WCRC meeting – January 2013

After a long hiatus caused by Hurricane Sandy and the holiday season, members of the Wicomico County Republican Club gathered for the first time in nearly two months and in their first formal meeting since late October, before the 2012 elections. No business was transacted at the club’s last get-together, which was their annual Christmas party in early December.

While the 2012 election was touched upon, the upcoming balloting was the topic that featured speaker and State Party First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman would refer to regularly in her remarks. “Lord knows 2014 has got to be better than 2012,” Waterman commented.

Instead, she and the MDGOP wanted to use the election of 2010, where downticket Republicans were successful, as a springboard for the 2014 election. The six House of Delegates members our side picked up made a “humongous impact” by keeping bad legislation from passing, especially at the committee level, because one GOP member was added to each of the House of Delegates’ six committees. “I firmly believe in two-party government,” said Diana.

She spent a large part of her time discussing the MDGOP’s new Pathfinders initiative, which is loosely based on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program. It was meant to provide more and greater access to tools which could be provided by the state party as a candidate, committee, or group advanced on certain goals. As Diana reminded us, “doing the job is one thing, (but) getting elected is a whole new ballgame.” Municipal elections like the one in Salisbury are a “fabulous opportunity” to work on campaigns because of their smaller scale, Diana exclaimed.

But her final message was one of unity. “We have to stop (figuratively) shooting each other,” she said. “Put aside our differences.”

We also heard from a number of other observers, with the first report coming from Wicomico County GOP Chair Dave Parker.

Parker announced the Lincoln Day Dinner will be held March 23, a date which just happens to coincide with the Pathfinders training coming to Wicomico County. (The two are unrelated.) He also expounded on the recent efforts at gun control, pointing out he will have an editorial in next Sunday’s Daily Times. Dave also praised Delegate Mike McDermott for introducing some common-sense school security bills in the General Assembly.

Bonnie Luna, who helped run the Wicomico County GOP headquarters last fall, called her experience “amazing” and was pleased to present checks to both the Republican Club and the Central Committee out of the donations made at the facility. All told, thanks to the reimbursements made possible by the donations, the total expenditure to the WCRC was just under $800.

Luna also made sure to praise both Diana Waterman and former MDGOP Chair Audrey Scott, who accompanied Waterman to the meeting, as a source of inspiration (and supplies.) Scott remarked that she had never seen a headquarters repay its local sponsors, telling those in attendance that it was a “miracle” and “that miracle’s name is Bonnie Luna.”

Woody Willing provided turnout records for the 2012 election – as usual, GOP turnout outpaced Democratic efforts by six percentage points.

Finally, Salisbury City Council candidate Jack Heath was introduced to the audience and expressed his vision for the city, which was to enhance the quality of life by providing jobs and education, a vibrant downtown, and government adopting the best ideas regardless of their source. He pledged to work with whoever is elected mayor and City Councilman from District 1.

Two other announcements were made at the gathering: Joe Ollinger told us the Republican Club Crab Feast will be held September 7, and County Councilman Bob Culver revealed a hearing on the septic bill tier maps (last year’s SB236) will be held February 20 at 6 p.m. in the Midway Room of the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.

As for the Republican Club, their next meeting will be February 25, with a guest speaker to be determined.

Update: Jackie Wellfonder, who also attended the meeting, has her thoughts on what Waterman said on her site.

Update 2: In turn, more reaction to Wellfonder’s thoughts at Global Rhetoric, Joseph Steffen’s site.

Data usage (a follow up to yesterday’s post)

As if on cue from yesterday, it’s more and more apparent the campaign never ends for Barack Obama. This morning I received an e-mail, which I will reprint in its entirety (except for killing the links.) It comes from Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Campaign Manager, and entitled “Help the President with one phone call.”

Again I have to ask: wasn’t the election over a month ago?

Michael –

Who will decide if your taxes increase in just 22 days? A few dozen members of the House of Representatives, that’s who.

Cutting taxes for the middle class shouldn’t be difficult, especially when Republicans claim they agree with the President on the issue. But some Republicans are still holding middle-class tax cuts hostage simply because they want to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires.

Here’s what’s going on right now: President Obama is asking Congress to move forward on a plan that would prevent 98 percent of American families from paying higher taxes next year. The Senate has passed that bill, and the President is ready to sign it — but the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives won’t even bring the bill to the floor for a vote. House Democrats have filed a petition that would force a vote if it attracts 218 signatures.

If a bill has enough votes to pass, Congress should vote on it and pass it. It’s a pretty simple proposition. And every Member of Congress who hasn’t signed on to keep taxes low for the middle class needs to hear from you.

Call your representative today and ask them to sign the petition in support of a vote. According to our records, here’s who you should call:

Representative Andy Harris
(202) 225-5311

Not your representative? Call the switchboard operator at 202-224-3121. Not sure who your representative is? Click here to look it up.

Here’s a suggestion on what to say — feel free to improvise and let your representative’s office know why you’re personally supporting the President’s plan:

“Hi, I’m Michael. As a voter from your district, I support the President’s plan to extend tax cuts for 98 percent of American families — $2,000 a year means a lot to me and to middle-class families here in Maryland. I urge Representative Harris to sign the petition forcing the House to vote on the Senate-passed bill, and to vote “yes” if it reaches the floor.”

Once you’ve called your representative’s office, please report back and let us know how it went:

http://my.barackobama.com/Report-Your-Call

Let’s get one thing straight: If your taxes go up, Republicans will have made a conscious choice to let that happen. They’ll have missed the opportunity to prevent it, just to cut taxes for the wealthy.

Republicans need to stop using the middle class as a bargaining chip. If they fail to act, a typical middle-class family of four will see a $2,200 tax hike starting in a few short weeks. Middle-class families could face some tough financial decisions simply because Republicans didn’t want to ask the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans to pay their fair share.

That’s not what President Obama and you campaigned on, and that’s not what millions of Americans voted for just one month ago.

We know we can affect change in Washington when we raise our voices together. So pick up the phone and make a call — your representative needs to hear from you.

Here’s who to call, one more time:

Representative Andy Harris
(202) 225-5311

Thanks,

Stephanie

Stephanie Cutter
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

P.S. — Don’t forget to tell us you made your voice heard. Report back here.

Now I know just enough about HTML to be dangerous, but there are a number of strings enclosed in the “Report Your Call” links: a keycode, e-mail address, zip code, medium (e-mail), a date code to report which e-mail was effective in motivating the respondent to call their Congressman, and a long series of code for the landing page. My bet is that this particular e-mail only went to supporters in Republican House districts.  And by the way, they’re also lying: there is no tax cut for millionaires, billionaires, or anyone else being proposed by the Republicans – they would just like to keep the rates exactly where they currently are. So stop lying to us, Stephanie.

Yet look at the data they gain from this e-mail response. By gathering the e-mail back they know that a) the respondent is receptive to the class warfare message, b) they cared enough to take action, which perhaps means they would be interested in further actions, and c) may have gotten a report on what was said by the Congressman in question for future opposition research background. And that’s nothing compared to the information gleaned from social media, according to this CNN report from October, 2011. Yes, Obama was perfecting his game a year before the election while Republicans were flailing about trying to find a candidate. It’s an advantage of incumbency, of course, but the GOP could have done the same.

Unfortunately, Republicans aren’t nearly as effective in putting out a similar message telling their stalwarts to call their Democratic senators and advocate for a fair approach to balancing the budget like the rest of us do – when income is tapped out, you cut the items which aren’t necessary, like so-called “stimulus” spending. Don’t threaten a nascent recovery by raising taxes on job creators – just extend the current rates for everyone like you have before.

In case you’re wondering, Senator Barbara Mikulski’s number is (202) 224-4654 and Senator Ben Cardin’s is (202) 224-4524. You can make two calls and tell them to maintain the tax rates in place and exhibit some fiscal responsibility for once – hell, tell them while you’re at it to stop bottling up the budget process and pass one for the first time in three-plus years. Try this message on for size:

“Hi, I’m Michael. As a Maryland voter, I support the common-sense plan to extend tax cuts for all American families and job creators — $2,000 a year means a lot to me and the job creation would mean a lot to Maryland. I urge my Senators to move the tax package passed by the House as well as a reasonable budget with prudent spending so all of us can continue to enjoy our current tax rates and have a measure of stability those who create jobs can count on. Don’t fall into the class envy trap Barack Obama is trying to set.”

But I didn’t get that from a Republican source; I had to make up the riff from the other side’s creation. Nor are we doing the same data mining from other organizations. For example, my AFP e-mails link back to a site called Kintera, which is probably gathering its own information for commercial purposes but not for political advocacy. Mitt Romney’s mail went back to sites like targetedvictory.com, theromneyplan.com, theromneyryanplan.com, or takeaction.wta015.com. Zac Moffatt was the digital director for the Romney campaign, so the question is: what’s he going to do with all the data he received? (It didn’t appear as if the Romney campaign collected as much information from their e-mail appeals, though, despite hiring experts in the retail field according to this NBC story.)

Somewhere there is a load of good data we can use – along with a pot of money and the usage of the alternative conservative media more and more people are gaining trust in – to push the needle back in the right direction after four-plus years of losing ground.

So let’s not just go to the same old consultants next time. We need a new approach to hopefully produce better results because 2014 and 2016 will be here before we know it and we’ve lost a lot since the middle of the last decade. It’s been 24 years since a Republican presidential candidate exceeded 51% of the vote nationwide; then again, only one Democrat (Obama in 2008) has done the same. The era of the Reaganesque landslide is over as we have a bitterly divided country in two camps: one voting for its self-interest and the other voting selfishly. To push people from one side to the other is my goal, and it should be the same for everyone else who loves liberty.

2012 Maryland GOP Fall Convention in pictures and text (part 2)

When I last left you in my narrative, I had just gone to bed after several hours of fun and carousing with many people, some of whom had names and faces I sheepishly admit I couldn’t keep straight. But I think I can get all of these right.

My alarm I’d set for 6:30 never went off so I was a little late for breakfast, and regrettably only caught the end of Ken Timmerman’s remarks. He used a Biblical parable to conclude, saying “we are coming from the desert” and in the process of “picking our Moses for 2014.”

“Organize, organize, organize…never, never, never give up!” exhorted Ken.

He was the lead-in for Delegate Neil Parrott, who’s pictured above. His remarks centered on what’s in the future for MDPetitions.com.

Thanks to the passage of Question 5, Maryland now has the “distinct honor” of having the most gerrymandered Congressional districts in the nation, Neil claimed. But in all of the questions, Neil pointed out in his experience that having someone at the polls influenced the results in our favor to some extent. We could have used more poll workers, said Neil.

We also could have used more money to spend as we were well outspent on each issue, particularly Question 6. Proponents also shrewdly changed the message; for example, Question 4 was made to not be about illegals but about kids. And because the petition was done last summer, the “passion wasn’t there” against Question 4 after a one-year lapse while proponents had the money early on to quietly spread their message.

“What we need to do is reinvent ourselves,” said Parrott, claiming we had winning issues but no campaign. In the future – and there were at least a couple bills which would probably require a petition to attempt to overturn coming out of this year’s session – there had to be a four-pronged strategy for victory: get the petitions out, defend them in court, challenge the biased ballot language (Question 5 was a good example of this, said Neil), and run full-fledged campaigns.

A more full-fledged campaign might be more like those on either side of Question 7, as the campaigns for and against expanding gambling spent twice as much on that issue than Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley combined for in their 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

One other item Delegate Parrott touched on was a privacy bill for petition signers, which he’ll reintroduce this session.

While the groups went off into their individual seminars, I wandered around the Turf Valley facility where I found tables for the aforementioned MDPetitions.com and the similar effort to keep the petition process from being made more difficult.

Right behind the MDPetitions table was a large-scale and signed copy of a “no confidence” resolution sponsored by Baltimore County Chair John Fiastro, Jr.

I also peeked into the convention hall where the action would begin after lunch.

Yep, placed in the back again. But this room was well set up for such an event because it was wide but not deep. Eventually my only complaint would be that we needed a second projection screen for our side of the room because the county signposts would be in our line of sight of the one provided.

Others were also skipping the seminars to work out issues, such as the Maryland Young Republicans. From the snippets I overheard, they were working out details of their own upcoming convention June 1st in Montgomery County.

Before we met for the convention we had to be nourished, so lunch featured speaker and “unusual political consultant” Brent Littlefield.

Littlefield focused mainly on running the campaign of Maine Governor Paul LePage in 2010, noting that a political campaign was “not just tactics, but strategy.” He explained how he microtargeted certain blocs of voters to effectively compete in a seven-person primary where his candidate was outspent 21 to 1.

As for 2012, Brent told us the message was lost, but there was still a reason we’re all here – we believe in certain principles. But we have to expand our circle of influence, not just talk to friends.

Brent also related an amusing Twitter incident he helped to bring about involving Martin O’Malley and his trip to Maine, leading O’Malley to call Maine Gov. Paul LePage a governor who “worship(s) the false idol of tax cuts.” It was great because he took the fight directly to the enemy, infiltrating their own Twitter feed.

It’s worth exploring as well that the Pledge of Allegiance at lunch was led by two-time Congressional hopeful Frank Mirabile. By itself it’s not newsworthy, but Frank took advantage of Alex Mooney’s invitation for further remarks to note the average age in the room was “well above what we need to be” and that we had to break out of our comfort zone. Obviously he had to do so to campaign in portions of his district.

That snippet brings me back to the Maryland Liberty PAC suite and the younger people I saw there. The convention hall could have used some of those younger folks with energy – as one example, I’m 48 and I’m one of the younger members of our Central Committee. Let’s not drive the youth away.

I’ll step off my soapbox now, since this point in the narrative is where the convention fun begins. And like the Executive Committee meeting the previous night, it began with a special guest.

“It’s good to be around friends for once,” said Dan Bongino. But he wanted to take a few minutes to thank us for our support and ask how we can fix this moving forward. “We can win this,” Bongino concluded.

But to win it will probably take a little more money than party Treasurer Chris Rosenthal said we had. And while we had whittled down our line of credit significantly during the fourth quarter of this year, Chris told us “we’re not out of the weeds.” This year will feature a “tight, but conservative” budget for party operations.

Chair Alex Mooney was pleased to see the full workshops, but again cautioned in his report that this meeting could be a long one. We have “things to discuss and air out,” said Alex. He related the story of the bitter RNC meeting he attended where several new officers were elected, a process which took multiple ballots for each. Yet at meeting’s end, there were no “bad sports.”

“If you don’t intend to walk out after this meeting and fight the Democrats, then walk out now,” said Alex. I didn’t see anyone leave so I guess we can turn our guns in the right direction – outward.

As Alex said, there is reason for optimism going forward. And it seemed like he understood that the petition process needs to be followed through on, saying that getting them to the ballot was one success but we need to “take the next step.”

We then had a presentation from party Executive Director David Ferguson on the goals established for this year: financial stability, a modern political infrastructure, successful petitions, and planning for 2014. Something about that presentation I found interesting: of the petition signers for each question, only 59% of those opposing in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 72% of those who opposed the gerrymandered Congressional districts, and 52% who signed the petition against gay marriage were Republicans. Questions 4 and 6 had fairly bipartisan opposition, at least at the petitioning stage. We can build on that.

But now, said Ferguson, “our job is to take out every Democrat in ‘red’ counties.” As I look at that task, it means we work on solidifying the 18 that support us now and start to erode our advantage in the five which most heavily vote against their self-interest as time goes on.

He also announced a new program in the works based on the national “Young Guns” program. It will be tailored not just to candidates, though, but to Republican organizations as well. “Our money should go back to your candidates,” concluded Ferguson.

The legislative reports on the Senate and House, respectively, were given by Senator E.J. Pipkin (above) and Delegate Tony O’Donnell (below).

Pipkin was proud to address the “irate, tireless minority,” and took advantage of our attention to once again call Martin O’Malley the “2 billion dollar man.” That’s how much working Maryland families pay extra each year thanks to the tax increases O’Malley and Democrats in the General Assembly passed over GOP objections. And while Republicans put together a balanced budget each year – one which doesn’t require any tax increases at all – it’s ignored by the majority party. They “won’t stop digging the hole,” said Pipkin. Instead, they want to raise the gas tax – not to fix roads like they might claim, but because $4 billion has been promised to expand the Red Line and Purple Line.

“We provide a different vision for Maryland,” explained Pipkin, one which provides a state where you want to live and not a state you want to leave.

Tony O’Donnell started out his remarks with a movie review – go see “Lincoln.” It made him proud to be a member of the Republican Party. After seeing the infighting end in an effort to pass the Thirteenth Amendment (over Democratic opposition, he slyly added) he realized once again that “Maryland is worth continuing to fight for.”

Tony alluded to his own Congressional campaign, pointing out he had received 95,000 votes and that was the highest vote total for a Fifth District Republican since Larry Hogan in 1992. O’Donnell believed that “we can go to 50 seats (in the House of Delegates) – we can go to 60 seats.” One mistake from 2010 he didn’t want to repeat was having to recruit candidates in the summer before the election. It was a team effort to find 141 House of Delegates hopefuls, but we had to “let no seat go unchallenged.” (In the 2010 election, Democrats got a free pass for 34 seats – almost half of what they needed for the majority.)

Nicolee Ambrose spoke in her first National Committeewoman’s report about the Super Saturday program and lessons we could draw from it. While it had its successes, we needed to rebuild our campaign infrastructure and focus on targeted voter contacts with a eye toward long-term outreach as well.

For 2013 she suggested the Super Saturday concept work more toward voter registration. Other projects on her wish list was IT training for local party leaders (something the RNC is willing to do) and ramping up a grassroots committee which Faith Loudon had volunteered to head up.

Louis Pope was far more blunt and expanded on his “painful” theme from the evening before by revealing some of our losses: Obama won single women by a 67-31 count, Hispanics 71-28, blacks 93-5, and Asians 73-22. He also garnered 60% of the under-30 vote and a majority of those who made under $50,000. Obama “changed some of the issues on us,” said Pope. Instead of the jobs and economy, it became the (so-called) ‘War on Women.’

“We’ve reached a turning point,” said Pope, who believed the one silver lining we had was that we’ve “reached the bottom.”

After all these external political reports were concluded – a process which took nearly two hours – we then turned to several internal committee reports.  For the first time in several conventions, though, we had no prospective bylaw changes so the newly created Bylaws Committee could simply note that fact and alert us at the county level that some possible revisions may come at us next spring.

Similarly, the Nominations Committee had no report. So it was up to the Resolutions Committee to provide the day’s final drama.

Interestingly enough, the order Resolutions Chair Andi Morony presented these in was supposed to be least to most controversial, but the very first resolution presented by Cecil County Chair Chris Zeauskas drew heavy debate. This was a resolution condemning newly elected Cecil County Executive Tari Moore for changing to unaffiliated status; a resolution which contended, among other things, that her election “was obtained through deception and false pretenses.”

And while proponents of the resolution – not just in Cecil County, but in other Republican circles – believed Tari Moore had “sold out” Cecil County Republicans, there were those who noted her principles hadn’t changed but the stalemate which exists between her and some of the four remaining members of the Cecil County Council (all Republicans) could only be broken and her agenda implemented if she was allowed to select her own replacement. Meanwhile, this was described in one media report as a proxy battle between Republicans E.J. Pipkin and Andy Harris, with Pipkin in favor of demanding Moore resign and Harris confident of her return to the GOP fold after her replacement is selected.

Once several had spoken on both sides, a motion was made to table the resolution. With our weighted voting system and the fact I couldn’t tally the vote as it was going, I can’t give you the split in actual bodies but the motion to table passed by a 285-230 voting margin. Thus, the resolution was killed for this convention, although it could theoretically return in the spring.

After careful consideration, I voted to table the resolution; however, our county split 6-3 in favor of tabling. The reason I decided to do so was figuring that she was trying to stand by both conservative principles and trying to better Cecil County. There’s little chance a Democrat or liberal would be put into office, but if she does select one I would be more inclined to support a similar resolution in the spring. Call it a “wait and see” approach for yet another item which could divide the overall party over a county issue.

Resolutions two and three were both very easy to pass and worthwhile to do so. The second introduced condemned the passage of Senate Bill 236 and its resultant attack on property rights, while the third was a Resolution of Commendation for Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild and his battle against the UN’s Agenda 21. Both were introduced by Scott DeLong of Harford County and both passed by unanimous voice vote.

The final resolution was the one I showed the mockup of earlier; authored by Baltimore County Chair John Fiastro Jr., it advised our three Republican National Committee members to oppose the re-election of RNC Chair Reince Priebus.

That also drew a lot of debate on both sides, but in watching those on the “anti” side line up it was apparent that not enough people were willing to rock the boat. The resolution ended up failing by a 223-286 count.

Yet Wicomico County was one which unanimously supported the amendment. While others had their own reasons and I was advised by a few people that there was a hidden agenda at work, my take on this was that I knew it was utterly symbolic at best. Opponents argued that having the Chairman mad at Maryland could hinder the state in getting national funds, but right now we pretty much get along without them anyway. If Reince Priebus doesn’t understand there are legitimate reasons we and others are unhappy with him and can’t put on his big boy pants and deal with them, well, then there’s not much hope he would be a successful Chair come 2014 either.

The dual themes of our convention were a look back at what really happened in the 2012 election and what we can do to improve our lot in 2014. To a significant number of us in the Maryland GOP, that soul-searching has to occur at a national level as well – after all, when Mike Duncan ran again for RNC Chair after the 2008 blowout we suffered there was no shortage of people calling for his head and he withdrew after just a couple ballots. So why the rush to bring back Priebus after failing to defeat the worst incumbent since Jimmy Carter, losing two Senate seats to shrink our minority to 45, and eight House seats including one here in Maryland?

But with the defeat of that resolution, our Fall Convention was over. And it made me realize a few other things are over as well.

The time for playing games is over.

The time for accepting the status quo and “this is how we’ve always done it” is long past over.

It’s time to go to war. If the Democrats think we’ve put on a “war on women,” well, let’s actually give them a war. I call it the “war on voting against one’s self-interest” (yes, a little wordy but it will have to do) and it starts today.

2012 Maryland GOP Fall Convention in pictures and text (part 1)

Yes, this puppy is going to need to be a two-parter because I have photos a-plenty.

I can start with the first thing I did after checking in and getting a little freshened up: the host county had their reception for arrivals.

There were also advertisements for the evening to come.

I’ve often wondered what guests who happen to be here for other purposes think about all of these advertisements – and how many of them drop in for the free food and drink, sort of like wedding crashers.

Previously I have characterized the conventions after an electoral loss (which have happened all too frequently in Maryland) as wakes. But this one had a little less bitterness and a little more of a hopeful tone to it after we admitted our side indeed took a shellacking. After all, as Andy Harris noted during a surprise appearance at the Executive Committee meeting Friday evening, “we have to remember where we were three years ago.”

Of course, when Harris said that “we’re going to expose the President for what he is…he doesn’t get it,” I had the thought those of us who already knew that couldn’t get the message through the thick skulls (or entitlement-addled psyches) of the voting public. But we carried on and Harris stated unequivocally, “I’m going to hold firm – no new taxes,” adding that “Democrats are the ones who tax the middle class.”

Andy’s closing message was that we needed to lay the groundwork for 2014.

On the other hand, MDGOP Chair Alex Mooney knew we had a lot of grievances to go around. “Be prepared for a long meeting,” he warned Executive Committee attendees. “These things need to be aired out.” As it turned out, I’m told their affair lasted almost three hours.

Yet Mooney echoed what we all knew: “It was a disappointing year top to bottom.” For example, he “never thought in a million years” Question 6 would pass, but it did. We have to “look hard to ballot questions” in the future, Mooney continued.

But Alex also looked ahead to 2014 opportunities.

Both National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose and National Committeeman Louis Pope spoke before the group. While Ambrose chose to defer most of her report, which was to assess the success of the “Super Saturday” program this fall, to the general meeting Saturday afternoon, Pope bluntly called the time since the election “a tough 3 1/2 weeks.” Yet he also snapped back at critics who questioned his role at the national convention, saying there are “some factions (that) continually want to divide us.” Fighting among ourselves throws us off track, said Louis.

He also reminded us about an upcoming event at this very facility: the Reagan Presidential Ball on February 9, 2013. “One thing this party needs is fundraisers to be solvent,” Pope concluded.

It was then time for committee reports, and the unrest began from the youth.

Brian Griffiths of the Maryland Young Republicans gave us a rundown of what the MDYRs had done within the state during this election cycle before tartly noting, “I wish the officers and others would make that effort.” That was in reference to several MDGOP-sponsored bus trips to Ohio and Virginia. I happen to agree with Brian, particularly in hindsight.

Equally critical was the College Republicans’ Fiona Moodie, who saw a “vast disconnect” between the College Republicans and the main party message.

A few county Chairs were also more critical of the 2012 effort than others. In announcing he was stepping down on December 31, John McCullough of Dorchester County told us that we have one of two choices: either we target (and change) the media, Hollywood, and the schools or “we let everything collapse and we rebuild on the other side.” Preparing his young family for whatever hits the fan was more important than being part of the MDGOP at this time, said John.

Sandy Terpeluk of Kent County was impressed by the effort to get the ballot initiatives to the voters via petition, but agreed with Brian Griffiths that we should have stayed home and made more of an effort to defeat O’Malley’s laws. Her message was that we need more of an organization for these types of ballot issues.

After the county chairs gave their reports, the meeting moved into closed session and I went to see just what was going on. Turf Valley has perhaps the best room ever for an Executive Committee meeting, since it was set up like a college classroom and I could have easily liveblogged it had I known, but it had perhaps the worst setup for hospitality suites since they were in two different parts of the facility. To get from one side to the other, you had to return to the lobby and get to the other elevator.

Since I had to go back to my room to drop off a few items, I started on my side of the facility and dropped in on Maryland’s leading elected Republican.

Andy looked very relaxed, don’t you think? I stopped by his first because he wasn’t staying too late. But he had some scrumptious desserts as always.

Another guy with dessert was Delegate Tony McConkey, whose suite had plenty of Hostess products. On this I’m going to use a photo taken by my good friend Maria Ialacci since for some reason mine didn’t come out – camera issues.

But perhaps the liveliest pair of suites on that side of the facility were the ones hosted by Strategic Victory Consulting and the Montgomery County GOP. Since I ended up returning there to wrap up my long evening, my narrative will work back to those because, in the meantime, on the other side of the Turf Valley hotel, there were also dueling rooms let by two candidates for Governor.

Blaine Young had an entire ballroom, complete with finger food and open bar. At last I had something good and substantial to eat.

I thanked Blaine for my time on his show, but the room was crowded with a number of people who believed his more conservative message was the right way to go in 2014.

On the other hand, David Craig’s hospitality suite was more modest and featured…hotdogs.

I actually don’t recall speaking to David while there. Someone else there was trying to ply me with spiked snowballs, which with a liberal dosage of vodka and cherry flavoring were actually not too bad.

The nascent Charles Lollar draft effort seemed to have an insignificant presence at Turf Valley and, as Joe Steffen of Global Rhetoric writes, Larry Hogan’s Change Maryland group was conspicuous in its absence this time.

In his assessment Steffen also relays his dealings with 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, who I ran into going between sides of the building. He was nice enough to pose with my fellow blogger (and Bongino worker) Jackie Wellfonder.

Once I got upstairs I came across a group trying to flex its political muscles at Turf Valley. This was the dual suite of the Maryland Liberty PAC.

Their message and fundraising choices were obvious: pro-liberty is the way to go.

You may have noticed the podium in the first picture. The idea behind the suite was to feature a number of pro-liberty speakers (including Dr. Greg Belcher from here in Wicomico County); alas, I arrived too late to hear any of the speakers. In fact, I would have to say their party was dying out as I tardily showed up.

But two things I noticed about the hangers-on: they weren’t all familiar faces I was used to seeing at MDGOP conventions and most of them were rather young. I’m not a great judge of age but I would peg the average age of those I saw at about 25 to 30. These were the activists who were energized by the message of Ron Paul and may have felt betrayed by the actions of the national Republican Party. While they returned this time, I would be wary about losing their support once again.

Whether that was the “disconnect” Fiona Moodie of the College Republicans spoke out on or not, the fact I heard a few people disparagingly speak about the “Ron Paul people” as I was going from place to place shows that there’s still a clique mentality in our party rather than the “big tent” philosophy we try to sell.

As I talked about earlier, there were a different group of younger Republicans working their best efforts at political capitalism. One lively suite belonged to Strategic Victory Consulting, and the hook was an addictive purple drink they called the SVC. They also had elephant-shaped food.

The SVC suite had some interesting people and props; in the background of this picture you can see the professional photography setup.

In my first go-round through the suite the online Red Maryland Radio Network was doing a live broadcast. From behind the bed and clockwise were Andrew Langer, Greg Kline, guest Hillary Pennington, and Brian Griffiths (standing.) Hillary Pennington and fellow SVC leader Kristen Shields also do their own online radio show called Purple Elephant Politics, so I’m thinking Hillary knows the drill.

Those photography props made for interesting pictures later on.

From left to right in this one are Julianne Grim, Ryan Miner, Kristen Shields, and aforementioned blogger Joe Steffen (aka the ‘Prince of Darkness’ during the Ehrlich era. Thanks to him and Hillary Pennington for setting me straight on names and faces – definitely not my strong suit in most cases and really bad after a couple concoctions.)

The other rocking suite was the Montgomery County Republicans’ one next door.

They had karaoke going on, and we found out Anne Arundel County Councilman Jerry Walker and National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose can sing – in this case, the duet ‘Summer Nights’ from ‘Grease.’

Me? I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. And by the time I had ate, drank, been merry, collected a few business cards, found a few of my fans, and spoken to a whole host of people at and around the various convention suites and lobbies, it was getting past 2 in the morning. So I was finally off to bed in order to try and be up for breakfast and what promised to be an interesting convention proper.

You’ll find out my observations about Saturday in Part 2 tomorrow.

One happy party

Lost in the post-election hangover and finger-pointing was something which could either be good news or bad news for Maryland Republicans: the Libertarian Party is assured of a place on the 2014 ballot. My friend Muir Boda provides some background:

Election results in Maryland showed positive results for Maryland Libertarians. Muir Boda, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 1st District received nearly 12,000 votes at 3.8%.  Even more exciting the Libertarian Candidate for President, Governor Gary Johnson, received over 21,000 votes and 1.1% of the vote. This secures ballot access for the Libertarian Party in Maryland through 2016, which will save Maryland Taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

However, I’m not sure of Boda’s interpretation of the law about 2016, as Maryland election law states on minor parties:

The political party shall retain its status as a political party through either of the following:

(i) if the political party has nominated a candidate for the highest office on the ballot in a statewide general election, and the candidate receives at least 1% of the total vote for that office, the political party shall retain its status through December 31 in the year of the next following general election; or

(ii) if the State voter registration totals, as of December 31, show that at least 1% of the State’s registered voters are affiliated with the political party, the political party shall retain its status until the next following December 31.

Unless the Maryland Libertarian Party can get to and stay at a figure of about 36,022 registered voters (they had 10,682 at last report) my reading of that law means they only have 2014 ballot access.

Boda can boast, however, that he was the leading vote-getter of the eight Libertarians who ran for Congress in Maryland as he received 3.8% of the overall vote. If extrapolated statewide, Boda and his 12,522 votes would have easily topped the actual statewide candidates (U.S. Senate hopeful Dean Ahmad and Presidential candidate Gary Johnson) because neither had topped 30,000 votes as of the last round of counting. The First District has been very libertarian-friendly over the last three cycles, with Boda and 2008-10 candidate Richard Davis getting an increasing share of votes each time. Muir has a chance at beating Davis’s 3.79% in 2010 if he can hang on to his current percentage.

So what does that mean for the Maryland GOP? Well, obviously there is a small but significant part of the electorate which is dissatisfied with the moderate establishment of the Republican party, so much so that they would “throw away” their vote on a third party. Perhaps one factor in this was the fact Andy Harris was widely expected to crush his competition so a Libertarian vote was a safe “message” vote, but I think this 1 to 4 percent of the electorate is just as important as the 3 to 5 percent of the electorate which is gay – and we certainly bent over backwards to accommodate them in this election, didn’t we? (Granted, those two groups aren’t mutually exclusive but hopefully you see the point.)

While I’m discussing my Libertarian friend, I think it’s important to bring up an article he penned for Examiner.com. In that piece, he opens:

The utter failure of the Republican Party to embrace and acknowledge the millions of people that Ron Paul had energized over the last five years not only cost Mitt Romney the election, it may very well hinder the growth of the GOP. This is the result of a political party bent on preserving the status quo and adhering to its very principles.

He goes on to allege that “Mitt Romney did not have to cheat to win the Republican nomination, but he did anyway.”

Besides the fact I think his statement on principles is perhaps not artfully worded – if not for principles, why would a political party exist? – I also think Boda’s article loses a little bit of steam in the middle when he writes about the back-and-forth between the two parties. Republicans and Democrats exist in a manner akin to the way two siblings get along, with the bickering coming to a head at election time, and unfortunately Muir falls into the trap of believing there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.

But his opening paragraph and closing statement are fairly close to hitting the bullseye given the state of the national GOP as it relates to outsiders like the TEA Party. I’ll put it this way: given the general attitude of the mainstream media about the Republican Party, would it have hurt to follow the rules which were originally established and not shut out the Paul delegates? Yes, the convention may have served less as a Romney/Ryan coronation, but with the rules shenanigans that occurred there we had plenty of controversy anyway. I’m sure some percentage of them came around, decided to bite the bullet, and voted for Mitt Romney, but a lot of those folks didn’t vote, didn’t volunteer, and didn’t send in money.

Boda concludes:

The unfortunate truth is that Republicans had their chance to roll back regulations, reform the tax system and address other issues such as Social Security and Medicare. Yet, they became worried more about retaining power and keeping us at war than protecting our liberties.

Now I disagree with the specifics of this passage simply because the entire idea of a political party is “retaining power” and we were warned the battle against Islamic terror would be a long one. But in a sense Boda is correct as the last Republican president – with the help of a Republican-led Congress – worked to expand federal involvement in education (No Child Left Behind) and created another entitlement program with Medicare Part D. In the end, those will be more expensive than the oft-quoted passage by liberals about “putting two wars on a credit card.” Nor should we forget that President Bush had a plan to address Social Security, but demagoguery by Democrats and the AARP (but I repeat myself) nixed that thought.

Of course some are going to say that the idea of a competitor whose party mainly siphons votes from our side should be dismissed. But, unlike some of those in the Maryland GOP establishment, to me it’s principle over party and I’m conservative before I’m Republican. My job is to marry the two concepts together and win the battle of ideas, which in turn will lead to winning elections – even over the Libertarian candidates.

The end of a week

The other night I wrote on Facebook that I was physically and mentally spent, and I meant it – the combination of a grueling work week at my outside job and the climax of the 2012 campaign was all I could handle and then some. I still don’t feel caught up and it’s been four days since balloting ended.

But I did get to see a story in the Washington Times about Maryland being a lonely state for Republicans. I don’t know how many years in the wilderness we have to go, but I am tired of the Fall Convention immediately after an election being like a wake.

What really took the cake, though, was a comment I received on Election Day post, haranguing the conservative movement for believing the re-election of Barack Obama was about free stuff. Well, what else could it be? Oh wait, perhaps it was that whole “war on women” bullshit mixed in as well, with a healthy dose of class warfare for good measure. As she (at least I think it’s a she) notes,

Did you lose every swing state because people in those states “want stuff”, setting aside the fact that people in the red states absolutely “get stuff” in higher percentages from the federal government than people in blue states? It is this patronizing attitude that will bring down the Republican Party – you cannot possibly fathom that people who voted for the other guy might have other motivations than “they want stuff.”

I’d love to see the proof of her assertion, but I’d also love to know what motivated the other side besides the items I brought up. It certainly wasn’t Obama’s economic or job creation record.

Yet it’s worthy of note that about 10 million fewer people believed the Obama story this time; sadly, about 3 million believed Mitt Romney less than they did John McCain. To me that’s the most worrisome part. I voted for Romney even though he was far from my first choice in the primary; those who were behind him from the start generally felt that he was the most “electable.” Obviously for the second time in a row they were wrong because Mitt Romney isn’t taking the oath of office come January. We’re stuck with another four years of this nightmarish regime, which will likely be detrimental on steroids given that Obama doesn’t have to face the voters again and has more “flexibility.”

Obviously the only perfect candidate in my eyes would be me, and I’m not running for president. You’ll be lucky if I run for Central Committee again the way things are going.

In this country, though, we have to face the fact that our current path is unsustainable. The problem is anyone with that message won’t be elected (ask Ron Paul followers.) The time for a band-aid approach is long past, but here we are treating the skin blemish of jacking up taxes on the so-called wealthy when there’s a gaping financial wound of entitlement spending which won’t be addressed.

If you had that motivation and still voted for the other guy, I’m not sure I or anyone else can talk you back from that state of delusion. Recovering from that generally takes a proverbial smack upside the head by a 2×4 – just don’t be surprised when that day comes.

Election Day 2012 in pictures and text

To be honest, the picture part of this will be pretty lean. But here’s one of all the signage lined up along Glen Avenue:

Signage along Glen Avenue.

This Election Day was a little unusual because I had to work – in previous years I was able to use a vacation day but my outside job is extremely busy this time of year. So I didn’t get to my assigned polling place (which happens to also be my voting location) until about 2:30.

As I noted on Facebook, the Obama representative was already there.

Obama's empty chair in full force.

It is worth noting that in the time I was there I had only a few campaigners keep me company: one from the Bongino campaign who was there throughout, one volunteer representing the Maryland Marriage Alliance who was there about 3/4 of the time (and had also been there in the morning), a Democratic operative who was there for perhaps a couple hours, and at the tail end this guy:

Libertarian candidate Muir Boda.

Truthfully, by the time Muir got there I’m not sure it did much good, nor did about half of the 130 or so palm cards I had regarding the ballot questions. But he did get almost 4% of the vote, in line with previous LP candidates here.

One thing I noticed about this polling place – perhaps as opposed to the Delmarva Evangelistic Church where I had worked a couple times before and perhaps due to early voting – was that business just died after 6 p.m. or so. Once the rush of people coming from work subsided, we had little to do but talk among ourselves.

According to the state Board of Elections, just about 32,000 people came to vote on Election Day in Wicomico County after around 6,400 took advantage of early voting. So only about 1 in 6 voters decided to vote early here, but I think part of that was the crowd who used to come after 6 previously.

One thing I have heard in the post-election discussion, though, is how bad the turnout was nationwide compared to 2008.  Barack Obama lost about 10 million votes overall while Mitt Romney failed to meet John McCain’s total by a couple million votes. Give or take, about 12 million people sat this one out and the question is why. But that’s one for another day and perhaps another analyst.

What I knew, though, was when I arrived at Republican headquarters to watch the votes be counted I could tell the mood wasn’t joyous. It simply didn’t have the sound of a victory celebration, and most likely it’s because so many of us were sure and assured that Mitt Romney would pick up about 52% of the vote. Instead, it seems like Rasmussen, the group out in Colorado whose economic math forecast a Romney victory, and even the Redskin Rule were all wrong.

Instead, the evening was a disaster for conservatives in Maryland and elsewhere:

  • Despite the thought that Romney could outperform John McCain, the final totals once again reflected a 62-37 landslide for Obama. Instead of losing by 25.4% Romney lost by 25.1%, meaning that we’ll catch up by the 2264 election.
  • The good news: Ben Cardin only got 55% again. Unfortunately he won by 28 points over Dan Bongino. But even with upstart candidate Rob Sobhani taking away more votes from Dan than Ben, it’s likely the final margin would have been comparable to the 2010 U.S. Senate race between Barb Mikulski and Eric Wargotz had Sobhani saved his millions.
  • All the time and effort getting signatures to place various ballot issues on the docket seems to have gone for naught as all three of those efforts passed. The closest ballot issue was Question 6 but the destruction of traditional marriage still passed with 51.9% of the vote.
  • Far from taking advantage of the Democrats having to defend 23 of 33 Senate seats up for grabs, the GOP lost 2 seats in the chamber and now sit at a 45-55 disadvantage. While poorly considered remarks by Republicans Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana were played up in the media, they somehow failed to notice the holes in the record of Elizabeth Warren (a.k.a. “Fauxcahontas”) of Massachusetts, who won.
  • Black conservatives took a hit as well: Allen West is trailing his Democratic opponent pending absentee ballots and Mia Love lost narrowly in Utah. While the House stays in GOP hands, the margin will decrease slightly so Obama had some minor coattails.

So what do we do? Well, on that I have to ponder some more. I just know I left the GOP party once Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were called because those were the linchpins of Romney’s strategy. And it will forever be debated locally whether the Maryland GOP’s insistence on helping elsewhere may have hurt the cause of local officials, but given the large margins of defeat it likely would have made no difference.

I’ve said before that Election Day is my Super Bowl and right now I have an idea of how those who were on the wrong side of the blowouts common during the 1980s and 1990s felt in the days afterward. I have a low opinion of many in my adopted home state who eschew logic and rational thought for free stuff and feelgood policies which will be detrimental in the long run.

But there is always hope and another election coming around the corner. The work has already started for that one.

Radio silence

November 7, 2012 · Posted in Campaign 2012, Personal stuff, Politics · 1 Comment 

My mom always told me that if you didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. So until things sink in a little more from the events of yesterday, I’ll refrain from comment.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I worked a long day at my outside job and still have my freelance work to do, either.

I did take a precious few photos yesterday from my campaigning outside the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center and I’ll expound on them tomorrow, when I’m in a better mood.

An Election Day reminder

While we’ve always been led to believe everything about our voting process is on the up-and-up, there are occasions where the deck may be stacked in favor of a certain candidate or issue, or someone associated with them takes matters into their own hands. Last week I added a piece to the Patriot Post about an incident in Racine, Wisconsin, for example.

Those who volunteered their time to help True the Vote and their partner organizations (like Election Integrity Maryland) have one final Election Day message: be aware and alert.

If you want to make a difference on November 6th, True the Vote has a job for you,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “Election integrity captured the American conscience with a rough cell phone video of New Black Panthers intimidating voters in Pennsylvania in 2008. Intimidation and electioneering is illegal inside and outside of polls. You have the power to be America’s eyes and ears.”

Concerned citizens are encouraged to report any incidents outside of polling locations with True the Vote’s official Election Integrity Hotline. Citizens may submit incidents over the phone by dialing 855-444-6100. Descriptions and photos should be directed to freeandfair@truethevote.org. True the Vote will verify credible reports and submit those appropriate local authorities.

True the Vote produced a brief training video explaining best practices and procedures encouraging citizens to film any wrongdoing, available on YouTube.

I’m not crazy about the way the video was put together, but the point remains the same.

I have to disagree with one aspect of the law which pertains in Maryland, though: if there is some sort of issue inside the polling place, I think it would be advantageous to make a record of it. Obviously if nothing is amiss there’s no need to be walking around with the cel phone doing your own impersonation of James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, but have it at the ready just in case something is worth noting. (Bear in mind also that Maryland is a two-party state, so you can’t record someone else without their consent. In those cases, you may want to make sure you have witnesses to verify what you’ve stated, such as poll watchers.) So good judgment is key; hopefully there’s no issues to deal with anyway.

Yet some years ago I was witness to an incident where a City Council candidate in my hometown brought a number of coffee mugs bearing his name to the poll workers. The only two who objected were the Republicans (who also happened to be my neighbors.) But it has to be asked how many other polling places he visited in the district where no one objected? That’s why we all need to be vigilant.

I’ll see you at the polls. I’m not sure which one just yet, but rest assured I will find a way to do my campaigning. For me, today is the Super Bowl and I’m ready to claim victory tonight!

Conservative? Really?

Apparently there is a letter being sent to Maryland Republicans from Anthony Marsh, who is one of us but has decided to vote for independent candidate Rob Sobhani. I disagree with Marsh’s choice, but that’s his right as an American. The photo comes from Dan Bongino’s Facebook page, but I don’t know the source. I didn’t receive a copy of the letter myself.

Letter from Republican Anthony Marsh and Sobhani voter guide.

Of course, I look at these things with suspicion considering the source and how far this falls from the typical Republican thought. So I looked up Anthony Marsh to see how loyal of a Republican he is, and insofar as federal donations go he is indeed straight-line GOP.

But there was one thing the letter reveals about Anthony Marsh – he’s a political consultant. And given the factoid he’s written a book on how to write copy that gets votes it’s obvious he’s putting his talents to work.

Moreover, I found it interesting that Marsh has worked on political campaigns in several farflung places like the Middle East and the former Soviet Union – precisely the same places where Rob Sobhani has made his biggest deals. Is Marsh looking for another “in” to these regions by working with Sobhani?

Marsh is also interesting as a big supporter of Michael Steele, including these laudatory articles he wrote in 2009. Ironically, in one Marsh writes:

…to take back Congress Republicans have to run smart, upstart campaigns that aren’t afraid to use surprise and aggressive tactics. Republicans can’t win by running campaigns as if the GOP were still in charge. Newsflash to GOP candidates: no one is going to parachute into your district with $4 million this election year.

Well, Rob Sobhani did – unfortunately, he’s spending it in a manner that’s crippling the Republican candidate. And since the guy can’t even do a robocall properly – forgetting the obligatory disclaimer and authority line – it’s truly a question of whether this guy is ready for prime time. (Notice that this robocall hasn’t piqued Ben Cardin’s interest, but he noticed the last large-scale robocall without an authority line. That whole faux-voter suppression issue seemed to be the only thing which woke Ben up from a six-year-long stupor in the Senate.)

It’s a sad way to end a campaign with such promise. TEA Party Republicans have developed somewhat of a reputation as being the ones who won’t moderate their views and cost our side elections, but you can’t blame our side for this one. Nope, that tar brush needs to paint the mushy middle and those who wouldn’t stand behind our nominee. This one is on you for undercutting Dan Bongino and making the road to GOP victory that much more difficult.

After all the shouting

We’re just about through the last weekend of the 2012 campaign, and hopefully by late Tuesday night we will have a good idea of where the country will be heading over the next four years (or perhaps four decades, should the incumbent win.) Of course that’s assuming we have no protracted recounts such as we endured 12 years ago – the prospect of two such occurrences in a lifetime boggles the mind.

Yet regardless of what happens Tuesday life will go on, and the sun will come up Wednesday. I’ll still have my work to do as will most of the rest of us who don’t toil for candidates.

I’ve always been about thinking two to three steps ahead where possible, which is why I’m writing this postmortem of sorts on the Sunday before the election. (It’s also why I wrote my book and eschewed the normal publishing process to get it to market prior to the campaign season hitting high gear. Did it cost me some sales? Perhaps, but readers can remedy that situation easily enough as I link to the sales sites from monoblogue.)

Just in the next three months there are a lot of political stories still to be written, from the local to the national. Here in my adopted hometown of Salisbury, the mayoral race will take center stage. No one has formally declared for the office yet, but it’s highly likely we’ll have at least two (and possibly three) candidates: incumbent Mayor Jim Ireton will go for a second term, realtor Adam Roop made it known almost a year ago he was seeking some unspecified office – his two choices are a City Council district seat or mayor – and recent transplant and blogger Joe Albero has made his own overtures. At least he’s invested in the shirts:

That will probably begin to play out in the next couple weeks.

After that we begin the holiday season, which may be politicized to a certain extent as well. My thought is that if Barack Obama wins, the early predictions of a modest year-over-year growth will hold true or end up slightly lower than imagined. I seem to recall last year started out like gangbusters on Black Friday but tailed off once those big sales came to an end. On the other hand, a Mitt Romney win may open up the purse strings and result in an increase twice of what was predicted. I think seeing him win with a GOP Congress will boost consumer confidence overnight as they figure the long national nightmare is over.

Once the holidays are over, it’s then time for both the 113th Congress to get started and, more importantly for local matters, the “90 days of terror” better known as the Maryland General Assembly session to begin. In the next few weeks I will finally wrap up my annual monoblogue Accountability Project for 2012 in order to hold our General Assembly members accountable for all the good and bad votes they made in the three 2012 sessions. With so much written about in 2012 on my part, I had to put that project on the back burner for most of the fall.

At the same time, state races for 2014 will begin to take shape. Unlike the last three gubernatorial elections we do not have the prospect of a candidate named Ehrlich in the race, which leaves the field wide open. While the three who have made overtures toward running on the GOP side have already made their presence known, only one (Blaine Young) has formally announced and the conventional wisdom (such that there is for Maryland GOP politics) labels him as the longest shot of the three most-rumored candidates, the other two being early 2010 candidate Larry Hogan and outgoing Harford County Executive David Craig.

But there are also down-ticket statewide races to consider as well, and there’s a decent chance that both Attorney General and Comptroller may become open seats as Doug Gansler and Peter Franchot, respectively, consider a race for Governor. (While there are three hopefuls so far for governor on the GOP side, there may be at least five on the Democratic side: Gansler, Franchot, current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and Delegate Heather Mizeur.)

The GOP bench is a little shorter for the downticket positions at this time, but I believe William Campbell is willing to reprise his 2010 Comptroller run and wouldn’t be surprised if Jim Shalleck doesn’t make sure he’s on the ballot this time for Attorney General. Another intriguing name for the AG position would be 2010 U.S. Senate candidate (and attorney) Jim Rutledge, who obviously has the advantage of having already run statewide. On the other side, I’m hearing that State Senator Brian Frosh (who generally serves as a dictatorial Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee) is one name in the mix for AG, but another intriguing one is former First District Congressman Frank Kratovil, who is now a judge in Queen Anne’s County.

So the beat will go on after this year’s election is over. It’s not surprising to me that I’ve had some great readership numbers over the last few weeks, but the last couple weeks in particular have blown me away. The trick, though, will be maintaining the audience through a period where fewer discuss politics and more concentrate on friends and family during the holiday season. I won’t be so presumptuous to believe that my humble little site should be uppermost on everyone’s mind, but I hope to roll into year number 8 of monoblogue in grand style.

A REAL Republican voter guide

Yesterday I got a mail piece that REALLY burned me up as an elected member of the Maryland Republican Party – as opposed to the two who claim to speak on my behalf. Here’s a photo:

Audrey Scott and Michael Steele don't speak for the rest of us.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have family on the payroll of the pro-Issue 7 side, but it seems to me that these two have drifted pretty far away from the party mainstream on a number of issues.

If you really want a good – conservative – Republican voter guide, you can look no further than my website since I went over all these questions last week. I don’t sell out to the highest bidder.

It is interesting to note, however, that the group which paid for this mailing is NOT the one which has paid for the numerous pro-Question 7 mailings which have found their way to my mailbox. Those are paid for by the laughably misnamed FOR Maryland Jobs and Schools, while this mailing was paid for by the similarly misnamed Republican Leaders Referendum Guide. The treasurers for each group are different as well.

Now I can understand that both Audrey and Michael have their roots in Prince George’s County and they feel the new casino would someday benefit their former home. And it just might once the conditions are set right.

But we are in a situation now where casinos being opened up cannibalize the revenues of existing facilities, and the rationale for choosing locations seems to be more about cronyism and buying votes than real market forces. It’s telling that MGM waited to jump into the market until they got a sweetheart deal they could live with; meanwhile, Penn National played by the original rules and watched their investment in Perryville go sour the minute a casino opened in Anne Arundel County. Obviously that’s the risk an investor runs.

So why should every little decision have to come down to the voters? I’ll grant that I’m not familiar with the setup of other states, but it seems to me that if we’re talking about a commission that includes both gaming and the Maryland Lottery the rules should be relatively the same – if the Maryland Lottery wants a new scratch-off game voter approval is not required.

The solution is simple: vote AGAINST Question 7 and make the General Assembly come back with a ballot issue in 2014 to repeal Article XIX of the Maryland Constitution. That ill-considered change from 2008 removed the General Assembly from making decisions more properly theirs, punting these issues to a ballot every two years as opposed to being able to make changes at least annually if not more often via a Special Session as it was this summer. If Question 7 passes then there’s no incentive to change a system that’s flawed. Let’s get gambling done right: it’s as simple as that.

And just for the record: Steele and Scott are wrong on Questions 1 and 2 as well. There’s no need to modify the Orphan’s Court in any county.

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    First District - Congress

    Andy Harris (R)
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    Maryland General Assembly (local)

    Senate District 37

    Addie Eckardt (R)
    Christopher Robinson (D)

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    House District 37B

    Republican

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    Johnny Mautz (R)
    Rodney Benjamin (D)
    Keasha Haythe (D)

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    Senate District 38

    Mike McDermott (R)

    Jim Mathias (D)

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    House District 38A

    Charles Otto (R)
    Percy Purnell, Jr. (D)

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    House District 38B

    Carl Anderton, Jr. (R)

    Norm Conway (D)

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    House District 38C

    Mary Beth Carozza. (R)

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    Council District 2

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