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.
I think I can get all this in one part. To be quite honest, this convention didn’t match the buildup.
It was sort of strange. I noted earlier in the week that the whole Lollar controversy in the blogosphere overshadowed the months-long debate over the open primary question, and then the prospect of a Larry Hogan gubernatorial announcement upstaged several other events.
These were the scenes around the main ballroom on Friday night after arrival.
There was no doubt that they were proud of their achievements.
And something tells me that most of these stickers were gone by the end of the night.
The Change Maryland party even had a live band, called the Great Escape Band. I noted on Facebook that may be something subliminal if Larry doesn’t win.
Aside from one song they sort of butchered up in my line of thinking, the band was really pretty good. They also reinforced my belief that there’s not a band which doesn’t know ‘Mustang Sally.’ Although he actually didn’t write the song Wilson Pickett must be proud, wherever he is.
But when they took their break, the real rock star came into the room.
What I have found interesting in looking back and listening again to what Larry said is that my interpretation is much different than what Larry presented to other outlets.
This, which I transcribed from the remarks he presented, is part of what Larry Hogan said last night:
Now everyone who knows me knows that I love this state, I hate to let people down, and that I’ve never walked away from a tough fight.
I’m not a professional politician – I’m just a businessman – but I don’t think that you need to be campaigning all throughout 2013 for an election that takes place at the end of 2014. But, you know, we are getting pretty close to the end of the year.
I promised my wife and family that I would spend a little quality time with them over the holidays, and I’m looking forward to that.
And as you may know I founded and run a group of companies that has brought hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs to Maryland, and I promised the employees and my colleagues that I would stay at the helm and continue to work hard with them to try to have a strong finish to the calendar year.
So there won’t be a formal announcement or an official launch until January, but tonight – tonight I wanted to be very clear about our intentions.
I happen to believe very strongly that the people of Maryland simply cannot afford another four years of O’Malley/Brown/Gansler tax and spend policies.
Hogan went on to say, “This isn’t a fight between right and left, it’s a fight between right and wrong.
I honestly believe people went in there expecting Larry to make the formal announcement last night, so once he made his remarks a good percentage of the people left his party.
Of course, Hogan’s wasn’t the only party. Before I stopped by the Change Maryland event, I dropped in to Ron George’s suite which featured this.
I had one other photo which, alas, didn’t come out. Ron actually had a pretty lively thing going early on.
Just downstairs from Ron was David Craig’s suite. The candidate wasn’t there because he was at the RGA meeting in Arizona, but David had a lovely second-in-command to take his place.
LG hopeful Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio held down the fort. It’s worth noting they had pretty good traffic.
They also have a slew of printed material. I suppose you can cut out the Craig part if you really share the sentiment.
Instead of a suite, fellow candidate Charles Lollar (who was also in Arizona at the RGA) had a lobby table.
On the table, among the other handouts, was a letter explaining his absence, which read in part:
Unfortunately, this means I will miss the opportunity on Friday evening to meet with you, answer your questions, and tour the hospitality suites, but I look forward to joining everyone on Saturday to share my plans for returning prosperity to Maryland.
One place Charles may have found himself welcome was the Maryland Liberty PAC suite, which was all by itself on the other end of the building. Despite that, they had a lively group.
Alas, I think I missed this presentation.
The other suites were county suites from Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties. This photo was of the Anne Arundel suite, which by the way had the best food.
But it seemed like a lot of the air was sucked out of the celebrations early, with most of the parties finished before the clock struck 12. That’s when I took to Facebook and wrote:
So my thoughts on day 1 as I head to bed:
I’m sure I’m not the only one scratching my head over Larry Hogan and his decision to wait to announce his intentions until January. The chatter around the convention seemed, well, less than positive. He had 1,000 supporters in a festive mood and plenty of press only to cite family and business as reason to wait.
There were a number of good parties about, though, and I renewed acquaintances with a number of friends and fans. But pardon me if tomorrow seems a little less exciting.
I think I’ll have some more thoughts on all this tomorrow, but allow me to move on. They probably won’t be in line with the thoughts of these gentlemen: from left to right, Jeff Quinton of The Quinton Report and Greg Kline, Mark Newgent, and Andrew Langer of the Red Maryland Network.
And no, I was not on their show last night. Wasn’t sought out and didn’t seek them out – gave some others a chance.
This is what I saw looking out the window this morning.
So when I woke up, I was at least expecting to deal with this lengthy issue regarding open primaries – finally, a chance to decide. Wrong!
I suppose I should back up and point out that I did not cover the Friday evening Executive Committee meeting as I usually do. There were a couple reasons for this, but the primary one is that I was the escort for a good friend of mine who was the lucky recipient of my second Change Maryland ticket. But had I done so I may have found out that open primaries wouldn’t be discussed. Nor did I do breakfast this time, because the speaker didn’t appeal to me.
So the first (and only) Saturday event I attended was our combination lunch and session.
Let me say that I thought having the lunch and session as we did was a splendid idea, with the key reasons being we didn’t have to get settled in after lunch in a different venue and the fact we could sit at tables – no more balancing my note pad on my lap.
First we heard welcoming remarks by Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.
Yes, the photo is dark. But Laura had an intriguing story of being an MBA without being a high school graduate. Her remarks reflected a philosophy which said “over and over, if I worked hard, opportunity would be available to me.”
“My story could only happen in this country,” she added. “That’s why I’m a Republican.” She expressed the belief that hard work should equal opportunity.
Our luncheon speakers both came from the RNC.
Kristal Quarker-Hartsfield is the director of African-American Initiatives whose family “has been Republican since Reconstruction.” Her task was to spread the Republican message to areas not typically reached by the party, including black churches, historically black colleges and universities, and so forth. She added that Reince Priebus was “serious about going into these communities and doing things the right way.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Fong noted there’s “a good mix of people” here, and talked about the GOP’s renewed emphasis on minority communities. He made the case that many blacks would “consider” voting Republican if we were “just showing up.”
There was a buzz about the next speaker as well.
Described by Chair Diana Waterman as the future of the party, Annapolis Mayor-elect Mike Pantelides briefly outlined some of his secrets to success, particularly in social media. (The Twitter debate seems like a good way to promote brevity of remarks.)
With that out of the way, we rolled through some convention business so routine I snapped this on the Allegany County sign.
I guess the one interesting part was the complaint that the minutes didn’t reflect a resolution which was on the spring agenda but not brought up – the Tari Moore resolution tabled a year ago. But parliamentary procedure showed it was dead once the gavel fell in April.
So we moved on to State Senator David Brinkley’s report on the Senate, where we have a “tremendous field of candidates.” He made sure to mention that if Anthony Brown thought he’d have a coronation, he should have a cup of coffee with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Brinkley bemoaned the economic state of the state, making the case that job creators are “voting with their feet” and “anyplace south of the Potomac is friendlier (to business) than Maryland.” If we want more manufacturing jobs, Brinkley added, “right-to-work has to be one of the conversations.”
Overall, David believed that “even the Democrats are disgusted with the games and gamesmanship.” All we need are candidates who are conversant with the issues.
On the House side, Delegate Kathy Szeliga was kind enough to pass out her report, which highlighted many of the measures to be considered in next year’s session. It’s a list which includes tax cuts, a repeal of the “rain tax” and Common Core, protecting charter schools and creating a voucher system, and modifications to the gun bill.
Moving into the Chair’s Report, Diana Waterman exhorted us to “take advantage of all the opportunities our liberal Democrats gave us.” She also pushed an initiative called the Old Line Club, which was a monthly fundraising of $8 or more a month, automatically deducted.
But I found the Executive Director’s Report from Joe Cluster made me sit up and take notice: county-by-county goals. Even the Republican strongholds of Carroll and Garrett counties had marching orders: hold what you have and help other counties out.
Nicolee Ambrose, in her National Committeewoman’s Report, touted the successes of the Super Saturday program in Annapolis and Frederick. It also served as a good test market for issue advocacy, and next year the program will be expanded and divided into pre-primary and post-primary positions.
She also related the success of 3-part fundraisers like the Allen West event in Prince George’s County as a model for others to follow.
On a national scale, Nicolee spoke on IT improvements the party was undertaking as well as the winter RNC meeting in Virginia.
As is often the case, National Committeeman Louis Pope was optimistic: “We’re going to have a phenomenal year in 2014,” he predicted. He shared good news on the financial front and on how the party was working on regaining its technological advantage. Moreover, Obama’s “Teflon-coated presidency is coming to an end,” said Louis.
Pope also spoke on Maryland, calling the state one with a “very angry electorate” and “very energized (GOP) base.”
Finally we made it to resolutions. Two of them made it out of committee and two didn’t.
The ones which were presented to the floor came from John Fiastro, Jr. and Dave Myers.
You could call Fiastro’s resolution the Don Dwyer resolution, since it seemed tailored with his situation in mind. But Delegate Michael Smigiel, who was carrying a proxy, spoke up and called it “too broad.” An amendment to allow for acts of civil disobedience to address Smigiel’s concerns failed on a voice vote when Smigiel noted “there’s not enough lipstick to put on this pig.”
Once the question was called, the Fiastro motion failed by a large margin, over 75 percent voting against.
The other resolution was one which called on the party to stop sending “mixed messages” and integrate the pro-liberty community. It lost on a voice vote, even after the “mixed message” portion was excised. But Diana Waterman promised to create an advisory committee to hear the diverse portions of the party after the first of the year. So we’ll see.
Certainly the Maryland Liberty PAC and other groups will be watching.
There was an attempt to get one other resolution to the floor concerning the Frederick robocall, which had some support. But more people wanted to adjourn, which was the motion presented by Nick Panuzio of Talbot County. He’s good at that. (Update: I’m told by Denise Lovelady of Talbot that it actually was Josh Horner who motioned to adjourn, but I heard the motion credited to Nick by the Chair. So let’s say Talbot County is good at that.)
Upon driving home, though, the four of us who traveled together saw perhaps the prettiest sunset we’d seen in quite some time, so I’m going to take it as a divine sign we did something right even if it wasn’t expected.
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.
The burr underneath Martin O’Malley’s saddle must have stuck when the horses were changed because now Larry Hogan and Change Maryland is becoming an irritant to Anthony Brown. In the wake of Brown dodging and ducking the questions of interviewer Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV, Hogan added the following response under the Change Maryland banner:
The O’Malley-Brown Administration has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for the ACA and Lt. Governor Brown is responsible for implementing Maryland’s version of the law. Last night, Anthony Brown admitted that he knew many Marylanders could not keep their insurance despite promises to the contrary. By remaining silent, he intentionally misled thousands of mothers, fathers, and children who depend on health care insurance for the treatment they need.
As Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown has an obligation to serve the best interests of all Marylanders, which means being straightforward about the implementation of this new law. Despite all the promises from the O’Malley-Brown Administration that the state was ready for this roll out, the exchange has been plagued with one problem after another.
Marylanders deserve to know whether or not people are enrolling in the Health Benefit Exchange because ultimately, the success or failure of the program will have a direct impact on their own health insurance. Brown’s failures have given us zero confidence that the state even knows how many people have enrolled.
It’s time for Mr. Brown to come clean with Marylanders, take responsibility for the problems of the state exchange, and personally apologize for misleading the public. Regardless of how anyone feels about the new law, Anthony Brown obviously put partisan politics ahead of the people he was elected to represent. This falls 100% in his lap.
Change Maryland also pointed out a discrepancy in enrollment figures between state and federal reports, numbers which suggest the state may have exaggerated enrollment figures nearly fourfold; federal numbers show Maryland enrolled 1,284 in the first month Obamacare was active while the state claims 4,651. Meanwhile, 73,000 Marylanders were sent cancellation notices, including Sixth District Congressional candidate Dan Bongino, who posted his online. I went to public school, but even I can see that math makes the point that the Affordable Care Act is neither going to be affordable nor caring.
If you look at this through a political lens, however, two things jump out at you.
One is the presumption that Brown will be the Democratic nominee at this early stage, given his commanding poll edge. Granted, Anthony Brown is the one who is touting his healthcare record - particularly the more and more laughable claim that “independent studies show will reduce the number of uninsured in Maryland by 50%” – and running as a continuation of the “success” of the last seven long years. (Brown’s doublespeak extends to other areas of his healthcare record; according to him Maryland expanded Medicaid by “working with stakeholders and placing higher costs on tobacco products.” In English, this was the dollar-a-pack cigarette tax hike, which served as among the most regressive of O’Malley/Brown’s many tax hikes.)
Secondly, it’s a reiteration of a point which those on our side frequently make: have we seen this discrepancy covered in the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post? Looking at the Sun‘s main page today, we find instead the headline touting a 36% hike in enrollments – not a word about the Jayne Miller interview. The Post ignores the story altogether, but joyfully kicks the outgoing McDonnell administration in Virginia with a report on $575,000 in legal bills paid by the taxpayer, in a case where the billing is allowed by law. (Just wait until Terry McAuliffe takes office; he’ll make that $575,000 seem like pocket change.)
On the other hand, this allegation has received scant coverage beyond the original WBAL segment: a reprint of the press release here, a mention of the Jayne Miller interview as part of Maryland Reporter‘s state roundup yesterday, and now my piece. (Needless to say it was also linked on ChangeMaryland’s Facebook page with its 64,000 followers.) Even if this gets picked up by other local bloggers, talk radio, and such, it’s going to be an uphill fight to get the word out on anything like this.
Working twice as hard to accomplish half as much seems to be the norm for us when it comes to media. But I think we’re improving, and can do even better once we convince the campaigns to stay on message.
These from a guy who’s not even on the 2014 ballot, criticized by someone who’s not made the leap onto the ballot yet. Respectively, I’m referring to Martin O’Malley and his favorite burr under the saddle, Change Maryland’s Larry Hogan. The story goes like this:
Late last week the blog Politics Maryland reported that State Budget secretary Eloise Foster of the Department of Budget and Management indicated Governor O’Malley directed government agencies to prepare “cost containment plans” to cut spending instead of raising taxes. Change Maryland, the state’s leading voice of opposition to a one-party political monopoly in Annapolis, scoffed at the claim that O’Malley would not seek higher taxes or fees in the face of Maryland’s looming $510 million structural deficit.
“Every election year, Governor O’Malley promises not to raise taxes, but he has broken this promise every year he has been governor. Under this administration, Marylanders have been slammed with 40 consecutive tax, toll and fee hikes. Now, as he attempts to cement his legacy and further his presidential aspirations, he is back to singing the ‘no new tax’ tune once again,” said Larry Hogan, founder and Chairman of Change Maryland.
During his re-election campaign, O’Malley ran commercials railing against fee and tax increases; after he claimed he was looking for a “diet of cuts” until the state’s economy and revenue were stronger. Yet in his second term, he pushed for some of the most regressive taxes and fees we’ve seen in this administration: increases in the state’s gas tax and tolls, a rain tax, and more that disproportionately affect the families that can least afford them.
“In 2012, O’Malley infamously tweeted ‘You have to have the guts to make the cuts.’ But after seven years, where are the cuts, governor?” asked Hogan. “The facts show that Martin O’Malley has actually increased state spending by over $8 billion — with zero cuts. By the standards of his own rhetoric, Governor O’Malley is gutless,” Hogan said.
“The massive tax increases in 2007 were supposed to solve the structural deficit. Then it was the 2012 tax hikes. Here we are again with a shortfall, even after forty consecutive tax increases under this administration,” charged Hogan. “Even these outrageous tax increases have not kept up with spending addiction of the O’Malley-Brown administration. This is further proof that this administration simply lacks the courage to say, ‘no’ to spending.”
The proof to Hogan’s assertions is in the pudding: our budget is indeed up $8 billion from what it was in FY2007, as I’ll show below.
A solution Hogan didn’t point out was instead posited by one of his prospective opponents, Charles Lollar. He’s been advocating a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR law, similar to one Colorado adopted some years back.
Let’s take a look at where we’d be had Bob Ehrlich passed one in 2006. TABOR establishes that the budget cannot grow more than the rate of inflation plus the rate of population growth in a particular year.
Had a TABOR been in place, the budget from 2007 to 2013 would have only grown by the rate of inflation, which the CPI inflation calculator I used pegged at 12.93% over the period, plus Maryland’s population growth. I extrapolated the Census figures and used a population estimate I made of 5,650,000 as a “close enough” starting point and came up with this:
- Inflation: 12.93%, based on the CPI inflation calculator
- Population growth: 4.42% (based on extrapolating Census data to assume a population of roughly 5,900,000 today vs. around 5,650,000 in 2007)
- The FY2007 Maryland budget came in at $29.629 billion, including reversions.
- The FY2014 Maryland budget is $37.307 billion, including fund raids.
With the TABOR rule and using the last Ehrlich budget as a starting point, anything over $34.77 billion ($29.629 billion + 17.35%) is excessive spending. So Martin O’Malley overspent by $2.537 billion this year, not to mention smaller sums over his first six budgets. So much for having “guts for cuts.”
Put another way, the corporate tax that some candidates are tinkering around the edges with could easily be eliminated now if the TABOR was in effect. Meanwhile, those gasoline taxes could be spent strictly on roads. Or, we could have taken a sizable step toward eliminating our $9.8 billion dependence on Uncle Sam – another point brought up by Lollar.
Unfortunately for those looking to vote with their feet, O’Malley/Brown will be the beneficiary of a giant present dumped in their lap – a bare plurality of the voters of Virginia were foolish enough to elect Terry McAuliffe as governor over the vastly superior Ken Cuccinelli. Now Marylanders who were ready to bail to Virginia will have to wait four years for sanity to be re-established there. And do you think McAuliffe will govern like he got 60% of the vote, calling his 47% a mandate? You betcha.
Fortunately, the Virginia House of Delegates looks to be very safely in Republican hands (it should end up somewhere around 66-34 R) so hopefully McAuliffe can’t do too much damage IF Republicans stay strong.
One thing the Virginia race proves: you have to define yourself before your opponent does it for you. Anthony Brown is basically the blankest of slates, so let’s get to work.
If you were handicapping the chances of Larry Hogan jumping into the race for governor, the odds may have shortened a little more based on the roadtrip he’s making this week. Change Maryland provides the details:
The O’Malley-Brown administration has submitted, for legislative approval, regulations that will have a sweeping effect on how Maryland’s already struggling farmers can manage their land. The proposed Phosphorus Management Tool is an intrusive regulation that will significantly impact how and when farmers can apply poultry manure fertilizer to their fields. Farmers have used poultry manure as fertilizer for years.
“It appears the O’Malley-Brown administration is not content with just restricting farmers’ property rights, but also insists on mandating how they use their property,” stated Larry Hogan, successful businessman and Change Maryland Founder.
Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance told a meeting of farmers last week that his department has no idea what the economic impact of the new regulations would be for farmers until it is up and running. “It’s Obamacare for farmers,” Hogan said, “we have to pass it in order to see what’s in it.”
According to a University of Maryland survey conducted by the designers of the Phosphorus Management Tool, 61 percent of the farms surveyed would be impacted by the new regulation. Virgil Shockley, a Democratic member of the Worcester County Board of Commissioners and a farmer himself, estimated the new regulations would cost the Lower Shore $120 million.
The Phosphorus Management Tool is part of the O’Malley-Brown Watershed Implementation Plan, which also foisted the onerous ‘rain tax’ on Maryland home and business owners.
“We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay, not only for us but for our children and grandchildren,” said Hogan. “However, instead of focusing on workable solutions for all Marylanders, Governor O’Malley has chosen to pad his presidential resume by pandering to environmental special interest groups, and has placed burdensome regulations on our hard working farmers.”
Today and tomorrow, Hogan will be touring the Eastern Shore speaking to local farmers and local community leaders. The Eastern Shore is where the majority of Maryland’s farmland is located and where the proposed regulations will have the most devastating financial impact.
Most people who are in the real estate business aren’t going to make a farm tour of the Eastern Shore. But if you’re seeking the Republican nomination for governor, it’s certain you will be talking to your base and that number includes a heaping helping of Eastern Shore hospitality.
I would have to speculate that, for Hogan, this listening tour will give him ideas for the agricultural and environmental planks of his platform. For those who deride Larry as a clone of Bob Ehrlich, though, the tour may serve as a reminder that it was Bob who originally enacted the “flush tax” that Martin O’Malley has doubled.
But since Larry didn’t schedule a meeting with me – which is fine because I’ll be out working – a few other suggestions I have on the land use front may be helpful, and they go hand-in-hand with each other.
First of all, I think we should begin to wind down (or at least level-fund) Program Open Space, with the intent of having private entities such as land trusts purchase the property and, if they wish, donate it to the state. I’m not a fan of taking land off the tax rolls unnecessarily, for I have the belief the government controls too much land as it is.
Because of that belief, I think an idea Bob Ehrlich had should be expanded, and the Baltimore Sun and environmentalists can go pound sand. Now I wouldn’t do this until land values began to rebound, and certainly the sale can be a slow process of a few hundred acres at a time scattered around the state. I wouldn’t put an entire state park on the market, but non-contiguous areas around the margins would be good places to begin.
Finally, the idea of transferable development rights should be re-examined, with the intent being changing the terms from permanent to generational, or about 20 to 25 years. This way succeeding generations of a family can decide whether they would prefer development rights revert back to them or whether to accept further compensation from the governmental entity providing them.
Over the last few decades, the balance on property rights has shifted far too much to the government’s side. Egged on by environmentalists who dream of wildlife corridors without human interaction, the state is not only a huge property owner but sticks its nose into matters more properly conducted at the county level as well. It’s time to reverse that trend, and one key question in the upcoming campaign is who will have the stones to do it.
And now for something completely different:
I didn’t want to write a lot about this – at least not a full post, because I’m no expert on it – but I felt my friend, author Bob McCarty, hit a home run with his thoughts about the plausibility of explanations surrounding last year’s Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan; a crash which snuffed out the lives of thirty American servicemen, including many who served with Seal Team 6 and engaged Osama bin Laden in his last stand. It’s worth considering.
Maybe Hogan or McCarty should consider a GO Friday feature on their respective areas of expertise. I can always use a break.
On Monday I received two e-mails touting the fact that the group Change Maryland has 60,000 Facebook “likes.” Presumably that means 60,000 people agree with their “primary mission (which) is to bring reform, fiscal responsibility and common sense to Annapolis.” I can’t disagree with that.
So for many months we’ve heard talk about a Hogan campaign for governor, a subject I’ve broached before. Interestingly enough, the Change Maryland newsletter announcing the milestone also has this link to a September article by Michael Dresser in the Baltimore Sun. In it, Hogan is quoted as saying “any decision will come later this year.”
But the fact this piece is included in the newsletter seems to be more evidence that Larry will make a go of it. And why not? Consider that Change Maryland has 60,000 followers and then read the Facebook presence (in followers/”likes”) of these gubernatorial candidates (you’ll be surprised who has the most, by the way):
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 9,585
- Anthony Brown (D) – 4,957
- Doug Gansler (D) – 3,847
- Charles Lollar (R) – 3,477
- David Craig (R) – 2,291
- Ron George (R) – 1,864
Naturally, Facebook likes aren’t placeholders for votes, as a recent Democratic poll (commissioned and released by Brown) had Mizeur at just 5% of the vote. You would need more grains of salt than you’ll find at a pretzel factory to take Facebook likes seriously as a surrogate for support, but the difference is still pretty stark.
And while one political observer told me a January decision by Hogan was in the cards, it seems more logical to me (and falls within the “later this year” time frame) to use this upcoming – and pricey – Change Maryland Fall Harvest Party to make a formal announcement of intentions. (Interestingly enough, this may bring additional people out for others who are doing hospitality suites as well; then again, the party’s convention call issued yesterday shows five suites and two ballrooms are still available. Could Hogan’s event serve to blow the competitors out of the water such that they pass on hospitality suites?)
Even the remarks quoted from Larry in the Change Maryland release sound like those of a candidate:
The only way to bring about real change in Maryland is to find a way to bring Republicans, Independents and fiscally conservative Democrats together. That is what our Change Maryland campaign has been so effective at accomplishing over the past couple of years.
A clear majority of Marylanders are completely fed-up with politics-as-usual in Annapolis and want to see a change in the direction that our state is heading. This isn’t just another fight between Democrats and Republicans, it’s more important than that. This is a fight for Maryland’s future and it’s a fight worth fighting.
Sadly, this administration has a failed record of lost businesses, lost jobs, higher spending, record tax increases and broken promises. The people of Maryland deserve better and that is why we have been working so hard for change.
Yet there is one advantage Larry has at the helm of Change Maryland which instantly disappears the moment he utters those magic words, “I’m running for governor.” Suddenly the campaign becomes about topics other than the poor economy of Maryland and the failure of Martin O’Malley to address it. People who love Hogan’s economic stance could be appalled at his views on the Second Amendment, the War on Rural Maryland, Common Core, or a number of other issues. If he stayed out, Hogan could be the kingmaker, the Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz of Maryland whose word and organization could swing an election toward a favored candidate (although Change Maryland is officially non-partisan.)
But I think after backing out in 2010 Larry’s getting too close to the flame to resist. It’s just a question of when and who is affected most by it.
After his lieutenant governor and heir apparent decided to skip a Maryland manufacturer’s meeting, the idea that Martin O’Malley would talk about job creation seems ludicrous at best. But that’s what he did in a press release last week, and Larry Hogan of Change Maryland – that jagged burr under O’Malley’s saddle – pounced on the irony:
Governor O’Malley finally recognizes – six years too late – the importance of manufacturing to our economy. But we wholeheartedly disagree about the solution. The O’Malley-Brown plan includes a whole lot of talk – more studies, commissions, roundtables, a monthly blog post, and even a proclamation – but no real solutions for an industry that has lost over 26,000 jobs since 2007, and has lost over 2,000 jobs between July and August of this year.
The O’Malley-Brown administration has been openly hostile to manufacturing and the private sector in this state since the day they were sworn into office. A monthly blog post isn’t going to reverse the troubling downward trend of manufacturing in our state. In fact, it is an insult to the thousands of middle-class workers and their families who have struggled to find employment and make ends meet because of the O’Malley-Brown misguided policies.
No amount of lip service can undo this Governor’s deplorable record on jobs. 120,000 more Marylanders remain unemployed since O’Malley took office, and 26,000 of those are in our manufacturing sector. It’s time we had a governor who will put action behind their words.
This manufacturing proclamation is just the latest stunt by this governor to hide his horrible jobs record. Last month, the governor made a ridiculous claim about recovering 100% of the jobs lost in the recession when in fact 120,000 more Marylanders are out of work today than when he first took office.
Will Larry Hogan make the bid to be that “governor who will put action behind their words”? Only time will tell, although some I talk to are dead certain he will get in.
But regardless of who’s installed as our state’s next chief executive – and no, Doug Gansler, I don’t necessarily believe it will be a Democrat – is going to have to clean up a failed state economy which has come to depend too much on federal dollars and employees who happen to live in Maryland. Onerous regulations, a poor educational system which doesn’t focus on students who may be better suited to skilled labor, and misplaced priorities in our transportation system have done their damage to Maryland’s manufacturing industry. While not all of these symptoms can be traced to Martin O’Malley, the prognosis is bleak if we get more of the same, and lip service from our current governor qualifies as being more of the same.
Yet the solutions advocated by the candidates – who seemed to be playing a game of who could lower the corporate tax the most, with the consensus range running from 5 to 6 percent – aren’t necessarily bold enough. Why not scrap the corporate tax altogether, as one economist suggested recently? And instead of wasting transportation money on rail lines few will ride (but many will subsidize), perhaps we should invest on the means to most efficiently move people and goods, partnering up with neighboring states as needed?
If Anthony Brown is elected as governor, that puny 106,000 or so manufacturing jobs might be 80,000 or less by the time the 2018 election rolls around. Those 26,000 people may well be sorry Doug Gansler was correct and a Democrat was sent yet again to Government House. It’s time for a change.
I’m going to give Jackie Wellfonder and her Raging Against the Rhetoric radio show full credit for planting this seed in my mind.
(Spoiler alert: if you want to hear the podcast and be surprised, skip the next sentence.)
Since Jackie essentially threw in her endorsement of Larry Hogan, bemoaning the fact that there’s a missing element among the current contenders which could be added with his entry into the race, I decided to take you back.
Back to early 2010, that is. You may recall that, in the summer of 2009, everyone in the Maryland Republican Party was breathlessly awaiting the decision by Bob Ehrlich whether to try for a rematch of the 2006 election he lost to Martin O’Malley. Yes, there was a candidate in the race by the name of Mike Pappas – a likeable guy to be sure, but not exactly a household name in Maryland.
But since we weren’t sure whether Bob Ehrlich would give up his comfortable semi-retirement from the public arena, someone with a little name recognition had to step in and that someone was Larry Hogan. In the summer of 2009 he began his campaign on a somewhat low-key note, but it picked up steam once Pappas ceded the field to him in November of that year. At that year’s MDGOP Fall Convention Larry was the “it” guy.
So I did a little research, and it turns out Hogan has never relinquished his 2010 campaign website page (http://www.hoganformaryland.com/), his campaign Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hogan-for-Maryland/140191322375), and his YouTube site (http://www.youtube.com/user/HoganforMaryland). (The reason I link this way is to memorialize the specific web addresses for archival purposes, such as on the internet’s Wayback Machine, in case he uses the same URLs for 2014.)
With these, we get a little glimpse at where Larry was coming from, and you could see the seeds of what eventually became Change Maryland in some of the statements and videos he put out at the time. It’s clear that Larry would be focusing on the economic aspects of the race.
So we know that, to Larry, pocketbook issues are where it’s at. But there was an interesting sidebar I brought up several months ago which I originally thought precluded a 2014 race from Hogan. We won’t know for awhile how the financial picture is for several of the candidates until their first report is required in January of 2014, but the chances are pretty good that none of them currently have the $325,000 in the coffers that Hogan lent to himself for the last cycle.
As a comparison of sorts, I looked up Bob Ehrlich’s 2001 report – roughly the same timeframe we’re at in this cycle – and he went from a cash balance of $97,008.71 in November, 2000 to $425,147.20 in November, 2001, a year out. For the 2014 campaign, Blaine Young had about $350,000 in the bank at the beginning of this year while David Craig had just a shade over $200,000 on hand. There probably hasn’t been a great deal of movement on these numbers; moreover, the field is now split in four ways. While Blaine Young dropped out and announced his backing of Charles Lollar, I wouldn’t think all Young’s money will be automatically ceded to Charles, since Blaine may have his own personal political plans locally.
So Hogan has some definite advantages. But, beyond the aspect of economics, I’m certain that some will ask – given Hogan’s close ties to Bob Ehrlich – whether Maryland is being set up for the second term Bob Ehrlich never received.
One complaint about our last GOP governor was that, while he was a Republican, he wasn’t conservative. For example, the state’s budget surged 30.8% from FY2003 to FY2007, which is actually a somewhat higher rate than the 25.9% it’s increased since. (Much of Ehrlich’s increase, however, was in his final FY2007 budget, a whopping 12% higher than the FY2006 model.) And while Martin O’Malley rightly is panned for the “rain tax” Bob Ehrlich was the originator of the “flush tax.”
A second argument among Hogan backers is the bipartisan nature of Change Maryland, which they point to as evidence that Larry can gather support from the state’s political majority. I have no doubt that many Democrats would support Hogan on the economic front, but what of the Democrats who cross over on a number of other conservative issues such as Maryland’s onerous new gun laws, our growing reputation as a sanctuary state for illegal aliens based on items like in-state tuition for the children of these scofflaws, the adoption of gay marriage in Maryland, or the extreme tilt of our state on abortion? There are pockets of Democrats and unaffiliated voters who are looking for the right Republican to back on those issues; one with a conservative message Bob Ehrlich didn’t send out.
These are issues which Larry can weigh in on if and when he decides to jump into the race. But once the field got to four the last time, Blaine Young took an early exit – so the question is who would be most likely to fold if Hogan got in?
My guess is that Larry would take more support from Ron George and David Craig than he would Charles Lollar, so with a smaller support base George could be the one knocked out. This is based on two factors: I don’t think we will have four contenders all the way to the primary, and since Larry Hogan deferred once in seeking the office I don’t think he would do so again. And I think two business owners from Anne Arundel County are too many for the race, so if Hogan is in I think Ron George becomes the one out.
They may surprise me, I don’t know. But, unlike Jackie, I had no problem with the field as it was, and I think if Larry Hogan was going to get in he should have already started. Change Maryland and its social media presence is one thing, but social media is no substitute for running an actual campaign, knocking on real doors, and pressing the flesh.
Sitting here and catching up from what was an extremely busy week (with next week promising more of the same) I had something of an “aha!” moment – not to be confused with the ’80s pop band by the way – where two seemingly disparate pieces of information just clicked together.
Let’s examine piece number one, shall we? For days (or is it months, or years? I sense a continuing theme here) Maryland Republicans have been divided into a number of camps, tribes which rarely come together except on a small handful of issues. In the last year, I think resistance to Martin O’Malley’s draconian Second Amendment upheaval (legally and laughingly officially known as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013) was about the only issue drawing universal resistance from Republicans, and even then they parted on how best to fight its enactment, whether through the court system of via referendum. In the end, the court system won out but, as it stands, in a month the law will take effect.
In the meantime, we couldn’t even get the GOP to vote as a group against Martin O’Malley’s bloated budget – yet we call ourselves the party of fiscal responsibility? I understand our alternative budget is DOA in the General Assembly, but at least put up a united front against O’Malley’s principles.
The long introduction I just completed leads me into an Examiner post by J. Doug Gill, where he takes a long look at how the party has been divided since the Ehrlich era of 2003-07. This “bare knuckle brawl for irrelevancy” makes a number of valid points, although I don’t agree with its somewhat pessimistic outlook for the future. As Gill notes:
Any citizen of Maryland who has had it up to their well-spelunked pockets wants a strong, vibrant and relevant opposition party – and there are untold numbers who don’t care if it’s the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Tupperware Party.
The sooner some entity – any entity – sorts itself out and provides a credible opposition to the Democrats the better for all of us – including our friends on the left whose bank accounts are just as empty as ours – well, save for the union leaders and cronies and appointees, and, well, you get the picture…
But right now, and in its current incarnation, the only thing the Maryland Republican Party has learned from history is that they never learn anything from history.
Yet it’s not just about credible opposition – it’s also about creating a choice. This is something the majority party won’t do.
There was something about this Ballotpedia report which caught my eye. See if you can spot it, too – I’ll give you a moment and even put in a page break for the fun of it.
Martin O’Malley and Maryland Democrats were attacked on two fronts in recent days. One came from an old foe and thorn in “O’Guvnah’s” side while the other pointed out a nearly decade-old omission Martin O’Malley is trying to take advantage of. Both are related to MOM’s appearances on the Eastern Shore.
In Ocean City O’Malley addressed the Maryland Association of Counties for the seventh time as governor. I’m sure MACo president (and Wicomico County Executive) Rick Pollitt was nodding in agreement, but Larry Hogan and Change Maryland had a different, blistering opinion of O’Malley’s remarks.
(O’Malley) was not just stretching the truth, it’s worse than that. Nearly everything he said in his speech today was blatantly false, much of what he said was actually the complete opposite of the truth.
The governor is entitled to his own opinions but he can’t just make up his own facts and pretend that they are true. You can’t say you are most proud of your success in job creation, and say you recovered 99% of all the jobs lost, when you actually doubled the unemployment rate and lost 110,000 more jobs, more than any governor in history.
You can’t brag about your success in strengthening small businesses, when you have lost 6,500 small businesses. You can’t claim success in economic development when you have lost 10 of the 13 Fortune 500 companies in the state, under your watch.
How can the governor say that he cut more spending – more than anyone in history, when he actually increased spending by $8 billion, an increase of more than 30%, and claim that he lowered taxes when he enacted the largest tax increases in history, 40 consecutive tax hikes that take an additional $3.1 billion a year out of the pockets of struggling Maryland families and small businesses?
What we saw today was a governor spinning magical tales of successes that only exist in his own mind. The people of Maryland deserve to know the truth.
All of this and more was unearthed by Change Maryland over the last two-plus years, as they have done the research and fact-checking seriously lacking from most of Maryland’s mainstream media.
Of course Hogan is still being mentioned as a gubernatorial candidate, so this salvo isn’t completely unexpected. But it’s interesting he’s speaking about the term-limited incumbent rather than the heir apparent Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who was endorsed by the aforementioned Pollitt recently. Maybe that works to the do-nothing narrative some in that race are trying to promote.
On the other hand, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is already on a ticket, but it didn’t stop her from raining on Martin O’Malley’s Dover Bridge parade.
It’s great that the Eastern Shore is finally getting a new Dover bridge, but this project should have been completed much quicker and for less money. The O’Malley – Brown Administration, in a flailing attempt to justify the gasoline tax increase, is trying to take credit for the Dover bridge that was already funded in the last decade. When this Administration took over, $41 million previously set aside for this project suddenly vanished.
Now, nearly ten years later, the Administration is ready to hold a press conference. As we’ve seen with other transportation projects across the state, the O’Malley – Brown Administration takes the money, spends it on whatever they want, then warns us that roads and bridges are falling apart and raises everyone’s taxes to fix the problems they created.
They are hoping that everyone forgets that tax payers are required to pay twice due to their reckless spending policies. This is also going to cost $9 million more now that the project has been delayed.
The bridge, which lies in Haddaway-Riccio’s district, has been a sore spot for area residents for decades, and perhaps symbolizes the uncaring Annapolis attitude to those who live in Caroline, Talbot, and Dorchester counties. Moreover, as originally intended, the bridge would have already been completed two years ago if greedy fingers hadn’t allocated the money for who-knows-what.
But while Haddaway-Riccio rightly blasts the current administration and their General Assembly minions for their inaction on the Dover Bridge, we don’t really know yet what the game plan will be for a David Craig administration. Will they have the intestinal fortitude to cut off the Red Line and Purple Line, the former of which will be in the planning process and the latter at the verge of construction by the time Craig takes office? And will they repeal the 2013 gas tax increase, or shrug their shoulders and figure Marylanders are already conditioned to pay it and pocket the extra money for their pet projects, like bond bills?
Certainly the Dover Bridge is a vital link for the area, but what about other potential Eastern Shore projects like a bypass for Easton much like the one encircling Salisbury, or perhaps an interchange at U.S. 50 and Maryland Route 404, where traffic headed for Ocean City and the Delaware beaches go their separate ways in a bottleneck each weekend? (Improvements to Maryland Route 404 were cited in the same announcement as the Dover Bridge.) Longer-term, what about a southern Chesapeake Bay crossing? And I’m certain my friends up the Shore and in the state’s panhandle have their ideas for improving how they get around as well.
It’s nice to be thought of once in a while, but truly creating “one Maryland” will mean not embarking on boondoggles and making the serious investments in infrastructure most useful in every corner of the state.
In his headlong rush to the White House, Martin O’Malley has mastered the photo-ops, but he can’t sweep his record under the rug.