The money race

Apparently the monetary race for the Republican nomination for governor in Maryland has a surprise leader.

Most people would have repeated the conventional wisdom that Harford County Executive David Craig would have raised the most money by now – after all, he’s been running his 2014 campaign since 2011. While he attracted notice because of what his campaign termed “technical problems” with the software, the bottom-line numbers for 2012 showed Craig raised $231,103 in 2012 and had a cash balance going forward of $200,736. Those figures aren’t too bad for a race two years hence.

However, Craig was outgunned – to the consternation of some – by a lightly regarded contender. Blaine Young has worked hard in raising sufficient funds to wage a serious campaign, and in his 2013 report the Frederick County Commission President asserted that he raised $446,951 and had $349,277 on hand, despite holding a number of fairly costly events to advance his profile.

The spin coming out of the Craig campaign was that:

Until now, we have been running a light operation realizing that the party’s full efforts and finances needed to be invested in the recent national election. I am confident that the work we accomplished this past year, both in terms of fundraising and relationship development will position me as a contender for whichever office I choose to seek.

Interesting that he’s being coy about his choice, since he’s term-limited out of his present job and had all but announced a gubernatorial run last year.

Of course, Young was ecstatic about his returns:

I am proud of the work my campaign put in to accomplishing my fundraising goals to get us to this important step. This early show of support from donors across Maryland lays the groundwork to continue my campaign to be the Republican nominee for Governor in 2014. I am both thrilled and humbled by the report we submitted.

Two other Republicans who have made overtures toward the Governor’s race lag far behind in fundraising. The campaign to draft former Congressional candidate Charles Lollar filed an affidavit that it had neither raised nor spent over $1,000 in the race while onetime Delegate candidate Meyer Marks has no active account on file (but has a website announcing his intention.)

Unfortunately, the Democrats have been hard at work raising money as well, as the following figures show:

  • Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown: $1,247,811 raised ($93,500 from PACs), $1,641,547 on hand.
  • Attorney General Doug Gansler: $1,236,284 raised ($51,620 from PACs), $5,203,796 on hand.
  • Howard County Executive Ken Ulman: $1,139,945 raised ($29,530 from PACs), $2,132,761 on hand.
  • Delegate Heather Mizeur: $244,089 raised ($6,750 from PACs), $349,882 on hand.

So money is likely going to be a GOP disadvantage in this campaign, which means the Republican winner is going to need a tremendous ground game to negate the monetary advantage the Democrat is almost certain to enjoy unless a primarily self-funding millionaire – think Rob Sobhani – gets into the race.

One might ask about the possible entry of Larry Hogan into the fray, but something I didn’t realize about the Change Maryland chairman is that he incurred $325,000 in loan debt to himself during his abortive 2010 race for governor. (His 2012 report, the latest available, was filed in July, 2011.) So he would start from less than zero, which suggests to me we may have just a three-person race if Lollar decides to run.

But it’s always seemed that the Republicans compete with a monetary disadvantage. I could have stayed up all night looking up some of the businesses and special interests which seem to contribute solely to the Democrats in this pay-for-play atmosphere if I felt like going through over 100 pages of contributions to each campaign but Delegate Mizeur’s. Surely the same is true for downticket races, too.

So it looks like we’ll have to work harder and smarter, which I have no doubt we’re capable of. At least with a June primary we’ll know who our standardbearers are and have more time to point out the obvious deficiencies in the record of the Democratic nominee.

Lollar’s second draft

Those of you who have been following Maryland politics for awhile may recall that in 2010, before Bob Ehrlich finally made up his mind whether to give it another go and even prior to the upstart Brian Murphy upsetting the state GOP apple cart, there was another likable, passionate young politician who was being drafted to run for governor.

Former Charles County Republican head Charles Lollar was tripped up by a residency issue, falling just short of the five-year timeline decreed by state law based on his voter registration date. But prior to that he had made the rounds, attracting notice on RedState and appearing at the summertime Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield. Lollar also gained fame when former GOP chair Jim Pelura asked him to head a “Maryland GOP Anti-Tax Plan Commission” in 2008.

But after Lollar withdrew from the governor’s race, he turned his sights on the difficult task of unseating entrenched Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer. He got 35% of the vote, but a few months later landed on his feet by being named head of the Maryland chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

It was on the “New Day Maryland” advocacy group’s website, though, that Lollar wrote he would make a decision soon:

As some of you may know by I now I have been asked to consider a run for governor in 2014. In fact, there has been a “Draft” campaign started along with a FACEBOOK site advertising such. May I say that this has humbled me to say the least and I am honored to have such friends and patriots that think so highly of me and my family.

In the upcoming months, I will be spending a tremendous amount of time considering this endeavor as I want to ensure this the right direction for me and my family. Additionally, I am meeting with business leaders throughout the state of Maryland discussing my solutions for the economic struggles of our great state to include our rising unemployment as I outlined in the “RedPrint” for Maryland that can be found on my site

I humbly ask each and every one of you to pray with me considering this all impressing matter. Whether you are within or without the borders of Maryland, I will need your support and prayers if in fact my family and I continue down this road. Please feel free to go on the “Draft Charles Lollar for Governor” Face Book and leave a message, I guarantee you it will encourage those who have authored this Draft as well as myself.

You all have my commitment that after considerable contemplation and prayer I will let you all know of my decision by the first of the New Year.

So what would a Lollar candidacy bring to the table?

Obviously, he’s a minority Republican, but any advantage from that with those voters would be negated if one leaked Garin-Hart-Yang internal Democratic poll from September is correct and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is the Democrats’ frontrunner. Furthermore, Michael Steele (among many others) proved that blacks vote for ideology before race. Yet Lollar has a compelling message which still needs to be put out in the hopes of changing hearts and minds in both that specific community and (more importantly) the state at large. Truly, prosperity and freedom aren’t (and shouldn’t be) limited by the color of one’s skin – those of us on our side take that to heart.

A second effect, though, is one of splitting the TEA Party vote a little further. Certainly the tough-talking fiscal conservative Blaine Young is a leading candidate among conservatives, but TEA Parties will have another choice if Lollar jumps in. Of course, the “establishment” Republicans also have a conundrum when they consider the choice of David Craig vs. Larry Hogan, both of whom are more known quantities in GOP circles. Hogan may also negate what advantage Lollar has in southern Maryland based on the fact his father represented the area in Congress for a few years back in the 1970s.

Lollar would also have to play catch-up in fundraising, but Lollar’s media-friendly approach could catch on nationally like Dan Bongino’s did. (Of course, if Rob Sobhani decides to run for governor all bets are off.)

Depending on the audience he seeks, though, Lollar may want to embrace (or have to live down) a statement he made in this BET profile on minority convention delegates. Of course, context is key and it’s doubtful the “not overly impressed with either party” part of the interview came without plenty of context, knowing Charles.

If I were a betting man, I’d place my money on Charles getting into the race – it’s not like he wasn’t interested before. The only thing which may hold him back would be lack of support from his family and I’m certainly not in the position to speculate on how they would feel about such a decision. From what Lollar says, we’ll know soon enough anyway.

After all the shouting

We’re just about through the last weekend of the 2012 campaign, and hopefully by late Tuesday night we will have a good idea of where the country will be heading over the next four years (or perhaps four decades, should the incumbent win.) Of course that’s assuming we have no protracted recounts such as we endured 12 years ago – the prospect of two such occurrences in a lifetime boggles the mind.

Yet regardless of what happens Tuesday life will go on, and the sun will come up Wednesday. I’ll still have my work to do as will most of the rest of us who don’t toil for candidates.

I’ve always been about thinking two to three steps ahead where possible, which is why I’m writing this postmortem of sorts on the Sunday before the election. (It’s also why I wrote my book and eschewed the normal publishing process to get it to market prior to the campaign season hitting high gear. Did it cost me some sales? Perhaps, but readers can remedy that situation easily enough as I link to the sales sites from monoblogue.)

Just in the next three months there are a lot of political stories still to be written, from the local to the national. Here in my adopted hometown of Salisbury, the mayoral race will take center stage. No one has formally declared for the office yet, but it’s highly likely we’ll have at least two (and possibly three) candidates: incumbent Mayor Jim Ireton will go for a second term, realtor Adam Roop made it known almost a year ago he was seeking some unspecified office – his two choices are a City Council district seat or mayor – and recent transplant and blogger Joe Albero has made his own overtures. At least he’s invested in the shirts:

That will probably begin to play out in the next couple weeks.

After that we begin the holiday season, which may be politicized to a certain extent as well. My thought is that if Barack Obama wins, the early predictions of a modest year-over-year growth will hold true or end up slightly lower than imagined. I seem to recall last year started out like gangbusters on Black Friday but tailed off once those big sales came to an end. On the other hand, a Mitt Romney win may open up the purse strings and result in an increase twice of what was predicted. I think seeing him win with a GOP Congress will boost consumer confidence overnight as they figure the long national nightmare is over.

Once the holidays are over, it’s then time for both the 113th Congress to get started and, more importantly for local matters, the “90 days of terror” better known as the Maryland General Assembly session to begin. In the next few weeks I will finally wrap up my annual monoblogue Accountability Project for 2012 in order to hold our General Assembly members accountable for all the good and bad votes they made in the three 2012 sessions. With so much written about in 2012 on my part, I had to put that project on the back burner for most of the fall.

At the same time, state races for 2014 will begin to take shape. Unlike the last three gubernatorial elections we do not have the prospect of a candidate named Ehrlich in the race, which leaves the field wide open. While the three who have made overtures toward running on the GOP side have already made their presence known, only one (Blaine Young) has formally announced and the conventional wisdom (such that there is for Maryland GOP politics) labels him as the longest shot of the three most-rumored candidates, the other two being early 2010 candidate Larry Hogan and outgoing Harford County Executive David Craig.

But there are also down-ticket statewide races to consider as well, and there’s a decent chance that both Attorney General and Comptroller may become open seats as Doug Gansler and Peter Franchot, respectively, consider a race for Governor. (While there are three hopefuls so far for governor on the GOP side, there may be at least five on the Democratic side: Gansler, Franchot, current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and Delegate Heather Mizeur.)

The GOP bench is a little shorter for the downticket positions at this time, but I believe William Campbell is willing to reprise his 2010 Comptroller run and wouldn’t be surprised if Jim Shalleck doesn’t make sure he’s on the ballot this time for Attorney General. Another intriguing name for the AG position would be 2010 U.S. Senate candidate (and attorney) Jim Rutledge, who obviously has the advantage of having already run statewide. On the other side, I’m hearing that State Senator Brian Frosh (who generally serves as a dictatorial Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee) is one name in the mix for AG, but another intriguing one is former First District Congressman Frank Kratovil, who is now a judge in Queen Anne’s County.

So the beat will go on after this year’s election is over. It’s not surprising to me that I’ve had some great readership numbers over the last few weeks, but the last couple weeks in particular have blown me away. The trick, though, will be maintaining the audience through a period where fewer discuss politics and more concentrate on friends and family during the holiday season. I won’t be so presumptuous to believe that my humble little site should be uppermost on everyone’s mind, but I hope to roll into year number 8 of monoblogue in grand style.

Maryland activists hit 20k

Let me start right here and congratulate Change Maryland and its head Larry Hogan for cracking the 20,000 supporter mark on Facebook. Considering they were at the 12,000 mark just over three months ago, that’s pretty good for a nonpartisan political group. When you consider the lone statewide race this year pits Ben Cardin and his 3,833 Facebook ‘likes’ against Dan Bongino and his 3,335 Facebook ‘likes,’ having a total which far exceeds their sum is a pretty good accomplishment. If I sold a book to each of the Change Maryland supporters I’d be a happy (and modestly wealthy) man!

They also had their piece to say about it, but I’m not done yet so stick with me.

Change Maryland announced today that it surpassed 20,000 members as it emerges as the leading organization raising questions about Governor Martin O’Malley’s record.  The spike in growth coincided with Change Maryland’s research into the metrics by which state economies are judged – tax payer migration, employment statistics and retaining small businesses.

Since Governor Martin O’Malley’s term began in 2007, Maryland has dramatically lagged the region in all three indicators according to federal government data from the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. These findings follow a report in which Change Maryland quantified the number of tax and fee increases since 2007 which total 24 separate revenue-raising measures that remove an additional $2.4 billion out of the economy annually. Such reports have caused the O’Malley Administration to lash out at the organization with ill-conceived attacks that have only assisted in gaining new followers.

“We’ve pulled back the curtain on the dismal results of this Administration, and Governor O’Malley doesn’t like it,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. “Losing 40,000 jobs, 31,000 residents of tax paying households and 6500 businesses coincides with the largest tax hikes in Maryland’s history.”


Change Maryland has more than twice as many Facebook followers as the state Democratic and Republican parties combined. It is the largest and fastest growing, non-partisan, grassroots organization advocating for government accountability and fiscal responsibility.

While I believe Hogan is correct about the Facebook numbers, I suspect that’s only in social media. Trust me, if either state party wanted to reach 20,000 people in a hurry they could. But support for a political party isn’t all that common for social media, which, by its very nature, caters more to the 90 percent who don’t care about politics much until Election Day is nigh than to the 3 of 100 who are junkies like me. If you want some idea of the political role in social media, take Change Maryland’s 20,000 and consider that the Baltimore Orioles have 389,621 – but they’re dwarfed by the Baltimore Ravens, who have 1,118,429 ‘likes.’

So as it turns out Change Maryland has a little room to grow. I’m not saying they’ll ever get to the level of the Ravens because if that were true Larry Hogan would be a shoo-in for Governor. He’s not.

But the political world is far more than social media. If Change Maryland is smart – and I suspect they’re pretty sharp – they are getting more contact information from these 20,000 Facebook friends and seeing how well particular messages respond. Change Maryland knows just where its bread is buttered, and it’s patently obvious that the narrative about Martin O’Malley being a tax-and-spend governor who’s driving businesses out of Maryland is a potential gold mine for any Republican candidate and pitfall for a Democrat – particularly Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who O’Malley seems to be grooming as a heir apparent.

It would also be very interesting to find out what kind of crossover appeal the Change Maryland group has. They claim to be bipartisan, which anyone who wants to win elections wants to do, but the question which lingers with me is just how much Democratic support are they receiving? I’m not sure even Change Maryland knows the answer, since a lot of social media consists of anecdotal evidence about the impact of events and messages.

But when you consider that it took a group born in the spring of 2011 a year to reach 12,000 Facebook members but just three months more to add on another 8,000, you see there’s something brewing. Particularly for the perpetual underdogs in the Maryland Republican Party, grassroots are important. We haven’t heard Hogan make any 2014 announcement yet, but he may well have some boots on the ground already.

The Maryland Republican Party as a career ladder?

You know, I think this was a reason some were concerned about Alex Mooney becoming chair.

But late on Tuesday the Maryland Republican Party Chair announced he was forming an exploratory committee for the Sixth District seat now held by Roscoe Bartlett, who is beginning to look more and more like a lame duck candidate – case in point, the strong suspicion that his (now former) chief of staff, Bud Otis, may be making a bid for the GOP nomination. Bear in mind there were already several candidates in the race for the Sixth District before all this intrigue began, making the statewide Senate race look cut-and-dried by comparison.

Continue reading “The Maryland Republican Party as a career ladder?”

Murphy speaks out

It’s about four minutes of commentary, but former gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy had the chance to discuss the recent election with Shari Elliker on WBAL Radio Friday.

There’s no doubt that Murphy paid as much attention to the election results as the rest of us did, and it’s not clear from the conversation that his campaign rhetoric about Bob Ehrlich being beatable wasn’t quite the “I told you so” in retrospect. Critics noted that Bob Ehrlich’s message was a little muddy in their postmortems.

But now is the time to look forward to what is and will be. Martin O’Malley has one more term to serve as governor, and it’s conceivable a number of state Democrats are playing the game of being coy about their 2014 plans while laying the groundwork for a run of their own for Government House. Anthony Brown, Peter Franchot, and Doug Gansler are naturally front and center in that conversation since they have ran and won statewide.

Meanwhile, the GOP side has its own contenders with Brian Murphy probably among them. (He was coy about this in his conversation with Elliker, but one has to believe he’s considering the prospect of seeking an open seat. We’ll see based on how much interaction he has with Republican and TEA Party groups in the coming months.)

But we can’t forget a couple other names.

The old guard establishment may well be represented by Larry Hogan, who began something of a placeholder run for Governor this year until Bob Ehrlich got in.

We also need to consider Charles Lollar, who was the beneficiary of a draft movement last year but was tripped up by residency requirements this time around based on when he first registered to vote in Maryland he was just a few months short of the five years required. Undaunted, he ran for Congress. Unless Democrats decide to push through a ten-year requirement to foil him again, he may well decide to run again IF he doesn’t win a Congressional seat first.

It’s going to be about message, though. With the strong probability of another set of tax increases or expansions for Maryland one has to wonder just how long it will be before the unaffiliated voters and thoughtful suburban Democrats realize that continually funneling more money to the state for fewer and poorer core services needs to come to a screeching halt and eventually be turned around. Given the slow pace of economic recovery, the prospect of a strong economy come 2014 can only be described as a crapshoot at best – people my age may recall that the Reagan recovery didn’t begin until his third year in office and if a Republican takes the White House in 2012 it may take that long to undo the Obama damage (even with a GOP House over his last two years.)

But I’m glad to see Brian Murphy hasn’t gone away. Maybe we should be hanging onto those yard signs.

Autumn Wine Festival 2010 in pictures and text

Call it the invasion of the politicians. However, it was a well-attended event thanks to the good weather.

I took this photo about 2:30 on Saturday – despite the cooler, windier conditions there were more people who came on Saturday. The first picture below came from in front of the stage around 3:30 Saturday, the next one down was from 5:30 Saturday, and the last 3:15 Sunday.

As you can see, the AWF was a well-attended event. Of course, being an election year that means a lot of politicians were there too. I’m going to start with the Democrats, who were well-represented Saturday because part of their statewide ticket was present.

Along with Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (center in above photo with blue shirt), Congressman Frank Kratovil was also here to shore up his support. Here he’s pictured with Wicomico County Councilman Sheree Sample-Hughes.

While the lady next to him was much more camera-shy, County Executive Rick Pollitt was also gladhanding Saturday morning.

He was standing next to the Democrats’ tent, which served as their home base for the event. Much like a walkaround in Crisfield, the Democrats did a brief tour around the Wine Festival.

You really can’t miss those nearly day-glo green O’Malley shirts, much as you might like to. But they had their table full of info as well.

Needless to say, there were other Democrats who made time over the weekend to do some campaigning and perhaps drink a little wine. Among that group was County Council hopeful David Cowall (left-center in picture below) along with Orphan’s Court Judge candidate Peter Evans, who was a fixture at the festival.

District 38B Delegate candidate Gee Williams came over from Berlin on Sunday to shake some hands as well.

I didn’t get a picture of her, but also looking for votes was Patrice Stanley of District 37B. And lest you think the GOP didn’t get into the game, here are the two current ladies who represent that district, Addie Eckardt and Jeannie Haddaway. They’re joined by one of my volunteers, Woody Willing.

The other District 37 Republicans were present, too. Here’s Rich Colburn talking to County Councilwoman Gail Bartkovich.

Rounding out the District 37 slate was Dustin Mills (left) with his campaign manager Mark Biehl.

Two other state candidates from District 38 were in the house as well – in the first picture, Mike McDermott made sure to keep a sign with him. Below that, fellow District 38B hopeful Marty Pusey (left) was campaigning with a friend Sunday.

Of course, county GOP hopefuls were represented too. County Council at-large candidate Bob Culver stopped by our tent to say hello. Stevie Prettyman did too, but I didn’t get her picture.

Perhaps topping everyone, though, was this guy, Matt Maciarello.

He didn’t use our tent as a base since he had his own, cleverly bringing to the crowd’s attention some key endorsements.

Our tent was a little more low-key, with part of the reason being the heavy wind – less stuff to chase!

Bob McCarroll and Leonard Jett (pictured) are two of my helpers who I need to thank for their efforts. I also owe a shout of over the last two weekends to Mark McIver (for the tent), Ann Suthowski, Greg Belcher, Woody Willing, Ryan Hohman, Bob Miller, Bob Laun, and the Jesters (Jim, Cindy, and Shawn) for their assistance.

I also had fun with some of the photographic opportunities and wanted to give some free advertising to the people who make GREAT ice cream!

I just liked the way the banners looked from these two. It’s worth noting that the Cygnus tent had a minor collapse with Saturday’s winds; fortunately, no one was injured.

Bottle shots make a nice and colorful still life – these are from Far Eastern Shore Winery.

This one appealed to me because of the round shadow created by the large tent behind me and the perfect sun angle.

Finally, a sun-dappled reminder of the whole point of the event.

Given the attendees present, I think a growing number did and will.