Last night I spent the better part of a lengthy post discussing the Friday night fall harvest party and impending candidacy of Larry Hogan, expressing the sentiment that, while the party was nice, I’m sure a lot of people were expecting a more formal announcement.
But when looking into the mechanics of such a campaign I suppose I can see why this situation had to happen.
I know enough about campaign finance law to realize that Larry has to have an active account with the state Board of Elections before he can do any financial activity related to a gubernatorial campaign. His former account set up for the 2010 election was closed, so on Thursday when I checked he had no new account set up yet. The BoE is generally a few days behind so the possibility of a Friday setup was there.
But there will have to be a transition by Change Maryland as well. Because it’s a 527 organization, Change Maryland can’t advocate for Larry Hogan as a candidate without forming a PAC. According to the Summary Guide of Maryland campaign laws:
Other political committees not registered with either a state or with the FEC, i.e. 527 organizations or political clubs, may make contributions to a Maryland political committee. Additionally, they are not required to file any campaign finance reports or statements with the State Board.
However, if the political organization engages in campaign finance activity or express advocacy regarding a candidate for a State election, then the organization may be required to form as Maryland PAC.
Obviously Change Maryland can continue to function without Hogan, but as the public face of the organization going without Larry would make things a little more difficult. By pushing the announcement to January, the transition can be formalized, although I’m sure those plans were already in place some time ago.
And having Change Maryland as the vehicle for Hogan’s brand awareness presents some great advantages. As Larry pointed out in 2011 in Change Maryland’s early days, “it certainly wouldn’t hurt if I run.” As it stands, Larry can use Change Maryland in the same sort of fashion that Charles Lollar used his draft campaign – looking gubernatorial in one respect, but allowing himself to be coy when needed. As I said a month ago regarding Hogan’s Eastern Shore appearances:
Most people who are in the real estate business aren’t going to make a farm tour of the Eastern Shore. But if you’re seeking the Republican nomination for governor, it’s certain you will be talking to your base and that number includes a heaping helping of Eastern Shore hospitality.
Larry can make these trips – presumably on his own dime, although it’s possible Change Maryland paid for it (how would we know?) – but can also tell the Gazette he’s looking for the “perfect scenario” to enter the gubernatorial race or be critical of the budget in the Easton Star-Democrat without disclosing what he may do if elected. That’s the beauty of “being” Change Maryland.
The second advantage to waiting until January is that it will be possible to know just how well his three opponents, who have already filed and would have to turn in campaign finance reports to the state BoE by the middle of that month, are doing financially. In his 2010 run, Hogan was willing to drop $325,000 into his personal kitty so he could have that to fall back on as seed money.
Of course, there are a couple drawbacks to this strategy. One is that money and volunteers have a couple more months to accrue to other campaigns. But the other is the nagging perception of entitlement and unflattering comparison to Bob Ehrlich’s late entry to his doomed 2010 campaign, where he dithered for months on whether he would run, flirted with the notion of running for U.S. Senate, and finally announced just seven months before the election with just one barely-known opponent because Hogan had ceded the race a few months earlier.
Moreover, Hogan is the one candidate in the race with a direct connection to Ehrlich as his former Secretary of Appointments.
I suppose what makes this troubling for me is that we have less of a chance to vet Larry Hogan before the election next June. Certainly we can gather that he’ll be a fiscal hawk, but what about other issues like the Second Amendment, transferring power to local jurisdictions by reining in Annapolis bureaucrats, or dealing with federal mandates on education or Obamacare? Change Maryland has been a valuable resource in the fight against the O’Malley/Brown administration on the tax front, but when running for governor you need more than an one-note samba.
Well, folks, I have to admit my wheel wasn’t the one which squeaked last on the matter since the crap I described last Wednesday continues apace. So hopefully someone with a little law enforcement experience can get this din to a dull roar:
As Republican candidates in a deep-blue state, we have a responsibility to provide you with a quality message and a quality campaign.
The likely nominees for office on the Democratic side will be flush with campaign cash, aided by an accommodating media and, in the case of Democratic candidate for Governor Anthony Brown, operatives from the Obama campaign. These campaigns are not playing games and this is not a joke, they are running to install a permanent tax and spend super-majority which will bankrupt our beautiful state and drive thousands more to flee across our borders.
I write this out of a deep and genuine concern for our state’s future. Some of the parochial spats developing amongst a limited number of campaign staffs are causing unnecessary and damaging rifts within our Party while we struggle for relevancy and the support of the people of Maryland.
It’s time for us to put the games and the nonsense aside and focus on the real fight. As the head of my campaign team I promise you a relentless effort and a quality team and if either I or my team fail to produce, email me immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org. I respectfully request that the remaining candidates on our Party team do the same and start to prune their campaign trees of people who alienate rather than unite.
That’s what Dan wrote on his Facebook page earlier this Tuesday evening, and I (almost) couldn’t agree more. (I think we will get the Obama operatives regardless of who wins that Democratic primary because we have one of the state-run exchange states.)
But we’ve had “unnecessary and damaging rifts” for a long time, well before this campaign began. I’m going to go beyond the whole Lollar aspect for the moment because plenty enough has been said about that over the last week; in fact, the controversy over that has enabled the argument over open primaries to be swept way under the rug. People may need to be reminded we have a convention next week.
In essence, it seems to me the party lost its unity when Bob Ehrlich lost. That so happens to be the time I was elected to my Central Committee – I swear, though, this is not cause and effect – and these are just some of the political slugfests we have endured since:
- The argument over convention voting, which got so bad for a time some small counties boycotted the whole thing
- The vote of no confidence on party Chair Jim Pelura
- The return of Bob Ehrlich, which begat the Rule 11 controversy because Brian Murphy was also in the race (as was a challenger for Andy Harris, who also benefitted)
- Audrey Scott and “party over everything” – her tenure neatly coincided with the rise of the TEA Party and pro-liberty movement
- Speaking of Scott, her battle with Nicolee Ambrose for National Committeewoman
- The ongoing question about whether Delegate Don Dwyer should resign, which one of the current gubernatorial candidates used to score political points
- The referendum battles, including the times we chose not to use it
- Alex Mooney’s resignation and the bitter subsequent election for party Chair
- And now the open primary question
It’s been a constant routine of renegades, rule changes, and rancor for the last eight years – all we’ve been missing is the string of victories we need to make ourselves relevant in Maryland. The math is simple: one governor + one comptroller + 19 Senators + 57 Delegates = relevance. Anything less and we may as well not be there at all. Get that or more and maybe this state can be saved.
Now I will cheerfully admit I’ve had a hand in a couple of these issues I alluded to above; surely I’m not on Audrey Scott’s Christmas card list. But my goal is to help drag the Maryland Republican Party (insofar as it relates to the idea of enhanced liberty and freedom) over the finish line and make this more of a truly “free state.” (I’d like to do the same for all the other states as well.)
So this is why it bugs me that we have this whole power struggle between campaigns, between individuals – and even between websites. I like a good argument as much as anyone, but after awhile it gets pretty pointless. (Although I should take this moment to thank those who have supported me and my efforts – never hurts to acknowledge them! I have a support base I’d stack up to anyone’s.)
Certainly the average person, who may only now be starting to pay attention peripherally to the race (we’re months away from it being foremost in mind to probably 90% or more of Marylanders; this won’t occur until after the primary) would be unaware of what has transpired so far but right now we’re doing a damn fine job of both providing the opposition research Democrats can use in the general election and probably cheap entertainment for them as well. Doug Gansler has to be thanking his lucky stars that word of these shenanigans on our side is starting to get out because people will forget his transgressions long enough for him to rehabilitate his image.
I can surely guarantee, though, that Dan Bongino’s got enough of a struggle on his hands without having to worry about being tarred with these same broad brushstrokes. His is advice which should be heeded.
Apparently it is all about turning out the base.
In their victory lap and appeal to flip the House, national Democrats cited the recent decision in Virginia to embrace cronyism in the persona of Terry McAuliffe as well as a number of big-city mayors such as Bill de Blasio in New York as evidence they have momentum. It’s the usual spin, considering they were whacked in New Jersey – a state with a Democratic voter registration advantage.
Yet look at the electorate which showed up in Virginia:
So McAuliffe, who won by less than two points, was elected by a D+9 turnout. Yet because Virginia is an open primary state and doesn’t make voters select a political party upon registration, this simply means self-declared Democrats were the largest of the three groups, with independents next and Republicans last. Those who declared themselves independent actually voted more for Ken Cuccinelli than for Terry McAuliffe, so where the GOP may have failed was getting their likely voters to the ballot. Many may be kicking themselves now because they believed the polls when they showed McAuliffe up by 10 points and didn’t turn out.
But the Democrats apparently believe that, because the 2013 model of turnout in Virginia turned out like the 2012 model, that the success will continue through 2014. They cling to this hope, as well as the polling data I wrote about a few weeks back where a generic Democrat leads in several Congressional races, in believing 2014 will be more of the same and they will get back the House to match the Senate.
The problem which their line of rainbow unicorn thinking is once you actually select a candidate the voters may not like his or her record or promises, particularly if they run on Obamacare. That, my friends, promises to be an albatross around the collective necks of the Democratic Party. Everyone who counters the lie we were told that “you can keep your insurance policy” is another potential Republican vote if done correctly in 2014 and 2016. Do you seriously think Hillary Clinton will change a thing about Obamacare when she had this bright idea two decades ago? She won’t. Yes, I realize the Democrats will try their best to change the subject and/or demonize Big Insurance, but they have a mess on their hands right now which goes far beyond a balky website.
Yet there is a lesson for us as well. I’ll grant this is a little bit of apples-to-oranges comparison because Virginia’s voters are self-declared, but if you had even a 35-34 Democratic turnout they would have never sent the e-mail because Ken Cuccinelli would be the incoming governor.
In one of our Republican Club meetings it was noted that Bob Ehrlich was elected with 68% Republican turnout. That simply won’t do. Martin O’Malley was re-elected with 1,044,961 votes in 2010, and even with 100% turnout and perfect GOP loyalty we are still almost 100,000 votes shy of that mark based on our current registration numbers. If we are going to win, we need to get that 20% of the Democrats who remain registered that way because their daddy was a Democrat to vote for us, and draw in independents, too.
Surely the opposition will paint us as extremists and try to play on voters’ emotions as they did in the Virginia race. But what’s so extreme about keeping more of your own money, presenting additional choices for the education of your children, and bringing the focus of government back to a local level? You tell me.
I refuse to believe the voters of Maryland will continue to vote against their own self-interest and will work accordingly to correct that. Education is a process which spans elections, but keep in mind we don’t have to convince everyone – if just one out of roughly former O’Malley voters switches to our side, we win. Given O’Malley’s tepid approval ratings it’s not such a daunting task, is it?
Time to get to work.
By the way, as an aside: it’s worth pointing out (as I was looking up the 2010 totals) that O’Malley won huge in two areas: early voting, where he received 62.9% of the vote, and absentee ballots, where he got 63.3%. But together they were only 18.1% of the total. Election Day is still important, but it won’t hurt to try and bank a lot of votes beforehand.
Sometimes the best of candidates are derailed by bad management, bad preparation, or just plain bad luck. I’m not sure how much any of those three apply to a campaign which initially held promise, but it’s sad to see Charles Lollar get such bad press. Some, like blogger Jeff Quinton, are comparing Lollar to Doug Gansler – to me that’s way out of bounds. On the other hand, this push against Lollar has been greeted by a somewhat shrill retort by Julie Brewington, who is my local Lollar campaign coordinator. That light you see on the horizon is all those bridges she’s torching.
Still, both have some valid points. I’m going to focus on three which are holding him back.
At this stage in the game, the most valuable introduction to a campaign is their website, which is supposed to serve as a one-stop shop for getting to know the candidate, soliciting donations and volunteers, and keeping abreast of their comings and goings. Certainly there’s a place for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media as well, but I prefer to have all of this information in a single point source and I’m sure others do too.
So I have to question why the Lollar team has had three separate URLs, including a .co which made little sense as a political website. While the other campaigns have registered a fairly simple, straightforward .com address, these guys can’t settle on a site.
On the other hand, I disagree with Quinton in that the new Lollar site (assuming its layout and design remains as he’s pictured) looks to me very clean and easy-to-use. It would be a contrast to the photo-heavy splash pages of all three Democrats; more businesslike. The other two GOP contenders have intro pages which seem just a bit too busy to me, but it’s all a personal preference. I’m sure my layout isn’t for everyone either.
While I admire Julie’s tenacity in sticking up for her chosen candidate, the question she doesn’t answer is why Charles has missed a number of key events, including the opportunity for free media on Pat McDonough’s radio show last week (for which he ran a few minutes late.) Far be it for me – of all people – to be a subscriber to conventional wisdom, but there are times to play the outsider and times where it doesn’t pay to. I’ll grant that perhaps Charles was out meeting voters and working on retail campaigning rather than hang around with people who would almost certainly at least vote for him if he garnered the nomination (in the same grudging respect that many Brian Murphy supporters like myself bit the bullet and backed Bob Ehrlich in the general election) but there are places where your face needs to show once in awhile to be considered serious. Out of the three contenders, Charles is the only one who’s not won a general election. (The same can be said, though, for Larry Hogan if he gets into the GOP race.)
Whether Karen Winterling has to go, or whether former jailbird Jason Boisvert is a help or hindrance to the Lollar effort – that’s really only relevant to some political junkies and others looking for blog fodder. (I think Jason’s a halfway decent writer, though, at least insofar as education is concerned.) Most of that does weigh into my decision on the race as intangibles, but to me what really matters are issues.
So at this particular moment in time the piece which irks me most is the website being down because I’m working on dossiers of the GOP candidates for use in future posts about the race. An issues page is quite useful in that regard – heck, if the Lollar campaign is reading this (I’ll bet they are) can you shoot me an .html of the issues page of the website? Or just get it up and running?
I think Charles is learning that being a statewide candidate is an entirely different animal than working around a Congressional district. Let’s hope the road from here on out becomes a lot less bumpy.
The news hasn’t been kind to Democratic gubernatorial challenger Doug Gansler. Thought to be a frontrunner early on because of his massive financial war chest, buoyed in part from being unopposed in the 2010 election, he’s found his financial advantage diminished by the union of current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, who were the next two on the fiscal totem pole. The selection of Delegate Jolene Ivey as Gansler’s running mate won’t help much in that regard as she had only $32,754.59 in her coffers as of the last reporting period in January.
But a pair of scandals have done their part to cripple the Gansler effort. In the short span of a couple weeks we’ve learned that Doug Gansler fancies himself above the law insofar as driving regulations go and isn’t exactly practicing the anti-teenage drinking message he preaches, as evidenced by his involvement in a Delaware house party over the summer.
Now one can argue whether word of these imbroglios were planted by the rival campaign of Anthony Brown, which has the advantage of knowing where the bodies are buried thanks to the current officeholder and Brown supporter, Martin O’Malley. One can also question whether this will end up being a fatal blow to the Gansler campaign, and if so, when. Considering the polls have Gansler 20 points behind at this stage, the odds are against Doug being the nominee.
My purpose this evening, though, is to provide my thoughts on answers to these and other questions.
First of all, if there is weakness from Gansler being sensed by those in Democratic circles, I would interpret this as a signal that could bring Second District Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger into the race; indeed, he’s now talking about an announcement around Thanksgiving. Much has been made about the absence of a Baltimore-area politician from the race for the first time in decades, and the argument for his entry is bolstered by Gansler’s foibles.
My theory about a four-person race being too much for a Republican primary is also true for Democrats, but the current dynamic there for 2014 is much different because one candidate (Heather Mizeur) is polling far weaker than any of the would-be GOP contenders in their race, at least according to the unscientific polls which are publicly available for the Republican contest. I suspect Mizeur would soldier on just to make a statement, but should Dutch jump in he would likely become the strong #2 in the gubernatorial race with a Baltimore base which recalls his executive experience and push Gansler to third.
There’s another side to the story, though. Given the situation in Maryland – or any other state controlled by one party for a significant length of time – the road to the top is generally set in a manner of “wait your turn.” Yet in Maryland the lieutenant governor has never succeeded his boss (although our first modern LG, Blair Lee III, served as acting governor in the late 1970s when then-Governor Marvin Mandel was incapacitated by a stroke.) Lee, though, lost in the 1978 Democratic primary, as did Melvin Steinberg in 1994. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend made it one step further, winning the 2002 Democratic primary but losing in the general election to Bob Ehrlich. So Brown is running against history despite the fact the skids are seemingly being greased for his ascendancy.
Thus, when statewide positions open up in such a situation, there are normally a number of ambitious politicians who jump at the chance for the brass ring. Once the Martin O’Malley/Anthony Brown ticket won the 2010 election, with Gansler and Peter Franchot securing re-election as Attorney General and Comptroller, respectively, the state was set for a contentious 2014 as all were thought to be possibly running for the open seat as governor. Franchot diffused some of that energy by opting to remain as Comptroller, but one other statewide prize still remained.
At this point there are four main Democratic contenders for Attorney General, all of whom currently serve in the General Assembly from what would nominally be considered safe seats. So what would happen if Doug Gansler decided to drop his bid for governor and revert to the job he already holds? Chances are that he wouldn’t do this, but if Doug did there would be a lot of angry Democrats cascading back down the line to General Assembly seats they would rather vacate for a higher office. Gansler would probably find himself in a contested AG primary with his opponents using the same information gathered against him in the governor’s race.
The second reason this wouldn’t happen, though, is the chance that Gansler survives the AG primary but faces an actual Republican opponent this time around. There’s no way the Maryland Democratic Party wants those damaged goods on a statewide ballot because that photo of Doug Gansler standing in the middle of teenage revelers would be seen 2 or 3 times an hour. Someone would make sure of that.
The key to holding a one-party state is having the opportunity to move up the food chain, and those who would succeed would-be statewide officers are counting on those veterans taking their shot. Losing control of one or more statewide offices would certainly cramp the Democrats’ style, since they’re accustomed to being treated like political royalty. And while multi-candidate primaries are okay for seats which open up due to term limits, Democrats seem to prefer to unify behind one candidate when the rare necessity of taking a statewide Republican seat opens up – for instance, Martin O’Malley was the only main Democratic gubernatorial contender in 2006. The state party did all sorts of gymnastics to try and avoid a divisive primary there, including an unsuccessful bid to move that year’s primary up to June; fortunately for them then-Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan abruptly exited the race days before the filing deadline and ceded the nomination to O’Malley.
If you add up all the General Assembly members, county executives, and other muckety-mucks in the Democratic party – who feel, of course, that they are entitled to statewide positions in perpetuity – there are a whole lot of ambitious politicians and only six such posts available (governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general, and 2 Senators). So the thought of Doug Gansler being damaged goods may well terrify Maryland Democrats enough to convince him that a nice four- to eight-year sabbatical to rehabilitate his image may be in order.
If you were handicapping the chances of Larry Hogan jumping into the race for governor, the odds may have shortened a little more based on the roadtrip he’s making this week. Change Maryland provides the details:
The O’Malley-Brown administration has submitted, for legislative approval, regulations that will have a sweeping effect on how Maryland’s already struggling farmers can manage their land. The proposed Phosphorus Management Tool is an intrusive regulation that will significantly impact how and when farmers can apply poultry manure fertilizer to their fields. Farmers have used poultry manure as fertilizer for years.
“It appears the O’Malley-Brown administration is not content with just restricting farmers’ property rights, but also insists on mandating how they use their property,” stated Larry Hogan, successful businessman and Change Maryland Founder.
Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance told a meeting of farmers last week that his department has no idea what the economic impact of the new regulations would be for farmers until it is up and running. “It’s Obamacare for farmers,” Hogan said, “we have to pass it in order to see what’s in it.”
According to a University of Maryland survey conducted by the designers of the Phosphorus Management Tool, 61 percent of the farms surveyed would be impacted by the new regulation. Virgil Shockley, a Democratic member of the Worcester County Board of Commissioners and a farmer himself, estimated the new regulations would cost the Lower Shore $120 million.
The Phosphorus Management Tool is part of the O’Malley-Brown Watershed Implementation Plan, which also foisted the onerous ‘rain tax’ on Maryland home and business owners.
“We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay, not only for us but for our children and grandchildren,” said Hogan. “However, instead of focusing on workable solutions for all Marylanders, Governor O’Malley has chosen to pad his presidential resume by pandering to environmental special interest groups, and has placed burdensome regulations on our hard working farmers.”
Today and tomorrow, Hogan will be touring the Eastern Shore speaking to local farmers and local community leaders. The Eastern Shore is where the majority of Maryland’s farmland is located and where the proposed regulations will have the most devastating financial impact.
Most people who are in the real estate business aren’t going to make a farm tour of the Eastern Shore. But if you’re seeking the Republican nomination for governor, it’s certain you will be talking to your base and that number includes a heaping helping of Eastern Shore hospitality.
I would have to speculate that, for Hogan, this listening tour will give him ideas for the agricultural and environmental planks of his platform. For those who deride Larry as a clone of Bob Ehrlich, though, the tour may serve as a reminder that it was Bob who originally enacted the “flush tax” that Martin O’Malley has doubled.
But since Larry didn’t schedule a meeting with me – which is fine because I’ll be out working – a few other suggestions I have on the land use front may be helpful, and they go hand-in-hand with each other.
First of all, I think we should begin to wind down (or at least level-fund) Program Open Space, with the intent of having private entities such as land trusts purchase the property and, if they wish, donate it to the state. I’m not a fan of taking land off the tax rolls unnecessarily, for I have the belief the government controls too much land as it is.
Because of that belief, I think an idea Bob Ehrlich had should be expanded, and the Baltimore Sun and environmentalists can go pound sand. Now I wouldn’t do this until land values began to rebound, and certainly the sale can be a slow process of a few hundred acres at a time scattered around the state. I wouldn’t put an entire state park on the market, but non-contiguous areas around the margins would be good places to begin.
Finally, the idea of transferable development rights should be re-examined, with the intent being changing the terms from permanent to generational, or about 20 to 25 years. This way succeeding generations of a family can decide whether they would prefer development rights revert back to them or whether to accept further compensation from the governmental entity providing them.
Over the last few decades, the balance on property rights has shifted far too much to the government’s side. Egged on by environmentalists who dream of wildlife corridors without human interaction, the state is not only a huge property owner but sticks its nose into matters more properly conducted at the county level as well. It’s time to reverse that trend, and one key question in the upcoming campaign is who will have the stones to do it.
And now for something completely different:
I didn’t want to write a lot about this – at least not a full post, because I’m no expert on it – but I felt my friend, author Bob McCarty, hit a home run with his thoughts about the plausibility of explanations surrounding last year’s Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan; a crash which snuffed out the lives of thirty American servicemen, including many who served with Seal Team 6 and engaged Osama bin Laden in his last stand. It’s worth considering.
Maybe Hogan or McCarty should consider a GO Friday feature on their respective areas of expertise. I can always use a break.
It’s not often I agree with the Baltimore Sun, and for good reason: their editorial stance is almost completely at odds with the best interests of the state.
So when I found out about a blog post by former Gazette political columnist Barry Rascovar chastising David Craig as being an “environment-killer” – based primarily on the information related by the Sun article by Michael Dresser – I had two reactions.
First, one has to note that Rascovar has 42 years in the political game; in other words, he had covered Annapolis since 1971. With the exception of Bob Ehrlich, one-term Republican U.S. Senator John Glenn Beall and liberal Republican U.S. Senator Charles “Mac” Mathias, Maryland has been primarily a one-party state the entire time he’s covered politics. Naturally he seems to operate under the assumption it always will be; on the other hand my aim is to break that vicious cycle of governing against our own best interests by pointing out the hypocrisy and lunacy of the liberal stranglehold on the state. So I have to question the grizzled veteran on this one, particularly since he’s an ardent supporter of the “rain tax.”
This leads to my second reaction: why do they care what Craig does anyway? We know they’ll support the Democrat in the race. Here’s what Dresser accused Craig of:
Among other things, Craig wants to scale back Maryland’s role in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, give the state’s business department a greater voice in environmental and health regulations, and impose limits on how long low-income people can collect food stamps and other benefits — even if it means refusing federal money.
May I ask what’s wrong with that?
For one thing, our cleanup plans do not seem to account for the potential impact of cleaning up the sediment behind the Conowingo Dam, which leaches out pollutants after bouts of severe weather. And guess who’s primarily responsible for placing it there? (Hint: it’s not Maryland, and certainly not the ten counties collecting the “rain tax.”) I have said for several years that the best thing we can do going forward is take a breather from further regulations so we can see if what’s in place now is really working. Let the states upriver suffer for their part in this and quit blaming development and chicken farmers.
And let’s be bluntly honest here: do the MDE and Chesapeake Bay Foundation really want the Bay clean? If it ever became so, neither group would have a real reason for existence anymore, and as we all know power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. They know they have the whip hand over business and development in this state just as long as they keep giving out Cs and Ds on Bay cleanliness.
This goes hand-in-hand with the second point about “giv(ing) the business department a greater voice in environmental and health regulations.” Maybe the better way of putting it is to actually listen to what they have to say, since Martin O’Malley ignores their pleas. In this day and age, it’s doubtful any business wants to get caught making the same kind of mess government makes when their sewage treatment plants fail.
Moreover, Rascovar berates Craig for wanting to eliminate the state’s Critical Areas Law. So here’s my question: if a person can have a septic system as close as 100 feet from a well and have it be deemed safe to drink, what gives the state the right to regulate development 1,000 feet from tidal waters? The state should indeed junk the Critical Areas law, leaving it up to individual counties to replace it if desired. Seems like a good compromise to me as it brings power closer to the people. It also allows an uber-liberal county like Montgomery County to crank that Critical Areas restriction up to a mile; hell, just put the whole county under it. They don’t need jobs or development, but we here on the Shore could use some.
Barry also panics at the thought of the state refusing federal money, recoiling in horror at the prospect of placing a time limit on how long people can live on the dole. But wasn’t that already federal law? I realize that people can have a sweet deal living off the taxpayers, with Maryland being one of the more lucrative destinations, but shouldn’t they do something productive instead?
Besides, Barry may not be considering the long strings attached when we cash that check from Uncle Sam. I’d rather see how independent we can be, thanks.
In the end, though, the trick is how we sell these common-sense ideas to a population which, among other things, considers Rascover a learned expert. Certainly he’s covered Annapolis for about 35 more years than I have, with mine being a much more indirect basis to boot, but since when does that tenure grant expertise on the issues? He sounds like a liberal who can fit right in with those already ruining the state. Sadly, in the words of one observer:
I guess to a liberal columnist acting like a jerk to state troopers and being conservative are in the same category.
This is in reference to the foibles of Doug Gansler in the Rascovar piece, reminding us that Doug is a typical Maryland liberal who seems to believe laws and regulations are only for the unwashed masses. Ones he doesn’t agree with can be ignored. To be fair, much of the article is about Gansler’s issues, but only in the respect in which it may damage his campaign. No one really cares, since Brown is just another pea in the same pod.
I suppose the problem comes down to this line:
None of what Craig proposes is realistic. A heavily Democratic legislature wouldn’t tolerate the notions he is advancing. He’s seriously harmed his electability.
Well, there’s an easy solution: get rid of the deadwood Democrats who are impeding true progress in this state. Imagine how much better this state would be if it followed conservative principles with a Republican-led legislature.
There was a saying popular in the era in which I grew up, about a decade and a half into Rascovar’s career: question authority. I think it was probably about that time that he grew comfortable with his status in the state and decided the status quo was all right with him. Well, it’s not all right with me nor should it be with thinking Marylanders.
We definitely need a change. If David Craig wants to run to the right, it’s not “pandering to the TEA Party,” it’s exhibiting the common sense sorely lacking in this state.
Tuesday is a big day for a Maryland-based PAC as they attempt to broaden their reach and influence.
That evening the Conservative Victory PAC is sponsoring a fundraiser for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, with plenty of influence from Maryland: Dan Bongino will give ”special remarks” and the host committee features both former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich and lieutenant governor Michael Steele. As they note, “proceeds will be provided to the Cuccinelli Campaign Team,” and there should be plenty of proceeds seeing that the admission prices start at a steep $135. This ain’t no little spaghetti dinner fundraiser.
My erstwhile Red Maryland colleagues Brian Griffiths and Greg Kline have been critical of the CVPAC on their website and radio show this week, contending the group should be paying attention to local races in Annapolis and Frederick. But unlike last year, Diana Waterman stated to me in a recent conference call that there were no plans for the state party to help in Virginia as they did for Mitt Romney. So in that respect the CVPAC is taking up that slack.
Yet there’s a factor which makes the CVPAC decision less surprising for me. With the exception of Jim Rutledge, the CVPAC Board of Directors lives in the Washington metropolitan area, so they likely follow Virginia politics almost as closely as Maryland’s because their local media deals with both. And while I disagree that the host committee is necessarily the shining example of conservatism, certainly Ken Cuccinelli would be considered a conservative rising star and perhaps future Presidential material in 2020 (after his one term in Virginia would be completed) if he succeeds in winning this year.
And it’s not like this should be a surprise, coming from the CVPAC. If you recall their trailer for 2014, the video narrator intoned that “alliances will be formed” between Maryland and Virginia. Moreover, their stated goal for Maryland is 19 State Senate seats and if they can get some reciprocal help from the commonwealth to our south – yes, that’s a big ‘if’ but they’re trying to form the alliance – we may be able to tip those scales. (Meanwhile, a member of their Board of Directors is running for governor here, so one might think CVPAC may be looking for assistance there, too.)
Are the races in Annapolis and Frederick a big deal? To an extent, yes – perhaps they can succeed and show us a path for success in Salisbury come 2015. (By population, Salisbury is quite comparable to Annapolis and is Maryland’s ninth-largest city; it’s also the largest on the Eastern Shore.) But every political operation has its priorities and it sounds like CVPAC is trying to leverage conservative success in Virginia into victories next year in Maryland.
But you have to have the Virginia success first for that plan to work.
Not that I was all that confident he would be the best Republican candidate to set forth, but in yesterday’s Washington Post Michael Steele said he would “take a pass” at Maryland’s race for governor. That sound you hear is the sigh of relief from those candidates who have already invested their time and effort into building support for their runs – now they won’t have to worry about Michael Steele sucking all of the oxygen out of the Maryland race.
And though I’m sure many will fret that he was the one candidate with the best chance at victory, I only have to look back at 2006 to see what happened when the Maryland Republican Party essentially handed him a statewide race nomination on a silver platter – he lost an open-seat Senate race by 10 points. Of course, I’ve heard all the arguments – bad year for Republicans nationwide, reaction to an unpopular president – but Steele lagged behind Bob Ehrlich by almost 40,000 votes overall; more importantly, he got just 24% in Prince George’s County and 23.2% in Baltimore City. Surely the GOP hopes were that Steele would poll much better in those heavily minority areas, but instead he was just 3.5% better in PG and o.6% improved in Baltimore City over Bob Ehrlich. But Steele lost Baltimore County, where Ehrlich carried the day.
Perhaps the reason Steele took a pass on the race, though, was that he would have to work for it. If done right, a contested primary is good for a candidate because it places them on a campaign footing much more quickly. While there were a number of other candidates in the 2006 Republican Senate primary, they were of the perennial candidate sort and no one else eclipsed 3% of the vote; on the other hand, Ben Cardin won a spirited Democratic primary with only 43.7% of the vote. That sharpening of campaign skills certainly gave Cardin some advantages later on.
But the biggest vibe I seem to be getting is why this was such a big deal in the first place. Sure, old-timers in the Maryland GOP look back at Steele’s tenure as Chair fondly, but he really never ran for anything until that Senate race. (One could equate that with the same sort of criticism certain people who make their first run for office a statewide one have received.) While I’m sure Anthony Brown would like to change this, insofar as running for subsequent electoral office goes the Maryland LG post has been comparable to the national vice-presidency – not worth “a bucket of warm (spit).”
So once we know the intentions of one Lawrence Hogan it appears the Republican field for governor will be pretty much set. Now it’s time to fill out the lower part of the dance card – I have it on the best of authority that one person thought of as a prospective aspirant for Attorney General will not be seeking the job, so it will be up to the MDGOP to dig deeper for a candidate to try for that open seat.
I suppose Michael Steele is available.
I’m going to give Jackie Wellfonder and her Raging Against the Rhetoric radio show full credit for planting this seed in my mind.
(Spoiler alert: if you want to hear the podcast and be surprised, skip the next sentence.)
Since Jackie essentially threw in her endorsement of Larry Hogan, bemoaning the fact that there’s a missing element among the current contenders which could be added with his entry into the race, I decided to take you back.
Back to early 2010, that is. You may recall that, in the summer of 2009, everyone in the Maryland Republican Party was breathlessly awaiting the decision by Bob Ehrlich whether to try for a rematch of the 2006 election he lost to Martin O’Malley. Yes, there was a candidate in the race by the name of Mike Pappas – a likeable guy to be sure, but not exactly a household name in Maryland.
But since we weren’t sure whether Bob Ehrlich would give up his comfortable semi-retirement from the public arena, someone with a little name recognition had to step in and that someone was Larry Hogan. In the summer of 2009 he began his campaign on a somewhat low-key note, but it picked up steam once Pappas ceded the field to him in November of that year. At that year’s MDGOP Fall Convention Larry was the “it” guy.
So I did a little research, and it turns out Hogan has never relinquished his 2010 campaign website page (http://www.hoganformaryland.com/), his campaign Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hogan-for-Maryland/140191322375), and his YouTube site (http://www.youtube.com/user/HoganforMaryland). (The reason I link this way is to memorialize the specific web addresses for archival purposes, such as on the internet’s Wayback Machine, in case he uses the same URLs for 2014.)
With these, we get a little glimpse at where Larry was coming from, and you could see the seeds of what eventually became Change Maryland in some of the statements and videos he put out at the time. It’s clear that Larry would be focusing on the economic aspects of the race.
So we know that, to Larry, pocketbook issues are where it’s at. But there was an interesting sidebar I brought up several months ago which I originally thought precluded a 2014 race from Hogan. We won’t know for awhile how the financial picture is for several of the candidates until their first report is required in January of 2014, but the chances are pretty good that none of them currently have the $325,000 in the coffers that Hogan lent to himself for the last cycle.
As a comparison of sorts, I looked up Bob Ehrlich’s 2001 report – roughly the same timeframe we’re at in this cycle – and he went from a cash balance of $97,008.71 in November, 2000 to $425,147.20 in November, 2001, a year out. For the 2014 campaign, Blaine Young had about $350,000 in the bank at the beginning of this year while David Craig had just a shade over $200,000 on hand. There probably hasn’t been a great deal of movement on these numbers; moreover, the field is now split in four ways. While Blaine Young dropped out and announced his backing of Charles Lollar, I wouldn’t think all Young’s money will be automatically ceded to Charles, since Blaine may have his own personal political plans locally.
So Hogan has some definite advantages. But, beyond the aspect of economics, I’m certain that some will ask – given Hogan’s close ties to Bob Ehrlich – whether Maryland is being set up for the second term Bob Ehrlich never received.
One complaint about our last GOP governor was that, while he was a Republican, he wasn’t conservative. For example, the state’s budget surged 30.8% from FY2003 to FY2007, which is actually a somewhat higher rate than the 25.9% it’s increased since. (Much of Ehrlich’s increase, however, was in his final FY2007 budget, a whopping 12% higher than the FY2006 model.) And while Martin O’Malley rightly is panned for the “rain tax” Bob Ehrlich was the originator of the “flush tax.”
A second argument among Hogan backers is the bipartisan nature of Change Maryland, which they point to as evidence that Larry can gather support from the state’s political majority. I have no doubt that many Democrats would support Hogan on the economic front, but what of the Democrats who cross over on a number of other conservative issues such as Maryland’s onerous new gun laws, our growing reputation as a sanctuary state for illegal aliens based on items like in-state tuition for the children of these scofflaws, the adoption of gay marriage in Maryland, or the extreme tilt of our state on abortion? There are pockets of Democrats and unaffiliated voters who are looking for the right Republican to back on those issues; one with a conservative message Bob Ehrlich didn’t send out.
These are issues which Larry can weigh in on if and when he decides to jump into the race. But once the field got to four the last time, Blaine Young took an early exit – so the question is who would be most likely to fold if Hogan got in?
My guess is that Larry would take more support from Ron George and David Craig than he would Charles Lollar, so with a smaller support base George could be the one knocked out. This is based on two factors: I don’t think we will have four contenders all the way to the primary, and since Larry Hogan deferred once in seeking the office I don’t think he would do so again. And I think two business owners from Anne Arundel County are too many for the race, so if Hogan is in I think Ron George becomes the one out.
They may surprise me, I don’t know. But, unlike Jackie, I had no problem with the field as it was, and I think if Larry Hogan was going to get in he should have already started. Change Maryland and its social media presence is one thing, but social media is no substitute for running an actual campaign, knocking on real doors, and pressing the flesh.
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.
Expanding on a possible “outsider vs. establishment” theme to get him through a Sixth District primary against at least two challengers (David Vogt and, more recently, 2012 aspirant Brandon Rippeon) Dan Bongino promised “I will always be one of you. I will never be one of them.”
At this time, the front of his campaign website has four promises he’s vowing to keep: in brief, they are donating half his salary to charity, not voting for anything which “exempts the political class”, no free vacations (or as he calls them, foreign junkets), and most importantly to me, a six-year term limit. On that point Dan says:
I will serve no more than 6 years or three terms in the House of Representatives. One cannot speak of term limits within a specific office while insulated within that office from the very people they are elected to serve.
That’s only half of what Andy Harris promised informally when he took office in 2010. But what’s most intriguing to me is that Dan will only be 46 when that time is up, in a year where nothing will be on the ballot except a Presidential election and his seat. I know the 2020 election seems a long way off, but if Dan holds true to his word he would be on the ballot in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
Now that doesn’t mean, of course, that Dan couldn’t serve just two terms in Washington and then decide to run for governor, presumably in this case against a Democratic incumbent. Another option would be what one could call the Martin O’Malley option: spend the two years between the end of the term and the election stumping for higher office. That would mean a 2022 run for governor, when the seat would be open unless a new governor is elected in 2018.
Needless to say there’s a whole lot of speculation in all this, but one has to ask: when Bob Ehrlich won a Congressional seat in 1994, did anyone foresee it as a springboard to the governorship eight years later? Maybe lightning could strike twice in Maryland.