Last week I said that Change Maryland may get to 70,000 Facebook friends by the end of the week; alas, I was apparently off by a couple days. Maybe it was the weekend ice storm which slowed them down, but Larry Hogan’s group eclipsed the mark earlier today. Here’s some of what the founder had to say:
The growth we’ve seen in the last few weeks is incredible. This further cements what we’ve been saying over the last two years: Marylanders, regardless of party, are ready to say enough is enough, and they’re ready to stand up together and fight back for a change.
When I started Change Maryland, my goal was to provide average Marylanders the chance to hold their elected officials accountable. I had no idea what kind of reaction we would get, so to say I am humbled by this amazing success would be an understatement, and I’d like to sincerely thank each and every person who has made this possible.
This campaign to Change Maryland has never been about Republicans vs. Democrats. It’s much more important than that. This is about all Marylanders and the future of our state. It’s about our children and grandchildren’s futures. It’s about all of us, working together to save the state that we love.
All that is great, and Larry’s group is undeniably one of the leaders in pointing out a number of flaws in the state’s current fiscal philosophy. But what I’m anxiously awaiting to find out is what prescriptions a Hogan adminstration would have to address the problems should he be fortunate enough to move into Government House thirteen months from now. We know all about the dozens and dozens of tax increases which have been placed into effect by Martin O’Malley and his (mostly) Democratic allies in the General Assembly; it’s a litany the release alluded to this afternoon:
The group has gained much attention for its various studies on the economic impact of the O’Malley-Brown Administration on the state, including a report detailing the 40 tax increases that have already taken $9.5 billion from the state economy and will take $20 billion by 2018. They also conducted the Tax Migration Study that showed 31,000 Marylanders leaving the state after the administration’s historic tax increases, taking with them an additional $1.7 billion.
But which ones would be the most likely to be set aside and which ones will be found to be necessary for maintaining a balanced budget in this state? And speaking of that end, what will Larry’s spending priorities be?
Obviously I don’t want to diminish the achievement of Change Maryland, which simply by its name has an image of reversing some of the state’s downward trend over the last seven years. But the question has to be asked about whether all 70,000 will be on board once Larry has to stop identifying the problems and begin to address them with a gubernatorial platform.
I’m not privy to his formal announcement date aside from being told it would be next month, but if Larry wanted to speak to some of the state’s leading conservative activists, he may want to consider having Change Maryland sponsor the Turning the Tides Conference on January 10-11 in Annapolis. That would be a great way for any candidate to consider showing off his or her conservative side.
This portion of my dossier will focus on what I call the role of government: simply put, does the candidate seem to believe in the concept of limited government? More importantly, can I be confident they will show leadership in putting government in its place?
People may mistakenly believe the pro-liberty movement wants no government, but few would consider unfettered anarchy their true objective. Yet government should have limits, and those prescribed in our Constitution would serve as a good guide for restoration of its proper role. After all, Article 6 of the Maryland Constitution Declaration of Rights spells this concept out:
That all persons invested with the Legislative or Executive powers of Government are the Trustees of the Public, and, as such, accountable for their conduct: Wherefore, whenever the ends of Government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the People may, and of right ought, to reform the old, or establish a new Government; the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
In my opinion, we definitely need to “reform the old” and establish a new pattern of leadership which will rightsize the state’s government to an appropriate level.
So here are some of the things each of the current candidates had to say about this.
David Craig: As Governor, I will focus on fixing the systemic breakdown in Maryland’s criminal justice system. Department of Corrections management will be held accountable if any cell phones are allowed in prison.
At the very least, crimes committed with guns should be tried in federal court so offenders are not eligible for parole. (E)arly release schemes must be reviewed on the basis of the impact on crime, not what’s best for the criminal.
I will appoint judges who end the revolving door on crime.
Feel-good legislation will be replaced with vigorous enforcement and prosecution of gun crimes.
Speed camera contracts, enabled by state law, will be terminated.
I will work to re-align Maryland’s spending on welfare programs with other states in the region including unemployment compensation, food stamps, Medicaid, home energy assistance and other programs.
To increase transparency, state government will be required to use social media and other web-based platforms to disseminate information on their actions to the public. (campaign website)
Craig said Maryland Governors need to engage the U.S. EPA on mandates like the one on which the state rain tax law is premised.
“There is no reason the Governor of Maryland should assume a subservient status when it comes to conforming with federal government wishes,” said Craig. ”Maryland is not leading, we’re following, which is a shame because we have more at stake in protecting the Bay than any other state.” (press release, July 1, 2013)
An interesting question was how he would deal with the federal government. Craig would lean on the Republican Governor’s Association which, as he noted, had grown from 13 states when he was first elected in 1979 to 30 now. (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)
Craig referred to his experience of reaching out to those on both sides of the aisle and that the way that he approaches people helps him have a better chance at a successful legislative agenda. (Raging Against the Rhetoric, June 2013)
Ron George: Requiring independent audits of all departments and agencies, including our Medicaid, Welfare, and state health insurance. Cutting any waste found within these audits. Improve needed efficiency and effectiveness. Flow money more directly to its intended target, cutting out government “middlemen”. Eliminate duplicative services across state agencies. Level funding whenever the economy slows.
Implementing the state’s transparency software that the O’Malley/ Brown administration cut funding to.
Removing the pressure of one-size fits all state mandates on local governments because the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
Allowing and encouraging the enforcement all existing laws. Remove ineffective and over-reaching laws.
Better defining roles, for Sheriffs, state and local police in ways that allow each to better do their work.
Making sure (Constitutional rights) will not be infringed upon. Ron George believes the strength of our state lies with the individual and each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored. (campaign site)
Bringing in professional, independent auditors to review every department and agency will allow us to root out the waste and redirect funds to programs where they will do the most good. Independent audits work. (Baltimore Sun, August 8, 2013)
“My plan for governor is one that’s very regional. I believe that you have to have a different solution for what’s going to work in Baltimore, what’s going to work in Prince George’s County, you have to find ways to make things work. I believe in building an economic base, a tax base, a strong one, in Baltimore City.” (interview with Kenn Blanchard, September 9, 2013)
He said a state grant with a payback provision makes sense, because if it spurs a local economy, it increases the tax base. If private firms aren’t stepping up, “you need a grant to close that hole,” he said. The state “awards a lot of grants we never see a payback on. The money is gone.” (Kent County News, August 22, 2013)
Explaining that he suggested a state health care insurance exchange be created in 2007, George said problems with the Obama Administration’s health care fix are that, “It centralizes control and it’s one size fits all.” (Dorchester Star, August 25, 2013)
Charles Lollar: ”If you think our rights are from men, don’t vote for me,” said Lollar. “Rights and liberties…come from the Creator of our universe.” (WCRC meeting, August 26, 2013)
Charles believes in the dignity of the individual. We are a free people able and chartered by our Constitution to self-govern. The role of government is to provide avenues, not to be the yoke. (campaign website, “Platform”)
Reform sloppy and incompetent government practices that dispense discrimination and pick winners.
Manage departments so they are more responsive, efficient, accountable and transparent. Require independent audits of government departments and agencies.
Reduce the cost of operating state government by streamlining the bureaucracy; managing the size of government, not by cutting government jobs, but through attrition and eliminating waste. (campaign website, “Accountability”)
“Our Founding Fathers never wanted this country to have full-time politicians. Ever…I’m proud of the fact I have very little political experience.” (blogger interview, June 24, 2013)
Responding to concerns that many foreclosures don’t meet long-standing legal criteria dictated by Federal or State law, the NAACP recently asked Governor O’Malley to sign an executive order to halt foreclosures until the claims of illegal practices can be investigated.
“I am supporting the NAACP in the fight for a moratorium on foreclosures and to stop the flood of people losing their homes illegally,” Lollar said. (press release, November 18, 2013)
In looking at the body of work David Craig brings to the table, I can find a lot to like about his record as a tax reducer. He also hits the correct notes on fighting crime (which is a legitimate function of government) but I’d be curious to know where he stands on the failed War on Drugs, which needlessly drives up the prison population.
He gets points for being willing to dump the speed camera program (better known in these parts as “scameras”) as perhaps he understands that the idea of these isn’t really safety, but a feelgood way of passing yet another “sin tax.” But why stop at bringing entitlements down to the level of surrounding states? Why not provide leadership by putting into motion the idea of sunsetting them entirely? That would certainly show he’s not subservient to the federal government, even at the risk of losing federal money.
I also don’t get the idea of reaching across the aisle – aren’t they the ones who messed things up in the first place? I want conservative, pro-liberty proposals and a leader who can make the opposition vote the correct way by using the people as his lobbyists, sort of like this guy named Reagan did. Out of 13 points, I think I will give David 8.
In looking at what Ron George had to say, it’s obvious he wants a leaner, more efficient government. But the question is whether he wants a smaller government, since these concepts aren’t necessarily mutual. Having 10 people enforce an unnecessary mandate is not much better than having 20 people enforce it.
Moreover, the idea about “a grant with a payback provision” – isn’t that a loan? I’ve never liked the idea of a governmental entity being a pass-through for anything.
On the other hand, if he goes the step beyond eliminating waste and begins eliminating mandates and laws, then we may be getting somewhere. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous section, George was partially responsible for allowing them to happen because he voted for the bills. Admittedly he may be moving farther to the right as his political career continues, bucking the common trend, but until I see specifics I can only guess he will be the type of governor who will streamline things but keep them in place for some future Democratic governor to abuse. This is why I added the last bullet point about the exchanges, because he’s backed away a little bit from them of late now that Obamacare has been shown to be a failure (note the quote is from August, before Obamacare took effect.) So I will give him 6 of 13 points.
Similarly, Charles Lollar borrows Ron George’s idea for independent audits, but only wants to make cuts through attrition. I have news for you, Charles: in order to rightsize government, some of those excess workers will have to be forced to join the private sector, otherwise we will be right back in the same boat once your term is up and some Democrat comes in again.
But there is one thing I’m beginning to notice in the statements Charles is making: a distinct strain of populism. Most conservatives would agree with the assertion that rights and liberties come from the Creator of our universe, but would those who prefer limited government want to have the state come in and stop foreclosures (by executive order, no less) because one advocacy group says so? By the same token, I used the example in an earlier piece about denying Pepco a rate increase, a stance which stemmed from a meeting where Pepco wasn’t represented to give its side.
It seems like Charles is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Granted, this tends to be the time where policy specifics are in short supply but Charles has fewer than his competitors. I’m having a hard time reconciling the varied messages with the underlying principles he’s seemed to espouse over the last few years, particularly on the Second Amendment – a stance which endeared him to many and gave him the impetus to run for governor. So I can only give him the same 6 points that Ron George received.
I’m actually close to the end for these three candidates, with a look at Larry Hogan to follow once he establishes his platform in the coming months. The next part will focus on Joe Biden’s three-letter word: j-o-b-s.
By the way, I omitted the Democrats from this part entirely because their idea of the role of government seems to be that of overlord. I’m not into that.
On several occasions I’ve bemoaned the fact there are no polls in the Republican race, aside perhaps from internal polls not released to the public. It has given somewhat outsized importance to website-based polls such as the Red Maryland poll or the Red White Blue poll, neither of which are scientific. The same goes for a poll sponsored by the Gazette newspaper, which as I write this has Larry Hogan with a slight lead over Charles Lollar, with David Craig and Ron George trailing significantly; on the other hand, George has won the last two Red Maryland polls. The proof that the internet-based polling may be overblown is the amount of cajoling the candidates (or supporters) have done to solicit support, particularly in the Gazette poll since it’s a “reputable” news site.
- David Craig on Facebook Monday: “Please take a moment to show your support by casting your vote for me in this online poll.”
- Ron George on Facebook Monday: “Please take a moment to vote in today’s Capital Gazette online poll, ‘If the Republican primary were today, who would you vote for as the nominee for governor?’”
- Larry Hogan on Facebook Monday (via Change Maryland): “First online poll since our Harvest Party with Change Maryland‘s founder and Chairman Larry Hogan in it. Please click on this link to cast your votes.”
- Charles Lollar on Facebook Tuesday: “Good Morning Lollar Supporters! We are only a few points away from taking 1st place in this poll. Please vote for Chares Lollar, the only candidate that can win in the General Election. Vote from your computer, your work computer, your phone. Together WE can do this!”
That’s just one of several appeals, mainly from the Lollar and Hogan camps. But Larry is going one better, based on a newsletter I received yesterday:
Earn points by helping us Change Maryland by sharing our posts, by getting your friends involved, and by engaging in the conversation. Use your Change Maryland points towards getting Change Maryland stickers, T-shirts, hats and awesome polos!
I was thinking I already have the sticker, and as much as I’ve pimped the group over two years I could qualify for being clad head to toe. The group continues to add followers and may have 70,000 before the week is out. But the political world isn’t based on Facebook likes or easily-manipulated internet polls; the question is how real voters will really react when the ballots are cast in June.
As I have often pointed out, a poll such as the Red Maryland poll or Gazette poll simply is a basis of knowing how many people are in the devoted 1% of followers – consider that if you believed a number of internet polls, we would be talking about President Ron Paul right now. But in real life he rarely cracked double digits in any primary.
Regardless, this all means the gubernatorial race isn’t taking much of a holiday break.
Update: Steve Crim of Change Maryland alerted me to the fact this Change Maryland point promotion has been underway since June – I already have 116 points!
After the 2010 election, where Norm Conway barely carried the Worcester County portion of his former district by 311 votes over Mike McDermott - and just 665 over third place finisher Marty Pusey – I’m sure statewide Democrats didn’t want to take a chance on an upset in 2014 given Worcester County’s trend toward the Republican Party. So they drew him into a single-member district which mostly held onto the far western end of his existing territory here in Wicomico County but also gave him some new voters close by Salisbury University, knowing that this part of his old district was perhaps the area which backed Norm the strongest.
It took awhile for a local Republican to answer the challenge, but Delmar mayor Carl Anderton, Jr. wrapped up the process of filing yesterday and is now on the June 24 primary ballot. Anderton, who is also the current president of the Maryland Municipal League, seems to be the young, energetic challenger Republicans were looking for once the district was drawn. Conway, who will be 72 in January as the General Assembly session begins, has spent over half his life as an elected official – he was first voted onto Salisbury City Council in 1974, moving to the General Assembly in 1986. (Interestingly enough, according to his official state bio, Conway was also a Maryland Municipal League officer, but only as a regional vice-president.)
Anderton has served as Delmar’s mayor since 2011, replacing longtime mayoral fixture Doug Niblett.
The candidacy of Anderton serves as a reminder why it’s so important to have a political “farm team” in place. While it may seem like a mismatch in terms of political experience, one has to really ask what having an entrenched, longtime politician has really done for a county which has seen its workforce shrink by nearly 2,000 in one year (July 2012 – July 2013) and a net loss of 1,573 jobs during that same period.* The only reason unemployment fell from 8.5% to 8.3% was the bottom falling out of the workforce – otherwise unemployment would be well over 10 percent. If that’s the mark of a successful chair of the House Appropriations Committee I’m afraid to know what failure would be like.
It will be interesting to see the platform Anderton develops, but one thing is clear: the incumbent is going to point to a few key votes where he was allowed to depart from the Annapolis majority in order to save face in his district. Ask yourself: where was his leadership against all these issues in the first place?
* Here are the actual numbers:
July 2012: 54,801 in workforce, 50,161 employed, 4,640 unemployed, 8.5% unemployment rate
July 2013: 52,964 in workforce, 48,588 employed, 4.376 unemployed, 8.3% unemployment rate
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.
Generally the interregnum between Election Day and New Year’s Day is a dead zone for politics. Admittedly, there are exceptions – Obamacare passed the Senate in a series of late-December votes culminating on Christmas Eve, leading to the potential for coal in a lot of stockings four years on; about the only use allowed for it anymore. But for the most part, the political world is placed on the back burner in November and December.
But I’ve noticed the Maryland gubernatorial campaigns are pressing on at an increasing pace these days, and there’s probably no stopping anytime soon as they try to blunt the impact of the presumptive new entrant, Larry Hogan. While Hogan and Change Maryland have continually been critics of the off-tune Martin O’Malley/Anthony Brown second term, the pace of Hogan’s criticism has picked up in recent weeks in preparation for what appears to be a gala announcement at the state’s upcoming Republican convention. One can argue that the Hogan candidacy was already priced into the market – for example, I received two mailings yesterday from the David Craig campaign proclaiming that “governor is not an entry-level position” and that David has “The experience we need. The leadership you can trust.” But when you consider he was talking about making a January decision, the fact Hogan moved his timetable up may be an indication that he feels the race would be getting away from him if he waited.
Larry also seems to be using the toughest rhetoric, saying Anthony Brown “intentionally misled” voters on Obamacare and accusing Martin O’Malley of “cherry-picking data.” Hopefully he will remain on that path of making the race a referendum on disastrous Democratic policies.
One offshoot of this potential Hogan entry will be how it affects fundraising by the other candidates. We won’t have our first indication of how any of the candidates are progressing on that front until mid-January, but it bears mentioning that several gubernatorial candidates will have to put fundraising on hold during the General Assembly session: all three on the Democratic side (Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Delegate Heather Mizeur) as well as GOP Delegate Ron George. This is true unless they are taking public financing, and I doubt any Democrat will live under those spending limits.
So this won’t matter as much to the Democrats who are already pretty flush with cash, but Ron George will be at a disadvantage during that crucial time just months before the primary so he’s passing the hat now. If money gets more scarce with Hogan jumping in he would be placed at the largest disadvantage.
I suspect the race will be trimmed to three once again before the primary begins, but it’s anyone’s guess who the odd person out will be.
Honestly, it didn’t surprise me when I saw this “media advisory” from Change Maryland:
Larry Hogan & Change Maryland will host a Fall Harvest Party to celebrate the success of Change Maryland in 2013, including building the largest and fastest growing grassroots army in the state – 65,000 people. Hogan will be speaking at the event and will discuss his plans for 2014 in front of a sold out capacity crowd.
So at about 8:35 Friday night, give or take, we will likely hear the confirmation that the pining and wishing has paid off and Larry Hogan will be the newest candidate for governor. In reality, it will be the end of a long path I foreshadowed when I wrote about the formation of Change Maryland 2 1/2 years ago.
In looking back at that post, I find it interesting that I brought up two names within: Charles Lollar and Brian Murphy. Both were candidates for the state’s top post in the 2010 cycle, although Charles dropped out fairly early once it was learned he was ineligible for the post – at the time he could not prove he was a resident of Maryland for the requisite five years. Murphy, on the other hand, persevered through the primary and become the conservative alternative to Bob Ehrlich, including the endorsement from Sarah Palin which gave him credibility among the TEA Party faithful.
Indeed, both have resurfaced for the 2014 campaign – Lollar coyly subjected himself to a “draft” campaign for several months before formally announcing in early September; meanwhile, Murphy wrote this on his Facebook page in early October:
The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Joy and I are well, and we are enjoying life on the Eastern Shore. We welcomed our fifth child into the world this summer, and our business is growing, but we’re concerned about the country we’re leaving for our children and yours. Been out of the political world, but I have thoroughly enjoyed living vicariously through Dan Bongino. Dan and I were in the phone tonight and he finally convinced me to come off the sidelines. Stay tuned…
Of course this could mean many different things since there’s no shortage of posts on the political field. But there’s been an intriguing rumor going around about a Hogan/Murphy ticket. No question the timing of Murphy’s announcement could be simply coincidence, but this would indeed create a formidable team if it came to pass, perhaps as a melding of the fiscal savvy of both candidates with Murphy’s TEA Party appeal.
We may find out more on Friday night.
You know, if it hadn’t been for an overzealous overreaction to the Sandy Hook shooting this wouldn’t be an issue. But Maryland went way overboard – despite the hundreds and hundreds who descended upon Annapolis in a vain attempt to convince the majority of lawmakers otherwise – and it’s now on my front burner as a top issue.
I happen to believe my concealed carry permit is the Second Amendment, so let’s see how the GOP candidates compare.
David Craig: I will work to repeal ill-conceived legislation such as Senate Bill 281 passed in 2013 that do nothing but undermine the 2nd amendment. I will protect the rights of responsible firearm owners and hunters. And I will support Maryland becoming a “shall issue” state to enable law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. (campaign website)
Similarly, when asked about the Second Amendment, David took the conservative line of being “a strong supporter of all amendments.” In fact, he added that the American Revolution wasn’t fought over taxation but the move by the British to disarm the colonists. David also joked that there should be a regulation: red doors for all gun owners and blue ones for those who don’t – “so they know who to rob.” (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)
Ron George: Ron made sure to remark the Second Amendment “has my full support,” noting he was the only Delegate to actually testify at the afternoon regulatory hearing in Annapolis. He noted eight different problems with the regulations, where legislation was being written in. (WCRC meeting, September 23, 2013)
Charles Lollar: I believe in our Constitution and I believe our government has no right to remove our right to keep and bear arms and/or make it nearly impossible for citizens to carry weapons, if they choose to do so. Law-abiding citizens should most definitely be permitted to conceal carry their weapons. (campaign website)
…the Second Amendment “is the lifeline of your freedom.” (Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, March 23, 2013)
It’s no shock to me that the Democrats don’t discuss the issue, neither as an “achievement” or something which needs to be addressed.
I somewhat oversimplified my position above, but suffice to say that all three candidates thus far score highly.
The only question I would have about David Craig‘s position is just what he means by “shall issue” because even those states have a wide range of restrictions on who shall be issued to. (This is a good reference to what I mean.) It’s not just repealing SB281 or even becoming “shall issue” – that’s just barely at minimum what should be done. I would rather see us fall into the “unrestricted” category but I’m not sure David would show that much leadership. Still, I believe a solid 8 of 11 points is in order.
The same goes for Ron George, who gets kudos for testifying against the so-called Firearm Safety Act of 2013. He’s also shown a pretty good voting record on the subject, but it’s a little disappointing he doesn’t trumpet this on his website. I think he’s just a shade better than Craig, so I give Ron 8.5 points.
I know Charles Lollar has been out front and outspoken about the Second Amendment issue, moreso than any of the other candidates. The only question I have is how far he would take us in the right direction. But I think he understands the issue enough, and the fact he’s making the case at most of his campaign stops and has adopted this as a primary issue gives him just that much more credence that he should get 10 points out of 11.
I will eventually work my way back to the Obamacare question – as the campaigns slowly work on their answers to the issue, I gather – but my next post will discuss the War on Rural Maryland and what these three plan to do about it.
Today I work into the fourth part of my series, on energy policy.
It’s clear to me that if the state wants to become more successful at improving the standard of living of its citizens, we have to find ways to make energy more accessible and less expensive for the average consumer. That’s the starting point for my critique on energy policy.
There are many points the Republican candidates seem to agree on, which is to be expected.
David Craig: Craig said it is also time to stop studying fracking and enable natural gas extraction to take place in Western Maryland in an environmentally-responsible manner. (press release, October 4, 2013)
Harford County Executive David R. Craig, who also is seeking the Republican nomination, said estimates show fracking in Garrett and Allegany counties will bring as many as 14,000 jobs.
If the state continues to study the issue, the people of Western Maryland will suffer as business go to frack in neighboring Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, he said. (Gazette, September 19, 2013)
Ron George: Make Energy More Affordable, Available, and Less Dependent on unstable governments half way around the world. This includes developing natural gas resources and using clean coal for our own needs. (campaign site)
“I have to let you know that I’ve really struggled with the issue and studied the issue, I’ve listened to the fears and looked at the science,” he said. “And I’ve come down on the side of natural gas drilling for ourselves, for Maryland’s use.”
Fracking now will help the state with its energy costs and diversify its alternative energy production, said George, a GOP candidate for governor.
“We have to have other alternatives that are clean,” he said. (Gazette, September 19, 2013)
“Before we go building 40 of these [wind turbines] offshore, let’s do this step by step,” said Del. Ron George, R-Anne Arundel. He offered an amendment to build one wind turbine to study the viability of offshore wind in Maryland. He said the Virginia legislature approved a similar plan on Wednesday.
“It will test the economics of large scale offshore wind projects, it will test the mechanics of construction and issues related to offshore wind projects, and it will study the ability of offshore wind projects to withstand weather conditions” 11 miles off the coast of Ocean City.
“It is really doing the next step, so we don’t go wasting money, and we make sure we do it right,” George said. (Maryland Reporter, March 29, 2012)
Charles Lollar: I support development of Maryland’s Marchellus shale natural gas reserves. (campaign website, “Natural Resources”)
Demand that public utilities be held accountable to their customers. (campaign website, “Accountability”)
In order to reduce (energy prices) Lollar wants to remove subsidies and allow all forms of energy to compete on their merits. This includes allowing fracking in Maryland’s Marcellus shale so that natural gas can lower the state’s energy costs. He sees O’Malley’s subsidies for wind energy as a way of picking winners and losers in the market, and opposes to the handouts. (Real Clear Markets, September 3, 2013)
Lollar said the state could quickly come out of its perennial deficit if it allowed fracking in Maryland. Lollar emphasized the practice would have to be well regulated, but not so much so as to stop businesses from existing. (SoMDNews, November 1, 2013)
“We absolutely need to take advantage of that resource, not just as another energy source but to put people to work,” Charles Lollar, Republican candidate for governor, said of natural gas. (Gazette, September 19, 2013)
I think they [Pepco] have an unfair relationship advantage. I’m not prepared to blame the Democratic party but I am prepared to blame the individual people that have made the system what it is. I do believe that when you have an unbalanced system that heavily favors one party over another, this is the kind of response that you get. There’s a lot of strong-arming. There are strong and forceful relationships that are literally causing people to do things that in their right mind, they would not do.
The power held at the highest levels of our state is incredible and it’s crushing good elected officials and appointed commissioners that want to do the right thing. Let’s put the blame where it needs to be. This idea of charging someone a fee before they get appropriate services is wrong no matter what party you’re from. (Bethesda Now, November 7, 2013)
Insofar as energy policy goes, our friends across the aisle greet the issue with reactions ranging from radio silence (Anthony Brown) to a belief that poultry waste can be a “responsible investment” (Doug Gansler) to a pedal-to-the-metal emphasis on so-called “clean energy” and outright hostility to fracking (Heather Mizeur). None of these proposals meet the twin tests of reliability and market worthiness that coal, oil, and natural gas do. In particular, one has to ponder the viability of poultry waste as a fuel after the Waterkeeper Alliance picked on one family for months in an losing effort to make an example of them, a move one local environmental advocate said “definitely sets us back.”
So what I believe had “definitely set us back” is the de facto moratorium on fracking Maryland has had in effect for the last few years, as the state continues to twiddle its thumbs and study the issue at length in “setting an extremely high bar for industry.” Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has seemed to find a reasonable balance between environment and energy; thus natural gas exploration and extraction is creating jobs and revenue for those counties fortunate enough to sit atop the Marcellus Shale formation.
I think David Craig gets this part of the picture, but there’s a lot more to energy policy than just fracking. It would be good to know where he stands on other market-based reforms like repealing the wind energy bill and renewable energy portfolio – as you’ll see in a future segment David has his eye on restoring a balance between economy and environment. So I give him 4.5 of 8 points.
Ron George took a while to come down on the side of fracking, but also seems to foresee more of an “all-of-the-above” approach. Included in that was advocating a single-unit pilot project for offshore wind, despite the fact the bill he attempted unsuccessfully to amend, if passed, had a fiscal note which warned “State expenditures…increase minimally beginning in FY 2013 and significantly beginning in FY 2017 due to higher electricity prices.” Perhaps his view on this has evolved, however, as he did not offer the same amendment in 2013 and voted against O’Malley’s bill. As you’ll see below, he should get credit for weighing evidence.
But it’s difficult to reconcile George’s stance with his previous votes on the subject. Maybe he’s reached a level of satisfaction with the state’s regulations and if so he’s a little more for red tape than my taste would dictate; for that answer I need more guidance. At this point I’ll score him as a solid 4 of 8 points.
Charles Lollar stands with the rest of the Republicans on fracking, which is good. He also makes it sound like O’Malley’s wind folly would be terminated, which is great. But there’s one piece of the puzzle which troubles me greatly.
It’s noted in the Bethesda Now story, where Lollar was quoted as saying “charging someone a fee before they get appropriate services is wrong,” that the forum was intentionally held without a PEPCO representative present. Had Lollar studied the issue more carefully he would have known this rate increase was based on an executive order from Governor O’Malley, who touted the increase as “hardening” the electric grid. The idea is to accelerate the process of preparing the grid for major weather events, which may have been the point brought out by a PEPCO spokesperson had one been invited to the event.
One thing about being an elected official is that you generally hear all sides of the story as part of your duties in office. On the other hand, coming in without that experience means you have to work at the issue. On his front page, Charles claims his goal is to ”bring together people of different political beliefs, talents and backgrounds to develop solutions to difficult problems.” Yet he attended a forum where a party to a dispute is sandbagged, and that’s disappointing.
It’s populism to pick on a utility without hearing their side of the story. So my question is whether “well regulated” for fracking will be determined by the hype or the facts. Based on this concern I can only give Charles 2.5 out of 8 points at this time.
The next portion is something I would anticipate the candidates do quite well in: Second Amendment rights. I’m hoping to follow that up with a discussion of what the candidates would do about Obamacare, and for that answer I had to ask directly.
It’s also worth pointing out that this process would evolve. In his answer to my Obamacare question, Ron George elaborated a little on education so I believe I should add that portion in. It wouldn’t surprise me as the campaign rolls along that these pieces might be revised once or twice along the way; you should expect no less.
Now I’ll turn my attention to illegal immigration, another subject which suffers from a lack of attention and detail thus far. Then again, the issue is more cut and dried.
David Craig: I will seek to overturn the state law enabling illegal immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. (campaign website)
Ron George: (S)tates should not encourage those that come here illegally and those who have become illegal due to expired visas or are undocumented. States must resist providing these illegal aliens Driver’s Licenses, In-State Tuition, free public services, or the allowance for over capacitated group houses in neighborhoods that are otherwise zoned. Encouragement of these activities strains the infrastructure of communities while perpetuating a larger increase of illegal immigration. (campaign website)
But while others emphasized George’s support for such issues as requiring legal residence for immigrants to obtain a driver’s license…(Maryland Reporter, June 6, 2013)
Charles Lollar: (question) Do you believe Maryland county police forces should follow Frederick County’s example and seek ICE training?
Lollar: ”Frederick Co Example – This example should be seen as a benchmark for Maryland counties and states across our nation. Although opponents feel this is profiling, I completely disagree! The FC model simply checks those who have been arrested for illegal activity and those arresting such individuals are trained by the ICT to conduct these checks of legality.” (Blue Ridge Forum, November 20, 2009)
In 2010, running for Congress, Lollar received a “True Reformer” rating from NumbersUSA.
As you may recall, I was dead-set against the in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Personally I think that those here illegally should be sent home, and if they want to come back they should do it the correct way. It’s only fair to those who have taken the steps to become Americans through legal methods, and are we not a nation of laws? I understand people want a better life and I certainly don’t blame them for coming to America, but those who go through the legal channels generally become some of our best and brightest citizens – particularly if they’ve emigrated from an oppressive homeland. Those who come illegally have to continue being illegal to get along; for example, it’s nothing for them to offer money for a valid Social Security number as happened to a friend of mine.
So no driver’s licenses or special favors for those who came in without permission and unpersecuted. Needless to say, Democrats don’t talk about this issue because they’re the ones who encouraged the mess in the first place.
David Craig takes a couple important first steps in the process, although I’m certain many in the business community will work against him on E-Verify. Yet he overcame any opposition in Harford County, so I will give him 3 out of 5 points for the promising beginning.
Of the three, Ron George provides the best of these (limited) responses. But once elected (and as I mentioned above) I would hope the candidates work to reverse the Question 4 debacle Maryland voters unwisely upheld in their emotional outburst last year. If Ron is out to resist the other aspects of illegal immigration, he needs to show leadership on that part of it too.
But there’s one item where George somewhat contradicts his tough talk. Remember on Sunday when I discussed education and one of Ron’s points was:
By the creation of charter schools where immigration numbers are high and test scores are dropping such as in Montgomery County so that the immigrant population can receive education tailored to help them get acclimated into their new society, addressing language and other needs while other students can concentrate on their needs.
Wouldn’t that fall under a “free public service” for illegal aliens? I downgrade him slightly for that idea, but otherwise I get the impression Ron is a hawk on this issue so he gets 3.5 points of 5.
Despite the fact Charles Lollar talked about this issue on a national level, the fact he received a good grade from Numbers USA gives me confidence he will lead in the right direction. But I need more specifics, so he picks up 2 of 5 points.
Next week I’m getting back into this with energy issues.
My original thought was to do campaign finance and illegal immigration together, but I changed my mind and will do them separately.
It’s not exactly the most glamorous of subjects, but campaign finance and election reform is a pet subject of mine. Unfortunately, not much attention is being paid to it yet on the 2014 front. So this severely limited portion of my dossier covers (briefly) just two of three candidates.
David Craig: I will appoint an inspector general to investigate cases of fraud in the voter rolls at the State Board of Elections. (campaign website)
I have nothing yet from Charles Lollar.
Once again I can use my book as a reference to show where I stand on the issue. (I really wasn’t meaning to be self-serving like that, but it only makes sense as a gauge of where I come from.) There are four main points which translate to state elections:
- Adoption of a photo voter identification, to be presented at the ballot (or a copy enclosed with an absentee ballot)
- A paper trail for voting
- Abolition of early voting – one Election Day and absentee ballots are enough
- Campaign finance reform
On the last point, allow me to elaborate further:
Personally I think any and all contribution limits should be abolished and the process freed up as much as practical for American citizens. (Contributions by foreign nationals are and should remain a no-no.) But with that carrot comes the stick of daily and accessibly reporting any and all contributions to a particular campaign. So if AFSCME gives $50 million to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, within 24 hours anyone in the pajamas media can say, hey, AFSCME members, look what your union dues are paying for. If the trial lawyers’ association gives $20 million to Obama, we can immediately follow the money and ask what the quid pro quo is there? Obviously the situation holds true as well if the national Chamber of Commerce gives $15 million to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, or whoever the GOP standard-bearer may be.
Obviously this would make the job of campaign treasurer a full-time one for statewide races, but then again removing the campaign limits may allow it to be a position with a salary or stipend.
So I was disappointed to see the lack of attention to what should be a vital issue, particularly in Maryland.
For example, I like David Craig and his idea, although this would have to be done by an executive order – hell will freeze over before the Democrats in the General Assembly go along – and just wait until Eric Holder finds out about it. But since it’s only one idea, albeit a good one, I can only award 1 point of 3.
On the other hand, Ron George (along with two Democrat delegates) co-sponsored the campaign finance reform bill in question, which weighs in at 60-plus pages. Most of it indeed doesn’t take effect until January, 2015, but this is also the bill which (unwisely, I thought) moved the filing deadline up to February. I don’t know if that was Ron’s idea, but I’ll withhold judgment on the overall law aside from saying that raising the legal contribution limits is a small step in the right direction. But if they were going to tinker with things like this, they should have added a provision exempting unpaid party positions from campaign finance law. So no points.
I’m sure Charles Lollar will eventually have something to say, but thus far he’s been silent on these issues. No points for him, either.
Even the Democrats had nothing to say about it; then again I’m sure they like the system as it is. I think it needs improvement.
So now I will address illegal immigration in my next segment.
Last month, in the midst of ongoing controversy over the foibles of one particular Maryland campaign, I put up a post reminding people it’s about the issues. And while I have a favorite in the race just simply based on that which I’ve heard him say and the fact he’s a very convincing speaker, I thought the time had come to look at his and the other campaigns in a much more critical light. After all, our nation elected a guy who had a very positive message for hope and change – now many are hoping we survive as a nation to change things back.
As part of that I also resurrected a feature I used to determine my presidential picks over the last two cycles. Perhaps it’s the curse of an overly analytical mind, but I like to break things down into numbers so I devised a point system to rate individual candidates. Granted, this is still somewhat subjective and arbitrary but it’s the best I can do.
What I will do over the next few weeks is look at a number of issues I feel are the most important in the race. Some of them are covered well in-depth among the several sources I cite, and I may even expand this exercise as I find more information and the campaigns roll on. In terms of having a plethora of source material, I thought the subject of education would be a good place to begin. While it only ranks in the middle among my key issues, it’s much higher on the list for many so I thought it a good entree.
The first part is worth 9 points on my 100-point scale. I’ll begin with the source material, add some compare and contrast with Democratic opponents (who have written quite a bit on this subject) then wrap up with my thoughts. David Craig will be covered first, followed by Ron George and Charles Lollar on the GOP side.
David Craig: MDEd’s budget has increased from $265 million in 2007 to $307 million this year. The state agency employs 1600 government workers. That money would be better spent in Maryland classrooms where it would buy much-need (sic) supplies and enhance teacher salaries.
As Governor, I will reduce the administrative budget of the state education department and pass the cost-savings on to local schools. I will end common core, return the money to Washington and let teacher’s (sic) teach. The sound budgeting practices I will apply to the K-12 system will be required of the University System of Maryland to make college tuition affordable. I will support school choice, charter schools and other proven measures to increase competition to ensure no child is trapped in a school that does not work. (campaign site)
Craig’s answer to the problem: “We don’t need statewide testing,” and as governor, he would advocate for their abolition. Instead, he said that tests should be developed at the school and classroom level, “That’s why we hire teachers.”
Dagger: Some states have delayed mandatory implementation of the Common Core. Should Maryland follow suit?
Craig: “The only reason Maryland [adopted the Common Core] was they saw they could get all this money. How much went to teachers? How much went to the classroom? None of it.”
As for a statewide delay in implementing the Common Core, put Craig down as a “definite yes.” (interview with The Dagger, June 25, 2013)
But there’s duplication, so much duplication, in government – county government and school board government. I have a capital projects committee, they have a capital projects committee – why do we need both? I have the same guys that do the investigations, the inspections and all that stuff, I have a procurement department. I don’t buy chalk and all that stuff, but they have a procurement department. That’s duplication. I have a lawyer, a law department, they have a law department – duplication. They have a human resource department, I have a human resource department, duplication. Now, do I get rid of all those employees? No, but at least get rid of the top person. The person who’s making $150,000, instead of having two of them, you only have one. And you can probably merge a lot of things together and only have office – and none of that takes place in the classroom. (monoblogue interview, June 11, 2013)
Ron George: Grading each school’s educational success only on outcome based measures, not on the amount of money spent on education and construction or pay.
Create a “scholarship” system where students that pass an entrance exam to a non-public school will receive money to attend without the state having to pay a penny more. Currently it costs Maryland $13,900 each year to educate a student, the national average is $10,400.
By allowing a “scholarship” of up to one quarter that amount, our public school teachers will have smaller class sizes, better pay, more planning time, and the state saves some money while all students receive a more tailored education according to their abilities.
By creating a Baltimore Children’s Zone in the failing high crime areas modeled after the effective Harlem Children’s Zone where grades and attitudes have improved immensely.
By the creation of charter schools where immigration numbers are high and test scores are dropping such as in Montgomery County so that the immigrant population can receive education tailored to help them get acclimated into their new society, addressing language and other needs while other students can concentrate on their needs.
By promoting Government Civics Courses and Financial Literacy courses. Students need to understand the form of government and the economic system they will be a part of, otherwise they will graduate unprepared. (campaign site)
“I have opposed Common Core from its onset,” said Delegate George. “Parents have the right to have their voices heard in all matters concerning the education of their children. This is a vast overreach by the federal government that should not even be considered until it has been thoroughly vetted by parents,” continued George.
“It is very clear to me that Common Core is nothing but an attempt by the federal government to take control over our children’s education and to force parents to sit on the sideline. It is outrageous and I intend to fight it with all of my energy,” said George. (press release, September 23, 2013)
As Common Core has been in the news, Ron weighed in on how Maryland adopted it. The package of bills was fourfold, he explained, with the first two not being too obnoxious – but once they passed the fix was in for the bad portions. Ron stated he was “very much against” the mandates in Common Core. It’s being forced on the counties, he later said, but was “totally dumbing down” students. (WCRC meeting, monoblogue, September 23, 2013)
George even floated the idea of $4,000 state-funded scholarships for students who pass private school entrance exams. He said the measure would reduce classroom sizes and save the state $6,000 off the nearly $13,900 price tag attached to each public school student, with the remaining $3,900 going toward pay raises for public school teachers. (SoMDNews, June 26, 2013)
Charles Lollar: What we should try to do is reward teachers whose students comprehend the subject matter. We should give more local control to teachers and parents, while taking it away from the educational bureaucracy. We should allow parents to choose the schools they want to send their children to and not punish them for doing so. We should allow a stronger voucher program offering them the chance to compete with public institutions. We conservatives want what’s best for all of our children and have learned from experience what we shouldn’t do. Having blanket standards in a “one-size-fits-all” approach is NOT what we should do. (release quoted on monoblogue, July 1, 2013)
He is committed to joining with leaders and law enforcement officials to create more community centers for at-risk youth that will help them learn the life and business skills necessary for healthy lives and careers. (campaign website, “Platform“)
As Governor, Charles Lollar will fight for children’s education with a suite of policies – more economic opportunity offering the hope of more jobs, more resources in the classroom instead of in the administration building, innovative ideas that will engage student, parent and teacher in a rising tide of educational achievement.
He will fight to remove obstacles to learning. He is pro-innovation, pro-school choice, and pro-educator. With their parents and teachers, he will fight to remove obstacles that deny children the opportunity to achieve and be valued.
Charles Lollar will strengthen the weakened charter school system and promote the successful methodologies in education.
Charles Lollar will strongly advocate to the State Board of Education, County BOEs and individual districts to embrace charter schools, private schools, and home-schooling as excellent and alternative paths for the children of our state to learn and achieve to the benefit of all Marylanders.
Charles Lollar will work with local school boards to reward dedicated teachers in ways that encourage and inspire them to continue working in Maryland school systems.
(W)e know that Common Core will not work.
We know from experience and repeated tries that “one-size-fits-all” government does not work. We tried No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, but have you visited the schools in Baltimore City or Prince George’s County lately? How are these programs working out for those precious children and their hard working parents? We shouldn’t continue down a road of failure.
As Governor I will give more local control to teachers and parents, and reduce the role and size of educational bureaucracy. I will institute a strong voucher program. We will work to allow parents to choose the schools they want to send their children to and not be punished for doing so. And we will reward teachers whose students comprehend the subject matter. (campaign website, “Education“)
“If we’re spending $6 billion a year on education, why in the world can we not provide pens, paper, and pencils for our students in the classroom?” (blogger interview accessed via Red Maryland, June 24, 2013)
Lollar would pave the way for school choice by allowing tax dollars to follow the child, and do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are aimed at teachers rather than administrators. “We have to demand academic excellence,” Lollar told me. (Real Clear Markets, September 3, 2013)
On the Democratic side, all three candidates (Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, and Heather Mizeur) have focused on education as well, with the key issue uniting them all being an expansion of public education to the pre-kindergarten level. Gansler, however, would include “targeted achievement grants” to schools serving immigrant families, more data collection, mentoring programs, and “learning bridge” programs to address after-school and summer breaks. Meanwhile, Mizeur would match Gansler in “investing” in after-school and summer programs, but also greatly expand the child care subsidy plan and revise the funding formula she complains is “out of date.”
There’s no doubt we have a difference in philosophy here between Republicans and Democrats, but it also helps in this cause to explain my own.
It’s been a little over a year since I completed my book, and tucked within is a chapter on education. I’ll not blockquote the entire chapter, but the main thrusts of my argument fell into two categories:
- financial issues, where I advocate an approach of “money follows the child,” the idea of for-profit schools, and the insistence that Uncle Sam “butt out” of the education business so more local control can be established, and;
- curriculum issues, such as the lack of focus on basic subjects and critical thinking in the rush to score well on standardized tests, as well as the fading focus on vocational education
But I will steal one sentence from Chapter 11:
As it stands in America today, those environments for learning which tend to show the most success (namely, private schools and homeschooling) generally have the least to do with government regulation and the most to do with educating children through more rigid discipline, a course of study emphasizing classical subjects, and a greater sense of morality through faith-based studies.
Therein lies the rub. I understand there are only limited resources in a campaign and candidates can’t address every concern, so I can definitively say none of these guys is my perfect candidate insofar as education is concerned. But which ones are better?
Obviously the Democrats are in a headlong rush to put the government in control of your children – particularly those of the poorest among us who qualify for all the subsidies – at an earlier and earlier age, even collecting data on them from birth! Some might say this is to condition them for government control throughout their lives, fostering a sense of dependence. As is often the case, government seems to be the sole answer for the Democratic candidates; regardless of the question, I hope Marylanders are smarter than that.
Many will argue, though, that a child is not a commodity, and education is not a business. Yet there are inefficiencies in the system, and David Craig has the advantage of knowing the system as an educator himself. He also notes he will eliminate Common Core and refuse the federal money for that, which is a good start from weaning ourselves from the federal teat. He also advocated an end to statewide testing, vowed to enhance school choice, and suggested money should indeed follow the child (in another quote I now cannot source), all of which suggests a good beginning. The next steps, though, are to convince a skeptical public.
And this is key with what he says: he will create the budget. Yet there are some gaps in this financial approach: what about maintenance of effort? Will the counties be forced to account for any state shortfall, or will be give fiscal control back to the counties? One start would be sending up a repeal of the bill forcing counties into ever-increasing maintenance of effort despite locally-enacted revenue caps.
Based on the experience and the promising start, I give David 6.5 points of 9.
On the other hand, Ron George seems to view a larger state influence in several respects, although he joins his fellows in opposing Common Core. I interpret his call for “outcome based” measures as some sort of testing mechanism; unfortunately, we already suffer from overly “teaching to the test.” I will say, though, properly taught civics and financial literacy courses would be a plus. Just strike the environmental education requirement and substitute these classes.
Yet he advocates a limited dose of “money follows the child” with his scholarship program, with the savings going to teacher raises. The devil’s advocate in me asks, though: why give raises to the teachers who are already failing children enough to drive them to private schools?
Ron also advocates a program for inner-city Baltimore based on the Harlem Children’s Zone. In doing a little bit of research on the initiative, though, I came up with two questions: one is of leadership, since the HCZ notes a program takes 10-15 years to develop, so it will require leadership spanning gubernatorial administrations. The other is the 2:1 mix of private to public funds it had in 2008, when the white paper was developed. At the time the HCZ budget was $67 million, so presumably the state would need $20 to $30 million annually to run this program.
So I have to ask: if it was such a good idea, why isn’t it already in effect? Why wait for a particular governor?
Meanwhile, while Ron is for charter schools, the emphasis he has is on immersing those who aren’t native English speakers.
What I sense with Ron George is the willingness to try new things, but not those which step far outside the Big Education comfort zone we have now. I don’t get the sense of demanding parental and local control I get with Craig and (as you’ll see) Charles Lollar. Ron receives 4 of 9 points.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Charles Lollar is an advocate for local control and money following the child. We get it, and I like the idea. In many respects, he and David Craig walk the same ground. And as I noted with David, he will have the bully pulpit of creating the budget to enact his wishes.
In fact, Charles seems to be a very strong advocate for charter schools, which is a good beginning to opening up the educational market. But the question is what strings will be placed on a “strong voucher program”?
I also have to ask: why is it the school’s responsibility to provide pens, paper, and pencils for students? If parents can make a school choice, don’t they also have the charge to send their child to school prepared?
Of the three candidates, Charles seems to have the most fleshing out of his policy to do. It’s something where I can give him 6 of 9 points but he can help his score out (or hurt it) depending on how he follows through. The mantras of school choice and local control are great, but more specifics would help voters understand how we get from point A to point B.
Because it’s early in the process and we have one more potential major candidate, I’ll hold off on the running total for now. I think my next subjects to tackle will be the first two I listed: election/campaign finance reform and illegal immigration.