worse by bad apples, poor candidates, and out-of-touch incumbents.

There were a number of examples Migli used in his presentation – Tim Walberg in Michigan, Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, Bill Sali of Idaho, and Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado were all perceived as “out of touch” or hostile to their districts, while Rick Renzi of Arizona, Vito Fosselli of New York (neither of whom ran for re-election), Tom Feeney of Florida, and Ted Stevens of Alaska were tarred by scandal.

On a local level, it seemed that Wayne Gilchrest was out of touch with his district – until he lost his primary, then it became time to avenge the defeat by sinking Andy Harris’s campaign. Suddenly he was all over campaigning for Frank Kratovil.  The Democrats also did well in playing up the perceived arrogance of Andy Harris. It actually caused a possible violation of the next point.

  • America remains a center-right country: when Republicans stick to conservative principles we win.

The First District was an exception to this rule to some extent, but it’s worth pointing out that Frank Kratovil only won by a plurality and not a majority. Had Georgia’s electoral rules providing for a runoff if no candidate gets a majority of the vote been in place in Maryland and a runoff occurred without Libertarian challenger Richard James Davis, the conservatives coming back home to Harris and the lack of Barack Obama on the ballot to dampen the heavy minority turnout may have shown a turnaround in the numbers.

On the other hand, conservative voters knew John McCain was a latecomer to the principles of low taxation, did not stand foursquare on the immigration issue with them, and talked openly about fighting climate change. None of these were winning positions with conservatives, who have long memories.

  • On key issues a conservative position still wins. We dont need to abandon our principles, we need to stand by them.

Migli showed a number of slides on various issues bearing this out, but that’s simply intuitive based on the point above. Unfortunately, for the most part GOP candidates don’t seem to run on those principles unless they come from safe GOP districts.

We need to face a couple facts in this respect. Try as we might, conservatives will rarely get newspaper endorsements nor will they be given a fair shake in coverage. And especially in this area, the inside the Beltway crowd will do its best to mold the GOP into a Democrat-lite loyal opposition party. A candidate needs to know these things going in.

  • We have to get “out of Iraq” and have bigger vision. As long as we are arguing about Iraq, we are losing.

Welcome to the drive-by media. Successes in Iraq (such as the surge) were belittled and failures (like Abu Gharab) were magnified to such a point that public opinion became negative. And woe to the person who reminded people that it was Islamofascists who executed the 9/11 attacks, and that “you’re either with us or you’re against us” in the overall fight. Democrats successfully created the perception of the overall war as simply an invasion and portrayed our troops as those sticking their noses into an Iraqi civil war.

Well, guess what folks. Just in time for the 2012 campaign, we’re going to be out of Iraq. And it wasn’t Obama who made that country safe – but it is Obama’s doing if the terrorists successfully bide their time until we leave and remake that country into a caliphate.

  • In the long term we need a “50 State Strategy”, not a “50% + 1” Strategy.

I said this not too long ago – Howard Dean did much more damage to the conservative movement as DNC head than he ever would have as President. He’s the one who vowed a 50 state strategy and it paid off for Obama and the Democrats. We ceded way too much to Obama in this campaign, abandoning several states with a month to go in the faint hope to swing other states which turned out to support Obama anyway. The point Migli made is valid – by not fighting everywhere and engaging in at least a token rear guard action in certain areas we allowed Democrats to concentrate on “purple” states and swing them their way.

While some may fault the Maryland GOP for not picking the best candidates in several Congressional districts or giving them a lot of monetary support, the fact is that we at least filled the ballot in all eight Congressional districts and no Democrat got a completely free ride. Unfortunately, it’s very tough to get an entrenched Democrat incumbent to debate on the issues since they know intuitively the point above about conservative positions winning. (Living in Ohio’s Ninth District for most of my political life, we always asked the longtime Democrat incumbent Marcy Kaptur to debate the Republican candidate and were always rebuffed. Chicken. It would be worth charging admission just to see her debate Joe the Plumber, who lives in that very same district.) In looking at this critically, it’s almost like we need Barry Goldwater circa 1964 to run in those districts in the next couple cycles, except a little more in their face about it.

Since I don’t hold the copyright to the original data and don’t know if WRS wants all of it used for public consumption, I’m going to defer for the time being on a link despite the fact I have a copy of the original on my personal computer for reference. If I secure permission I’ll amend the post accordingly.

The study has been linked at the top of the page.

The never-ending campaign continues

It was noted after the successful campaign by Barack Obama that he had an e-mail list of some 3 million people, of whom I happen to be one. Obviously I wasn’t exactly his staunchest supporter since the incoming President and I operate on completely different political wavelengths.

Much as Bill Clinton went about his terms in office, it appears the Obama presidency may be one of perpetual campaigning. I got a hoot out of the e-mail which showed up in my inbox yesterday:

This holiday season, celebrate the historic accomplishment of our movement for change. Treat yourself or a loved one to a limited edition Obama coffee mug.

Make a donation of $15 or more right now and get an official Obama mug to mark an amazing year:

All this can be yours for a mere $15 donation. By the way, the button doesn't work - maybe I should have it donate to monoblogue? Nahhhh.

Items purchased by December 15th are guaranteed to be delivered before December 25th.

When you make your donation, you’ll be supporting the Democratic National Committee. The resources they invested in the 50-state organizing strategy made this movement possible — help us build for future victories together.

Share this amazing moment with your friends and family. Thanks to supporters like you, we all have the opportunity to bring real change to America.

(Emphasis in original, modified to eliminate link.)

I suppose it’s par for the course since President Bush certainly made his share of pitches asking me to donate to the Republican National Committee. But it just seems a little, well…tawdry to receive a mug. (Then again, a coffee mug was my one of my premiums when I renewed my Limbaugh Letter subscription a couple years back. But my black-on-white EIB mug would clash with the Obama model, and in any case I’m not a coffee drinker.) Next thing you know, for a $100 donation people would receive a lovely tote bag made from recycled soda bottles or woven all-natural hemp. (And what is the carbon footprint on that coffee mug?!?)

But with even a 1% success rate on 3 million e-mail addresses, at $15 a pop that would be nearly another half a million dollars to the DNC for perhaps a $60,000 investment – I’m figuring $2 a mug and that may be a lot. That’s the beauty of having a large e-mail list; also by making the beneficiary the Democratic National Committee I believe the donation limits are larger so tapped-out Obama contributors can reach a little deeper in their pockets. Hey, I thought we were in a recession.

A week or so ago, I briefly brought up the name Richard Viguerie, best known as the man who pioneered the concept of direct mail solicitation for political purposes in the 1970’s. Say what you will about his ill-fated Presidential run in 2004, but Howard Dean may have done more damage to the conservative cause in running the DNC than he ever would have as President. This latter-day Viguerie was among the earliest to use the internet to fund a campaign and I’m sure his e-mail list was the kernel for Obama’s much larger e-mail list. While there is a percentage of e-mail addresses that become non-functional over time, there’s nowhere near the cost in e-mail distribution that sending out snail mail entails.

(Not only was that a complete sentence with sound thinking, I truly enjoyed rhyming three words in a row there.)

It will be interesting and perhaps worrisome to find out just how good of a marketing tool this will be for the Obama agenda. While the individual Congressmen may see this as so much spam, diligent and motivated people are valuable in any campaign and just by the sheer number on the Obama list it’s likely that he’ll have a lot of helpers in enacting his agenda – a point made clear by this most recent e-mail is that Obama and the Democrats are going to ask a lot of favors.

On the whole, while a coffee mug doesn’t stoop to the level of the “Yes We Can Opener” perhaps P.T. Barnum was more right than we know.

Sarah Palin – the Thanksgiving edition

It’s likely there’s not a whole lot of folks who will get to see this in my particular venue, because I know Thanksgiving is one of my slowest readership days of the year. But many others will hopefully see this from wherever they’re watching television.

Since I’m writing this in advance (my real plans are to enjoy the holiday with some good friends of mine in Delaware) I’m not quite sure if they’re having turkey or the famous moose chili. But whatever you do have, be sure to ignore whatever diet you have for one day, root for your favorite team (Go Lions! Yeah, they’re playing Tennessee, so you can see one NFL team anyway), and don’t forget to actually give thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, before I go, here’s some reaction to the commercials from MSNBC. Maybe you’re polishing off one of those turkeys from the now-infamous Palin turkey pardoning in the background.

Just imagine if Sarah shot and field-dressed a moose on-air too.

CNN also put their two cents in on the effort. What was oddly humorous about the video of their report is that the video had an Exxon/Mobil commercial on the front – is that a subliminal message or funny coincidence?

Anyway, I’m off to my friends’ new place later today so have a great and blessed Thanksgiving!

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.

As promised, here’s Sarah!

I told you folks when I found out about the pro-Palin ad, I’d put it up. Tonight you get to watch and enjoy.

The thing I like about the ad is that it’s (mostly) regular people, although I know the second woman is my interviewee Deborah Johns and the black guy is Lloyd Marcus. (Truthfully I remember his hat.) They were two of the three doing the October pro-Palin tour.

If I were to add my thanks to Sarah, it would have to be more than a few seconds. But I would say this.

Thank you, Sarah Palin, for giving the Republican Party, and more importantly the conservative movement, a voice in the most recent Presidential campaign. You were the focus of a lot of attention during that two month whirlwind where you graced the national stage, and you handled it well despite all the traps and pitfalls many who wished you ill laid out for you.

For bringing excitement to our ticket where the man who was nominated could not, we thank you.

Overall, I think it’s a good commercial in that it’s not overtly political but expresses the gratitude of a significant part of the nation. Good for the Our Country Deserves Better PAC to keep her in the limelight and provide a little counterweight to the “all Obama, all the time” news coverage.

Standing up for Sarah

Here’s a group that will warm the hearts of those on my side who are sickened to see the garbage Alaska Governor Sarah Palin went through simply for accepting a place on the GOP ticket, including a number of stabs in the back from those supposedly on her side. I’m sure Deborah and her OCDB cohorts took great pleasure in making this announcement yesterday:

The New York Times has reported on their Caucus Blog about an upcoming television ad campaign thanking and defending the honor and character of Governor Sarah Palin.  The pro-Palin television ad campaign will air nationwide around the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

The pro-Palin ad campaign is a project of the Our Country Deserves Better Committee, which raised approximately $1.3 million during the general election to support the McCain/Palin ticket and oppose the Obama/Biden ticket.

The Our Country Deserves Better Committee will be filming the ad next Monday and had not planned to announce the new ad campaign until around the time of the film shoot or post-production of the ad.  However, a reporter for the New York Times is on the committee’s email list, and when she contacted the organization, we decided to cooperate with the Times.

The ad is being produced specifically to honor, thank and defend Gov. Sarah Palin in the wake of several unfavorable media reports which included criticism from anonymous sources.

The members and supporters of the Our Country Deserves Better Committee have been impressed with Gov. Palin’s honor, candor and dignity during the recent presidential campaign.  We applaud the way in which she has generally articulated her conservative viewpoints with an optimistic and hopeful style similar to President Ronald Reagan.

I think that was much of Palin’s appeal, she did come through in a homespun, plain-talking style similar to the Gipper, yet with enough self-confidence to allow Tina Fey to poke fun at her. And OCDB spokesman Joe Wierzbicki is correct in his assessment that this is a bid to allow Palin to have the largest number of options available to her for any future political runs. (I would guess first on Sarah’s agenda is keeping her job in 2010; certainly the Democrats will attempt to find a hardnosed candidate not afraid to sling the mud at her.)

Joe also added:

So now the world is watching — let us show the media and the rest of this nation how many Americans stand in solidarity with Sarah Palin for being a dignified, gracious, kind-hearted, public servant who is not ashamed to express her conservative values with an aura of optimism and hopefulness for America’s future.

Pop culture has devolved to the point where it’s cool to make fun of those who aren’t afraid to express traditional American values. Sarah Palin didn’t come to the Presidential race with the traditional inside-the-Beltway pedigree, and that fact seemed to frighten the punditry once it was figured out that Americans were embracing her rather than the worldview those elites wished to impart on us.

Deborah Johns, recent national tourist for a pro-Palin campaign, also weighed in:

The liberals want to destroy this woman to prevent her from ever having a future as a conservative leader, and it is because Palin is a conservative that they are so vengeful and hateful in their attacks.  These attacks first began right after Palin was announced as John McCain’s running mate — remember how they tried to insinuate that Palin lied about the true mother of her son, Trig?

The attacks kept up throughout the campaign, and have intensified ever since election day.  (Sarah’s been subjected to) attacks generated by far left radicals from websites such as DailyKos, Democratic Underground, and Huffington Post. (The comments on this ABC News story are just one example – ed.)  Friends, if we as conservatives won’t stand in Palin’s defense, then who will?  Are we going to sit back and just allow the Left to destroy this incredible, honest, upstanding conservative?


Thank you for your support of Gov. Sarah Palin.  Please understand that I feel a special kinship with this outstanding woman, because she’s not just a great American, she’s not just an upstanding conservative, but she’s also a fellow Blue Star Mom who taught her son that to serve in the U.S. military is an honorable, noble cause, just as I taught my Recon Marine son, William.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and do nothing while the far-Left tries to destroy this woman.

I’m not going to stand for it either; of course, you can bet that I’ll be putting the spot up here once I get a hold of it. The people of Alaska will be the final judge on Sarah Palin in two years and it’s my hope they’ll take a look at what she’s accomplished for their fellow citizens and not focus on the hatred her conservative views seemed to dredge up among the elitists in the lower 48.

As for Our Country Deserves Better, they have done pretty well in a short time to have that kind of e-mail list. Oh no, I have something in common with the New York Times?!? Well, I suspect I started with these fine people first so perhaps the Times is trying to catch up with the curve.

All kidding aside, the fact that a conservative group isn’t hunkering down to wait out the next four years is refreshing to hear. I don’t plan on dropping my offensive either, because my views are nothing to be ashamed of and neither are Sarah’s.

Ten Questions follow up: Blue Star Mom Deborah Johns

It was one of my most popular posts ever, so I decided to follow up with Blue Star Mom and “Stop Obama Tour” participant Deborah Johns. In this follow-up interview, I asked her how she thought the tour went and what the future holds for her tour sponsor, among other things.

monoblogue: We know the featured speakers on the “Stop Obama” tour were yourself, singer-songwriter Lloyd Marcus, and Internet talk radio host Mark Williams. But how large of an entourage made the trip with you three? And how did you occupy the travel time between venues?

Johns: We occupied our time by answering thousands of e-mails we would receive and confirming the different locations for the rallies we had with local supporters, sending out press releases. This was more work than anyone knows.

There were 5 other people who came along the trip. The guys were responsible for confirming the rally locations, sending out the press releases, contacting local supporters, set up and tear down of our podium and sound equipment. Everyone worked really great together and enjoyed the company of one another.

monoblogue: In the original interview, you noted it was “anyone’s guess” how much press coverage you’d get. Since you did get some reasonably favorable national press coverage, would you consider that aspect of your trip a success?

Johns: I think our press coverage was great. Every location we were at we had local reporters. However, it still would have been nice to get some national coverge. We did, however, appear on Fox and Friends and that was really good. We had supporters come out at 6:00 a.m. to hold up signs and show their support. We then had about 20 of them come on the bus and had coffee and juice together and that was a lot of fun.

monoblogue: A question regarding strategy. Late in the tour, your strategists decided to abandon the Ohio and Pennsylvania stops (except for Toledo, Ohio) and return to Michigan citing encouraging poll results. Now that we can look back and see how closely McCain lost Ohio (by 4 points) do you believe the focus should have been on Ohio instead?

Johns: I still think we made the right decision to go back to Michigan and abandon Ohio, simply because McCain and Palin were covering that so much. Even though we lost there by 4 points, it was a tight race, and we had the opportunity to tighten things in Michigan. We were pressed for time, and Pennsylvania was just impossible to cover at that point.

monoblogue: One thing you were pleased about initially was having a Blue Star Mom on the ticket in Governor Palin. While her and John McCain’s bid came up short, as one who’s not a political insider per se but one who closely follows the political scene, would you consider Sarah Palin the favorite for the 2012 nomination?

Johns: I certainly would like to see her run in 2012. However, my sense is that she probably will not make that bid, she may make a bid for a Congressional or Senate seat instead. We will just have to wait and see. She energized the base of the Republican party and women as well. But we have about a  year and a half to go to see if this is a viable option for her. A lot is going to depend on how the Obama Administration handles things considering his overwhelming lack of experience. He is going to have to surround himself with a lot of knowledgable people who are willing to reach out to the American people and across party lines to maintain their momentum. He is going to be heavily criticized for everything he does, especially by the left if he does not follow through with the things he has said on his campaign trail.  They are a vicious group, unforgiving, and will turn on their own in a heartbeat.

monoblogue: As a follow-up to that, if you believe the national media, they claimed that Governor Palin was a drag on the GOP ticket. Did you sense that with the crowds at any of your stops or did you perceive she was actually the root cause of their enthusiasm?

Johns: I never saw Governor Palin as a drag on the ticket, and never once sensed that from anyone we met on the trip. Here is what happens when a ticket loses. In order for the staffers to save face and to now have to go out and get employed, they start playing the blame game so they don’t look like the ones who mismanaged anything. Personally, it does not do anyone any good to do this sort of thing, there is nothing to gain from it, and I do not believe any of the backbiting comments that are being said about her. That type of diva attitude that is being thrown around would have come out and been very obvious in Governor Palin’s speeches. She was always very warmly received by people and everyone said how genuine she is, and I think it is tragic that these staffers are doing this and it is very unprofessional of them.

monoblogue: Final question. In my original interview I asked about your personal plans if Obama won, so now I shift to your employer’s plans. What will the Our Country Deserves Better organization focus on now that Obama has won – will they become a watchdog-style group staying focused on the Obama Administration or will they branch out into legislative politics and advocacy on a Congressional level?

Johns: We do plan to be a watchdog for what happens in the Obama Administration, especially when it comes to matters concerning our military and national defense.  We are also going to look at Congressional and Senate issues and hold them accountable as well.


Again, I appreciate her taking the time to answer my questions. Deborah told me she had a backlog of 1200 e-mails upon her return, which isn’t surprising given the number of people she spoke to along the way.

In my political life, I’ve met a number of candidates for office and it goes without saying the vast majority of them work hard to secure their election. The same goes for thousands of volunteers and paid staff who devote months to making their choice the most popular one on the ballot.

But you have to hand it to someone who’s not officially affiliated with a campaign or some other elected official stumping on another candidate’s behalf to take two weeks out of their life and travel cross-country on a bus, never really knowing the type of reception they’ll get when they arrive at the next stop or what will come up in the meantime. It’s why I enjoyed the opportunity to twice get a glimpse into that sort of devotion, and hopefully the next time she feels the need to travel across the country from California she’ll stop and say hello to this end of the country.

There is one item to add from the small talk we had after completing this interview, basically talking about where we each would go from here.

I agree with you. I truly wanted fromer Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to run. I think he would have been a much better choice for the Republican Party.

We all need to focus on some bigger issues, like doing away with early voting, and making sure that everyone who is registered to vote is a US citizen so there is no more voter fraud, they are not registered in multiple states.  We have the technology to do this, and for the benefit of the country, this should be done.
I am sure you will see a lot of “watch dog” groups being formed for just these reasons. (Emphasis mine.)
I had to let her know that we just adopted early voting in Maryland, so that makes the task that much more difficult.
One new fact of life with the internet, a facet of the 2008 campaign I found fascinating, is the sheer number of new organizations which popped up armed with a pitch and a good e-mail list. A lot of them will likely fade away now that the election is done, but many others will take root and aim for real change in 2010 and beyond. It sounds like hers will attempt to do the same.

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.

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.

Pictures from the Sarah Palin rally in York, PA

Maria, you’ve done it again. We actually make a pretty darn good team at this.

Miss Ialacci was not only one of the attendees yesterday at Sarah Palin’s appearance in York, Pennsylvania, she was right down in front. So she got some really good photos that she was happy to send to me to share with you.

First of all, let me set the scene for you. The venue was the Toyota Arena in York. Looks like a nice building.

Her venue looks like a nice little arena, maybe similar to the Youth and Civic Center here in Salisbury. They just made money on the naming rights and we haven't taken advantage of that. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

For a woman who supposedly has a 59 percent disapproval rating and is dragging down the McCain campaign, there’s a pretty good line of folks to see her.

Yeah, that Sarah Palin sure is unpopular in York. Did the New York Times or whoever did that poll do it in their editorial board office? Photo by Maria Ialacci.

Maria didn’t get as many sign shots as she did the last time – not that there weren’t a lot of signs, just that a couple of the photos were on the blurry side. (Don’t worry Maria, I toss out a lot of Shorebird pics for that same reason.) I did like this one she got though.

It may be hard to read, but the sign says 'If Mickey Mouse can vote why can't I?' Actually I'm sure some ACORN volunteer would sign him up - it's happened before. Can anyone say RICO case? The photo also shows that even Paulbots like Sarah Palin. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

Once inside the arena, there was a nod to the holiday which was occurring. I have two photos, one which includes part of the backdrop and the other being more of a close-up of the pumpkins.

Pretty festive, don't you think? Wonder what happened to the large sign afterwards? Photo by Maria Ialacci.

Some of my friends on the left may call John and Sarah pumpkinheads but here they're heads on pumpkins. There are people in this world with WAY too much time on their hands, but their efforts won't go unappreciated here. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

As is often the case with these events, the gates open far earlier than any speaker is scheduled. So there’s entertainment of some sort prior to the introductions and remarks.

In this case, 'Country First' wasn't just a slogan but the order of entertainment. Actually, Maria captioned this as a bluegrass band but it's close enough for the play on words. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

The one thing I will say about the Obama campaign is that they probably have music more to my liking at their events. But I came of age in an era which featured both a great Republican President and great hard rock bands, so what can I say?

After the music, you had a series of speakers. Maria had snapped a shot of Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Tom Corbett (one I didn’t use) and the camera timer showed 2:36 p.m. At 4:25 p.m. here’s former Governor (and a man considered for Palin’s slot) Tom Ridge introducing Governor Palin.

Former Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge served as the final preliminary speaker before the Palins came on stage. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

You’ll hopefully notice in the photo caption above that I said “Palins.” Coming along for this particular appearance were husband Todd and daughter Piper.

Todd looks somewhat amused by the proceedings but I think Piper is a little less excited. She probably had a lot more fun passing out candy, but Piper wears the princess costume well. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

As you can tell by the last photo, Maria was far from the only photographer there. Also, let me tell you that Todd and Piper were a little more pleased in the next photo. Just like the rally, I’ve done the preliminaries and here’s the lady you’ve all been waiting for!

Sarah Palin at the podium, with Todd and Piper standing to her right. And it's not just the person with the sign in the background, Sarah Palin rocks my socks too. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

I think Todd liked whatever was said better than Piper. You gotta like kids, they're fun. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

Since we all know that Sarah Palin can do this without a teleprompter, it's a bit surprising she has to look at her notes once in awhile. I think she ad-libs the best zingers though. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

Now that's a pretty good shot of your next Vice-President. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

When I spoke to Maria last night, she was really thrilled about how things went. She got to shake “the First Dude’s” hand (I had to remind her that he would be the “Second Dude” but no matter) and she also got a photo of Sarah that someone had given her earlier autographed. In fact, you can tell Governor Palin enjoyed meeting a few lucky patrons.

Sarah and Todd didn't just pack up and leave, they hung around with their supporters for a little while afterward. Photo by Maria Ialacci.

So if you see the young lady below at a GOP function before I do, give her my thanks for being places I couldn’t necessarily be.

It's interesting that they use crime scene tape. The biggest crime would be if the McCain/Palin ticket isn't elected on Tuesday. Photographer unknown, photo couresy of Maria Ialacci.

And Governor Palin, should you become Vice-President Palin, the folks around here would welcome you with open arms. It’s time to start building Maryland into a state worthy of visiting on the campaign by building our party.