A couple years ago there was this guy who ran the Maryland Republican Party, but left because he thought he would have a much better chance to live out his dream of becoming a Congressman if he moved to another state.
I think you know where this is going. Late last night I got an e-mail from the TEA Party Express with the subject line “Big news from West Virginia.”
Hundreds of Republicans in Maryland (and at least one Maryland refugee) probably threw a brick at their computer just then. The TPX went on:
Today, the campaign trail led us to the Mountain State where we had the honor to endorse a true movement conservative, Alex Mooney for the 2nd Congressional district in West Virginia.
Alex Mooney is exactly the kind of Constitutional conservative that will bring the voice of the working class to Washington, D.C. He is a proven conservative champion who will never back down in the face of President Obama’s war on coal and will stand strong against the EPA’s radical anti-coal agenda.
Alex Mooney has a history of standing up for what is right and best for the people. Too many D.C. politicians say one thing while on the campaign and act and vote a different way once they are elected.
Mooney has already proven his willingness to stand up to the establishment of both parties at the state level in order to fight for his constituents and his conservative values. Now we need him to do the same thing in D.C., and stop the Obama-Pelosi big government agenda of tax increases, crippling regulations, and reckless spending.
Unlike the career politicians that have buried future generations under crippling debt, Alex Mooney is a conservative game-changer that will tackle the complacent, “do nothing but spend” culture of D.C.
Of course, they say nothing about these legislative accomplishments being conducted here in Maryland. And don’t get me wrong: over his final term in the Senate, the monoblogue Accountability Project pegged him as the second-best Senator in Maryland (behind Andy Harris) so he certainly has the conservative bonafides in my reckoning. I just think the TPX is being a little less than honest in their presentation, as opposed to the Madison Project which acknowledges some of his Maryland work.
Yet Mooney is having done for him (to a lesser extent) what Dan Bongino is doing in his Sixth Congressional District race here in Maryland – taking it to a national level. You don’t often see “establishment” Republicans do so as blatantly, but they tend to live off larger donations whch come to them more quietly.
And there is one other advantage to nationalizing Mooney’s campaign: maybe he can return some of the donations from Maryland Republicans who can use the money in their candidacy. We’ll see if he has enough support to win and finally achieve his dream.
Update: if your computer survived the first salvo, you probably don’t want to know that the Senate Conservatives Fund has also endorsed Mooney as one of five House candidates they’re backing.
I’ve had a piece by Newt Gingrich in my inbox for a few days, but I knew sometime I would get to it. The piece is relatively evergreen as op-eds go so I just figured when the time came I would contribute some of my thoughts – well, the time is now since you’re reading this.
In Newt’s new book, called Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America’s Fate, he describes those who would hold on to tradition for its own sake as the “prison guards of the past.” The two cases in point he described in the piece I kept around were Google’s driverless cars and “coding boot camps” where top programmers conduct intensive training programs designed to encourage employment at some of the best companies in the field – where they can perhaps work on the driverless car or other breakthroughs.
As always, there’s a fly in the ointment – whether it’s the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fear bordering on paranoia about these Google autos zipping around without some sort of new regulation to cover them or the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education fretting that these would-be hackers aren’t getting the well-rounded politically correct education the state seems to demand, bureaucrats have to get their grubby little fingers into the pie. My question is: what exactly would they contribute?
I’ve often stated the case that government is a solution, but it rarely addresses the correct problem. It’s obviously in Google’s best interest to put out a usable and safe product such as the one which they are testing right now, just like it’s in the best interest of those who run “coding boot camps” to educate their students in the best way possible to assume the demanding task of writing millions of lines of code. (They probably could have written the Obamacare website in a couple weeks, made it work, and saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.) Snark aside, just think of the possibilities these present if left unfettered by government interference, in particular that of the driverless car.
As someone who sits behind the wheel for several hours every week doing his outside job, imagine how much more productive I could be with a good internet connection as, for example, I make my weekly drive around my various stops on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Suddenly I may more enjoy that trip I occasionally have to make to Cape Charles for calls there. And what if we could make it so cars could traverse the rural interstates safely at a higher speed, say 120 miles per hour? Then we wouldn’t need the high-speed rail boondoggle, and politically correct urban planners can’t have that. To me, a car equals freedom because you’re not a slave to another’s timetable, whether bus, train, or airplane. Sure, it will take a decade or two for a driverless car to become affordable for the average person but there may come a point – even in my lifetime – where the car with a driver may only be seen at the NASCAR track.
The problem with the idea of using government to solve a problem is their lack of incentive to find a lasting solution. If we ended poverty or, to use an issue hitting closer to home, cleaned up Chesapeake Bay to a state where you couldn’t dive in without running into the aquaculture that’s in abundance, would the government regulators say “our work is done here” and go away? Not on your life – then they would have to get honest jobs. Left to government’s own devices, we will never end the “war on poverty” or finish cleaning Chesapeake Bay because there’s too much taxpayer- or donor-supplied money at stake.
Yesterday I was thinking about freedom, and it dawned on me that we cannot have absolute freedom because that would be anarchy – everyone would live for their own self-interest and it would deteriorate into a simple game of “survival of the fittest.” But we also could not have absolute tyranny because at least the tyrant would have his or her own free will, even if he or she is the only individual so unconstrained. In all societies, we have some sort of rule of law, but the difference is in who calls the shots and whether things are set in stone or as capricious as the weather on a particular day. We are at war with Eastasia, and have always been at war with Eastasia; that is, until someone decides we’re at war with Eurasia.
It seems to me that the sweet spot in a society would be one where there are some fairly simple rules (the Ten Commandments and Constitution as written come to mind) but aside from that people have the freedom to live their lives as they see fit. Google wants to make a driverless car? On balance, it seems to me the benefits far outweigh the costs to certain other areas in the transportation industry. Software makers want good coders? All they seem to be hurting is the feelings of the government which can’t regulate them into their approved little box.
I’ve always admired Newt Gingrich – maybe not so much politically, but for the fact he seems to be thinking a generation or two ahead. I try to do the same here, as this blog and (especially) my book aren’t always for the here and now, but to look into the future and see possibilities. I may not always be right, but I try to learn as I go along.
The key going forward is to impress upon society at large that they have a purpose. We can advance under a system which has brought the world prosperity, or backslide into the tyranny mankind has known for most of its miserable existence. It’s still our choice, but the window is closing fast. Those “prison guards of the past” are aptly named, for this nation was born from tyranny and of late it’s devolving in that direction unless we can break the chains.
There’s no doubt the importance of the 2014 elections in Maryland can’t be overstated. At stake will be the very direction of the state: will it continue to re-elect the same failed liberal leadership that’s been bleeding jobs (and may continue to do so) and can’t seem to balance a budget, or will it try the GOP alternative that at least promises to reduce the state’s onerous personal tax burden, depending on whether the victor is David Craig, Ron George, Larry Hogan, or Charles Lollar? And will the GOP get to those magical numbers of 48 Delegates and 19 Senators which will allow it to be a viable minority party?
To address the latter point, it’s worth mentioning that the GOP has conceded 46 House seats and 14 Senate seats to the Democrats because they couldn’t find a willing candidate. Most of these vacancies are in what I call the 10, 20, and 40 districts, which in the state’s numbering system cover areas around Washington, D.C. and inner-city Baltimore – basically the counties and Baltimore City which haven’t quite figured out yet that it would be in their best interest to divest themselves from big government and voted for Martin O’Malley and Barack Obama. Most of the areas which backed Bob Ehrlich and Mitt Romney lie in the districts with single digits 1 through 9 or in the 30s. (For reference, here on the Eastern Shore we have districts 36, 37, and 38.) In the latter areas, Democrats conceded five House seats and three in the Senate, so at play are a total of 90 House seats and 30 Senate seats. In order to get to 48 and 19, respectively, the MDGOP has to win 43 out of 90 races in the House and 16 of 30 in the Senate.
We obviously won’t know those results until November, and they will go a long way in determining the fate of the Free State. They will also go a long way in determining who will lead the party over the next
four two years, and I think Diana Waterman is working hard to overcome her early missteps – so would she be in the mix for a full four-year term starting this November? (Corrected: I forgot we changed the bylaws a couple years ago to a two-year term starting in 2014, to match the national party.)
Certainly many have been impressed with her response to the ill-considered HB1513 on behalf of the state’s Central Committees, which Joe Steffen elaborated on yesterday. But she’s also been careful to reiterate that Central Committees cannot endorse candidates in contested primaries (although individual members can) and that our terms run until the election is over. (This year’s Fall Convention doubles as the quadrennial organizational meeting for the party, when new members are officially sworn in.)
And she also reminded us:
I’m sure you’re getting tired of hearing this but our number one job is to get Republicans elected. This is our time – the stage is almost set (Primary first to determine who will be facing off against the Democrat). The only way we will be successful is by working together. We are outnumbered. We must find a way to pull together – even if don’t see eye to eye with the candidate or some of their volunteers. And I expect all of us to run clean campaigns so that they day after the Primary we can stand together and show our complete support for our ballot. I promise you, no matter who the candidate is, even if they were not your candidate, that you will have more in common with them than you will the Democrat on the other side of the ballot. I am not asking you to yield on any of your principles but to remember, even if the candidate who won the Primary is too conservative or too moderate for you – they are better than the Democrats who have a strangle hold on everything in our State. For starters, the Democrat who wins in the Legislature will case their first vote for Mike Miller or Mike Busch. And it just goes downhill from there!
Precisely. So the question is whether the grassroots and activists will follow, or take their ball and stay home on election day if their chosen candidate doesn’t win. Remember, based on the polls we’ve had so far, a majority of voters will not have their first choice be the nominee for governor; unlike other states, we don’t have a runoff to ensure majority support.
That healing process has to start June 25, because I know from experience that the other side sucks it up and gets behind whoever they pick, generally having their arguments behind closed doors.
But if Diana Waterman can pull off these electoral miracles with very little money and the more than 2-to-1 registration disadvantage with which we’re currently handicapped, the only races we may have would be for the vice-Chair positions. I can’t see the Republican winner wanting to put “their guy” in as the party chair after success like that. She’s mended some fences over her term, and standing up for the Central Committees may allow her to climb out of the hole she dug early on.
As the Maryland House of Delegates considered a bill to increase the minimum wage statewide a curious exemption was slipped in, a change in language seemingly placed in the bill to benefit amusement parks like Six Flags.
Seeing that, Delegate Mike McDermott tried to add an exemption for another tourist playground: Ocean City.
The amendment would have exempted Ocean City’s seasonal employees – defined as those who work a maximum of 120 days in a calendar year – from the new wage law, instead maintaining the current federal standard of $7.25 per hour. Said the Delegate:
“Prince George’s County wisely decided that locally this is what they needed to do. Everyone across the state is dealing with their own issues and everyone is dealing with their own different unemployment rates. (Counties) should be able to decide for themselves whether it’s higher or whether it’s lower.
We struggle right now keeping these jobs available for these kids… The lower shore is not recovering; the unemployment rate is still soaring… Our Ocean City businesses will lose out to competition in Delaware with Bethany and Rehoboth Beaches and to competition in Virginia and North Carolina. Ocean City is our world class resort and this state’s premier destination. The revenue from Ocean City paves a lot of roads in Baltimore City; the revenue from Ocean City does a lot for the state of Maryland.
If you can see it for a sector like Six Flags, or Jolly Rogers…if you can capture a vision for how [minimum wage] impacts that industry…Can you not see how that impacts an entire region like Ocean City?
This is about creating an atmosphere where people can still afford to come and the employers can still afford to keep people there.
Needless to say, McDermott’s argument fell on deaf ears, as the amendment failed on an 89-47 vote. The bipartisan support for the amendment included six Democrats (Bromwell, Conway, James, Kevin Kelly, Minnick, and Wood) and all 41 Republicans who voted (Cluster and Frank were absent.) The original amendments to exempt Six Flags and other like businesses were added at the committee level and not through a floor vote, including one by committee Chair Delegate Dereck Davis of Prince George’s County.
But as the process goes on, it appears low-wage Marylanders will get a raise come January whether they deserve one or not, which probably means more layoffs than normal after the holiday season.
Of course, McDermott’s amendment was nothing more than symbolic because there wasn’t much of a chance of it passing anyway. One thing it did, though, was give local Delegate Norm Conway a chance to vote against the minimum wage bill on that particular amendment. It wouldn’t surprise me if he voted against the entire bill since it’s an election year and he needs to look business-friendly to the good conservative folks on the Shore – surely his union supporters can give him a hall pass since the votes will likely be there. It’s just another example of the BOHICA form of government a state which finds itself in yet another budget shortfall will enact upon its citizens.
Every year there are bills introduced late in the session which seem to be fraught with peril. For example, last year we were saddled with a new gasoline tax from a bill introduced one year ago Tuesday, well after the cutoff for new bills to avoid the need for Rules Committee approval. Last year’s session also brought a late bill, introduced at the end of February, which radically changed campaign finance law and, among other things, pushed the filing deadline to February from April. Bad idea.
Because the filing deadline was much earlier this year, a certain delegation must not have liked the hand it was dealt insofar as those running for Central Committee. To that end, the Harford County delegation introduced House Bill 1513, which makes a key change to the Central Committee in that county only.
At this time, there are 12 members of the Harford County Republican Central Committee – twelve positions that a whopping 32 people are seeking. (All of them are at-large countywide positions similar to many other counties in Maryland.) Out of that crowd, it’s apparent that a number are members of the local Campaign for Liberty chapter, and those who would be considered the “establishment” came running to their General Assembly delegation for aid. The result was HB1513, which is written as an “emergency” bill so it would take effect once passed and approved by the governor. Generally this occurs no later than May.
The idea behind the bill is that Republican members of the county’s delegation to Annapolis would become ex officio members of the HCRCC, with voting power in just two instances: removal of members and new appointments. At this time, there are seven members of the Harford County delegation who would become members: Glen Glass, Rick Impallaria, Susan McComas, Pat McDonough, Wayne Norman, Donna Stifler, and Kathy Szeliga. With the exceptions of Norman and Stifler, all could be members going forward into next term if this law passes.
What this bill would do is expand the voting from 12 members to 19 members (as it stands now) or perhaps even 20 members if all members of the General Assembly from Harford are Republicans. (There is one Democrat among the eight presently.) The key reason for this is to make the difficulty of having a 2/3 majority on these issues – where 8 of 12 have to agree – to a situation where it becomes 13 of 19 or 14 of 20.
I think the fear is that a majority of the insurgents will win over so-called “establishment” candidates. By stacking the numbers with members of the General Assembly, they need only convince about half of the existing body to vote with them in order to reach a 2/3 majority. (I use this number because it’s an operative one here in Wicomico County.)
While the numbers would be much less significant here in Wicomico County, if a similar law were passed for us it would add four members to our nine. In that case, attaining a 2/3 majority if the Delegates voted as a bloc could require only a minority of original members (4 of 9.) In Harford’s case, it could be a 6-6 split turned into a 13-6 majority.
And while we certainly would welcome our Republican delegates to our meetings, I think this bill sets a tremendously horrible precedent. There was nothing stopping any of these Delegates from running for Central Committee, aside from the obvious fact not all of them live in Harford County – that in and of itself is a terrible feature of the bill. Again using Wicomico County as an example, all four Delegate slots would go to members who live outside Wicomico County. Shamefully, the only two resident Delegates we have are Democrats.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t surprise me if this bill passes, even if it does so on just Democratic votes (which is very possible.) And I’m not sure what sort of legal challenge could be made to it, aside from perhaps the fact they would be adding non-residents to the Central Committee – but it could be argued as well that they were voted in by the people of Harford County, too. And if it does, look for a lot of copycat bills in the coming years as the legislative branch consolidates power.
To this I say not just no, but “hell no!” They won’t let us come vote in the General Assembly on bills, so why should they have the right to vote on our Central Committee?
After a hiatus from blogging, political hatchet man turned fiction writer Joe Steffen – best known as the “Prince of Darkness” – turned his attention to my old friends at Red Maryland. At the risk of getting carpal tunnel problems, I have a few observations about this argument between the two sides.
First of all, let’s discuss the characters. You may recall the fall 2010 convention, where I took these photos. The bottom photo may be hard to read at this scale, but it was posted on the wall at our fall 2010 state convention – GOP activists may recall that gathering as the wake for those who believed Bob Ehrlich would be the savior or our party because he had just been trounced by Martin O’Malley on an even worse scale than his 2006, despite overt help from the state and national Republican parties. So we had a lot of interest for Chair that year and Joe decided to make his statement as part of the “Renegade Revolution.” In short, we were a group which was fed up with the whole incumbent protection attitude, which led to the Rule 11 resolution Heather Olsen and I spent 2011 trying to get approved, to no avail.
As for Red Maryland, most longtime readers are aware I am what they refer to as an “erstwhile” contributor. I crossposted there perhaps a couple dozen times between about 2007 and 2011 – more, I’m sure, than some of those they still list as contributors. For a couple years afterward I was still listed as a contributor, but the list was culled probably about the time I threw in my support for Collins Bailey for state party Chair over Red Maryland co-founder Greg Kline. Despite that, I’ve also been a guest on a number of their extant radio shows, with the exception (oddly enough, since we are both officers in the same political club) of Jackie Wellfonder’s show and perhaps the one Mark Newgent hosts now. I’ve probably been on their airwaves a half-dozen times, enough to be heard but certainly not a frequent guest.
Also, to keep the players straight, it should be known that Jackie Wellfonder (and Andrew Langer, while he was there) are exclusively radio hosts and don’t blog with Red Maryland. Sorry if all this bores you, but I want to make sure people know just who is involved here. Generally when I start discussing Red Maryland, at least one of the players gets up in my face about something I wrote, and I think one of their favorite descriptions of me is that I’m “passive-aggressive.” Water, meet duck’s back. If I didn’t think I had something to add, I would ignore this tete-a-tete.
Anyway, I read what Steffen had to say about this purloined letter the good folks at Red Maryland sent out to Maryland GOP candidates in order to drum up business, one Joe calls a “protection racket.” Honestly, I didn’t have a problem with that letter – sure, I’m questioning the wisdom of $5 a spot on their radio shows when one on a terrestial station which reaches a broader and more diverse audience can be had (at least here locally) for just a few dollars more, but it is what it is. I haven’t caught a Red Maryland radio show recently to see how this approach is doing. (Jackie’s is the only one I listen to on a semi-regular basis – the others just aren’t my cup of tea.)
Moreover, I’m quite aware they are now a part of the Baltimore Sun, which seems like a case of strange bedfellows but they got the gig – bully for them. But herein lies the rub.
In the letter, the editors of Red Maryland write:
Using our platforms at BaltimoreSun.com, RedMaryland.com, and the Red Maryland Network we can help introduce you to the public and make sure that your message gets heard.
So are they going from “the premier blog of conservative and Republican ideas in the Free State” to promoting just those candidates and ideas which supply a paycheck? That’s how I read the letter – and trust me, all of us bloggers could use a little extra money – but something tells me takers are in short supply. What do we get if no one ponies up?
As I write this, the posts on their front page deal with Charles Lollar’s reaction to David Craig’s income tax package, the probable minimum wage increase, a piece panning an idea to adopt a Utah-style “hybrid” primary system (proposed by the aforementioned Collins Bailey), several promotions for radio shows, Sun editorials, and their monthly poll, and one piece by contributor D.C. Russell on the state of Prince George’s County politics. With the exception of Russell’s article, there was really nothing I could construe as introducing candidates or making sure a message gets heard; on the other hand, they have already endorsed a handful of candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful Larry Hogan. Conversely, Charles Lollar has been regularly criticized on Red Maryland – sometimes deservedly so.
Steffen goes on to be critical of Jackie Wellfonder and Mark Newgent for their roles outside Red Maryland, claiming they do take money for what he termed “political favors.” That fact both Wellfonder and Newgent have political clients for their various enterprises isn’t in dispute, though – it’s whether they have adequately explained their roles.
Now perhaps it’s because I know Jackie quite well, but I’ve been aware for awhile that she has a consulting company and has been on the payroll of at least two campaigns this election cycle – Senator Steve Hershey, as Steffen mentioned, and also Christopher Adams, a candidate for Delegate. However, she has featured a number of candidates on her website and radio program and I think she treats them rather fairly. Yes, she is a Larry Hogan backer but candidates seem to know this up front and agree to speak with her anyway.
By the same token, I’ll take Mark at his word that he’s gone through the Hogan situation, as it came up one time in a chance conversation we had that he was doing work for Change Maryland. And that’s fine, too. As Red Maryland has explained, it takes the unanimous vote of the four editors to make the endorsement, and obviously sharp eyes will be going over Larry’s campaign report to see if any campaign funds went their way. (Newgent has also admitted to being on the Hogan team for opposition research.) So whatever Newgent is getting, he’s only a fraction of the team.
Now this brings me to the crux of the matter: why would this e-mail be received by saying, “(a) bunch of us got this, and had a nice little laugh” – isn’t Red Maryland supposed to be a “premier” blog?
I suppose if I wanted to I could argue a claim to the premier blog insofar as “ideas” go, since I have come up with some discussion items, suggestions, and resolutions in the past. Now if you want to talk about a premier marketing blog, yes, they’ve more than earned that title – otherwise, why would we even be discussing Red Maryland in the first place? For all I know, this unnamed group may laugh at my website too but no one knows about it.
So when did Red Maryland cross the point of derision? Was it the fawning over Larry Hogan, or maybe Greg Kline’s bid to become Maryland GOP Chair where he finished a distant third? Maybe self-promotion has gotten into the way of their original purpose, but all I know is that they (and their detractors) have become the sideshow sucking up all the oxygen in the room. Are we really that bored with the candidates we’re putting up – the ones who are working hard to get elected?
Respect takes a long time to earn, but can be gone in an instant. The Red Maryland crew continues to claim that #IntegrityMatters, but it’s apparent that a number of people question whether they have any left.
I still like picking on Joe Biden. But over the last month or so I’ve collected a lot of divergent information on policy suggestions, each of which promses to be the magic elixir to get our economy moving in the right direction again.
I think the key to this lies in two areas: manufacturing and energy. In that respect, I keep a lot of information handy to discuss in this space, with a group called the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) generally representing the left-of-center, pro-union side. And while their main goal seems to be increasing the coffers of Big Labor, luckily most workers still have free will – ask the employees at the Tennessee Volkswagen plant about how much effort from the UAW can be rebuffed in a simple up-or-down vote.
Currency manipulation is one area in which the AAM has been focusing. A study they cite, by the liberal Economic Policy Institute (EPI), makes the case that:
Many of the new jobs (if the subject is addressed) would be in manufacturing, a sector devastated by rising trade deficits over the past 15 years. Rising trade deficits are to blame for most of the 5.7 million U.S. manufacturing jobs (nearly a third of manufacturing employment) lost since April 1998. Although half a million manufacturing jobs have been added since 2009, a full manufacturing recovery requires greatly increasing exports, which support domestic job creation, relative to imports, which eliminate domestic jobs.
Personally I disagree with the premise that rising trade deficits can be blamed for the job losses; instead, I think an absurdly high corporate tax rate and onerous regulations have contributed more to chasing away American manufacturing. (While many simply blame “outsourcing” for the problem, fewer understand the dynamics which led to the outsourcing.) Yet there is merit to the idea that all sides should be competing on as level of a playing field as possible when it comes to the means of exchange, and China is one of the worst offenders. (And why not? They are communists, after all, and you can’t trust communists any farther than you can throw them.)
Two of EPI’s findings are quite interesting: first, should the EPI model come to its fruition, the oil and gas industry would be the hardest hit, and second, Maryland would be among the states least impacted, with barely a 1% rise in employment.
Yet AAM president Scott Paul is quick to blame Barack Obama:
President Obama promised to hold China accountable. He hasn’t. The White House last month said President Obama would use his pen and his phone to make progress on economic issues. He could start today by signing an order to designate China as a currency manipulator. Then, he could call the Chinese leadership to demand an end to that practice, and secure an agreement on a plan to cut this deficit in half over the next three years.
I sort of wish Mr. Paul would also figure out the other problems, but he is correct to be concerned about our Chinese policy. Job creation has become more important than deficit reduction in the minds of Americans, both in the AAM poll I cited above and a Pew Research Poll cited by the American Petroleum Institute (API).
And the industry which benefits from API’s efforts represents another piece of the puzzle which we can take advantage of: our abundant energy supplies. While America uses 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year, there is the possibility of as much as 10,000 trillion cubic feet within our land mass. That’s nearly 4 centuries worth, so I don’t think we will run out anytime soon. (Estimates have continued on an upward path as new technology makes previously unworkable plays economically viable.) As I keep saying, it’s too bad we don’t have a nice shale play under our little sandbar. Not only that, but the infrastructure we will need to take advantage of all that (and help curtail spot shortages like the ones we’re having this chilly winter) would be a guaranteed job creator – one which derives its basis from the private sector. New pipelines aren’t just for export facilities like Cove Point, but could benefit this area and perhaps bring more natural gas service to our region.
Unfortunately, Maryland isn’t poised to take advatange of either the manufacturing or energy booms at present, thanks to back-breaking economic policy and a foolhardy go-slow approach on fracking. It takes a strident opponent of the latter to suggest yet another approach which will do damage to the former, but gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur accomplishes this with the tired old combined reporting proposal. Hers comes with a twist, though, which she announced last Monday:
In the morning, Mizeur will host several Maryland business owners for a Small Business Roundtable. They will discuss her legislation to provide tax relief to small business owners, as well as other highlights from the campaign’s ten-point plan for jobs and the economy, which was released last fall. She will also hear from the business owners on a range of other concerns.
At 1:00 pm, several business owners will join Mizeur in front of Ways and Means to testify on behalf of legislation that would enact combined reporting and distribute the estimated $197 million to small businesses for personal property tax rebates.
It’s the liberal way of picking winners and losers. And according to a 2008 study by the Council on State Taxation – admittedly, an opponent of the practice:
Combined reporting has uncertain effects on a state’s revenues, making it very difficult to predict the revenue effect of adopting combined reporting.
Even proponents don’t address that aspect, instead emphasizing how it would “level the playing field between multistate corporations and locally based companies.” But since Mizeur’s idea is one which would subsidize some businesses under a certain employment plateau, the uncertainty would likely be just another reason to avoid Maryland.
On the other hand, a Republican like Larry Hogan at least gets businesses together to discuss what they really want. Granted, once he gets them together he speaks in broad concepts rather than a more specific plan, but at least he’s listening to the right people. None of the others in the GOP field have specific plans, either, although Ron George probably comes the closest.
One has to ask what states which are succeeding economically are doing to attract new business. The state with the lowest unemployment rate, North Dakota, is prospering – more like crushing the rest of the field – on account of abundant energy resources, and perhaps that success is pulling surrounding states up with it. Its three neighbors (Montana, South Dakota, and Minnesota) all rest within the top 13 when it comes to low unemployment rates and other regional states like second-place Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, and Kansas lie within the top 10. Although the top five are right-to-work states, half the bottom 10 are as well. Nor can tax climate be seen as a dominating factor since the top 10 in unemployment vary widely in that category: Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, and Montana are indeed excellent in that aspect, but North Dakota is decidedly more pedestrian and Iowa, Vermont, and Minnesota are among the worst.
But Maryland has the tendency to depend too much on the federal government as an economic driver. This presents a problem because bureaucrats don’t really produce anything – they skim off the top of others’ labor but don’t add value. Certainly it’s great for those who live around the Beltway, and it’s telling that all three of the Democratic candidates have a connection to the two Maryland counties which border the District of Columbia while none of the Republicans save Larry Hogan do.
In order to create jobs, I think the state needs to diversify its economy, weaning itself off the government teat and encouraging manufacturing and energy exploration. Meanwhile, there’s also a need to rightsize regulation and restore a balance between development and Chesapeake Bay cleanup – specifically by placing a five-year moratorium on new environmental restrictions while cleaning up the sediment behind the Conowingo Dam. Let’s give that which we’ve already done a chance to work and other states a chance to catch up.
The best route out of government dependence is a job. Unfortunately, when the aim of the dominant political party in the state is one of creating as many dependents as possible, a lot of good entrepreneurs will be shown the door. It’s time to welcome them in with open arms.
The other day I got an interesting note from onetime Maryland Senate candidate turned campaign director Chris Cavey. I’ll just start with it and comment later.
Just wanted to write you a quick note of congratulations as an officially filled Wicomico Central Committee candidate! I think you have made a wonderful choice. Building our party has long been a personal cause of mine and I am proud to say my name is on the ballot for Central Committee in Baltimore County – so, perhaps we will be working together building a stronger MDGOP during the next four years.
You should know Larry Hogan has also been very committed to our party for many, many years. Not only did he run several of his father’s campaigns and serve for many years on the Prince George’s Central Committee; but he has been to several national conventions including 1976 where he Chaired Youth for Reagan! Over the past several years Larry has been a major sponsor of MDGOP including hosting numerous events for the party – and many convention hospitality suites. We were proud to have our Change Maryland Fall Harvest Party in conjunction with MDGOP at this past Winter Convention in Annapolis. It was quite a success with over 1100 people in attendance.
Campaigns are exciting and addictive for people like me who are political junkies. I halted my Senate Campaign in District 42 to work fulltime for Larry – and I am very committed and pumped about the Hogan for Governor Campaign. Since our announcement, just five short weeks ago, we have hit the road at a sprint. The on-line presence with over 80,000 Facebook friends creating new volunteers every day has actually shocked me and I believe it will be a wonderful outreach for our party.
It is very rewarding, for a long time Central Committee member like me, to see so many new and excited people wanting to volunteer. In these few short weeks we have had three major fundraisers each exceeding expectations. Our mail program and on-line donations have been outstanding. Internal polling has us in very good position and we were very pleased to see similar reflections in outside public polling. Long story short – all is well.
Please feel free to call or contact me anytime should you wish to coordinate or work with the Hogan Campaign. My job as Campaign Director includes working with you as a candidate, all Central Committees and MDGOP. Our campaign has made the decision that we are open to helping all GOP candidates, working directly with each County Committee and MDGOP as we each work hard to change Maryland.
See you on the campaign trail!
I guess what made it funny for me is that certainly Chris knows who I am since I’ve been on our Central Committee for eight years – he was first vice-chair under Jim Pelura. I’m sure someone from Larry’s campaign just went through the hundreds of Central Committee candidate files, pulled out their e-mail addresses, and blasted out this form letter regardless if they were running for the first time or the tenth. The only fields they had to rearrange were the first name and the county.
Well, first things first: I’ve been trying in my own special way to build this party for eight-plus years, so I wish your boss wouldn’t be so coy about how he will reach out to people who care about a number of issues: education, the environment, Second Amendment rights, and agriculture being chief among them. We are well aware of all the tax increases we’ve been forced to endure – if we didn’t vote with our feet and leave the state, as Change Maryland has so often pointed out – and we know economic conditions here are lacking. But those aren’t the only issues and all I hear from your boss is the same message of how Change Maryland appeals to independents and how bad the situation is right now. Remember, I was at the Change Maryland party in November, in part because I figured he’d actually make it official that night.
Yet there’s a line I find interesting in your e-mail:
The on-line presence with over 80,000 Facebook friends creating new volunteers every day has actually shocked me and I believe it will be a wonderful outreach for our party.
So it leads me to a question: what if Larry either isn’t the nominee or doesn’t win in November? Does Change Maryland go on, and will you share resources with the Maryland GOP? One criticism I heard in the years following Bob Ehrlich’s defeat was that the party was still overly oriented to Bob’s success rather than trying to be there for everyone. I’m sure there were some who were relieved when Bob lost in 2010, taking the short-term pain in looking at the long road because the party could finally move on from the Ehrlich legacy – let’s face it, we’re not exactly talking about Ronald Reagan here.
So Chris, if Larry wins, this will not be the Maryland Larry Hogan Party, it will be the Maryland Republican Party. We will work appropriately for his re-election but not exclusively as it seemed, by many accounts, like the MDGOP did from 2002-06 (and even during O’Malley’s first term, when Larry ran the first time before ceding the field to “my friend” Bob.)
Finally, you may want to make sure April 12 is clear on your calendar because it looks like that will be the date of our Lincoln Day Dinner. I understand Larry is in demand for fundraisers but we would kinda like him to show up at our LDD since no candidate has a home-field advantage here and we just might want him to say a few words.
Listen, I really would like to back Larry but so far I don’t know where he stands on a lot of important issues. He has a good overall message but one thing I’ve found about certain candidates is that once you look deeper into what they have to say, they tend to either contradict themselves over time or they pander to the crowd they’re speaking in front of. I suppose Larry’s keeping it simple to stay on message but sooner or later people like me have to ask and there has to be more than one dimension. We know it’s easy to be the opposition party and stand on the sidelines, so – aside from the three-point test Larry touts – how will he govern and lead?
There you have my response, Chris. Color me skeptical – and still undecided – for now.
As I predicted in this space a few weeks ago, Rudy Cane has indeed pulled out of the District 37A race; he will leave after 16 years of service to his Dorchester and Wicomico county constituents. While the Delegate is having some minor health issues, the fact that he all but ceased fundraising last year and allowed his website to go dark pretty much revealed his plans. It seems he was in the race simply to keep other interested Democrats away from challenging his would-be successor.
With Cane’s withdrawal Wednesday, current Wicomico County Council member Sheree Sample-Hughes will become the Democratic nominee. And unless a Republican who is agreeable to both the Wicomico and Dorchester county Republican Central Committees steps forward before next Monday, it’s likely she will be sworn in next January as the new District 37A representative. I think this was the plan all along.
So the questions going forward are twofold: what will happen to the $47,742.40 remaining in Cane’s campaign account, and how would Sample-Hughes fare in the General Assembly if no opponent is found?
I suspect a number of Democrats – particularly minority ones – around the state already have their hands out trying to get some of Rudy’s leftover campaign cash. In order to close his books according to state requirements, he has to have a balance of zero. Rudy has already transferred $6,000 to Sample-Hughes, which made up most of her cash on hand as of the January filing.
As far as voting record goes, Sample-Hughes will probably be as reliably leftwing as Cane, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the makeup of her district. For example, while Cane serves as the Chair of the Agriculture, Agriculture Preservation and Open Space subcommittee of Environmental Matters, he voted for the SB236 Septic Bill in 2012 and against its repeal in 2013 as a member of the Environmental Matters Committee. Cane is also infamous for his strident opposition to an elected school board in Wicomico County, a position which is shared by Sample-Hughes. While they cite the concerns of the minority community, it would be interesting to see how quickly those concerns would vanish should a Republican governor be elected.
Yet this potential Sample-Hughes walkover could be a concern a few years from now, as she may use the Delegate seat as another stepping stone to the Maryland Senate in 2018, as either Richard Colburn or Addie Eckardt may be ready to retire. (Current Democratic opponent Chris Robinson lost to Colburn by 18 points in 2010, so it’s likely the winner of the GOP primary will be the Senator.) But with the prospect of a majority-minority district remaining carved out of the strip between Salisbury and Cambridge, she may be difficult to beat (but not impossible – ask Don Hughes, who squeaked out a win over Cane in 1994 in a 3-way race) regardless of voting record.
For over 90 years, the Bladensburg Peace Cross has stood on property which is now public land. Two years ago, the American Humanist Association asked the memorial to World War 1 veterans be removed from its site, saying it “sends a message that Christianity is preferred by the government.” Since it’s still there, the AHA has filed a lawsuit against the Maryland – National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which controls the plot of land near a heavily traveled intersection. The suit cites a “violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, as applied to Maryland by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Yes, it’s the old saw that the sign of the cross is the establishment of religion. I find it interesting that thousands of crosses and other religious symbols have been erected as tombstones or prominently featured on them in public and private cemeteries around the country, yet because of the location and visibility of the Bladensburg Cross, the AHA has chosen to sue about this one.
But the reason I heard about this was a voice of resistance:
Given the wave of revisionist lawsuits intended to dismantle battle monuments and other sites important to ordinary Americans since the 1960s I suppose it was only a matter of time until the Bladensburg Cross came under attack. But perhaps the attackers have bitten off more than they can chew.
I attach the complaint, and want to organize resistance. I think ”Task One” will be to make sure the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (the named defendant) does not roll over and decide to default.
If you are concerned about this assault on historical memory, kindly consider pushing this news out to your networks and contacting your representatives in the Maryland General Assembly.
I will go to the Courthouse today to see about getting more info. I realize that not everyone reading this note will agree with me on this. I respect your opinion, so please let me know if you would like to be removed from further mailings.
These are the words of former U.S. Senate candidate Richard Douglas, who passed on a run for Attorney General here in Maryland but may be interested in this case.
Yet this somewhat local push to eradicate a so-called religious symbol from the landscape comes at a time when the faithful in and around the country are under assault from all directions – witness the firestorm of protest, including a threat to relocate Super Bowl XLIX from the state, which surrounded an Arizona bill which would have allowed business owners to follow their conscience when it came to service gay or lesbian couples. The measure was vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who called it “broadly worded.” Other states, such as Texas, Utah, and Virginia, have seen their gay marriage bans thrown out by activist federal judges.
In Maryland the judiciary seems to be a little more conservative than the general population, but this is going before a federal court so all bets are off.
Tonight’s gathering wasn’t exactly the one we had planned, but it turned out all right. Considering our outgoing first vice-President Marc Kilmer was placed in charge by the late arrival of president Jackie Wellfonder and that our speaker, District 38B candidate Carl Anderton Jr., was late due to mayoral duties in Delmar, the agenda was reshuffled a few times but we got through in one of the speedier meetings we’ve had recently.
Yet we began the meeting in much the same way many previous meetings have commenced, with the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. And while I don’t read the minutes anymore (because they’re posted on the website), we still had the Treasurer’s Report to file.
But because of the absences, we actually led off with Dave Parker’s Central Committee report. He assessed the election as “shaping up rather nicely” as he reported on the candidates who had filed, with a couple last-minute updates from those in attendance. Parker also had some lighter fare as he recited a number of observations based on the thought that “you might be living in a country run by idiots.”
He invited all local Republican candidates to our next Central Committee meeting on March 3, and updated us on the Lincoln Day Dinner where we are still working with our desired speaker on a date – however, if only a midweek event is possible we may have to change the venue.
A number of candidates (or their surrogates) gave updates and reports.
John Hall, who is running for a full term in County Council District 4, noted that “next year will be a very difficult year” financially for the county, and that needed future school projects may have to wait. Hall was appointed to fill out the unexpired term of the late Bob Caldwell in 2011.
Mary Beth Carozza spoke about being an advocate for several causes in Annapolis, particularly against the “chicken tax.” And while she was still out knocking on a lot of doors, she was still finding she needed to educate voters about the new district setup and the June primary.
Larry Dodd, who’s in the ring for County Council District 3, gave a shortened stump speech highlighting his experience and time at the Board of Education. If elected he woould work to reduce crime and make sure farmer’s rights are protected, along with making sure government lives within its means.
This was important because the next to speak was Dodd’s recently-filed primary opponent, Tom Taylor. After reaching over and shaking Dodd’s hand, Taylor stated his case that the GOP should have a choice and that he was committed to fiscal conservatism and “better government through being smaller.”
County Executive hopeful Bob Culver told those gathered that “this was the best time we have to take Rick (Pollitt, current County Executive) out of office.,,it’s time for a change.” He called on us to give him a strong primary showing.
On behalf of District 37B candidate Christopher Adams, Marc Kilmer said Adams was busy meeting voters, but was also testifying in Annapolis on a number of business bills. Kilmer then went on to discuss his own camapign, with an April fundraiser in the works.
Fellow District 37B hopeful Johnny Mautz Jr. had a surrogate as well in Shawn Jester. Shawn passed along word that we were invited to a Mautz campaign event March 2 in Cambridge, from 4 to 6 p.m.
Dr. Rene Desmarais, who was a little late but is also a District 37B contender, assessed his campaign as “going great” and raising a lot of money. He invited us to an event March 12 in Fruitland. He actually spoke after our featured speaker, who came in about a half-hour late.
But Carl Anderton, Jr. had a good excuse as he was at a meeting involving the two commissions which run their respective sides of Delmar. (Part lies in Maryland and part in Delaware; however, they strive to coordinate efforts as one entity where possible.)
He led off with his meeting with the governor as head of the Maryland Municipal League. catching Martin O’Malley by surprise when he told him about the proposed “chicken tax” and its potentially devastating effect on the Eastern Shore. That led to the O’Malley “read my lips” veto threat a few days later. And when Carl confronted House sponsor Delegate Shane Robinson with the fact that 40% of Eastern Shore jobs have some reliance on the poultry industry, Delegate Robinson backed off, saying that he “just wanted to have a conversation” about the idea.
Yet this played into a significant part of Carl’s campaign: the premise that we have great educational institutions locally but no jobs to keep the graduates here. Even the potential explosive growth at the Wallops Island space complex just across the Virginia line may be squandered by Maryland’s poor business climate. Anderton’s was a “we need to get back to basics” approach, charging that part of the Eastern Shore delegation was working against us. Not only could we not attract business, continued Carl, but we can no longer attract retirees either because of our punitive income and estate taxes. “It’s time for a whole lifestyle change,” concluded Carl.
We finally got around to a little business once Carl finished, most importantly the election of officers. For 2014, they will be almost the same group as last year’s, with one exception.
- President: Jackie Wellfonder
- First Vice-President: Shawn Jester
- Second Vice-President: Larry Dodd
- Third Vice-President: Sean Fahey
- Fourth Vice-President: Cathy Keim
- Treasurer: Deb Okerblom
- Secretary: Michael Swartz
Jester is the newcomer, replacing Marc Kilmer.
We also made and passed motions to secure a table at the Salisbury Festival and potentially one at Pork in the Park as well. There’s also the prospect of needing a headquarters for this fall’s election, and some members are already chomping at the bit to secure a location – unfortunately, we have several of our old ones to choose from because they are still vacant after all this time.
All told, we were through in less than an hour, but we accomplished quite a bit. It’s also worth noting that a man who’s perhaps one of Maryland’s longest-serving elected officials announced his retirement tonight. After close to a half-century on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, Blan Harcum will not seek another term. We applauded him for his efforts tonight.
Back in December, once I finished the original dossier series, I noted this would be an ongoing process. To that end, here are further statements made by the three contenders at the time, with the addition of items from Larry Hogan.
Each of these subcategories will be revisited, with changes in score noted.
The 2014 monoblogue endorsement will be based on the following formula:
Election/campaign finance reform (3 points)
Larry Hogan: As a practical matter, seeking public financing made sense for Mr. Hogan, who entered the Republican primary race relatively late and was unlikely to raise as much privately as he may qualify for publicly. But he also noted that his decision ‘sends a great message’ about his grass-roots efforts. (Baltimore Sun, February 4, 2014)
Ron George has also talked about taking public financing, although he’s made no formal decision on the matter. He had no points anyway, nor will Hogan receive any.
Illegal immigration (5 points)
No candidates have made significant public pronouncements on the subject, so no changes and no points for Larry Hogan.
Dealing with Obamacare (7 points)
David Craig: Craig has previously called on O’Malley and Brown to stop wasting money and hindering access to health care and to promote direct enrollment options through insurance carriers and brokers. The Administration then took a modest step in that direction by working with insurance industry leaders to develop a telephone help line. (press release, February 10, 2014)
Craig, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, said the O’Malley administration should instead be helping people get coverage directly through the insurers. He wants to reallocate $150 million, originally earmarked in part to market the problematic exchange, toward promoting alternative enrollment options. (Fox News, January 7, 2014)
Craig’s proposal would seek an HHS waiver to re-program funds to launch a public awareness campaign informing consumers of their right to obtain health insurance directly through carriers. A complimentary awareness campaign would inform people of their rights to utilize Maryland insurance brokers who are licensed and experienced in helping individuals with health insurance. Utilizing call centers for those needing assistance with the website would remain in place. Craig, however, would re-examine the navigator model in which people having problems with the website must set appointments with temporary workers disbursed among several organizations.
As for the vexing issue of low-income individuals seeking subsidies, Craig supports U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski’s proposal to HHS to enable a direct data hub allowing people to obtain financial assistance without going through an exchange. (citybizlist, January 7, 2014)
Charles Lollar: Lollar advocates making hospital costs “much more transparent” by posting the prices. “Until we control the costs we’re not going to get our arms around the health care issue.”
“I’m all for a moratorium on the Affordable Care Act.” (Fox 45 debate, January 16, 2014)
I had previously chided Craig for not offering up solutions (although he had done a nice job identifying the problems) but I’m not sure I like much of the approach he’s taking besides the idea about promoting alternative enrollment options. I’ll give him 1.5 points, up from none.
Lollar seems to have a better idea as far as approach, although it’s still very vague. The moratorium alone, though, is worth 2 points (he had none as well.)
Larry Hogan hasn’t addressed this, so no points.
Energy policy (8 points)
No candidates have made significant public pronouncements on the subject, so no changes and no points for Larry Hogan.
Education (9 points)
Ron George: He acknowledged that a repeal of Common Core “ain’t going to happen in the state” of Maryland. But he argues for putting the educational focus back on what he calls a “local locus of control” rather than a one size fits all federal mandate. George also believes it is important to teach entrepreneurship and financial literacy in schools in an effort to help minorities and low-income Marylanders understand how to be successful in a free enterprise system. (In The Capital, January 15, 2014)
Charles Lollar: Lollar wants to stress internships for high schoolers, with the help of corporations. (Fox 45 debate, January 16, 2014)
Let me talk about Ron George first. It’s interesting that he has gone from “I intend to fight it with all my energy” in September to “(repeal) ain’t going to happen” just four months later. I have a problem with that change of heart because if you’re elected as governor you have an automatic bully pulpit.
Look at how we were saddled with gay marriage. It didn’t happen until Martin O’Malley decided to burnish his 2016 credentials and made it an issue in 2012 (with an assist from Barack Obama, who needed the gay vote.) If you want to get rid of Common Core, you browbeat the legislators who oppose you until you get your way. So I took him down from 4 points to 3.
On the other hand, I think Lollar’s idea is pretty good so I bumped him from six points to seven.
Second Amendment (11 points)
David Craig on Rodricks show tells Dan Yes I SUPPORT concealed carry! (Facebook page, February 10, 2014)
Larry Hogan is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and is opposed to SB 281. He will work to keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. Hogan supports tougher mandatory sentencing for criminals who commit crimes with a gun, but he is against taking away the rights of law abiding citizens. (Facebook page)
I added a half-point to David Craig (from 8 to 8.5) for the clarification. Conversely, I think Hogan’s canned response is somewhat wishy-washy and political. He may be opposed to SB281, but will he repeal it? The time for opposition is over – the word is “repeal.” So he gets 4 points of 11.
War on Rural Maryland (12 points)
Charles Lollar: Leadership in Annapolis needs to craft a regional solution to this problem that requires all states that pollute the Bay to “pay their fair share” to keep it clean. We must not allow legislators in Annapolis to “hurt Maryland first” by bankrupting hard-working farmers with a “Chicken Tax” and putting the future of Maryland’s number one economic industry at risk. (press release, February 5, 2014)
Lollar picks up a half-point for this, from 5 points to 5.5 points. It’s pretty easy to oppose the chicken tax but Lollar did it quite forcefully.
Role of government (13 points)
Larry Hogan: Job one will be to get the government off our backs and out of our pockets so we can grow the private sector, put people back to work and turn our economy around.
Every decision Larry Hogan makes as governor will be put to a simple test – Will this law or action make it easier for families and small businesses to stay in Maryland and will it make more families and businesses want to come to Maryland?
If something comes across Hogan’s desk as governor that doesn’t pass this test, he’ll veto it. (campaign website)
We’ve got to be able to run the government, provide the services that are important and necessary to people as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, so it’s not like let’s lop off this department or stop providing these services – I think it’s just looking at zero-based budgeting and doing outside audits of every state agency and saying how do we use those tax dollars more effectively.
I think we need to focus on – these aren’t Republican problems or Democrat problems, these are serious problems that our state has. We’ve got to reach across the aisle and work together between the parties to come up with common-sense solutions to solve these things. (NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt, January 21, 2014)
Charles Lollar: A government should serve its citizens, not burden them. It must also provide for citizens truly in need without trapping them in an endless cycle of dependency on government programs that erode their self confidence, human dignity, and a chance to live the American dream.
The answer is not to grow bigger government.
The answer is to empower people with the skills and opportunity to grow a better future for themselves, and not allow government to stand in the way of these goals. (Facebook page, January 12, 2014)
Okay, as far as Larry Hogan is concerned, I get it. You want to work with Democrats. Good luck with that, because we will likely have four years of gridlock unless the voters of Maryland come to their collective senses and elect a Republican majority in the General Assembly. You will have a LOT of vetoes otherwise.
I have yet to be convinced there is such a thing as a broad centrist coalition, since to me all it means is we walk further away from truly being a Free State rather than sprint headlong as we are now. But I will allow 4 of 13 points for the smell test and the zero-based budgeting.
Lollar loses one point for that answer, from 6 to 5. Where is it government’s role to provide for those truly in need? Shouldn’t that be more of a function of the faith-based community? The very definition of government standing in the way is to have government programs one can become dependent on – to me the continuing spiral of unemployment benefit extensions is a perfect example.
Job creation and transportation (14 points)
David Craig: I think that each individual county should establish its own minimum wage. It just makes sense that local officials make laws and the State doesn’t simply dictate what should be done. (Facebook page, February 11, 2014)
Ron George: We must focus on expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs and technical training for our unemployed to protect and grow our middle class for generations to come. (Press release, January 23, 2014)
Charles Lollar: Of course we want better opportunities, better modes of transportation – a diverse collection of different ways to get back and forth to work. Liveable, workable, playable communities where you can actually live, work, and play in the same place and have a legitimate conversation with yourself in the morning whether to walk or drive your bike to work and get there on time.
I think (the Purple Line) is absolutely doable. The question is – is it affordable? If it is, let’s push forward. (2014 gubernatorial candidate transportation forum, February 18, 2014)
The idea David Craig has is a good one, and would have raised him a full point if he had allowed counties to do away with the minimum wage altogether. Yes, this would be a fight with the federal government but it’s a Tenth Amendment fight worth having. I’ll give him a half-point so he goes from 9 to 9.5 points.
Ron George already had a very solid approach, so there wasn’t a lot of room for imporovement there. The statement is a little bit generic.
Suddenly, though, I think Charles Lollar caught his populist, pandering disease at an inopportune time. I know Red Maryland nailed him for one statement (which brought this gem to my attention) but I remembered that Lollar was opposed to the Purple Line last September – now he says it’s “absolutely doable”? He wasn’t pushing the bus alternative in front of that crowd.
And the phrase he was looking for insofar as “livable…communities” is (so-called) Smart Growth. Don’t encourage the idiots, Charles. I took off three points, from 7 to 4.
Hogan misses out on this category so far.
Fiscal conservatism/taxation (15 points)
David Craig: Under Craig’s plan, tax brackets would be lowered across the board to 4.25 percent as of 2016. Couples now pay a basic rate of 4.75 percent on most of their income. Wealthier Marylanders pay a higher percentage on a sliding scale that tops out at 5.5 percent on income above $300,000.
Craig said he would couple that with an increase in the personal exemption from $3,200 to $5,000. He said that will provide relief to middle-class that would help offset the face that the greatest benefits under his plan would go to the higher income brackets, which would see the highest percentage drop.
In the second phase, Craig said he will call for a further reduction to a maximum rate of 3 percent — with a bump in the exemption to $6,000.
Craig said a third phase in his plan, which would come sometime in what he hopes will be his second term, would eliminate the tax entirely. He said his proposal would not affect county piggyback income taxes, which the state would continue to collect.
According to Craig, elimination of the income tax would put Maryland in the company of nine states that have no income tax, including Texas, Florida and Tennessee. (Baltimore Sun, February 18, 2014)
Ron George: When asked what policies he will put in place to foster job creation, George said lowering the corporate tax rate is a necessary first step. “We have to lower the corporate tax rate,” he said. “I would like to get it down to 5.75 percent and I think that sends a strong message out there that we’re open for business.” This, he argues, will help bring businesses back to Maryland thereby expanding the tax base and creating more revenue for the state. (In The Capital, January 15, 2014)
In addition to the expansion of jobs, George is planning on cutting income tax by 10 percent, building a tax base in Baltimore, and putting in place what he is calling the “Buy Maryland Program.”
In this program, if Maryland residents itemize purchases over $100 on their tax returns, then they will receive 20 percent back. That way, George said, people will have a lump sum in the spring that they can then use for a down payment on a house or car. (Easton Star-Democrat, January 9. 2014)
Larry Hogan: When Hogan is governor, we’ll repeal the rain tax. That’s one change you can count on.
Charles Lollar: Our plan is to take a look at every regulation out there – all 74 of them. We want to peel this thing back. People are tired, here in Maryland, with this bait-and-switch tax scheme. So we’re going to compose independent audits annually. We’ll determine how the monies are collected, how they’re being spent, and whether this spending demonstrates an efficiency of how we use taxpayer money. And this audit will be published online…In addition, I am not going to sign any tax bill that’s void of an enforceable lockbox provision. (Bill Bennett Show, January 23, 2014)
In addition, Lollar pointed out on the Fox45 debate that this would be all taxes, not just the ones passed under Martin O’Malley.
In a fundraiser with economist and advisor Arthur Laffer, he supported the Lollar idea for eliminating the state’s income tax but gave no details. (Press release, January 28, 2014)
David Craig followed the lead of another with his tax plan, but the timing is a little more specific. I think it’s a great idea, though, and he seems to have the understanding that, because he controls the budget, that the idea is doable. He gained three points from 11 to 14 with one (somewhat) bold move.
Ron George is restating previously noted material, so there’s no bold moves there.
Larry Hogan will repeal the rain tax. That’s a start, but really it’s only an entry-level gambit in this race so he gets just 5 points.
Charles Lollar was first to the post with the idea to eliminate the income tax, but hasn’t elaborated on the details. But because he was so close to the maximum point total already with 14, I could only bump him up to 14.5 because I think eliminating the income tax is a splendid idea.
Larry Hogan: Phony political spin, questionable donations, cronyism, and backroom deals pervade the current culture in Annapolis. We need more transparency in our government, more truthfulness and tougher ethics and disclosure laws that will begin to clean up the mess in Annapolis and restore integrity to our state capital. (campaign website)
It’s time to engage every citizen who wants to get involved in the policy process. Policymaking should not be left exclusively in the hands of an oligarchy of anointed Annapolis lobbyists and lawmakers. (Capital Gazette, January 17, 2014)
Charles Lollar: First and foremost, I would do all I can to get rid of comments like the one I just heard. It’s unfortunate, but I do take a bit of offense to that because the idea that all Republicans think the same way is probably about as similar as all blacks thinking the same way – it’s not true – or all whites thinking the same way, it’s not true. I want to be the best governor of Maryland I can be – not the best Republican governor I can be, and not the best Democrat governor I can be, I want to be the best Maryland governor I can be.
And I’m sick and tired – no matter where I go or who says it, I attack it the same – of people using partisan politics, skin color and gender, to separate us from real solutions that are at hand. (Purple Line Forum, February 18, 2014)
I’m not quoting him on anything here, but because he’s been the most open and responsive candidate to me I added one point to Ron George’s intangibles.
For Hogan’s part, I agree with the sentiments for the most part. But they are belied by the way his campaign is conducted – missing opportunities to discuss issues with fellow candidates and instead uttering many of the same campaign mantras in one-on-one interviews with generally friendly questioners. It’s not enough of a change from the current culture he decries, and until I start seeing and hearing answers on issues above and beyond the Change Maryland mantra, I have to deduct two points for intangibles.
Charles Lollar, though, has really cleaned up his campaign, and the statement I included is apt because he was responding to Democrat criticism. So he went from a -3 score to a wash – his campaign isn’t firing on all cylinders yet but it is improving.
If you’ve been keeping track, well, more power to you. But unlike other bloggers, I’m not ready to make a choice yet because there’s still a lot of information I’d like to have before making my choice.
What I can tell you is that David Craig and Ron George seem to have an edge over Charles Lollar, with Larry Hogan far behind simply because he’s not addressed many of my key issues yet. His is a one-note samba so far. It turns out that the Craig tax plan has now vaulted him slightly ahead of Ron George – very surprising because my initial perception was that David was the most moderate of the four candidates.
But above all, my main complaint is with the Larry Hogan campaign. Stop skipping debates where everyone else shows up! You may have 40,000 Democrats and unaffiliateds in Change Maryland, but there’s one problem with that: they get no Republican primary vote and you probably won’t win with 40,000 votes (assuming all Change Maryland ‘likes’ = Hogan supporters, a very dubious assumption.)
So my plan is to revisit this sometime in April, with perhaps a final decision in early June. I don’t think an early endorsement will do me a lot of good here because no candidate is standing out in this race.