A deceptive practice?

To be a well-informed voter, sometimes you need context. Take this example I received from Bill Murphy of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which was plugging a website called electionharmony.com on Valentine’s Day.

The targeted six.

If you go to that URL, you’re redirected here, which is the NRSC’s blog.

All this is well and good, but I wanted more. So I wrote back and asked Murphy about context: did have have the data for all 100 Senators, for my thought was that – just based on the sheer number of near-unanimous votes the Senate takes – a lot of Republicans would fall into the 75% to 85% range themselves. Murphy’s pithy reply: “We’re running against the Democrats below. Our priority is to highlight their voting record to their constituents and defeat them in November.”

Okay, I get it. But you probably picked a bad week to do this after a number of Republican senators sold out and voted to pass a “clean” debt ceiling bill (a.k.a. blank check) without extracting any concessions whatsoever from the Democrats. It was even more gutless for some Republican senators to vote for cloture only to turn around and vote against the final bill when they knew the Democrats would have the votes to pass it. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn were two of those who, as far as I’m concerned, voted with Obama 100% of the time last week and I find that unacceptable.

Here’s my problem with this approach. Sure, it would be nice to pick up the six seats in the Senate, maintain control of the House, and give Barack Obama a completely Republican Congress to deal with come next year. But will they have the cajones to keep him in check when he uses his pen and his phone to rewrite laws without their consent, as he has done time and time again with Obamacare?

The NRSC supports Republicans in the Senate and tries to find candidates to defeat Democrats. But there are degrees to being Republican. I understand that winning a Senate seat in Maine or Oregon may take a somewhat different candidate than one who can prevail in Texas or South Carolina, but they should all adhere to at least some conservative principles and must have the intestinal fortitude to stand up against overreach of the executive branch, up to and including impeachment. (Yes, I said the i-word.) So what if it’s the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency and so what if we would have to survive Joe Biden. (Delaware can get a President before it gets a national park, since they are shut out of both at the moment.) We didn’t elect an emperor.

Yet the NRSC will likely try to protect its incumbents, regardless of their merits. Listen, I’m a registered Republican, but sometimes my party gets it wrong. A hokey URL and noting some Democrats vote with their president over 90 percent of the time is one thing, but we also need to present a principled conservative alternative along with a plan to keep the executive branch in check. I haven’t seen that come across my e-mail box yet.

A new job for Newt?

September 29, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Politics, Senator Watch, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

It was a little scary when I glanced at the subject line of the e-mail: wasn’t Newt Gingrich a flop as a Presidential candidate? And isn’t a little soon to be discussing 2016, really?

Upon further inspection, though, I found that Republicans can be carpetbaggers, too:

As a former senior staffer on Newt’s 2012 presidential campaign, I am leading the effort to convince Newt Gingrich to run for U.S. Senate and building a winning grassroots campaign for when he does.

So far, the initial push has been a resounding success. We’ve had tens of thousands of grassroots activists across the country sign the petition to Draft NEWT.

In fact, the campaign has been so successful that we’ve generated significant positive press attention from the Washington Times and many national political papers. Now, we are looking for our second wave as we continue to drum up support for the Draft NEWT movement and build a winning ground game.

The gentleman who’s on the sending end of this is named Andrew Hemingway. It sounds like he’s pining for a job in the nascent Newt campaign:

If we generate enough signatures and enough financial support, we will be able to get Newt into the race with an overwhelming grassroots base of support.

If we are successful, Newt will go to the Senate and work with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to restore and uphold our Second and Tenth Amendment rights, balance the budget, abolish Obamacare, and put a stop to Barack Obama’s liberal second term agenda.

With Republicans on the edge of retaking power in the US Senate, a Newt victory could be the win that puts Republicans over the edge. How great would it be to know that your efforts helped Draft Newt, elect Newt, and retake the U.S. Senate?

I suppose the reason I thought this was a 2016 effort was because awhile back I told you about a bid to get Judge Andrew Napolitano off the sidelines and into the 2016 presidential race. Obviously Maryland had its recent movement to draft Charles Lollar into the gubernatorial race bear fruit as well. But would the commonwealth of Virginia take kindly to an outsider running for Senate?

Because Newt didn’t qualify for the Virginia presidential primary last year, it’s hard to gauge what sort of support he would have had in the state. But judging by the fact the Draft Newt Facebook page has 17 likes and the Twitter page has but 7 followers, I don’t imagine the petition is too far along – meanwhile, time is wasting. Granted, things are a little different in Virginia because they conduct state elections in odd-numbered years so they’re in the midst of a heated gubernatorial campaign as we speak, but once the holidays are over you would hope Newt would be ready to go. So far, though, Gingrich seems more interested in life off the campaign trail.

But if Crossfire gets cancelled, I suppose Newt will have some free time on his hands. I think Virginia Republicans are on their own with this one.

Is it truly ‘My Maryland’?

Billing itself as “Democracy’s First Online Town Hall”, the website MyMaryland.net recently went live with backing from the Sunlight Foundation, a group which advocates for governmental transparency.

The website is a pilot project where users can sign up and learn about and contact their elected officials. So I decided to make myself a guinea pig and sign up.

From the homepage, I selected “Join” and was taken to a landing page where they asked the basics: e-mail, password (for your use), name, and postal code. They also needed date of birth, why I wasn’t sure – perhaps it matches voter registration information.

After that, I was advised to check my email for a link. Sure enough, a few seconds later I had my e-mail and clicked the link.

(continued at Watchdog Wire…)

Divided parties

Over the last few weeks the media has reveled in the divisions which became apparent in the Maryland Republican Party, first in the party chairman race which was only decided on the second ballot and later with an upheaval in House of Delegates leadership which I’m told succeeded by a two-vote margin – Nic Kipke actually only won a plurality of the 43 House members (but a slim majority of those present.)

But there is new leadership in both entities and folks seem satisfied with the final result, at least insofar as the Maryland GOP leadership is concerned because the runner-up in the race for Chair won the consolation prize of 1st Vice-Chair. Incidentally, for the first time in my memory, both Diana Waterman and Collins Bailey will be sworn in at an event outside the convention setting as they will jointly be sworn in May 13 in Annapolis. (Key question: will bloggers be invited to the “media appreciation lunch” afterward? I guess my invite was lost in the mail.)

So the GOP is more or less united and ready to do battle. But what of the Democrats? Well, they seem to have hit a little snag, which was mentioned in more detail at my Politics in Stereo counterpart on the left, Maryland Juice.

On Friday the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee hosts their annual Spring Ball, which, like a Lincoln or Reagan Day Dinner for local Republicans, serves as a key fundraiser and a chance for party faithful to hear from a number of local elected officials and a keynote speaker. But their event is threatened as a fundraiser because a number of prominent Democrats are boycotting the event. Why?

I’ll pass along the explanation from the Washington DC Metro Council of the AFL-CIO:

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and the Montgomery County Young Democrats are among those who have announced that they’re honoring a boycott of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s May 11 Spring Ball. The metro Washington-area labor movement is boycotting – and picketing – the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s Spring Ball because the Committee took a position in favor of the 2012 Question B referendum, which took away the police union’s right to bargain the effects of management decisions.

But I nearly spit up my drink when I read this line, from UFCW 1994 president Gino Renne:

Labor will not tolerate being treated as an ATM and foot soldiers for a party which is often indifferent – and sometimes openly hostile – to working families in Montgomery County.

As the Republicans often seem to ask the pro-liberty movement, where else are you guys going to go? Trust me, they will have this ironed out in plenty of time to give extorted union dues and “representation fees” to those Democrats in Montgomery County and elsewhere in the state. The point will be made at this event, but like any other “family business” they’ll come to an understanding and things will be quietly made whole at a later time when the heat is off.

I find it quite amusing, though, that members and candidates from the party which regularly chastises Republicans for signing an Americans for Tax Reform pledge to not raise taxes or kowtowing to the National Rifle Association on gun issues scurry like cockroaches once it’s learned they would have to cross a picket line to attend a party event. It would be interesting to see how many people brave the picket line (if one occurs; perhaps the threat was enough to make the point) and attend the Spring Ball. I’ve seen Big Labor when it feels slighted, so the question might be whether there will be more people inside the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel or picketing outside.

Odds and ends number 70

More and more items pique my interest as the General Assembly session wears on, so you might find these continue to pop up on a regular basis. As always, these are items to which I devote anywhere from a sentence to a few paragraphs, so here goes.

I’ll begin with this pre-emptive strike by Delegate Justin Ready I learned about a few days ago. He’s planning to introduce a bill which will prohibit the state of Maryland from enacting user fees based on mileage driven to replace or supplement the existing per-gallon gasoline tax. The state of Oregon has, for several years, been exploring ways of doing this and the latest ties into existing onboard and smart phone technologies. But the Luddites out there should take this under advisement; this comes from the Council of State Governments piece Ready links to:

Importantly, the use of GPS also will not be a requirement. For those who reject all the private sector technology options despite being able to choose between them and despite their information not being transmitted to a government entity, another option would allow drivers to pre-pay for the miles they expect to drive at a rate based on 35,000 miles minimum annually. Those drivers will pay a substantially higher flat fee than what most drivers whose mileage is more closely tracked will likely average. Instead of paying at the pump as participants in the initial pilot program did, motorists will pay at the end of the three-month demonstration. State transportation officials foresee monthly or quarterly charges if the system were to be adopted on a statewide basis. (Emphasis mine.)

So the options are, in my case, either “voluntarily” allow the government into my personal car to see that I drive roughly 20,000 miles per year or pay a significantly higher penalty to keep my freedom. Some choice. It almost makes raising the gas tax more attractive, which may be the overall aim of Annapolis liberals. They constantly harp on the fact we haven’t raised the tax in 20 years or so – well, if you would spend it on what it’s meant for instead of wasting it on mass transit no one rides, we may accomplish the road repairs and construction for which the gas tax was intended.

Another pro-freedom push to free Maryland’s roads comes from HB251, a bill introduced by Delegate Michael Smigiel to repeal Maryland’s speed camera laws – a bill which has my full support and should have yours, too. (Locally, Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is a co-sponsor as well, and should be thanked for that support.) Meanwhile, the Maryland Liberty PAC correctly notes that these devices comprise a large portion of “O’Malley’s War On Driving”:

Speed cameras are nothing more than the privatization of our due process rights and the contracting-out of law enforcement duties.

The Maryland Liberty PAC has an ongoing petition drive to dismantle the speed cameras once and for all; they also stress that pressure should be brought to bear on Environmental Matters Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh to give the bill a hearing (none has been scheduled yet.)

If speed cameras were truly about safety, the violation wouldn’t be a civil offense but a criminal one. Yet they know that, with a criminal offense, one has to be able to face their accuser and the evidence wouldn’t be admissible (because the speed camera can’t be a witness like a patrol officer can.) So they made it a civil offense based on the much lower standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” My judgment is that speed cameras should be banned.

There are also local steps which need to be undertaken, says Sam Hale of the Maryland Society of Patriots. Among them are:

  • Asking Wicomico and Worcester counties to nullify the “Septic Bill” and refuse to draw the counties into tiers,
  • Contacting Salisbury’s City Council and asking them to withdraw their membership in ICLEI, a group promoting anti-liberty incursions on rights such as PlanMaryland and the septic bill as an extension of the United Nations,
  • Asking Worcester County to join the Maryland Rural Counties Coalition.

So the liberty movement is well-represented here, but how about Washington, D.C.? Maybe not so much.

For example, take the debt ceiling. It was panned by both Americans for Limited Government and the Coalition to Reduce Spending. Bill Wilson of ALG reacted:

This is a partial repeal of representative government. Through the elimination of the debt ceiling, even just until May 19, the American people now have no say in the amount of debt the government contracts. The only say whatsoever representatives had on the some 60 percent of the $3.7 trillion budget that operates on autopilot, which includes Social Security, Medicare, and other forms of so-called ‘mandatory’ spending, was the periodic vote on increasing the debt ceiling.

“Now that it has been suspended, the debt ceiling may never be reinstated. All the Senate needs to do now come May 19 is again threaten default should the debt ceiling suspension not be indefinitely extended. Under those circumstances, House Republican leadership is likely to fold under even the slightest pressure.

Added Jonathan Bydlak of the Coalition to Reduce Spending:

Congress today again avoided its duty to be a responsible steward of the public trust. Stalling is not a serious solution to federal debt created by habitual deficit spending.

By delaying a vote on whether and at what cost the federal government should be allowed to borrow more money, House members chose to deny accountability to the public.

This move goes against the clear wishes of American voters. As a recent Rasmussen poll showed, 73% nationwide believe the federal government should cut spending in order to deal with the nation’s current economic problems.

The Coalition to Reduce Spending recognizes that choosing to increase the public debt is ultimately one of the most important decisions a legislator can make. It’s for that reason that this decision should never be pushed into the future haphazardly.

The only thing to like about the bill is that it holds Senators’ salaries hostage until they pass a budget, although our Senator Barbara Mikulski whined and cried poverty about the prospect. Well, all you need to do is your job.

Perhaps they can act on this measure which failed to get through the last Congress, something which could give the legislative branch a little control over regulators run amok. Ryan Young of the Competitive Enterprise Institute sums things up brilliantly:

There is too much regulation without representation in this country. In an average year, Congress will pass a little over 100 bills into law, while regulatory agencies will pass more than 3,500 new regulations.

It’s easy to see why members of Congress like agencies to do their job for them. If a regulation turns out to be unpopular, or more costly than expected, they can just shift the blame to, say, the EPA or FCC. It’s well past time for Congress to take its lawmaking responsibility seriously again. REINS is the first step in that process.

In general, there are those who favor a more militant approach, even with the belief we should learn from our opponents. I look at it this way: if conservative principles are as popular as we believe them to be, we should stick out our necks for their adoption on a daily basis. If not, it proves my point from yesterday about the need to educate, although we should be doing that regardless.

This lesson isn’t lost on professional golfer Phil Mickelson, who, as my friend Jim Pettit points out, is simply doing what’s best for his personal situation by contemplating a move out of high-tax California. I don’t think he’ll be looking to move to Maryland; instead states like Florida and Texas – which combine a more temperate climate with non-existent state income taxes – may be attractive. (Thousands of professional athletes live in Florida for that very reason.)

Another angle those who love liberty are pursuing is finding the right Presidential candidate for 2016. Those who favor Judge Andrew Napolitano, a group I wrote about late last year, are still actively seeking petition signers. But they updated their totals to say they have over 10,000 signers now, and the Facebook page now boasts 3,319 fans. Napolitano may well say no, but the backing behind him is slowly growing.

Finally, this story has a little local interest as well as a tie-in to a group I’ve supported. Move America Forward is holding their “Super Bowl Rally for the Troops”:

The Ravens fans have taken an early lead, but there’s still plenty of time for Niners fans to come back! Vote for which team you think will win by sponsoring a package full of goodies for the troops!

SUPERBOWL XLVII is only ten days away so time is running out to participate in our Super Bowl challenge to all of our pro-troops supporters out there. Whether you happen to be a 49ers fan, Ravens fan, or just a football fan, the whole mission at the end of the day is to support our TROOPS serving overseas. They are the real winners in this competition and they deserve our thanks and gratitude. (Emphasis in original.)

If the Ravens win this particular competition, additional items will be included for a fortunate group of troops from Maryland.

Ironically, MAF ran a similar competition last year in which Giants fans outpaced the Patriots faithful. It’s sort of a sad commentary that fans of a team named after our colonial forefathers couldn’t win this competition, and maybe that karma got them this season.

That’s plenty for now, but it probably won’t be long until my mailbox is full of interesting items once again.

Conservative? Really?

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

Letter from Republican Anthony Marsh and Sobhani voter guide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No love lost

Huge update on the bottom!

I guess you can safely say that Rob Sobhani won’t be on Dan Bongino’s Christmas card list this holiday season. From Deputy Campaign Manager Sharon Strine:

First, Rob Sobhani pulled the wool over the eyes of Maryland Democrats, as reported by The Baltimore Sun and The Gazette. Now, the increasingly brazen Sobhani, who is running as an ‘Independent’, is attempting to fool Maryland Republicans as well.

Although Sobhani recently expressed his support for the Maryland DREAM Act, today he held a telephone town hall directed at Republicans featuring Maryland Republican Delegate Neil Parrott, who has been a vocal opponent of the legislation.

Sobhani’s too-numerous-to-count and openly contradictory campaign positions are a disservice to Maryland voters. Maryland voters are entitled to know who and what they are voting for, not a political chameleon using his massive personal fortune to engage in a campaign of deception and mystery.

Since entering the race – funded by a multi-million-dollar ‘personal loan’, Rob Sobhani has been hard to pin down on his beliefs.

Is this the type of character we want as our next U.S. Senator – someone willing to throw away principles when it suits them? Maryland deserves better.

While our campaign fundamentally disagrees with the politics of Senator Ben Cardin with regard to his stance on taxes, Obamacare, and school choice, we respect him as a person. With Sobhani’s continued disingenuous and dishonest campaign activities, we unfortunately cannot say the same for him.

The thing I’ve never been able to figure out about Rob Sobhani is why he couldn’t do all the job creation funding he promises by himself. Why does he need the Senate seat to bring in that much investment? Is his work going to be up for sale to the highest foreign bidder, regardless of overall intent? We already see dozens of officeholders who come in as middle- to upper-class and leave as multi-millionaires despite an annual salary in the low six-figures. Funny how that seems to work, huh?

Advocating for a flat tax rate for most taxpayers as he does or calling for a tax deduction for student loans – yes, that is appropriate for the political realm because a layman can’t necessarily accomplish that goal. (I’m not sure I agree with the latter because I’d prefer a consumption-based tax, but that’s something which can and should be debated on the floor of Congress.)

Yet the other day I heard a radio spot aimed at a conservative audience (because it aired during Sean Hannity’s show) attempting to tell me Rob Sobhani was the only conservative choice. This example, though, is just one of many positions Sobhani’s campaign posts on his Facebook page:

(W)hile Rob and many of us believe that abortion is terrible, Rob believes the decision should remain between a woman and her doctor. If the majority of citizens and the representatives you elect have an urgent need to change the law, he trusts it will happen because in a democracy it is the will of the people that should rule. As for the Affordable Care Act, Rob believes the insurance industry should be reformed. Rob believes that there are positive aspects to the bill, including the provisions on pre-existing conditions, and extending coverage to young adults, but thinks the bill should be amended to improve the insurance market mechanism so that it would be less dependent on the government and better suited to free market forces.

Does that sound conservative to you? Not only is the first part a code phrase for “I’m pro-abortion,” the fact he only wants to tweak Obamacare to remove certain parts certainly doesn’t make him sound very conservative in my book. Those positions are one small step away from how Ben Cardin would vote, and I suspect if elected Rob would be much more likely to caucus with the Democrats than the Republicans.

And it’s worth repeating one phrase, just to make sure readers understand the ignorance exhibited within:

If the majority of citizens and the representatives you elect have an urgent need to change the law, he trusts it will happen because in a democracy it is the will of the people that should rule.

Mr. Sobhani (or whichever lackey of his wrote this): please note well that our nation was founded as a Constitutional republic. We are NOT a democracy. I would expect Ben Cardin to make such a mistake since he’s a liberal Democrat, but you should know better. In the Pledge of Allegiance, we do not express our fealty to the democracy for which we stand! That ignorance alone should disqualify him from office. Not only that, but we expect our representatives to have some sort of principle and not flip-flop depending on how the political wind of the moment seems to blow.

There is a very, very good chance that Rob Sobhani may have taken enough votes away from Dan Bongino already to cost him the Senate seat and allow Ben Cardin another six years on the public dole as one of the most leftward-leaning Senators in the country – a position that’s completely wrong for Maryland. For true conservatives, the choice is clear but it’s not Rob Sobhani. Don’t waste your vote on the ones trying to purchase a Senate seat.

Update: A friend of mine who wished to remain anonymous allowed me to use this picture of a sample ballot passed out by Penn National and paid for by…guess who. Read the very top endorsement and tell me again that Rob Sobhani is a conservative:

Yeah, that's really conservative.

That should seal things for any Maryland conservative or Republican.

Odds and ends number 62

While this is a Halloween day edition, hopefully you consider this a treat and Sandy hasn’t played any trick on my power which extends past today. (It didn’t.)

Did you know that the media has succeeded in demonizing the TEA Party to a point where it has the most negative connotation among political phrases? This according to Rasmussen, who claims a full 44% have been brainwashed into believing that being a TEA Party candidate is detrimental.

I take it as a badge of honor myself. Now if you’re considered liberal or moderate, that’s not good in my eyes.

Nor is this good – assuming it’s true, of course. I rarely take what this guy says at face value:

We’ve out-registered Republicans in every battleground state for the past THREE months.

Right now, we’ve got a total of more than 14,000,000 registered Democrats in battleground states like Florida and Nevada — that means we have a 2,400,000-person lead over Republicans where it matters the most.

And when it comes to voting early in battleground states, we’re in the lead in important states like Iowa and Ohio — and ahead in ballot requests in Nevada.

In Ohio, all public polling shows that the President has a double-digit lead among those who have voted. And nearly two-thirds of all voter registrations in the state in 2012 were in counties that President Obama won in 2008.

In Iowa, we lead in vote-by-mail ballots cast, in-person early voting, total voting, and total ballots requested. We also lead by a wider margin than we did at this point in 2008 in both ballots requested and cast. (All emphasis in original.)

Of course, that’s all subjective: registering voters doesn’t always translate to votes. This Politico story by Adrian Gray points out that Democrat turnout in Ohio’s early voting is down 220,000 compared to 2008 while the GOP is up 30,000. If that’s true, not all of these voters Obama is registering are going into his column. One could even speculate that Obama wants these early votes because people are changing their minds late and moving to Romney.

Meanwhile, one group is helpfully reminding non-citizens that for them, voting is illegal and could carry a severe penalty. Some will call it voter suppression and intimidation, but the law is the law. As Help Save Maryland notes:

While a few Maryland jurisdictions allow non-citizens to vote in their local elections, in general, non-citizens who vote in Maryland federal and state elections may be subject to fines, imprisonment and/or deportation.  Even registering to vote, or encouraging other non-citizens to register to vote, is a serious crime in Maryland, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

The problem has been made worse by Maryland’s past history of giving drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. And organizations, such as CASA de Maryland, which provide services to illegal aliens, have posted notices in Spanish outside their facilities about helping people register to vote.

Another reason English should be our official language.

Someone else who is working against the grain assessed his two opponents succinctly after a recent debate:

(In this radio debate) both Senator Cardin and Rob Sobhani reaffirmed their commitments to a ‘government first’ economic recovery plan. While Senator Cardin believes this can be accomplished through increased taxes and increased government spending, Mr. Sobhani continues to campaign disingenuously by attempting to sway Marylanders for their votes with pie in the sky campaign promises that the Washington Post is calling ‘half-baked’. This is what we have come to expect from typical Washington insiders.

I am the only candidate making an ironclad promise to the citizens of our great state not to raise your taxes and to get the government out of your way, allowing our economy to return to growth and prosperity.

And the message seems to be working for Dan Bongino, as he continues to outraise his opponents combined. It’s unfortunate that their local debate was a casualty of Hurricane Sandy because I wanted to ask Sobhani about the concept of privatizing profit while socializing risk – if he can get $5.5 billion in investment, why not do it now?

A message that press guru Jim Pettit (the spokesperson for Change Maryland) has gotten out to a wider audience was recently featured on National Review Online. He writes about the Genuine Progress Indicator that Martin O’Malley is trying to foist on Maryland in lieu of actual job creation and true economic advancement. I spoke about it more on this post.

It’s telling to me that as O’Malley’s national profile increases, so does the reach of Change Maryland and, by extension, Pettit and Larry Hogan. Being a thorn in O’Malley’s side is obviously a popular gig.

So hopefully you’re in the process of recovering from Sandy if it affected you. Sorry I had to put up some seriously scary items on Halloween, but we could face an even scarier future one week from now if the current regime remains in place.

Bongino holds local fundraisers

Since well over 90% of his money comes from individuals – as opposed to self-financing or special interest PACs like his main opponents use – U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino was on the lower Eastern Shore tonight collecting money for his campaign. Between three separate events in Worcester and Wicomico counties, over 200 people came to meet and greet the Republican nominee.

The local meeting was held at our county headquarters, and I have a hint for you: if you want a Bongino (or Romney) sign you may want to get them now.

Besides, as the fans say, the Republican ticket is “our only hope for change.”

I must say, though, those who hoped for a good dinner weren’t disappointed. Notice I didn’t take a picture of the desserts for fear of inducing a sugar coma by osmosis.

Dan arrived a short time after the 6:30 start to the event, and set out to meet and greet all those in attendance. Here he speaks with Wicomico County Romney campaign chair Bonnie Luna.

I have seen and heard Dan speak on a number of occasions, but each time I get something different out of it. For example, I knew the part of the story about his leaving the Secret Service to pursue this race, but I didn’t realize it had come after a transfer to the Baltimore office, where he said he got time to “sit and think.” He moved to action because “I couldn’t sit at a desk and watch the degradation.”

I also knew from seeing the most recent financial statements that Dan had outraised his two main opponents combined by about $100,000, momentum which included this “incredible” day on the Shore. But I didn’t know another $250,000 had rolled in since. If the Maryland GOP is as dead as people say, asked Dan, then why did we outraise them?

I recalled Dan talking before about how Maryland was both “saveable” and “worth saving” and that Reagan and Bush 41 carried the state. And the part about two paths forward which don’t intersect was not foreign, either. But his words about the Democratic Party were interesting: while he was disappointed back in 1996 that Clinton won re-election, it didn’t mean the country would collapse. Bill Clinton was first and foremost a politician so he knew he had to “dial it back” after the Republican takeover of Congress, said Dan.

I’ve heard Dan talk a lot about Ben Cardin’s record. But the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy – whose legacy Cardin seems to want to claim and a man Dan’s mother adored – “that party has died,” said Bongino. Further, he remarked that when Republicans win there’s generally not a penalty to their side, but when Democrats of today win we all pay a penalty in lost freedom and prosperity. “You’ll always spend your money better than the government,” said Dan. In many areas of everyday life, but particularly education, liberals have “forfeited (our) kids’ futures away,” he added.

And what of Maryland? Dan has talked at length about not ceding ground, but it runs deeper than just a Senate race. He had some choice remarks about the state’s “septic” bill, which he claimed wasn’t about septic systems but about usurping private property rights. Yet those who leave the state and give up don’t make a point because someone will always come along and take their place – chances are the new arrivals may be more willing to cede their liberties to those in power. “The fight is here,” Dan concluded.

Obviously the conservative message resonated well with most who attended – a number which included far too few local elected officials, in my opinion – but they weren’t really there to be convinced. They were there to give, by check, credit card, or even participate in the hat auction which raised a nice three-figure sum. I gave my modest donation that a struggling writer can afford, too. (And thanks to Delegate Charles Otto, who did attend.)

But there’s a lot more which needs to be done. While there’s one candidate who can buy himself commercial time out the wazoo and another who can count on the Astroturf ground game of union thugs and others who haven’t found their way off the government dependence plantation, Dan Bongino is counting most of all on average people who just want to make a difference. His regional coordinator (and my fellow blogger) Jackie Wellfonder is one such person who tonight shared her story of a political awakening and volunteering to join the Bongino campaign early on, but thousands more who participate in some way, shape, or form exist around the state. Here’s your chance to join them.

In my political lifetime, I have seen candidates who trailed by 17 points a week before the election come back to win. There are signs that the one hopeful using his fortune to carpetbomb the state airwaves with 30-second ads in his upstart campaign is losing traction once people find out just how much he panders to the audience he thinks is listening at the time. And of course, Dan’s other opponent, the incumbent (and very long-in-the-tooth) Senator, is just going through the motions and enjoying the fight between the two perceived lower-tier candidates. He smugly feels it’s in the bag because that’s what conventional wisdom assures him is the case.

Yet for those who are principled, those who feel the government’s role is to simply get out of the way and not feel like it has to be the solution for everything or pick out a certain small number of goals to attain while other, perhaps more important needs go unfulfilled, they are the Marylanders from whom Dan Bongino is seeking a vote. They may not realize it quite yet, but for millions in this adopted home state of mine a vote in their self-interest is a vote for Dan Bongino.

I’m not ceding any ground, so you shouldn’t either. Conservatives have too often been counted out, only to pull out a shocker on Election Day. With a nationalized campaign, Dan is one who can pull the upset – so let’s get out and make it happen.

Sobhani closes in on $5 million mark

Nice work if you can get it.

Financial reports can be interesting reading, and it was interesting to find out that just 23 people have donated to Rob Sobhani’s upstart U.S. Senate campaign. 22 of them contributed a total of $27,595, an unknown number of others have chipped in $3,025, and Sobhani has dropped $4.61 million. Yes, you read that right: $4.61 million. All told, Sobhani has almost outspent all 23 of the other candidates who have ran for the Senate seat this cycle combined.

However, without Sobhani that distinction would fall to Ben Cardin as he’s spent $3.62 million himself. Dan Bongino is a distant third with just over $916,000 in spending. For comparison’s sake, those who ran for Maryland’s other Senate seat in 2010 spent just over $5.5 million in aggregate, with incumbent Barbara Mikulski accounting for just shy of $4 million and Republican Eric Wargotz spending just over $1.2 million. It appears that both the Democrat and Republican in this race are on track to spend in roughly that ratio.

Interesting as well is that just 8 of those 22 Sobhani contributors live in Maryland, with one being former Sixth District Democratic Congressional candidate Milad Pooran. Most of them also have what could be best described as ethnic names, and there is an expenditure from Sobhani’s report to a website called Iranian.com for advertising. Obviously there’s no law which prohibits those of a particular ethnicity from participating in politics, but I think this reflects statements he made in previous campaigns regarding his thoughts on being Iranian-American as opposed to a different, more common ethnicity.

Sobhani’s campaign yesterday released an internal poll which showed him at 20 percent support. (While Rob calls that a surge, it’s worthy of note that the number is little changed from the Maryland Poll last month while a recent Washington Post poll had him at just 14 percent.) But let’s say he gets that 20 percent and the total number of votes matches the 2004 election (the last Maryland U.S. Senate election in a Presidential year.) The 2004 turnout was 2,321,931 votes, which means 20% of that total is 464,386 votes. It also means that Rob may well spend over $10 per vote. That’s Presidential election territory, but Rob is running in just one state.

Of course, this third-person candidacy is possibly the greatest news Ben Cardin ever received because he can draw the same 54% he received last time and still win by 25 points because Sobhani draws far more votes from the Republican than he does the Democrat – it’s nearly a 60-40 ratio according to the Maryland Poll, which was conducted before Bongino got on the airwaves.

Starting tomorrow, though, Rob Sobhani will get his wish and be allowed to participate in three remaining debates: a radio debate on WOLB-AM in Baltimore tomorrow morning, a debate in front of a live audience here in Salisbury on October 30, and a televised debate on October 31 in Washington, D.C. Perhaps Rob can flesh out his platform, which so far has been rather sketchy.

A volunteer effort

Those of us who are political junkies have likely done a sign wave someplace where you gather a few supporters and simply stand in a high-traffic area excitedly promoting your candidate. Normally we do these in front of our headquarters or along U.S. 50 to catch weekend traffic bound for Ocean City.

But this one would be hard to top – 2 1/2 miles along Rockville Pike in Montgomery County, Maryland. Yes, it’s considered a liberal hotbed but in the words of the subject of this excitement, “we concede no ground.”

Campaigns can be interesting things; the stuff lifelong friendships are made of. But one has to ponder how people who have their best interests at heart couldn’t vote for a candidate with a good background of public service as a law enforcement officer and Secret Service agent; a guy whose stance on the issues is a great match for the state in which he lives and who has backers who care enough to get out on a Saturday, spread out along this busy thoroughfare, and express their support.

Ben Cardin can count on his special interest money and perhaps union thugs bused in for the day and given a box lunch to be his Astroturf support base. Rob Sobhani is simply trying to buy votes with 30-second commercials promoting his independence when it sounds like the only thing he’s independent from is a consistent set of principles. Maybe he could hire those few political mercenaries who would sell themselves out to the highest bidder.

Unfortunately, passion and grassroots support don’t always translate into votes, and far too few know who Dan Bongino is at this late hour. But the only way to get that name recognition is to put it out there as much as we can and hope for the best. We have a candidate who qualifies.

Autumn Wine Festival 2012 in pictures and text

And you expected another political post? I have plenty to do this week so I’ll focus on something fun for tonight.

Yes, our fair county held its tenth Autumn Wine Festival. Because it was the tenth edition, there were a few extras. Check out this cake.

Here’s a closer look at the center.

I didn’t get a slice, but from what I recall being told it had several different flavors of cake within, including red velvet. There was also a card to sign, but not a whole lot of takers.

The ribbon cutting was hosted by County Executive Rick Pollitt, who make a few brief remarks and compared our county to the “land of pleasant living.”

But the scissors were wielded by now-retired Director of Tourism Sandy Fulton.

With a little assist from Pollitt, the festival got underway. Sandy stayed around to cut the cake.

While I really like to sample the local and national beers at the Good Beer Festival, I am not a wine drinker. So I don’t have the need to go from tent to tent to taste, but I do like the artistic possibilities presented to me at the AWF. You’ll see this in the next few photos, from the colorful Bordeleau sign…

…to the cheerful row of signs for St. Michaels Winery (where the wind had to cooperate for the perfect shot) as well as the fruit-filled Solomons sign…

…to the interplay of light and shadow in the classic still life pictures of flowers, bottles, and a wine rack. Fiore, Linganore, and Far Eastern Shore wineries were the subjects.

I would have liked the latter photos better if not for a truck, a too-busy tablecloth, and five minutes’ worth of sun angle too much, but you get the point. I don’t have the patience to be a professional photographer.

The guy who had a lot of patience worked on this sand sculpture Saturday.

The finished product turned out pretty nice; unfortunately it will likely be back as part of the beach by week’s end.

I got to have a little fun with the next photo, though. Joe is the spokesboard for Layton’s Chance, and I promise he will be back in this post.

Joe wasn’t a whole lot more stiff than some of the politicians there, but I’ll get to that in a minute. On the other hand, this guy and his friend had to be loose Saturday to walk around like this.

They were back on Sunday, too.

Okay, there were some political goings-on as well. As you may have figured out, we had a Republican booth at the event.

This week the Democrats did as well.

Among their supporters was First District Congressional candidate John LaFerla, who was at the opening ceremony and walked the grounds for a time afterward.

Unlike the opponent who bested him by 57 votes in the primary, John and I had a nice brief conversation without once bringing up the Koch Brothers. I told him I agreed with Andy Harris about 90% of the time and he was fine with that.

Actually, on a local level we have a friendly rivalry with the Democrats. Here my fellow blogger Jackie Wellfonder, who was representing the Dan Bongino campaign, posed with Sarah Meyer of the Wicomico Democratic Club.

Today we were honored to have Dan Bongino stopping by for a couple hours. In tow were his wife Paula and their infant daughter.

Of all the local campaigns, Dan’s has the most avid supporters and they are very good about helping me out as well. So I want to thank (from left to right) Shawn Jester, Jackie Wellfonder, and Ryan Thompson for all their assistance this weekend.

It really is about “jobs not taxes.”

By the way, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention there will be a meet-and-greet with Dan Bongino this coming Thursday evening, October 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at our GOP headquarters (800 S. Salisbury Boulevard.) Bringing the checkbook or credit card is encouraged. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t thank Phil, Ann, the Greenhawks, Woody, Tom, Bob, Leonard, Karen and Jane, Greg, and Tyler for their help as well. I had no shortage of volunteers who made things run smoothly.

But candidates weren’t the only ones campaigning, as many wore their respective candidates’ lapel stickers or just carted around a yard sign. Doesn’t this look a touch uncomfortable?

This young lady’s arms were probably tired, too. But she at least has the right sign.

But in the end many were just there to party, and old flattop Joe was leading the way.

And like any good bottle of wine, the time came when it was all spent.

The Pemberton preserve grounds will be cleaned up over the next few days and then return to the more tranquil state in which it exists 11 months out of the year. Meanwhile, it will be far from quiet on the political front and aside from a Weekend of local rock post on the AWF I’ll be pretty much wall-to-wall politics until the election.

Don’t miss a thing.

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    First District - Congress

    Andy Harris (R)
    Bill Tilghman (D)

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    Maryland General Assembly (local)

    Senate District 37

    Addie Eckardt (R)
    Christopher Robinson (D)

    ___

    House District 37B

    Republican

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

    ___

    Senate District 38

    Mike McDermott (R)

    Jim Mathias (D)

    ___

    House District 38A

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

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    House District 38B

    Carl Anderton, Jr. (R)

    Norm Conway (D)

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    House District 38C

    Mary Beth Carozza. (R)

    Judy Davis (D)

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    Wicomico County

    County Executive

    Bob Culver (R)
    Rick Pollitt (D)

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    County Council at-large

    John Cannon (R)
    Matt Holloway (R)
    Laura Mitchell (D)

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    Council District 2

    Marc Kilmer (R)
    Kirby Travers (D)

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    Council District 3

    Larry Dodd (R)
    Josh Hastings (D)