The giant stack of stuff

Last night I took a picture of my dining room table. In this photo – with the exception of the Campbell and Wolf items that I picked up – are all the mailings and dropoffs I’ve had so far this campaign.

Over the last five weeks I have collected a blizzard of stuff. On the left is the pile for Jim Mathias and on the right the stack for GOP candidates. mainly Mary Beth Carozza.

One thing I have found out is that the Maryland Democrats really care about me voting. There are 15 mailings in that left-hand stack, all but one from the Maryland Democratic Senate caucus. Twelve of them have been from the caucus on behalf of Jim Mathias, and they have followed an interesting, perhaps focus-grouped pattern.

Mailings 1 and 2, back in late September, told us how much Mathias fights for the Eastern Shore and even tries to convince readers he’s being helpful to Governor Hogan. But that soon changed: mailings 3 and 4 tried to tell us how Mary Beth Carozza (and frankly, as much as I have to type that all out, I’m going to start calling her MBC) hates education because she voted against certain bills (with good reason, in my opinion.) But number 4 also introduced a main thread that has since permeated most of the remaining mailings: MBC as Washington insider. Mailings 5 and 6 tried to tie MBC to increasing health care costs, then mailings 7 through 10 returned to the Washington insider theme, even invoking the “Swamp.” Numbers 11 and 12 go back to the insider theme, but talk about a Big Pharma-sponsored trip MBC made to Belgium – presumably as a Congressional staffer. (The citation is from a website called Legistorm, which is a subscription-based database covering Congressional staff. Hence, most of its information is behind a paywall.)

So here is the pot calling the kettle black, at least in terms of special interest money. While MBC took travel with a value described as “nearly $7,000” in mailing number 8, a look at Maryland campaign finance records shows that Mathias has easily exceeded that figure from Big Pharma over the last four years – something I noted here. I might add this was before his most recent report that pushed him into five figures.

(As an aside, that most recent report also shows Jim has spent just shy of a jaw-dropping $170,000 on TV in this brief portion of the cycle – a modest $2,500 to Comcast but the real money went in payments of $70,400 and $97,000 to a group called Screen Strategies Media – its client list includes Martin O’Malley and Planned Parenthood. Great company, huh?)

As I mentioned, there were 15 mailings on Jim’s behalf. Two of them came from the Senate Democrats with the intended purpose of boosting turnout – the first urged me to have a voting plan (I already did) and the second listed my “public voting record.” (Which, by the way, is spotless over the last four cycles.) As they warn, “Your voting record will be updated publicly after November, 2018.” Go right ahead and be my guest, folks. But for the average low-information voter that may have an unchecked space or two, nothing like a little intimidation from the “mobs” side of the ledger, eh?

The remaining pro-Mathias mailing came from a group that already “owns” him to the tune of $1,350 this cycle, the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative (MCHI). Regarding the mailing, the MCHI site republished this post from the Maryland Matters website that trumpeted their release and notes:

(MCHI president Vincent) DeMarco said the nonprofit organization spent about $40,000 on the mailings, which were reported as independent expenditures to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Divided by three endangered Senators, that’s over $13,000 more in help for Mathias. It also puts into perspective how much the Senate Democrats are throwing into this race – figuring $40,000 for every three mailings means they are closing in on a $200,000 investment and given the amount of taxing power at stake that $200,000 is probably chump change in their eyes. All told I wouldn’t be surprised there’s over a half-million dollars spent trying to prop up Jim Mathias and save his Senate seat for the special interests.

Back to DeMarco and the MCHI. In case you were wondering where they stand, these are among the “accomplishments” DeMarco cites:

He played a key role in the enactment of Maryland’s life-saving tobacco tax increase of 2007, alcohol tax increase of 2011, and Firearm Safety Act of 2013, and anti-price gouging law for prescription drug prices of 2017 and is working to guarantee health care for all Marylanders.

It’s not session in Annapolis without seeing DeMarco lobbying for a higher tax on tobacco. Yes, MCHI is all for higher taxes, O’Malley gun restrictions, and more tax money thrown down the rathole of socialized medicine. As for the price-gouging law, it was one of those that was close to making my 2017 mAP but ended up on the cutting room floor. It was watered down to some extent going through the MGA, but if that’s your chosen featured bill you should know both Mathias and MBC favored it – they just chose to reward Jim with more campaign cash.

What MCHI is really after, though, is a bill that would force pharmaceutical companies to justify price increases deemed too steep. It may sound good, but taken from their business standpoint it would place a lot of their trade secrets at risk. MCHI’s justification for a previous version of their bill conceded that, “While the bill does not directly decrease the price of drugs, it is a first step on the path to lower, fair, and justifiable drug pricing.” No, it’s a first step to further clearing the market of small, innovative companies that may need to increase prices to cover development costs. Perhaps that’s why Big Pharma likes Jim so much – they just don’t seem to have the juice for MBC anymore. Maybe she wasn’t useful to them?

It should be noted that the Maryland Republican Party has done the heavy lifting to back MBC, and while they are (rightly) critical of Jim’s tax-and-spend voting record, they are really trying to pin a particular bill sponsorship on him – the infamous “Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Supervised Drug Consumption Facility Program” known as Senate Bill 288. Jim must have known it was bad news because he was for it before he was against it. This bill, though, was an extension of a 2016 needle exchange bill (SB97) that Mathias voted for and MBC opposed. Even earlier, Mathias voted for a measure eliminating a “one for one” restriction on a long-standing Baltimore City needle exchange program.

Moreso than the record, though, the MDGOP is using the endorsements of three noted individuals and a photo Mathias probably wishes he never stood for. Then again, Jim’s voting record would make Ben Jealous proud.

The MDGOP keeps touting the Hogan endorsement of MBC, but has more recently sent out letters of recommendation from First District Congressman Andy Harris, who called MBC “an authentic, dependable leader who shares our values and will do what’s best for our community,” and Mathias’s predecessor, former Senator Lowell Stoltzfus from Somerset County. Wrote Stoltzfus in part:

I’ve stayed out of State elections since my retirement in 2011 but I feel obligated to make an exception because of a recent negative mailing by the Senate Democrat Caucus in support of Jim Mathias.

The mailing ridiculed Mary Beth Carozza as a “Washington insider” and labeled her negatively because she has worked for the federal government.

Here’s what they didn’t tell you.

Stoltzfus goes on to relate that MBC was on the job at the Pentagon on 9/11, and conducted herself in such an exemplary manner after American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building that she received the Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Out of the five mailers I’ve received on MBC’s behalf, 2 1/2 were positive toward her and 2 1/2 negative toward Jim Mathias – well, more specifically, his voting record and/or tying him to locally unpopular Democrats like Ben Jealous or Martin O’Malley.

That’s a stark contrast to the Mathias side having 10 out of 12 mailers be negative toward his opponent, with only a few referring to specific votes. They’re obviously hoping voters fail to understand there’s a bit of a difference between being a Congressional staffer and an Executive branch appointee, the latter of which is much of what comprises the Swamp. MBC did a little of both, but more of the time was spent working in Congress and not being a holdover of the previous administration causing headaches for the new boss.

To be so negative at this late juncture most likely means the incumbent (or, to be more candid, his special-interest backers) are worried. They have only one more recourse, and it’s going to be interesting to see if they fire that last bullet in the chamber before it’s all said and done. I know one thing, if nothing else: Annapolis Democrats are all about maintaining power by whatever means necessary, principles be damned. So I won’t be surprised if there’s one more special mailing from the Mike Miller swamp in Annapolis.

2018 Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner in pictures and text

As I have often done, I’ll allow the pictures to tell most of the story – at least until the speeches begin.

On Saturday night, a cautiously optimistic Wicomico County Republican Party welcomed our two federal candidates to its fold for its annual Lincoln Day dinner: our current Congressman Andy Harris and a man who hopes to join him on the Senate side of Congress, Tony Campbell.

But there were some other noteworthy things to relate as well, so I’ll begin with this picture.

There were 15 items in this silent auction, with many of them featuring experiences with various local officials. The take was well into four figures from what I saw.
Portrayed as an irregular detachment of a Maryland company, this band provided a musical backdrop – and a bit of controversy.
Flanked by two members of his Honor Guard, our sixteenth President, as portrayed by Dr. Art North, catches up with Dave Parker in his trademark red blazer and State Sen. Addie Eckardt in her traditional pink, both with back to camera.

It’s also worth pointing out that, besides the silent auction there was an envelope raffle (place $5 or $10 in the envelope and if drawn you win 10 times the amount) and a 50-50 raffle to benefit the co-hosting Salisbury University College Republicans. So a lot of money was changing hands.

In his remarks, Lincoln conceded that “the nation has taken a downhill course” in recent years, as “incivility is the new norm.” Cautioning the gathering not to betray tradition and values, Lincoln stressed the importance of his Cabinet being comprised of the most able men, not yes men.

As part of this narrative I also want to give a shout out to one of our two Volunteers of the Year, a young man who eventually closed out the evening with his benediction.

Nate Sansom was one of two selected as Volunteers of the Year, with the other being Joan Gentile.

Nate Sansom holds a special place with me because he’s the one I recommended to fill my spot when I left the WCRCC in 2016, and not just because to our knowledge he’d be the youngest CC member in state history: it was because I knew he’d be an asset to the committee. (I’d like to think his selection was out of respect to my wishes.) But because he wasn’t one of the top 9 contestants in the Central Committee’s election back in June, his tenure comes to an end when the final results are in next month. One of his legacies: the state GOP now officially favors a system where each Congressional district controls one Presidential electoral vote with only two at-large, similar to Maine and Nebraska but with ten electoral votes at stake, which would make it the largest such state.

Yet somehow I don’t think Nate has reached the limits of his political achievement. Perhaps someday he will be a successor to our main speaker.

I noted in the photo of Lincoln above the overall topic of his remarks, which may have been overly long for neither remaining speaker took a great deal of our time. (Photo credit for the next two pictures goes to Wendy Anspacher, an incoming member of the 2018-22 WCRCC.)

U.S. Senate candidate Tony Campbell was our first main speaker. Photo by Wendy Anspacher.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tony Campbell is, according to conventional wisdom, the latest cannon fodder for a Senate seat that’s been held by Democrats for seven consecutive terms (five for former Sen. Paul Sarbanes and two by Ben Cardin) and is being sought for the second time in a row by a (different) politically unknown but well-funded unaffiliated challenger.

But Tony saw it differently. Telling us that the Democrats were still trying to find themselves, Campbell predicted that Republicans will be elected on November 6 and it will result in “a whole bunch of gnashing of teeth by Maryland Democrats.” As evidence, he noted the increased early voting numbers in strongly Republican counties.

Campbell criticized Democrats by stating, “I would hope our elected officials have ethics,” and, referring to the uproar they caused over Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination, told the group that Christina Ford is simply “collateral damage” to the Democrats. To that end, the human caravan in Mexico “is all about the midterms.” Democrats, he continued, don’t care about people, they care only about power. To counter this, Republicans “just have to be bold,” but we have to make a commitment to principles. “We can win and be conservatives” in Maryland, said Tony.

But hanging over this was the specter of race. “I knew when I got into this I would be called an Oreo,” said Campbell. Noting that the band played Lincoln’s “favorite song” Dixie on his exit, Campbell felt he needed to speak the truth and tell us, while it may be historically accurate (and it is), playing that song sends a bad message to minority voters.

However, it should be pointed out that, aside from the two districts which are majority-minority, Maryland’s Congressional delegation (nine of ten of whom are Democrats) are all white males while the two non-incumbent Democrats (including the guy challenging our next speaker) are also. Compare that to Maryland Republicans having two women (including one woman of color) in the running for Congress as well as “minority” candidates in the two majority-minority districts (both are white) and the black man running for Senate and ask yourself: if diversity is your thing, which party is the more diverse?

Our Congressman Andy Harris wrapped up the night. I don’t think he was pointing at me. Photo by Wendy Anspacher.

While it was important to Andy Harris that we elect Republicans, he had a clear request for us: the next time he runs for re-election he wanted Wicomico County to be a Republican county in terms of voter registration: since they elect Republicans they may as well come home to the party. He added that if Larry Hogan wins re-election and brings in five new Republican state senators, the redistricting map they draw will likely allow for three Republicans in Maryland’s Congressional delegation.

He also had a job in mind for Larry Hogan once he vacates the governor’s chair in 2022: “Larry Hogan can beat Chris Van Hollen any day of the week,” predicted Harris.

Turning to the First District and his opponent, Harris saw him as soft on the Second Amendment, which was a core tenet of this district, Additionally, Andy opined that the state and national Democrats have left the First District Democrats behind in their rush to move in an even more leftward direction. It was beginning to work until the Democrats “overplayed their hand” with the Kavanaugh saga: for example, the Beto O’Rourke vs. Ted Cruz Senate race in Texas was a toss-up before the Kavanaugh confirmation, but now Cruz has opened up a significant lead.

Andy Harris speaks, people listen.

Meanwhile, the caravan in Mexico “is the Democrats’ worst nightmare” because it makes border security an issue and motivates GOP voters. The election will be about border security, Harris confidently continued, and “November 6 will be a great night in Maryland.”

One other race Harris had a keen interest in was the state Attorney General race. “Nothing Brian Frosh did as Attorney General surprises me,” said Andy, who served with Frosh in the State Senate. But under Frosh, Baltimore “is a lawless city.”

In conclusion, Andy urged his fellow Republicans to vote for their party up and down the ballot and encourage others to do the same.

I want to conclude this piece with a non-political photo I thought was pretty cool, if not necessarily in terms of color or composition. Outside on the sidewalk I saw this:

In case you can’t read this, the verse being referred to is 1 Peter 5:7.

Indeed I looked it up, but I like to have a little context in Scripture so let’s add the previous verse to this. 1 Peter 5:6-7:

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care unto him; for he careth for you.

It appears someone at Salisbury University has a serious Bible study going on. Considering I sat amidst several of the College Republicans and this was still on the sidewalk, maybe there’s hope for us yet.

Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (last of four parts)

Late edit: Need to get up to speed? Here are parts one, two, and three.

In this final installment comparing the differences between District 38 State Senator Jim Mathias and his challenger, District 38C Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, we have the second-smallest number of voting differences between them for this term. But as I wrote in my wrapup of the legislative year for the monoblogue Accountability Project (mAP):

Turning to this year’s session, one conclusion is inescapable: the last four years have been a steadier and steadier test of wills between a governor who is trying to promote a particular agenda and a state majority party that had its apple cart upset and is being begged by the special interests that control it to put those apples back and bring back the regular order of things where everyone was fat and happy except the private-sector working families and taxpayers. We’re at the point now where political victories are more important than improving the citizens’ lot, on both sides of the aisle.

In 2018, Mary Beth got just 12 votes correct out of 25, although she stumbled into the twelfth by changing her incorrect vote on HB1302, the “red flag” gun bill. Jim Mathias may have always intended to vote the correct way, but the 22-day hiatus between Mary Beth’s vote and Jim’s tally was punctuated with a loud outcry from the 2A community that Mathias had to hear. [However, despite the NRA support Mathias joined Carozza on a vaguely-written ban (HB888/SB707) of so-called “bump stocks.”] Jim’s only other instance of getting a vote correct (a term-low 2 correct out of 25 votes) was sustaining the veto for HB694 – but that was the “ban the box” bill he originally voted for!

Is it any wonder that people like me can be cynical about Jim’s record?

A major bill that the pair parted ways on will also be decided in this election – same-day voter registration is already in place during early voting, but HB532 established a referendum for this year that mandates its inclusion on Election Day, presumably beginning in 2020. Jim Mathias may not mind this extra work for poll workers and increased risk of voter fraud, but Mary Beth stood against it.

That government we elected last time around kept trying to usurp power from the executive branch, and they succeeded with a pair of measures that Carozza and Mathias voted opposite ways on: Mary Beth was correct in attempting to stop HB230/SB290 (a bill requiring legislative approval to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative scam) and the sour grapes represented by SB687, laughingly referred to as “state vacancy reform.” Unfortunately, Jim Mathias backed an effort that succeeded in creating an unelected board to distribute school capital funding, removing the duty from the partially-elected (2 of 3 members) Board of Public Works – a slap at Democrat Comptroller Peter Franchot, who apparently votes too often with the Republican governor. (To his credit, Mathias voted for a floor amendment to restore the BPW to its place, but its failure was not enough to either dissuade him from voting for final passage or overriding the veto.)

The Big Labor interests that have supported Jim Mathias to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars over the last twelve years got their money’s worth this term – bills that dealt with making new hires opt out of being harassed to join the union rather than having to opt in (HB1017/SB677), another allowing disgruntled employees disputing prevailing wage decisions being allowed to take their suit directly to court (rather than to a state arbitrator, part of HB1243/SB572), and a huge gift as the precedent was set (with Jim’s support) for paid parental leave in SB859. This was on top of getting the veto override of HB1 from 2017, in part thanks to Mathias.

Mary Beth stood with providers by opposing a bill written by the insurance companies (HB1782) establishing a re-insurance program through a renewed assessment (formerly on a federal level, but being shifted to a state one) on those same insurers. Jim Mathias obviously isn’t into fee relief.

Finally on the environmental front, Mary Beth was on the right side of a proposal (HB1350/SB1006) that mandates certain state-funded construction projects be adapted to conform with weather conditions brought on by supposed global climate change. It may be prudent in some instances, but will certainly bust the budget elsewhere.

Because District 38 is my home district, I have been paying particular attention to the race. But it’s worth noting that a similar race exists in Senate District 8 which pits Senator Katherine Klausmeyer against Delegate Christian Miele.

While the differences aren’t as stark between those two as they’ve been between Carozza and Mathias, they are still there: over the last four years where they have served together, Klausmeyer has racked up annual mAP scores of 32, 2, 24, and 4 for an average of 15.5, while Miele has scored 58, 44, 60, and 26 for an average of 47. On the average, then, Miele would get 7 to 8 more mAP votes correct than Klausmeyer each term, which can mean more money in your pocket and more opportunity for businesses to thrive and create good-paying jobs. The records are there for inspection on the sidebar.

One final word. We can talk about voting records all day, but there are those who swear by Jim Mathias because he “works hard for the district” or some variation of that remark. As proof they can point to social media, where Jim is often going live at some event or gathering – even if it’s walking in a parade 100 miles outside his district. Look, I’m into hometown pride as much as anyone given my affinity for particular sports teams and number of my friends still hailing from mine, but the whole “look at me” attitude seems a little artificial and contrived after awhile.

Over this campaign I’ve pointed out the perceived flaws in Jim’s record in both the votes and money he takes for and from special interests, groups that seemingly are more concerned with combating the good things Governor Hogan does (yes, there are a few) and keeping the state as the East Coast’s answer to California and Chicago than they are with the needs of our diverse district. It’s telling that the latest charge by the Annapolis Democrats against Mary Beth is that she’s a “Washington insider” because she’s worked for several members of Congress and in the George W. Bush administration. If the party roles were reversed, they would call that “a career of public service.”

I noted four years ago that many of Mary Beth’s former cohorts provided the seed money for her campaign, but in this round it’s become far more local as she has gained the confidence of those who donated to her. Mary Beth wasn’t someone I knew well prior to her 2014 campaign: I met her years ago when she worked for the Ehrlich administration, but it’s not like our paths crossed a lot.

One thing I’ve noticed as she’s run her two campaigns, though: that woman is everywhere. But she isn’t one to plaster it all over social media, opting to be more of the work horse than the show horse. Maybe that costs her a few votes among those who like glamour and popularity, but the thoughtful voters notice.

I saw Jim on Sunday at the Autumn Wine Festival, just as Kim and I were leaving. While he probably shook more than a few hands while he was there, the reason he came was to sing with the band that was playing to close out the event – more on that band in a future post. It’s nothing new, as Jim has sung with On The Edge before at the AWF and, in general, has been around the local music scene as long as I’ve been aware of it. Obviously that’s something he enjoys doing, and I don’t see a thing wrong with that – in fact, I wouldn’t mind him having more time to sing after this November.

In short, the reason I’ve been on this race so much and for so long is that I think Jim’s a fine enough and likable fellow, but is also a political mismatch as a representative of this district – he seems to be much more suited for a district across the bridge, a place from where a significant portion of his financial support comes. Here we have a district that is much more right of center than he is.

So while she’s not as far to the right as I would prefer, I think that in order to make a better team for local success throughout District 38 we need to promote Mary Beth Carozza to be our next State Senator. I urge you to vote accordingly, whether at early voting beginning tomorrow and running through next Thursday or on the traditional November 6 date.

Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (third of four parts)

In this third part of a four-part series, I’m reviewing votes in the 2017 monoblogue Accountability Project (mAP) where Mary Beth Carozza and Jim Mathias landed on different sides. (If you need to catch up, here are parts one and two, covering 2015 and 2016 respectively.) In 2017 Mary Beth Carozza dropped slightly to a score of 74 on the mAP despite 19 correct votes and just 6 incorrect ones because she changed her vote to be correct on one bill – a bill which happened to be one Jim Mathias got right the first time. Unfortunately, those instances were few and far between for Jim Mathias as his score of 12 on the mAP was unchanged from 2016. He had just 3 correct votes out of 25 cast.

Besides the bill Mathias got correct the first time and Carozza didn’t (SB355, which had to do with gas companies being able to recoup certain environmental remediation costs), the only instance where he was correct and Mary Beth was not was a measure to require licensing to sell vaping products (HB523.)

On the other hand, Mary Beth fought at times against a broadly liberal agenda that was a reaction to the era of Trump. Meaningless resolutions such as protecting Obamacare (HJ9) and repealing votes for common-sense Constitutional amendments such as a balanced budget or gerrymandering prohibition (HJ2/SJ2) were coupled with real far-left agenda items that were even too radical for the centrist Governor Hogan like paid sick leave (HB1) and a “ban the box” bill (HB694). These drew vetoes that were voted on in 2018, but in the initial case they weren’t too far left for Mathias to support while Carozza held the line closer to the center and opposed them.

Another vetoed bill that was sustained was the cynical Democrat attempt to hold off a gerrymandering ban until other states did one (SB1023), as that was too hot for even the Democrats to handle in an election year. But Jim Mathias was fine with it in the first place, while Carozza was correct in seeing through its hypocrisy. Vetoes of two other bills, the 2016 version of HB1106 that revised the renewable energy portfolio and the attempt to make failing schools less accountable for their problems (HB978) by taking the prospect of school choice off the table – a teacher’s union wet dream if there ever was one – were sustained by Carozza and overridden by Mathias. The MSEA got its money’s worth on their $6,000 in campaign contributions to Mathias (in just the last four years) there.

Unfortunately, our governor didn’t have the stones to veto some other far-left pipe dreams that Mary Beth Carozza opposed but Jim Mathias was perfectly willing to support. Worst of all was a bill in reaction to the proposed cutting off of federal funds to Planned Parenthood embodied in HB1083/SB1081.

Another example: the “Maryland Defense Act” (HB913) that has allowed AG Brian Frosh to run wild, filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit against the Trump administration. In 2017 we also got commissions to counter the potential dismantling of onerous Dodd-Frank financial regulations (HB1134/SB884) and the effects of repealing Obamacare (SB571). Yet no one suggested a commission on how to deal with the effects of illegal immigration, did they?

Further reaction to the twin elections of Hogan and Trump were broadly written screeds on coordinated election expenses (HB898) and PAC compliance (HB1498), coupled with the aspect of allowing a change in voter address to be updated during early voting without verification (HB1626). All these were supported by Jim Mathias and opposed by Mary Beth Carozza, almost as if Jim saw he would have significant opposition this time around.

For all the controversy about Mathias supporting facilities “where drug users can consume preobtained drugs” (as written in the bill he co-sponsored) it should have been foreshadowed by his support of repealing drug testing requirements as a condition of receiving SNAP benefits for those previously convicted of drug distribution (HB860/SB853). This was an “opt-out” to federal law Carozza opposed.

On the mundane side was a bill to allow mass transit to gain more subsidies by requiring less of a farebox recovery to avoid a large fare increase (HB271/SB484). As I noted then, no one seems to worry about that happening to the gas tax.

Last but not least was perhaps the most galling betrayal from the first term of the Hogan administration: reversing course on fracking in Western Maryland. The fracking ban (HB1325) was properly opposed by Mary Beth Carozza – who obviously believes in an “all of the above” energy solution where prudent – and opposed by Jim Mathias, who I guess must like high electric rates and Maryland being a net importer of reliable energy because that’s what we have now.

While the last two sessions featured a lot of differences between Mary Beth Carozza and Jim Mathias, the final installment covering this most recent session is a bit shorter insofar as voting is concerned. But it’s still worth pointing out in my final part tomorrow.

Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (second of four parts)

Today’s second part of a four-part series goes over the 2016 monoblogue Accountability Project (mAP) and the votes where Mary Beth Carozza and Jim Mathias have parted company. 2016 turned out to be the final year I included committee votes in the 25 that made up the annual assessment of the Maryland General Assembly; however, Jim could have voted on a bill in his Finance Committee that the House voted through but he missed the opportunity by being excused from the vote. (It’s worth pointing out that neither Carozza nor Mathias were absent from an mAP vote this term.)

In 2016 Mary Beth Carozza reached her all-time high score of 76 on the mAP by being credited with 19 correct votes and just 6 incorrect ones. Meanwhile, in the Senate Jim Mathias plummeted to a score of 12 on the mAP by making just 3 correct votes and 21 incorrect plus the excused vote, which goes down for my record as incorrect but not penalized.

As a bit of foreshadowing, Jim’s low score is representative of his last three sessions as the partisan lines have hardened in the Maryland General Assembly – that score of 12 ties for his highest score in the last three sessions. It’s reflected in his scores over the years: while he scored out to an average of 16 in the House from 2007-10, his last three sessions there drove down a reasonably centrist average established in his first two sessions (2007 Regular and 2007 Special Session.) His initial opposition to Martin O’Malley’s radical policies melted down to compliance by the end in MOM’s first term, and Jim followed the same trend in MOM’s second: a 36 score in 2011 eroded to 34 in 2012, 24 in 2013, and 19 in 2014. (By comparison, Jim’s shotgun 2014 opponent thanks to gerrymandering of the local districts, former Delegate Mike McDermott, had respective scores in that same term of 88, 88, 82, and 80. Talk about a missed opportunity!)

In a case of blind squirrel, Jim’s three correct votes were also Mary Beth’s correct votes. And since none of the six committee votes between the two were common votes, it leaves a total of 13 votes where Mary Beth voted the right way and Jim incorrectly.

We already discussed the “travel tax” yesterday in the 2015 review, but I added the veto vote to 2016’s total. It created a bit of confusion on my chart as the SB190 designation was also given to the FY2017 budget voted on in 2016 – both voted incorrectly for the overly generous budget in that case.

One theme in 2016, though, seemed to be a partisan reining in of the executive branch. It began with a measure – sent to voters in a slightly amended form – dealing with the replacement of the Attorney General, Comptroller, or United States Senator mandating he or she represent the same party as the departed official (HB260). Voters approved the change to Attorney General and Comptroller succession in 2016, but as I noted at the time, “It’s amazing how these types of bills come up when there’s the slightest chance someone other than a Democrat could be placed in a statewide position.” If it were truly an issue, where was it in 2012 or 2014? Similarly, the two parted ways on a bill (SB973) placing a prohibition on certain types of political donations on behalf of departmental secretaries (who are appointed by the Governor.) It wasn’t an issue before Larry Hogan arrived?

A more important front on the war against Larry Hogan, though, were multiple bids to increase mandated spending. In the mAP’s case, it was requiring additional capital spending on schools with increased enrollment (HB722/SB271), expansion grants for preschools (HB668/SB584), shelter and transitional housing facilities for homeless individuals (HB1476/SB797), additional debt or a toll increase to replace the U.S. 301 bridge over the Potomac River in Charles County (SB907), college early commitment programs which duplicate private-sector efforts (SB1170), and two new programs: a new Maryland Corps program based on the federal Americorps (HB1488/SB909) that immediately secured about $2 million a year for state funding, and a second (HB1402/SB1125) that established a $7.5 million annual fund to expand school time into off-hours and the summer but required local matching grants. All these may be worthy efforts and many were already well-funded on a discretionary basis, but Jim Mathias voted to tie Larry Hogan’s hands and Mary Beth Carozza did not.

There were also environmental bills that seemed to be overly restrictive yet broad-based: a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides (SB198) that was based on a theory they were eradicating bee colonies was one such bill, while the state’s market-bending renewable energy portfolio (read: solar energy-promoting boondoggle that, in practice, fattens state coffers) came up as HB1106 – both were supported by Mathias and rightly opposed by Carozza. In the latter case, in 2017 Mathias voted to override Governor Hogan’s veto of the bill while Carozza tried to sustain it.

Businesses were basically spared in the 2016 session, but one provision the Big Labor-friendly Mathias supported over Carozza’s opposition was on significantly increased liquidated damages for employers who, in the parlance of the bill, “reasonably should have known” it was a (so-called) “prevailing” wage job (yeah, that’s a clear statement there) yet fail to pay that wage (HB689/SB1009). It was funny to see that the employee would get the wage shortfall but the state gets the damages, even though they weren’t harmed.

They always say the third year of a General Assembly term is the one that has the most ambitious agenda from members seeking election, and 2017 was no different. I’ll look at that in tomorrow’s third series installment.

Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (first of four parts)

You’ve seen some of the flyers that have come to my mailbox: trust me, more have arrived and there’s probably more to come. But between the claims and counterclaims there’s one thing that is real – and it’s the very reason I created the monoblogue Accountability Project (mAP) eleven years ago.

Over the last four years, both Mary Beth Carozza and Jim Mathias have had the opportunity to vote on most of the 100 bills I selected to be part of one of the four editions of the mAP from 2015 to 2018. (A handful were committee votes, which seldom overlap – but did in one case in 2015.) So over the next few days I’m going to illustrate just what the differences were, beginning in this installment with the 2015 session of the Maryland General Assembly – their first as a team.

In 2015 Mary Beth Carozza received a score of 56 on the mAP by being credited with 14 correct votes but having 11 incorrect ones. Meanwhile in the Senate Jim Mathias reached his term high score of 40 on the mAP by making 10 correct votes and 15 incorrect. (Jim’s all-time high was when he scored a 53.12 rating in the 2007 Special Session, done in the days before I standardized the number of votes. That session was based on 15 total votes in the House of Delegates, where Jim served at the time.) Three of Jim’s ten correct votes, though, were at the committee level, and two were not common votes. They both voted against HB1094, Mary Beth on the House floor and Jim as part of the Senate Finance Committee.

What I’m going to drill down into are the featured floor votes where they parted company – in the case of the 2015 legislative session there are a total of 10 such votes out of the 25 I used for the mAP. Of those ten, there were eight which were correctly voted upon by Mary Beth Carozza but not Jim Mathias, and two that were voted on correctly by Mathias and not Carozza. Those two in Jim’s favor were both in the realm of civil liberties: one (SB651) was a provision to allow expungement of a crime if it’s no longer on the books (tailored for those convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana, which was on its way to becoming a civil offense as opposed to criminal) and the other (HB360) a reform of civil forfeiture laws. Yet while Jim was good on those two, he still opted to maintain the possession of small amounts of marijuana as a criminal offense rather than converting it to a civil offense (HB105). Jim was one of just three Senators saying no, even as the law did not pass in 2015.

Jim also voted badly on a number of measures that should have been left out of state law. Since health care has been a hot topic in this campaign, it should be noted that one of them (HB838/SB416) raised insurance rates significantly in order to allow a handful of same-sex couples coverage for in vitro fertilization.

Public records were a key topic in that session as well. Jim supported a measure which would allow those who undergo treatment for gender changes to also change their birth certificate without it being noted that this wasn’t an original document (HB862/SB743), but more importantly for most he also supported a $5.2 million annual fee increase for the public through court filing fees rather than allowing it to be charged to the attorneys (HB54.)

Another tax Mathias supported, even over the veto of the governor he swears he’s working with, was the so-called “travel tax” that allowed the state to collect full-rate sales tax on rooms where the rates were discounted (SB190.) And that’s not all the anti-business law Jim supported: no longer could employers and employees agree to waive certain types of paid leave (HB345) – of course, the state was kept exempt.

But perhaps the most misunderstood differences were in HB70 and HB72. HB70 was that year’s state budget, and it’s been the subject of one Mathias mailing already. So to recap: Mary Beth was fine with that budget until it was amended by the Senate and backroom dealings.

It appears the same thing happened with HB72, which was that year’s BRFA act. In order to make things work fiscally and keep a balanced budget as required by law, sometimes previous laws need to be changed, and the favored vehicle for that is generally called the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, or BRFA. In that session Carozza voted for the original House version but once the Senate got hold of it she didn’t like the changes and voted no. Meanwhile, her Senate opponent was just fine with doing as much as possible to thwart Governor Hogan’s intentions.

And to think: this is only the first of four years. Here is the second.

Hogan seeks a legislative hero

On Thursday evening the GOP faithful rallied around their general as he came to lend a hand to a local campaign.

The Black Diamond was happy to welcome Larry Hogan and the local police were ready for whatever.

I was actually rather early for an event that I thought started at 6:00 but was slated for a half-hour later. But I wasn’t too early to check out these superb organizational skills.

All the Hogan stuff was neatly placed on this side of the table.
Andy Harris was on the ball, too, with the Carozza items in the middle. Hogan on the left, Harris on the right – seems appropriate to me.

I wondered if the police officers present had anything to do with this placement.

Does this extend to his 2A stance?

So 6:30 came and we had an empty stage.

Even as the event was supposed to begin, no one was on this end of the room yet.

Most of the people were in two places: over closer to the bar, or in the lobby as was the case with our Congressman.

Congressman Andy Harris was in discussion with his supporters most of the evening. He did not take the stage, but was introduced.

Like everyone else, Harris eventually wandered over to the main room.

At quarter to 7, the crowd was exuberant as they awaited Governor Hogan’s remarks.
It took several minutes for the Governor to cross the room where he would speak. My former Central Committee cohort John Palmer (left) had his ear at the time.

There were only three speakers at the rally, which is a pleasant change from having every single local yokel speak. Delegate Carl Anderton led off.

The unusually dapper Delegate Carl Anderton praised Governor Hogan for being very cooperative with requests.

In his remarks, which served as the introduction for Delegate Carozza – who Anderton described as a smart, hard-working Delegate – Anderton asserted that any time he needed anything, Governor Hogan was right there.

But since Carl’s seat is secure, the rally was placed here in Fruitland to get out the vote for the GOP candidate for our State Senator.

Mary Beth Carozza said that Hogan’s visit was momentous: “Only for Governor Hogan would I cut my door-to-door short.”

Mary Beth has a definite rally voice and manner of speaking. She made it clear that “Governor Hogan, day in and day out, fights for Maryland.” And while she had given up a relatively safe seat to assist him in the Senate, she confidently stated that “we are on track” to win in November. After all, while her opponent Jim Mathias liked to talk about how much he’s assisted Larry in getting his agenda passed, the key questions on Mary Beth’s mind were whether Jim was going to endorse or even vote for Hogan, seeing that he’s hung out with opponent Ben Jealous in Ocean City.

But one thing she can’t do: carry a tune in a bucket. But Mary Beth was creative enough to write a new song based on the theme to “The Brady Bunch” called, naturally enough, “The Hogan Bunch.” Wonder who would inhabit the nine squares?

Governor Hogan finally reaches the stage for brief remarks.

Larry began by telling us Mary Beth is “doing an amazing job in the state legislature,” and that “the Shore needs another new State Senator.”

The crowd was enjoying what our governor had to say.

Yet he reserved the meat of his remarks for himself, relating how he ran because he was “really getting frustrated with what was happening in our state.” And once Gallup released a poll that claimed half of Maryland wanted to leave during the final term of Martin O’Malley, “that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Change Maryland turned from a vehicle to criticize O’Malley into the groundswell of support from all parties Larry needed to pull “the biggest surprise upset in the United States of America.”

Once he got into office, Hogan set out to improve the state’s economy as well as provide the state’s first balanced budget in a decade. After 43 consecutive tax increases during the O’Malley era, Hogan’s claims of no tax increases over the last four years, $1.2 billion in tax cuts, $317 million in reduced tolls, 250 fewer fees, and 850 regulations have been enough to goose the state from a 49th place rank in economic performance in 2013 to a top-ten finish now. It’s worked so well, added Hogan, that lifelong Democrats are now supporting him. “That means a lot to me,” said the governor.

He finished by alluding to the polls that have him as much as 22 points ahead of Democrat Ben Jealous. “Just forget about those polls,” said Hogan.

Larry’s little stump speech only lasted about 10 minutes, which meant the meat of the program only lasted about a half-hour, if that. Of course, Hogan (and many other local GOP candidates) had gladhanded their way through the room so most of the people were satisfied with getting their photo or saying their piece with the governor, their local representatives, or Andy Harris.

What I thought was missing, though – and definitely sorely lacking – was any mention of two other key Republicans on the statewide ballot. One thing Larry doesn’t seem to be doing as much as I think he should is backing his GOP team, or at least the Senate and Attorney General candidates. (I think the Comptroller is a lost cause this time around because current Democrat Comptroller Peter Franchot gets along well with Hogan.) But a mention of the importance of getting Tony Campbell in the Senate and Craig Wolf in as Attorney General cannot be understated. Unfortunately, Hogan has done more for Neal Simon’s campaign than he ever did for his fellow GOP primary victor.

Certainly there’s a great amount of importance being placed on Carozza’s race as the governor tries to secure a Republican State Senate minority that will uphold his vetoes and force the Democrats to at least play ball. But economics aren’t enough to convince some voters – only a turn to the right after the election will satisfy them, and why shouldn’t I expect one as well?

The District 38 battle is joined

It took a few weeks, but the Maryland GOP has finally begun countering the barrage of full-color mailers that the Democratic Senate Caucus Committee has sent to my house (and presumably those of other 4x Republican voters) trying to portray Jim Mathias as the willing follower of Larry Hogan and Mary Beth Carozza as the pawn of special interests – basically accusing the enemy of what they themselves were doing.

Yet on the Republican response there are a whole slew of votes cited. Finally, perhaps, someone has picked up on the reason I have done the monoblogue Accountability Project for all these years. In this case, the race is a direct compare and contrast since both have voted in the Maryland General Assembly since 2015 – however, the mAP spans the entirety of Mathias’s legislative career, which began in 2006 when he was appointed to finish the brief unexpired term of the late Delegate Bennett Bozman and won the office outright in the election that November as the top vote-getter. Four years later Mathias ran to succeed the retiring Senator Lowell Stoltzfus and won his current post.

So I can tell you that, looking at the record from my conservative, limited government perspective, over his legislative career Mathias has made 71 “correct” votes out of 336 cast. If it were a batting average .211 might keep you around if you were a defensive superstar and would be really good for a pitcher who has to hit in the National League, but getting 21.1% of the votes right for the interests of the district isn’t so good.

On the other hand, out of 100 votes cast by Mary Beth Carozza she has been correct on 62 – not the greatest of records, but a vast step in the right direction. The difference is even more apparent when you compare her total to 18 Mathias got right in that same span (and only 8 in the last three years, when he was supposedly helping out Larry Hogan.) Those 44 votes cast differently are going to be the focus of a series of posts I’ll do leading up to the beginning of early voting October 25.

I’ve already noted Jim’s subservience to special interest PACs across the state, so it will become more clear when you see what he votes for compared to Mary Beth.

Fun with numbers, part two

A few days ago I put up a post with some possible Election 2018 scenarios based on turnout and the results of some recent polls. Well, armed with a couple of very recent polls and fresh voter registration numbers from September, here are a couple more shots at an alternative universe for a patented Friday afternoon data dump:

2014 2010 2008
Gonzales 10-10 Hogan 1,100,393 58.7% 1,233,450 57.6% 1,748,905 56.4%
Jealous 722,161 38.5% 847,923 39.6% 1,258,739 40.6%
Quinn 35,151 1.9% 40,243 1.9% 62,202 2.0%
Schlakman 17,948 1.0% 20,815 1.0% 33,136 1.1%
Wash. Post 10-09 Hogan 1,127,428 60.1% 1,254,747 59.0% 1,801,299 58.1%
Jealous 701,675 37.4% 819,119 38.5% 1,225,116 39.5%
Quinn 28,532 1.5% 31,586 1.5% 45,383 1.5%
Schlakman 17,712 0.9% 20,408 1.0% 30,664 1.0%

 

2006 worst case
Gonzales 10-10 Hogan 1,299,198 56.8% 1,377,472 52.8%
Jealous 919,731 40.2% 1,158,084 44.4%
Quinn 43,831 1.9% 46,381 1.8%
Schlakman 23,216 1.0% 26,325 1.0%
Wash. Post 10-09 Hogan 1,322,971 58.3% 1,392,322 53.7%
Jealous 888,970 39.2% 1,142,257 44.0%
Quinn 33,299 1.5% 32,111 1.2%
Schlakman 22,367 1.0% 26,879 1.0%

 

Because Larry Hogan is in the mid-30’s insofar as percentage of Democrat support is concerned, there is no possible turnout scenario among those depicted that places Ben Jealous within 8.4 points of Larry Hogan. Even if you had the most optimistic Democrat scenario of a presidential election turnout with the lowest recent GOP turnout as depicted in “worst case” above plus the Gonzales results for the GOP and independents – which are slightly friendlier to Jealous – Jealous still has to drive Hogan down to 31% among Democrats. But in a more likely scenario Jealous needs to get Hogan down to 23% to win with the 2006 or 2008 models, to 21% to win with a 2010 model, and to 19% to win in a 2014 universe – one where neither candidate draws a million votes.

I did some quick and dirty math: in order to drive Hogan down to 31% support among Democrats in an instance such as a 2008-style election (assuming that the number of Hogan-supporting Democrats stays static) Ben Jealous has to find about 375,000 more Democrat voters that support him. Sorry, but Larry Hogan is not going to underachieve that much nor are there enough rocks in Maryland to look under.

It basically leaves Ben Jealous with no path to victory. And the Kavanaugh saga really didn’t do Ben any favors because it will probably goose GOP turnout up enough to keep things relatively even insofar as turnout percentage is concerned. The closest parallel to that sort of an election would be a 2006 turnout, where Democrats ran just three points shy of Republicans (as opposed to 7.61% in 2010 and a whopping 11.9% in 2014.) In 2008, the Democrats, buoyed by Barack Obama, actually had better turnout by 0.54%, which for all intents and purposes is even.

One other tidbit from this information – armed with more exact Gonzales numbers, this election also becomes a race to maintain ballot access for both the Libertarian and Green parties. The Greens are cutting it close in some scenarios, and the Libertarians don’t have a lot of room for error either. With such a high margin, the temptation may be there for people on both sides to help out the minor parties – “lost cause” progressives vote for the Green Party, disaffected conservatives vote for the Libertarian. There’s a lot that can happen.

I may have to rework my chart in a couple days with polling info on the Senate and AG races. Stay tuned.

Odds and ends number 88

As you might guess, the mailbox groans with new items when it’s election time. So this is a fresh edition of stuff I can deal with in a sentence to a few paragraphs.

I regret not bringing one of these items up a few months back when it came out, but as we get ready for state elections there are two key pieces from the Maryland Public Policy Institute that voters should not miss.

First of all, you all know that I have done the monoblogue Accountability Project for several years, with this year’s intention to wrap up that work.** While it doesn’t evaluate individual voters or bills like my evaluation does, their 2018 Annapolis Report is a useful, broad look at the overall picture and where it can stand some improvement in the next term, It’s nice work by Carol Park and our own Marc Kilmer.

It seems like a new Democrat strategy (besides cutting and running to Virginia) to combat Larry Hogan’s effective campaign is to talk down the state’s economy, but Park puts the lie to that in a more recent piece. Notes Park:

(I)t may be more helpful to look at Maryland’s future economic prospects than to focus on the historical figures to assess the validity of Jealous’s claim. After all, 2015–2017 was a period of strong growth nationally, so it may not be fair to attribute every aspect of improvement of Maryland’s economy to Hogan, nor may it be fair to criticize him for perceived shortcomings relative to other states.

There are a number of indicators that macroeconomists consider important for predicting a region’s long-term economic growth prospects: wage, entrepreneurship, innovation, and income inequality. We can look at these figures one-by-one to assess whether Maryland is in fact faring poorly compared with other states in the Mid-Atlantic region under Gov. Hogan.

It turns out Maryland isn’t doing so bad after all according to the selected figures. Now I know the whole deal about lies, damned lies, and statistics, but if you ask almost any Marylander whether he or she is better off than they were four years ago, the answer would likely be yes – unless you work for the federal government, in which case times may be a bit difficult. If – and this is a really, really big if considering we are over two years out – the Republicans can maintain their grip on Congress for the next two cycles and President Trump is re-elected – we may see a significant rightsizing of government that will likely put Maryland into recessionary status given our addiction to the federal crack pipe of taxpayer money and government jobs. (I’ve said it before – if not for the federal government, Maryland would be *pick your chronically high unemployment state.*) It will be painful, but it is necessary.

The MPPI also pointed out that small businesses will be able to take advantage of a modest tax break made necessary by the adoption of paid sick leave. (I say modest because it’s a pool of $5 million – as originally envisioned, the pool was far larger and assisted more employers. Both those provisions were killed or watered down in committee.)

Sliding over to another campaign, Dr. Ben Carson called him “a true patriot who has served our nation and made personal sacrifices for its well being.” But before he debated his two most prominent foes for the U.S. Senate seat on Sunday (more on that in a few paragraphs) Tony Campbell had one simple request: Pray.

This campaign is David vs. Goliath.  As a dear friend of mine told me this week, our job is to be in position to take advantage of God’s providential miracle.  Your prayers are crucial for our campaign’s success.

Now before the anti-“thoughts and prayers” crowd has a cow, they need to explain to me what harm comes from prayer. If it’s in the Lord’s plan to give Maryland a far more sane representative than that which we have now, why not give encouragement that thy will be done?

From calling on the Lord to calling out larceny: that’s the segue I make for the next item.

One minor topic that takes up a couple pages in my forthcoming book on the TEA Party is a look at the “scam PACs” that started up in the wake of Citizens United, conning well-meaning small donors into supporting the lavish consulting fees of companies related to the overall PAC rather than the candidates or causes they purported to support. A three-part series from the Capital Research Center called Caveat Donator delves into that topic as well, and is worth the read.

Back to that Senate debate. I have found my way onto Neal Simon’s mailing list, and his spin doctors were ready:

Throughout the one-hour debate, Simon focused much of his criticism on Cardin’s lack of leadership in moving forward legislation that focuses on Maryland’s interests. Simon went on the offensive right out of the gate, painting a picture of a career-focused politician focused on placating the party leadership and cow-towing to establishment donors in order to keep his job. Cardin’s voting record is the most partisan of all current sitting senators as he has voted with Chuck Schumer more than 97 percent of the time.

When referring to the numerous internal threats and dangers facing America today, Simon said, “I’m not sure which is most dangerous, Trump’s Twitter feed or Ben Cardin’s rubber stamp.”

As I watched the debate, I noticed it was Simon who was the more aggressive toward Cardin, which is to be expected because he really has to swing for the fences now. There’s a month to close what’s a 40-plus point deficit between him and “our friend Ben” (who’s no friend of common-sense voters.) To that end, Simon is emphasizing Cardin’s fealty to Democrat leadership based on voting record.

But we need to pray for Tony to get another bite of the apple because his debate performance was “meh…” Whoever prepped him needs to step up his or her game because there were a couple “deer in the headlights” moments for Tony – on the other hand, while Simon seemed scripted he was very personable. Cardin was his normal low-key self, almost like “okay, I have to do this debate, let’s get it over with.” But he was more or less prepared for what he would get.

The best possible scenario for this race involves Republicans staying loyal while slyly inviting their Democrat friends to send a message to Cardin by voting Simon – after all, what Republican ever wins in Maryland? I don’t care if it’s one of those 35-33-32 deals: as long as our guy has the 35, he has 6 years to build up the next campaign.

You may remember in the last Presidential go-round that the most centrist of Democrat candidates was onetime Reagan administration official Jim Webb of Virginia. While his campaign didn’t gain much in the way of traction, Jim landed on his feet nonetheless: he now draws a paycheck from the American Petroleum Institute and advocates for offshore energy exploration, to wit:

The United States can increase these advantages (in energy exploration) through renewed emphasis on safe and technologically advanced offshore exploration, which is increasingly in use throughout the world. Ninety-four percent of federal offshore acreage is currently off limits to energy development. The Trump administration’s National Offshore Leasing Program for 2019-2024 would change that by opening key areas off the Atlantic Coast and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Recent advances in safety solutions, plus improvements in business practices and tighter government standards, guarantee that offshore exploration can be safe, targeted and productive.

Maybe that’s why Ben Jealous had the commonwealth on his mind the other day. But that’s the place I’ll use to bring this post home, and I have an old friend of mine to credit. My old “Rebeldome” cohort Bob Densic spied this in the Daily Signal and knew I’d be interested – it’s a piece on the current state of the TEA Party in Virginia.

So that will (almost) be a wrap for now. I might get enough to do another one before Election Day, but we will see.

**I’m thinking of getting the band back together, as it were, for a limited engagement. To me, it may be a useful exercise to maintain the Maryland edition of the mAP, but restrict it to the three districts (36, 37, and 38) on the Eastern Shore. Anyone else can do their own research on their members of the General Assembly.

Debunking another myth

It’s the fourth of what promises to be a continuing series of diatribes to my snail mail box, but instead of extolling the (so-called) virtues of my incumbent State Senator Jim Mathias, it makes a series of claims about his challenger, Delegate Mary Beth Carozza.

So you want to talk about whose money Mary Beth Carozza is taking? I suspect you are REALLY afraid of looking in the mirror then.

This was a very easy (if somewhat time-consuming) one to address, given that Jim Mathias has taken oh-so-much PAC money over the years. So much so, as a matter of fact, that the majority of PAC donation money that goes to Mary Beth – the same groups also give to Mathias.

And the funny thing about the bill that is cited on this particular mailing (a bill that supposedly stabilizes the health care market by continuing a fee put in place under Obamacare for the federal level as a state-supporting fund) is that Jim Mathias was one of those who voted for a bill that CareFirst essentially admitted to writing, (See the testimony for SB387, which starts at about the 1:30:00 mark here.) And wouldn’t you know it – over the last four years Mathias has had four donations (8/13/15, 12/30/15, 12/15/16, and 4/30/18) totaling $2,000 from a CareFirst PAC. That same PAC did not donate to Carozza.

In fact, there are a total of 18 PACs which have donated to both candidates over the last four years that the pair were in office:

  1. ABC Metro Washington PAC (construction) – $2,850 to Mathias (6 occasions), $1,250 to Carozza (4 occasions)
  2. ABC of Chesapeake Shores PAC (construction) – $3,750 to Mathias (6 occasions), $2,500 to Carozza (6 occasions)
  3. Association of Maryland Pilots PAC – $1,750 to Mathias (7 occasions), $700 to Carozza (3 occasions)
  4. Bankers PAC – $3,250 to Mathias (8 occasions), $350 to Carozza (2 occasions)
  5. Banking Services Corporation – $2,000 to Mathias (2 occasions), $100 to Carozza (1 occasion)
  6. Comcast Corporation – $1,750 to Mathias (5 occasions), $250 to Carozza (1 occasion)
  7. EpicPharm PAC – $4,000 to Mathias (9 occasions), $750 to Carozza (3 occasions)
  8. Farm Bureau PAC – $2,500 to Mathias (1 occasion), $900 to Carozza (1 occasion)
  9. Health Policy Leadership Alliance – $500 to Mathias, $150 to Carozza (1 occasion apiece)
  10. HFAM Maryland Nursing Home PAC – $4,750 to Mathias (9 occasions), $350 to Carozza (2 occasions)
  11. Hospital Association PAC Maryland – $4,200 to Mathias (8 occasions), $150 to Carozza (2 occasions)
  12. Medical PAC Maryland – $900 to Mathias, $550 to Carozza (4 occasions apiece)
  13. Motor Truck Association PAC (MMTA PAC) – $1,250 to Mathias (5 occasions), $250 to Carozza (1 occasion)
  14. Poultry PAC – $7,000 to Mathias (10 occasions), $1,650 to Carozza (4 occasions)
  15. Realtors PAC – $3,340 to Mathias (13 occasions), $1,428 to Carozza (6 occasions)
  16. Retail Merchants Association PAC – $500 to Mathias (3 occasions), $500 to Carozza (2 occasions)
  17. Southern Maryland Electric/Choptank Electric PAC (and direct donations) – $1,625 to Mathias (8 occasions), $300 to Carozza (4 occasions)
  18. Wicomico County FOP Lodge 111 PAC (police) – $500 apiece in one donation

As you can see, in a head-to-head comparison Mathias is the king of special interest PAC money. Also, if you are keeping score, since Mary Beth’s November 2017 announcement that she would be seeking Jim’s seat, only the ABC of Chesapeake Shores, EpicPharm PAC (to both), Medical PAC (to both), Poultry PAC (to both, but mainly to Mathias), and Retail Merchants Association PAC have contributed to Mary Beth’s coffers. They know who sides with their interests over those of the people being represented.

In fact, there are only a small handful of PACs and large corporations which have donated only to Carozza, and all of these were prior to the announcement of her Senate run:

  • AmerisourceBergen (drug distributor) – $250 in May 2014 (Note: I didn’t check Mathias back that far.)
  • Anheuser Busch (Big Beer) – $1000 in two donations, July 2014 and July 2015
  • IFAPAC – Maryland (insurance and financial advisers) – $500 in two donations, January 2016 and May 2017
  • Marathon Petroleum Corporation – $250 in May 2014
  • Maryland Standardbred PAC (horse industry) – $250 in January 2017

Perhaps the most interesting donation to Carozza is The Presidential Coalition, LLC – a $6,000 contribution from the group behind Citizens United that’s relatively recent.

On the other hand, I don’t have space to list all the 150-plus special interest groups who have given Mathias money over the last four years – it’s a smorgasbord of unions, Baltimore-centered interests (don’t they have enough representation on the General Assembly already?), firefighters (think the lobby that supports costly residential sprinklers on new construction), those connected to the renewable energy boondoggle, and… Big Insurance.

So let me quote from the photo below:

Drug and insurance companies have all given lavish campaign contributions to back Carozza’s campaigns.

After benefiting from all that money, she voted their way again and again – against Governor Hogan’s efforts to stabilize health care costs for premiums, co-pays, and prescription drugs.

Between PACs and companies, Big Insurance has put well over $10,000 into the Mathias coffers over the last four years – and that doesn’t count local insurance companies. And if you consider AH Pharma, Amgen. Astellas Pharma, Caremark Rx, Eli Lilly, Genentech, LifeSpan, Pfizer, and Walgreens as part of Big Pharma, you’ll be interested to know their “lavish” campaign contributions are nearly tenfold ($9,850) the $1,000 total Mary Beth received from those interests in that timespan.

So whose vote seems to be up for sale in this case? And who is really contributing to keeping health care in Maryland a mess?

Admitting the health care system is a mess is a start, but the efforts of Mary Beth Carozza aren’t making it any more of a mess. Hopefully the next term will begin to really fix up the system.

So let’s talk about “voting their way.” In terms of the bill that Mary Beth (as well as most other Republicans) voted against – but was signed by Governor Hogan anyway – I would contend that she didn’t vote the way of the insurance companies (who, as I noted above, basically wrote the bill for other reasons.)

Not only did it maintain a tax of sorts on insurers and other entities, the bill went against an effort to open up the market for “association health plans” and expanded the role of an existing commission to consider the following:

(i) the components of one or more waivers under § 9-1332 of the Affordable Care Act to ensure market stability that may be submitted by the state; (This was a waiver they indeed received, until 2023.)

(ii) whether to pursue a standard plan design that limits cost sharing;

(iii) whether to merge the individual and small group health insurance markets in the state for rating purposes;

(iv) whether to pursue a basic health program;

(v) whether to pursue a Medicaid buy–in program for the individual market;

(vi) whether to provide subsidies that supplement premium tax credits or cost–sharing reductions described in § 1402(c) of the Affordable Care Act; and;

(vii) whether to adopt a state–based individual health insurance mandate and how to use payments collected from individuals who do not maintain minimum essential coverage, including use of the payments to assist individuals in purchasing health insurance.

This was a monoblogue Accountability Project vote, and Mary Beth voted the correct way, Unlike the assertion on the flyer, this bill is bad for families and senior citizens. But we’re stuck with both this “temporary” fee (which became superfluous when the Section 1332 waiver was granted by the federal government in August) and the mandate of the committee that will certainly recommend expanded government influence rather than common-sense solutions to open up the insurance market and allow those who need insurance to tailor it more closely to their needs. And who doesn’t think that this fee will become more than “temporary?”

The only one making a mess of health care is the member of the party best known for doing just that with Obamacare. Sp what untruths and distortions are coming up next?

And as I’ve often said: if you want to start getting into the weeds on floor votes, I have plenty of them – trust me.

Fun with numbers

I love it when I get to foreshadow – even if it’s not in this particular venue. The other day, on a social media post about voter turnout, I noted:

But I’ve been looking at turnout lately too. Might be a little sumthin’ sumthin’ on that subject from monoblogue in the next few days.

Here is that sumthin’ sumthin’.

Most of what you hear about polls are the topline results: i.e. “Larry Hogan leads the latest Mason-Dixon Poll by fifteen points.” Yet that may or may not reflect the reality of what is really going on because, in order to have the most accurate poll, you need the most accurate sample. The reason Larry Hogan more or less snuck up on us to become governor was that Democrat turnout in 2014 was abysmal to a point where no one predicted it would be that bad – and many of those Democrats who showed up voted for Hogan. Pollsters didn’t have that sort of turnout model in their realm of possibility, although that year’s last Gonzales Poll was closest (and closest to the result among “non-partisan” pollsters.)

As a warning up front, this post will have a LOT of numbers. But what I did was take all three recent major polls (Gonzales, Goucher College, and Mason-Dixon) and, based on their interpolated selections by party, came up with numbers that equaled 100 percent, with a small percentage added for Libertarian and Green Party candidates based on best guess of mine since they’re not polled. (That’s why their numbers don’t change much despite the varying scenarios – I used the same mix for both minor-party candidates.)

Then I came up with several alternate voter turnout universes based on the latest voter registration numbers and turnout figures provided by the state Board of Elections. The voter turnout universes I came up with were a 2014 universe (which is probably a best-case scenario for the GOP), a 2010 universe (this was the TEA Party wave), a 2006 universe (bad year for the GOP, both nationally and in Maryland), and a 2008 universe that applies the more Democrat-friendly Presidential numbers to a state election.

The fifth and final scenario was the absolute worst-case one I could think of for Larry Hogan – massive Democrat turnout on the order of 2008 combined with soft GOP and independent turnout. It’s an Indivisible dream – but does the #bluewave pan out?

This is the first time I have tried to drop a table into a post, so hopefully it’s legible. This is direct from the spreadsheet I figured out the calculations on.

2014 2010 2008
Gonzales Hogan 1,076,589 57.7% 1,205,595 56.5% 1,709,578 55.4%
Jealous 744,174 39.9% 874,778 41.0% 1,302,241 42.2%
Quinn 28,362 1.5% 31,395 1.5% 45,089 1.5%
Schlakman 17,625 0.9% 20,307 1.0% 30,508 1.0%
Goucher Hogan 1,175,708 62.8% 1,312,495 61.8% 1,880,884 60.8%
Jealous 650,997 34.8% 758,190 35.7% 1,138,942 36.8%
Quinn 28,362 1.5% 31,395 1.5% 45,089 1.5%
Schlakman 17,625 0.9% 20,307 1.0% 30,508 1.0%
Mason Dixon Hogan 1,083,769 58.1% 1,205,688 57.0% 1,708,522 55.8%
Jealous 736,994 39.5% 858,675 40.6% 1,276,753 41.7%
Quinn 28,362 1.5% 31,395 1.5% 45,089 1.5%
Schlakman 17,625 0.9% 20,307 1.0% 30,508 1.0%

 

2006 worst case
Gonzales Hogan 1,269,353 55.8% 1,336,851 51.5%
Jealous 950,092 41.8% 1,200,296 46.2%
Quinn 33,093 1.5% 31,924 1.2%
Schlakman 22,257 1.0% 26,751 1.0%
Goucher Hogan 1,385,124 61.2% 1,488,953 57.5%
Jealous 822,919 36.4% 1,040,141 40.2%
Quinn 33,093 1.5% 31,924 1.2%
Schlakman 22,257 1.0% 26,751 1.0%
Mason Dixon Hogan 1,269,456 56.2% 1,343,601 52.0%
Jealous 932,234 41.3% 1,179,552 45.7%
Quinn 33,093 1.5% 31,924 1.2%
Schlakman 22,257 1.0% 26,751 1.0%

 

Obviously the various scenarios are all there, with the worst-case being the far right-hand in the bottom page – try as I might I couldn’t get all five sets to fit in one line. In order from top to bottom, the numbers come from the Gonzales Poll (topline: Hogan +16), the Goucher College Poll (Hogan +22) and Mason-Dixon (Hogan +15).

Given these turnout scenarios, the lone path to victory for Jealous would be getting only hardcore D’s out to the polls that aren’t accounted for in these turnout models because he has to bring his numbers among Democrats to the point where they were in 2014 (Anthony Brown was in the low- to mid-70’s among D’s.) In the three polls, extrapolating numbers on a 50-50 basis from a 100% total, Hogan’s Democrat support ranges from 35 to nearly 45 percent. Unless Jealous can pull off a turnout that’s the absolute nightmare scenario (to the GOP), he’s a loser if Hogan gets even 25 percent of the Democrat vote – and Hogan’s polling beyond that even with taking away the currently undecideds. Moreover, the Kavanaugh scandal is primed to drive GOP turnout and there’s almost zero split among GOP loyalists so a nightmare scenario becomes less likely.

But more Republicans to the polls can assist in downticket races, such as the uphill battles being faced statewide by U.S. Senate hopeful Tony Campbell and Attorney General aspirant Craig Wolf as well as the “drive for five” new GOP State Senators to allow Hogan vetoes to be sustained. We’ll have to see how that goes as time goes on, but this was a fun exercise and it’s a pretty handy spreadsheet for me to keep around.