To put it mildly November 7, 2006 was a dark day for Maryland Republicans.
They lost the governor’s seat that it had taken them nearly 34 years of trying to get back after Spiro Agnew resigned to become Vice-President in 1969. While they managed to hold their meager 14 seats in the Maryland Senate, they lost 6 seats in the Maryland House of Delegates, putting the Democrats back to a 100-plus seat majority.
Most said it was a bad year for Republicans, who were dragged down by an unpopular war abroad and scandal at home. Nancy Pelosi and crew promised to drain the swamp and enough Americans believed her to give the Democrats a House majority for the first time in 12 years.
But four years can make a big difference, and the political landscape has changed. It’s time to put the GOP – the adults – back in charge.
Here I’m going to lay out the case for electing Republicans up and down the ballot. Yes, I happen to be on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee so it’s natural that I would support the ticket. But the difference this time around is that we don’t have a candidate just filling up ballot space – admittedly at times we have.
I’m going to start at the top and work to the bottom.
Governor – Bob Ehrlich
Truth be told, I was a Brian Murphy supporter in the primary because I saw him as the conservative choice for Governor. While Ehrlich isn’t exactly going to be a Chris Christie or Bob McDonnell, he has the right idea about lowering our tax burden by reducing the sales tax – that helps us on the Eastern Shore. And given the sometimes-partisan nature of redistricting I’d like to make sure the GOP has a voice since last time the Democrats rammed a proposal through which cost the GOP two Congressional seats in the 2002 election.
Comptroller – William H. Campbell
Campbell is the one candidate I haven’t met yet but he’s scheduled to appear at the LORA candidate meet and greet this evening at Black Diamond Catering in Fruitland. Yet his resume is impressive – he’s spent time as CFO of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Coast Guard, and Amtrak. Granted, these are all federal government agencies but it’s certainly better than what Peter Franchot brought to the table four years ago as a 20-year member of the House of Delegates. Since Bill would serve on the Board of Public Works if elected, we can put a no-nonsense fiscal watchdog in that prime position. He earned my primary vote and deserves yours too.
Unfortunately, due to a massive unforced error by the state Republican Party we have no one to take on ‘I’ll recognize gay marriages in other states even though it’s against Maryland law’ Doug Gansler, so let’s move on to the last statewide race.
(Note: one good suggestion I’ve seen is to write in Jim Rutledge for the position. Of course, the votes will only count under the “other write-ins” category but if there’s enough it sends a message to both the party and to Rutledge, who was once rumored to be switching to the race.)
U.S. Senate – Eric Wargotz
I have to admit that Wargotz wasn’t my primary choice simply because I saw Jim Rutledge as a few steps more conservative. Yet when the choice is presented as a nearly 40-year career politician who has lost touch with the public (but not the special interest donors) against a physician who’s served ably on the local level I think it’s time to take some chances. Eric would bring a fresh perspective and more conservative values to the Senate, and might even deem to visit the little people on the Shore once in awhile. Those of you who were so insistent on having ‘Eastern Shore values’ when you voted for ‘flip-flop’ Frank Kratovil have no excuse to vote for Barbara Mikulski now.
U.S. Congress – Andy Harris
Speaking of ‘Eastern Shore values’, how are those stimulus, cap-and-trade, and Nancy Pelosi votes working out for you? Why should we have a Congressman who needs reminding of how his district feels about these big-government issues when we could have a reliably conservative voice in Congress – particularly, as it’s beginning to appear, one who will be in the majority party? Don’t be misled by those commercials about a sales tax or quoting Lowell Stoltzfus out of context – they’re a sign that something much larger than Frank Kratovil has a vested interest in keeping him in Congress. I say it’s time for the people to take control once again, and Andy Harris will be a voice for the people.
Senate District 37 – Rich Colburn
Here in Wicomico we don’t get a lot of say in the process since it’s a four-county Senate district, but Rich Colburn has made his mark by voting and working in the district’s interest. While some may argue he’s been there too long and he drew a primary opponent, there’s no compelling case for turning the district over to a lawyer who will simply be a yes-man for the other Democratic lawyers in Annapolis. Chris Robinson’s talk about the need to have jobs that earn a ‘living wage’ or returning the Bay to ‘pristine quality’ is codespeak for more government intrusion and higher taxes to pay for it.
House District 37A – Dustin Mills
This is the contest which highlights stark differences – the race of the competitors and 50-year difference in age are just the most obvious. Rudy Cane, when he’s there to vote, is a liberal Delegate who’s grown farther out of step with the conservatism of his district. Dustin Mills would bring youth, vitality, energy, and a far more business-friendly attitude to the General Assembly. He’s working hard to get votes in a district which might not be favorable as far as party makeup goes but thoughtful Democrats have good reason to cross the aisle to vote for him – it’s the economy, stupid.
House District 37B – Addie Eckardt and Jeannie Haddaway
Good. solid representation that has no reason to be left on the sidelines. Addie’s opponent is endorsed by Big Teacher, Big Green, and Big Labor – do they have our best interests of local control at heart? Certainly I don’t agree with every vote these two have taken but I’d rather have the people I agree with 70 to 80 percent of the time than the lady I believe will sell out to those special interests who have endorsed her.
Senate District 38 – Michael James
With Lowell Stoltzfus retiring, the Democrats smelled an opportunity for a pickup and met the ambition of Jim Mathias. Ask yourself – would Mathias have gone against Lowell? I doubt it. I trust Michael James to have good values and a conservative voting record, not stick up his finger and see which way the wind is blowing. As one example, Mathias voted for a tax increase before voting against it (HB2/SB2 in the 2007 Special Session.) There’s a reason we’re being bombarded with mailings about portions of Jim’s record – he wants us to forget the rest. You can vote for conservative-lite with Mathias or get the real thing with Michael James.
House District 38A – Charles Otto
Admittedly, I was shocked that Otto won the primary but pleased nonetheless. Mike McCready is a formidable candidate and, since we knew there would be an opponent from Somerset County, I thought we needed a Somerset candidate on our side to win the seat. Again, it comes down to a guy who I would likely agree with 80 to 90 percent of the time in Otto against a guy who will have to bend to Democratic leadership from across the Bay and check some of his values at the door. Working at a county level is a lot different than this ballgame, and Charles has been there to protect the interests of agriculture on numerous occasions.
House District 38B – Mike McDermott and Marty Pusey
If fate dictates that Republicans only pick up three new seats in the General Assembly, these are two that I want (along with the Cane seat.) This is my district and I feel I’m not being well-served by Norm Conway nor would I be by Gee Williams. One would think the streets would be paved in gold since Norm is chair of the Appropriations Committee, but they are not. And Gee Williams is a guy who will only “reject extremes” until they tell him how Annapolis actually works. Instead, why not bring a mayor who has grown jobs in his city by chucking the anti-business attitude it once held and a longtime public servant who (perhaps kiddingly, but it’s a great idea) spoke of repealing two laws for each passed. That’s the kind of representation I’d be proud to send to Annapolis and you should be too.
Now it’s time for county races.
County Executive – Joe Ollinger
For the better part of four years we have had a County Executive who complained he didn’t have enough money. I’ll grant he eased up on the tax increase he could’ve had this year, but that move smacked of election-year posturing. Certainly I don’t agree with every part of Joe’s agenda (particularly the appointed school board) but I believe that he would be a far better watchdog and steward of our tax dollars than Rick Pollitt, plain and simple. If Pollitt likes the job that much, he can try again for the open seat in four years – no lifetime political aspirations for Joe.
County Council (at large) – Bob Culver, Matt Holloway
It’s a pair of small businessmen who know the value of a dollar against two administrators who would prefer the revenue cap be removed. Given the myriad ways this election could turn out, these two seats could make the difference between an executive branch run amok or held in check. Making the wrong choice may cost us all in the end. The combination is a refreshing one of youthful energy and sage experience. I think the community is better served as a whole by leaving David Cowall at Coastal Hospice, Ed Taylor to write books, and the two Republicans holding these at-large seats.
County Council District 1 – David Goslee, Jr.
It’s hard to vote against Sheree Sample-Hughes because she does a reasonably good job for her district, and the community involvement she encourages is a torch that should be picked up by Goslee. But I’ve always had the sense that Sheree sees this as just a stepping-stone to a bigger position – perhaps a successor to Rudy Cane or eventually something statewide. How long will she be interested in serving this small district? As someone with real-world experience, David brings another business-friendly voice to the conversation and, above all, that’s what we need in this county.
County Council District 2 – Stevie Prettyman
Actually, you pretty much can’t lose in this election as far as fiscal conservatism goes. There are a lot of good points to both Stevie and Mike Calpino on that front, but the point Stevie brings up (and it’s a valid one) is that her experience with the issues is valuable. Stevie caught a lot of flak from certain quarters about the night meeting controversy and it was deserved – with a new term, she will have the opportunity to have the consistency in meeting times she desires. Yet I’d like to see Mike Calpino remain involved in the process (and the county adopt some of his ideas) – perhaps in four years’ time my mind could be changed.
County Council District 3 – Gail Bartkovich
She’s unopposed in the General Election so this is a no-brainer.
County Council District 4 – Bob Caldwell
If they were more cantankerous, this race could be construed as the ‘Grumpy Old Men’ race – let’s just say that Bob and David MacLeod have a lot of time in between them. But perhaps Bob’s best manner of closing the deal is emphasizing the basic tenets of common sense and fundamental fairness he espouses while thinking in a proactive way. Having the experiences Bob has had in his life it’s small wonder his worldview reflects this philosophy. Moreso than MacLeod, Bob would be an asset on County Council – let David MacLeod wait four years to try and get his seat back.
County Council District 5 – Joe Holloway
The fiscal conservatism and sheer doggedness of Joe is so respected that no one stepped up to oppose him. That says something.
State’s Attorney – Matt Maciarello
Do we want a guy who’s stood around in a courtroom a lot or do we want a leader? Bear in mind that Davis Ruark was younger than Matt when he was appointed to the State’s Attorney post in 1987. I get the fact that Matt hasn’t had the most trial experience, but the job of the State’s Attorney is also one of running an office and delegating appropriate tasks to those he best believes will get the job done – case in point, keeping Ruark on for his expertise in the case already built against Thomas Leggs. I don’t see a plan out of Seth Mitchell on the front of leading the office; instead the race has come down almost solely to the handling of the Sarah Foxwell case – which I agree is important but should take up only a fraction of the four-year term.
Judge of the Orphan’s Court – William J. Smith
In a recent Wicomico County Republican Club meeting, Bill opined that if it were up to him we’d ‘keep the three we have’ on the Orphan’s Court. The other two are Norma Lee Barkley and Melissa Pollitt Bright; Smith is the sole Republican running. I’ll be voting for two, with one being Smith. My guess is this will be a much more contentious race in 2014 since at least one and possibly two of the three judges will be retiring.
All of the other races are walkovers because they are unopposed. With the exception of Mike Lewis, our Sheriff, one goal the next crop of Republicans on the Central Committee will have is to find qualified people to give these incumbents a challenge next time – some have been there for twenty years or more and perhaps it’s time for new ideas and fresh Republican faces in these posts.
Honestly, I know not all of these GOP hopefuls will win but the more that are elected the better off our county and state will be. While they sometimes stray off the reservation upon taking office, Republicans following their principles are the best leaders a society could have, simply because we have principles and they’re closest to those embodied by our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Now let’s get out there and vote!!