The life of one (soon to be) former Delegate

August 9, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The life of one (soon to be) former Delegate 

While we have to wait and see what November brings, the chances are pretty good that there will be an additional few dozen Marylanders walking around with the unofficial title of “former member of the General Assembly.” Some, like outgoing Senator Nancy Jacobs or Delegate Donna Stifler, decided well in advance, while our local Delegate Rudy Cane cynically waited until after the filing deadline to insure no one would oppose his apparent choice for successor, Sheree Sample-Hughes.

And then we have the handful who lost in their primary – among them was Delegate Don Dwyer, whose well-documented personal struggles and legal issues, along with redistricting, made his an uphill battle. But as he wrote a few days back:

I simply couldn’t walk away without committing to continue my efforts in regaining liberty and true freedom. I believe as many do, that the one best solution to federal tyranny is the doctrine of NULLIFICATION under the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution. I would like to introduce the States Rights Foundation and new blog The Rightful Remedy.

Washington will not fix itself. Our intent is to partner with other groups and people who are dedicated to advancing the 10th Amendment movement. It is the solution to the out of control Federal Government. If enough States say NO, the Federal Government will be unable to enforce its unconstitutional laws, lacking the resources to do so without aid by the States.

Whether intentional or not, The Rightful Remedy was officially launched on Bastille Day, July 14.

As has been his modus operandi in the past Dwyer is holding a gun raffle to raise funds for his project, which he explains further:

As a Maryland State Delegate, I introduced several bills considered Nullification Legislation, by which the State of Maryland would refuse to comply with Federal “laws” for which the Federal Government has no Constitutional authority to impose. The legislation essentially prohibits the State to use any resources to assist the Federal Government in taking action against Maryland Citizens who are not complying with any Unconstitutional Federal Act. The result, should such legislation pass, profoundly affects the ability of the Federal Government, which rely (sic) heavily on resources from the state, such as police, to effectively enforce their “laws.” (Emphasis in original.)

Nullification is an intriguing practice, although it’s not often tried (here’s one example.) It brings arguments about whether it should be up to the states or left to the judiciary to decide what is in accordance with the Constitution.

But states are generally reined in under the federal judiciary’s interpretation of the Supremacy Clause (such as the case with Arizona’s SB1070 in 2010) as well as the prospect of losing needed federal funding if they don’t perform a particular action – examples I’ve often used are the .08 blood alcohol level standard and legal drinking age of 21, for which the lack of acceptable state law resulted in a deduction of federal highway funding. It would take a state willing to endure the penalties of perhaps defying the Supreme Court (as in a fictional example I recently reviewed) and losing a significant part of its federal funding to openly adopt nullification, and I can tell you Maryland politicians are way too gutless to try either. (Given his go-it-alone attitude, I daresay Rick Perry and Texas might come the closest to using the approach.)

Yet there is a logical argument to non-enforcement as well. We’ve often heard about the prospect of gun confiscation, but there’s an open question as to whether law enforcement – particularly in rural areas like the Eastern Shore – would be willing to go on what’s been described as a “suicide mission.” At the time, Dwyer was calling for the formation of a “voluntary militia” in each county. On the other hand, we have constant complaints about the federal government not enforcing certain other laws, such as the ones dealing with illegal immigration – a backhanded form of nullification unto itself.

I guess the problem is who decides which laws to not enforce, and if they’re not enforced, are we still a nation of laws? A stricter adherence to the Tenth Amendment and Constitution in general would help, but for that we need to clean out our judiciary swamp. I think an equally productive avenue for Dwyer to pursue with his States Rights Foundation would be to work for repealing the Seventeenth Amendment, which has been argued in some circles for several years and is something I’ve advocated for on both a federal and state level as well. That would help to assure the interests of the several states are represented in Congress, so nullification may not be as necessary.

A post-primary look back

I actually started this a couple weeks ago, when writing about Ron George’s last stand, and just added to it here and there every couple days – if only to keep it atop the queue. Regarding Ron, it was unfortunate that such a good candidate couldn’t get much traction in the race.

But as the race comes to an end for three of the four gubernatorial hopefuls, I’m convinced that my initial instinct was correct and there was really only money enough for three candidates. Blaine Young saw this early on and, despite a solid period of fundraising, opted to drop out of the gubernatorial race and focus on a local campaign for the newly-created Frederick County Executive post. “We have a tendency to eat our own,” he said.

To me this is yet another legacy of the Ehrlich era, which in some respects set our party back several years.  With the most direct connection to that administration, Larry Hogan was perhaps the second-most natural successor – besides Michael Steele, who took a pass in 2014. More and more I see 2010 as a completely missed opportunity in this state, and its domino effect is hurting us in 2014.

So Hogan starts out about 15 points down, just like Ehrlich ended up in 2010. How does he close the gap?

Out of the box, he’s taking the approach which he used a little bit in the primary: Anthony Brown as incompetent.

Driving up negatives is generally a conventional wisdom play, but there are a couple downsides. First of all, Brown is, well, brown and the inevitable comparison to Republicans picking on Barack Obama will occur. I also don’t see the counter of a positive agenda from the Hogan camp, which seems to be focusing more on undoing things than doing new things.

I mentioned Ron George early on and it was interesting how he accepted his defeat, as a letter to his youngest son Tommy:

Tommy, I lost. But that is okay. Many took my ideas, and I know those ideas will help our state. Your dad is now able to go camping with you and have more time with you, and that alone makes me glad I lost. I can go on trips with you and Mom visiting your nieces and nephew, and I look forward to that also. I did what God asked of me and did my best and that is all we are to do. I never wanted to do anything that took time from you, so I am happy to say I am not a governor but I am Tommy’s dad. Love you, Dad.

Perhaps had Ron been given a do-over, he may have decided to devote full-time to running for governor. Surely he had people to run his business, but while David Craig had a staff to help him do his job as County Executive, Larry Hogan the same for his business, and Charles Lollar was granted extended leave from his duties, Ron had to also function as a Delegate. That was 90 days basically off the trail in the formative part of the campaign. It may be disappointing to me because it was one of two decisions that cost him my vote and endorsement; otherwise Ron had perhaps the best overall platform and he came very close to getting both from me.

But Ron ran the best campaign insofar as staying issue-based and not going off on personal attack tangents.

For David Craig, he pretty much spent the last three years trying for this. Obviously the blogger meeting he had early on didn’t do him much good.

There have been people who opined privately that Craig should have attacked Hogan earlier, just as there are people who believed attacking Charles Lollar was a mistake. I would place myself in the latter camp, but what did Craig in was the lack of money to overcome Larry Hogan’s advantage there. Once Larry got the public financing, the race was over and Craig couldn’t chip away at the double-digit lead.

It’s the Charles Lollar supporters I worry about, as in my opinion they are most likely to stay home in November. Charles tried to convince them otherwise:

Wow, family, what an experience! I can honestly say that the past 16 months have been filled with such excitement and joy as my family has had the chance to meet so many good people across the state of Maryland. I could not be happier with the extended family that I have acquired as a result of this campaign. While the results may have not been exactly what we wanted at least we know that there were many out there who share our vision for a better Maryland and a New Way Forward. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who played a role in making this such a successful campaign.

As many of you know there is still more work for us to do. A New Way Forward for Maryland is still out there for us to obtain and together we can make this happen. I want to congratulate Larry Hogan on a job well done as well as David Craig and Ron George for successful campaigns of their own.

I look forward to coming together in unity to win the state of Maryland and I urge all of my supporters to do the same and ensure unity within our state across the board.

It makes me wonder what Charles will do with the next few months, although his July 5th event for supporters and volunteers will likely have a lot of clues.

Looking down the ballot a little bit, there were some interesting upsets from both parties.

Two incumbent Senators lost in their primaries as ambitious House members ousted them: Republicans David Brinkley and Richard Colburn were knocked off. By the same token, many of the nine House members who were defeated were victims of redistricting: Republicans Joseph Boteler, Don Dwyer, Donald Elliott, and Michael Smigiel, and Democrats Keiffer Mitchell, Melvin Stukes, Michael Summers, Darren Swain, and Shawn Tarrant. Mitchell and Stukes were drawn, along with winner Keith Haynes, into one Baltimore City district.

In particular, Boteler was one of the good guys, and the reigning monoblogue Accountability Project Legislator of the Year. That district’s voters made a serious mistake by pushing him aside.

Aside from the shocking margin of Addie Eckardt’s victory, the Wicomico County results were pretty much what I expected. Obviously I was disappointed by Muir Boda’s loss but apparently county Republican voters like mushy moderates. If things hold as expected, we will still have a significant GOP majority on County Council but it won’t always govern like one.

It should be noted, though, that my advertisers went 3-1 for the primary. Mary Beth Carozza easily had the most primary votes in District 38C and Chris Adams and Johnny Mautz paced the field in District 37B. Mautz carried three of the four counties, with Adams second in all four (Rene Desmarais won Wicomico County.)

This brings up one of my favorite comments along the way in the campaign, from an old NetRightDaily colleague of mine, Richard Manning. It was in response to a Facebook post I put up to promote this post.

(A)ll those ads along the side pay Michael for his great work. He should be commended that he has created something from nothing that has enough value that people want to advertise on it to reach his readers. That is the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit that those on the right claim to embrace.

So that brings me to the final race, which was my own. I posted this on the soon-to-disappear Facebook page for my campaign:

I’d like to thank my supporters. Looks like I’m going to come up one spot short this time, but with so many good people running I knew I was the most vulnerable incumbent because I only made it by a little bit last time.

So after November it looks like I may have some free time on my hands – or maybe not.

It does look like the Central Committee will have a little more TEA Party influence because Julie Brewington and Greg Belcher got their start as part of that movement, so that’s good.

As I’ve said all along, this will be my last election as a candidate. I was only planning to run this term anyway, and I would have definitely preferred to go out a winner. But I came home and got a hug from my treasurer, who happens to be my fiance. So everything is okay. I lost an election, but elections don’t define me anyway. In fact, in some respects this can be liberating.

Obviously there’s still the prospect of my involvement with the Central Committee, at least as secretary (it can be a non-voting position.) If they wish, I’m happy to stay on in that capacity.

But this will be the last time I have to go through all the hassle of getting a treasurer, filing campaign finance reports, and so forth. In the next few days we’ll close the campaign account, file the necessary paperwork to wind up this committee, and it will be time for a new chapter in political involvement.

So in a few days this (Facebook) page will also go away. Congratulations to the winners and hopefully many of those who tried but fell short will try again. But this will be it for me on the ballot.

Again, I appreciate the kind words from my supporters and thanks to those who voted for me.

A lot of those remarks have appeared on my Facebook page or in e-mails to me. I appreciate the sentiment, but I have an observation on this whole thing.

Of the nine who made it, six were already on the Central Committee and had name recognition for various reasons. I’ve lived in the county for less than a decade and, quite frankly, had the 2006 election featured more aspirants than candidates I probably wouldn’t have won my first term, let alone the second. Look at the three newcomers who won: two are doctors, and the other ran for the House of Delegates in 2010.

On the other hand, two of the other three who lost had been active in Republican circles but had little name recognition otherwise. Tyler Harwood probably knocked on hundreds of doors on behalf of himself and other candidates and was rewarded by finishing last. Jackie Wellfonder had bought signs and cards, and made her way around polling places yesterday to no avail. The gap between us and ninth place suggests that people just went with the names they knew, and that’s sort of a sad commentary.

I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m happy about losing this election, but I knew going in this time that I would have a hard time keeping my spot. I originally figured that only five or six incumbents would run, but with seven that made it really difficult.

So here we are. Even if I’m selected as secretary again (a non-voting secretary and treasurer are allowed) October will be my last meeting as an elected Central Committee member. It would be strange not having something to do on the first Monday of the month, but life changes and so we have to as well.

I didn’t plan on being a Central Committee member my entire life anyway, but now that this election is over my thoughts are on seeing our candidates through and working where I can to improve the process. It may not be completely universal, but one thing I think I’ve achieved over the last eight years is the respect of my peers.

Winding down

As I begin to write this, we have about an hour and ten minutes remaining in the 90 days of terror that is the annual Maryland General Assembly session. And because of the Maryland Legislative Watch website, the process of completing my annual monoblogue Accountability Project will be a snap – they’re kind enough to align all the votes taken during session by individual legislator.

So the process of weeding out what I’ll be focusing on has been my task over the last couple weeks. Since I cover 25 different votes, with three of them being committee votes for practically all the legislators (there are three exceptions: Speaker of the House Michael Busch, Senate President Mike Miller, and Delegate Don Dwyer, who was stripped of a committee assignment as punishment for his misdemeanor conviction last year) having them already arranged by legislator is a HUGE help.

Sadly to me, out of the hundreds of votes the General Assembly takes each year, the vast majority are unanimous or have very limited opposition. While there have been occasions I’ve used such exercises in futility for the minority, generally I like to find bills which have a significant number of votes on both sides. Unfortunately, this has eliminated a number of good bills I would have used via what I call the “gutless Senate syndrome” – a bill which may be 96-38 in the House passes 46-0 in the Senate. For example, did you know the state was soon to ban “vaportinis”? (Interesting, since they’re decriminalizing pot in the same session.) It would have been a good vote to use, but our gutless Senate passed it with no opposition. The same went for bills designating new wildlands, financial assistance for so-called “food desert” areas (not “desserts,” by the way), mandating balcony inspections, and several others.

All told, I will probably have 25 to 30 candidates to distill into the final 22 votes – there were a few bills which may have received a vote in their opposite chamber tonight. The “automatics” in this term will be the budget bills, the “bathroom bill”, minimum wage, and the “fix” for individuals who were hosed out of health insurance because the state screwed up. Those were always going to make the cut, even though the Senate vote on the capital budget was 46-0. Talk about gutless!

So when can you look for the monoblogue Accountability Report? I figure it could be done by month’s end.

One change I’ve made from previous editions is that legislators will be arranged into groups based on whether they are retiring, running for higher (or different) office, or trying for another term. Of course, I will still have the Legislative All-Stars and my usual rewards and criticism as well.

The process can go full throttle in less than a half-hour.

2014 Maryland dossier: part 11 (intangibles)

Finally we have arrived at the end – well, sort of, as I’ll explain.

Basically what this part is about are those other issues which don’t rise to the level of a full portion of this vetting, but I think are worth mentioning. Unique among the sub-portions of my evaluation is that I can add or subtract up to three points in this section, so it makes a pretty good difference. Another difference is in format, as I will respond to each point in turn.

**********

David Craig:  I will fully fund Program Open Space, stop raiding the funds and stop spending the money on pork barrel projects like artificial turf fields for high school sports stadiums. (campaign website)

Sorry, David, I can’t support this. Program Open Space is a great way for the state to take up more land it doesn’t need at a loss to both the local entity the parcel is part of (via lowered taxable area) and remaining taxpayers who take up the slack. If anything, Program Open Space should be defunded and excess state property returned to the private sector. Bob Ehrlich tried this and was pilloried, but the concept was sound.

*

When queried about social issues, particularly being pro-life, Craig related that he didn’t push the issue with his children, but was pleased that they turned out as pro-life as they did. David also pointed out that he voted in a pro-life fashion during his time in the General Assembly. But he would rather have 5 million Marylanders decide than 188 in the General Assembly. Jeannie echoed the overall stance, adding for her part she was “conservative, Christian, pro-life.” (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)

Being pro-life isn’t as much of a litmus test for me as it is some others, but I brought it up because I thought it was important.

*

While on Steiner’s show, Craig sidestepped a question about whether he would have vetoed a bill passed last year legalizing same-sex marriage.

He noted that as county executive, he has rarely used his veto powers and said that he thought it was good for Marylanders to have a chance to vote on the measure.

The marriage law was petitioned to the ballot by opponents after O’Malley signed it last year.

“I think it’s important that the people of Maryland spoke on that,” Craig said.

He also took issue with the state’s repeal of the death penalty, which he said prosecutors see as important tool. (Washington Post, May 31, 2013)

Here is a place where I disagree with the philosophy of Craig.

If you’re going to make a stand on an issue, it’s entirely appropriate to use the veto pen. If he wouldn’t have vetoed the bill, I’m led to assume he supports it. By the same token, where was he in supporting the death penalty when something could have been done? This could have gone to referendum but the effort died.

I’m fine with civil unions, but not gay marriage. Yes, it’s more or less a question of semantics but to me marriage between opposite genders is an apple and a union between those of the same gender is an orange. They shouldn’t share the same term. Just because the slim majority of voters supported it on a day when disillusioned conservatives stayed home because they didn’t care for their presidential nominee doesn’t mean it’s really settled. What if there had been a special election on the matter – would conservatives have been the ones to show up and vote it down?

Furthermore. I pointed out when the bill passed committee that legislators may not have wanted it on the ballot with them in 2014.

There’s a reason we have 188 legislators to represent 5 (actually 6) million Marylanders. If they do their job wrong, it’s up to you to correct it, not leaving it to the whims of 5 million Marylanders. That referendum backstop is for the times when the General Assembly gets it egregiously wrong with the governor’s approval, such as gay marriage.

Ron George: Demanding the highest standards of ethics and conduct creating a government that is more responsive to individuals regardless of income or party affiliation.

Require the automatic forfeiture of retirement benefits for any elected official that is convicted of abusing their office for political gain.

Reforming our prisons to make them true rehabilitation facilities with drug and alcohol rehab, education and financial literacy courses.

Create and enforce drug free zones around community recreation centers, schools and public housing with stiffer penalties. (campaign site)

I can live with points one and two, but the third and fourth points seem to work at cross purposes with each other. Not only will it cost a lot more to run our prison system if the additional features are included, the additional drug penalties will create more inmates. The more I see the effect of the so-called War on Drugs, the more I tend to favor decriminalization, if not legalization.

*

“Don’t believe a Republican can’t get anything done,” George said. “People think the enemy is the Democratic Party. It’s not. It’s apathy.”

He added that in a legislature controlled by Democrats, it is important for Republicans to not be ambitious. George said Democratic lawmakers will kill Republican legislation that they like, only to then introduce and pass a near-identical version with their own names on it. He added that it’s happened to him several times, and said he still would testify in favor of the bills if he supported them.

“It doesn’t matter if your name is on the bill or not. I don’t care,” George said. (SoMdNews, June 26, 2013)

To me, that doesn’t exactly scream Reaganesque leadership. If something is a good idea, we should be ambitious about it; after all – to use a recent news headline – if a small fraction of the population can get a television show cancelled, a tireless minority can turn this state around as well with the proper inspired leadership.

*

“I bristle at how much partisanship gets in the way of getting things done,” George said. “I have no problem working with people.” (Washington Post, June 5, 2013)

Then you should be ambitious about attaining your goals. Seize the bully pulpit and make the public demand the opposition fall in behind you.

*

“I never ran to the middle,” Ron reminded us, “I spoke to the middle.” (WCRC meeting, September 23, 2013)

In other words, you brought the other side to you. Now I definitely disagree with some of the ways you accomplished this – particularly the “Green Elephant” phase of your first term – but at least you have some street cred to use for better purposes.

*

And the outcry for Dwyer’s resignation is strong – particularly from fellow Anne Arundel County Delegate and gubernatorial candidate Ron George, who advised, “out of concern for others who could be harmed and for Don Dwyer himself, I call on him to resign and get help. His constituents deserve good representation.”  (monoblogue, August 21, 2013)

Since Dwyer wasn’t convicted of a crime which requires his dismissal from the General Assembly, I have to disagree. The voters of his district will probably speak just as loudly and have a more final decision.

Charles Lollar: Charles Lollar believes in human dignity and recognizes the importance of religious freedom to the people of Maryland.  The State of Maryland was founded to enable its settlers to practice their religion free of government interference.  It is our heritage and Maryland’s gift to the nation. (campaign website)

I have a little trouble reconciling that statement with the one in the second part below about not running to be a priest.

*

“It’s a tragedy what partisan politics is doing to this country.” (appearance at Mike Blizzard fundraiser, September 16, 2013)

This is a favorite straw man to burn. There’s a distinction between partisan politics based on principles and partisanship based on power. The debates of old between Republicans and Democrats centered on the former, but Maryland as a one-party state for so many decades is an example of the latter, where politicians join the Democratic machime to help themselves and not their fellow man.

*

“I’m not running to be your priest. I’m running to be your governor.”

“I think that every Marylander should have the right to be with whomever they want to be with….I don’t think government should be involved in marriage at all – that’s not government’s business.”

“I’m not going to propose any legislation centered around marriage; that’s not my job…nor would I lead a charge to change what the people have already done.”

“The people of the state have already voted to pass the law.”

“I am an advocate of helping organizations that help women sustain their lives…What I would not fund is money to provide an abortion.” (blogger interview, June 24, 2013)

I guess I have a problem with this picking and choosing which laws to advocate, unless the idea is to disengage entirely from all these personal decisions, which is a very libertarian approach. If government shouldn’t be in the arena of marriage, then I suppose we can bring back common law marriage. Moreover, there is also the aspect of taxation based in large part on deductions married couples are allowed to take, child custody, and many other issues where government has involvement in marriage. Do those go away as well?

I also have an issue with the lame excuse “the people of the state have already voted to pass the law.” That doesn’t stop activist courts from overturning a vote, which was done in California. Nor did it stop Obamacare, which the people didn’t want but Congress passed anyway. If you want the people to pass laws, then there should be a push to have citizen initiatives like other states do. Unfortunately, the masses aren’t always proven to be correct and we may rue the votes we took in 2012 a decade or two down the line.

*

“It’s very important that I’m non-partisan. We’re not going to win with Republican bully politics in this state. You’ve got some folks that want to win that way. We can’t win that way, we won’t win that way.”  (interview, Raging Against the Rhetoric, July 2013)

*

He said he is frustrated with “the Republican brand,” but chose to run as a Republican because his character and ideals most align with that party, he said. (SoMdNews, November 1, 2013)

These two actually go well together, so I will comment on both at the same time.

The first step in winning any election in Maryland is to win your party’s nomination, and in Lollar’s case that is the GOP. We saw what happened the last time an unaffiliated candidate tried to win statewide – he spent a lot of money to get 15% of the vote, and 15 percent isn’t going to cut it.

So maybe this is reality according to Charles Lollar, but that’s not the way to get party activists on your side. Granted, there are many who are fed up with the GOP brand but that’s because they look for conservative principles while many among the party regulars believe the MDGOP should be a pale pink pastel in a deep blue state, so as not to offend anyone in the middle. All that does is disillusion the base, which is why we don’t always get better turnout than Democrats – something which we must have to succeed.

I don’t think Republican principles equate to “bully politics.”

**********

In looking at these various factors, I end up deducting a little bit of score from two of the three candidates. Ron George is pretty much a wash as far as I’m concerned.

David Craig ends up losing one point because he’s just not willing to lead on social issues, even a little. They’re not the most important issues, but damn it, take a stand.

I deducted the full three points from Charles Lollar; not only for the unwillingness to run as a Republican and falling into the “non-partisan politics” trap, but also for running an abysmal campaign which has squandered the good will of a lot of potential activists, made a lot of unforced errors (the lack of a website for over a week was fairly glaring), and exhibited a terrible lack of discipline among staffers and supporters. Some of these have been straightened out, but tremendous damage is done. It’s a shame because the presentation by the candidate is generally good, which is why I initially supported him.

But when I added up all of the totals, even without the three-point deduction, Lollar was trailing badly. At this point, the totals are as follows:

  • Ron George, 61.5 points
  • David Craig, 58 points
  • Charles Lollar, 49.5 points
  • Larry Hogan, 0 points

Frankly, none of these totals are all that great. I realize I’m a difficult taskmaster, but I would have hoped for at least a couple scores in the 70s. But as more and more is learned about the candidates and their positions – particularly on some of the more esoteric issues I used, like the impact of Obamacare – perhaps one or more will reach the 70 to 80 point range and I can get behind him. At this time, I can’t be like the folks at Red Maryland and do the Larry Hogan pig in a poke. I tried that once already and was disappointed.

What I think I will do instead is make this an ongoing process. I really didn’t mean for this to be a one-shot deal as I have done before because I suspect the race will be in flux for awhile yet. Moreover, I’m not convinced I’ll see four main contenders on the June ballot, just like Blaine Young’s exit from the race after Charles Lollar got in. Sooner or later, once Larry Hogan gets in someone probably has to get out because there’s only so much money out there.

So I want to revisit the process around the first of February, the first of April, and the beginning of June. This way I can review what the candidates have said over the preceding 60 days or so and adjust accordingly. I might like a lot of what Larry Hogan says and it may vault him into the lead, or Lollar could stage a comeback with some subtle policy changes. It seems fair to all, and there’s no real rush for a monoblogue endorsement.

Put me down as still undecided.

Bongino echoes “high road” sentiment

Well, folks, I have to admit my wheel wasn’t the one which squeaked last on the matter since the crap I described last Wednesday continues apace. So hopefully someone with a little law enforcement experience can get this din to a dull roar:

As Republican candidates in a deep-blue state, we have a responsibility to provide you with a quality message and a quality campaign.

The likely nominees for office on the Democratic side will be flush with campaign cash, aided by an accommodating media and, in the case of Democratic candidate for Governor Anthony Brown, operatives from the Obama campaign. These campaigns are not playing games and this is not a joke, they are running to install a permanent tax and spend super-majority which will bankrupt our beautiful state and drive thousands more to flee across our borders.

I write this out of a deep and genuine concern for our state’s future. Some of the parochial spats developing amongst a limited number of campaign staffs are causing unnecessary and damaging rifts within our Party while we struggle for relevancy and the support of the people of Maryland.

It’s time for us to put the games and the nonsense aside and focus on the real fight. As the head of my campaign team I promise you a relentless effort and a quality team and if either I or my team fail to produce, email me immediately at campaign@bongino.com. I respectfully request that the remaining candidates on our Party team do the same and start to prune their campaign trees of people who alienate rather than unite.

That’s what Dan wrote on his Facebook page earlier this Tuesday evening, and I (almost) couldn’t agree more. (I think we will get the Obama operatives regardless of who wins that Democratic primary because we have one of the state-run exchange states.)

But we’ve had “unnecessary and damaging rifts” for a long time, well before this campaign began. I’m going to go beyond the whole Lollar aspect for the moment because plenty enough has been said about that over the last week; in fact, the controversy over that has enabled the argument over open primaries to be swept way under the rug. People may need to be reminded we have a convention next week.

In essence, it seems to me the party lost its unity when Bob Ehrlich lost. That so happens to be the time I was elected to my Central Committee – I swear, though, this is not cause and effect – and these are just some of the political slugfests we have endured since:

  • The argument over convention voting, which got so bad for a time some small counties boycotted the whole thing
  • The vote of no confidence on party Chair Jim Pelura
  • The return of Bob Ehrlich, which begat the Rule 11 controversy because Brian Murphy was also in the race (as was a challenger for Andy Harris, who also benefitted)
  • Audrey Scott and “party over everything” – her tenure neatly coincided with the rise of the TEA Party and pro-liberty movement
  • Speaking of Scott, her battle with Nicolee Ambrose for National Committeewoman
  • The ongoing question about whether Delegate Don Dwyer should resign, which one of the current gubernatorial candidates used to score political points
  • The referendum battles, including the times we chose not to use it
  • Alex Mooney’s resignation and the bitter subsequent election for party Chair
  • And now the open primary question

It’s been a constant routine of renegades, rule changes, and rancor for the last eight years – all we’ve been missing is the string of victories we need to make ourselves relevant in Maryland. The math is simple: one governor + one comptroller + 19 Senators + 57 Delegates = relevance. Anything less and we may as well not be there at all. Get that or more and maybe this state can be saved.

Now I will cheerfully admit I’ve had a hand in a couple of these issues I alluded to above; surely I’m not on Audrey Scott’s Christmas card list. But my goal is to help drag the Maryland Republican Party (insofar as it relates to the idea of enhanced liberty and freedom) over the finish line and make this more of a truly “free state.” (I’d like to do the same for all the other states as well.)

So this is why it bugs me that we have this whole power struggle between campaigns, between individuals – and even between websites. I like a good argument as much as anyone, but after awhile it gets pretty pointless. (Although I should take this moment to thank those who have supported me and my efforts – never hurts to acknowledge them! I have a support base I’d stack up to anyone’s.)

Certainly the average person, who may only now be starting to pay attention peripherally to the race (we’re months away from it being foremost in mind to probably 90% or more of Marylanders; this won’t occur until after the primary) would be unaware of what has transpired so far but right now we’re doing a damn fine job of both providing the opposition research Democrats can use in the general election and probably cheap entertainment for them as well. Doug Gansler has to be thanking his lucky stars that word of these shenanigans on our side is starting to get out because people will forget his transgressions long enough for him to rehabilitate his image.

I can surely guarantee, though, that Dan Bongino’s got enough of a struggle on his hands without having to worry about being tarred with these same broad brushstrokes. His is advice which should be heeded.

Time for Dwyer to go?

August 21, 2013 · Posted in Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Time for Dwyer to go? 

The self-induced black cloud over Delegate Don Dwyer’s head just got a little darker last night when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. While he did not take a breathalyzer test (automatically forfeiting his license for 90 days in the process), the officer at the scene “could smell a strong odor of alcohol,” according to news reports. This comes after the boating accident for which he was blamed last year and even a citation for illegal crabbing earlier this year. Despite all this, Dwyer had announced plans for running for re-election next year, even conducting a gun raffle for a fundraiser.

But the political landscape is different than when he last won election in 2010 in a three-person District 31. That legislative district has been sliced into two subdistricts, and while I believe Dwyer lives in the larger one he was third in the last election and third won’t cut it this time. (The two-seat District 31B is also fairly narrowly Republican, as opposed to more heavily Democratic District 31A.)

And the outcry for Dwyer’s resignation is strong – particularly from fellow Anne Arundel County Delegate and gubernatorial candidate Ron George, who advised, “out of concern for others who could be harmed and for Don Dwyer himself, I call on him to resign and get help. His constituents deserve good representation.” In fact, this has been an issue during the General Assembly session as Dwyer missed almost half the votes I tallied on the monoblogue Accountability Project.

But if Dwyer wants to be in company of a group that’s generally forgiving of the largest number of human foibles, up to and including substance abuse and sexual harassment, perhaps he should follow through on something he posted on his “dispatches” earlier this year: switching parties and becoming a Democrat.

This would accomplish two things: not only does it bring Dwyer to a new political home among the most forgiving of folks, it also means Dwyer can reduce the time he needs to straighten himself out – after all, it only took Democrat and San Diego mayor Bob Filner two weeks to get well from years of sexual harassment.

But seriously, folks, Don Dwyer is a dead delegate walking. Whether he resigns or not isn’t the point, because his political career is probably over, either the day he resigns or after the 2014 primary election. (Unless somehow miraculously unopposed in the primary, he won’t win it.) The only advantage which could be gained from a Dwyer resignation would be that his successor would be the incumbent for 2014, although you can bet your bottom dollar the Baltimore Sun will, as often as possible, refer to that person as “reckless boater Don Dwyer’s successor.”

I’ve also found this evening a lot of discussion on social media about the unwritten Republican policy of endorsing incumbents. Officially, there is no such policy in the Maryland GOP but on the whole there’s that tacit understanding that the preference is that incumbents don’t receive a primary challenge. Of course, that goes out the window in Dwyer’s case but I think we all deserve a choice, even if it serves simply as a referendum on an incumbent. Looking at my potential state and local ballot, there are a number of Republicans who I believe need and/or deserve a primary challenger – but many of them will skate unscathed to the general election and perhaps a few fortunate ones will be unopposed there.

I suspect that, for those who don’t like Don Dwyer for whatever reason – whether strident political positions or not handling his obvious problems with alcohol – the third time is the charm and they won’t have him to kick around much longer. But wait and see what issues are swept under the rug (or excused, like another Delegate’s DUI offense) because the majority party engages in them – do you think this guy could stand a little anger management, or does “political thuggery” come naturally to him?

Whatever personal demons Don Dwyer has, public office is generally not the best place to deal with them. Maybe the local police make sure to check by the local watering holes to see if Dwyer’s Cadillac is there, but with scrutiny should come better behavior. Apparently not in this case.

Stuff getting serious

As the General Assembly session – that annual event I have dubbed the “90 Days of Terror” – winds down, it’s looking more and more certain that a day of reckoning is coming. For Delegate Don Dwyer, the straw which broke the camel’s back was the House passage of a draconian new gun law by 78 Democrats, mainly those hailing from the I-95 corridor. In an unusual move, even reliable local Democratic stalwarts Rudy Cane and Norm Conway couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the bill, saving them from an act of pure political suicide in this part of the state. None of the nine Eastern Shore delegates voted for the measure.

But in Dwyer’s case, the result meant one thing: it’s time to unite in an act of non-compliance:

Dear Maryland Patriots, I was certain that the time would come when there would be a need to organize the “Voluntary Militia.” That time has come. The voluntary militia is recognized in the Maryland Constitution under Article 9, Section 1, and the Declaration of Rights under Article 28 that notes “a well regulated Militia is the proper and natural defense of a FREE Government.”

Please know that I am NOT calling for insurrection of any kind, I am simply calling for you to join me in establishing an organized effort to establish a Voluntary Militia in every county of the State.

MISSION STATEMENT

It is the intent of the Maryland Voluntary Militia to protect the law abiding Citizens of Maryland from any form of confiscation of firearms from April 3, 2013 forward. The Maryland Voluntary Militia members will not participate in any form of insurrection unless forced to do so to by the tyrannical acts of the Legislature, the Governor and of the federal government upon the Citizens of Maryland.

(Emphasis in original, although I took a small bit of editorial license with formatting.)

And when you add to that the declaration by our Sheriff Mike Lewis that, “I will not allow any deputies to go into any law-abiding citizens’ houses (to confiscate guns),” it’s clear the battle lines are starting to be drawn. Maryland was spared much of the fighting in the initial War Between the States, but seems to be ground zero in a battle over guns.

The worst thing, though, is how they determined the ends justified the means. Not enough people have seen this video of the joint Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committee meeting last week, where an amendment went from being passed to killed in just a few short minutes (and twisted arms.) It was almost criminal.

In fact, former U.S. Senate candidate and rising conservative media star Dan Bongino charged Delegate Joseph Vallario, who chaired the proceedings, with “thuggery and bullying tactics” in getting two Delegates to change their orginal votes to set up a scenario where he could vote to kill the amendment with the tie vote, as the video showed. As Dan explained:

First, political cowards in the Maryland Legislature scheduled a gun bill hearing on Good Friday to avoid media attention after a massive public outcry against this overreaching legislative firearm grab. Then, they crossed a line that should never be crossed in a civil society, and forfeited any semblance of dignity, ethics, or respect for their oaths of office by brazenly violating their own parliamentary procedures in order to punish legal firearm owners and protect criminals.

(snip)

We are moving into a dangerous place in both Maryland and national politics. One where a political end justifies an unethical and undemocratic means. Marylanders of all political stripes should be outraged at this naked display of political cowardice and legislative malpractice.

Unfortunately, too many of them either don’t know about these tactics or will shrug their shoulders because it doesn’t affect them because they don’t own a gun. These people forget that perhaps the next act of chicanery may affect them more directly, and that some of us are going to look out for their liberty whether they’re deserving of it or not. Yes, you are free to be an idiot and I would assess 78 members of the General Assembly qualify under that banner at the moment.

Odds and ends number 67

It’s very funny that I had a slowdown in newsworthy items around the holidays, so much so that I didn’t figure on doing an O&E post until perhaps mid-month. But over the last two days – bang! And here you are: bloggy snippets of goodness I felt were worth covering but not to the extent of a full post, just for a paragraph to three.

I’m going to start by promoting an event I plan on attending. Here’s what the Wicomico Society of Patriots has to say about their upcoming meeting January 15. The speaker will be Carroll County Commissioner and leading liberty advocate Richard Rothschild:

Who should attend?  Anyone who intends to continue to live and work on the Eastern Shore.  Elected officials will be in attendance.  This legislation impacts all of us, regardless of political orientation or affiliation, and all are invited to attend, listen, and question.  Two short videos will precede Commissioner Rothschild’s presentation to be followed by a question and answer session.  Mark your calendars now; you do not want to miss this meeting.  Alert your family, friends and neighbors. (Emphasis in original.)

Well, I’m alerting my neighbors and anyone else who stops by here. This will be a joint meeting of both the Worcester and Wicomico Society of Patriots, and will be held Tuesday, January 15 at 6 p.m. at Mister Paul’s Legacy Restaurant (1801 N. Salisbury Boulevard in Salisbury), a very nice facility familiar to those who follow liberty locally.

The SB236 law is perhaps the most heinous assault on property rights the state has ever produced in the name of Chesapeake Bay. In return for addressing a tiny percentage of the nitrogen problem in the Chesapeake, thousands of rural landowners could have their properties rendered worthless. So far Wicomico County has not submitted a map to the state, which in theory prevents certain subdivisions from being built at the present time.

A more damning check on progress is the national economy, but that’s a different subject. One potentially negative effect was discussed by Herman Cain in a recent commentary and it bears repeating, See if we haven’t heard this refrain in Maryland a time or two:

Democrats do not understand business very well. They don’t understand that when you pass a law that imposes new costs on businesses, those businesses will do what they can to mitigate the effects of those costs. When you make it more costly to hire people, there will not be as many people hired.

The fact that these real-world impacts are now being announced, as if no one anticipated them, is both entertaining and highly disturbing. We are being governed by people who don’t understand the impacts of their policies, people who think they can simply mandate anything and it will happen with no unintended consequences. I hope their ignorance doesn’t cost you your job.

You can say what you will about his support for the FairTax and the (unsubstantiated) allegations which derailed his run for President, but Herman Cain has common sense a-plenty about the effects of government regulation on the economy. The language of “mitigating costs” has real-world effects: cuts in hours and smaller paychecks for many millions of families whose breadwinners labor in a number of service industries, particularly food service. They may need to take a second (or third) job to make ends meet, and who knows how many out there are hiring?

And don’t dare rush from second job to third job either, at least in Maryland. A recent appeal from the Maryland Liberty PAC has these memorable lines:

Every speed camera in Maryland is an ATM machine for Martin O’Malley and his cronies in Annapolis.

Instead of cutting out wasteful spending to make ends meet like our families do, O’Malley invents new schemes to rob us of every penny we earn.

If you don’t think that’s true, consider that I personally witnessed the mobile speed cameras in operation during schools’ winter break on at least two occasions. I thought the idea was to make schools safer during the school year. (Yet they balk at allowing teachers to have guns.)

Of course, a couple years ago I told you how one local municipality was bending the rules, so those of you who read here know that speed cameras are truly a scam to fatten both county coffers and those of the operators who expect this to be a big business going forward. Rather than “reform and revisiting the speed camera law,” the Maryland Liberty PAC has the grand idea of having the speed camera law repealed. I fully support that effort.

I’m not as passionate, though, about one blogger’s call on Delegate Don Dwyer to resign now after being charged in the wake of a boating accident last summer. Certainly Dwyer has serious charges against him, but I would rather wait until his day in court has come and his fate is determined. Perhaps this was a “‘one-time occurrence’ which will not affect his performance in Annapolis.” (Oh wait, that was when Delegate Kumar Barve was arrested for DWI in 2007.)

The hypocrisy angle has been played up gleefully on the left, and if Dwyer is convicted I may change my mind. But the facts in the case seem to suggest the other boater was perhaps more at fault for the accident which left five children and Dwyer injured, so I think caution is in order.

Less cautious is the group Accuracy in Media, which released a statement that sees the acquisition of Al Gore’s little-watched Current TV by Al Jazeera as “an unacceptable danger to American citizens by further adding to the potential for home-grown Jihadists inspired by Al Jazeera’s inflammatory programming.” They also note that Time Warner Cable is dropping the channel.

While the punch line has generally involved Al Gore, the fact that he’s walking away with $100 million in what can be termed oil money has no lack of irony. And to think, he could have taken Glenn Beck’s money instead.

Yet there’s another side of the Al Jazeera issue not being mentioned:

The hearings, (Accuracy in Media head Cliff) Kincaid said, should also examine the fact that 30 public television stations around the U.S. are already airing Al Jazeera in violation of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules.

Florida broadcaster Jerry Kenney uncovered this aspect of the scandal and filed an FCC complaint over it. He discovered that Al Jazeera and other foreign propaganda channels are being provided to public television stations through the MHz Networks division of the Virginia-based Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation.

This is a list of stations affiliated with the MHz Networks – notice many of them are in large cities with a significant Islamic population.

But the government’s lack of oversight doesn’t stop there. In a new study, the Center for Immigration Studies criticized the federal government for not enforcing visa laws:

Report author David North, a CIS fellow and respected immigration policy researcher, comments, “It is incredible that after the would-be Wall Street bomber, the Times Square bomber, and the two 9/11 pilots were all found to have student visas, the Department of Homeland Security makes so little effort to pursue corrupt visa mills, flight schools not authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration, and needless language schools. National security requires the enforcement of our immigration laws.”

Interesting tidbit: very little taxpayer money goes to this agency, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP.) They make most of their money on a $200 fee would-be students pay. But the SEVP apparently doesn’t care whether the student is going to an elite university or diploma mill set up to give foreign students a reason to come to the country – as long as they collect the fees it seems like they’re happy campers. Sounds like a typical governmental agency.

Another typical government move was pointed out by a group you’re going to be hearing more about in a couple weeks. The Coalition to Reduce Spending called the recent fiscal cliff agreement the product of a “can-kicking Congress.” CRS head Jonathan Bydlak also noted:

The longer Congress continues to act fiscally irresponsible, the longer the American people will have to wait for the return of a healthy and prosperous economy.

He’s precisely right on that assertion. And the reason you’ll hear more from the group: Bydlak is also the January 15 “Ten Question Tuesday” guest, and that plug is a good point to bring this post to a close.

The Dwyer affair: all it’s cracked up to be?

I’ve sort of reserved judgment on this whole “drinking and boating” affair with Delegate Don Dwyer; while others have gleefully pointed out the Delegate’s various foibles, the press coverage has seemed to paint a picture of the Delegate recklessly flying along the Magothy River, “drunkenly at the helm,” according to Annie Linskey in a Baltimore Sun story. Even Wikipedia now says that “he collided with another vessel.”

But if you’ll notice in the Linskey story, Delegate Neil Parrott claims Dwyer took evasive action. And there seems to be a growing amount of evidence that Dwyer, while admitting to be intoxicated, may not have been at fault. This was written by Sam Hale of the Maryland Society of Patriots:

Recent reports on the accident regarding Del. Don Dwyer’s boating accident are misleading when the full scope of the accident is examined.  Almost all of the reports regarding the accident have been written in such a manner to lead readers to believe that the Delegate was the sole cause of the unfortunate accident.  Some blogs have even reported that “Dwyer drunkenly steered his boat into a crowd of children.”

Though Delegate Dwyer has admitted to driving the boat after he had been drinking, an examination of photographs and a report of the accident shows that Dwyer’s boat may not have caused the “collision,” and that his boat was, in fact, struck on its lower, left side.   It should also be noted that the collision took place on the right side of the Magothy Channel, which means that Dwyer’s boat was traveling in its correct position and maneuvered to the right to avoid the oncoming boat.

The photographs, shown here, seem to show that the other boat ran into Dwyer’s craft from the side. It would be consistent with the reports that there were children ‘tubing’ behind the boat, which explains why the children were injured. It could very well be the other driver lost control and sideswiped the Dwyer boat.

Hale points out the double standard at work here:

With these points in mind, and without a complete investigation from the DNR, the calls for Dwyer’s resignation are both premature and hypocritical.  In 2007, when Democrat Delegate Kumar Barve was arrested for drunk driving, the case was hardly covered.  Speaker Busch backed Barve “100%” in 2007, saying “We’re like a family down here. You don’t turn your back on someone when they’ve made a mistake.” It is clear that Democrats in Maryland get completely different treatment from the media and their own party when they make similar mistakes.

Delegate Dwyer has taken responsibility for drinking before driving his boat in a very public admission.  But the media has taken this as an opportunity to lay blame on Dwyer for an accident that he may not have caused and may have happened regardless of his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash.  Maryland journalists should report the full scope of Delegate Dwyer’s recent accident, in the same manner as they do when a Democrat makes similar mistakes, and allow the people of Maryland to form make their judgements outside of the media bias.

That sentiment is echoed by writer J. Doug Gill at Red Maryland, who also highlights the hypocrisy of Democrats and the press. Obviously Dwyer is contrite, saying in a statement:

No one, no one should be drinking and operating a motor vehicle or power boat. I deeply regret my actions and ask for forgiveness from the public.

Yet we haven’t heard calls for the other watercraft operator, Mark Harbin, to be more careful – after all, he had a boatload of children in his care and, it could be argued, was boating recklessly himself. Obviously this incident would be a one-day story if not for the involvement of the Delegate and would likely have been buried anyway if the Delegate in question wasn’t one who has stood for traditional marriage in the House of Delegates. Since that’s a politically incorrect position to take in this day and age there’s no compunction over assailing Delegate Dwyer for his misfortune, whether self-induced or not.

There’s no question that Democrats may see this as an opportunity to score political points – obviously that’s why some Republicans, like Delegate Nic Kipke, have called on Dwyer to “sincerely consider” resigning. But the Democrats were going to do this anyway knowing they had the tacit backing of most of the state’s media to run cover for them when they mess up, as we are all prone to do.

It’s become patently obvious that if Don Dwyer were more of a squishy Republican like Wade Kach there would be the general attitude of “well, he made a mistake but to err is human and to forgive is divine” for him. But standing up for the traditional family means he’ll be called a “hypocrite” because he stands for family values but made a lapse in judgment by drinking too much.

Assuming he decides to run again, in 2014 voters will decide whether to forgive Don Dwyer or not. But unless there’s something in the investigation which leads to a felony conviction Dwyer need not resign. The damage is done, so let’s allow the guy to heal himself and work on being a better person.

The McDermott notes: week 7

February 26, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on The McDermott notes: week 7 

As the General Assembly session chugs along into its second half, we’re beginning to see more votes being taken during House sessions – no longer is the time being spent with first readers of new House bills. They’re also getting the bills passed by the Senate to consider.

Two key happenings on Monday were the traditional Washington’s Birthday speech given by a Democrat and a challenge to the same-sex marriage vote count. McDermott opined that Delegate John Olszewski’s speech on Washington “implied he liked taxes…but maybe he was referring to Washington, D.C.”

But more important is the vote count challenge, since it’s against House rules to have voted and not placed up on the board. As of this writing, the official count is 72-67 but Delegate John Bohanan’s vote was originally not counted, which is why initial reports had it 71-67. This challenge has meant the day’s journal is not yet official.

Yet this is also interesting because House rules in the past have allowed Delegates to change their vote; on occasion in doing my monoblogue Accountability Project I notice this and those who do so are penalized. (The same is not true for the Senate.) It will be interesting what the record eventually shows for Bohanon.

McDermott broke the three days of hearings conducted last week down into three distinct groups: Tuesday was “gun day,” Wednesday was “DWI day,” and Thursday was “family law day.” It seems to be the custom that similar bills are lumped together in a hearing scenario, and that probably helps assure that lobbyists on each side of these issues have their calendars in sync.

Mike lamented that pro-Second Amendment legislation normally didn’t even get a vote in his committee, while those bills which continue to make Maryland a state hostile to lawful gun owners will likely not only make it out of committee but probably reach the floor. McDermott’s view is that Maryland should join the 40 “shall issue” states and place the burden on the state as to why a person should not carry a gun instead of placing the onus on the person who wants to carry to give a reason why. My reason is that there’s a Second Amendment which says I can.

Regarding the DWI bills, Mike is a co-sponsor of several of these, but a couple in particular may raise the ire of civil libertarians. I think the second one could be a problem since the state uses so many unmarked police cars.

Mike noted that all three days had standing room only crowds, which bolsters my point about the lobbyists having the days circled on their calendar in advance.

There were also three bills voted out of the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, with the only one I could find drawing opposition being HB96. Oddly enough, the 16-4 vote found four of the seven Republicans voting no, with McDermott and Delegate Michael Hough the only ones voting yes. (Delegate Don Dwyer was absent.) I’d be interested to know why they objected, with my one thought being that it limits a judge’s options in the case.

McDermott also noted the Senate’s work on Thursday, and compared it with how the House passed the gay marriage bill:

The Senate voted quickly on the O’Malley-Brown Same Sex Marriage Bill. They also created two legislative days out of one calendar day and passed the bill in the afternoon. No amendments were accepted onto the bill by the Democrats which could have at least made the bill better. These included amendments to address homosexual-same sex marriage curriculum in public schools and a prohibition on a minor being able to enter into a same sex marriage. As a result of these rejections, when the governor signs the bill into law next week a 16 year old boy will be able to marry a 40 year old man and our schools will be forced to instruct that same sex marriage is a normal option.

As a result, the referendum process has begun. The people of Maryland will have the last word when we force the issue into the ballot box. In the coming weeks, I will provide detailed information on how to get involved in the referendum. For those who helped in the referendum on Illegal Alien In-State Tuition last year, it will be the same process. We will now be on guard in the House for legislation that will seek to make the referendum process more complicated and arduous for the people. We know it is coming.

For his Friday “diary” Mike referred readers to the House Proceedings calendar to show the votes taken and bills passed. It’s worth noting that, out of 22 bills considered on the House docket for the day, 16 passed without a single “no” vote and three others with just token opposition. Only three had any significant force against them, and these dealt with the following subjects:

  • HB74, which extended the life of the State Board of Certified Interior Designers
  • HB104, which makes certain uses of a cell phone while driving a primary offense
  • HB173, which allows an electronic signature to be placed on file for voter registration

I would say all three of these have some potential to be part of the monoblogue Accountability Project, with HB104 and HB74 the two most likely to be used. Unfortunately, these votes aren’t public record yet so I don’t know who voted correctly or incorrectly.

McDermott was also pleased with the advancement of two of his bills, which he claimed would save the state millions of dollars. (He also said this at the Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, which I’ll detail more tomorrow.) Interestingly enough, McDermott credits Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello with assisting on the bill.

Obviously it was a less stressful week than Week 6, but things will probably heat up as the budget bills begin to advance.

While Mike didn’t mention this, Friday also marked the day – since there was no legislative action on an alternative – that Governor O’Malley’s state gerrymandering officially became law, pending any court action of course. Now Mike shares District 38A with fellow Republican Delegate Charles Otto while the northeastern section of his old district becomes District 38C, an open seat. The parts of his former District 38B closest to Salisbury will presumably be left for Delegate Norm Conway to defend two years hence.

The McDermott notes: week 5

February 13, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The McDermott notes: week 5 

Because I posted last night, welcome to a Monday morning version of the McDermott notes.

Most of what Mike discussed from last week had to do with his spot on the Judiciary Committee, including a handful of committee votes on items which passed on their way through to the floor. These bills dealt with a number of items, and McDermott voted with the majority in sending them along. Interestingly enough, Delegate Michael Smigiel voted against HB111 and HB115, while Delegate Don Dwyer also voted against HB115. Delegates Michael Hough and John Cluster voted no on HB187. Out of that group, I can most see the civil libertarian vs. law-and-order argument on HB115 in particular. McDermott is a co-sponsor of two of these bills, so it follows he would support them. It’s not likely that any of these votes will rise to the level of the monoblogue Accountability Project, but you never know.

They also heard testimony on a number of bills, with the most prominent being various versions of “Caylee’s Law” being introduced. Because there are three versions of the bill out there, my guess is that there won’t be much problem passing one of them with the winner likely being the one sponsored by the “right” people. If I were a betting man I would wager they take HB20, slap the “Caylee’s Law” moniker on it, add the extra provisions of the bill in the GOP version (HB122) and call it a day. Makes it look like the Democrats had everything to do with it.

Another area of interest during testimony last week were animal laws. One bill the Judiciary Committee heard established a class of “at-risk” owners who have “dangerous” dogs. If little Johnny next door teases your dog mercilessly and is bitten in return, the way I read this law is that your dog could be considered “dangerous” and you would be subject to this law. I love unintended consequences. The other bill established that owners who are convicted of animal cruelty will also be liable for the cost of taking care of their seized animals. I can see the point of this, but I think it should be left at the court’s discretion rather than be mandatory.

They also dealt with a number of child support bills which would affect thousands of families in Maryland.

McDermott also mentioned some of the bills he introduced in the last few days before bills would be need to go through the Rules Committee for late introduction: HB984 would stiffen penalties for driving under the influence of controlled dangerous substances, and HB999 would make it a crime to not report child abuse.

But HB1032 sort of takes the cake for me, and makes me shake my head about the litigious society we have. I really don’t want to go to Plow Days or have little Johnny take his class farm tour and have to see this sign when common sense should dictate. It would be better to have judges who would simply laugh those fools who litigate such actions out of court.

There wasn’t much to tell about the Eastern Shore delegation meeting, according to Mike. They heard from Senator Mikulski’s office and discussed the budget with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which Mike contends is being cut too much in the area of prevention.

Finally, Mike devoted a paragraph to the lengthy (10+ hour) joint committee hearing on the subject of gay marriage. It appears McDermott will be a steadfast vote against these bills – in other words, for upholding the state law that marriage is only between one man and one woman. I would tend to think his district agrees with him on this for the most part, and I concur with that assessment as well. McDermott also stated:

I did ask (Governor O’Malley, who led off the testimony) why we simply did not put this issue before all of the voters as a referendum on the ballot…particularly when we thought enough about gambling to put that on the ballot for the people to decide.

I notice O’Malley testified first, so he didn’t have to wait until late in the evening to say his piece. Not knowing how the hearing shook out, it would be interesting to find out if those who are in favor of the change stuck around when those who oppose the bill testified (and the inverse as well.) My guess is that the “tolerant” side wasn’t so much when bill opponents testified, but I would have to have eyewitnesses to know for sure.

As the session nears its halfway point, we’ll begin to see more floor votes and fewer hearings. Bills are now getting through committee, so the impetus will be getting those which are slam-dunks through first and leaving the controversial ones for next month.

The McDermott notes: week 2

If you missed it two weeks ago, my intention is to spend time on Sunday evening reviewing local Delegate Mike McDermott’s weekly field notes. I find them a fascinating look into the workings of the Maryland General Assembly.

I skipped last week, but this edition of the General Assembly session seems to be settling into a familiar routine: a few bill introductions and hearings, with Mike sitting in on the Judiciary Committee hearings. Tonight I’ll do a review of week 2 based on Mike’s observations and tomorrow afternoon I’ll catch up with week 3.

To begin week 2, Mike commented on the celebration of Martin Luther King Day and remarks from former football player and Delegate Jay Walker, but concluded by reminding readers that MLK was a Republican and the civil rights movement seems to have both forgotten this and the fact Republicans helped get civil rights legislation passed despite the efforts of southern Democrats.

On Tuesday of that week, Mike helped to pass the very first bill to make it through the whole legislative process this year. SB46, which changed Somerset County’s legislative districts, passed as an emergency bill with the only dissenting vote cast by Anne Arundel County Delegate Don Dwyer.

But there’s an interesting sidelight to this particular bill. SB46, sponsored by Democrat Senator Jim Mathias of Worcester County, was passed through the legislative process. The crossfiled bill in the House, HB50, was sponsored by Republican Delegate Charles Otto of Somerset County but didn’t proceed past first reading. So who do you think will get credit and who will be cast as not doing his job?

The remaining time that Tuesday was spent reviewing bills on elder abuse, increasing penalties for malicious destruction of property by graffiti, and the release of mental patients found not criminally responsible. Obviously this can make you an expert on a lot of mundane, picayune items. But the Judiciary Committee only hears its portion of the bills before the entire General Assembly so one has to assume Mike does a lot of talking with fellow Republicans on other committees to hear their take on other bills which will be voted on later this session.

On Wednesday Mike spent the day in a hearing on out-of-court settlements, which brings me to the point above. It’s not clear whether this is germane to a bill already in the hopper or one being considered.

Thursday brought the Israeli Ambassador to the United States before the General Assembly as well as hearings on bills mandating the members of the Baltimore County Orphans’ Court be members of the Maryland Bar, abolishing some of the immunity enjoyed by members of the General Assembly, and expanding the harassment statute to add in items like text messaging and social media.

I suspect the Baltimore County bill is a trial balloon by the Maryland Bar Association to eliminate the possible competition for Orphans Court judge around the state. It’s the only judicial position a lay person can hold, and reducing the pool of people who can run allows attorneys a crack at another cushy judgeship.

Week 2 ended on Friday with the meeting of the Eastern Shore Delegation. Mike describes the speakers they heard from: Department of the Environment Secretary Robert Summers, Susquehanna River Basin Commission Director Paul Swartz (no relation), and the nine school superintendents on the Shore. Obviously he had many more questions than they could answer, but Mike brought up salient points regarding all three.

I happen to agree with Mike that the Eastern Shore takes an inordinate share of the blame for the Bay’s problems. We only contribute a small amount of the nitrogen that finds its way into the Chesapeake, but our farmers have to jump through hoops regardless. Soon they’ll be joined by those who will see the “flush tax” doubled if Governor O’Malley and Annapolis liberals have their way. Meanwhile, we can’t do much about the pollution which comes to the bay via the Susquehanna River – Mike uses the analogy of having a swimming pool with a hose connection to the neighbor’s septic tank. Obviously that would mean Pennsylvania and New York have to help us out, but they don’t really have to deal with the problem.

And as for the third meeting with the superintendents, it seems to me that any time Memo Diriker is brought into the conversation taxpayers need to watch their wallets. Somehow he always seems to advocate the most expensive solution, and I’d love to see the calculations that Diriker uses to claim each dollar spent on public education creates $1.90 in return. If that’s true, building Bennett Middle School should make next year’s Wicomico County budget a snap.

I’m not holding my breath.

Also on Friday of week 2, Mike introduced bills dealing with the criminal justice system, HB112 and HB119. Both will have a hearing Tuesday afternoon. Compared with some of the other bills I’ve read, these are very simple changes in the law. I’m not sure what fate HB112 will have, since I’m betting the ACLU and other similar groups will press hard against the measure, but HB119 has a fighting chance for success: it allows law enforcement officers in the field greater latitude to use their judgement on whether a misdemeanor offense deserves a simple citation or more intrusive action and has a small but bipartisan roster of co-sponsors.

During week 2 Mike also penned his thoughts on Martin O’Malley’s budget, where he chastises the governor who “lifts his eyes to Pennsylvania Avenue.” I agree with Mike: the 2016 campaign is already underway for Martin O’Malley, and my guess is that state Democrats have already been given their marching orders to try and make that happen.

I’ll look at Week 3 tomorrow, and try to get back to a Sunday evening routine afterward.

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  • 2018 Election

    Election Day is November 6 for all of us. With the Maryland primary by us and a shorter widget, I’ll add the Delaware statewide federal offices (Congress and U.S. Senate) to the mix once their July 10 filing deadline is passed. Their primary is September 6.

    Maryland

    Governor

    Larry Hogan (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Shawn Quinn (Libertarian) – Facebook

    Ben Jealous (D) – Facebook Twitter

    Ian Schlakman (Green) Facebook Twitter

     

    U.S. Senate

    Tony Campbell (R) – Facebook Twitter

    Ben Cardin (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Arvin Vohra (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    There are three independent candidates currently listed as seeking nomination via petition: Steve Gladstone, Michael Puskar, and Neal Simon. All have to have the requisite number of signatures in to the state BoE by August 6.

     

    U.S. Congress -1st District

    Andy Harris (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Jenica Martin (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    Jesse Colvin (D) – Facebook Twitter

     

    State Senate – District 37

    Addie Eckardt (R – incumbent) – Facebook

    Holly Wright (D) – Facebook

     

    Delegate – District 37A

    Frank Cooke (R) – Facebook

    Sheree Sample-Hughes (D – incumbent) – Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 37B (elect 2)

    Chris Adams (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Johnny Mautz (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Dan O’Hare (D) – Facebook

     

    State Senate – District 38

    Mary Beth Carozza (R) – Facebook Twitter

    Jim Mathias (D – incumbent) Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38A

    Charles Otto (R – incumbent)

    Kirkland Hall, Sr. (D) – Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38B

    Carl Anderton, Jr. (R – incumbent) Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38C

    Wayne Hartman (R) – Facebook

     

    Delaware

     

    U.S. Senate

     

    Republican:

    Rob ArlettFacebook Twitter

    Roque de la FuenteFacebook Twitter

    Gene Truono, Jr. –  Facebook

     

    Libertarian (no primary, advances to General):

    Nadine Frost – Facebook

     

    Democrat:

    Tom Carper (incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Kerri Evelyn HarrisFacebook Twitter

     

    Green (no primary, advances to General):

    Demitri Theodoropoulos

     

     

    Congress (at-large):

     

    Republican:

    Lee MurphyFacebook Twitter

    Scott Walker

     

    Democrat (no primary, advances to General):

    Lisa Blunt Rochester (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

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