The votes are finally cast, and the filings nigh

And it’s about time. It will be interesting to see as the evening wears on whether any of the candidates who are currently in will exit the field after today’s New Hampshire primary.

But closer to home, we found out that both parties are now represented in all eight Congressional districts, so no incumbent gets a free ride in November. Andy Harris filed today to retain his First District seat, while Republican Charles Shepherd of Gaithersburg filed to run in the Fourth Congressional District to fill out the puzzle. As of now, here’s the breakdown of how many are in each Congressional primary:

  • First District: 1 Republican, 2 Democrats
  • Second District: 4 Republicans, 1 Democrat
  • Third District: 4 Republicans, 2 Democrats
  • Fourth District: 1 Republican, 3 Democrats
  • Fifth District: 3 Republicans, 2 Democrats
  • Sixth District: 7 Republicans, 4 Democrats
  • Seventh District: 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and 1 unaffiliated (who is automatically advanced to the General Election in November)
  • Eighth District: 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats, and 1 Green Party (also automatically on November’s ballot if nominated by the Green Party.)
  • U.S. Senate: 10 Republicans, 9 Democrats

At this point, with a day and a half to go, the only two incumbents to not have primary opposition are Andy Harris in the First District and Dutch Ruppersberger in the Second.

Another interesting item is the number of General Assembly members now running:

  • State Senator Nancy Jacobs is running for the Second District Congressional seat.
  • Delegate Tony O’Donnell seeks the Fifth District Congressional seat.
  • The Sixth District race is a no-holds-barred firefight with representatives from both General Assembly chambers: Delegate Kathy Afzali jumped in today to join Senators Rob Garagiola and David Brinkley.
  • The U.S. Senate race now officially features State Senator C. Anthony Muse, who also filed today.

We also have yet to hear from Delegate Pat McDonough, who made overtures to both the Second District Congressional and U.S. Senate races over the past year. But there’s still this afternoon and all day tomorrow; however, it’s more likely any member of the General Assembly won’t wait until the last minute because the 2012 session commences tomorrow as well. Former Senator and current Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney hasn’t filed as of this writing, either.

I’ll update this post as events warrant in both New Hampshire and Maryland.

Update #1: As of late this evening, this is how the Maryland Republican Presidential primary ballot will shape up:

  • Newt Gingrich
  • Jon Huntsman
  • Fred Karger
  • Ron Paul
  • Rick Perry
  • Buddy Roemer
  • Mitt Romney
  • Rick Santorum

Not surprisingly, Barack Obama is the lone Democrat on the ballot. All 9 are shown as having filed today.

And by the way, Eric Wargotz IS running – to be a delegate to the national Republican convention from the First District. He has not added his name to the list for U.S. Senate, however.

With just under 50% of the vote in, Mitt Romney was long since called as the winner in New Hampshire. Not surprisingly, he’s strongest in the two counties (Hillsborough and Rockingham) which are closest to the Boston area. Ron Paul is second, but runs closest to Romney in Cheshire County in the southwest corner of the state and Coos County, which is pretty much the northern third of the state.

Update #2: According to the Washington Post, Alex Mooney is taking a pass on the Sixth District race and endorsing Roscoe Bartlett.

So here’s my questions: one, will he again assume the leadership mantle of the Maryland Republican Party? (Hey, I’m just glad I don’t have to go to a special convention just to pick a new chair.)

Second, and more importantly, what’s he going to do with the $100,000 or so he raised? Can he give it to the MDGOP? I know state candidates have the ability to do so when they close out their campaigns, but I don’t know about federal law.

Elected officials discussion a highlight of convention

On Saturday morning some of us who attended the MDGOP Spring Convention got to hear a quartet of our state’s elected GOP officials review some of the maelstrom that is Maryland politics; in order of appearance it was Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold (pictured at podium,) Harford County Executive David Craig (right at table,) Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs (center at table,) and Minority Leader in the House of Delegates, Tony O’Donnell (left at table.)

John Leopold began his remarks by commending President Obama for his role in Osama bin Laden’s untimely demise, but noted President Bush had a “key role” as well. And, even though Obama’s fortunes will be buoyed by the killing of bin Laden, the “lingering flu” of the economy will be the number one issue in 2012. “The Republcan nomination is worth having,” contended Leopold.

John is well-known for his hardline stance against illegal immigration in Anne Arundel County, and he believed the fight over in-state tuition for illegals could be “an enormously helpful issue” for the party. “Democrats don’t understand illegal means illegal,” Leopold stated.

But, in looking at another issue near and dear to Marylanders’ hearts, Leopold stated his belief that the economy and environment “are not mutually exclusive” as issues. There was a balance to be found.

In the case of David Craig, his remarks looked at items on the county level, as they dealt heavily with the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO for short.) While MACO is “supposed to be a nonpartisan organization,” the reality is it will be run by Democrats for the foreseeable future and will be a cheerleader for Martin O’Malley and his bigspending ways.

David saw the struggle as one of daring Republicans to make tough choices at the county level. “They want to make local Republicans raise your taxes” by shifting the cost of items previously paid for by the state to the local level. And even state revenue proposals stack the deck in favor of certain parts of the state – for example, Craig told us the proposed 10 cent per gallon gasoline tax would be distributed 7 cents to the state, 1.5 cents to Baltimore City, and 1.5 cents to the 23 counties.

Nor is it just monetary, as David described the new PlanMaryland initiative as a “takeover of local planning issues.”

Senator Nancy Jacobs is part of what she kiddingly termed “the dirty dozen” – one of just 12 Republican Senators in Maryland. Still, she commended the close relationship between the Senate and House caucuses in fighting Democratic initiatives. “We voted together this year,” said Nancy. Even Mike Miller “has been extremely nice to me.”

One key fight will be redistricting, which is a “major concern.” We need to attend the public meetings on the issue and attempt to rectify a situation where 31% of the legislators are Republican but represent about 46 to 48 percent of the electorate which votes Republican at the top of the ticket. It will be part of a Special Session which will likely see bids to raise the gas tax and expand the sales tax to services.

As for the recent session, Jacobs assessed it as “a pretty good year,” although they spent “too much time on social issues.” Instead, “we need to get much more involved to attract business” to the state.

Finally, Tony O’Donnell assessed his political career in Latin. I’m no Latin scholar, so I’ll give the English translation: “I came, I saw…time flies.”

O’Donnell had one key message to party leaders: stop conceding 30 to 40 seats to the Democrats each election by not contesting them. He was already recruiting for 2014; we should “engage (potential candidates) now.” Tony vowed, “we’re no longer going to concede seats to the Democrats.” And although he was a bit confounded by the party’s convention infighting, saying we needed to minimize wasting energy, O’Donnell was optimistic. “We have great opportunities,” considering we gained 6 House seats in a year where the top of the ticket lost by 14 points.

His final thought: “we have to govern effectively at the local level.” If the state’s Republican House leaders can construct a budget plan with $621 million in cuts, it can be done at the appropriate local level as well.

Overall, I thought it was a great discussion. Afterward I handed Senator Jacobs back her camera (she recruited me to take pictures for her) and asked whether only Congressional seats would be handled in this redistricting session, or if all seats were up. (All seats are under discussion, she advised me.)

But there was one thing missing from this discussion, and I noticed it Friday night as well. Even though the House Republican delegation sponsored a hospitality suite (obviously I saw many from the state delegation there, including local Delegates Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Addie Eckardt, and Charles Otto) there was one key delegate absent from the weekend’s events: the host delegate, Mike McDermott. Obviously he may have had work or family business to attend to, but I think it was a clear missed opportunity to introduce a powerful voice (literally) for conservatism to state rank-and-file Republicans.

Another missed chance was that of introducing order to the bylaws. Because a time limit was insisted upon, we definitely tried to bite off more than we could chew by attempting to revamp something years in the making. Sure, the voting method debate was messy and acrimonious, but we can move beyond that fight now. (More on that below.)

The trouble now is that we left the process only partly done, and installed no easy fix to patch the holes. (Luckily, the existing bylaws allow the Chair to create ad hoc committees. Guess what? We need one!) Had I been more on my game Saturday, I would have realized that as I stood at the microphone waiting on all the motion business that I thought had been previously taken care off to be resolved before I introduced mine. Oh well, opportunity lost.

But as I flip through my handy-dandy steno pad to see the pages of notes I took (much of which will be shared privately with the remainder of my Central Committee as they deal with the contents of the seminars I attended) I have some other observations worth noting.

  • We spoke a lot about volunteers. Well, we have a ready-made cadre – it’s called the TEA Party! I was glad to see a number of MDCAN participants but we could always use more.
  • It wasn’t as gray as previous conventions; lots of young folks were there. Maybe someday I’ll be the old man of my own delegation, but that’s up to how things shake out in 2014.
  • I was glad to see Kent County well-represented; they’ve often missed out entirely on previous conventions. Maybe it’s because their votes count now?
  • Speaking of our upper Eastern Shore friends, Kent County had a very successful Lincoln Day dinner. Their speaker? Brian Murphy. Sometimes going ‘off the board’ and taking a chance pays off. They also seemed to be a delegation full of ‘new blood.’
  • One final quote from Nancy Jacobs: “If you are a business, you are the cash cow for Maryland.”
  • Ahead of the curve: one of the training seminars used the same video I highlighted last week. It is a useful training tool, and proves political strategy isn’t exactly secret. The hard part is execution and winning the battle of ideas.
  • You know, I thought I was at least a little hip to new technology but the New Media seminar I attended scared me because I had never heard of half the tools they discussed!

Finally, let’s talk about what we accomplished.

I am quite aware that there is a small group among Maryland Republicans who aren’t pleased with the results of this convention. Obviously I had a vested interest in something of mine coming to fruitition as well, but once the party was over and my quest had failed (since it never came up for discussion) my life went on because I still have a lot of dragons to slay whether we reform the Rule 11 procedures or not.

Maybe I was a little harsh in making the “big boy pants” statement, but let’s face this fact: Montgomery County is still a key player in the state party. Coming from a smaller county I’m well aware that we need to make a decent showing in MoCo to win statewide – or win about 70-75% of the vote in the rural areas; it’s an either/or proposition.  For example, Bob Ehrlich got 38% of the MoCo tally in 2002 when he won – but he got a shade under 37% in 2006 before falling to 31% last year. While it’s a valuable area, MoCo wasn’t the be-all and end-all of GOP success. It was the rest of the state where Ehrlich won and lost.

So let’s put the voting method behind us for awhile, as we on the Eastern Shore were encouraged to place the regional chair concept a few conventions back after we’d worked hard for it. Unfortunately, those changes we managed to make to the bylaws will mean we have a lot more work to do on them – it’s a hole we dug for ourselves regardless of the voting results.

As Republicans, we have a lot of work to do. Yes, once I figure out how the procedure will be to submit it I’ll bring back the Rule 11 issue for a vote because I think we need the discussion and I don’t want to waste all the effort on attracting TEA Party interest by making decisions like these up to a powerful few. Those who advocate other bylaw changes are encouraged to do the same if there’s demand. (As far as I’m concerned you can skip the “star chamber,” though.)

In fact, as far as goals for the convention went, all I got was this lovely tote bag.

But I won’t go sulk in a corner or threaten to take my ball and go home. Rest assured I will continue to fight for what I believe in, and revel in the fact that any coalition of like-minded counties now have the opportunity to enact needed changes.

Arrogance and disrespect

Subtitled: one man’s tale of how Democrats run things in Annapolis.

I had heard some rumblings about funny business when it came to HB28, a bill to require proof of legal presence before receiving public benefits. There was a hearing last week but apparently only opponents of the bill were allowed to speak.

To give a little background, this is the fourth year in a row similar legislation has been introduced, and every time it has died in Delegate Norm Conway’s Appropriations Committee. Last year Conway voted against it, and presumably he’s done so in previous years as well (committee votes only went online in 2010.)

This account of the hearing comes from Howard County resident Tom Young, and although I’ve shortened it a little bit for brevity the conduct of Conway seems pretty shameful. Good thing I didn’t vote for him.

As an involved citizen in my community, I have attended and testified at Maryland House and Senate public hearings in Annapolis for almost ten years now.  On February 1, 2011, I drove in from Howard County to testify in favor of a bill submitted by Delegate Tony O’Donnell (R-Calvert/St. Mary’s) HB 28 – “Public Benefits – Requirement of Proof of Lawful Presence” – assigned to the Appropriations Committee.

It’s an important piece of legislation which would deny most non-emergency, taxpayer funded social services to those without lawful presence in our state.  In a time of economic hardship for many citizens and massive budget deficits at the state and county level, HB 28 holds the promise of eliminating waste, fraud and abuse from overburdened public benefit programs.

Upon my arrival in Annapolis, I signed in to speak in support of HB 28 (and HB 34) as is proper procedure, along with others, and sat down in the hearing room to wait for my name to be called.  The hearing, chaired by Delegate Norman Conway (D-Wicomico/Worcester) started off like any other.  Delegate O’Donnell presented his bill to the committee, but instead of those in favor of HB 28 being called up to testify first, Delegate Conway changed standard protocol and immediately called up those opposed to HB 28 to appear at the witness table.  Clearly Delegate Conway had a personnel (sic) agenda to fulfill by slighting Delegate O’Donnell and those in the room supporting HB 28. 

For the next hour plus, I had to listen to the anti-citizen, pro-illegal alien nonsense espoused by groups such as CASA of Maryland, the ACLU and multiple Catholic and other ethnic/religious based groupsas to why it was “our moral duty” to provide taxpayer funded social services to illegal aliens, residents who clearly have no moral or legalright to be in Maryland. 


When these groups where finished, Delegate Conway abruptly ended the hearing and quickly disappeared into the back of the hearing room.  At no time were those in the audience asked if there were any in attendance who wanted to testify in favor of HB 28.   I rose and voiced my protest of this violation of my rights to testify at this public hearing but no one listened, including my own Delegate Guy Guzzone (D-Howard County) who told me it was a “mistake”. 

I took time off from my struggling business to testify in favor of HB 28.  I properly signed in as did others to support HB 28.  Delegate Conway, a disciple of Governor O’Malley, obviously thinks that sincethe Democrats “won big” in the recent elections that opposing views by citizens on issues are no longer needed. 


Delegate Conway’s office is now issuing statements that no one signed up to speak in favor of HB 28; that was quickly modified that citizens signed up for the wrong bill.  Tomorrow I sure it will be a different story.  Again this is not my first hearing.   I know the drill, and I signed in to provide oral testimony against HB 28 along with others. The bottom line is that my right to address the government and to free speech was blatantly violated by Conway and his Democratic committee cronies.


On February 1, 2011, my Constitutional protections were violated in Annapolis. Where do I go now to have my voice heard on Maryland-wide issues?  Do Maryland’s elected officials, like Delegate Conway, now believe they can tell me when, where and what I can say?  I will return to Annapolis to give testimony throughout the current session, especially against proposed In-State Tuition for illegal aliens. I now know the levels the dominate (sic) party in office will go to in forcing their lawless agenda on our citizens.  I will not run nor hide.  I will dedicate myself to exposing their actions for all Marylanders to see.

One criticism I’ve leveled at Conway over the years was how he would talk like a conservative in the district but return to Annapolis and vote like a far-left liberal. Now it appears he’s learned the rest of the routine from special interests in the state capital.

And to think that last fall we could have installed a far better representative in Marty Pusey – sure, she wouldn’t lead the Appropriations Committee but she would have inched the GOP closer to the magic number of 47 needed to work around the committee process. I bet there’s a few Democrats not on the Appropriations Committee who would crap a brick if they actually had to return to their districts and explain why they voted against such a bill on the floor.

I’ll grant that I have never personally gone to Annapolis to testify for or against a bill although I have submitted written testimony on a previous occasion. However, it seems to me as a common man that theirs is already an intimidating process and those in the General Assembly’s majority would prefer to keep it that way. If you figure that Mr. Young, who only lives a relatively short distance from Annapolis, still had to spend the better part of an afternoon in vain, imagine what it’s like for someone on the Lower Shore or out in Garrett County. Most people who prefer limited government also have to work for a living and can’t take several days off work to address every pet issue; thus it falls into the hands of special interests local to the Annapolis area for the most part. (There are a few conservative groups who surely do a yeoman’s job at this too, but they are far outnumbered.)

Now if Delegate Conway has his side of the story I’ll gladly hear it, but based on his past record on this bill I doubt this bias was purely accidental and unintentional. He knows where his bread is buttered just as well as we do.

The only thing which would accrue to Norm’s credit, as opposed to the sales tax reduction I wrote on earlier, is that at least HB28 should get a committee vote and not be locked away in his desk drawer. Most likely it will split almost on party lines with Appropriations Committee Republicans voting in the state’s interest while those Democrats oppose.

It’s a long way to 2014, but surely there will be many more examples of arrogance and deceit to follow.