Given how its scumbag previous owner sold an entire city and rabid fanbase out for a proverbial thirty pieces of (taxpayer-provided) silver, it really doesn’t surprise me that the Baltimore Ravens accepted $130,000 to promote the Maryland Health Connection, our state’s version of an Obamacare exchange.
What surprises me, though, is the disappointment expressed by a number of people who should know the state has its dirty little fingers all over the Ravens’ pie.
Take our Congressman, Andy Harris, for example. On Facebook he wrote:
Today it came to light that the Baltimore Ravens have received $130,000 in taxpayer money to promote Obamacare. I love the Ravens but I think this is ridiculous. What do you think? Should the Ravens be promoting Obamacare? Should they receive taxpayer money to do it?
Honestly I don’t think so but that ship sailed a long time ago with all the professional Maryland sports teams. Even when I go to Shorebird games I’m bombarded by state-sponsored messages about smoking and seat belt use and promotions from the Maryland Lottery. It’s simply regurgitating all the taxpayer dollars they confiscate from items like the cigarette tax or lottery proceeds back to the teams to promote their message to a captive audience ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands per night.
Nor is it just sponsorship. Since I’m discussing state influence in sports, let’s also talk about facilities.
Now I understand the government also chipped in to build Perdue Stadium in 1994, just about the time the Browns deal came down. (However, it was not a Maryland Stadium Authority project, unlike newer facilities in Aberdeen and Waldorf.) In our case, the loss of Albany, Georgia was our gain because the onetime Albany Polecats became the Shorebirds after a brief four-season run in south Georgia. On the other hand, two decades on Hagerstown didn’t get a stadium deal together for their Suns and will be losing its minor-league team after one final season next year.
One big difference between the Shorebirds move and the Browns relocation, though, is that the Georgia franchise was purchased outright from its previous owner. Oftentimes a change of scenery will follow such a transaction.
In the end, given all that government involvement, I can’t say I’m shocked the Ravens sold out – only that it was so cheaply. To me, the state health exchange is just another sponsor, and it’s fairly likely I’ll hear their claptrap sometime during Shorebird games next year as well. The shrewd marketing is about the only thing the Maryland Health Connection seems to have going for it right now.
Well, the Republicans caved again. Afraid of what they thought would be dire consequences if they bumped against the debt ceiling, John Boehner violated the Hastert Rule and allowed the Senate deal on the Obama/Reid shutdown to be brought to the floor and passed. All the House Democrats who voted (198 of 200) favored the bill, while Republicans made up all 144 of those who voted no.
Among those voting no was our own Andy Harris, who put out a three-part Tweet explaining his reasoning.
I will be opposing the Senate fiscal plan because it continues the spending that led to $650 billion deficit this year 1/3
— Rep. Andy Harris, MD (@RepAndyHarrisMD) October 16, 2013
I will be opposing the Senate fiscal plan because it continues special treatment for Congress from Obamacare requirements 2/3
— Rep. Andy Harris, MD (@RepAndyHarrisMD) October 16, 2013
I will be opposing the Senate fiscal plan because it continues accounting gimmicks. 3/3
— Rep. Andy Harris, MD (@RepAndyHarrisMD) October 16, 2013
Fairly compelling reasons. Unfortunately, the 87 Republicans who voted in the affirmative were more than enough to pass the bill, once again hanging the TEA Party out to dry and probably assuring themselves primary opponents next year. But Mitch McConnell got his earmark.
But let’s not forget that we were placed in this situation back in 2009, when Congress began what seems like a never-ending series of continuing resolutions to keep the government going, racking up enough red ink that we would eventually run into our debt limit. (Didn’t we cave on that a couple times before?) Even in that year, at a time when Democrats held both houses of government and could pass anything they wanted, including Obamacare, Congress failed to do its Constitutionally-appointed job of holding the power of the purse.
Yet one has to wonder if this was the plan all along. Does anyone really have any idea what the government spends money on? Consider how many millions it took just to get the failing health exchange websites operational – it sure doesn’t seem like we got much bang for the buck, yet someone has pocketed a crapload of federal cash.
All along, the story with this regime is that its friends made out like bandits but future generations will be left holding the IOUs. Last night’s votes just enriched the bandits a little more.
Over the last couple days, a segment of the Maryland Republican Party is scratching its head over the absence of gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar from several high-profile events: last month’s Andy Harris First District Bull Roast, the Conservative Victory PAC Ken Cuccinelli fundraiser (which was sponsored by several Maryland politicians), the Prince George’s County Lincoln Day Dinner with Lt. Col. Allen West, and most recently the state party’s Oktoberfest gathering in Timonium Saturday night. The conventional wisdom argument is that these were lost opportunities to impress the party brass.
But this may also presuppose Lollar wasn’t out meeting with “regular Joe” voters, and some say a lot of these gatherings would be time better spent knocking on doors or making phone calls. So which is it? I don’t know, but my feeling is that we all need to get back to basics and begin to compare just where each of the three major declared candidates stand on important issues facing the state.
A year and a half before the 2012 Presidential election, I began a process of grading the candidates in the race at the time on a number of issues. I think it’s time to repeat the process, with some different parameters because the issues aren’t always congruent between state and national elections – for example, I don’t have to worry about trade or the Long War but I do have concerns about agricultural issues and necessary changes to the state political system, meanwhile, some issues grow or contract in importance because of recent state developments. But I like the 100-point system so I will adapt it to suit.
So the 2014 monoblogue endorsement will be based on the following formula:
- Election/campaign finance reform (3 points)
- Illegal immigration (5 points)
- Dealing with Obamacare (7 points)
- Energy policy (8 points)
- Education (9 points)
- Second Amendment (11 points)
- War on Rural Maryland (12 points)
- Role of government (13 points)
- Job creation and transportation (14 points)
- Fiscal conservatism/taxation (15 points)
Once I add or subtract three points for various intangibles of my choosing, I’ll come up with the candidate who I think will best serve Maryland. Granted, my endorsement will only be worth the pixels they’re darkening but at least some thought will be put into why this candidate is the best one for Maryland. (Keep in mind that any of these three would be vastly superior to Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, Heather Mizeur, or anyone else Democrats put up.) Otherwise, I come in with no preconceived notions with the exception that the other declared GOP candidates in the race don’t have the campaign or the presence to achieve any more than a tiny percentage of the vote so they’re not included; also, this is subject to update if/when Larry Hogan enters the race.
So now that you have the basic concepts, how about some specifics of what I’m getting at for each point? These are questions I may be able to find answers for within the candidates’ own websites, but it’s more likely I need further guidance. I have had the chance to hear all three declared candidates speak on at least two occasions apiece so I might have a decent idea where they’ll go, but it never hurts to ask. With that, here goes:
- Election/campaign finance reform: Will you aggressively pursue the redistricting revision case in court; if we succeed can we have 141 single-member districts? Where do you stand on current reporting requirements: too tight, too loose, or just right? What about getting after local boards of elections and telling them to clean up their voter rolls?
- Illegal immigration: Will you take the 287 (g) program used in Frederick County statewide? How about rescinding recent changes to drivers’ license laws in Maryland? And what about in-state tuition – do you revisit this issue? What about withholding a portion of state funds from sanctuary cities? Cooperation with the federal E-Verify program? What about policies allowing status checks such as those in Arizona?
- Dealing with Obamacare: Do we eliminate the state exchange? Would you pursue a waiver for the state if one becomes available? Are you in favor of defunding or letting the law go into effect and watching it collapse? What steps would you take to encourage more insurance competition in the state? What about returning Medicaid limits to minimum levels?
- Energy policy: When can we expect fracking to begin in Western Maryland? And what will you do with the renewable portfolio standard? Will you move to re-regulate Maryland’s electrical utilities? Can Martin O’Malley’s offshore wind scheme work? What about offshore oil drilling – is that an option for you? Will you maintain Maryland’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative?
- Education: Will Common Core be the law of the land in Maryland, or will you eschew Race to the Top funding? How about school choice, or money following the child regardless of school? How will you protect homeschooling? Instill more local control? What about promoting elected school boards in those counties still without them? Emphasis on vocational education? How do you message against the certain opposition of the teachers’ unions?
- Second Amendment: Will you work to repeal the so-called Firearms Safety Act? What about concealed carry, and making licenses easier to get? If the federal government gets too onerous, will you fight them? What’s your interpretation of the Second Amendment?
- War on Rural Maryland: Can we count on you to repeal the Septic Bill and tier mapping? Will nitrogen-removal systems still be required? Will the Hudson family be made whole by the state, since it was with the state’s assistance they were legally harassed? How will you assist the poultry industry in the state and keep them here? What about cleaning up behind the Conowingo Dam and fighting the mandated burden on rural counties, as well as the rain tax on urban ones?
- Role of Government: Where do you stand on a regulation moratorium, and would you veto new mandates passed through the General Assembly? Are there any agencies you’d work to abolish? What about divestiture of surplus state land? Is a consolidation of primary state government functions in Annapolis on your agenda? Can we count on you to repeal as many laws as you create? Where do you stand on public-private partnerships? Do you support citizen-based petition to referendum for new laws (as opposed to those passed by the General Assembly)? What about the right to recall elected officials?
- Job creation and transportation: We know you’ll lower the corporate tax rate – what about eliminating it entirely? What about reform of unemployment insurance? What other steps will you take to make it easier to do business in Maryland? As far as infrastructure goes, will you kill the Red Line and Purple Line in favor of more useful means for transporting goods, such as expanding the interstate network in Maryland and surrounding states? Will you hold the line on tolls? What about another Bay crossing – where would you put it? What non-tax code incentives would you offer for rural area job creation? What policies would you adopt from other states?
- Fiscal conservatism/taxation: Can Marylanders expect a flatter income tax system? How about eliminating it entirely as some states have done? Or would you prefer a sales tax decrease or elimination? Would you agree to a TABOR, or at least a budget utilizing those principles? Can we get per-capita spending closer to the national norm? And how will you deal with the outcry of the press, such as the old “tax cuts for the rich” saw?
- Intangibles: Positions on abortion, expansion of gambling and/or return to legislative control (as opposed to Constitutional amendment), protection for religious objections to gay marriage, your perception of the TEA Party and pro-liberty movement, and so forth. Mainly social issues.
Yes, that’s a hell of a lot. But somewhere, someone else is asking some of the same questions and if I’m going to make a decision I want it to be informed. And while I’d like to make these issue posts on about a weekly basis, that’s probably a quite aggressive timetable.
But I’m sure that a) people from the respective campaigns read my website, and b) they will bend over backwards for new media. (At least that’s what I’m counting on.) And it’s likely they haven’t even pondered some of these queries, so I don’t expect miracles – but I’ll take them anyhow.
Yet I’m sure that some high-dollar Beltway Republican consultant will tell their candidate that he’d be nuts to get into specifics this far out because all it would provide is fodder for the Democrats and the press (but I repeat myself) to harp upon as the campaign heats up. News flash: they will do that anyway, even if they have to make stuff up (e.g. “a fee is a tax.”) So get it out now and I’ll take those clowns on myself, even as I point out that it’s not like I don’t have a few allies in this fight.
Just let me know you have the balls to stand for something, okay?
In a spectacular flameout, the allegations of wrongdoing in the controversy over Cecil County Executive Tari Moore’s sudden affiliation change and subsequent appointment of a candidate not on the list submitted by the county’s Republican Central Committee were dismissed in the county’s Circuit Court via a seven-page decision by visiting Judge Thomas E. Marshall, a retired Harford County Circuit Court judge.
[gview file="http://monoblogue.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/C-13-089-Opinion-10.8.2013-1.pdf" width="480"]
Also dismissed in the suit due to a lack of standing was a claim that the county’s Tier Map was unlawfully submitted to the state.
The controversy closes another chapter in the ongoing war between supporters and opponents of former State Senator E.J. Pipkin and current Delegate Michael Smigiel. (Opponents have generally had the backing of former State Senator and now-Congressman Andy Harris, who defeated Pipkin as well as former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest in a bitter 2008 GOP Congressional primary.) Those allied with Smigiel control the county’s Republican Central Committee, and it was Chair Chris Zeauskas who filed the complaint. On the other hand, Tari Moore was backed by Harris in her quest to be Cecil County’s first executive.
Just before assuming office as the incoming County Executive last December, Moore suddenly changed her party affiliation from Republican to unaffiliated, making the switch because she wanted to bypass the county’s GOP Central Committee in selecting her successor. By becoming unaffiliated, she retained the right to pick once County Council became deadlocked in a 2-2 tie between Smigiel supporters and Harris allies. Eventually Moore picked Joyce Bowlsbey, a Republican. (The Republicans control all five seats on Cecil County Council, so this was an intraparty fight.) Judge Marshall agreed that, despite the GOP’s backing in the 2012 election, Moore’s status as unaffiliated at the moment of her resignation from County Council complied with the method of selection prescribed in the county’s Charter and eventually followed.
Yet there is one other piece of business on the table, notwithstanding the possibility of an appeal by Zeauskas. At last fall’s state GOP convention, a motion was made to censure Tari Moore for her “corrupt and reprehensible decision“; a motion which had support from some quarters but was tabled via a fairly close vote. Because of the abrupt cutoff of our Spring Convention this year, we did not revisit the Moore controversy but it may return next month at this year’s Fall Convention in Annapolis.
But now that the court case is settled, the question will be whether Moore rejoins the GOP fold. Those calling for her censure had a point in that Republicans backed her election in the primary; had she gone the independent route in 2012 she would have likely lost badly. Yet I’ve been assured by Moore’s backers that the decision to be unaffiliated was just temporary and would be rectified once the court case was settled. Obviously it would be to her benefit in 2016 to run as a Republican, although this episode has probably assured her of a primary opponent. She would have a hard time in a three-way general election race if the county GOP stays loyal to its nominee and the Democrats run someone, too.
So the clock is ticking. If she changes back before the state convention, the question of censure may be moot in a “no harm, no foul” sense. But if not, even the assurances of Andy Harris may not spare her the state party’s wrath.
For many years, local Republicans in Wicomico County had to make a choice: support the local Republican Club by attending their annual Crab Feast or show their backing of our Republican Congressman – at the time, Wayne Gilchrest – by making it up to the Upper Shore for the annual Bull Roast. Now that Wicomico Republicans have settled on a date closer to Labor Day, though, it opens the field up for us and several of us from our local Republican party attended the annual First District Bull Roast. If one more Central Committee member had shown, we would have had a quorum.
The venue was impressive, so I made sure to follow the rules.
This sign was actually in a side building which, I was told by volunteer E. Dee Monnen, serves as a dorm for inner-city kids who spend time on this working Schuster farm – on this day, though, it served as the venue for a VIP gathering. This mini-tour was one advantage of our timing: because Kim and I did an event with her side of the family earlier in the morning, we arrived somewhat early.
Not two minutes later my fellow blogger and radio host Jackie Wellfonder arrived for her stint as Red Maryland Radio co-host for the day, with Andrew Langer as her sidekick.
But the real stars of the show were those elected officials and longtime Republican fixtures who came to speak to us. (Best Supporting Actor, though, has to go to whoever made the beef, which was flavorful and nicely seasoned for my sandwiches. If I were more of a foodie you’d have had the pic, horseradish and all. But I’m not.)
After he renewed acquaintances with friends and volunteers, Andy Harris pointed out he couldn’t initially answer questions for the day because of his boss, who served as the opening speaker.
Ellen Sauerbrey served to introduce the large number of elected officials and candidates who attended the event. The room was set up for about 150 and as you’ll see later it was pretty full. As she spoke, the next two in line waited in the wings.
I have to give an assist to my fiance Kim for the great photo. Most of my readership recognizes Congressman Andy Harris, but the gentleman on the left would be far more familiar if you heard his voice – our featured speaker was WCBM morning radio co-host Sean Casey.
First up to speak was the host himself.
The key point of Andy’s message was that our side was beating back the Obama agenda and had done so for the last three years, since the election of 2010. He predicted the next three weeks would be “a wild ride” for the House majority as pressure will be brought to bear from the White House and Senate Democrats to cave on defunding Obamacare and not risking a government shutdown.
It will be interesting to see what this reporter has to say about what Andy said. I believe she’s from the local Easton Star-Democrat newspaper.
The next speaker was less kind to the media, particularly the “Maryland Democratic Party house organ” known as the Baltimore Sun. Yet we were told that Sean Casey arises each morning by 3:15 to review items for use on the Sean and Frank morning show. He had the attention of those who came to the event.
Casey spoke on a number of current events – the Navy Yard shooting, Benghazi hearings, the incident in Baltimore at a Common Core townhall meeting – but the most intriguing part of the program was his moderation of a mini-debate between two of the contenders for governor, David Craig and Ron George. Casey came up with the questions and the candidates gave their answers.
I actually caught up to both of them before the impromptu debate began, as they were preparing to work the crowd.
David Craig wasn’t by himself, but was assisted by a member of his team clad in the same familiar blue Craig color. Meanwhile, Ron George was chatting up old General Assembly friends – he’s pictured here with former Delegate and 2014 State Senate candidate Richard Sossi, who is on the right.
In general, David Craig leaned heavily on his experience as mayor and Harford County Executive in spelling out his vision for Maryland, while Ron George referred a lot to his newly-expanded ten-point plan for the state should he win election to the governor’s seat.
Worth noting as well was that the third gubernatorial candidate, Charles Lollar, also planned on attending but had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t arrive from Harford County in time. He was speaking before a women’s group there, according to Julie Brewington, a Lollar campaign coordinator from Wicomico County.
So my first Bull Roast is in the books. Not bad for leaving the camera and notebook at home, eh?
The word came down last night from the victor himself:
I just received a call from the Governor’s office appointing me as the new Senator for District 36 – I am both thrilled and humbled by all the support I received during this appointment process. I am looking forward to serving the 36th District in this new role. Thank you again to all those that offered support, prayers and well wishes this was truly a humbling experience.
Steve Hershey wasn’t the longest shot, but going in he may not have been the favorite, either. Yet he secured the votes of two Central Committees in the four-county district and that was enough to forge a tie with fellow Delegate Michael Smigiel and throw the fate of the seat into the hands of Governor Martin O’Malley. Given Smigiel’s forceful opposition of O’Malley’s onerous gun law package this spring, you knew he would be punished by not getting the appointment he sought.
So Hershey gets the seat vacated by the resignation of former Minority Leader Senator E. J. Pipkin, who followed Rick Perry’s advice before the commercials even came out and moved to Texas. Now the scene shifts to the battle over Hershey’s vacated Delegate seat. As I recall, it cannot be filled by a resident of a county already represented in the district, so residents of Cecil County (Smigiel) and Kent County (Delegate Jay Jacobs, who did not seek the Senate post) would be excluded – but their Central Committees would have a vote.
Out of the original field of 14, all but three hailed from either Queen Anne’s County or Caroline County, which is the lone Maryland county without a resident Delegate. Not all of the remaining ten would seek the Delegate seat, but several probably would and they may be joined by a few others – one being Caroline County commissioner Jeff Ghrist, who made a lengthy plea on Facebook which I excerpt here:
Governor O’Malley will soon be selecting our new District 36 Senator and subsequently one of two House of Delegate seats will become available. This will require someone to fill a Delegate seat. Caroline County has been without a resident of our county representing us in Annapolis for nearly two decades. While I sincerely enjoy being a Commissioner in Caroline County…I would love to take my passion and experience for limited and efficient government to Annapolis.
The first goal is to build a concensus (sic) throughout the district that I am the best appointment for Delegate. Not only do I have a strong legislative and executive track record but Caroline County deserves resident representation.
Ghrist has been seeking higher office for awhile; he briefly campaigned for Congress in 2009 before withdrawing and endorsing Andy Harris.
So we will probably have much the same circus we did for the Senate seat, with the real possibility of another split vote and Martin O’Malley breaking the tie.
Meanwhile, Hershey’s tenure may be short-lived. Former Delegate Richard Sossi is actively planning a run for the seat, as is 2010 U.S. Senate nominee Eric Wargotz. The same sort of situation may occur in the District 36 Delegate race next year, with several jockeying for position to be the top vote-getter in a particular county.
Long-term, the solution to that issue may be to enact 141 separate House of Delegate districts, instead of the confusing mishmash of having some three-person districts as well as a handful which are split in a 2-1 configuration. But in the meantime, the political races on the Eastern Shore may be some of the most interesting in the state with the District 36 openings, a primary challenge to the incumbent in District 37A, the opening in District 37B thanks to the selection of Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio to the David Craig gubernatorial ticket, the forced move of Delegate Mike McDermott to a challenge for the District 38 Senate seat due to redistricting, and a brand new District 38C with no incumbent.
Among those who have weighed in on the Syrian issue are our Congressman and two would-be Congressmen from the Sixth District.
First District representative Andy Harris, who has a vote in the matter, put out this statement today:
After much consideration, including attending a classified intelligence briefing, I do not believe using military force against Syria is in the national security interest of the United States. At this point, I won’t be supporting any authorization to use military force if it is brought to a vote in Congress. The use of chemical weapons is a very serious matter for the international community that should not be tolerated, but this Administration has failed to lay out a coherent strategy for why using American military force in this situation is in the best interest of the country.
Fairly straightforward and boilerplate; I could probably find similar statements coming from six dozen other Republicans in Congress.
On the other hand, those who are running in District 6 had more of a rhetorical flourish. Since he was first to the post, let me present what candidate David Vogt had to say:
The Congressional vote on Syrian military intervention will most likely occur this week. While there is heated debate from many sides arguing for various actions, I am calling on Congressman John Delaney to consider the overwhelming opinion of the American people and to side with reason, not emotion, in this debate.
I suffer no illusions about Bashar al-Assad or the vile act of a leader murdering his own people. The suffering and death of the Syrian people are very real. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
However, the difficulty, as an outside nation, is in determining not only if we should intervene, but how? What is our objective, and what is our exit strategy? Are we accomplishing a goal, fighting for a stalemate, or further destabilizing the conflict? Would we be removing chemical weapons from the hands of a tyrant, yet creating the risk that they fall under the control of an unknown opposition force with their own agenda? After all, the lesser of two evils is still evil.
Faced with more questions than answers and such little international support, we must balance our desire to police the world with our obligation to act rationally. This particular situation is one with no defined goal, and American interests are not threatened by a lack of action. Diplomatic options have not been exhausted, and it is not even clear that they have been fully explored.
The world should take a stand against the use of chemical weapons in any country, but the time to have made a direct impact on Syria has passed. This situation has devolved from a humanitarian mission to a political game in which the American people want no part.
In a case of the people versus the establishment, the people’s voice must always be heard. This Marine is saying no to the establishment and no to military intervention.
I would vote “No” on this resolution, and I am calling on Congressman Delaney to do the same. The Congressman should not vote to authorize military conflict, but should instead push the President and his peers to pursue a solution that places the chemical weapons under secure, international control.
This was actually quite perceptive because I think this is the solution currently being favored as the answer to avoid direct American military involvement. Vogt makes the great point that if action were to occur, it should have already commenced.
Meanwhile, fellow Republican candidate Dan Bongino had his own thoughts:
Last week during a Senate hearing on the use of force in Syria, Sen. Bob Corker asked what the United States is “seeking” in Syria. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had no answer. “I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking,” he said.
This is indicative of the Obama administration’s lack of a discernible foreign policy strategy towards Syria. A limited strike in Syria is nothing more than a face-saving measure for President Obama which could potentially draw America into yet another full-scale war in the Middle East.
After a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan where billions of dollars were spent and thousands of lives were lost, a military intervention in a Syrian civil war that is not connected to the national security interest of the United States is the wrong course of action for our nation.
Dan makes the case, by tying this situation into that in Iraq and Afghanistan, that Americans are tired of war – and he’s right. I’m not as sure this situation is equal because we have no al-Qaeda or Taliban to use as an enemy; in fact, the solution advocated assumes that only the Syrian government has chemical weapons, not the rebel groups. If the rebels have secured their own supply we just barked up the wrong tree.
For his part, District 6 Congressman John Delaney was coy on his Syria stance in a September 1 interview with WTTG-TV in Washington. He hasn’t made a public declaration on Syria since that point.
If there will be a vote of Syria – after President Obama’s remarks this evening, it’s anyone’s guess whether one will occur – it’s plain that Andy Harris will be a “no” vote, siding with the American people unconvinced our national interest would be at stake from events there and having no desire to lob a few cruise missiles into the beleaguered nation. I suspect that will meet with the approval of his district.
Finally, as an aside: shouldn’t we be hearing from Republican candidates from the other six districts on this?
Sitting here and catching up from what was an extremely busy week (with next week promising more of the same) I had something of an “aha!” moment – not to be confused with the ’80s pop band by the way – where two seemingly disparate pieces of information just clicked together.
Let’s examine piece number one, shall we? For days (or is it months, or years? I sense a continuing theme here) Maryland Republicans have been divided into a number of camps, tribes which rarely come together except on a small handful of issues. In the last year, I think resistance to Martin O’Malley’s draconian Second Amendment upheaval (legally and laughingly officially known as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013) was about the only issue drawing universal resistance from Republicans, and even then they parted on how best to fight its enactment, whether through the court system of via referendum. In the end, the court system won out but, as it stands, in a month the law will take effect.
In the meantime, we couldn’t even get the GOP to vote as a group against Martin O’Malley’s bloated budget – yet we call ourselves the party of fiscal responsibility? I understand our alternative budget is DOA in the General Assembly, but at least put up a united front against O’Malley’s principles.
The long introduction I just completed leads me into an Examiner post by J. Doug Gill, where he takes a long look at how the party has been divided since the Ehrlich era of 2003-07. This “bare knuckle brawl for irrelevancy” makes a number of valid points, although I don’t agree with its somewhat pessimistic outlook for the future. As Gill notes:
Any citizen of Maryland who has had it up to their well-spelunked pockets wants a strong, vibrant and relevant opposition party – and there are untold numbers who don’t care if it’s the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Tupperware Party.
The sooner some entity – any entity – sorts itself out and provides a credible opposition to the Democrats the better for all of us – including our friends on the left whose bank accounts are just as empty as ours – well, save for the union leaders and cronies and appointees, and, well, you get the picture…
But right now, and in its current incarnation, the only thing the Maryland Republican Party has learned from history is that they never learn anything from history.
Yet it’s not just about credible opposition – it’s also about creating a choice. This is something the majority party won’t do.
There was something about this Ballotpedia report which caught my eye. See if you can spot it, too – I’ll give you a moment and even put in a page break for the fun of it.
In what turns out to be the second of three consecutive club meetings featuring a gubernatorial candidate, a packed room enjoyed the presentation from Charles Lollar. While Lollar hasn’t formally announced – one item he mentioned was that this area will be part of his bus tour on September 5 – it’s clear he’s intending to run for the GOP nomination.
So, as is our usual custom with visiting dignitaries who travel from afar, once we got through the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduced our other distinguished guests we turned the meeting over to Charles, who brought his wife Rosha along.
Lollar started right out by telling those gathered it was “awesome” we began with the Lord’s Prayer. (It’s actually something I believe our late former president George Ossman started. We later paid tribute to George, who passed away last week and was remembered as “a great Republican and club member,” with a moment of silence.) Charles continued on that point, saying that religion was the fabric of our nation, He also contended that the political process of late was one of deciding between whether our rights derived from God or were passed along by mankind, “If you think our rights are from men, don’t vote for me,” said Lollar. “Rights and liberties…come from the Creator of our universe.”
Charles pondered what could happen next year given three items: the new majority of local elected officials statewide who belong to the Republican Party, the impact of fights over state Constitutional amendments such as the one permitting gay marriage, and the influence of conservative Democrats in rural areas upset about the current administration’s efforts to instill draconian gun control measures.
But Lollar urged those attending to gather as much information as they could before making a decision on the gubernatorial race. For his part, Charles claimed “we will represent you well…when you run your campaign from here,” pointing to his heart.
In going over some of his qualifications, LtCol Select Lollar pointed to his service in the Marines as a leader of men as well as the turnaround he worked at Cintas, taking a division lagging in the bottom 15% of the company and transforming it into a top five percent outfit. “I’m a completely boring person (in my personal life)…but I understand money (and) leadership,” Lollar said. He repeated the case later: “I have more leadership experience than all of them.” referring to all those running for the state’s top office.
Regarding social issues, Charles made the point that he would be “elected as governor, not priest.” That’s not to say he’s not a social conservative, but his focus would be on the fiscal side. “We’re in it until the budget is balanced,” promised Lollar.
Charles brought up a fantastic point, stating that a significant portion of the state’s budget came from the federal government and because of that Washington controls much of what our state government does. He gave the example of a western state which enacted an 80 MPH speed limit until they were threatened with the loss of federal highway funds, at which time they reverted back to the standard 65 MPH. (Pity.) The states lose their ability to govern themselves when federal funding becomes a significant part of their budget, he added.
One solution he advocated was a taxpayer’s bill of rights (or TABOR law) like Colorado adopted some years ago. Simply put, a TABOR law means annual spending can only be increased by the sum of percentage of population growth plus the rate of inflation. For example, in FY2012 Maryland’s population grew by 0.8% while inflation was measured in 2012 at 1.7 percent. Thus, the maximum budget increase allowed by law would be 2.5 percent. (In reality, Maryland’s budget grew just over 4 percent. Had the TABOR been in effect, Maryland taxpayers would have saved roughly $650 million this year.)
In answering questions, Charles explained how he could run despite the Hatch Act (he is now a reservist, not on active duty), deferred on a lieutenant governor choice by stating “we are strongly considering and praying” about who the person would be, but wishing to get the campaign off the ground first, and noted his “concern” about cancelling out loyal Republican votes in an open primary.
But one questioner seemed to catch Charles off guard a little bit, if only because he may not be familiar with Mark Levin’s recent book. Once explained briefly, Lollar opined it “sounds like something I would agree with.”
And there was the obvious ask: how do you win in minority areas? Charles noted he didn’t need to win outright, and victory was possible with just 35% in those areas (knowing he’ll roll up sizable majorities in places like Wicomico County.) But he’s been active there, and while there are some who he knows won’t be receptive to his message, he’s going at these communities with the statement that “the best entitlement program is a job.”
Finally, it was noted that with the recent endorsement from Blaine Young, the Frederick County Commission president would be an honorary chairman of Lollar’s campaign.
With that, we returned to the usual order of business, with the minutes being read, treasurer’s report given, and Jackie Wellfonder introducing another former WCRC leader who would promote her event later.
Giving his Central Committee report, county chair Dave Parker conceded, “it’s been a hard week.” Parker pointed out the “assault” on State Senator Rich Colburn by the Daily Times - an article which aroused one supporter to warn “we can’t let them get away with this” and call on the group to burn up the editor’s phone lines starting at 8:30 the next morning – and the circus surrounding the District 36 seat. He said he had personally spoken to Diana Waterman, who denied any allegations of impropriety, but still believed the “state level was doing its best to self-destruct.”
And after bringing up the upcoming events of the WCRC Crab Feast on September 7 (contact me for tickets, by the way – I still have a few left to sell) and our next Central Committee meeting on September 9th, he urged those in attendance to consider joining the Central Committee next year. There will likely be turnover, and “we need some troublemakers” on the Central Committee, said Dave.
The aforementioned WCRC president, E. Dee Monnen (who I referred to last week) was promoting the upcoming First District Bull Roast on September 21 in Queen Anne’s County. Unfortunately, she could not secure a local bus for the event but still urged us to attend and show support for our GOP candidates, including Andy Harris.
Also speaking on behalf of Harris, Shawn Jester added that he was pleased with the Fruitland town hall turnout of over 100 people.
We also heard from District 38C candidate Mary Beth Carozza, who gave kudos to those running the Wicomico Farm and Home Show. (I credited my volunteers; they did most of the hard work. All I did was badger them a few times and bring the big red bin of Central Committee stuff I now need to go through.) She was planning to attend a now-scrubbed legislative hearing on onerous state regulations on the poultry industry as well as visit with the Rural Maryland Council.
And while the Colburn supporter was stating her case against the Daily Times, one observer believed the Senator indeed exhibited “poor judgment” with these expenditures. Personally, I’m hoping they check into the campaign finances of some on the other side of the aisle just as closely.
Our next meeting will be September 23, and as I noted at the top we complete our gubernatorial trifecta with Delegate Ron George introducing himself to the club.
I would like to make one final comment. In many instances, we allow the visiting speakers to speak early figuring they have a long drive back home or to where they are staying. Few stay for the whole meeting, but Charles indeed stuck it out and spoke to several members afterward individually. That sort of gesture is not forgotten.
Unlike many of his counterparts, our Congressman Andy Harris is holding another town hall meeting during the “District Work Period.” His announcement was simple:
I’m hosting a town hall event in Fruitland on Tuesday to let you know about the work I’m doing in Washington and answer questions you may have about important issues like Obamacare, immigration, the NSA, government spending, and jobs. The event will be at Black Diamond Catering and Lodge (219 S Fruitland Blvd) starting at 5:30 PM.
I hope to see you on Tuesday!
Whether I’ll be able to make that early time depends a lot on how my outside job goes. But among the laundry list of items he cites, the NSA jumps out at me. Andy was one of those who voted for the Amash amendment, which was intended to curb the NSA and their domestic spying program. Of all the issues facing the nation in this session of Congress, that may have split the body most as far-left liberals rubbed shoulders with TEA Party conservatives in supporting Justin Amash.
So as long as no one in a chicken suit shows, things should be heated similarly to his Bel Air townhall. It will be interesting to see what media shows up, won’t it?
August is the time when official Washington shuts down, the tourists take over, and those who represent us return to their respective districts. Many use the opportunity to host townhall meetings in an effort to hear from and interact with his or her constituents.
But I’m fairly willing to bet that, aside from the possible exception of Andy Harris, you won’t hear a much more conservative voice conducting a townhall meeting than former Senator Jim DeMint, and you won’t have to travel to South Carolina or the fetid swamp of Washington, D.C. to attend. As part of Heritage Action and their proactive fight against Obamacare, the former Senator will be appearing in Joe Biden’s old stomping grounds of Wilmington, Delaware.
Seeing that the Eastern Shore isn’t all that far from Wilmington, this may be a good time investment for those of us interested in how some activists are combating Obamacare.
I suspect the number of former Senators will outnumber the number of current Delaware Senators at the meeting. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tom Carper, Chris Coons, and Rep. John Carney counter-program with their own meetings that night, just to try and divide and conquer the Delaware opposition, such as the 9/12 Delaware Patriots.
Too bad there’s a lot of First State residents who agree with DeMint and Heritage Action.
It’s no surprise that Andy Harris is probably one of the more passionate guardians of the right to life for the unborn, so this would be something I’d expect from him.
The video shows him making a plea for passage of the The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which indeed passed the House yesterday by a 228-196 vote. The bill would make abortion past 20 weeks illegal, except in cases of rape or incest.
Now some may ask what the big deal is, and those who call themselves pro-choice (that is, pro-abortion) in particular will bleat about what a waste of time this is when there are so many other important items the House needs to consider. Indeed, there are a lot of items on the plate and it’s highly unlikely the Senate will take up this bill, let alone pass it. Moreover, I happen to believe the federal approach is wrong – unfortunately, the issue was federalized once the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly in Roe v. Wade.
But I look at this as a template for states to consider – needless to say, any such move would probably land the state in court as they defend themselves against Planned Parenthood and the remainder of the abortion lobby. Obviously the goal is that of overturning a bad precedent in the Supreme Court with a new decision that returns the power to decide to the states. If a state wishes to allow abortion right up to the moment of birth, that should be their decision – although I would encourage those unfortunate enough to live there to fight tooth and nail against such a declaration. On the other hand, banning all abortions would be somewhat too draconian, and the House seems to be looking for a middle ground of incrementalism.
So Andy Harris should be commended for making a stand, albeit in language that may be a little bit dry for the average person to understand. Moreover, it should be pointed out that his most likely opponent would probably rather see no restrictions whatsoever on the practice of slaughtering the unborn. Just food for thought.