WCRC meeting – April 2010

After some of the craziness of March’s meeting, things returned to a fairly normal pace and routine this month.

We did the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, then the minutes of both February and March were read. Following that, it was revealed that our efforts at the Salisbury Festival only netted a meager profit thanks to the “small crowd,” with the lack of steamed corn on the cob also making an impact.

A series of reports followed, beginning with the Lower Shore Young Republicans presented by Dustin Mills. Several of their members braved the poor weather to help at the Salisbury Festival and they were putting the “final touches” on the state convention, where they expected somewhere between 125 and 150 to attend.

The LSYR food drive will occur May 8th at three of the four Salisbury area Food Lion stores – confirmed are the Nanticoke Road and Snow Hill Road locations, with the other being either Tilghman Road or Fruitland.

Dustin and I split the Central Committee report; he remarked on the upcoming GOP Spring Convention in Ocean City and I on the success of the Lincoln Day Dinner with Bob Ehrlich.

We then had a number of campaign updates.

Ed Nelson commented on the Salisbury stop on Andy’s bus tour on Friday. While 30 people showed up on an early Friday morning, Nelson said the candidate was “satisfied” with the press coverage as his campaign is “gelling together.”

Dustin Mills (again) referenced the Michael James campaign for State Senate, telling us Michael was “extremely active” compared to his 2006 effort and lauding the “positive reception” Michael received at the Salisbury Festival.

Don Coffin spoke up and announced he was holding a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge on Saturday, May 22 at his farm. A recent fundraiser for Rutledge in Salisbury raised about $3,000 so there’s support here on the Eastern Shore for the candidate.

Bonnie Luna spoke on behalf of Bob Ehrlich’s campaign, recounting his kick off tour which stopped in Parsonsburg and Ocean City.

Bob McCarroll also gave us an update on his bid for office.

In other news, Dustin Mills pointed out some of the numbers behind the recent Rasmussen Poll on Maryland’s race for governor. We know that Ehrlich trails O’Malley 44-47 in his race, but Maryland is a state which gives President Obama more support than the average state and is more supportive of Obamacare. Yet Martin O’Malley has a 22 strongly approve/29 strongly disapprove, or a factor of (-7) compared to a national average for President Obama running in the negative teens. But tellingly, about half of Free Staters have a “throw the bums out” mentality when it comes to their own delegate.

We also learned that the AFP meeting Wednesday may have Delegate candidate Mike McDermott as a speaker but Michael James had to drop out – he’ll have a surrogate for the meeting.

The bulk of the meeting’s discussion centered on the club’s financial plan for the upcoming election, which eventually passed without objection. Once we finalize the slate of candidates come September the WCRC can be a huge help to local Republican candidates.

Our next meeting is May 24 and still on the docket despite her change in office sought is Carmen Amedori.

Harris bus tour stops in Salisbury

As I wrote yesterday, leg number one of Andy Harris’s districtwide bus tour was scheduled to stop in Salisbury this morning, and indeed it did.

Congressional candidate and State Senator Andy Harris emerges from his tour bus at its Salisbury stop, April 23, 2010.

Along for the ride was, among others, Harris campaign chair and two-time candidate for governor Ellen Sauerbrey.

Harris campaign chair Ellen Sauerbrey chats with a supporter at the tour's stop in Salisbury, April 23, 2010.

Speaking in front of about two dozen supporters including fellow State Senator Rich Colburn, Harris outlined his plans should he be elected.

About two dozen supporters listened as Harris outlined his plans should he be elected.

Congressional candidate Andy Harris spoke about health care and job creation in his remarks to a tour stop in Salisbury, April 23, 2010.

Telling those gathered that “we can no longer be the silent majority,” Harris described the need for a turnaround, as he represented a group who liked the America we had prior to the growth of government.

Turning to the health care bill, Andy opined that, “the government doesn’t think you can make the best decisions” – we didn’t need bureaucrats to do the jobs physicians should be doing.

Harris then discussed the lack of jobs in the First District. While Maryland as a whole has an unemployment rate significantly below the national average, 7 of the 9 Eastern Shore counties suffer from double-digit unemployment rates. “The approach in Washington is wrong,” said Harris, who advocated an across-the-board tax cut to help solve the problem.

His best applause line, though, concerned the ouster of Nancy Pelosi should the GOP win back the majority in Congress this year. It came after he concluded that part of Washington’s problem was spending and that having a value-added tax (VAT) would make the problem worse.

Harris was kind enough to take a few questions after his prepared remarks.

The first had to do with immigration reform, as Arizona is primed to pass tough anti-illegal immigration legislation. Indeed, the federal government should enforce immigration laws but we do need legal immigrants to supplement our labor force, said Harris.

What can we do about health care reform now? asked another. “The health care debate is not over,” Andy stated. While some of the provisions are agreeable, the taxes on items such as durable medical devices will have a deleterious effect on care as a whole. But Congress does have the power of the purse and can choose not to fund the most egregious portions of the bill.

In that vein, I asked, is there some sort of workaround to keep the Bush tax cuts around beyond their expiration date at the end of this year?

While Andy didn’t have an answer as to tactics, he did correctly note that this uncertainty affects business decisions – entrepreneurs are “waiting for a signal” from the federal government on a number of issues including taxation.

Returning to health care, the final question posed regarded turning health care back to the states. Harris noted that some states (like Maryland) do just fine with the system they have while others like Massachusetts are struggling. The federal government should have little to do with health care, he said.

Harris spent about 30 minutes in Salisbury, which was longer than I expected. But I knew this would be the prime media stop.

A reporter from WBOC asks Andy Harris questions. The question he was answering when I took the picture had to do with offshore oil exploration, which Harris favors as a way for America to use more of its own resources and states to gain from revenue sharing.

A reporter from the Daily Times interviews Andy after the event.

Besides the WBOC reporter – who left before Harris actually spoke from the podium – and the Daily Times, the media cabal consisted of myself and a couple other local bloggers.

But one remark from Andy I overheard as he was preparing to leave seems to be the thought we all have on our minds: “November is our last chance…I’m convinced of that.” Given the direction our nation is being dragged into, I think Harris just may be right.

One other observation – unless he said it in a private conversation, I never heard the name of his opponent cross his lips during this stop, a stop held within sight of his district office. Hopefully it’s a sign of a clean campaign.

2010 Wicomico County Lincoln Day dinner in pictures and text

When we came up with the idea to have Bob Ehrlich as our speaker, our original thought was that we would catch him just after a January announcement of his candidacy. But Mother Nature put the kibosh on our original February 6th date and as it turns out this may have been the ex-governor’s last public appearance before he officially declares he’s running again.

So it’s needless to say we had a pretty packed house for the event with the only empty spots being on a few side tables – over 150 were in attendance. They were treated to a great display of patriotism and politics, as always kicked off by our 16th President. He brought a few dinner guests this year.

President Lincoln - a.k.a. Art North - brought a quintet of soldiers dressed in period garb. Four Yankees and one Reb comprised the fivesome.

One thing I didn’t realize was that this President was a TEA Party activist.

It looks like Honest Abe still gets around to Washington D.C. once in awhile.

The evening’s featured speaker was introduced by his better half Kendel, who complained that Bob wasn’t much help around the house – thus “he needed an important job again.”

Soon-to-be candidate Bob Ehrlich makes a point during remarks to the Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, April 3, 2010.

The former governor noted that over the last year he’d seen a number of “tired, angry, frustrated people” who were now getting involved in the political process; where he’d seen 150 at Republican club meetings before now he was seeing 250 and most of them were new faces.

Bob listed a number of Maryland assets as one side of a ledger in his remarks, with his most savage criticism of the liabilities directed at General Assembly Democrats. He noted that when he was first elected to the General Assembly in 1986 he was one of just 16 Republicans, yet the Democrats there were “in balance” because many were business owners and otherwise worked in the real world. Back then they weren’t so “anti-success.”

Now, though, Republicans “have to be relevant…we have to count.” By getting five additional Senate seats the GOP could sustain vetoes, and instead of being shut out of leadership discussions Minority Leader Allan Kittleman would be a necessary part of the process.

Ehrlich blasted the majority party for a number of measures they’ve passed, stating “no one forced them to do this stuff.” For example, they passed the recommendations of the Thornton Commission without a funding source and placed the fourth highest personal tax burden in the country on Maryland residents – “we tell wealth to leave the state” by enacting such policies.

Yet Republicans couldn’t just count on savaging Democrats to win because they have to work with those newly politically involved people. “The TEA Party people are free agents,” noted Ehrlich, and Republicans “just have to perform” once they assume some responsibility.

The former Governor didn’t leave the dais when he was through; we had one more task for him to perform. He helped present the award to our Republican of the Year.

Marc Kilmer (left) receives the 2010 Republican of the Year award from Governor Ehrlich (center) and Wicomico County Republican Party chair Dr. John Bartkovich (right) as part of the Lincoln Day Dinner on April 3, 2010.

Marc Kilmer was his usual humble self, simply stating that his leadership task is to “just get the job done.” As president of the Wicomico County Republican Club and Young Republican member he does just that. (He also is a regular commenter here.)

We next heard from several area elected officials, beginning with District 37 Senator Rich Colburn. He refused to apologize for his characterization of the Waterkeeper Alliance as “green on the outside and red on the inside,” blasting the group for being anti-agriculture and telling us that larger environmental fees simply can’t be handled by local farmers.

Andy Harris was next, speaking as both a State Senator and Congressional candidate.

State Senator Andy Harris points out a familiar face in the audience as part of his remarks to the Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, April 3, 2010.

Harris described the excitement in the district as “amazing” and noted that the most important vote Frank Kratovil made in his tenure was to elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. This race, he said, comes down to a choice between Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner.

Two of the eight announced Republican U.S. Senate candidates were in attendance, with both being gracious enough to pose for me post-event.

Two candidates who see a lot of each other on the campaign trail - Carmen Amedori (left) and Dr. Eric Wargotz are both seeking to unseat current Senator Barbara Mikulski.

During her remarks, Carmen Amedori gave a brief rundown of her background and said it was time to send Barbara Mikulski home to retirement. Eric Wargotz echoed the sentiment but also said, “I believe in a better…healthier America” instead of the Constitution being treated like a “doormat.”

Turning to more local candidates, Michael James, seeking the District 38 Maryland Senate seat, reminded the audience that, “I have created jobs” as a businessman. He described his approach if elected as “proactive, not reactive” and recounted that he only lost in a 2006 bid for Delegate by a very slim margin.

District 38B Delegate candidate Mike McDermott came prepared.

If Mike McDermott didn't build name recognition after this display, attendees spent too much time at the nearby cash bar.

McDermott joked that, along with Michael James, “we need a balance of Mikes” in the General Assembly to counter House leader Mike Busch and Senate head Mike Miller. McDermott hammered Governor O’Malley for “never (meeting) a family farm he didn’t want to shut down” and pronounced the GOP’s eventual goal as “71” – that being the number of seats to gain a majority in the General Assembly.

Pinch-hitting for candidate for Governor Brian Murphy (home awaiting the birth of his fourth child), Meghan Mueller briefly ran down Brian’s resume as business owner and Eastern Shore native. She did well being placed in the tough spot of having an opponent be featured speaker.

Local County Council candidate Dave Goslee, Jr. told those gathered President Obama made him politically active. He’s running against Democrat Sheree Sample-Hughes for the District 1 seat.

Maryland GOP Chair Audrey Scott prepares her remarks for delivery at the Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, April 3, 2010.

An optimistic Audrey Scott recounted some of her accomplishments and reminded us that she would be back here Monday evening for a townhall meeting in the Danang Room of the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center. That’s where I’ll be too.

Much of the crowd stuck around after Scott finished to mingle and ponder the thoughts of electoral success in November. Fellow blogger Julie Brewington was there and had a few pictures as well.