This William Warren cartoon seems to sum it up, doesn’t it? Between Benghazi, the IRS TEA Party targeting, the AP phones being tapped, the FOIA preferences at the EPA, questions on campaign finance in both 2008 and 2012, the Enroll America protection racket – the list can go on and on and on if you revert back to earlier activities like Operation Fast and Furious, Solyndra, or the handling of the Deepwater Horizon accident. And I’m not counting what goes on in Maryland, like the inmates taking over the prisons or having a governor who’s more concerned about presidential prospects than running the state. I suppose if power is the ultimate aphrodisiac then that must be why Democrats are pro-abortion; otherwise they would have a dozen or so children running around, by nearly as many mothers.
Now I’m certain the minuscule number of progressives and leftists who dare to read here would beg to differ and can probably point out all the scandals, conflicts of interest, and foibles of the Bush years, but really, guys, come on – what happened to the most transparent administration ever? I suppose in a perverse sort of way finding out about all these scandals is a type of transparency – too bad we were stonewalled every step of the way in finding out.
But are the American people and their notoriously short attention spans in danger of scandal fatigue in May of 2013, 18 months before the midterm elections? Sometimes the pre-emptive strike is the best thing in the long run, and there’s little chance of the rabidly partisan Democrats in the Senate turning on their leader and convicting him in the unlikely event we ever get to an impeachment trial. Moreover, Barack Obama doesn’t exactly strike me as a fall-on-the-sword kind of guy, so don’t bet on him resigning to save the country the agony of an impeachment trial like Richard Nixon did. Democrats know well what sort of electoral fate may await – the Republicans who placed country over party were “rewarded” by losing 48 House seats and 3 Senate seats in the 1974 elections, which were held just three months after Nixon left in disgrace.
Meanwhile, focusing on the scandals of the past will blind us to the issues of the present. Even if the GOP gains control of the Senate in 2014 – a likely possibility even without scandals as the sixth year of a presidency is traditionally unkind to the president’s party – the nation will simply revert back to the inverse of the situation we had back in 2007-2008, where a Republican president was crippled by a Democratic Congressional majority in both houses. Much of the damage was done in the two years the Democrats held absolute control of government, as the massive entitlement program dubbed Obamacare came into being and Barack Obama’s re-election means at least some of it will be in place by 2014. Once established, we haven’t killed an entitlement program yet. And there’s still the aspect of governing by executive order: “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.”
Perhaps the one silver lining in all of this is the emergence of the new media as a force for uncovering these and other issues with the government in Washington. No longer do we have a small group of periodicals, newspapers, and television networks determining what is news and what remains on the cutting room floor. Certainly, there is a huge majority of the American public still in an celebrity gossip-induced slumber, but slowly people are beginning to see the light and it only takes an irate, tireless minority to effect real change.
In the meantime, though, there is plenty to write about for those obsessed with Obama scandals. That really is a shame because it makes it more difficult to argue with the other side on why their ideas are such a failure – I can hear it now: “Well, if you Republicans wouldn’t have made the Obama years such a partisan witch hunt he may have succeeded with his good ideas.”
But I suppose it comes back to the old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely, doesn’t it? Do you see why the nation’s founders wanted a limited government yet?
It’s been perhaps the worst-kept secret in Maryland politics for over a year, but it appears as though David Craig will make his 2014 plans official on June 3 as he embarks on a real statewide tour, or at least one more geographically encompassing than Democrat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s puny effort last week when he announced his gubernatorial plans.
Within the last couple hours, the first day of the Craig tour was laid out on Facebook: a 9 a.m. announcement from his front yard in Havre de Grace, followed by an 11:30 a.m. appearance at the Dundalk American Legion Post 38 and a 7 p.m. happy hour reception at Bulls and Bears in Hagerstown. I have it on good authority there will be a Salisbury stop on day 2 of the Craig tour, June 4, although details are probably still being finalized. On that front, I was also told by that same local Craig volunteer this would be a three-day tour, so it’s possible the local Eastern Shore event could instead be June 5.
Craig would officially enter a fairly crowded field as the Republican nomination is opened up for the first time since 2002, the year Bob Ehrlich first won his nomination over two perennial candidates. Arguably this could be the strongest gubernatorial field ever for the Maryland GOP, as the shadow of Bob Ehrlich and his three-election run as the established Republican standard-bearer allowed a number of good candidates to establish a solid local foothold while clamoring to get their chance at the brass ring.
At this point only one GOP candidate has officially filed, and Brian Vaeth – who finished dead last out of 10 would-be U.S. Senate candidates last year with 1.9% of the primary vote – probably won’t present much of a challenge to the remainder of the eventual field. While Blaine Young has been campaigning mainly to party insiders for the last several months and Ron George formally announced his plans last month, we are still awaiting official word from Charles Lollar and Dan Bongino. With the caveat that both are internet-based surveys and are not scientific, Craig has held his own in two recent preference polls on conservative websites with Bongino and Lollar, while Young lags behind. Meanwhile, Ron George performed respectably in the latest Red Maryland poll cited.
Obviously this will be a developing story, and Craig’s entry may break the dam for others to make their intentions clear. It’s likely June will also be the month Charles Lollar makes his draft campaign official while Dan Bongino has no set deadline in mind.
In Dan’s case, though, there is also the chance he could choose to bypass 2014 to concentrate on a 2016 Senate run for what could be an open seat given Barbara Mikulski’s advancing age (she would turn 80 in the summer of 2016) and declining health. In that case, much would depend on whether the GOP wrests control of the Senate (and their Appropriations Committee. which she chairs) from the Democrats. Obviously this is true of the others as well, but Bongino is the only one of the five with statewide campaign experience.
Then again, the other four will catch up on that front should they go through the primary of 2014. Look for more on the Craig front in the coming days.
Update 5/14: It appears the Eastern Shore will be served
either in the evening on June 4 or on the 5th, as thus far June 4 sends Craig to an 8 a.m. breakfast in Silver Spring, the Calvert County Courthouse at noon, and the Annapolis City Dock at 3 p.m.
Update 2 5/14: Salisbury’s stop will be at the Government Center at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5th.
Honestly, this one came out of left field for me, but several published reports indicate Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George will formally announce his intent in June to run for governor in 2014, abandoning re-election to his House of Delegates seat in the effort.
It’s interesting to me that, in a state where I’m continually told by conventional wisdom that the Democratic primary will determine the next governor, so many Republicans are considering the race. Most of my readers already know the field by heart, but just as a reminder it most likely includes (in alphabetical order) 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, Harford County Executive David Craig, 2010 Congressional candidate and AFP Maryland leader Charles Lollar, and Frederick County Commission president Blaine Young. I’m becoming less and less convinced that early 2010 gubernatorial hopeful and Change Maryland leader Larry Hogan will make a run; in fact it wouldn’t shock me if at least two others of those mentioned above begged off the race.
There’s no question that George will be trying to make history as just the second governor in modern times to ascend from the House of Delegates to Government House, and the first to be elected – Gov. Marvin Mandel came into office in 1969 as the successor to Gov. Spiro Agnew, who became Vice-President under Richard Nixon. Mandel was elected by the legislature, as the office of Lieutenant Governor wasn’t created until 1970 in the wake of Agnew’s departure.
George hinted that his focus would be on economic issues, being quoted in the Capital as promising:
My plan is to really build a new Maryland – one that has true economic growth, not government-created jobs that don’t last long.
But is that the whole package? From a conservative’s standpoint, George is great on certain issues. But on the monoblogue Accountability Project, George only has a lifetime score of 73 and that puts him in the bottom third of Republican Delegates – one caveat being Republicans from that area tend to score a little lower as they cater to a more moderate district.
Evidence of that is easy to find, since his 2010 election website is still up. It includes accolades from well-known state Republicans Bob Ehrlich and Ellen Sauerbrey and praise from Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, but also has a section devoted to “Democrats and Independents for Ron George,” including this from member Gil Renaut:
In the current “hyperpartisan” climate, he stands out as a delegate who can and does work across party lines for the public good.
But this site also poses a question which should give those up in arms about Agenda 21 and other environmental opportunism pause:
Did you know that Ron also supported and voted for The Clean Air Act, The Clean Cars Bill, The Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund, The Living Shoreline Protection Act, the Green and Growing Task Force, Performance Standards and Accountability that help Smart Growth, the Smart Green and Growing Commission, the Standing Bill and many, many more?
That is how Ron George was nicknamed the Green Elephant.
Aside from the nickname, I can pretty much guarantee I knew this, hence his fairly low score on the monoblogue Accountability Project. I recall, however, that this bid to curtail illegal immigration was one of his bills I wrote testimony on some years back.
So while he has some appeal to the center of the political spectrum and those people who equate “it’s for the Bay” with “it’s for the children”, is that enough to propel him to the GOP nomination? After all, in a statewide election the question generally is why vote for Democrat-lite when you can get the real thing?
And on a more political level, why not announce before the state Republican convention when all the activists are there to be catered to? Yes, we had a messy race for Chair but the distraction may have been helpful.
George is staking out a position alongside David Craig, as both are apparently trying to portray the pragmatic centrists as opposed to the more fiscally conservative Blaine Young, the brash outsider in Dan Bongino, and the more socially conservative Charles Lollar. The latter three seem to be seeking the hearts and minds of the pro-liberty wing of the Maryland GOP, so maybe George’s entrance is good news for them.
Much, however, depends on what other surprises await as the 2014 campaign slowly comes into focus.
I’ve actually sat on this piece of news for a few days, as it didn’t seem to attract a lot of notice anywhere else and I think I know why.
On Tuesday I received a message in my e-mail from the “Draft Charles Lollar” campaign telling me that:
I am honored and deeply humbled to be endorsed by Dr. Ben Carson regarding my consideration to run in the upcoming election to become the next Governor of Maryland. Dr. Carson is a great leader who exemplifies the American spirit. This is the same spirit that I intend to bring with me as we begin to share our message with Maryland’s voters now and all the way to Annapolis. – Charles
Great, outstanding, a nice “get” – but what did Dr. Carson actually say? You see, in most endorsements the person promoting the candidate will have a few words to say but in this case we only have the statement that Dr. Carson endorsed Charles. I don’t say this to call Charles Lollar or those working on his nascent and still unofficial campaign liars – don’t misunderstand – but perhaps they need to learn a little more basic technique in writing press releases. And maybe that’s why what would ordinarily draw attention didn’t do a whole lot for the campaign.
On the other hand, given Carson’s comments about gay marriage which led to him withdrawing as Johns Hopkins commencement speaker, the lack of attention may be good. Unfortunately, these comments on political correctness in general have detracted from the good work Carson does in his community and could reflect poorly on Lollar if we don’t seize the narrative.
Still, this is the clearest indication yet that the race for Governor may be between at least four major candidates. All four of these men had presences of various sizes at the recent Maryland GOP state convention, but of that quartet only Frederick County Commission President Blaine Young has used the words “for Governor” in his campaign. 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, Harford County Executive David Craig, and Lollar, who made an abortive try for the state’s top job in 2010 before withdrawing and running for Congress instead, have been non-committal beyond an exploratory stage of sorts, although Craig’s campaign is planning a three-day tour of the state in June, according to his local “county point person.” I would presume this would serve as Craig’s official launch to the race.
On the other side of the fence, it’s worth pointing out that Larry Hogan and Change Maryland sat out this convention with the exception of providing a program sponsorship. With four strongly hinting at running for governor, the field may be a little crowded for Larry to jump into. The same goes for Michael Steele – yes, some would like him to run, but would anyone step aside for Steele after eight years away?
Yet with four reasonably strong potential candidates, it looks like the race for the state’s top job could be a scrap on both sides. For the first time in nearly two decades, the GOP has no odds-on choice for governor such as they had with Bob Ehrlich from 2002-10 and Ellen Sauerbrey in 1998. Even the 1994 GOP race only featured two strong candidates, meaning that unless things change between now and the filing deadline the nominee could win with far less than 50% of the GOP vote, leaving himself just weeks to form a united front among disappointed supporters of the other contestants. (Obviously this also depends on the tenor of the primary race, with the hope we don’t relive a situation like the 2008 First District or 2012 Sixth District Republican Congressional primaries, for example.)
It’s an interesting field, one where at this early stage I could see Young, Lollar, and Bongino going after the same conservative wing of the party and allowing the more moderate Craig to slip through. Unfortunately for Lollar, the Carson endorsement wasn’t as well-handled as it probably should have been, particularly since Charles isn’t officially in the race yet. Perhaps this was a misstep by an inexperienced state campaign, but Carson’s was one endorsement which should have been held back for a few weeks.
I touched on this a little bit the other day when I plugged the event, but fellow patriot O.P. Ditch recorded Dan Bongino at Monday’s New Fair Deal rally in Washington D.C. His speech ran around 15 minutes.
In his look at the ideas behind the New Fair Deal – ending corporate handouts, taxing fairly, stopping overspending, and empowering individuals. Bongino opted to treat the latter two as one item, and I think this is fair for the purpose of my discussion. This post is going to be an exercise in thought about the next two years.
I’ve seen MDGOP Chair candidate Collins Bailey talk about a “Contract with Maryland” but what would happen if we had a “New Fair Deal” for Maryland?
You might think that Maryland doesn’t have corporate handouts but I can assure you they do. I saw the other day where the InvestMaryland scam selected three companies to give a grant to – why is our state government selecting these winners and losers? And why is it that the same contractors always seem to get state work? Can you give me the reason that renewable energy has to have its own carveout in state law? Let the market work, as new, better ideas will naturally come to the fore.
Meanwhile, our governor rammed through a tax increase last year on the state’s producers – not only do they pay higher rates, but their deductions decrease once they reach a certain income threshold. We can flatten the tax rates out; in fact I would willingly pay a percent or two more in sales tax if they reduced the income tax rate down to 3% for all filers, regardless of income. And the state could easily afford that change if they just spent the median amount per capita, rather than an amount 10-15% more than the average. We could wipe out every last one of Martin O’Malley’s 37 tax increases and still have a little left over because the budgetary difference is about $4 billion.
But how do you empower individuals? Unlike the federal NFD, the state doesn’t really run any entitlement programs on its own. However, there is a lot which could be done to empower the counties and municipalities, particularly in the areas where they used to be much more autonomous until the nanny state stepped in.
There’s no doubt that these proposals would need to be fleshed out, but I think much of the basic principle could work. And while things can always change, Dan has seemed to place himself in the unique position of being able to make these changes in one of the “laboratories of democracy” we always hear about because he’s going to run for governor. Of course, I have no official announcement of this fact but I would lay the odds of him running for the state’s top job at about 80/20. I simply don’t see Dan going through the motions of forming an exploratory committee to run for a Congressional seat, wait until 2016 to run again for Senate, or fight a sitting Republican for Anne Arundel County Executive, not after he nationalized his first campaign and become a media darling. Obviously the Bongino/Keyes rumor was believable because one has to ask where else Dan would go? (Now if Bongino decides to make a trip to Iowa or New Hampshire people hereabouts will absolutely freak.)
So I wrote this post under the assumption that Dan might just borrow elements of the New Fair Deal and apply them to his own platform. There would be nothing like presenting Marylanders a clear choice between the tired old tax-and-spend mentality of cronyism which the state has labored under for decades, presumably with just a different face in Anthony Brown, and a different approach which relieves the Free State and frees it from the dependence on government at all levels.
As I predicted last week given the high probability that Delegate Justin Ready would be unavailable on date number 2, the Wicomico County Pathfinders gathering was rescheduled once again, for Saturday, April 13. It will be held at the original intended location, the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce building (where Wicomico County Republican Club and Republican Central Committee meetings are generally located) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Most importantly, lunch will be provided.
Something we have harped on is finding good candidates who will fill up the ballot in 2014 – no exceptions. Okay, perhaps one exception as Republicans can’t run for the Democratic Central Committee. (But conservatives certainly can, and I encourage those who just can’t shake the concept of abandoning their daddy’s party but nevertheless agree with our pro-liberty principles to give that a shot.)
In Wicomico County there are a total of 22 elected positions available – 15 for the county and 7 for the state, although 6 of those are shared to various extents with other counties. Obviously some of these offices are already held by Republicans so we don’t necessarily need a challenger for those positions, but there are a number of Democrats who have been in their respective offices far too long and need to be replaced with people bringing fresh blood and new, conservative ideas. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Norm “Five Dollar” Conway.)
But with as much bashing of the state GOP as I’ve done over the last months and years, I have to credit them for doing something right. Two copies of this appeared in my mailbox today.
I am sure some are going to make an issue of the second bullet point about redefining marriage, saying it’s an issue we shouldn’t discuss in a city election. Indeed, though, Ireton has publicly expressed his support for same-sex nuptials. Nor would it surprise me to find out that a large proportion of Ireton’s out-of-town contributors – a subset which accounts for more than half of his individual donations – are active in the gay community. A cursory look at two of his more prominent contributors, Victor Shargai and Duane Rollins, led me to believe that a significant backing comes from that political arena. (Rollins is alleged to have a shady political past, too.) Four of Maryland’s complement of openly gay legislators (Delegates Luke Clippinger, Anne Kaiser, and Maggie McIntosh, along with Senator Richard Madaleno) have also chipped in to Ireton’s cause.
One has to ask, then: is their support more about the job Jim’s doing or promoting the rainbow banner he’s holding up? Is Jim Ireton one of the quota of gay mayors we must have to be an “inclusive” society? Personally, I’d rather have someone who does a good job in getting the local economy going again – too bad I don’t have full faith in either candidate to do so.
The party had talked about getting more active in local elections this year, and with the investment of a few hundred dollars have done just that. Kudos to them – and guess what? It spawned some new media involvement, too.
I’m not sure this is the most overly newsworthy item out there, but those many readers I have in the Dan Bongino fan club may enjoy this Next Generation TV appearance he had with Lt. Col. Allen West. (I don’t subscribe to Next Generation, and I’m not sure they allow embedding anyway. So follow the link.)
I did watch it, though, and what impressed me most is how well Dan seems to be handling the constant media demands on his time. He seems to have become the go-to expert on all things Secret Service, too.
But this continues to provide me with the thought that Dan Bongino may be Maryland’s answer to Sarah Palin. At times, I think he seems to be evolving into a figure which is too big for state politics – think of it this way: could you see Sarah Palin running again for an office in Alaska? Granted, there’s a big difference between serving in a political office as Sarah did for several years before becoming a governor and vice-presidential nominee versus running one time for U.S. Senate and getting only a little over 1/4 of the vote, but you would have to admit that Dan is perhaps the most famous failed one-time Senate candidate in the country right now, at least in casual conservative circles.
That’s not to say that Dan hasn’t worked for this limelight; he is certainly a gifted speaker and very articulate in presenting his political platform. Unlike any other Maryland politician with the possible exception of Martin O’Malley – who is an elected official and head of the Democratic Governors’ Association – Dan is perhaps the most well-known politician from the state of Maryland. Granted, we don’t have a lot of statewide officers to begin with and our two United States Senators don’t seem to be the type that naturally gravitate toward the camera, so Maryland is essentially not regarded for its politicians. Dan fills that vacuum well.
Another parallel to Bongino could be that presented by his interviewer, Lt. Col. Allen West. While West did serve a single term in Congress, his political impact would seem to be greater as a media celebrity; one for whom a fledgling internet television network was created. With as many media appearances as Dan makes, the possibility of that being his outlet exists as well.
So when the discussion for 2014 begins, Dan is obviously portrayed as one of the first dominoes which needs to fall. Given that there are already several good candidates in the quest for the governor’s chair and no Senate seat is up for grabs next year, it seems like the coming three years will present themselves as an opportunity to build the Bongino brand as a spokesperson for conservatism across the country. Unlike the situation in 2010, where most Republicans waited on pins and needles to see whether Bob Ehrlich would make a second run at O’Malley, no one is going to step aside for Dan should he opt to run for governor.
Could Dan win in that situation? It’s hard to tell – certainly he’ll have to do well in the minority community to have any shot, but the remainder of the state may well be fed up with the O”Malley tax-and-spend regime.
But I think this decision has to be made sooner than later. As we learned in 2010, being coy and not allowing the political process to sort itself out leads to disappointing results in November. The 2014 primary will be in late June, which gives both parties ample time to heal their wounds and fight for control of the state, but there’s a lot of work to do between now and then. I have all the respect in the world for Dan, but if he wants to do something in terms of running for office in 2014 it’s getting time to let us know. Otherwise, I’ll be interested to see who his Cede No Ground PAC focuses on.
I really didn’t intend to have a month-long hiatus in this series, but it now returns with my chat with 2014 state Comptroller hopeful Bill Campbell. Campbell also ran for the job in 2010, and it appears that, should he be successful in the GOP primary, he will have a rematch against incumbent Peter Franchot.
monoblogue: Let me bring my readers up to speed here. You are already in the ring for Comptroller next year, 2014; you ran in 2010, and, assuming you get through the primary – which is not a given, but I would say you’re the odds-on favorite – you’re probably going to have a rematch with Peter Franchot, who thought about running for Governor and decided not to. I guess the first thing I want to know is, since you’ve already ran for the office, do you have any lessons you’re going to move into your 2014 campaign?
Campbell: Absolutely. If there was anybody who was ever a novice, it was Bill Campbell in 2010. I started way too late, I had no organization, I got into the race where the Governor’s race was sucking all of the donations out of the air – it was like there was no oxygen in the room – so when I talked to other candidates who were running for office they said the same thing: they couldn’t raise money because the Ehrlich campaign was basically sucking up all of the money that was available for Republicans, the Republican donors. I started way too late; I started in April or May (of 2010)…
Campbell: …and I only raised a few thousand dollars, I can’t remember the exact amount.
I spent most of my money in the primary, I think about $11,000 in the primary. Now some of the money I was able to get benefit of in the general election, like my signs, my palm cards, and so forth, but in the general election I only spent $4,000, give or take a few bucks, and I had to make up for that – money’s important, but it’s not the most important thing. The thing I really learned is that people have to know you, they have to like you, and they have to trust you. If you can get those three things, you get their vote.
monoblogue: Well, the question is, you’re running against guy who’s probably got – I don’t know how much Peter Franchot has in the bank, but I’m sure he’s got quite a bit…
Campbell: He’s got a little over $2 million.
monoblogue: …yeah. It’s almost certain, and this is true of almost any Republican in Maryland, practically, that you’re going to be -you’re going to have to work harder and smarter because you’re not going to have the money available to the incumbent.
Campbell: No, and I figured that if Franchot ran for governor I could probably beat somebody who wasn’t an incumbent by only raising about $125,000. I think I have a good shot at Peter if I could raise $250,000. That’s one of the reasons I started early, I’m asking for money, I’m getting donations, it’s not a huge amount right now – at the end of the year when I filed I think I had just a hair under $2,000 – but I had just started asking people for money. So I’m going to get fundraisers this time.
You bring up a good point. Peter raised $1.9 million the last time – and got a million votes – but he spent $1.5 million. I didn’t see where he spent it wisely. Do you remember seeing anything about Peter Franchot except an occasional 4×8 sign?
monoblogue: No. The thing about this race, since it’s an open seat for governor, you’re going to have an all-out war in the primary on both sides.
monoblogue: You’re going to have, most likely, a very competitive race as far as the general election goes, but it’s going to be a little bit like Question 7 was last year. I think it’s going to take up a lot of the available airtime, so you may be right – you may not have to raise a lot of money. Peter Franchot may have a lot left over at the end of this campaign because he’ll have nowhere to spend the money except maybe consultants and what-have-you, the professional political class that we have in Maryland.
Campbell: I like to say that he’s a twice-elected incumbent Democrat. He presently has $2 million in the bank, he beat me once – I have him right where I want him. He’s overconfident.
monoblogue: Yeah, I noticed when Franchot dropped out of the governor’s race, you said ‘good, I don’t have to face the junior varsity now.’ Obviously you knew what you were going to be up against.
Campbell: I was always – I plan on the worst-case scenario. If I didn’t think I had a fair chance – I’m not in this to make a point. I’m not in this to posture or try to get myself well-known for some higher office later on – I’m a pragmatist. I think that it’s very difficult to win as a Republican any time. But I got a lot of non-Republican votes the last time, and Mr. Franchot didn’t get very many non-Democratic votes – I think he got about 10,000 votes that weren’t Democratic. I can’t swear to it because it’s been two years since I looked at it, but I got well over 100,000 votes that weren’t Republican.
So, for one, his name recognition I don’t think is terribly good. He didn’t do a good job spending his money the last time, he’s fighting with people in his own caucus – you know, there are bills in the General Assembly right now to take some of his functions away. He doesn’t seem to be allied with either Mr. Gansler or Lt. Gov. Brown, so I think that he is more vulnerable than the other candidates that we’re going to have to put nominees up against.
And, to be perfectly honest with you, I think that our chickens are about to come home to roost. The reason I ran the last time I got in was the deficit in our state employee and teacher pension fund, and the retiree health care. It has gotten worse. We’ve gone from being funded about 64% to around 60%, and the deficit on the pension has gone from $18.5 billion to $20.5 billion. The retiree health care fund is still around $16 billion in the hole.
So I think that a lot of things are going to come home to roost, I think that the public may be numb after eight years of constant tax increases, taking the budget from about $29 billion – it will be well over 40 (billion dollars) by the time these clowns are finished. And I think that the realization that the Affordable Care Act is neither affordable nor does it provide good care – I think people, even in Maryland, may be at the point where they’re willing to try something different, and by that elect more Republican elected officials.
monoblogue: Well, in Franchot’s case, he’s always tried to portray himself as a fiscal conservative, but in this case – it’s kind of the opposite of the old saying where Republicans can’t win if they try to be liberal because there’s already a liberal party out there. Democrats who try to be conservative, maybe they can’t win because there’s already a conservative in the race and his name is Bill Campbell.
Campbell: Right, and the thing with Franchot – I like Peter, I’d like to have him as a brother-in-law, or a neighbor, or a lodge brother, or something – but he’s not a good Comptroller. He doesn’t have a grasp of the financial issues. And we’re going to need somebody who has an excellent grasp of the financial issues to help get us through.
Part of that is, we’re probably, in my lifetime, going to have a Democratic-majority General Assembly. Thankfully, in Maryland, because of the way it’s constituted, to control the state you only need two offices: you need the Governor and you need the Comptroller so that you can control the Board of Public Works.
Campbell: If you control the Board of Public Works, then you can control the spending, and you can control the priorities, and you can control the trajectory that Maryland is going to have economically. So whoever our nominee is for Governor, I am going to try to work as closely with them and try to come across as a tag-team that will improve Marylanders’ economic future, the future for their children and their grandchildren.
I think we can have, if we have a good gubernatorial candidate, I think I have more than a fair chance.
monoblogue: Yeah. The other thing that I actually – as I was listening to you, is that, we also need a strong (Republican) party, and it kind of brings me to the next area I wanted to get into. Now I know you ran for state party Chair…in 2010 – you didn’t win, you were third, I think, in the first ballot and then withdrew…
monoblogue: …Obviously you’re not going to do it this time because you’ve already announced for the Comptroller’s race and you can’t do both at once, but what’s your take on the candidates who are in it so far?
Campbell: You mean for party chair?
Campbell: The only one I know who’s really been announced is Diana Waterman. Is there another one?
monoblogue: There are actually two: one is Greg Kline, who’s…
Campbell: Oh, I’m sorry, I did see Greg Kline. I don’t know an awful lot about Greg. I know that he’s been really active in – I read something that was posted, he had a position paper?
Campbell: When I ran, the reason I ran was, after campaigning statewide, I had been in every jurisdiction at least four times. I talked to people on all ends of the spectrum from the Republican party, and I was very concerned because I thought at the time we needed to replace an establishment figure, Audrey Scott, with somebody who was not in any one camp but could reach across the boundaries between the camps and make a cohesive, unified party. I’m afraid – I liked all of the people who ran before, I liked Alex, I liked Sam Hale, but I’m afraid that if you have somebody who is identified only with one faction, the other factions are going to withdraw and we’re not going to be very successful.
That was why I ran, but if somebody had come to me and said – and I had talked to Alex when he ran, and I am 99% sure he assured me he would stay for four years. That was one of the reasons I thought, well, okay, and then I saw where he was raising money, he was using the party imprimatur of the chairman to raise money for a potential run for Roscoe Bartlett’s seat, which I thought was improper.
monoblogue: Right. (laughs) Go ahead, I keep interrupting you.
Campbell: When I ran, I was going to make it a non-paid full-time job, because I think whoever our chair is, until we start to get on a roll, we need to have somebody who is going to work full time, who is going to reach outside the party to constituencies like the businessmen in Baltimore City who have property that’s being adversely affected by the Maryland State Center project – we need to go in and proselytize people that we don’t normally talk to. Whoever is going to run and be our Chair needs to do that, in my opinion.
monoblogue: Well, actually you’ve answered the next question I was going to ask. The other gentleman, by the way, who’s in the race is Collins Bailey – I think he’s out of Charles County.
Campbell: Oh, I know – I know Collins Bailey. I met Collins when he was running against Charles Lollar to be our nominee for the Fifth Congressional District. I like Collins, he’s a nice guy, he’s conservative, I don’t know what kind of support he has among the Central Committees, because as far as I know he’s just widely known in southern Maryland.
monoblogue: Yeah, that’s my impression of him, too. I mean, I know who he is, I’ve probably talked to him once or twice, but – any of those candidates, and I know Diana, too, has actually done this and Greg Kline is in the process of doing this – they need to get out and get to all 23 counties if they can before the race. That’s the key.
Campbell: I think – isn’t there going to be in Montgomery County…isn’t there going to be a panel discussion with all of them?
monoblogue: There could be, I’m not sure. I know, for example, Greg Kline is coming to our Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday – I think Collins Bailey is trying to get there too. Diana Waterman will be there too, I’m sure, because she’s from the Eastern Shore. So I think – I don’t think anyone else is going to get in, I would be surprised if they did now. And you kind of answered my next question, I was going to ask what advice you had for the winner, but you’ve already kind of given that, so let me turn to one other thing real quick: I wanted to talk about – and I know you have a little expertise on federal matters because you used to run Amtrak, and you probably have a little bit of insight into the budget process…
Campbell: Yes, I had 30 years in the federal government, 19 as a career senior executive, and two years as a Presidential appointee as an assistant secretary for management at the VA. So I know a lot about the federal government.
monoblogue: So what do you think about all this talk about – obviously we started with sequestration, and now we’re talking about the possibility of some shutdown or other, and getting a budget out because they have to – they have to get a budget out or they don’t get paid. If you wave a magic wand, what does Bill Campbell do about this whole deal?
Campbell: Well, here’s the thing you have to remember. I’ve been looking at it through the lens of ‘how is this going to affect Maryland?’ I want to run for Maryland office, and – if I succeed and I win – I’m responsible for the finances of the state. And I look at it – Maryland, over the past four decades, has become a ward of the federal legislature. We get approximately 40% of our state revenue to run our government directly and indirectly from the feds. We get 27% directly, and then we get about another 13% indirectly through income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes from federal employees, federal retirees, and federal contractors and military retirees, and to some extent property tax from perhaps military – active-duty military.
So regardless of whether you call it sequestration, the fiscal cliff: no matter what you do any – any – reduction in federal spending will adversely affect Maryland. That said, we desperately need to cut back on the spending. That’s going to be painful, but if we don’t do with everybody, even the liberals agree that our spending is on an unsustainable path.
We are borrowing 42 cents on every dollar that we spend at present, and we – the debt service right now is, I believe 200 or 300 billion dollars and we are paying historically low rates on that debt. In a couple of years, when the fed stops doing quantitative easing, even Bernanke has admitted by about 2015 the interest rates that we are going to be paying – which are all pegged to the 10-year Treasury note – are going to jump up to the historic value of about 4 or 5 percent. What that means is that the largest single budget item to the federal government will be debt service. That will crowd out spending we need for infrastructure, defense, clean air, safe food, safe drinking water, public health – everything will become secondary so that we have to cut the spending.
And there are smart ways to do it and dumb ways to do it. Sequestration, when you look at it, isn’t that bad, particularly if you put, as they are right now, flexibility for the federal agencies in there. The Department of Defense’s budget this year is $711 billion – you think, oh my God, under sequestration we’re going to go to 522 (billion dollars.) Well, 522 might be absolutely fine because the difference between 521 and 711 is fighting two wars. As we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and we avoid going into places like Iran and Syria, and Africa – then we can absorb that reduction well.
So I’m not afraid the sky is going to fall, I think what has happened is that the Obama administration has tried to make sequestration as painful as possible – you know, letting 2,000 illegal aliens loose that were in custody, closing down tours of the White House – they are doing everything humanly possible to make this appear a big problem. Well, I just came back from Florida and, you know, except for an occasional little mention of sequestration it’s not on anybody’s radar outside the Beltway, and it doesn’t seem to be having much of an effect because, rather than a cliff, it’s kind of a slow, gentle slope with the cutbacks and spending and you probably won’t really see it until next year and next year is when the Affordable Care Act costs are going to start to really hammer people, so I think 2014, because of these things, is going to be a decent year for Republicans, even in Maryland.
monoblogue: Well, that’s a good place to wrap it up. So I appreciate the time, Bill.
We actually talked a little bit more regarding the 2014 race, but for the purpose of this exercise I’ll keep that off the record. One thing I will share is his opinion that “Maryland’s finances are terribly broken.” Seems to me that’s a good reason to get into the race, and I wish Bill the best of luck in his uphill fight.
I should also note that I recorded this interview on Friday, so I had the opportunity to speak with all three Chair candidates at our Lincoln Day Dinner subsequent to recording this post.
Next week’s guest will be another Maryland political figure, with the question being which one of the two records his interview first.
As the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in a given county, the sheriff is often the go-to person in matters of crime. But out of the thousands of sheriffs across the county, few are well-known – perhaps the best example of a sheriff with name recognition is Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona.
Here in Wicomico County, though, Sheriff Mike Lewis has been known in the law enforcement community for a number of years as an expert and sought-after instructor in drug interdiction, allegedly so much so that smugglers take pains to avoid traveling through the county on U.S. 13, the preferred north-south alternative to Interstate 95 through Virginia and Maryland. Yet Lewis is also becoming more well-known to the public at large as a leader for Second Amendment rights, such as this speech last week (h/t Andrew Padula at Eyes for the Prize):
It’s worthy of noting all six Sheriffs represented there hail from the Eastern Shore. But the ringleader of the group is Lewis, and some may be wondering if he has his sights on a higher office.
Lewis was first elected Sheriff in 2006, defeating three other candidates in the Republican primary and handily dispatching Democrat Kirk Daugherty in the general election. Even though he wasn’t my initial choice, Mike has done a good enough job that no one bothered to challenge him in 2010 and he received the highest vote total of all those running. Nor is Lewis a stranger to the harsh glare of the spotlight after the abduction and murder of Sarah Foxwell made national headlines in December 2009.
But now he’s making waves for taking a stand for the Second Amendment, testifying against the effort of the state to dramatically restrict private ownership of certain weapons. The front page of the Wicomico Sheriff Department’s webpage makes this plain.
And while Lewis is quoted as noting, “I represent 100,000 people in this county and if (testifying and speaking at the protest) causes me to lose the next election than (sic) so be it,” the chances of him losing an election in this county for Sheriff reside in the neighborhood between slim and none, and slim is packing up for a move.
So the real question is whether this is a prelude to a higher office or not? Let’s face it: at the age of 48, Lewis could easily spend another two productive decades as the Wicomico County Sheriff if he wanted to. It’s doubtful Democrats would bother to put up a serious challenger to the popular incumbent, who succeeded longtime Sheriff Hunter Nelms after the latter’s 22 years in the post, mainly as a Democrat.
There’s always been a rumbling beneath the surface, though, that Lewis could be interested in a higher office, particularly County Executive. But it’s not unknown for law enforcement officers to become legislators either, as freshman Delegate Mike McDermott of Worcester County was a longtime member of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department. Lewis also happens to live in a newly created legislative district with no incumbent – the Democrats’ redistricting scheme placed current Delegate Norm Conway in a different single-member district and placed two Republican Delegates, Charles Otto and the aforementioned McDermott, in the same single-member district. So the new District 38C has no apparent favorite; however, the majority of its population lives in Worcester County. But in raising his profile, Lewis may be gaining name recognition there.
But could Lewis deal with the legislative grind? Certainly he has to remain popular with voters to keep his job, but barring a scandal of the sort which would equate to the old saw about being found in bed with a dead girl or a live boy, Lewis should be able to hold on to his office for a couple decades and I think that’s where he will stay. His recent bully pulpit, though, has been quite useful in changing the narrative that law enforcement is behind restrictive gun control.
On Monday night the Wicomico County Republican Club held its monthly meeting with gubernatorial candidate Blaine Young as the guest. Young spoke for about a half-hour on a number of topics, mainly relating to events in Frederick and surrounding Frederick County, a place where rapid growth over the last several years has come from those he jokingly described as “refugees from Montgomery County.”
Blaine outlined his position as President of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, although that position will soon be abolished as Frederick County will join a number of other Maryland counties which have adopted a County Executive form of government. In fact, just like Wicomico County, Frederick will have a similarly-comprised seven-member County Council as well beginning in 2014.
In speaking to those gathered, though, Young made it clear his biggest influence after completing a brief previous political career as an alderman in the city of Frederick was that of becoming a small business owner. “It woke me up and opened my eyes,” he said. Blaine is also a radio host, a daily enterprise he claimed the local papers and liberals hate. But his overall stable of business support between 120 and 140 people, stated Young.
But Blaine made the case that he took the appointment to the Commission in 2010 and subsequently decided to run for a full term because his predecessors “liked to spend money.” Instead, the slate he led into office is “a very property-rights oriented commission” which “started slashing away” at a $48 million deficit and turned it into a $29 million surplus. They did so by cooperating with the local Chamber of Commerce to adopt over 200 of their suggestions, eliminating taxes and rescinding “frivolous” fees. The number of county employees had also declined by 400 during his tenure, Young added.
(continued at the Watchdog Wire…)
In recent weeks, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino has created a lot of buzz regarding his future plans, rumors which included everything from being appointed to the recently vacated Anne Arundel County Executive post or being elected Maryland Republican Party Chair to a potential run for Governor. While the two former options were eliminated in a statement from Dan, many still speculate about his possible pursuit of the Governor’s chair.
Apparently the proverbial “last year’s model” didn’t want people to forget about him and his own run from not-so-long ago, so I received an e-mail on Saturday which explained the following:
Eric Wargotz believes that the economic health and well-being of all Americans must come first. That is precisely why we are working with Eric to determine what his next move should be. As the 2014 elections approach, we are examining opportunities at both the State and Federal levels as well as locally.
Eric Wargotz is a rare blend of individual who truly understands what it is to serve. As a physician, caring family man, business owner, former County Commissioner and U.S. Senate Nominee, Eric Wargotz understands that you come first, that together we hold the power and that he works for all of us. Conservative and compassionate, Eric Wargotz understands the complex issues facing us and believes in working towards common-sense solutions and not through oppressive government policies which threaten our liberties and our private enterprise. Eric Wargotz has a proven record of fiscal conservatism including reducing taxes and job creation.
Eric Wargotz was Maryland’s Republican U.S. Senate Nominee in 2010 and continues to be an active community leader throughout the State. Dr. Wargotz garnered the largest percentage of the vote in the history of challenges to this entrenched incumbent Senator and Washington Insider. Eric Wargotz is a respected physician, small-business owner, and former elected President of the Queen Anne’s County, MD Board of County Commissioners who while in office:
- KEPT his promises.
- LOWERED taxes.
- INCREASED government transparency and accountability.
- Made PRIVATE SECTOR JOB CREATION a top priority.
“Like you, I am outraged by career politicians who care more about their political lives than the people who elected them. Politics as usual has gotten us into this mess, and both parties share the blame for where we are today. It’s time we returned to our core roots of fiscal discipline and job creation to dig America out of this hole and secure our nation’s future. Please support me and my team in our effort to raise necessary funds to pursue the path to victory as we survey the landscape to explore how best I may serve you.
Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.”‘
In the 2010 election, Wargotz had a higher percentage of the overall vote than Dan Bongino received in 2012, but only received 655,666 votes compared to 693,291 for Bongino two years later – bear in mind also that Dan had an independent candidate drawing perhaps 3/5 of his vote away from Dan’s column.
And just like Dan, Eric’s options are limited by the small number of statewide offices on the ballot this time around; however, Wargotz does have a track record of winning in Queen Anne’s County which he alluded to in his letter. Shrewdly, he did not preclude starting over politically with a local office (and obviously, smaller budget required.)
However, Eric has limited 2014 options for higher office unless he wants to challenge Maryland’s lone Republican federal elected official in Andy Harris for a Congressional seat or incumbent Republicans in a race for the General Assembly. In essence, his only option for a statewide office is a run for governor – but is it a winnable race for him? Given the bullet points he outlined in his missive, it seems to me that’s the direction Eric is pointing in. (Moreover, for a local run Eric could probably launch his campaign later this fall given his name recognition in Queen Anne’s County. So why else would he start talking up his options now?)
Therefore, it would not surprise me to see this message as a precursor and feeler for a run for Governor. (Revising his website with this message is also a clue.) Obviously, except for Bongino, Eric is the only one among the current presumed contenders who has previously run statewide, although Charles Lollar has run the statewide Americans for Prosperity organization for some time. (The same can be said for Larry Hogan and Change Maryland.) But money may be an issue, as Eric wasn’t a prolific fundraiser in his U.S. Senate bid and instead relied a lot on out-of-pocket funding. While Wargotz has an outstanding state account, as of January 2012 he only had $3,435 in it (with a loan balance of $11,000.) Last month Wargotz filed a Affidavit of Limited Contributions and Expenditures on that account for the period since January, 2012 – an ALCE affirms a campaign has not spent or received over $1,000 in the previous filing period. As always, though, the ALCE is not binding for a future period.
But if Wargotz wants to be included in the conversation of potential 2014 gubernatorial candidates, sure, I’ll start that ball rolling. Since most other areas of the state have a candidate hailing from their section, why not one from the Eastern Shore?
I’m still trying to figure out who “we” is, though. I know he reads this space, so perhaps Eric can enlighten me and the rest of us.
In a letter set to Central Committee members, Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney announced his resignation effective March 1 to “pursue other ventures.”
Mooney outlined a number of accomplishments in his tenure:
First, the MDGOP is in a strong financial position. According to Treasurer Chris Rosenthal’s report distributed today at the executive committee meeting, the MDGOP raised $1.1 million in 2012, far exceeding our budgeted plan.
Second, we have experienced staff focused on grassroots, party building and supporting candidates. Your executive board team remains in place… Therefore, the party will be in good hands.
Finally, grassroots activism is at an all-time high. Over 300,000 people signed a petition to stop three of liberal Martin O’Malley’s agenda items. While the vote was not successful on Election Day, we must not overlook the fact we conservatives working together have the power to put the final vote to the people. MDGOP was a partner in this effort with MdPetitions.com, the church community and other activists.
Our new office offers a convenient downtown Annapolis location walking distance from the Capitol for legislators and Republican clubs to use. And we cut rent expenses in more than half compared to our previous location.
With the resignation of Mooney, it will automatically elevate First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman to the leadership post on an interim basis until the next state convention April 20. Waterman drew fire from conservative activists after comments last month at a Wicomico County Republican Club meeting, so it is unclear whether she would want the post on a more permanent basis.
Naturally the talk around the MDGOP will be who takes over for Mooney, and this places yet another opportunity for rising star Dan Bongino to cast his footprint on state politics – assuming he doesn’t instead secure the newly-created vacancy in the Anne Arundel County Executive post. Conversely, appointing Bongino would also either eliminate him from seeking an office in the 2014 cycle, or create another Chair vacancy in the spring of 2014, once the filing deadline for the 2014 election arrives. (Party rules stipulate a Chair cannot be a filed candidate for an elected post.)
Yet the decision will also be fraught with peril as yet another tug-of-war between the “establishment” and TEA Party activists – one obvious choice for the former group would be a second go-round as Chair for Audrey Scott, who took over the state party in 2009 after Jim Pelura’s resignation and, more recently, lost a bitterly-contested battle for National Committeewoman to Nicolee Ambrose.
The Mooney departure comes at an interesting time for the state party, which is fighting tooth-and-nail against a number of measures in the General Assembly like expanded gun control and an additional sales tax on gasoline. It will put Waterman in charge during a time when many of these bills come to a vote, meaning grassroots activists and groups may have to take more of a lead than usual.
It also leads to speculation on what Mooney is planning for 2014, whether it’s another run for Congress as he began to in the 2012 campaign before withdrawing just before the filing deadline, or a bid to retake his seat in the Maryland Senate. It’s not likely he will try for statewide office with an already-crowded field in the governor’s race and lack of qualifications for any other statewide contest (Attorney General or Comptroller.) Barring an unexpected vacancy, there will be no U.S. Senate election in Maryland in 2014.
And while Mooney leaves with a number of accomplishments under his belt, it’s worth noting that his grandiose plans for financial help for the state party failed to pan out. Yes, the state party has made a number of moves in the name of efficiency, but monetary numbers are still insufficient for the party to offer much in the way of help to 2014 candidates. Mooney’s successor will have a lot on his or her plate and a short time to put the pieces together before the 2014 campaign really gets underway.