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!
Frankly, I’m disappointed with how this came out. One of the more important issues of our time and only one candidate is really discussing it with any sort of depth. For example, David Craig released this statement on September 30:
The Affordable Care Act has become a flash point in Congressional negotiations to continue government operations and for good reason. The unpleasant surprise with this law is that it’s not really affordable at all. Maryland’s least expensive Obamacare plan will be 83% higher than the lowest-cost plan sold in the state this year.
People are struggling with the worst economic recovery in our lifetimes, have faced down record tax, fee and toll increases, and now they are forced to pay 83% higher insurance costs. This is a massive health care tax politicians are attempting to brand as something else, and they are forcing people to buy it.
This came after he said on August 5:
These are only the initial, visible cracks in the foundation of the health care law, which like other federal public policy experiments, Maryland rushes into without conducting due diligence. I’m concerned about the cracks we don’t see yet.
Yes, you should be concerned. You’ve identified the problem, so what will you do about it? That’s what I want to know. I can’t give any points if I don’t see solutions.
On the other hand, Ron George discusses this at least briefly on his campaign site (as part of economic development) and elaborates as he answered my direct question.
Remove Obama Care and replace with a free market model that focuses on lowering costs with the ability to purchase healthcare plans across state lines. (campaign site)
I have always fought mandates from federal to state to local and will join other Republican governors in doing so. These mandates are violations if our 10th Amendment. I have proposed opening the borders to create greater competition of insurers. A free market health care system works. But we need to have tort reform or we will lose our physicians. I founded and chair the bi-partisan Doctors Caucus with 430 physicians on our advisory. I saw this coming. I will not move ahead with any form if government run health care. Period. (direct query, November 16, 2013)
I’m a little leery of any sentence which exists as the one word “period,” given recent promises by some President, but I will take Ron at his word for the sake of argument. He picks up a significant part of the free-market solution so I’m giving him five of the seven points available.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any answer I was expecting from Charles Lollar so I can’t award him anything.
Obviously there’s room for improvement for two of the candidates here, but the final four parts promise a lot more discussion. Next up is the role of government, which is somewhat of a broad subject but I think I’ll be able to focus it.
Every so often I have to just sit and shake my head.
As I usually do when I look at Facebook, I take a look at what various groups post on their pages. Last night I spied the Wicomico Society of Patriots page and found that Andrew Langer had posted a link to a Red Maryland article claiming Matthew Adams of Somerset County was behind a fairly new blog that seemingly, in the eyes of those on Red Maryland, exists only to bash them and those who work with that group, particularly my friend Jackie Wellfonder. The Red Maryland post, written by Mark Newgent, is based on photos from this post at the MD Watch site.
So I was appalled to see over 170 comments on that Facebook post, most consisting of a running argument between Langer and various local WMSOP members including Julie Brewington, who’s had her own share of run-ins with Red Maryland leading to her naming by the blog as Maryland’s least valuable conservative player.
Yet in reading all of the blow-by-blow regarding this situation, there’s one question Mark Newgent, who’s usually a pretty good investigative reporter, missed: who is the “we” referred to in the MD Watch post? Obviously Matt Adams was there at the Hogan event and I’ll allow the allegation that he was in the Executive Committee meeting to take the unflattering photo of Jackie from behind to stand for the sake of argument, given the case put together by Mark.
But is it Matt Adams who is writing as a collective “we” of the Lollar campaign or did someone else use the photos attributed to Matt in writing the Hogan/Wellfonder hit piece, which is authored by “James”? “James” is one of the two attributed writers on the MD Watch site; the other is “Veracruz.” Other posts have no attribution. Find out who “James” and “Veracruz” are and we’ll get a long way toward solving some problems.
Lord knows I haven’t often agreed with Matt Adams on many things – for example, he was a Diana Waterman backer – but I don’t see the evidence he did anything but take the pictures and own the domain name to the administrative part of the Lollar website. I’ve figured out that the guys at Red Maryland don’t care much for Matthew Adams and Julie Brewington (and seem to have a pretty dim view of the Lollar campaign in general) but I don’t see the leap to the accusations they made in their post. We may find out the owner(s) of MD Watch have nothing to do with any campaign and just like stirring crap. If so, sad to say they did a good job.
Then again, as poorly written as that MD Watch website is I would probably hide behind anonymous pseudonyms, too. Rehashing press releases is one thing, and I often use excerpts myself. But at least I try to advance conversation with them. And, for heaven’s sake, use spellcheck and proofread!
However, I do agree with a point Andrew Langer made in the long Facebook discussion – where is Julie Brewington in condemning the Wellfonder photo, particularly given Julie’s past history with being the subject of leering, candid photos, or shots she was the subject of but thought better about later on? I get the “freedom of speech” part, but don’t act the victim then when it’s pointed at you.
When I write, I try to use facts and learned opinion in my argument. My learned opinion of the Wellfonder photo is that it was garbage and doesn’t belong in a serious discussion. If anything, I would suggest that there’s a little jealousy of Jackie in play here, since she’s rather rapidly become part of the insider GOP crowd in the state. To make fun of her size, well, I thought we got past that once we left junior high. (And yes, I’m on the portly side too. Jackie likes her Starbucks, I like my chocolate.)
Still, it’s unfortunate that there’s no shortage of bad blood these days from a few who apparently fall within the tent of Charles Lollar supporters directed at Jackie, who’s doing her best to make a living at disseminating the campaign knowledge she’s learned over the last few years. She’s starting small, running a Delegate race, and so far seems to be successful with her instincts. We’ll see how it all works out come June, both in the Delegate race she’s running and her bid for our county’s Central Committee, which wasn’t news to me. Guess I won’t be on the bottom of the ballot this time.
Red Maryland is what it is; we’ve had our differences and I’m sure they may crop up again. Personally, I have to say these two wrongs don’t make a right.
You know, I’m not from Maryland, so I didn’t really know a lot about the whole blue crab thing growing up. (But I know what a buckeye is, both the object and the food product.) One tidbit I’ve learned since moving here, though, is that a group of crabs, when caught in a crab pot, will work together in one key respect: to pull down the leader who tries to escape. Obviously that’s good for those who are looking for dinner, but Maryland Republicans seem to have this crab mentality down pat.
We can argue now, but I want to make sure that on June 25 it’s full speed ahead getting rid of the Democratic dominance in this state. I know some will protest about my choice of words and say they should have the right to defend themselves, but I think most would agree that petty crap like this has to come to a halt. Just remember who perpetuates it henceforth.
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.
Normally in the state conventions leading up to a primary election, candidates for elected office scurry around, gladhanding the attendees and hosting hospitality parties therein. This is the path contender Ron George has chosen, alerting those of us on his e-mail list of his intentions today. He’ll be there, but at a much smaller scale than presumable future opponent Larry Hogan, whose nascent campaign has pushed a major event and announcement tomorrow night as well.
On the other hand, a competing event in Arizona has drawn two of the other challengers. The Republican Governors Association meets there this week and both David Craig and Charles Lollar have chosen to attend that gathering instead of the state convention, with Craig making a presentation there according to campaign spokesman Jim Pettit, quoted in the Baltimore Sun.
Not to be outdone, Lollar posted a photo on his campaign Facebook page with recently re-elected New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
Having Craig there may help provide Lollar cover from the naysayers who chide him for skipping party events, and he promised to be back on Saturday. But going to the RGA made perfect sense for Craig, who related in July that he would lean heavily on other Republican governors for guidance.
Since Hogan’s party has the prospect of sucking all of the oxygen out of the MDGOP affair, this may not be such a bad move. Certainly there will be representatives of both absent campaigns there, but with the convention coming just before Thanksgiving the news cycle created will be relatively short.
The event for which I’ll be anxious to see participation will be the Turning the Tides 2014 conference held in the very same hotel in January. Last year’s event was outstanding and organizers are going to great lengths to top it in 2014 by extending it to a evening/day affair similar to the MDGOP conventions. We’ll see who puts it on their calendar and who risks alienating a committed conservative crowd.
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.