One thing I’ve noticed in the rampup to Larry Hogan’s big announcement is a significantly increased tempo in media operations from Change Maryland, and the report released yesterday was more than just a little thorn in Martin O’Malley’s side – nope, this was more like a shiv stuck in there and twisted around a couple times. Sadly, pay for play may be considered business as usual in Maryland, but this also demonstrates that Martin O’Malley’s grandiose presidential dreams were cemented into place as the 2010 returns came in.
The always-quotable Hogan remarked:
Our preliminary research indicates a disturbing ‘pay to play’ pattern emerging from the O’Malley-Brown Administration where some DGA donors received a substantial, and increased, state benefits before and after making a contribution. Did the Governor solicit large contributions to help further his national aspirations and reward those donors with huge state contracts and/or implement policies that help them significantly?
Our initial research of DGA financial records is just the tip of the iceberg. It establishes a troubling trend which, when complete, may require a deeper investigation.
Could this investigation be a centerpiece of a Hogan administration? Perhaps, although having an Attorney General who won’t sweep this under the rug (i.e. a Democrat) would be of great assistance in this regard. I think Richard Douglas could sink his teeth into this one.
And while the allegations are against Martin O’Malley, whose Maryland electoral days are likely behind him, you have to wonder how much of these broad brushstrokes will tar Anthony Brown, the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination. And considering all this went on under the nose of Brown’s chief rival, Attorney General Doug Gansler, he may be in for a share of blame, too.
This obviously leads me to wonder about the timing of Change Maryland releasing its promised January report when you consider that Hogan’s announcement is also slated for sometime that month. My belief is that the report will come out just a day or two before the official announcement, giving Larry a longer news cycle to build momentum for his race.
But it also pushes me into thinking that the 2014 election could be one of the muddiest in Maryland history. We’ve already seen evidence of this in the internecine Democratic fighting between Brown and Gansler – interesting how the state trooper incident and underage drinking allegations came out at just the point when Gansler was beginning to get a little traction in the race.
So I got to wondering who was the one that went way back to 1992 and started the meme which Jeff Quinton reported on regarding Hogan’s position on abortion? One has to take this in context, though: Hogan was running for a Congressional seat at the time (as opposed to a state office) and there was a ballot question regarding abortion law which was petitioned to referendum but handily kept in place by state voters at the time. (Question 6 of 1992 passed by a 62%-38% margin, and was the last referendum until 2012.) Being pro-choice was perhaps the safer electoral move at the time – besides, it took less than four years for Barack Obama to do an about-face on gay marriage so it’s possible Larry has gravitated to a more pro-life perspective in the last 22.
Of course Democrats know that the Republican base is primarily pro-life, so what better way to sow seeds of discord among a select group of GOP primary voters than to bring up the abortion issue? Frankly, that’s not a top-drawer concern for many voters, even in the GOP, but that five percent who identify it as their key issue can make a difference in a multi-person primary. (Aside from the notion that Hogan favored keeping abortions legal, he’s right on the money about overturning Roe v. Wade and sending the issue to the states. It’s a battle best fought in Annapolis…and Dover, and Columbus, and Austin, and so forth.)
But if someone is digging that deep to find dirt about Larry Hogan, perhaps there’s something to the notion that we weren’t buried face-down as deep as some would have thought eight years ago. 2014 seems like a nice time to emerge.
This one really, really, REALLY showed me how much common sense the other party has.
I was sitting here minding my own business when I came across an e-mail from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. It started out like this:
I love the Baltimore Ravens — I always have. And because there are few things better in life than good crabcakes and the reigning champs, I want to share them both with you.
That’s why I’m inviting ten supporters and their guests to join me in Baltimore to watch the Ravens take on the Detroit Lions on Monday, December 16th.
I’ll leave aside the fact that Ms. Rawlings-Blake is old enough to remember the Baltimore Colts, and that the Ravens are a relatively new creation thanks to Art Modell – who is the exception to the rule that we should never speak ill of the dead. (Nor do I care for crabcakes, but I would gladly take a plate full of lightly battered rockfish.)
But being an NFL fan, and in particular a fan of those aforementioned Detroit Lions, I knew that game was in Detroit. So why would you advertise such a party? Anyway, after the obligitory money appeal the mayor fesses up:
Just because it’s an away game doesn’t mean we can’t show some hometown pride here in Baltimore. Food and drinks are on us — all you have to do is show up (but bonus points if you wear some purple).
What we probably won’t know until after the fact is where they are having this shindig. Are they going to use a stadium luxury box or other facility there? (M&T Stadium indeed hosts these types of events.) I guess if the Ravens are pimping Obamacare, they would feel at home hosting a Democrat fundraiser too. Or maybe they can have it at the Hilton Baltimore – they have plenty of room as well.
My guess is that Rawlings-Blake, who is now DNC secretary, is trying to get her fundraising commitment to that group in. You honestly don’t think she’s gotten the gig from taking good notes or faithfully recounting the meetings, do you? It’s all about the Benjamins, baby. Otherwise you could save yourself the donation to that most worthless of causes and catch the game at the local Greene Turtle or Buffalo Wild Wings. (The company might be better, too.)
But if there’s one thing about Maryland I would like to see purple, it would be the political color of the state come 2014. Just make sure to have the reddish hues in the right places, like statewide offices and the General Assembly. The U.S. Senate seats can be blue for a couple more years afterward, leaving a nice shade of violet.
Now if you turned a shade of purple with rage upon reading this, I could think of better places to donate – like the tipjar at the top of the page. I’m in need of upgrading my server and that costs money; every little bit helps. Thank you for your support!
When I heard the news Thursday that former South African president Nelson Mandela had died and then yesterday that Barack Obama was going to South Africa for this leader’s funeral with wife Michelle in tow, I was thinking that there was another former world leader’s funeral that he had recently missed. Breitbart reminded me of the details:
Interestingly, the Obamas did not got to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral back in April of this year. In fact, no high ranking official from the administration was sent to the Iron Lady’s funeral.
For the Iron Lady, the official United States delegation included former Secretaries of State George Schulz and James Baker III; a month earlier a sitting and former member of Congress comprised part of the delegation sent to Venezuela for the funeral of strongman Hugo Chavez. So the actual visit of the Obamas for Mandela’s service is sort of a “big f—ing deal” and will require a much larger entourage.
So why is it suddenly so important that Obama go to South Africa? The cynical will make the case that Barack is America’s luckiest president – every time something he’s botched threatens his election or his approval rating, the world comes along and gives him something to grasp. For example, the Chris Christie embrace of Obama after Superstorm Sandy blunted whatever momentum Mitt Romney had just before the 2012 election.
Now the utter failure and unpopularity of Obamacare will be broomed from the headlines for a few days, with the timing of the Obamas’ trip to South Africa coinciding nicely with the start of his annual Hawaiian Christmas holiday. This will give him almost an extra week either out of Washington or preparing for one trip or the other. All this will give his brain trust a chance to figure out new ways to blame Republicans, which will be handy because a budget battle awaits Obama’s return from Hawaii.
Among the rest of us, the reaction to Mandela’s death has run the gamut, although those in the political realm have tended to be apologists or politicized the death. Personally, it didn’t affect me one way or the other, as Mandela was a leader of another time and his country isn’t really a leader on the world stage. Nor was it completely unexpected as he had been ill for several months.
But I just found the priority Barack Obama made in attending his funeral and flying our flags at half-staff in Mandela’s honor a little puzzling, considering some of the other deaths the world has seen lately.
Moreover, we may yet see the passings of former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush – both of whom will turn 80 next year – and it will be interesting to see how they are honored by Barack Obama if this should happen during the remainder of Obama’s term.
Frankly, I’m disappointed with how this came out. One of the more important issues of our time and only one candidate is really discussing it with any sort of depth. For example, David Craig released this statement on September 30:
The Affordable Care Act has become a flash point in Congressional negotiations to continue government operations and for good reason. The unpleasant surprise with this law is that it’s not really affordable at all. Maryland’s least expensive Obamacare plan will be 83% higher than the lowest-cost plan sold in the state this year.
People are struggling with the worst economic recovery in our lifetimes, have faced down record tax, fee and toll increases, and now they are forced to pay 83% higher insurance costs. This is a massive health care tax politicians are attempting to brand as something else, and they are forcing people to buy it.
This came after he said on August 5:
These are only the initial, visible cracks in the foundation of the health care law, which like other federal public policy experiments, Maryland rushes into without conducting due diligence. I’m concerned about the cracks we don’t see yet.
Yes, you should be concerned. You’ve identified the problem, so what will you do about it? That’s what I want to know. I can’t give any points if I don’t see solutions.
On the other hand, Ron George discusses this at least briefly on his campaign site (as part of economic development) and elaborates as he answered my direct question.
Remove Obama Care and replace with a free market model that focuses on lowering costs with the ability to purchase healthcare plans across state lines. (campaign site)
I have always fought mandates from federal to state to local and will join other Republican governors in doing so. These mandates are violations if our 10th Amendment. I have proposed opening the borders to create greater competition of insurers. A free market health care system works. But we need to have tort reform or we will lose our physicians. I founded and chair the bi-partisan Doctors Caucus with 430 physicians on our advisory. I saw this coming. I will not move ahead with any form if government run health care. Period. (direct query, November 16, 2013)
I’m a little leery of any sentence which exists as the one word “period,” given recent promises by some President, but I will take Ron at his word for the sake of argument. He picks up a significant part of the free-market solution so I’m giving him five of the seven points available.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any answer I was expecting from Charles Lollar so I can’t award him anything.
Obviously there’s room for improvement for two of the candidates here, but the final four parts promise a lot more discussion. Next up is the role of government, which is somewhat of a broad subject but I think I’ll be able to focus it.
As a follow up and way to revise and extend remarks on Friday’s post about the Alliance for American Manufacturing, I decided to dig a little bit more into who they are and what they are proposing. The idea of “Made in America” is a sound one, for a number of reasons, but as I pointed out the AAM seems to have many of its eggs in the protectionist basket. To some extent, they have a case: even their attempt to furnish their Washington, D.C. office with exclusively American-made goods fell a little short:
Our tour began in one of the small offices, where (AAM executive director Scott) Paul showed off a desk from Washington state. But things took a turn downhill from there, when we got to the products on the desk.
“You can’t find phones, video display terminals,” says Paul. “I mean, none of that is American-made.” Paul couldn’t find American-made computers, either, though that may change following Apple’s announcement that it plans to make some Macs in the United States.
But then I found an entire AAM-backed legislative agenda, for which they linked to this subpage on the website of Delaware’s junior Senator Chris Coons. In it, we find a number of top-down legislative proposals in the areas of skills training, exports, access to capital, and “conditions necessary for growth.” At the time of its last update, about half of these proposals hadn’t been introduced as bills, with the last introduced bill being S.1400 in July of this year – either the website is not often updated or these proposals have languished on the back burner of a do-nothing, obstructionist Senate. This to me is quite telling as most of the sponsors are Democrats, who have the majority in the body.
It should be pointed out, too, that the Alliance for American Manufacturing is the brainchild of the United Steelworkers union and a “select group of America’s leading manufacturers.” The list of this select group isn’t widely disseminated, but the AAM describes that:
Leo Gerard, the International President of the United Steelworkers, and CEOs of Steelworker-represented manufacturers understood that. These leaders launched AAM in 2007 to build on the success of the “Stand Up For Steel” coalition.
The roots of that coalition date back to the 1990s, so this fight is an old one under a relatively new name since the AAM was founded in 2007. Essentially it’s a union partnership with the closed shops under its wing; a business-labor pact in name only.
Now that you understand its roots, it becomes more clear why they prescribe their menu of solutions. The steel industry is long known as a bastion of protectionism, given the charges of foreign steel dumping a decade or so back.
So are there any other solutions out there? The competing group to AAM is the National Association of Manufacturers, a group whose board is representative of over 200 industrial leaders. Their vision is somewhat different than that of the union-backed organization, although there are elements of protectionism and top-down dictates in their plan as well. Most worrisome to me is their advocacy for immigration reform, which is needed but must be done in such a manner that law-breaking is not rewarded at the expense of those who went about it in the correct manner.
Yet NAM makes one sound point:
Because of our tax, tort, energy and regulatory policies, it is 20 percent more expensive to do business in the United States than it is in the countries that are our nine largest trading partners — and that excludes the cost of labor.
And it’s not like the problem is new, particularly here in Maryland. I mentioned Friday that Ron George is perhaps the gubernatorial candidate most attuned to the problem (David Craig has his own plan as well), although all but one of the players involved at the time had their say at an October manufacturing summit. Moreover, outgoing Governor Martin O’Malley was even forced to pay lip service to the issue.
But we have had this discussion for several years, and the prescriptions which were suggested a half-decade ago languished on the bookshelf while Maryland developed a growing reputation as a state hostile to business. It’s sort of strange that what I wrote on Friday – as a person who had never seen this report – nailed their first point about “a competitive and stable business environment.” They also talked about the need for a “balanced approach” to energy rather than the heavy emphasis on renewables, which is another pet peeve of mine. (Little did they know at the time the report was compiled – just five short years ago – that America and a portion of Maryland were sitting on an energy gold mine.)
In short, the solutions to the problem seem to be there and many fall into the conservative, pro-liberty camp. If we tell the radical environmentalists and regulators to go pound sand because we have work to do, chances are more of us would indeed have more work to do and more prosperity to spread around.
While Black Friday has spilled over into Thanksgiving Day for some retailers, the bulk of merchants still open extremely early on the Friday after Thanksgiving, promising loss leaders which normally fall into the realm of electronics. Sadly, practically all of these items are made overseas which means Americans aren’t making them or generally raking in the profits from their sale. More than anything, this change in operations over the last half-century has been blamed for the decline of the middle class.
Last year Scott Paul, who heads the Alliance for American Manufacturing, penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post where he noted:
The day after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday,” is also an American tradition, albeit a more recent one. Shoppers sometimes maim and maul each other to find bargains at big box stores and shopping malls. It’s ugly. And in a way, it represents the very worst of America.
Black Friday is also the most visible symptom of what’s really dragging down our middle class: we consume too much from overseas, and we don’t produce enough here to make up the difference. That burdens us with debt, and leaves us fewer options for jobs.
There is a solution, and it may sound quaint, but it’s never been truer than it is today: this Black Friday: Buy American.
They’ve also put out a list of American-made gift ideas from each state, a unique collection which features everything from lip balm to motor homes. (Representing Delaware is local brewery Dogfish Head – not a bad choice for someone like me although I prefer 16 Mile. Dogfish Head was selected based on nationwide distribution.)
Obviously I’m of the opinion Americans need to make more things; the same can be said of Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ron George, who has spent the most time of his cohorts touting the idea of bringing manufacturing to Maryland. Recently he pointed out the state is dead last in the country in certain key metrics.
The way I see it, there are certain things state and local government can do to accomplish this: among them are a stable and predictable regulatory regime, a corporate tax rate that’s fair and doesn’t punish achievement or investment, and the transportation infrastructure required to whisk goods to market in the most rapid fashion possible. Hopefully all these work to a point where counterproductive incentives like tax abatement or abuse of eminent domain aren’t necessary.
Unfortunately, it seems the AAM has a different idea on how to achieve the goal. Most of their federal advocacy is barely-veiled protectionism, which in the long run discourages innovation and results in fewer opportunities for the consumer. Of course I think trading partners should deal with us in a fair way, but one also has to figure out that there has to be some reason an American company can manufacture goods overseas, load them on a ship and wait a week or two for them to arrive – paying for that service – and still make more money on the products than they would in an American factory with American workers. It can’t all be labor costs.
It would be nice to be able to go to a Walmart or Best Buy and find American-made electronics rather than support a regime with missiles pointed at us. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to want to change the system to make this happen and protectionism isn’t the answer.
It’s funny because automakers from around the world set up shop in America to build their cars, so it’s obvious some industries prefer our workers. Granted, putting together a television exhibits nothing close to the complexity of building an automobile, but if the complex assembly of a car or truck can be made here profitably we should be able to make anything cheaper and better. Now that we know we have enough inexpensive energy reserves to last us for generations, let’s make our future Black Fridays more prosperous by encouraging the return of manufacturing.
I suspended this process for several days in the incorrect belief that Larry Hogan would jump into the race and give me some direction on where he stands with the various issues I’ve already covered. But since he’s passing until January I will continue to vet the others without him.
The definition of “War on Rural Maryland” is rather broad to me, but generally focuses on land use, environmental, and agricultural issues. In many ways, the three are intertwined but over the last seven years the prosperity and freedom rural denizens of the state enjoy has been significantly eroded by decisions from on high in Annapolis. This is an effort to grade the candidates on how they would react and reverse some of these ill-considered ideas.
David Craig: As Governor, I will return land use decisions to local government where they belong and will replace a punishment and control regime with a conservation agenda. I will work with the Governors of New York and Pennsylvania to clean up the Susquehanna and reduce that major source of Bay pollution. I will end the practice of Maryland bearing the brunt of responsibility for cleaning up the Bay and being responsible for a 64,000 square mile watershed that includes surrounding states.
I will work with local governments to promote sound planning but leave the control of land use where it belongs, closest to the people. (campaign site)
When asked “where will you stick PlanMaryland?” Craig answered back with, “where do you want me to stick it?” (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)
What I’ve found is the best way is to actually listen to the farmers have to say and have them come up with solutions for what they think needs to be done, and then convince the other farmer this is the best way to go – it’s not government talking to you. (They’d say) I did this on my farm, it saved me money, it did this and saved me all these rules and regulations.
But we get all these people that are in environmental services, they have this job, they’re lawyers, they’re environmental – but they know nothing. I had a situation talking with the Maryland Department of the Environment, I said give me an example of this rain tax, I have two – or septic tax. I have two farms, tell me which one’s the worst. How will I be able to determine which one – one guy’s doing the good job, one’s a bad job? And the guy looked at me and said we can’t figure that out. (monoblogue interview)
Perhaps the biggest environmental enigma about David Craig is Harford County’s on-again, off-again flirtation with ICLEI, or the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. (It’s better known as ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.) In 2010, to much fanfare, Harford County became one of Maryland’s ICLEI members, saying it had “taken another step towards achieving the goal of environmental stewardship” by joining the group.
But less than three years later, the county more quietly withdrew from the group, with the local Harford Campaign for Liberty taking credit along with an assist from the county’s Republican Party and a resolution it passed early this year. Perhaps they read the group’s charter?
Somehow, though, that notice of withdrawal has escaped the county’s Sustainability Office, which is instead in the midst of promoting another cherished leftist scheme, Car-Free Days, next weekend. (monoblogue, September 15, 2013)
He called for a repeal of the state (“rain tax”) law, then went on to suggest that Maryland should back off from a range of measures adopted in recent decades to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. His proposals include elimination of the 1984 Critical Areas Act, a measure regarded by environmentalists as the crown jewel of the state’s Bay protection laws.
“Why don’t you get rid of all the previous bills?” Craig said. “Let’s get rid of of the Critical Areas Act.”
In addition to the critical area law, which restricts development on parcels within 1,000 yards of the bay and its tributaries, Craig said he would like to get rid of a 2007 law requiring developments to avoid any increase in stormwater runoff and abolish a 1998 law requiring farmers to limit the runoff of fertilizer and animal waste. (Baltimore Sun, September 17, 2013)
“While I share the desire for a clean and healthy bay, as most of us probably do, I question the priorities of those in Annapolis who feel that no price is too steep to pay for only a marginal improvement in bay quality,” Craig said. “Our businesses and taxpayers expect us, as county government, to act as their last line of defense against over-the-top polices from the state and federal governments whenever possible, and that is what I intend to do.” (Washington Post, September 18, 2013)
Ron George: Ease Farm regulations that over reach while making large areas unprofitable.
Restore, Conserve and Preserve Our Natural Resources without punishing the very people who live, work and recreate here because they love our beautiful state including businesses, homeowners, boaters, farmers, watermen or taxpayers…or anyone who gets rained on.
Dredge the “silt pond” above the Conowingo Dam, which causes far more harm to the bay’s ecosystem each time it overflows or the dam is opened.
Encourage planting of Maryland’s tall deciduous tree species including Oaks and Maples.
Allow for the hunting of overpopulated species.
Giving the dollars for bay oyster restoration directly to River Keepers and their volunteers. (campaign site)
In a past campaign, Ron George billed himself as the “Green Elephant.” Here’s a list of some of the environmental restrictions he’s voted for in the past eight years – many of which he cheerfully admitted voting for in his 2010 campaign. The number in parentheses afterward is the number of opposition votes in the House of Delegates.
All of these votes were graded in previous editions of the monoblogue Accountability Project.
Maryland Clean Cars Act of 2007 (17 votes)
Clean Indoor Act of 2007 (39 votes)
Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund (30 votes)
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – Maryland Strategic Energy Investment Program (25 votes)
EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008 (33 votes)
Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area Protection Program – Administrative and Enforcement Provisions (15 votes)
Smart, Green, and Growing – Local Government Planning – Planning Visions (7 votes)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009 (30 votes)
Smart, Green, and Growing – Smart and Sustainable Growth Act of 2009 (12 votes)
Natural Resources – No Net Loss of Forest Policy – Forest Conservation Act (23 votes)
Agriculture – Lawn Fertilizer – Low Phosphorus Fertilizer (19 votes)
Smart, Green, and Growing – The Sustainable Communities Act of 2010 (27 votes)
Stormwater Management – Development Projects – Requirements (13 votes)
Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Solar Energy (31 votes)
Smart. Green, and Growing – Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission (20 votes)
Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program (27 votes)
Natural Resources – Forest Preservation Act of 2013 (27 votes)
I will note, however, that the majority of these votes came during Ron’s first term in office (2007-10) and he has moved somewhat away from the “Green Elephant” designation – one key example was voting against the Septic Bill in 2012. But how do we determine Ron’s line in the sand? (monoblogue, September 15, 2013)
Charles Lollar: I am committed to saving the Bay – and to doing it in a right and in a balanced way.
First, I will support full annual funding – $50 million – of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, created in 2007. Those trust funds must not be diverted to general and other purposes, as the O’Malley/Brown Administration proposed in FY 2010. Other budget needs and challenges will be addressed directly – and not bailed out by grabbing Trust Fund monies.
Second, we must find deal smartly with the sources of pollutions, including those coming from other states in water that flows into the headwaters of the Bay. Our approach to the public and private point and non-point sources of the pollutants that threaten the Bay must be prudent, balanced – not extreme. Our approach must avoid economic dislocations and injuries that can result from overzealous regulation.
As Maryland’s Governor, I will fully engage directly with the Governors of the other Chesapeake Bay states and federal officials at the Environment Protection Agency to determine the best approaches to be taken to continually improve the quality of the bay and protect its eco-systems. (campaign website)
“This cronyism, and this opportunity to shut down the agricultural industry in this state, is going to come to a stop.” (YouTube video at Hudson Farm, September 8, 2013)
Since the Democrats are the ones perpetrating the War on Rural Maryland it’s doubtful they will back off. In fact, Doug Gansler’s entire environmental platform seems to be one of making chicken farmers convert waste to energy, while the other two major candidates basically ignore rural needs.
I think that, in order to give David Craig a fair evaluation, I have to know which one I’m talking to. Telling them to stick PlanMaryland, repealing the rain tax, and wiping out the Critical Areas Act would be a great start to restoring balance, although I guarantee the media coverage sensationalized what he said in the latter case just to make him look like he’s for dirty water. (I don’t fall for the hype, figuring local areas could have regulations which are just as strident, which is the beauty of local control. Or they could work toward something more reasonable.)
But then again, three years ago he was signing up for ICLEI and the county he runs still has a Sustainability Office. So I’m left to wonder just how serious he is about ridding us of overbearing government and over-the-top radical environmentalism. I think I’ll give him 8 points of 12 for now.
To a great extent, the same applies to Ron George. It’s worth pondering how he was pushed from being a “green elephant” to the point where he at least talks about easing farm regulations (but doesn’t provide a lot of specifics) and votes against an onerous septic bill. It seems to me that Ron is trying to skate a middle ground between what he thinks people want to hear and actions which would potentially help farmers and rural counties but can be portrayed negatively by the major media outlets (as Craig was.) So I can only give him 6 of 12 points, right in the middle.
In listening to Charles Lollar speak at the Hudson farm, I was struck by his passion. But when I read his brief statement on environmental matters – one which accepts the premise that the state has to spend $50 million (or more) a year in a vain attempt to coddle an environmental group which will never be satisfied, I wonder what his real plan is. Certainly it needs more study, but I can’t see at this point where he would make a bold statement on repealing legislation or rolling back regulations. If he can accept the status quo on the trust fund, what else will he leave in place? So I can give him just 5 of 12 points.
I haven’t decided if I will double back to Obamacare before tackling the higher priorities or not. Only one candidate has answered me directly on the subject, while another is promising me more information. With this being a holiday week I will likely make the decision for Friday, since I already have a book review planned for Saturday.
I think I can get all this in one part. To be quite honest, this convention didn’t match the buildup.
It was sort of strange. I noted earlier in the week that the whole Lollar controversy in the blogosphere overshadowed the months-long debate over the open primary question, and then the prospect of a Larry Hogan gubernatorial announcement upstaged several other events.
These were the scenes around the main ballroom on Friday night after arrival.
There was no doubt that they were proud of their achievements.
And something tells me that most of these stickers were gone by the end of the night.
The Change Maryland party even had a live band, called the Great Escape Band. I noted on Facebook that may be something subliminal if Larry doesn’t win.
Aside from one song they sort of butchered up in my line of thinking, the band was really pretty good. They also reinforced my belief that there’s not a band which doesn’t know ‘Mustang Sally.’ Although he actually didn’t write the song Wilson Pickett must be proud, wherever he is.
But when they took their break, the real rock star came into the room.
What I have found interesting in looking back and listening again to what Larry said is that my interpretation is much different than what Larry presented to other outlets.
This, which I transcribed from the remarks he presented, is part of what Larry Hogan said last night:
Now everyone who knows me knows that I love this state, I hate to let people down, and that I’ve never walked away from a tough fight.
I’m not a professional politician – I’m just a businessman – but I don’t think that you need to be campaigning all throughout 2013 for an election that takes place at the end of 2014. But, you know, we are getting pretty close to the end of the year.
I promised my wife and family that I would spend a little quality time with them over the holidays, and I’m looking forward to that.
And as you may know I founded and run a group of companies that has brought hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs to Maryland, and I promised the employees and my colleagues that I would stay at the helm and continue to work hard with them to try to have a strong finish to the calendar year.
So there won’t be a formal announcement or an official launch until January, but tonight – tonight I wanted to be very clear about our intentions.
I happen to believe very strongly that the people of Maryland simply cannot afford another four years of O’Malley/Brown/Gansler tax and spend policies.
Hogan went on to say, “This isn’t a fight between right and left, it’s a fight between right and wrong.
I honestly believe people went in there expecting Larry to make the formal announcement last night, so once he made his remarks a good percentage of the people left his party.
Of course, Hogan’s wasn’t the only party. Before I stopped by the Change Maryland event, I dropped in to Ron George’s suite which featured this.
I had one other photo which, alas, didn’t come out. Ron actually had a pretty lively thing going early on.
Just downstairs from Ron was David Craig’s suite. The candidate wasn’t there because he was at the RGA meeting in Arizona, but David had a lovely second-in-command to take his place.
LG hopeful Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio held down the fort. It’s worth noting they had pretty good traffic.
They also have a slew of printed material. I suppose you can cut out the Craig part if you really share the sentiment.
Instead of a suite, fellow candidate Charles Lollar (who was also in Arizona at the RGA) had a lobby table.
On the table, among the other handouts, was a letter explaining his absence, which read in part:
Unfortunately, this means I will miss the opportunity on Friday evening to meet with you, answer your questions, and tour the hospitality suites, but I look forward to joining everyone on Saturday to share my plans for returning prosperity to Maryland.
One place Charles may have found himself welcome was the Maryland Liberty PAC suite, which was all by itself on the other end of the building. Despite that, they had a lively group.
Alas, I think I missed this presentation.
The other suites were county suites from Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties. This photo was of the Anne Arundel suite, which by the way had the best food.
But it seemed like a lot of the air was sucked out of the celebrations early, with most of the parties finished before the clock struck 12. That’s when I took to Facebook and wrote:
So my thoughts on day 1 as I head to bed:
I’m sure I’m not the only one scratching my head over Larry Hogan and his decision to wait to announce his intentions until January. The chatter around the convention seemed, well, less than positive. He had 1,000 supporters in a festive mood and plenty of press only to cite family and business as reason to wait.
There were a number of good parties about, though, and I renewed acquaintances with a number of friends and fans. But pardon me if tomorrow seems a little less exciting.
I think I’ll have some more thoughts on all this tomorrow, but allow me to move on. They probably won’t be in line with the thoughts of these gentlemen: from left to right, Jeff Quinton of The Quinton Report and Greg Kline, Mark Newgent, and Andrew Langer of the Red Maryland Network.
And no, I was not on their show last night. Wasn’t sought out and didn’t seek them out – gave some others a chance.
This is what I saw looking out the window this morning.
So when I woke up, I was at least expecting to deal with this lengthy issue regarding open primaries – finally, a chance to decide. Wrong!
I suppose I should back up and point out that I did not cover the Friday evening Executive Committee meeting as I usually do. There were a couple reasons for this, but the primary one is that I was the escort for a good friend of mine who was the lucky recipient of my second Change Maryland ticket. But had I done so I may have found out that open primaries wouldn’t be discussed. Nor did I do breakfast this time, because the speaker didn’t appeal to me.
So the first (and only) Saturday event I attended was our combination lunch and session.
Let me say that I thought having the lunch and session as we did was a splendid idea, with the key reasons being we didn’t have to get settled in after lunch in a different venue and the fact we could sit at tables – no more balancing my note pad on my lap.
First we heard welcoming remarks by Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.
Yes, the photo is dark. But Laura had an intriguing story of being an MBA without being a high school graduate. Her remarks reflected a philosophy which said “over and over, if I worked hard, opportunity would be available to me.”
“My story could only happen in this country,” she added. “That’s why I’m a Republican.” She expressed the belief that hard work should equal opportunity.
Our luncheon speakers both came from the RNC.
Kristal Quarker-Hartsfield is the director of African-American Initiatives whose family “has been Republican since Reconstruction.” Her task was to spread the Republican message to areas not typically reached by the party, including black churches, historically black colleges and universities, and so forth. She added that Reince Priebus was “serious about going into these communities and doing things the right way.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Fong noted there’s “a good mix of people” here, and talked about the GOP’s renewed emphasis on minority communities. He made the case that many blacks would “consider” voting Republican if we were “just showing up.”
There was a buzz about the next speaker as well.
Described by Chair Diana Waterman as the future of the party, Annapolis Mayor-elect Mike Pantelides briefly outlined some of his secrets to success, particularly in social media. (The Twitter debate seems like a good way to promote brevity of remarks.)
With that out of the way, we rolled through some convention business so routine I snapped this on the Allegany County sign.
I guess the one interesting part was the complaint that the minutes didn’t reflect a resolution which was on the spring agenda but not brought up – the Tari Moore resolution tabled a year ago. But parliamentary procedure showed it was dead once the gavel fell in April.
So we moved on to State Senator David Brinkley’s report on the Senate, where we have a “tremendous field of candidates.” He made sure to mention that if Anthony Brown thought he’d have a coronation, he should have a cup of coffee with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Brinkley bemoaned the economic state of the state, making the case that job creators are “voting with their feet” and “anyplace south of the Potomac is friendlier (to business) than Maryland.” If we want more manufacturing jobs, Brinkley added, “right-to-work has to be one of the conversations.”
Overall, David believed that “even the Democrats are disgusted with the games and gamesmanship.” All we need are candidates who are conversant with the issues.
On the House side, Delegate Kathy Szeliga was kind enough to pass out her report, which highlighted many of the measures to be considered in next year’s session. It’s a list which includes tax cuts, a repeal of the “rain tax” and Common Core, protecting charter schools and creating a voucher system, and modifications to the gun bill.
Moving into the Chair’s Report, Diana Waterman exhorted us to “take advantage of all the opportunities our liberal Democrats gave us.” She also pushed an initiative called the Old Line Club, which was a monthly fundraising of $8 or more a month, automatically deducted.
But I found the Executive Director’s Report from Joe Cluster made me sit up and take notice: county-by-county goals. Even the Republican strongholds of Carroll and Garrett counties had marching orders: hold what you have and help other counties out.
Nicolee Ambrose, in her National Committeewoman’s Report, touted the successes of the Super Saturday program in Annapolis and Frederick. It also served as a good test market for issue advocacy, and next year the program will be expanded and divided into pre-primary and post-primary positions.
She also related the success of 3-part fundraisers like the Allen West event in Prince George’s County as a model for others to follow.
On a national scale, Nicolee spoke on IT improvements the party was undertaking as well as the winter RNC meeting in Virginia.
As is often the case, National Committeeman Louis Pope was optimistic: “We’re going to have a phenomenal year in 2014,” he predicted. He shared good news on the financial front and on how the party was working on regaining its technological advantage. Moreover, Obama’s “Teflon-coated presidency is coming to an end,” said Louis.
Pope also spoke on Maryland, calling the state one with a “very angry electorate” and “very energized (GOP) base.”
Finally we made it to resolutions. Two of them made it out of committee and two didn’t.
The ones which were presented to the floor came from John Fiastro, Jr. and Dave Myers.
You could call Fiastro’s resolution the Don Dwyer resolution, since it seemed tailored with his situation in mind. But Delegate Michael Smigiel, who was carrying a proxy, spoke up and called it “too broad.” An amendment to allow for acts of civil disobedience to address Smigiel’s concerns failed on a voice vote when Smigiel noted “there’s not enough lipstick to put on this pig.”
Once the question was called, the Fiastro motion failed by a large margin, over 75 percent voting against.
The other resolution was one which called on the party to stop sending “mixed messages” and integrate the pro-liberty community. It lost on a voice vote, even after the “mixed message” portion was excised. But Diana Waterman promised to create an advisory committee to hear the diverse portions of the party after the first of the year. So we’ll see.
Certainly the Maryland Liberty PAC and other groups will be watching.
There was an attempt to get one other resolution to the floor concerning the Frederick robocall, which had some support. But more people wanted to adjourn, which was the motion presented by Nick Panuzio of Talbot County. He’s good at that. (Update: I’m told by Denise Lovelady of Talbot that it actually was Josh Horner who motioned to adjourn, but I heard the motion credited to Nick by the Chair. So let’s say Talbot County is good at that.)
Upon driving home, though, the four of us who traveled together saw perhaps the prettiest sunset we’d seen in quite some time, so I’m going to take it as a divine sign we did something right even if it wasn’t expected.
Normally in the state conventions leading up to a primary election, candidates for elected office scurry around, gladhanding the attendees and hosting hospitality parties therein. This is the path contender Ron George has chosen, alerting those of us on his e-mail list of his intentions today. He’ll be there, but at a much smaller scale than presumable future opponent Larry Hogan, whose nascent campaign has pushed a major event and announcement tomorrow night as well.
On the other hand, a competing event in Arizona has drawn two of the other challengers. The Republican Governors Association meets there this week and both David Craig and Charles Lollar have chosen to attend that gathering instead of the state convention, with Craig making a presentation there according to campaign spokesman Jim Pettit, quoted in the Baltimore Sun.
Not to be outdone, Lollar posted a photo on his campaign Facebook page with recently re-elected New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
Having Craig there may help provide Lollar cover from the naysayers who chide him for skipping party events, and he promised to be back on Saturday. But going to the RGA made perfect sense for Craig, who related in July that he would lean heavily on other Republican governors for guidance.
Since Hogan’s party has the prospect of sucking all of the oxygen out of the MDGOP affair, this may not be such a bad move. Certainly there will be representatives of both absent campaigns there, but with the convention coming just before Thanksgiving the news cycle created will be relatively short.
The event for which I’ll be anxious to see participation will be the Turning the Tides 2014 conference held in the very same hotel in January. Last year’s event was outstanding and organizers are going to great lengths to top it in 2014 by extending it to a evening/day affair similar to the MDGOP conventions. We’ll see who puts it on their calendar and who risks alienating a committed conservative crowd.
You know, if it hadn’t been for an overzealous overreaction to the Sandy Hook shooting this wouldn’t be an issue. But Maryland went way overboard – despite the hundreds and hundreds who descended upon Annapolis in a vain attempt to convince the majority of lawmakers otherwise – and it’s now on my front burner as a top issue.
I happen to believe my concealed carry permit is the Second Amendment, so let’s see how the GOP candidates compare.
David Craig: I will work to repeal ill-conceived legislation such as Senate Bill 281 passed in 2013 that do nothing but undermine the 2nd amendment. I will protect the rights of responsible firearm owners and hunters. And I will support Maryland becoming a “shall issue” state to enable law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. (campaign website)
Similarly, when asked about the Second Amendment, David took the conservative line of being “a strong supporter of all amendments.” In fact, he added that the American Revolution wasn’t fought over taxation but the move by the British to disarm the colonists. David also joked that there should be a regulation: red doors for all gun owners and blue ones for those who don’t – “so they know who to rob.” (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)
Ron George: Ron made sure to remark the Second Amendment “has my full support,” noting he was the only Delegate to actually testify at the afternoon regulatory hearing in Annapolis. He noted eight different problems with the regulations, where legislation was being written in. (WCRC meeting, September 23, 2013)
Charles Lollar: I believe in our Constitution and I believe our government has no right to remove our right to keep and bear arms and/or make it nearly impossible for citizens to carry weapons, if they choose to do so. Law-abiding citizens should most definitely be permitted to conceal carry their weapons. (campaign website)
…the Second Amendment “is the lifeline of your freedom.” (Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, March 23, 2013)
It’s no shock to me that the Democrats don’t discuss the issue, neither as an “achievement” or something which needs to be addressed.
I somewhat oversimplified my position above, but suffice to say that all three candidates thus far score highly.
The only question I would have about David Craig‘s position is just what he means by “shall issue” because even those states have a wide range of restrictions on who shall be issued to. (This is a good reference to what I mean.) It’s not just repealing SB281 or even becoming “shall issue” – that’s just barely at minimum what should be done. I would rather see us fall into the “unrestricted” category but I’m not sure David would show that much leadership. Still, I believe a solid 8 of 11 points is in order.
The same goes for Ron George, who gets kudos for testifying against the so-called Firearm Safety Act of 2013. He’s also shown a pretty good voting record on the subject, but it’s a little disappointing he doesn’t trumpet this on his website. I think he’s just a shade better than Craig, so I give Ron 8.5 points.
I know Charles Lollar has been out front and outspoken about the Second Amendment issue, moreso than any of the other candidates. The only question I have is how far he would take us in the right direction. But I think he understands the issue enough, and the fact he’s making the case at most of his campaign stops and has adopted this as a primary issue gives him just that much more credence that he should get 10 points out of 11.
I will eventually work my way back to the Obamacare question – as the campaigns slowly work on their answers to the issue, I gather – but my next post will discuss the War on Rural Maryland and what these three plan to do about it.
Those who hold power in Annapolis continue to talk about bringing back manufacturing jobs, but the path toward making Maryland a major player again in that field begins with making a number of changes. So says gubernatorial candidate Ron George, who put out a stark criticism of the O’Malley record:
The O’Malley/Brown administration has abandoned the working man at the time when manufacturing companies are relocating back to the US and looking for a hard working, well-educated workforce. Our progressive tax system, from the sky high property tax rates in Baltimore City to the equipment tax that is four times the national average, has positioned Maryland as the worst state in the country for manufacturing.
Manufacturing accounts for a significant percentage of new jobs for workers with less education and experience in the workforce. I am working to reform education in our urban centers to direct and expose our young people towards careers requiring a trade or specialized certification.
George cites a Tax Foundation study which shows Maryland lagging behind its neighbors; indeed in several aspects of the study our state was dead last. (Oddly enough, though, Pennsylvania fared worse overall than Maryland – its recent good job fortune comes with its farsighted decision to exploit its underground resources.)
I found this interesting on the heels of a recent op-ed by Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which chastised the Obama administration for a slow growth in manufacturing jobs nationwide. Paul concludes that:
Too few of our policymakers have considered the consequences that came with losing a third of our manufacturing jobs in the last decade. This economic recovery has not worked for the middle class; but a real one will occur when we begin to revalue manufacturing’s place at the heart of it.
Ironically, this op-ed came out on the same day leading Democratic contender Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown skipped a Maryland manufacturing conference.
So why can’t Maryland be a leader in making things? It would certainly be good for diversifying our state’s economy, which seems far too dependent on the federal government. Rather than pushing the pencils inside the Beltway, we should be making them in Hagerstown, Elkton, or any of a number of small towns which could use the employment. Of all the GOP candidates, Ron has probably devoted the most thought to the process. I also applaud the implied endorsement of vocational programs which are sorely needed in this day and age, giving people the skills necessary to not only become useful workers but also potential entrepreneurs and teachers of skilled trades.
Yet there is one thing missing in George’s idea; admittedly, no one else has really considered it either. There are several modes of transportation available for goods produced in Maryland; for domestic consumption we have reasonably good (if somewhat traffic-choked) north-south highways in I-95 and I-81 with an alternate coastal route of U.S. 13 through Delaware and the Eastern Shore. Unfortunately, transportation to the west is somewhat more problematic, with the meandering I-70 being the best bet. There is also rail transportation available, along with a oceangoing seaport in Baltimore to export goods and more limited facilities in Salisbury for barges. (Obviously there are airports as well, but generally manufactured goods use other means of transport.)
Maryland needs to position itself as a state which has a relatively good location between the metropolis of the Boston-Washington axis and the growing region of the Sun Belt, a workforce which is better educated than most, and – most importantly – a mindset I’m going to borrow from a former Republican governor of my home state, James Rhodes: “Profit is not a dirty word.” Let businesses come and make some, rather than confiscate the fruits of their toil as Maryland seems most willing to do.
Let’s face it: with the government we have in place, both in Maryland and nationally, the middle class is being phased out. There are a few on the top with all the cronyism and connections, a small (but growing) cadre of government minions who get their wealth from writing the rules which allow the upper crust to stay where they are at, and a huge number who have become the serfs of this modern-day feudalism. When America made things, it had a middle class and everyone benefited. It’s time to bring it back through leadership with an eye toward that goal.
The burr underneath Martin O’Malley’s saddle must have stuck when the horses were changed because now Larry Hogan and Change Maryland is becoming an irritant to Anthony Brown. In the wake of Brown dodging and ducking the questions of interviewer Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV, Hogan added the following response under the Change Maryland banner:
The O’Malley-Brown Administration has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for the ACA and Lt. Governor Brown is responsible for implementing Maryland’s version of the law. Last night, Anthony Brown admitted that he knew many Marylanders could not keep their insurance despite promises to the contrary. By remaining silent, he intentionally misled thousands of mothers, fathers, and children who depend on health care insurance for the treatment they need.
As Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown has an obligation to serve the best interests of all Marylanders, which means being straightforward about the implementation of this new law. Despite all the promises from the O’Malley-Brown Administration that the state was ready for this roll out, the exchange has been plagued with one problem after another.
Marylanders deserve to know whether or not people are enrolling in the Health Benefit Exchange because ultimately, the success or failure of the program will have a direct impact on their own health insurance. Brown’s failures have given us zero confidence that the state even knows how many people have enrolled.
It’s time for Mr. Brown to come clean with Marylanders, take responsibility for the problems of the state exchange, and personally apologize for misleading the public. Regardless of how anyone feels about the new law, Anthony Brown obviously put partisan politics ahead of the people he was elected to represent. This falls 100% in his lap.
Change Maryland also pointed out a discrepancy in enrollment figures between state and federal reports, numbers which suggest the state may have exaggerated enrollment figures nearly fourfold; federal numbers show Maryland enrolled 1,284 in the first month Obamacare was active while the state claims 4,651. Meanwhile, 73,000 Marylanders were sent cancellation notices, including Sixth District Congressional candidate Dan Bongino, who posted his online. I went to public school, but even I can see that math makes the point that the Affordable Care Act is neither going to be affordable nor caring.
If you look at this through a political lens, however, two things jump out at you.
One is the presumption that Brown will be the Democratic nominee at this early stage, given his commanding poll edge. Granted, Anthony Brown is the one who is touting his healthcare record - particularly the more and more laughable claim that “independent studies show will reduce the number of uninsured in Maryland by 50%” – and running as a continuation of the “success” of the last seven long years. (Brown’s doublespeak extends to other areas of his healthcare record; according to him Maryland expanded Medicaid by “working with stakeholders and placing higher costs on tobacco products.” In English, this was the dollar-a-pack cigarette tax hike, which served as among the most regressive of O’Malley/Brown’s many tax hikes.)
Secondly, it’s a reiteration of a point which those on our side frequently make: have we seen this discrepancy covered in the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post? Looking at the Sun‘s main page today, we find instead the headline touting a 36% hike in enrollments – not a word about the Jayne Miller interview. The Post ignores the story altogether, but joyfully kicks the outgoing McDonnell administration in Virginia with a report on $575,000 in legal bills paid by the taxpayer, in a case where the billing is allowed by law. (Just wait until Terry McAuliffe takes office; he’ll make that $575,000 seem like pocket change.)
On the other hand, this allegation has received scant coverage beyond the original WBAL segment: a reprint of the press release here, a mention of the Jayne Miller interview as part of Maryland Reporter‘s state roundup yesterday, and now my piece. (Needless to say it was also linked on ChangeMaryland’s Facebook page with its 64,000 followers.) Even if this gets picked up by other local bloggers, talk radio, and such, it’s going to be an uphill fight to get the word out on anything like this.
Working twice as hard to accomplish half as much seems to be the norm for us when it comes to media. But I think we’re improving, and can do even better once we convince the campaigns to stay on message.