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

October 24, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Personal stuff, Politics · Comments Off on Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (last of four parts) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 23, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Education, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (third of four parts) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 22, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Radical Green · Comments Off on Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (second of four parts) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hogan seeks a legislative hero

October 20, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Hogan seeks a legislative hero 

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

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

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

All the Hogan stuff was neatly placed on this side of the table.

Andy Harris was on the ball, too, with the Carozza items in the middle. Hogan on the left, Harris on the right – seems appropriate to me.

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

Does this extend to his 2A stance?

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

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

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

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

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

At quarter to 7, the crowd was exuberant as they awaited Governor Hogan’s remarks.

It took several minutes for the Governor to cross the room where he would speak. My former Central Committee cohort John Palmer (left) had his ear at the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Hogan finally reaches the stage for brief remarks.

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

The crowd was enjoying what our governor had to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 Good Beer Festival in pictures and text

It’s been a few years since I got to share my experience at the GBF, for various reasons: I involuntarily skipped the 2016 event (because I couldn’t go that Saturday and Sunday was rained out) and last year I went but lost all my photos when my phone crapped out a few days later. So since the last time I got to do such a post a whole lot has changed – including the captions I can add.

I’m going to begin by thanking my DD, who is better known to most as my wife. She got this photo coming in to pick me up.

We were nicely welcomed to the grounds of Pemberton Park. You can tell she was coming to pick me up by the sunshine. Photo by Kim Corkran.

One major difference was having the GBF move to a Friday evening – Saturday schedule. From what I could gather from asking around, attendance Friday night was decent but not earthshattering – probably akin to a normal Sunday. But since photography isn’t nearly as good at night and being an amateur photojournalist is half the fun for me at the GBF, I chose to only attend Saturday.

I arrived there a little after noon for a 12:30 opening and the crowd was pretty strong already.

They added a few different games for the people to try, like the large-scale beer pong and unique bowling alley.

This is harder than it looks. I think I’ll stick to the bowling where they return the ball to me.

It was a modest beginning to the day. Seemed like a lot of people in line, but once they scattered it looked a lot emptier.

This is the local beer garden. It seemed to me that there were a larger proportion of local breweries vs. out-of-towners than before.

The beer garden from the “back” end.

If there’s one thing the GBF was not hurting for, it was food. This didn’t catch every food vendor, either – there were a couple around the corner.

I had a really good brat with peppers and onions. My only suggestion would be to get real Polish kielbasa for the sandwich.

On Friday night, this was the karaoke barn. On Saturday college football ruled the day.

It used to be that they had couches and comfy furniture at The Pub. Maybe that’s why no one was in there.

This was one of a few tents with the non-local breweries.

The first beer tent I stopped at, a half-hour in. I tried a couple, but missed out on the cider when I went back later. Bummer.

Not that I needed a map, but this was the substitute for the guides they used to give out.

It wasn’t Google, but it did the trick.

The problem with not having the guides (although most of us don’t carry a pen around, either) is that I had nothing but my phone on which to write down the ones I liked. As I’ll expand on later, though, they were few and far between.

Of course I stopped by to see my friend Shawn Jester, the leader of the local Republican club. It was his turn to be the hostest with the mostest.

I guess you can call this my old stomping grounds. It was nice to be on the outside, though.

Being a local election year, I was very surprised to not see them on the GBF video I saw from Friday night. Shawn explained that flooding at the warehouse where their items are kept put the kibosh on getting set up before the event, so they came early Saturday morning. Nor was the GOP weren’t the only vacancy, as there were a couple other open spots.

However, it’s worth noting that both Clerk of Court candidates were there: Bo McAllister was set up to the left of the GOP a few spots down and Chris Welsh to the right. It was good because I finally got to speak with Chris.

The aforementioned McAllister tent is third on the left, red with the orange tablecloth. An hour in and the crowds were still modest.

The Lions Club ran the cornhole tournament, which seemed to draw decent enough interest. There was usually someone playing as I walked by.

Not sure who won or how much the Lions Club made, but hopefully it was a successful run.

Finally, the sun came out and the crowds came out of nowhere to frequent the beer garden. This was taken about 2:30, two hours in.

Once the sun came out, so did the people.

Among that larger crowd: someone with a hat like this comes every year.

This is always a fun look.

Remember that shot I took of the back of the beer garden? By 4:00 the place was hopping.

Where did all these people come from? Too bad the event was over in an hour or so.

Even the human foosball was finally happening.

Human foosball. That sounds like a way to work off those alcohol calories.

I had to leave about 4:00 when the event ended at 5:30 because of a family event. So here’s my parting shot, photography-wise.

Still going at 4 p.m.

Now that I’m through with the photos, it leaves room for a few thoughts.

I really can’t be a judge of how it went Friday night because I wasn’t there. But to me the issue with doing the event in this manner is that it discourages tourism – if you live across the bridge you would have to take off a half-day to attend and I don’t think all that many are willing to do so – particularly if Saturday looks bad weather-wise. I guess they were trying for a 3rd Friday vibe but I’m doubtful they succeeded. Nor did I think going to this sort of event after sunset was a smart play, particularly barely 24 hours after a torrential downpour from Tropical Storm Michael. (Notice the amount of straw in the photos.) Unfortunately, it meant I missed the better of the bands.

And speaking of that: I truly miss the two-stage setup. Sure, it left room for the games on one end but those were really underutilized. And they actually could have placed the main stage on the south end, kept the karaoke tent on the north end, and used that as the side stage. I guess as a cost-cutting move they hire fewer bands by having one stage.

In reading my older posts on the GBF, it’s apparent that either the number of breweries represented has declined somewhat or they are just not doing as many varieties. It was said there were 100 beers on tap, which may have been the case: but do you have to have half or more be IPAs? There are those of us who like the lagers, pilsners, blonde ales, and hefeweisens just as others like the stouts and dark brews. I felt a little underrepresented, although there were also a smaller number of pumpkin beers there, thank goodness. Of course, without a booklet guide it was hard to see where I wanted to go and what to try.

I also don’t know if you increased the vendor price but that seemed to be lacking, too. Granted, my experience was as a non-profit so our rules were a little different but the row of vendors seemed to be more anemic this time around. I also liked the previous practice of having the local beer garden more defined instead of just seemingly a random segment of tents that were clustered together.

I guess it’s time to stop beating around the bush with this piece: this year it felt like the GBF was the red-headed stepchild no one wants (not the craft brew of the same name.)

It seems like a whole lot of corners were cut this time around: for example, they always wanted the setup to be on Friday but having a Saturday-Sunday event meant two nights of security. Shift Sunday to Friday night and suddenly you only need one night of security, plus the lights that had to be there anyway could be taken down early Saturday night once the breweries were broke down.

Or make the Pub a karaoke tent and now you don’t need to rent a lot of seating. They’ve done one stage for a couple years, anyway, but by chopping time off each day of the event (it was a 5 1/2 hour window on Friday and 5 hour window on Saturday, instead of six both days) and cutting off the band time even further by the bands wrapping up a half-hour before the “official” end they’ve succeeded in cutting maybe 11 hours of live music down to eight. But you still have to have the sound set up so why cut the music?

When we lost Pork in the Park after a fairly successful run, we were told it was because the county wanted to concentrate on its other event held at Winterplace, the Wicomico County Fair. But the writing on the wall for Pork in the Park came a few years earlier after they mismanaged one year’s event into a cluster that angered a good number of vendors, then decided to double the admission price in the hopes a more well-known musical act may save the day. When neither worked, they downsized the event too much and never got the momentum back; meanwhile, our food tastes moved away from barbecue and on to other things. Now we have no such festivals when for a few years two had reasonable success.

I’m surprised to find that Maryland is one of the least successful states for craft beer – perhaps due to antiquated laws or just a population group that prefers other adult beverages. (By contrast, Delaware is a heavy-drinking state.) Another interesting fact: excluding Prohibition, the number of breweries in America hit its all-time low in 1978, when there were only 89. (Now just between Maryland and Delaware there are 94, a small segment of 6,372 American breweries listed in 2017.)

But at some point we will reach saturation. Remember how there were so many coffeehouses two decades ago? There is still a thirst for coffee, but the industry has consolidated: there are a few major players, particularly Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, while regional and local shops such as Rise Up or Pemberton Coffeehouse remain as well. I suspect we are ready for a similar shakeout in breweries because tastes change and markets are fluid.

By the same token, where the Good Beer Festival was a rather unique event on its founding eight years ago, there are now beer festivals occurring in this region most weekends between spring and fall. Basically, I think the Good Beer Festival needs to become more of a destination: instead of dropping Sunday to add Friday night, go the opposite way and make it a whole weekend. Go back to multiple stages for music and catch those good up-and-coming regional acts like you did when you began. Perhaps try to get more beer-related vendors there, almost like a trade show. I think there can be a larger tent on the south end just for them so that aspect can be rain or shine.

By doing this and expanding the scope, you create an event that people interested in craft brewing regionally may want to spend the weekend at, sort of like how Pork in the Park used to attract BBQ teams from a wide area – except these folks won’t be camping outside cooking pigs, they’ll be using our lodging and eating at our other restaurants after hours – speaking of which, why not a 5:00 to 10:30 Friday, noon to 10:30 Saturday, noon to 5 Sunday event? Make it worthwhile.

Oh, and one more thing (and I can’t believe I’m saying this): they need to put a little fill line back on the cup. Maybe others need the full shot glass to taste, but I can get a good enough swallow with a half-shot to know whether I like it or not. People that stand at a tent and try six different brews have basically just consumed half a six-pack when it comes to alcohol (since craft beer is generally stronger.) I didn’t see too many unsteady people being held up by their friends yesterday but I didn’t stay until the end either.

The event this weekend came dangerously close to “meh…” for me, and if 40 people feel that way and stop showing up that’s $1,000 less the event brings in. As this is a fundraiser, one would think they would work on maximizing revenue by making it more attractive rather than get overly greedy for a subpar event or nickel-and-dime it to death like they did with Pork in the Park.

Oh, and I didn’t forget the music. There is a WLR upcoming from this, too.

The District 38 battle is joined

October 14, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The District 38 battle is joined 

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

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

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

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

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

Fun with numbers, part two

October 12, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Polling · Comments Off on Fun with numbers, part two 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Odds and ends number 88

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debunking another myth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let me quote from the photo below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(iv) whether to pursue a basic health program;

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

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

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

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

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

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

monoblogue music: “Keep Meaning It” by Highbeams

October 6, 2018 · Posted in Music Reviews · Comments Off on monoblogue music: “Keep Meaning It” by Highbeams 

The first time I went through this very recent (as in it hit the streets this past Monday) release by the Georgia-based band of brothers called Highbeams, I sort of put it in the pile of, “okay, but meh…”

Luckily for them I listened to it a second time and there I found a little more of the magic that this band can put out when they place their mind to it. Sure, there are a couple of songs that seem on the fussy side, like Mess We Made or I Know A Place, but on the whole this isn’t a bad album if you’re into their sort of sound.

Highbeams is like a lot of other independent bands: they perch on the ledge that exists between folk, rock, country, Americana, and adult contemporary. Employing a heaping helping of harmony, Highbeams has developed a bit of a following in their native area and as I write they are expanding their reach, somewhere on the road between a show they played last night in Cleveland and tonight’s stop in Buffalo – it’s a mini-tour through the middle of the country to promote the new release. Someday is the lead single, which explains the video below.

The songs seem to be very honest, with some of them recorded in such a way that it sounds like they are right in your living room: for example, I could just picture them sitting on my couch doing the song Talking To Myself. Once upon a time I read that Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan used to spend a jillion dollars to get their songs just so in the studio, but these guys probably spent whatever amount it took for the electricity to run the home studio and it’s just as effective.

If I were to have one main complaint about this compilation, I would say they need to stretch their musical wings just a bit. There are 12 songs on “Keep Meaning It,” but none of them are really distinctive – yes, they have the sound they want down, but maybe they need to toss in something that’s more bluegrass-influenced or maybe just a ballad. Perhaps Guilty and Window are the best attempts at breaking the mold, Guilty being the closest to a rock song and Window featuring a heavy dose of female lead, but they can’t quite escape the room.

So I moved a little bit off “meh…” but since it’s the time of year I begin to think about which albums I’ve listened to that would make my annual top 5 list, I can’t say this one is a real contender. You may wish to disagree, and to that end I encourage you to check out the Highbeams website and listen for yourself.

Fun with numbers

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

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

Here is that sumthin’ sumthin’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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