For President 2012: Second Amendment and education

I continue my look at the 2012 race with the second of my two multi-subject posts, beginning with a look at how they stand on Second Amendment rights.

Not every candidate addresses this subject directly, but it’s rather easy to find a wealth of information on this particular stance.

On Second Amendment issues, Michele Bachmann gets high marks from both of the two main gun lobbying groups (Gun Owners of America and National Rifle Association) and applauded recent Supreme Court decisions upholding the Second Amendment. She gets the seven points.

Herman Cain says he’s in favor of the Second Amendment, but a recent interview made people wonder if he was placing the issue too far into the lap of the states. I’m not quite sure what he means either, so I’m only going to give him four points. I think he’s on the right side, but I certainly don’t want a liberal state like Maryland overriding the clear language and intent of the Second Amendment.

“It’s not in defense of hunting, it’s not in defense of target shooting or collecting. The Second Amendment is defense of freedom from the state.” So said Newt Gingrich, and he tended to vote that way while in Congress. But there is something in this piece that gives me pause, so I’m only giving Newt six of seven points.

As governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman had a good Second Amendment record, like this pair of bills. He gets all seven points.

If you watch this video at about the 21-minute mark, you’ll see that Gary Johnson has a broad view of the Second Amendment. But this line in Slate is the clincher: “I don’t believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None.” I believe this will get him a bunch of points. Seven.

I honestly can’t find where Fred Karger stands on the issue, so he missed what’s pretty much been a layup so far.

Considering the guy plays in a band called The Second Amendments and has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, I think Thad McCotter should get all seven points. Don’t you?

Like Newt Gingrich, this short treatise from Roy Moore shows he gets why there’s a Second Amendment. Seven points.

I would have expected this from Ron Paul – he votes the right way and gets high GOA marks (an A+) so he’ll get seven points.

Tim Pawlenty doesn’t miss this opportunity as he’s racked up a solid record in Minnesota on gun issues. He gets the seven points as well.

I have the feeling I’m missing something, but the limited amount I can find on Buddy Roemer would make me guess he won’t trifle with the Second Amendment. Two points seems fair enough.

The same piece which was critical of Gingrich really questioned Mitt Romney‘s record. Because it’s somewhat mixed I can only give him four points.

With perhaps one or two exceptions, Rick Santorum has a good gun record so I’ll give him six points.

Updating the GOP standings – anyone who didn’t get six or seven points missed a golden opportunity here. Seven candidates are in the lead pack at the moment.

  • Tim Pawlenty, 14 points
  • Newt Gingrich, 13 points
  • Michele Bachmann, 12 points
  • Jon Huntsman, 12 points
  • Thad McCotter, 12 points
  • Roy Moore, 12 points
  • Ron Paul, 12 points
  • Rick Santorum, 12 points
  • Herman Cain, 8 points
  • Gary Johnson, 8 points
  • Mitt Romney, 7 points
  • Buddy Roemer, 3 points
  • Fred Karger, (-3) points

As for Democrats, Barack Obama is definitely not pro-Second Amendment, so he’s docked the seven points.

Unsurprisingly, Randall Terry has no stated position.

  • Randall Terry, 0 points
  • Barack Obama, (-15) points

Now I turn my attention to education. In case you’re wondering, my key part of the issue is eliminating the Department of Education because it doesn’t educate anyone.

Several candidates address this directly, and this will likely begin to start separating the field.

Michele Bachmann doesn’t have her website up yet, but I can find her voting record on the issue. While she wants to abolish the Department of Education, I found a little bit of fault with some of her votes. I’m giving her six of eight points.

While Herman Cain wants to “unbundle” the federal government from education and has a number of valid ideas about accountability and school choice, the one thing holding him back is not openly advocating for the elimination of the Department of Education – that’s a necessary component in my book. Seven points.

Newt Gingrich touches on education in a minor way on his website, but the person who now talks about abolishing the Department of Education voted for its very creation. And in 2009 he was only too happy to join Al Sharpton on a tour to “highlight the Obama administration’s efforts to reform public education.” I think he’d like to continue the federal framework which needs to be abolished, and that’s not a solution I believe in. I’m giving him no points because I don’t think he stands with me on this.

Jon Huntsman has a mixed record on education, supporting school vouchers but not advocating for less federal involvement otherwise. I’m not convinced he’d be a leader on this issue so I’m giving him only two points.

Helping his cause immensely with me, not only does Gary Johnson have the right ideas on the educational issue but he explains it very well. He gets the full eight points.

Fred Karger wants to make school “more interesting and fun.” Well, I’d like them to learn more critical thinking and actually know something when they graduate without burdensome federal regulations. I will give him a little credit for knowing the key obstacle to improving education (the teachers unions) and at least giving a nod to charter schools, but we can go much further. One point.

It seems to me that Thad McCotter doesn’t mind federal involvement in education, whereas I do. He doesn’t go overly far, but doesn’t reverse the trend either. I think he only gets two points here.

Roy Moore states on his issue page that, “the federal government should not hamper the education systems of various states, as there is no authority for federal involvement under the Constitution. Competition between the states and freedom of various educational structures should be available to parents who are charged with the responsibility to teach their children. Charter schools, vouchers, tax credits, home schooling, Christian schools, and technical training should be encouraged.” The only part I don’t like is the part about tax credits, since I think controlling behavior through the tax code is a no-no as a permanent solution. So I’ll give him six points.

By and large Ron Paul has a similar view to Roy Moore’s, wishing the federal government out of the educational realm but supporting tax credits for Christian schooling. So he gets the same six points.

The example of Tim Pawlenty as governor is relatively good – among other things, Minnesota enacted “pay for performance,” but I think he’s going to seek the same old “top-down” approach to education. Charter states? What if your state is cluelessly going to follow the federal model? I think he’s only going to get two points on this issue.

As governor, Buddy Roemer linked teacher pay to performance and enhanced accountability standards. But that’s all I know and he hasn’t really touched on the subject yet in his one-man debates. So I can only give him one point.

While Mitt Romney supports school choice and home schooling, he’s backed away from supporting the demise of the Department of Education after once supporting its elimination. Supposedly it dampens the influence of the teachers’ unions, but I find that laughable. I can only give Mitt two points.

He may be coming around to sell himself to conservatives, but Rick Santorum‘s recent call to eliminate the Department of Education comes on the heels of a voting record too enamored with federal control. He only gets two points for his efforts.

As I predicted, this certainly has shaken up the standings as some of the “establishment” candidates fall a little behind the lead pack. This also vaulted Gary Johnson into my race. Yet most candidates are hanging around within five points of the top.

  • Michele Bachmann, 18 points
  • Roy Moore, 18 points
  • Ron Paul, 18 points
  • Gary Johnson, 16 points
  • Tim Pawlenty, 16 points
  • Herman Cain, 15 points
  • Jon Huntsman, 14 points
  • Thad McCotter, 14 points
  • Rick Santorum, 14 points
  • Newt Gingrich, 13 points
  • Mitt Romney, 9 points
  • Buddy Roemer, 4 points
  • Fred Karger, (-2) points

Of course, Democrat Barack Obama is foursquare behind more federal control and pulled the rug out from under his own District of Columbia students, so he’s out another eight points.

While the other Democrat, Randall Terry, doesn’t explicitly state his position, the fact he campaigns at a homeschooler rally might mean something. Hey, I’ll give him one point.

  • Randall Terry, 1 point
  • Barack Obama, (-23) points

My next subject is one which has diminished somewhat in the overall scheme of things, but still remains rather important: the Long War and veterans affairs. I admit, though, my view on the subject has changed a bit since the last time around.

With nine points at stake, a candidate can help his or her cause immensely with the right viewpoint.

For President 2012: Campaign finance/election and property rights

Today I begin the process of selecting my personal favorite Presidential candidate, not based on personalities or glitzy campaign promises, but on issues. As I pointed out last month, I have a system to score candidates based on their positions on several topics key to me.

The first two topics are relatively obscure, and the candidates haven’t devoted a lot of time to them. This made it harder to get a good read on the situation; luckily if I’m completely misreading a position it’s only a few points gained or lost. For the most part, I’m betting I have a crop of three to four hopefuls who will stand out above the rest anyway.

Note I haven’t included a few candidates who may yet get into the game. I’m doing the originals as Word files so I can keep them close for reference in the future. And I’m doing both Republicans and Democrats, so let’s start with campaign finance reform and election law.

Michele Bachmann has a limited voting record and comments on the issue, but her positions are fine so I’ll kick her off with one point of three.

With Herman Cain noting in Politico that “civil rights groups encourage voter fraud by opposing voter identification bills…all they’re trying to do is protect the voter fraud they know is going on,” he’s got the right idea. I’m giving him all three points.

While serving in the House, Newt Gingrich had a solid voting record on campaign finance so I’m giving him two points. I don’t think his positions have softened, but haven’t heard the bold sort of statement that Cain made out of him.

Jon Huntsman signed a decent voter-ID law as governor of Utah, so that’s a step in the right direction. But he also signed a bill allowing online voter registration, which wiped out some of that goodwill. Some things are too important to do online. So he gets just one point.

I haven’t been able to discern where Gary Johnson would stand on this issue, so no points for him.

Interestingly enough, Fred Karger supports lowering the voting age to “16 or 17.” And this report states he’s against voter ID. If anything, I question the wisdom of allowing youth to vote (maybe the age of majority needs to revert to 21) so it doesn’t sound like he and I would agree on the issue. He’s docked all three points.

Thad McCotter voted for voter ID on the federal level, but also voted for restricting 527s as well. I’ll give him two of three points.

Roy Moore hasn’t stated a public position on any of these issues, so I can’t give him points either.

Similarly to Gingrich, Ron Paul has made all the right votes on campaign finance and has maintained his position throughout. Since he’s currently serving in Congress, I’m giving him three points.

He got good marks from the Club for Growth on campaign finance as Governor of Minnesota, so Tim Pawlenty gets a good mark from me as well. I’m giving him 2 points.

Buddy Roemer has a key point right on his current home page: “(W)e will talk about a lot of issues in this campaign. But we will start by tackling special interest money that impacts all the rest.” Roemer claims he won’t take any contribution greater than $100 nor will he take PAC money.

It’s a very populist position to take, but it’s the wrong one. I equate money with speech, and placing an artificial restriction on contributions is a limit on speech in my eyes. (It’s also suicidal when you figure Barack Obama to raise $1 billion from special interests.) I’m deducting two points only because he’s consistent with this stance since his days in Congress.

Apparently Mitt Romney has had a change of heart on the campaign finance issue. While he’s come around to the right side, I don’t know how sincere he is on the subject so I’ll not give him any points.

Rick Santorum made mostly correct votes on this subject while in the Senate, and has a long enough body of work that I’m comfortable giving him two points.

Now for the Democrats:

Barack Obama, of course, disagreed with the Citizens United decision and backed the DISCLOSE Act, plus his campaign came out strongly bashing voter ID – three bad moves and a loss of thee points.

On the other hand, Randall Terry doesn’t stake out a position on the issue, so no points.

In the very early stages we have a close race. On the Republican side:

  • Herman Cain, 3 points
  • Ron Paul, 3 points
  • Newt Gingrich, 2 points
  • Thad McCotter, 2 points
  • Tim Pawlenty, 2 points
  • Rick Santorum, 2 points
  • Michele Bachmann, 1 point
  • Jon Huntsman, 1 point
  • Gary Johnson, 0 points
  • Roy Moore, 0 points
  • Mitt Romney, 0 points
  • Buddy Roemer, (-2) points
  • Fred Karger, (-3) points


  • Randall Terry, 0 points
  • Barack Obama, (-3) points

Now I turn to private property rights. Again, this was sort of tough because most candidates haven’t addressed this as directly as I’d like.

Let’s begin with Michele Bachmann, who cited Fifth Amendment rights in castigating the BP settlement. I think she knows government’s place, so I’m giving her four of five points.

Herman Cain hasn’t said much on the subject yet, and aside from a brief mention of property seizure portions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill on his issues page, there’s not much to go on. I’ll give him one point.

Overturning the Kelo decision would be a good start on Newt Gingrich‘s agenda, and I can give him all five points for that and defending property rights while in Congress.

Jon Huntsman was ahead of the curve on Kelo and advocated for American companies regarding intellectual property rights while Ambassador to China. My only knock is whether he was leading or following in his capacity, so I’ll give him four points.

I would imagine Gary Johnson would oppose the Kelo decision, but when he talks about “civil liberties” he doesn’t speak to private property rights. I’ll grant him one point since he talks about other civil liberties that most GOP candidates don’t.

It doesn’t appear Fred Karger has delved into property rights issues, so no points for him.

Thad McCotter has a reasonable record on property rights by the look of things, so I’ll give him three points of five.

While it was hinted in this article he penned that Roy Moore was against the Kelo decision, the fact that he stood up for private property rights at a rally shows me he’s likely on the right side. Five points.

Ron Paul is an odd case. His voting record would suggest he supports private property rights, but in looking up Gary Johnson I saw that Paul supported the Kelo decision. I can only give him two points based on voting record.

Tim Pawlenty seemed to have an eye toward protecting property rights when he signed legislation like this and this. He’ll earn the five points.

This video explains how Buddy Roemer feels about “imminent” (sic) domain. I essentially like what he says, but that 1% and blowing the spelling will lose him two points of the five. Give him three.

Mitt Romney “believes the Kelo property rights case was wrongly decided.” He’s right, but Massachusetts still ranks among the worst states for eminent domain abuse. So I’ll only give him three points.

Back in 2005 Rick Santorum termed the Kelo decision as “undermining people’s fundamental rights to property.” I think he gets it, so I’ll give him the five points.

Among the two Democrats, Barack Obama made his most egregious assault on property rights when he placed unions ahead of bondholders in the auto bailout. That offense gets him docked five points.

On the other hand, Randall Terry is winning the Democratic side by not having a position. No points.

Updating the standings shows we have a close race among a number of contenders.

  • Newt Gingrich, 7 points
  • Tim Pawlenty, 7 points
  • Rick Santorum, 7 points
  • Michele Bachmann, 5 points
  • Jon Huntsman, 5 points
  • Thad McCotter, 5 points
  • Roy Moore, 5 points
  • Ron Paul, 5 points
  • Herman Cain, 4 points
  • Mitt Romney, 3 points
  • Gary Johnson, 1 point
  • Buddy Roemer, 1 point
  • Fred Karger, (-3) points


  • Randall Terry, 0 points
  • Barack Obama, (-8) points

Can Barack Obama get to (-100)? He just might. But I think it’s shaping up to be an interesting race between as many as 8 candidates for the top spot, and you never know. Two sections in last time I had Duncan Hunter leading, Mike Huckabee second, and John McCain third (they finished first, fourth, and tenth, respectively, in a 10-man field.)

The next time I’ll probably tackle two subjects again before going to individual posts for the remainder as they have more priority. So next up is Second Amendment rights and education, for seven and eight points respectively. Once that’s done, 23 of 100 points will be decided.

Thoughts and updates

I was thinking a little bit about the Presidential race this evening, and it started when I moderated a comment on my last post from Phil Collins (who I presume is not “the” Phil Collins, just like the Maryland GOP ranks have a Dick Cheney who isn’t the former VP.) He claims that he spoke personally to Buddy Roemer last Thursday and “he’ll run.”

If you believe the conventional wisdom, a guy like Roemer has no shot against a cadre of candidates who have money and name recognition. You know the names: Romney, Palin, perhaps Huntsman and Pawlenty as well. According to those “in the know” the rest may as well stay home for various reasons: they’re running horrible campaigns (Newt Gingrich), too extreme for the American public (Ron Paul, Rick Santorum), or no one knows who they are (the rest.) Funny, but I seem to recall back in 2007 the 2008 election was going to be that 2000 New York U.S. Senate race pundits were salivating over (but never occurred): Rudy Giuliani vs. Hillary Clinton.

Almost anyone who runs for President thinks they’ll win, although there is that segment of society who has the ego trip of placing their name on the ballot line. (It’s why there are 156 – and counting – who have filed with the FEC to run. Most won’t even qualify for the ballot in Maryland.) The serious candidates, though, are the ones who are planning their message and the means to get it out there.

Yet even in this age of new media punditry, conventional wisdom makes the rules. Why else would a candidate who had not announced be invited to a GOP contender debate when others who were already in the race get snubbed? It’s understandable that a stage with over 150 contenders would make for useless debate, but someone like Gary Johnson belonged on the stage in New Hampshire. (Similarly, Buddy Roemer was snubbed for both New Hampshire and an earlier debate in South Carolina.) I think the 11 contestants I list on the GOP side are the most legitimate because they have some political experience and have a viable campaign. Others I would include on that list if they chose to run would be Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and Rudy Giuliani. That’s not to say those are the only three, just the most likely.

It’s for those candidates who have announced that I’m slowly but surely working on the series of posts which will establish the Presidential hopeful I’ll stand behind this primary season.

Now some would say my track record is not good, as I supported Duncan Hunter in 2008 and preferred Steve Forbes when he ran in 1996 and 2000, but that’s only because the rest of the nation hasn’t caught up with me yet. (I say that only half-joking. Imagine what our country would be like with a flat tax system and a tougher foreign and trade policy like Hunter prescribed. I daresay our economic circumstances would be much improved.) Obviously I have a broad mix of conservative and libertarian views on issues, but it’s very complex. Someone said that the ideal candidate would take a little bit from everyone in the race, and I think almost every GOP candidate will have areas they shine in.

But since I want to use column space for this important issue, something has to give and I think I’m going to wait until later this fall to complete the monoblogue Accountability Project. After all, we have a Special Session so there’s no point in compiling legislative awards for the year until that’s over. The good news is that I have the most of the list of votes I’m using handy so the rest is just compilation. (I only need to find three good floor amendment votes to finish the list of 25 key votes for the session. The hard part will be limiting it to three, I’m sure.) I was also going to do it by county but since districts will be changing before the next election I’ll hold on to the old format until closer to 2014. It makes my life a little easier!

That’s one update. A second piece of news is that I should have a new advertiser soon, bringing my list to three. Yes, it’s a modest number compared to other websites but all have paid me in advance. They see value in maintaining a quality website which brings a mix of content on a daily basis. (You can too.)

So look for the posts on picking the Presidential candidates, along with other good stuff coming your way.

Who’s in all the way?

The potential Republican field for President continues to grow, as Michele Bachmann announced her intention to run during last night’s GOP debate and Jon Huntsman is reportedly in as well. I’ve already added her temporary site to my sidebar and will add Huntsman in once things are settled.

Of course, some other names who may see blood in the water in a foundering economy and a clueless President Obama include Texas Governor Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and 2008 candidate Rudy Giuliani. But who has actually committed?

Among GOP candidates, the FEC Form 2 filers include:

  • Herman Cain (May 3)
  • Newt Gingrich (May 16)
  • Gary Johnson (May 2)
  • Fred Karger (March 23)
  • Ron Paul (May 13)
  • Tim Pawlenty (March 21)
  • Buddy Roemer (March 3)
  • Mitt Romney (April 11)
  • Rick Santorum (June 6)

Of those on my list, Michele Bachmann will likely file shortly and Roy Moore claims on his website that he has an exploratory committee although no federal filing has occurred. President Obama (April 4) and Randall Terry (January 11) are in so far as Democrats.

With the prospect of two or three more joining a field already at a dozen or more serious participants, history may repeat itself later this summer once results are in at the Ames Straw Poll. Even though Mitt Romney isn’t participating, finishing outside the top ten may be a sign that a candidate won’t be viable. (Granted, two participants would be from neighboring Minnesota so results may not necessarily reflect national preference.) Although John McCain fared poorly in Ames in 2007 yet came back to win the nomination, most of those who finish out of the top six to eight are likely to be folding their tents before the primary season. There’s not enough money and volunteers out there to support 15 contenders.

If I were to make a guess at who won’t be around long-term, I would say the two obviously on the bubble are Roy Moore and Buddy Roemer. The next two who would be likely to bow out would be Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann, since I think Sarah Palin gets in and steals her support. I also think Gary Johnson and Fred Karger will stay in to make a point, as it’s unlikely they’ll gain the nomination and barely register in polls.

Of course, that and five bucks might get you a gallon of gas by the time the Ames Straw Poll occurs on August 11. But we as political pundits need something to write about, don’t we?

In-state tuition for illegals to become law – or will it?

On Thursday, Governor Martin O’Malley signed SB167 into law. Of course, that bill may be sent to referendum if enough signatures are applied to a petition seeking the vote of the people, and Delegate Neil Parrott is leading that effort.

Here’s what he had to say about the signing.

(On Thursday) Governor O’Malley signed into law SB 167, known as the Maryland Dream Act, that will provide in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens., under the leadership of Delegates Neil Parrott and Pat McDonough, has launched a petition drive to bring the bill to referendum in the November 2012 elections.

Delegate Parrott, Chairman, indicated that “It’s no surprise that Gov. O’Malley signed this legislation. The people of Maryland anticipated this and that is why people across the state are going to to sign the petition so we can bring this bill to referendum.”

Delegate Pat McDonough, Honorary Chairperson of the Petition Drive stated, “Taxpayers are wasting millions educating someone who cannot and will not be hired legally.  Politicians like Governor O’Malley have transformed Maryland into a ‘sanctuary state’ by becoming a Disneyland for illegal immigrants, attracting hundreds of thousands of them, and costing taxpayers about 2 billion dollars.  This law will only make things worse.”

Delegate Parrott noted that “this bill barely passed during the night on the last day of the session despite Bi-partisan opposition to the bill.  Given the choice, I believe Marylanders will reject this legislation outright.”

The outpouring of support for our petition drive should serve as notice to Governor O’Malley and the legislators in Annapolis that Marylanders are fed up with the rampant abuse of our hard earned tax dollars.

Certainly I’m as fed up with “rampant abuse of our hard earned tax dollars” and I was happy to place my John Hancock on the petition. And I also think Alex Mooney was right when he commented at the state GOP convention that “we need to use that petition to referendum more often.” Just wait until the Special Session, and the tax increases we’re sure to see.

Of course, much of that momentum will depend on how this particular petition drive goes – if it’s a success, then people will be emboldened to use the referendum route to overrule O’Malley and the Democrats in the General Assembly more often. But the last attempt to petition a bad bill into referendum (the speed camera law) failed when the organizers came up short at the 1/3 barrier in May 2009.

Obviously there will be a lot on the ballot next November, as the general election in Maryland only comes once every two years and there’s a long list of items which the General Assembly sends to the voters for final ratification. Three items were placed before voters in 2010, two in 2008, and four in 2006.

But according to this piece by Ann Marimow in the Washington Post, the last petition drive to succeed in making it to the ballot came two decades ago, and it lost at the polls. Insofar as this drive is concerned, the effect on the 2012 election will be interesting should it succeed – with Barack Obama a prohibitive favorite in the state, will downballot turnout determine the fate of the referendum? Also, since the ballot question could pit one minority against another, how will that shake out?

Perhaps one reason these drives tend to fizzle out is the lengthy timeframe between the referendum and the election. If the petition effort succeeds we’ll have 17 months before voters will decide. In many cases where the ballot question is determined by the General Assembly this doesn’t seem to matter, as most Constitutional amendments placed before voters pass handily. But this will be different and there’s a potential of legal wrangling before the voters get to decide whether to rescind the law.

Passing the bill in its fourth try (2007, 2008, and 2009 – notice they didn’t go for this in the election year of 2010 knowing it would be a hot-button issue) was ill-advised, so Maryland voters should get a crack at this. Some may argue that the referendum shouldn’t go through because it would bring more Latinos to the polls and they’ll both vote against the referendum and punish Republican candidates. But I believe this will help GOP turnout in a state that’s generally written off by the national GOP and maybe give the Republican nominee an outside chance of winning.

So if you get the chance, sign the petition. Let’s show the General Assembly and Martin O’Malley who’s in control of this state.

Unsurprisingly uninspired

Whether it’s because we have over eighteen months to go until the presidential election and about nine until the first real votes are cast, or if it’s a field which draws little but yawns, there’s just not a lot of buzz going in about the Republican presidential field. I had a poll up for a week and drew a small response – less than 5% of my readership had an opinion.

I set it up for two questions: preference for those already in the field and a wish list of those one would like to see enter. If the primary were held today, the top votegetters among my readership would be:

  • Ron Paul (35.48%)
  • Tim Pawlenty (25.81%)
  • Herman Cain (16.13%)
  • Rick Santorum (12.9%)
  • Newt Gingrich (6.45%)
  • Mitt Romney (3.23%)

In the category of zero support were Fred Karger, Roy Moore, and Buddy Roemer. That’s no surprise.

I was a bit surprised with the results of poll number 2, which asked who respondents would prefer to see jump into the field.

  • Michele Bachmann (25.0%)
  • Donald Trump (13.89%)
  • Gary Johnson (11.11%)
  • Rudy Giuliani (8.33%)
  • Haley Barbour, John Bolton, Mitch Daniels, George Pataki, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan (5.56% apiece)
  • Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin (2.78% apiece)

Paul Ryan was a write-in, as was Herman Cain. Somebody didn’t pay attention to my first poll.

And no one wants Jon Huntsman in the race. You would think since I allowed multiple answers on the wish list poll that someone would back him, but I guess not.

The biggest shock to me was just how quickly Sarah Palin has fallen out of favor. Had I asked the question a few months back I’m betting that she would be the top vote-getter, or at least right up there with perennial libertarian darling Ron Paul.

But it seems to me that her outspoken populist angle is being usurped by – of all people – Donald Trump. It’s surprising that a guy who has donated thousands to Democrats is being considered as a conservative darling, but he has name recognition to spare and isn’t partaking in the political doublespeak many other candidates engage in.

Honestly, I think she may have missed the boat on 2012. Whether Sarah would prefer to bide her time and wait for 2016 (which assumes an Obama victory and an open seat) or simply decided a position as a political outsider and spokesperson for conservative causes – one who can still draw a crowd – better suits her situation, well, that I don’t know. And there may be a cagey reason for her to let Trump take all the slings and arrows for awhile, since he seems to relish the spotlight regardless of how harsh it may be.

In a way, it’s great to have so many choices and not have someone considered a frontrunner at the moment. This is a time where we need a contest for the Republican nomination because it serves as a placeholder for a contest for the soul of the party itself. While the TEA Party can help elect a candidate, there’s still a faction of establishment Republicans who need to be eradicated from the levers of power before a takeover is possible. That faction is the one calculating just who would be the ‘safe’ choice acceptable to the American people yet malleable enough to control once in office.

Assuming President Obama is a one-term president, the new Republican president becomes the de facto leader of the party. It will take a strong conservative to fight not just Democrats but the establishment Republicans fighting the rear-guard action to bring the party to the center – in other words, the “No Labels” types. (Someone like Senator Jim DeMint comes to mind, but I doubt he’s running.)

I know my readership has a political compass pointing somewhere between conservative and libertarian, as it likely reflects my personal opinion. So it’s interesting to see just what kind of push that Ron Paul (and Gary Johnson, who announced shortly after I created the poll) have here as opposed to the nation at large.

In the next couple weeks I’ll begin to compile the Presidential campaign widget along with ones for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat and First District Congressional seat. (In that case I think the key question is whether we’ll see a Harris-Kratovil threepeat.) I know things slow down around here for the summer (who wants to sit inside reading blogs? Heck, I’m composing this outside in the summerlike breeze) but there’s a lot of political events going on.

Now is the time to really pay attention, since those in power know summer is a political siesta. That’s when they try and get away with the most damaging stuff.

Odds and ends number 28

Have you ever wondered where the phrase ‘odds and ends’ comes from? Me neither, but I use it to describe posts where I have a number of little items which only need a paragraph or two.

Last week I told you about the drive to send SB167 (in-state tuition for illegal immigrants) to referendum. Well, the battle has another supporter in Delegate Justin Ready, a fellow freshman Republican to Delegate Neil Parrott. In an e-mail to supporters, Ready reminded us that:

Perhaps the worst piece of legislation that passed the General Assembly in the just-concluded session was SB 167: The Dream Act, which gives in-state tuition rates (taxpayer funded benefits) to illegal immigrants. It allows them to attend community colleges and the University System at the in-county and in-state rates.


We do have an alternative! The Maryland constitution provides for citizens to petition a passed bill to referendum by obtaining signatures. Several of us in the General Assembly have gotten together, led by Del. Neil Parrott from Washington County, to form a petition drive with dozens of pro-rule of law activists around Maryland. In order to put this measure on the ballot in the 2012 election, we must obtain 55,000 signatures from Maryland registered voters by the end of July. We have to obtain about 20,000 by May 31st. However, these petition drives are extremely tricky because the State Board of Elections looks for any excuse to void or disqualify a signature so we estimate that we’ll need about 35,000 by May 31st and probably closer to 100,000 overall.

I think Ready is right on the money insofar as signatures go, but even if they are received the uphill battle really begins as liberals dig out all the so-called “victims” of this heartless TEA Party initiative. Of course, that can be countered by considering who could be aced out of a spot – perhaps a poor minority youth trying to escape poverty? That angle can play well in PG County and Baltimore City.

Speaking of poor legislation, Maryland continues to play Don Quixote tilting at windmills (well, they’re actually turbines) to be built just a few miles off Ocean City. (Oil platforms will spoil the view, but wind turbines won’t? Get real.) In part, this legislation stemmed from a drive to combat so-called global warming just as another push to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative did.

Well, New Jersey may be rethinking its position on RGGI, and a key Senator in that state made it a bipartisan push. Americans for Prosperity shared this news:

When the original legislation paving the way for New Jersey’s entry into RGGI was passed in 2008, it was done so on a bi-partisan basis. Likewise, dismantling RGGI will require support from members of both political parties.

By joining the movement to repeal RGGI, Senator (Paul) Sarlo became the first Democrat to back the effort to kill this Cap & Trade tax and opened the door for more of his Democrat colleagues in the Legislature to do the same. In fact, at (Thursday’s) press conference Senator Sarlo urged his fellow Democrats today to do just that.

Senator Sarlo did not arrive at this decision lightly. But when presented with the indisputable facts about the RGGI scheme — including its lack of transparency, exploitation by “insiders” looking to speculate and profit
on the backs of ratepayers, as well as the devastating consequences for New Jersey’s economy and jobs — the senator made the call to stand up for New Jersey’s economic future.

Now, I’m not sure if New Jersey leaving RGGI would lead to any other states rethinking their position, although one would suspect newly-installed GOP governors and legislators in Pennsylvania and Maine may be most likely to do so. Unfortunately, Maryland has neither a GOP governor or legislature so utility ratepayers will continue to take it in the shorts for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of Maryland politics, we are now less than a year away from the 2012 primary. (At least we will be when this takes effect.) Hopefully they change the 2014 date to the last week in July because late June is too damn early to me. I like the date as it is in September but federal law changes make that impossible. Nothing like Fedzilla sticking its nose into state’s affairs.

Anyway, I got an e-mail from one of the early U.S. Senate candidates on the GOP side (to face presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator Ben Cardin) offering to do a blog interview with me. So I asked the other two candidates that I’m aware of to match that offer – one is already on the ballot while the other will announce around the first of May.

This doesn’t include Eric Wargotz yet, although my suspicion is that he’ll jump into the race before summer. Hey, I’ll interview him too. He knows I always have plenty of questions.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m giving short shrift to two Democratic hopefuls. But the contest for both Raymond Levi Blagmon and perennial candidate Lih Young will be to manage to get one percent of the vote.

I think that’s enough grist for the mill. I bet you all thought I was taking another long weekend off from the political but you have to admit we’re in the silly season now. The only real big news seems to be the growing GOP Presidental field but no one is really going to be paying much attention to that until at least the Ames Straw Poll and more likely after Labor Day when things start getting serious. By then we’ll have a decent idea of the contenders and the pretenders.

The first real move

With apologies to Fred Karger, Herman Cain, and former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, the GOP field will be getting its first heavyweight. Today Newt Gingrich announced his own Presidential exploratory committee.

Over the last year I’ve watched a failure in leadership, and have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about taking the first step. I am writing you to ask for your advice, as Callista and I consider whether or not I should run in 2012.

What I need to do right now is listen to and learn from people all across America. I need to be certain that if I run, my candidacy will have the support it will need to make a positive difference for our nation. However, I can’t do it alone. What I am hoping you will do is help me and support me during this exploratory process.

I have asked a lot from you over the years. In return you have humbled me by demonstrating your talent, energy, and financial sacrifice that reflect how deeply you and others like you, care about our nation. You are an indispensable part of helping me decide what to do next, and I have to tell you, I need you now more than ever before. If I run, this will be the single biggest challenge we’ve ever faced together.

With Newt joining this not-so-crowded field, this will likely mean a slew of the other probable contenders will be making their own decisions shortly (as in by month’s end) so as not to let Gingrich get too much of a lead in fundraising and exposure. In particular, those who are considered among the field’s lesser lights will likely need to jump in shortly while someone like Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney could wait a bit longer.

Since a couple other legislators (Indiana Rep. Mike Pence and South Dakota Sen. John Thune) have taken a pass on the race, Gingrich could be one of the few Washington insiders to make a run. However, most of his Beltway experience of late has come as a political gadfly as the last election he won came back in 1998. He served in the House for nearly 20 years and was Speaker of the House from 1995-98.

The 67 year old Gingrich will also be a generation removed from the incumbent, although several other contenders are also in their sixties (including the three aforementioned with exploratory committees.)

So now the chess game can begin as the other pieces will be placed on the board and arrayed against the Barack Obama re-election machine.

Odds and ends number 26

I have a bunch of stuff today which piqued my interest but only needs anywhere from a sentence to a couple paragraphs to take care of. So here goes.

Over the last few days as the Madison protests continue, we’ve had Big Labor flex its muscles in a number of locations around the country. Needless to say I can’t be everywhere at once, and I was working during the Annapolis protest.

However, my blogging cohorts have helped me out. With on-the-spot reports I feature my Potomac TEA Party Report friend Ann Corcoran from Annapolis and the excellent photojournalist who goes by the moniker ‘El Marco’ reporting from his hometown of Denver on his Looking at the Left website.

Corcoran also lets us know that the unions will be back with their Astroturf in Annapolis on March 14, with the intent of making this a bigger and better protest. (By the way, school is scheduled to be in session for Wicomico County students on March 14 so the teachers here risk the last preparation day for grade 3-8 assessment tests if they skip town to attend.)

Turning to national politics, the other day I was talking about the prospects of Ron Paul’s third Presidential bid. Well, the ‘money bomb’ on Monday for the Liberty PAC that Paul leads raised over $750,000 – the ticker inhabits the front page of the Liberty PAC site. Guess he can afford those plane trips now and, if I were a betting man, I’d wager an announcement of his 2012 campaign will occur shortly after (or even during) the Iowa trip.

Finally, let’s talk about a poll or two. This morning Rasmussen released a poll claiming that 67% of Americans don’t support the ‘cut-and-run’ Democrats in Wisconsin (and now, Indiana) – naturally, the only group which approved by a bare plurality (48-44) are those who self-identified as Democrats.

Speaking of those who identify themselves as progressives, I have some exciting news on a new experiment.

I’m working with Progressive Delmarva‘s ‘Two Sentz’ on a joint poll which will appear at both sites later this afternoon; it’s the final polling on the City Council primary race.

While I’ve found that the fundraising results roughly parallel the polling I’ve done insofar as the top contenders are concerned, it’s obvious my readership skews to the right. So in order to perhaps get a clearer picture of the electorate I figured I needed to add some lean to the left. So we’ll see what the results show when the poll ends on Monday.

And then we’ll all see just how accurate we were Tuesday night.

Tickets to Iowa

Well, fresh off his CPAC success, I guess Ron Paul either read my post where I thought he could be a kingmaker or just wants more money for his Liberty PAC.

In either case, I got an e-mail yesterday, over Rep. Paul’s signature, which told me the following:

Along with all the attention and National news, invitations to visit key political states are pouring in. I want to honor as many of these requests as possible, and I need your help.

I have committed to trips to Iowa on March 7th and March 23rd, and I need your help to get me there.

My trip on March 7th would include three stops across the state, and it will prove tremendously valuable to our cause. But, all of these stops are hundreds of miles apart and cannot be done in a car.  This trip will require a charter plane, and let me tell you, it is not cheap. 

Others can rely on big corporate money to fund their travel budget.

We may not be able to tap the deep coffers of the Establishment, but we have something they will never have: a committed group of individuals armed with knowledge and ideas.

If thousands of us come together and chip in, we can counter the big special interest money.

Other invitations are flooding in from New Hampshire, Florida, California, Arizona, Nevada, and more.

I want to honor as many of these requests as possible to spread our message and set the stage for all of our political activity over the next 18 months. (Emphasis in original.)

Paul’s Liberty PAC was a fairly minor player in the last two-year cycle – FEC records show it only spent about $22,000 on candidate contributions in 2009-10 and had just under $100,000 cash on hand at the end of last year. And while I’ve never enlisted the services of a charter plane, I don’t think $100k will get you too far in a Presidential campaign.

Perhaps the Iowa trip is a precursor to forming an exploratory committee?

The conventional wisdom – at least prior to this era where the apple cart is overturned as quickly and completely as possible – used to be that one needed to get into the race really early to build up a profile. But this election seems different because of the aspects of social media and a 24/7 news cycle. As of this writing, I’m only aware of two candidates with exploratory committees while others are biding their time, including Paul.

But, to me, this Iowa trip suspiciously seems like a way of testing the waters for Ron Paul, and if I were a betting man I’d say he’s going to make one more go of it. And don’t be surprised if his son Rand doesn’t follow in his footsteps come 2016 or 2020. Perhaps then we could have a Paul/Paul ticket.

I’d like to see Ron Paul a little closer to home myself, but Maryland and Delaware will likely be afterthoughts in the political process. It’s why we need regional primaries; otherwise my suspicion is that Super Tuesday will be April 3, 2012 and Maryland would be just one of a dozen or more states scattered all across the country vying for the candidates’ attention. With only a few dozen convention delegates at stake we’re probably not a big target.

(As the rules stand right now, states which allot delegates proportionately go first, with ‘winner-take-all’ states like Maryland only allowed to select convention delegates after April 1, 2012. I presume this is to maintain the maximum possible number of contenders for the longest amount of time, so we’re not stuck with only a few surviving candidates by the time our turn arrives.)

That’s something as a state party we need to address soon. Meanwhile, if Ron Paul gets any of those Maryland delegates you can consider me shocked.

Odds and ends number 25

Just a bunch of short items tonight.

Let’s begin at the national level, where another prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidate was brought out of the closet by the Washington Post. They devote five internet pages to Fred Karger’s story.

The play on words was intentional; Karger is billing himself as the first openly gay presidential candidate. I actually mentioned him before when Herman Cain jumped into the race, but this is the biggest splash about him I’ve seen. Leave it to the liberals at the Post to promote him, since Karger isn’t exactly the flavor of the month among Republicans and TEA Party regulars.

Having said that, though, Fred opens up a big can of worms – since establishment Republicans recoil in horror at the thought of being portrayed as racist, imagine the cacophony when they’re deemed homophobes because Karger’s not considered among the top tier of candidates.

Once the Salisbury election is over, I’ll start linking to GOP hopeful websites and Karger’s will be one, assuming he’s still in the race.

How Maryland will affect that race is up for debate. Because of rules adopted by both parties, those states with “winner-take-all” primaries like Maryland have to push their primaries back to April of next year. (Traditional lidlifters Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina will be allowed to hold primaries in February and states which allot convention delegates proportionally may go in March.) Thus, the earliest Maryland could hold its primary in 2012 would be April 3rd, which is the first Tuesday in April.

Compare this to 2008, when Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia held a regional primary on February 12 of that year. (The primary process started in Iowa on January 3 of that year; currently next year’s Iowa caucuses are slated for February 6, 2012.) We still didn’t have a lot of say in the process since 2008’s “Super Tuesday” of primaries occurred the week before.

Also up for change is the date for the 2014 state primary, which needs to be backed up to comply with federal law regarding military ballots.

If it were up to me, though, the national primary process would mirror our state’s to a greater extent. Run Iowa and New Hampshire around the middle of June, hold a half-dozen regional primaries over six weeks in June and July, and have the conventions in late August. A nice short process. Primaries shouldn’t even begin until June as far as I’m concerned – anything before that makes the campaign WAY too long.

The next item comes from being on the strangest e-mail lists. Somehow I have ended up on Barbara Boxer’s e-mail distribution network, but this item piqued my interest.

This week I introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act, a bill to permanently prohibit new offshore drilling along the Pacific coast.  I was joined by all the Senators from the West Coast – including my colleague from California, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) – in offering this critical legislation to protect the 570,000 jobs and $34 billion coastal economy of our three states.  

Additional offshore oil development along the Pacific shoreline would needlessly endanger irreplaceable natural resources and our vital coastal economies.

Boxer goes on to note that there’s no plans for development until at least 2017, but wants to make sure it’s permanent. Why do I get the sneaking hunch that our two Senators will either try and amend the bill to include Maryland or have the brilliant idea to do their own measure? Substitute the word “Atlantic” for “Pacific” and you’d sum up their sentiments.

Of course, the difference is that we know there’s oil off the Pacific coast while the jury’s still out on whether there’s marketable reserves under the Atlantic. But there are some reserves of both coal and natural gas deep underneath the Free State and it behooves us to allow exploration – unfortunately, we have a governor who is woefully short-sighted in that department. (In fact, wind farms, coal mines, and natural gas wells can coexist in the same area.)

In the meantime, I’d lay odds on our not-so-dynamic duo of Cardin and Mikulski helping Boxer’s bill along.

After all, they don’t listen to their constituents who want nothing to do with Obamacare, instead voting along like good little Democratic sheep. Mikulski even voted to keep the onerous Obamacare $600 reporting requirement. (Ben Cardin had the good sense to vote yes, although, more likely, he realized that 2012 is fast approaching.)

Finally, there’s a casting call for another arrogant Democratic party leader in Maryland – seems Susan Turnbull is leaving her post. Benefits include fawning press coverage from most newspapers and plenty of special interest money to spend come election time.

Applicants may suck up to Martin O’Malley for consideration.

Cain raised to top in GOP poll

The former Godfather Pizza CEO pulled it out in the end, but a widely split GOP Presidential poll here drew votes for nearly twenty possible contenders. This goes to show that…we need to see just who will enter the field for sure, as Cain is the first reasonable contender to establish an exploratory committee.

This is how they finished:

  • Herman Cain (former Godfather Pizza CEO, radio host) – 10 (12.82%)
  • Gary Johnson (former New Mexico governor) – 9 (11.54%)
  • Chris Christie (New Jersey governor) – 8 (10.26%)
  • Ron Paul (Congressman from Texas, 2008 Presidential candidate) – 8 (10.26%)
  • Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House) – 7 (8.97%)
  • Sarah Palin (2008 VP candidate, former Alaska governor) – 6 (7.69%)
  • Rudy Giuliani (2008 Presidential candidate, former NYC mayor) – 5 (6.41%)
  • Michele Bachmann (Congressman from Minnesota) – 4 (5.13%)
  • Tim Pawlenty (outgoing Minnesota governor) – 4 (5.13%)
  • Mitt Romney (2008 Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor) – 3 (3.85%)
  • Donald Trump (businessman) – 3 (3.85%)
  • Mitch Daniels (Indiana governor) – 2 (2.56%)
  • Jim DeMint (Senator from South Carolina) – 2 (2.56%)
  • Paul Ryan (Congressman from Wisconsin) – 2 (2.56%) – write-in
  • Rick Santorum (former Senator from Pennsylvania) – 2 (2.56%)
  • George Allen (former Senator from Virginia) – 1 (1.28%) – write-in
  • Mike Pence (Congressman from Indiana) – 1 (1.28%) – withdrew
  • John Thune (Senator from North Dakota) – 1 (1.28%)
  • Haley Barbour (Mississippi governor) – 0 (o%)
  • Mike Huckabee (2008 Presidential candidate, former Arkansas governor) – 0 (0%)

If you look at your top 6 candidates in this poll, you’d find the TEA Party carried a great amount of influence along with the libertarian wing of the GOP (who would tend to support Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.)

But would all of them be viable? Time will tell, but if you look at the top contenders from 2008 there’s little desire for a rewarmed candidate. Since I don’t consider Ron Paul as an ‘establishment’ candidate, the top votegetter among the group was Rudy Giuliani with 5 votes. Even combining the other 2008 aspirants (including Paul) they collected just 16 votes, which is barely 20 percent of the total vote. Mike Huckabee was shut out.

The only 2008 names which seem to have support are Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, who didn’t run for the top job four years ago but was added to the ticket just prior to the GOP convention. She polled reasonably well in this trial, but those who believe the nomination is hers to lose may want to think again.

Over the next month or two we’ll likely see the field shake out a bit as some of the bottom-feeders (and maybe a top name or two) decide to take a pass. The remainder of the contenders will likely begin getting their teams together for the busy times one year hence.