The noble ninety-eight

If you want to talk about an absolute scrum, look no further than the list of candidates for Delegate and Alternate Delegate to be presented to us at next Saturday’s Maryland Republican Party Spring Convention. Between the two races there are a total of 98 people vying for the 22 positions that will be available for Central Committee members and/or proxies to vote upon.

A lot of them are well-known names: 16 are current state or federal elected officials – Andy Harris is one of those trying for a spot – in addition, all of the party officers are on the ballot as well as a host of other elected officials, candidates, and familiar faces such as Anne Arundel County Executive (and former Delegate) Steve Schuh, two-time Comptroller candidate William Campbell, unsuccessful Congressional aspirants Faith Loudon and former Delegate Mike Smigiel, and even the onetime First Lady of Maryland Kendel Ehrlich. But there are several dozen activists and people who ran for the positions in the primary but failed to be successful. The insurgent campaign of Donald Trump vaulted a lot of unfamiliar names to the Cleveland convention because many of Maryland’s elected officials backed other candidates.

With so many in the race it’s only natural to see slates formed. Here’s one from the “Conservative Club” of Maryland:

I have no idea who runs the Conservative Club, where their meetings are, and whether I owe them any dues, but I can tell you a little about their slate:

  • I have previously endorsed their top two candidates for National Committeewoman and National Committeeman.
  • Six of their ten At-Large Delegates previously ran as Cruz delegates or alternates: Boone, Brewington, Loudon, McConkey, Pycha, and Rey. Two of the others were Rubio delegates (Cluster, Patel) and the other two did not run. Bossie is a natural pick as he’s trying to be National Committeeman.
  • Three of their At-Large Alternate Delegates previously ran as Cruz alternates: Alzona, Lathrop, and Trotta. O’Keefe was a Rubio delegate, while the others either did not run or were unaffiliated.

So this seems to be a combination of Cruz and Rubio supporters under the conservative banner. Fair enough, although I can question Patel’s conservative bonafides when I see a photo like this:

Silent majority of what? It’s not a majority of Republicans in the country, since Trump still has only a plurality. And to me, backing someone who’s not going to advance many conservative principles is not worthy of being in a Conservative Club. So I think I’ll skip that name on the ballot.

Obviously there are not any Trump delegates from April running in this election since the voters of Maryland blindly sent them to Cleveland. But out of the field who ran for the seats in April there are a number who are trying again, and it will be interesting to see how they fare in round 2. In my case, I’m looking to send as many Cruz delegates as possible to hopefully bring some sanity to the Maryland delegation – however, it is likely there will be a Trump slate as well and that group is to be avoided. I may have to bring my own list and check names off as I figure out their allegiances.

One other aspect of the race that fascinates me is the sheer volume of people and ballots that need to be created. When I ran in 2008 for a at-large post, there were only about 25 of us and I think the voting and tallying took about 45 minutes. One problem is that our voting system is a somewhat proportional one based on the county you represent and its relative voting strength – as I recall, the bulk of the modest amount of support I received came from Eastern Shore counties and their votes weren’t much in the scheme of things. It’s better now, but thanks to variances in the voting strength and number of members on a Central Committee, a member from Anne Arundel County has about four times the power as a Montgomery County member – or, for that matter, my vote from Wicomico County. Because their strength is diluted so much by having 48 members (the maximum allowed by law) each of the nine of us on the Wicomico County Central Committee are roughly at par with each member of Montgomery County’s CC – they just have a lot more bodies. Anne Arundel only has 13 members, so they each have a lot of say.

Long story short, I’m told they will have an electronic system in place for this so I hope it goes smoothly. I would like to be home before church on Sunday.

It’s just another aspect of what could be the most contentious convention in the ten years I have attended them.

Giving up or (hopefully) expanding the pie?

October 29, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Giving up or (hopefully) expanding the pie? 

I received two e-mails on Thursday that I think activists should know about. Both came under the banner of “Maryland for Romney” but from two different people. The first I excerpt from came from David Ferguson of the state party:

In order to make sure that Mitt Romney becomes the 45th President of the United States, we need to win key swing states like our next-door neighbor, Virginia.

So, please join us for a trip to the Northern Virginia suburb of Sterling. The bus will depart Greenbelt (Century 21 Real Estate, 6401 Golden Triangle) at 8am, travel to Virginia (Sterling Victory Office, 21430 Cedar Drive Sterling, VA 20164) and return that same evening at 7pm.

And the second came from the desk of National Committeeman Louis Pope:

Victory is within site (sic) for the Romney-Ryan team on November 6th, and we all must pitch in to get over the finish line and win this election!

That’s why I’m inviting you to join our team in traveling to Ohio this weekend. Polls today have shown the race there tied at 48%, and putting boots on the group will give us that critical edge to overcome the Obama agenda. Ohio is one of a small number of remaining swing states that will determine if we welcome Mitt Romney as our 45th President or if Barack Obama retains the keys to the White House for another term.

For details on our Friday (October 26th) evening departure from Frederick, plus overnight accommodations in Independence, OH, please RSVP athttp://www.mdgop.org/mitt-romney.

Okay, I get the fact that Maryland is probably not going to be Romney country – although I suspect it won’t be nearly the bloodbath John McCain suffered here. I can see a single-digit margin in the race if all breaks correctly.

But the other thing I see is a number of winnable downticket races perhaps being ignored because we’re sending our best and brightest out of state, including a lot of party regulars. Is that really the way to attract and reward those grassroots supporters who may have come on board because they’re most interested in a local candidate like Nancy Jacobs, Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, Tony O’Donnell, Frank Mirabile, or Ken Timmerman, or even the statewide race of Dan Bongino?

I’ll grant that the Ferguson note concluded with this statement:

If you can’t make it to Virginia, the MDGOP StrikeForce will be holding a Super Saturday in Montgomery County (18540 Office Park Drive in Montgomery Village).

These Super Saturday events have worked to promote a number of candidates in various high-density areas of the state (there were none on the Eastern Shore) but it seems like the top billing has gone to events where Maryland volunteers are sent to Virginia or Pennsylvania. Of course, this begs the question: who remains to change hearts and minds here in the Free State?

Yet if you think of things in a political cycle, as I sometimes tend to do, the Maryland GOP has failed in achieving its key objectives. Obviously we were at a very low point in 2008 when we were trounced due to a subpar candidate at the very top of the ticket whose opponent had enough coattails to drag in an extra Congressman from a district which should vote Republican every day and twice on Sundays.

But in 2010 we gained back that seat and picked up a net win of four seats in the General Assembly (losing two in the Senate but gaining six in the House) almost despite ourselves – many of our biggest victories came at the county or municipal levels. Unfortunately, the state party has done little to cultivate those grassroots supporters who may now want to see a local candidate prevail. Instead, they seem to be pressing hard for helping Mitt Romney win other states and risking defeat in a few winnable races here in Maryland.

Whether Mitt Romney wins or loses, I believe the time has come for new leadership in the state party. We had a promising start on that with the election of Nicolee Ambrose as National Committeewoman, but perhaps the time has come for a new group of executives to push the party in a different direction. We don’t seem to have a lot of discipline as some key people have defected on issues like the U.S. Senate race or the three questions we in the grassroots worked hard to get on the ballot. Candidates – good candidates – which have essentially fallen into our lap have seen their efforts wasted or simply bypassed the state party to attempt to push their efforts forward.

I understand the deck is somewhat stacked against us by a perceived 2:1 registration disadvantage. But we use that as a crutch rather than as a wedge. I believe we can peel 1 out of 5 Democrats away who are really conservative and should be registered Republican; further I also feel that perhaps 2/3 of those unaffiliated are closet Republicans. Instead of a 2-to-1 state (actually 56-29 in registration) by my thinking we are politically a 50-50 state. Just do the math:

  • Begin with 56 D, 29 R, 15 unaffiliated.
  • Take 2/3 of unaffiliated and put them in the R column: 61 D, 39 R.
  • Now peel the 1 in 5 Democrats off: 50 R, 50 D.

That’s how we have won elections in the past; the trick is to get people to register (and vote) the way they feel. It’s a process of education and work, and there are areas where we will lag behind in the process because the voter rolls are much more heavily liberal and Democrat. But in the words of Dan Bongino we “cede no ground.”

There will be lessons to learn from the 2012 election, but I’m just hoping they’re not too bitter for Maryland Republicans who let a couple close state races slip away by not minding the store.

Odds and ends number 61

I actually meant to do this post over the weekend, but real life intervened. I’m hoping the expanded version of items which are really too short to merit a full post but worth a couple paragraphs is more chock full of interesting because of it.

I stand with Dan. Do you?There is one item on my agenda that’s time-sensitive, so I’m going to fold it into an overall brief update on Dan Bongino’s U.S. Senate campaign.

Tomorrow (October 18) the Bongino campaign is doing a unique moneybomb event:

During our “Now or Never” event, you will be able to make donations designated specifically to get Dan’s campaign advertisements on radio, television and the Internet. These ads are a crucial part of our get-out-the-vote efforts and you will have the unique opportunity to choose the media outlet on which you wish to see the ads run. (Emphasis in original.)

So if you donate you get to choose. (I vote for advertising on this website. Is that an option?)

Unlike some others in the race, Dan’s campaign has been the closest to the grassroots and certainly has worn through the shoe leather. Regardless of the perception about where Dan stands in the polls, I think the voters’ brief flirtation with Rob Sobhani is coming to a close as they find out there’s not a lot of substance behind the sizzle.

I didn’t note this at the time, but since the Benghazi massacre is still in the news it’s noteworthy that Dan is among the chorus who thinks heads should roll:

I take no comfort in this, but Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice must resign in light of the Benghazi tragedy. It was a tragic failure in leadership.

He went on to decry the “current administration’s position that politics takes priority over security for our men and women in the foreign service.” Given the fact that Hillary Clinton now insists on taking full responsibility, it indeed behooves her to resign her post.

I’ve also found out that Dan will be in the area twice over the next couple weeks. On Thursday, October 25 he will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser here in Salisbury at the local GOP headquarters, tentatively scheduled from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., and on Tuesday, October 30 the PACE group at Salisbury University is hosting a U.S. Senate debate in their Great Hall at 3 p.m. That’s sort of an unusual time to have an event such as that, but it is what it is.

And apparently Dan has had his fill of complaints from Sobhani about Rob’s debate exclusion. This comes from Dan’s Facebook page:

Regarding the debates schedule, there is no effort to keep the candidate out of the debates. His campaign is fabricating stories in an attempt to distract from his confusing platform… Any forum he was not included in was due to the fact that he was not invited by the host.

I’ve spoken to the campaign about this issue and any assertion that Dan doesn’t want Rob Sobhani in the debates is completely false.

Speaking of debates, this is one which just might be crazy enough to actually work.

Created by the TEA Party Express group, this is the debate where the moderators are conservative. Of course, none of the nominees or incumbents will actually participate – but in this era of YouTube and 24-hour media coverage, video is a wonderful thing. Honestly, it’s simply going to serve as a reminder of where candidates have said they stand on key issues ignored in the other debates.

The presidential debate for the rest of us.

But I don’t think these guys are going to play it as comedy, like taking single words and catchphrases carefully spliced together like a shock jock might. Given some of the names already announced as participating in the event, it may come down to being just as informative as the real thing – and in many cases, Barack Obama actually will get to have his teleprompter.

This event will occur next Tuesday night, October 23, at 9 p.m.

Following up on a post I did a few days ago on Protect Marriage Maryland endorsements, the group has added Fourth District Congressional candidate Faith Loudon to its preferred candidates. No real surprise there, and if it chips a few percentage points off an otherwise monolithic black vote for Donna Edwards, so much the better. Hopefully they’ll also vote against Question 6 as well.

Meanwhile, those who support Question 7 may have stepped into some hot water with this ad.

Now LaVar Arrington can do as he pleases, but FedEx is none too happy about their logo being prominently featured as part of the spot. Spokeswoman Maury Donahue said her company will review the ad, but they have no involvement in the issue.

But it appears the Washington Redskins do have a role, according to a Capital Gazette article questioning a $450,000 payment to the team just days before the ad was taped. It also gave Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat and Question 7 opponent, an opening to remark on the team’s involvement:

As a ‘Skins fan, the Comptroller respectfully encourages them to focus on the important tasks at hand, such as protecting RG III, shoring up their kicking game and making sorely-needed improvements to one of the league’s lowest-ranked defenses.

I’d be more interested in what the NFL has to say considering their stance on gambling, and that’s likely why they had to choose a player who’s no longer active. Much as Arrington hates losing, he may well end up on the short end of the score November 6.

Unlike Questions 4, 6, and 7, which have seen a healthy amount of media coverage, Question 5 on redistricting has been the red-headed stepchild of the quartet. But State Senator E. J. Pipkin is trying to change that a little bit:

It’s just a little bit longer than a 30-second ad, which makes me wonder how many will see this video. But this makes a lot of sense considering the Maryland Democrats who put this together definitely flunked the “compact and contiguous” requirement.

But let’s not flunk the idea of protecting the vote. Election Integrity Maryland is holding one final poll watcher training session:

Election Integrity Maryland is offering its last Poll Watcher Training session before the election, on Wednesday, October 24 – Thursday, October 25.  This comprehensive, 1-1/2 hour course is taught via webinar from the comfort of your home computer from 7:30 – 8:15 each evening.

Registration is required.  The cost is $15, which includes a spiral bound Training Guide mailed to each participant.

Signup is here. Now I prefer to work outside the polling place in an attempt to change hearts and minds, but you can provide a valuable service to your fellow citizens in this way as well.

We know that the other side is ready to go (h/t Don Stifler):

Somewhere in Baltimore City, this sign and the occupants of this dwelling are lurking. We can fight back.

I’ll definitely occupy my vote this year, and you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be for that failure named Barack Obama.

Finally, another requirement the Democrats in charge of Annapolis seem to be flunking is honesty in economic reporting. Instead of giving us the real news – which has been generally bad – they’re resorting to obfuscation. Jim Pettit at Change Maryland sent this along to me last week:

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently hosted an Annapolis summit for advocates of what is called a “Genuine Progress Indicator.”  The national forum received scant media attention and the issue itself has largely been under the radar of most mainstream media outlets.

The impetus behind the Genuine Progress Indicator, or GPI movement, is to supplant traditional federal government statistics with new and arbitrary criteria that deducts what other government bureaucrats deem as environmental and social costs that accrue from prosperity.

(Read the rest here. They also have a helpful fact sheet.)

Maryland is one of two states which have enacted a form of this method of statistical legerdemain, as Vermont signed this into law earlier this year.

Obviously Larry Hogan and Change Maryland delight in being a thorn in Martin O’Malley’s side, but the real question is why this is even being considered in the first place. To me, it comes from the same line of thinking which believes rural development should be shelved in favor of promoting “greenways” and packing people into urban centers so they can “improve” our “quality of life.”

But regardless of every statistic which can be measured, there is no way government can insure happiness. To use a baseball analogy, even if a pitcher absolutely owns a hitter to the tune of the batter being 0-for-20 against him that’s no guarantee the next at-bat won’t produce a home run. The radical Left can disparage capitalism all they want, and I’ll admit it sometimes doesn’t work very well. But these mistakes can be easily rectified by the market, and there’s no need for government to intercede. GPI is just an excuse for a greater attempt to control outcomes, with the folly of believing in equality of outcome uppermost in their minds.

It all goes back to that old saw about lies, damned lies, and statistics. When it’s in someone’s vested interest to cook the books we all know what sort of trouble can ensue. But I don’t need numbers to see that people are hurting, and it’s not from capitalism but instead from the lack thereof.

Poll results disappointing to MD conservatives

The most recent Maryland Poll by Gonzales Research came out on Wednesday, and the results can only be described as disheartening to Maryland conservatives, who have their work cut out for them in the last month of the campaign. (Hat tip to Maryland Reporter for the link.)

First, the terrible topline numbers here in the state:

  • President: Barack Obama (D) 55, Mitt Romney (R) 36
  • U.S. Senate: Ben Cardin (D) 50, Dan Bongino (R) 22, Rob Sobhani (I) 21
  • Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens): For 58, Against 34
  • Question 6 (legalizing gay marriage): For 51, Against 43
  • Question 7 (expanding gambling): For 45, Against 46
  • President Obama has a 54% favorable rating, with 32% unfavorable
  • Vice-President Joe Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 34% unfavorable
  • Mitt Romney has a 35% favorable rating, with 50% unfavorable
  • Paul Ryan has a 36% favorable rating, with 38% unfavorable

Gonzales did not poll on Question 5 (redistricting) or any of the Congressional races; in the latter case it’s likely because the sample sizes would be too small for reliable results. 813 self-proclaimed likely voters made up this sample.

One thing I have always liked about the Gonzales surveys is their willingness to provide the actual numbers. Instead of massaging the results to a certain turnout model, the Maryland Poll is set up to reflect the electorate based on party registration – so 56% of the respondents were Democrats, 30% Republicans, and the remainder unaffiliated. This closely matches the state’s current voter registration totals.

Because of that, some trends can be determined. For example, as a percentage fewer Democrats are behind Barack Obama (81%) than Republicans backing Romney (86%). This is because there’s always been a percentage of Democrats in Maryland who are simply registered as Democrats but often vote for Republicans. It’s President Obama’s 88% approval rating among black voters (which matches their lockstep 88% support) that saves his bacon in Maryland.

On the other hand, though, Democrats strongly back political lifer Ben Cardin (74%) while Republicans are just 60% behind Dan Bongino, their U.S. Senate nominee. The presence of onetime Republican-turned-independent Rob Sobhani is all but destroying GOP chances of posting an upset in the race, since Cardin is only at 50 percent. This is because Sobhani is taking more votes away from Bongino (22% of Republicans) than Cardin (16% of Democrats.) More troublesome is that these numbers are undermining Bongino’s stated intention of making inroads into the minority community, because just 8% of black voters support him but 15% back Sobhani, who was born in America but is of Iranian origin.

Meanwhile, the political correctness bug seems to be biting some of the squishier members of the GOP. While the state party has come out against these issues in a broad manner by supporting the idea of “repealing O’Malley’s laws” the Maryland Poll finds 29% of Republicans are for in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 17% support gay marriage, and 35% are in favor of expanding gambling. Could this be the Bradley effect manifested in a different manner? There’s no way to tell.

Overall these numbers are quite disappointing, but the silver lining which exists in them is now we know where to focus our efforts. For one thing, we are close enough on some races that enhancing GOP turnout could turn the election, particularly on Questions 6 and 7.

It’s also important to remember that a number of Congressional races could hinge on turnout as well. Simply based on voter registration numbers it’s clear that Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, and Frank Mirabile have the steepest uphill battles but there’s more possibility of an upset from Tony O’Donnell, Nancy Jacobs, or Ken Timmerman. Even Roscoe Bartlett could fall into the “upset” category based on the gerrymandering Democrats did to make his seat endangered for Republicans.

There is one other observation regarding the races I need to make. Given the 19-point advantage Barack Obama enjoys here in the formerly Free State, it’s clear he probably won’t be spending any money in the local Baltimore television market. (Washington, D.C. is a different story because Virginia is in play.) Yet that commercial time is being vacuumed up by the millions of dollars both sides are spending on debating Question 7.

Because of that simple fact, it will be harder for those advocating other ballot issues and downticket candidates to afford television time, and that works against both sides equally. This makes the retail and social media campaigns that much more important because one easy outlet is no longer as readily available.

You may ask why I’m so strident on some of these issues. In my case, there’s a lot of areas where they crossed my line in the sand a long time ago and I’m simply fighting a sort of guerrilla war trying to beat things back where I can. But like Benjamin Netanyahu, we need to pull out our red Sharpie and draw our own line this time around because once that’s passed there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Once we allow illegal immigrants in-state tuition, the next thing they’ll want is full amnesty and voting rights – never mind they have broken numerous laws by crossing the border (or overstaying their visa) while thousands who try to do things the correct way are denied or face long delays in receiving what’s due for them. Crime is not supposed to pay.

Once we tell Democrats it’s okay to ignore geography and cynically make up Congressional districts which place people with little in common together for base political interests, there’s no telling what other steps they’ll take to dictate what they determine is fair representation. Obviously political affiliation is a fickle standard, but when only 56% of voters are registered Democrat should they have 88% of the Congressional representation? Obviously it could work out that way even if the state was scrupulously and evenly divided based simply on existing geographic lines, equalizing population, and contiguity, but I suspect it would not.

Once we allow gay marriage to pass, then the question becomes what will be legitimized next: plural marriage, marriage between adults and children, or some other bastardization of the concept? Where does the line get drawn? Despite common misguidance, marriage is NOT a right and despite the best efforts of the gay lobby to promote the idea this quest shouldn’t be equated with the civil rights movement of a half-century ago. As this group points out, there are no “gay only” drinking fountains.

Certainly people of any gender can be in a loving relationship with one of their own gender, but as far as the legal concepts of marriage our state already covers it. What was wrong with civil unions? I could live with that as a compromise which preserves, as much as possible in this day and age, the sanctity of marriage.

I’ve seen elections where people down double-digits in polling have come back to win in the last week, and a month is an eternity in political circles. Just a month ago Wendy Rosen was a game but underfunded challenger to Andy Harris until the startling allegation she voted twice in two consecutive elections, and now Democrats are reduced to pinning their hopes on a write-in candidacy. So anything is possible, good or bad.

But polls make news, and this poll certainly garnered a lot of attention across the state. The question is whether we can make it a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.

Odds and ends number 59

You know them, you love them…bloggy bits of goodness I expound upon which run from a sentence to a few paragraphs. Here’s my latest batch from a chock-full mailbox all but neglected over the weekend.

Actually, the first item doesn’t come from my mailbox but was shared with me on my Facebook page by Jim Rutledge, who urged me to read and share this piece by Diana West about how we’ll never win if we kowtow to Islamic radicals.

West writes about the saga of Marine Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley, Jr., who was killed in a “green-on-blue” attack last month. Chillingly, Buckley predicted, “one day they are going turn around and turn those weapons on us.” And so they did.

Of course, that leads to the obvious question of why we remain in Afghanistan, which has no clear-cut answer. At this point, it truly makes no difference to the most radical Islamist whether we stay or go as we’re the Great Satan just the same. Right offhand, I have no idea what the body count is on their side, but I’m sure it could be a lot more if we didn’t pull our punches. Once we bombed Tora Bora back to the Stone Age to get Osama bin Laden, but it was a more precise Seal Team Six which sent bin Laden to those 72 virgins, with Obama trying to heist the credit. Certainly there are those Afghans who love the accolades they receive from their comrades when an American is cut down as well.

All in all, the Patton rule still applies: “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” Just substitute “religion” for “country” on their part.

Another old saw from the Left is that not throwing money at education produces inferior results. But that theory is debunked by a study recently released by State Budget Solutions. If the liberals’  theory was correct, then states which spent the most per pupil would have the best results – but the numbers suggest otherwise. In announcing the results, SBS noted:

From 2009 to 2011 the national average for state educational spending as a percentage of total spending dropped from 30 percent in 2009 to 29.3 percent in 2011. The top state spenders across all three years were Texas, Vermont and Arkansas, all spending at least 4 percent more than the national average. Michigan made the top five in 2010 and 2011. Virginia earned the #4 and #5 position in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

The states that spent the least as a percentage of total spending during 2009-2011 were Alaska, which came in last all three years, Hawaii and Tennessee. New York and Massachusetts also made the bottom five in 2010 and 2011.

For states that spent the most, only Vermont saw significant results from 2009 to 2011.  In fact, four out of the five states spending the most on education failed to produce correspondingly high graduation rates or ACT scores. Arkansas remained in the top five states in spending for all three years, yet Arkansas’ average ACT scores consistently fell below the national average, and continue to decline annually. In 2010 and 2011, Texas ranked first in the nation in spending, 36.9 percent each year, but fell below the national average in graduation and ACT scores.

One can have whatever educational Taj Mahal the taxpayers willingly – or begrudgingly – pay for, and teachers who receive the highest pay around, but if they can’t teach then all the money is essentially wasted. Otherwise, why would bright homeschooled children be the academic leaders of this country?

At this time in the election cycle, endorsements are always news. Recently the Conservative Victory PAC added two new Republican hopefuls to a growing stable of CVPAC-backed candidates as Second District Congressional hopeful Nancy Jacobs and Third District candidate Eric Knowles got the CVPAC blessing.

On Jacobs the group wrote:

CVPAC supports Ms. Jacobs’s education reform agenda, including expansion of Charter Schools in failing school districts, means-tested tax credits for parents with children in religious schools and other private schools, and tax credits for Maryland businesses that invest in schools or hire graduates from local schools.

CVPAC Treasurer Ruth Melson had this to say about Knowles:

Let me tell you why Eric Knowles must be your next United States Congressman from Maryland District 3.  Eric knows about defending the United States Constitution against foreign enemies and he will defend it at home the same way; he is a US Air Force veteran.   He knows about our terrible economic plight; he works as a bartender talking to regular folks every day.  In the United States Congress, he will always represent the interest of Marylanders like you and me.  He is not an ivory-tower politician building castles in the air; he is pragmatic.  Government, he says, must stay within its constitutionally enumerated powers; government must be rolled back to what we can afford.

Along with U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, the Conservative Victory PAC has endorsed four of Maryland’s six Republican Congressional challengers: Ken Timmerman, Faith Loudon, Jacobs, and Knowles. I suppose they have a few weeks to add Fifth District challenger Tony O’Donnell and Seventh District aspirant Frank Mirabile to the list.

Bongino, meanwhile, keeps adding to his national profile by getting key endorsements of his own; most recently Lt. Col. Allen West added his vocal support:

The differences cannot be any clearer in the race for United States Senate. Ben Cardin has been an elected official for 45 years and you need to question ‘Is Maryland better off than it was in 1967?’ It is time the people need to elect someone who has some real experience, and that is why I am endorsing Dan Bongino for U.S. Senator for Maryland.

We need someone who has walked a police beat and not someone who all he knows how to do is walk into a chamber and vote aye and nay all day long!

West is a conservative darling who some believed would have been a great VP pick.

On the other hand, “establishment” Republicans may have been enamored with an endorsement closer to home – former Governor Bob Ehrlich:

Dan has the unmatched integrity and unique depth of experience necessary to defeat an entrenched incumbent like Senator Cardin. His background in law enforcement and federal investigations, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, afford not only a broad overview of the political arena but also personal expertise in job creation, fiscal responsibility, and community involvement.

We cannot continue down the same non-productive road we’ve traveled for the last 45 years. It’s time we elect someone new – someone who can relate to the needs of the average Maryland family. Dan’s message resonates strongly with both Democrats and Republicans alike, and he is the right person at the right time to represent Maryland and shake things up in Washington.

Gee, Bob, that sounds a little bit like your 2010 primary opponent I voted for. While it’s nice to have the endorsement, honestly I’m not sure the Ehrlich name carries the cache it formerly did among rank-and-file Republicans, let alone those who call the TEA Party home. They were more enthused by the Allen West statement, I’m sure.

Speaking of those who have spanked Ehrlich electorally, Martin O’Malley is once again getting beclowned by Larry Hogan and Change Maryland as they point out Maryland’s unemployment rate is rising as the national percentage drops:

Maryland’s unemployment rate inched up to 7.1%, marking months of consecutive upticks since January’s rate of 6.5%,  in the latest state employment picture released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The preliminary August numbers show a slight gain in employment due to July numbers that were revised downward by 1,600 jobs.  In August, Maryland payrolls increased by 1,400 over July.

The slight change in employment numbers, however, is not enough to lift Maryland out of the doldrums when it comes to competing with neighboring states.

“We are lagging in job growth in the region and are simply not competing with our neighbors,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. “This year’s performance on job growth is abysmal as it has been since 2007.”

On a percentage basis of jobs lost, Maryland’s decline of 1.4% since January of 2007 is the second-worst in the region after Delaware.

And Change Maryland had even more fun at O’Malley’s expense, reminding its audience that each and every Republican governor berated by DGA head O’Malley scored higher on job creation than he did:

In recent remarks in Iowa, O’Malley said, “We are the party that grows our economy; they are the party that wrecked our economy.’ This false statement is borne out today in the latest August employment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show Maryland’s loss of nearly 7,000 jobs this year is worse than Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, New Jersey and Maine. In some cases it is much worse.  For example, under Gov. John Kasich, Ohio has created 68,300 jobs this year; Florida Gov. Rick Scott, 50,500 jobs; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 26,200 jobs. So far this year under Gov. Rick Perry, the Lone Star state has created 140,000 more jobs than Maryland, which some have dubbed the “Fee State” as opposed to the official “Free State.”

“Martin O’Malley has no credibility whatsoever talking about jobs,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan.  “What he can talk about, but chooses not to, are the 24 taxes and fees he has raised since taking office which remove $2.4 billion annually from the pockets of struggling Marylanders.”

I know Jim Pettit doesn’t necessarily write these releases to be laugh-out-loud funny, but when you consider the material he has to work with, you have to laugh to avoid crying – particularly if you still live in Maryland. As I’ve put myself on the record saying, take away the nation’s capital and Maryland is Michigan without all the lakes – or the jobs. (By the way, even that state is creating jobs much faster than Maryland.)

A surefire way to curtail job creation, however, is to overregulate land use to a point where no growth is possible. Whether consciously or not, the effect of new state rules may be the eventual death knell to the Eastern Shore’s economy.

There is an upcoming “Growth Offset Policy Meeting” Thursday morning to discuss these proposals, dryly described as follows:

The meeting will include a presentation by staff from Maryland Department of the Environment about the draft Growth Offset policy and the proposed timeframe for acceptance and implementation of the policy. Following the presentation, the remainder of the meeting is dedicated for a question and answer period. Participants are invited to ask questions and express concerns to staff from Maryland Department of the Environment, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Planning.

The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology is organizing this event and would like to thank the Town Creek Foundaiton (sic) for their generous support which allows the Center this opportunity.

You can register here; it’s no surprise that plenty of seats are still available. I’m sure the Radical Green in this area will take time off their public-sector, taxpayer-funded jobs to try and convince these people that every acre in Wicomico County not already developed needs to return to its pristine, pre-settlement state.

If we were to take a path, I say join the one being blazed by Cecil County and say “to hell with the maps.” If Rick Pollitt wants to do something useful for a change, this is something to consider when you think about how similar Cecil County is in population to Wicomico.

Finally, turning to the national race: there’s a constituency group out there which is always assumed to be a solidly Democratic bloc and that’s the Jewish vote. But according to this ad from the Republican Jewish Coalition, voters are turning away:

Perhaps borne out by this ad, a survey by the American Jewish Council of 254 registered Jewish voters in Florida showed only 69% would vote for Obama. It’s noteworthy the survey was conducted prior to the 9-11-12 Islamic attacks on our embassies in several Middle Eastern countries, most notably Libya. On the other hand, they didn’t ask about the respondents’ 2008 vote so in that respect the survey has limited value – we have no basis of comparison to truly determine a trend.

But another number from the AJC survey serves as a way to tie this post together: 62% of those Jewish voters surveyed either strongly or moderately support U.S. military action against Iran’s nuclear program. 74% of them would support Israel doing the same.

It all comes back to wars and rumors of wars, doesn’t it?

Conservative Victory PAC picks Bongino

August 7, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, Senator Watch · Comments Off on Conservative Victory PAC picks Bongino 

This isn’t the most surprising item to come down the pike, but after selecting Ken Timmerman and Faith Loudon as Congressional choices for support, the Conservative Victory PAC went statewide by backing dynamic U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino. And they spoke about him glowingly:

Before a crowd of Bongino supporters at the home of Karl and Carolin Schumaker, CVPAC Treasurer Ruth Melson presented the endorsement to everyone’s delight.

Melson complimented Bongino’s inspiring campaign trail message that has gained him admirers throughout the State of Maryland. Melson remarked: “Dan Bongino has run a campaign with one of the strongest grassroots outreach and volunteer recruitment efforts in recent memory. I can tell you that they are all charged up by his exceptional articulation of Conservative principles, which recently got a shout-out from Sarah Palin herself. Dan’s message is simple – our liberties are under attack, and it is we the people who know best, not big government. Dan warns us not to get lost in the granular details. This is a far bigger battle against a dangerous political ideology and indeed they are playing for keeps. Yes folks, the stakes are high.”

The person who wrote this release, however, was thoughtful enough to quote liberally from what Dan said previously at the event.

In an earlier speech Bongino – a former Secret Service Agent – clarified what is at stake: “I spent my entire life studying macro-economics. The writing is on the wall. It is all there, and again I don’t want to sound apocalyptic, because God, I love this country…but we are in a lot of trouble, and I don’t want to be the prognosticator here. We are printing our way into a debt apocalypse and inflating away the value of our money and all of our assets. We can’t build anything here, because our corporate tax rate is the highest in the world. Our real estate market is collapsing. The very core of what this country was built on is collapsing, and the time to turn around, right the ship, make a U-turn is right now. It’s not tomorrow….all of you listeners, you have to do. Don’t talk. Talk is cheap….Action changes the world. If you’re not volunteering for a campaign and just sitting on your butt, you’re part of the problem, and you are whistling past the graveyard…. An entire generation will be left holding the bag if we don’t come through in November.”

It’s understandable that some would simply dismiss those statements as partisan red meat. But has Ben Cardin been part of the solution, or has he stood by mutely while the debt meter spun wildly, ratcheting upward at a pace of $1 trillion-plus per year? If you believe Dan Bongino – and the guy has an MBA, so perhaps he has some inkling about what he’s talking about – this is a serious problem. Come on, my degree is in environmental design and I’m smart enough to know that going into debt means it’s likely the creditor will be paid back in money that’s not worth as much because of inflation, particularly when the money supply is greater but intrinsic value doesn’t keep up.

But let’s talk about the Conservative Victory PAC. They’ve now endorsed three candidates I’m aware of, and the question has to become: how much help can they give?

Obviously, endorsements aren’t just about the candidate – they’re about the endorser as well, particularly if it’s a PAC. A group which backs an appealing slate of candidates isn’t just thinking about the election at hand but also one or two cycles ahead. Certainly they want to back at least a few winners as well.

Even Loudon herself has admitted she has an uphill struggle with a 4:1 registration disadvantage in her district, so the CVPAC’s two best chances for victory are with Timmerman and Bongino. Timmerman is hanging his hat on a district which is now more Republican than it was two years ago thanks to Maryland Democrats’ greed in wanting to create a friendly district for State Senator Rob Garagiola to run for Congress from; instead the Sixth District will feature upstart John Delaney, who trounced Garagiola in the primary, trying to upend incumbent Roscoe Bartlett. The addition of thousands of Montgomery County voters to the Sixth from the Eighth meant new voters had to come from somewhere and that somewhere was the eastern end of the former Sixth District, which is a much more pronounced GOP area. Timmerman was one of the few who was fine with redistricting.

But don’t count Dan Bongino out either. If Ben Cardin were 25 points ahead like Barb Mikulski ended up against Eric Wargotz in the 2010 U.S. Senate election, I don’t think he would have agreed to a series of debates with Bongino. Of course, the devil is in the details and Cardin can always welch on the commitment if he believes that doing so would hurt his opponent – I think Cardin is overconfident at this point that he can mop up the floor with this political neophyte – but that’s a sign the race is closer than many might believe. Most political handicappers still rate Maryland as a lock for Ben but there are a lot of other factors at play in this election that I’m not sure they are considering here.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Victory PAC is certainly trying to build its coffers up for this race but it will probably have a limited impact on these federal races. I think their goal is to use this election cycle to build up for a set of races they can have a larger impact on in 2014. As we’ve heard before, a number of close local races went to the Democrats in 2010 – races where a few dollars more could have made a difference. After all, I was bombarded by nearly  dozen mailers claiming then-Delegate Jim Mathias was all but the second coming of Ronald Reagan in his Senate run, but a few more dollars to cut through the clutter in Worcester County (the only one of the three Mathias won) may have turned the tide in Michael James’s favor. I only got a couple pro-James mailers.

Listen, I’m as much about conservative victory as anyone. But I hope the people who run the PAC don’t spread themselves too thin in this cycle when the chance to make a bigger impact comes in 2014.

Odds and ends number 55

My e-mail box was flooded with interesting nuggets over the last few days, so on these topics I’ll devote somewhere between a few words and a few paragraphs. You’ve probably seen this enough that you know the drill; in fact the very first of this long-running series came in the first month of monoblogue’s existence. It’s been a fairly regular feature of late, typical for an election year.

Speaking of elections, our Congressman Andy Harris is up this year as are all 434 of his cohorts. His most recent radio address talks more about the failures of the President, though. That’s sort of like picking the low-hanging fruit but is still a good reminder.

The failure-in-chief, though, is playing the class envy card by creating a tax calculator which claims Mitt Romney will raise your taxes while Obama lowers them. Yes, it’s laughable on the face but the assumptions being made are even more hilarious:

Because the tax code is complex, the calculator makes a number of simplifying assumptions that may differ from the circumstances of any particular user. It assumes all income is from wages. For married filers, it assumes that income is split evenly between two earners. It assumes that income does not vary over the years analyzed. It assumes that taxpayers claim the standard deduction for the purpose of analyzing the impact of the expiration of the middle class tax cuts. The impact of Mitt Romney’s tax plan is based on an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which determines the tax increase or tax cut the average family in each income group would face if Romney paid for his $5 trillion tax plan by cutting tax benefits. The analysis assumes that Romney eliminates all tax benefits, except those for savings and investment, for households earning over $200,000, and reduces those benefits for households earning under $200,000 to cover the rest of the cost – resulting in a reduction by more than half. The Tax Policy Center uses income thresholds based on “cash income”, a measure broader than AGI commonly used by TPC. The calculator is intended for information purposes only.

In other words, this is complete fiction – we’re just going to lie like a rug to those on our e-mail list. Besides, I think people wouldn’t mind paying a little more in taxes if they were convinced the money they sent in wasn’t being wasted on bailouts, handouts, and crony capitalism. With Obama you have all three, and with Romney the chances are somewhat better of that not happening.

And it’s Democratic policies which are destroying the working class. This point is taken to an extreme by a Missouri Congressional candidate’s radio ad, the transcript of which follows:

Narrator: “We interrupt your regular programming for this breaking news.”

** Apocalyptic catastrophe sound effects**

Reporter: “I’m standing here at what remains of downtown St. Louis after the disaster.  It is complete and utter devastation.  A sad day for St. Louis indeed.

** Apocalyptic catastrophe sounds fade out**

Narrator: “Congressman Lacy Clay wants you to think the world will end if he isn’t re-elected, but the problems facing St. Louis after a decade under Lacy Clay are apocalyptic enough.  Under Lacy Clay’s anti-business policies, thirty thousand residents have left St. Louis.  The unemployment rate for African American males in Lacy Clay’s district is 20%.  That’s higher than the unemployment rate in Baghdad.  We deserve better.  We deserve a representative who will work for all of us, and not just sit in Washington DC collecting a lavish paycheck.  We deserve Robyn Hamlin for Congress.  Find out more at HamlinForCongress.com.”

Robyn: “I’m Robyn Hamlin and I approve this message.  Paid for by The Committee to Elect Robyn Hamlin.  Dwayne Hinch, treasurer.”

Hamlin sounds like a good TEA Party candidate but admittedly has an uphill struggle in a almost exclusively urban D+27 district not unlike our Seventh Congressional District. But she’s got some good ammunition to use against a Congressman who’s the second generation of a political dynasty that’s been in office for over forty years because it’s all true. Why should those people settle? But they do, and likely will continue to do so to their detriment.

Similarly in Maryland, Fourth District Republican Faith Loudon is the underdog against incumbent Donna Edwards – admittedly, Edwards isn’t as entrenched as the Clay family has been in Missouri and the district is a touch more friendly to the GOP. Still, it will be a slog for Faith but she’ll get a bit of help: Loudon is the second Maryland Congressional candidate to be backed by the Conservative Victory PAC:

Before a packed event hosted by Dr. Jim and Marianne Pelura at their Davidsonville home, CVPAC Treasurer Ruth Melson presented the endorsement.

Melson remarked: “We are here to help our friend Faith Loudon finish strong and win this November. Let’s congratulate Faith on running a strong campaign. We can win! We must win! Faith Loudon will bring honesty, integrity, and sanity back to Washington. That is why Conservative Victory PAC is endorsing Faith as the next United States Congresswoman from Maryland’s 4th District.”

Melson’s comments struck a chord with the audience disappointed by Faith Loudon’s opponent, incumbent Congresswoman Donna Edwards.

Conservative Victory PAC’s support of Faith Loudon for victory in November is to ensure that Maryland’s elected leaders in the US Congress represent the voters of Maryland and not the special interests catered to by Donna Edwards. Under Donna Edwards’ tenure: Maryland is ranked by the Federal government as the second highest in food stamps fraud, Maryland’s seniors have lost $500 million from Medicare to subsidize Medicaid that is rife with corruption and little or no verification of legal residency, Maryland’s small business has been impoverished by new taxes and regulations, and Federal stimulus funds have been sent overseas to China and funded crony capitalism for the likes of Solyndra.

Of course, one can make the argument against any incumbent Maryland Congressman of any party, including the GOP. But, particularly on the third point Melson makes about the new taxes and regulations, the GOP is trying to eliminate them while Edwards isn’t working to stop them.

You know, I could go on a real rant about all this. But there are others taking up the torch on the state and local level.

Witness Senate Minority Leader E. J. Pipkin and his tirade about the lack of a gambling bill to read. On Thursday, he demanded Governor O’Malley release the gambling bill immediately. Insofar as one can bellow in print, Pipkin bellowed:

The Special Session begins in less than a week. The Governor has had all summer to craft the proposal. Where’s the bill?

A week from now, after he crams his bill down the legislature’s throat, we will hear his platitudes about ‘tough decisions and working together.’ If we are going to work together, the Governor should present his bill today!

In the last year, the Governor has waited to the last minute to release his legislative proposals for Special Sessions. Last October, before the Redistricting Special Session, the Governor waited until 36 hours before the session to release his proposed bill.  For the Special Session to increase the state income tax opening on Monday, May 14, the Governor waited until 3:30pm on Friday to allow legislators to see the bill.

(snip)

The entire legislative process of careful debate and review should not be abandoned in a Special Session. The General Assembly membership must have ample time to examine the legislation before it is introduced on the floor.

Marylanders know that those whom the Governor wants to be informed already know and that the fix is in. Certainly MOM knows who’s in his pocket and who can be bought off with favors – releasing the bill early means no opportunity to add those goodies to sway recalcitrant members of the General Assembly who may have leaned against the bill at first glance. It’s sad but true, and the next chance to take care of this problem doesn’t come until 2014.

Yet there are those who are trying pre-emptive strikes. Witness the Maryland Liberty PAC, which is accusing three Carroll County commissioners of “spending like drunken sailors.” Of course, Carroll County is among the most heavily Republican in the state (one reason it was divided up in Congressional redistricting) so all five of the commissioners are Republicans. It’s likely they’ll be recruiting candidates for primary challenges to the so-called “drunken sailors.”

Similarly, in Harford County the Harford Campaign for Liberty is condemning the “Craiganomics” of granting a development loan to a British company:

On July 10th, 2012 the Harford County Council, at the urging and recommendation of County Executive David Craig, voted to hand over $850,000 of your hard-earned tax dollars to a foreign company!

Apparently County Executive David Craig and the County Council believe in Craigonomics, the idea that government should tax and spend – and then claim it as job growth and economic development.

You and I know better.  Government doesn’t create jobs and that government handouts do absolutely nothing to stimulate our economy.  Free markets and innovative entrepreneurs have and will always make our economy grow.

Obviously this is presented as a shot across the bow of David Craig’s nascent 2014 campaign for governor, and from the details given in this article by Bryna Zumer in the Harford Aegis the money is a required matching fund to a state grant. So Craig and his council were presented with a choice: take the state money or don’t, but the expansion is apparently already built. Realistically, is the company going to pull out now over $750,000? Certainly this will be something the Campaign for Liberty watches as local elections draw closer in Harford County.

Both the Harford Campaign for Liberty and The Maryland Liberty PAC share in the disappointment some feel locally when our 6-1 County Council majority doesn’t act in a conservative manner. I look at it this way: while I want a Republican to win, it doesn’t always have to be the Republican who’s already in office because I demand conservatism and limited government. Personally, I’d be happy with contested GOP primaries up and down the ballot – maybe that’s not what the party apparatus wants but I put my faith in voters to decide, not a tiny group of self-appointed elites who like the power of being kingmakers.

When those who claim the conservative mantle screw up, we should take note and call them out for it.

MDGOP 2012 Spring Convention in pictures and text (part 2)

If you want to read part 1 first, here you go.

It was a cloudier morning once we got underway Saturday. Just as an observation, though, I’ve always wondered why we put all these signs out front of our convention site when it should be presumed we would be voting for the candidates.

I suppose this is helpful to those who come in the morning to find the location for the convention.

For those of us who stayed overnight and chose the option, however, we were treated to a hearty breakfast and, after Harford County Executive (and “unofficially official” candidate for Governor in 2014) David Craig exhorted us to “be unified” we heard former state MDGOP official John Gibson, who now works as the regional political director of the Northeast Region of the RNC, discuss the “Path to 270.”

Gibson contended that President Obama has fewer paths to 270 than he did in 2008, when the “issues matrix was in their favor.” As examples, John believed President Obama couldn’t count on states where the Democrats were boldly saying they had a shot, like Georgia or Arizona.

Instead, with job approval numbers plummeting among a number of key demographics, President Obama is stuck having to secure his base instead of trying to get new voters. Just watch where he travels, said Gibson.

Among states Obama won last time, Indiana is already conceded to be “out of reach.” Other states which could come into play after Obama wins in 2008: North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

After attending an interesting seminar on petitioning techniques and social media, I walked over to the convention hall to get this shot. Little did we know that some hours later passions would be high in that room.

But first we began the convention session with a welcome from Calvert County Chair Frank McCabe and a series of reports, beginning with Senator J.B. Jennings.

You’ll notice my county was in the back of the hall, so the convention hall pictures will be few and far between.

But Senator Jennings walked us through his description of the session, noting that the budget wasn’t completed on time and recounting the final hours before sine die. While Speaker Mike Busch couldn’t get the House to extend its session and Senate President Mike Miller was trying to reach agreements on a budget, the Senate GOP took the opportunity to filibuster the tax bills. Still, the budget is $700 million more than it was last year, said Jennings, and “it’s not a doomsday.”

We were also alerted to the possibility of a Special Session the week of May 14, so we should “keep the heat up” on Democrats, said Senator Jennings.

Delegate Tony O’Donnell contended Democrats “dropped the ball big time.” It was a wonderful thing to behold, he continued, especially because Democrats couldn’t count on gaming bill votes from Republicans in the House.

O’Donnell urged us to “make (the Democrats) pay a very high political price” and called 2012 a “great opportunity to change the dynamic in this state.”

After Chair Alex Mooney essentially repeated his statements from the night before, we received the National Committeewoman’s report from an emotional Joyce Lyons Terhes, who reflected on her enjoyment of almost 30 years of working with the Maryland Republican Party – not that she was really going anywhere. She had simply followed through on her vow to serve just two terms as National Committeewoman and would take on new challenges.

And she’d lost none of her passion at the stump, telling us “we are going to get rid of Barack Obama.” If Maryland can do it, she said, so can the rest of the nation.

Louis Pope called Joyce a “friend, mentor, (and) shining example” in opening his National Committeeman report. The RNC is in “good shape,” said Pope, and he asserted his belief “we are technologically ahead of the Democrats.”

In somewhat of a pitch for re-election, he also informed us that his job is to “bring resources to Maryland.” Regarding this fall’s campaign, he hoped the media underestimates Mitt Romney.

Our final morning speaker was a bit of a surprise, but Congressman Andy Harris told us that “any time out of Washington is good” to him. Warning us that “the end is not on sight on this recession,” Harris opined that “all the issues are on our side” this election.

Delving into the energy issue, Harris blasted the idea of subsidizing wind energy, saying it’s not viable without subsidies. On the other hand, “we can be energy independent in 12 years if this President would have a real energy policy.”

“We have got to take America back,” said Andy.

Nor was he sparing criticism of state government. Harris predicted that once Martin O’Malley is through with his last term, people will be “ready for a new day…Marylanders will be sick and tired of what’s happening in Annapolis by 2014,” Harris concluded.

We began working on bylaw changes at this point, and completed two of the four proposed by voice vote – with a few scattered opposition shouts – before breaking for lunch. The MDGOP now officially has a Bylaws Committee to take care of a year-old oversight and allowed proxies to come from anywhere in a county rather than having to be in the same legislative district as the absent member.

The master of ceremonies for our luncheon was Frederick County commissioner and talk radio host Blaine Young. In his opening remarks, he contended “I don’t think the economy is getting any better” and gave us a quick rundown of how he got to where he is as a former Democrat.

He then presided over our annual awards, with the following winners:

  • Charles Carroll Award (Republican Man of the Year): Neil Parrott
  • Belva Lockwood Award (Republican Woman of the Year): Ella Ennis
  • William Paca Award (Republican Youth of the Year): Matt Proud
  • Aris Allen Award (Voter Registration): St. Mary’s County
  • Samuel Chase Award (Outstanding County): Howard County

Our keynote speaker was Dan Bongino, who Young glowingly referred to as a man whose word has value.

Bongino began by noting that the concepts of “establishment” and “anti-establishment” are “all buzzwords.”

“If you want labels, join the Democrats,” said Dan, “We believe in ideas (and) labels only serve to divide us.” And division was part of the Obama strategy because “they’re devoid of ideas,” Bongino said. For our part, “we won the battle of ideas long ago,” Bongino stated.

A lot of Dan’s remarks spoke about the perception of fairness. We needed to embrace that debate, he believed, and while we should “respect the political genius” of Martin O’Malley and Barack Obama, Bongino was passionate about the educational system. He thought his daughter’s (public) school was great, but those kids in inner-city Baltimore and Prince George’s County deserve a shot as well. They are our kids, too, said Bongino.

Dan also criticized educational priorities. “Forget about environmental literacy – let’s be literate first,” he stated. Teachers are working in a “flawed system,” said Dan. Democrats “sold kids out to special interests long ago.”

In the end, though, Bongino believed “our state is worth saving.”

“It’s our fight…against an ideology which will destroy the very fabric of the country,” concluded Dan.

We also heard from several of the eight Congressional candidates.

Andy Harris believed the state wanted him to be the “last Republican standing.”

Eric Knowles, who’s running against John Sarbanes, made a good accounting of himself. The bartender believed he may be the least wealthy person running but made the case “I want to get this by the sweat of my labor.” We are part of the three percent who fight the battles, said Eric.

Faith Loudon noted her 4:1 registration disadvantage but was “figuring on an army of 76,000 Republicans” come November. “We are in a war.”

Similarly, Tony O’Donnell noted “we have a big challenge ahead of us…but it can be done.” Steny Hoyer is not invincible, in part because he’s no different than Nancy Pelosi.

Once lunch was done, we came back for the afternoon session and the two key votes. First, though, we had to wrap up business on the proposed bylaw changes. One dealing with proxies was remanded to the newly-formed Bylaws Committee after a contentious amendment to the proposal was introduced, and the other, which added conviction of a felony to the list of reasons for dismissal from a Central Committee, passed without objection.

I am quite aware, though, that this is the part you were waiting for.

The procedure for nomination and election of both the National Committeewoman and National Committeeman is as follows: a brief nominating speech, followed by two seconding speeches (about a minute per), and then remarks from the nominee.

Personally, I thought the nominating and first seconding speech by Ambrose’s supporters were a little bit weak and not really as well-received as they should have been. Dave Parker’s wrapup seconding remarks were nicely pointed, giving respect to Audrey’s role in the party but stressing it was time for a change.

I didn’t take a lot of notes for the remarks because I was sitting on pins and needles, but Nicolee hit on the themes of her campaign in terms of building the party.

The same order of presentation was set for Audrey Scott, and she had some heavy hitters on her side. Outgoing NCW Joyce Lyons Terhes introduced her, and state Party Treasurer Chris Rosenthal provided the initial seconding speech.

But it was the final one that riled the crowd up, when the very young man giving it made the remark that we should not “send a girl to do a woman’s job.” I didn’t hear the next 10 to 15 seconds of his speech over the boos and catcalls that remark provided. In truth, that probably lost Audrey a few votes.

And one thing I noticed about Audrey’s speech was that she finally claimed to have only raised a million dollars, which is relatively close to the truth. Audrey backed off her $2.5 million claim – wonder why?

(Honestly, if she didn’t feel the heat that the questioning of her financial claim provided, don’t you think she’d have continued to state the $1.5 million and $1 million Victory 2010 figures?)

Finally, it was time to vote. When Heather Olsen asked me my gut feeling I thought it would be inside 60-40 but wasn’t sure the vote would go the right way. Perhaps it was based on the loud, boisterous group of Audrey supporters right behind me. But once the voting began I started feeling better.

I’ll list the counties each contestant won:

  • Ambrose: Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll, Dorchester, Frederick (unanimous), Montgomery, Washington (unanimous), Wicomico, Worcester. We in Wicomico voted 6-3 for Nicolee.
  • Scott: Calvert, Caroline (unanimous), Cecil, Charles, Garrett, Howard, Kent, Queen Anne’s (unanimous), Somerset, St. Mary’s (unanimous), Talbot (unanimous).

The vote was evenly split in Allegany, Harford, and Prince George’s. So Ambrose generally won the center of the state, the western section, and the lower Eastern Shore while Scott heavily carried the upper Eastern Shore and southern Maryland. This can be somewhat explained by Scott residing on the upper Shore and the influence of Terhes on southern Maryland. On the other hand, many of Nicolee’s candidate endorsements came from those who live in the areas she won.

In fact, Scott led in terms of actual votes cast (as opposed to the weighted system we use) until the last two counties reported – they were Baltimore County (won by Ambrose 21-7) and Montgomery (Ambrose 32-15.) In terms of votes cast, Ambrose won 143-123 with a couple abstentions and that translates to a 286-247 total under our system.

I’m going to come back to the Ambrose-Scott race, but I also wanted to report that Louis Pope won re-election handily in a far less controversial nomination and election process. By my tally Pope won the body count 225 to 45, so the weighted vote was probably just as overwhelming. Scott Shaffer only carried his home county of Anne Arundel and Worcester County, while tying in Harford County.

I think Shaffer’s biggest mistake was not getting out and campaigning around the state. We never saw him in our county, and although I disagreed with him on a couple key issues I think what did him in was not knowing the time and money investment which seems to be required to win this contest.

Similarly, those who put a lot more time and effort into winning Delegate and Alternate Delegate seats (or had plenty of name recognition) tended to prevail. In the Delegate race, nine of the ten on the so-called “Maryland for Romney Unity Slate” prevailed, as did six of the ten Alternates. But the one Unity Slate Delegate shut out: Lawrence Scott, son of Audrey Scott. It’s been a tough month for that family. State Delegate Michael Smigiel from the Eastern Shore got in instead. Non-slate Alternates who made it: O.P. Ditch, Jerry Walker, Deborah Rey, and James Calderwood placed fifth, eighth, ninth, and tenth, respectively. Aside from Calderwood, the other three all approached me to seek my vote so they aggressively pressed the flesh and won. (I voted for two of the three who took a few moments to ask.)

I know I’ve gone a long way already on the Ambrose-Scott race over the last couple months, but I want to share something I said to Nicolee – it’s not exact, but paraphrased. I told her that now I expect her not to fudge financial figures or disparage candidates over the next four years or she can expect me to come after her. In fact, Nicolee has an ambitious agenda that I would accept no less than for her to carry out.

Believe it or not, I don’t embrace change just for change’s sake. When you have nothing, though, you have nothing to lose. Despite Audrey Scott’s best efforts in 2010, we got no statewide offices, simply returned to where we were four years earlier insofar as the House of Delegates goes, and lost seats in the State Senate. Yes, the party did better financially but it didn’t do the job where it counts and that’s putting Republicans in the seats of power on a state-level basis.

Instead, we on the local level stepped up our game – without a lot of state help – and elected Republicans to perhaps be the farm team for future runs. But while Audrey counted on the past to give her the NCW position, there are some of us who wished to “progress forward,” as the snazzy Ambrose signs read.

It’s my fervent hope, though, that we channel the passion we placed into the NCW race in a different direction: to take the fight to the Democrats. Now I think we’ve sent the message that youth (like the young political consultant Kristin Shields of Purple Elephant Politics pictured below) will finally be served.

But the Ambrose win, guided by my friend and occasional partner in crime Heather Olsen, was not the only reason I left Solomons Island with a smile on my face and perhaps a joyful tear in my eye from the emotion of the day.

In the midst of all the hubbub of electing national convention Delegates, a process which took an absurdly long time because of a county which shall remain nameless, I approached my County Chair with a request, one that he granted. And since he was not elected as a Delegate to the National Convention, I put into place the next best thing.

When the counties of our Congressional district got together to nominate an elector from the First District, four names were placed into nomination and three gave speeches. Unbeknownst to me – although I realized later he had a previous engagement – the fourth person had left the premises.

Yet the man I nominated won. I’m pleased to tell you that it was the least honor I could give him, but our County Chair Dave Parker will be the Republican elector from the First District. I was told he won in a landslide, and he was as shocked as anyone when I called him with the news. It’s just more incentive to carry Maryland for Mitt Romney, just so he can enjoy the honor of being an elector.

Now THAT is how a convention should go!

Where I went wrong (and right)

Okay, the results have come in and I got some sleep and a day at my outside job to consider them, so let’s go back to my prediction post and see how I did.

I was actually correct in the order of presentation on the top four Presidential candidates statewide, but Mitt Romney exceeded even the pollsters’ expectations when he won just under half the vote. I suppose that inevitability factor may have affected the results because it appears our turnout in 2012 will end up about 20 percent less than it was in 2008, when the race was effectively over by the time we voted. Because few people like to admit they’re backing a loser, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of voters changed from Gingrich to Romney at the end while other Newt backers stayed home. It also proves Ron Paul has support a mile deep but an inch wide since both well underperformed what I thought they might. I actually missed Santorum by less than a point, although it surprised me that Rick only won two counties (Garrett and Somerset.) I would have thought Rick would carry 4 to 6 of the more rural counties, including Wicomico. But once Romney outperformed it was over.

And you may wonder why I had Fred Karger at 2 percent. I thought he would do better because, as a gay Republican candidate in a state which was bound to be a Romney state anyway, voting for him may serve as a message about the gay marriage referendum likely to appear in November. Instead, he got only less than 1/10 of my predicted total and finished dead last. I also managed to garble up the exact order of the also-rans, but with such a small sample who knew?

That same statewide trend seemed to affect my Wicomico result too because Romney outperformed and Gingrich/Paul suffered for it.

And while I didn’t predict it, I find it quite fascinating that 12 percent of the Democratic primary voters selected “none of the above” rather than Barack Obama. However, that statewide average varies wildly from under 3% in Prince George’s County, about 5% in Baltimore City, and just over 7% in Montgomery County to fully 1/3 of Democrats in Allegany County and a staggering 34.7% in Cecil County. In the last comparable election with a Democratic incumbent (1996) President Clinton only received 84% of the vote (onetime perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche got 4%) but no county came close to getting 1/3 or more of the ballots against the President.

I didn’t miss the “barnburner” aspect of the Senate race by much as it wasn’t called until nearly midnight. But Dan Bongino carried 34% of the vote and won by 6 points over Richard Douglas. (I called it for two points, but I underestimated the impact of the little eight.) I think Joseph Alexander gets the advantage of being first of the ballot, and that accounts for his second straight third-place finish. The rest? Well, the order wasn’t all that correct but they were mostly only off by a percent or two and I got last place right. And to prove it was a close race, both Bongino and Douglas carried 12 counties apiece.

What mystifies me the most isn’t that Rich Douglas carried Wicomico rather easily, but how much support the other eight received – they collectively picked up almost 100 more votes than Douglas did! I would love to know the mindset of the people who voted for most of these minor candidates. I can see a case for Robert Broadus based on the Protect Marriage Maryland group, but what did the others really do to promote their campaigns? At least I know Douglas had radio spots and reasonably good online coverage.

But I did peg Ben Cardin to within 4 points statewide.

On some of the Congressional races: despite the fact I screwed up the percentages, at least I correctly called the Sixth District winners as Roscoe Bartlett and John Delaney. Both did far better than I expected, and I think part of the reason was that both their key challengers’ campaigns imploded in the last week or two. A week ago we may have had something closer to the numbers I predicted. Think Rob Garagiola and David Brinkley may commiserate anytime soon?

The ‘relative ease’ I suspected for Nancy Jacobs was even easier than I thought. I guess Larry Smith didn’t have nearly the campaign as I believed because he came up short on my prediction about as much as Nancy Jacobs was over – I wasn’t all that far off on Rick Impallaria.

While there is a slim chance I may have the First District Democratic race correct, I was surprised that Eastern Shore voters didn’t get all parochial and support the one Eastern Shore candidate, John LaFerla, over two from across the Bay. He only won Worcester, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties, and I would chalk most of that up to Wayne Gilchrest’s endorsement. Kim Letke was about 6 points better than I thought and LaFerla was six points worse because he way underperformed on the Eastern Shore. I suspect no small part of that underperformance by LaFerla was his extreme pro-choice stance, as getting the NARAL endorsement doesn’t play well among local Democrats. There is a 136 vote margin out of about 23,500 cast.

Out of the rest, the only one I got wrong was the Eighth District, and I think that was a case of better name recognition than I expected for Ken Timmerman and less of a vote split among the three candidates from Montgomery County.

As for the Democratic incumbents, I could have wrote “over 85%” and still been right, with the minor exception of Steny Hoyer getting 84.8%.

So this is how the races for November will line up. Sometime this evening I will update my sidebar to reflect this:

  • U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino (R) vs. Ben Cardin (D – incumbent)
  • District 1: Andy Harris (R – incumbent) vs. Wendy Rosen (D – pending absentees and possible recount)
  • District 2: Nancy Jacobs (R) vs. Dutch Ruppersberger (D – incumbent)
  • District 3: Eric Knowles (R) vs. John Sarbanes (D – incumbent)
  • District 4: Faith Loudon (R) vs. Donna Edwards (D – incumbent)
  • District 5: Tony O’Donnell (R) vs. Steny Hoyer (D – incumbent)
  • District 6: Roscoe Bartlett (R – incumbent) vs. John Delaney (D)
  • District 7: Frank Mirabile (R) vs. Elijah Cummings (D – incumbent)
  • District 8: Ken Timmerman (R) vs. Chris Van Hollen (D – incumbent)

So out of 19 contested races I predicted 15 correctly, and I stuck my neck out on percentages a few times as well. I missed Romney by 8 points statewide and 9 points here in Wicomico County. I think the “inevitable” mantle made the difference.

But with Dan Bongino I was only 2 points off statewide. Probably my worst guess, though, was being 19 points off with him in Wicomico County. It’s worth noting that the Douglas late-game media strategy seemed to pay off on the Eastern Shore since he carried six of the nine counties and would have carried the nine-county Shore if he hadn’t been blown out in Cecil County by 1,250 votes. Bongino carried five counties with over 40 percent of the vote (Cecil was one along with Anne Arundel, Frederick, Queen Anne’s, and Montgomery) while Douglas could only claim two such counties (Dorchester and Talbot.)

I saw this possibly ending up as a rerun of the 2010 race where Eric Wargotz had more money while Jim Rutledge had more grassroots (read: TEA Party) support. Obviously media reaches a LOT more people quickly than grassroots efforts do in a statewide race, and the money to buy media is a key element of a successful campaign. That’s where Eric Wargotz succeeded, because Jim Rutledge didn’t raise a lot of money and Eric had a sizable bank account to tap into.

But as it turned out the Douglas bankroll wasn’t all that large, and an abbreviated campaign with a spring primary didn’t give Rich quite enough time to build a support base of his own. Those three or four extra months Dan worked on his campaign (at a time, remember, when better-known prospective opponents like Wargotz and Delegate Pat McDonough were considering the race) turned Bongino from an also-ran into a nominee. By succeeding enough to nationalize the campaign Dan made himself into a formidable opponent to Ben Cardin. Had this been a September primary, though, the result may have been different.

Now we have just under seven months until the general election, a chance for the campaigns to take a quick breather and begin to plot the strategy for November victory. For Democrats, it will be a hope that Obama can fool people into believing he’s an effective President and having long enough coattails. On the other hand, Republicans need to point out the Obama record while spelling out their own solutions – that’s where we’ve been lacking in some respects. We need to give people a reason to vote FOR us rather than AGAINST the other SOB.

So start working on those platforms, ladies and gentlemen. If we are to win, we need to not be a pastel Democrat-lite but present bold colors to Maryland and the nation.

Primary crystal ball predictions

Just for the heck of it, I’m going to do my set of predictions on some key races locally and around the state. In the past we did this among ourselves at the Central Committee meetings but we didn’t discuss it last night. So tell me what you think, and if I turn out to be wrong – well, don’t laugh too much. Most of this is a (somewhat) educated guess.

I’m going to begin with the Presidential race, on a statewide level. There have already been several polls on this, so there’s a little bit of cheating involved; then again, the polls actually pretty much mirrored my gut instinct all along.

In Maryland, I see the race like this:

  1. Mitt Romney – 41%
  2. Rick Santorum – 28%
  3. Newt Gingrich – 16%
  4. Ron Paul – 11%
  5. Fred Karger – 2%
  6. Rick Perry – <1%
  7. Buddy Roemer – <1%
  8. Jon Huntsman – <1%

The polls seem to have Romney winning bigger (Rasmussen has it 45-28) but I think Mitt’s people will tend to figure he’s got it in the bag and turnout will be better in certain areas where Gingrich and Paul may run a little stronger.

How about Wicomico County? This is more of a crapshoot but I think the top 4 results will be a little different:

  1. Rick Santorum – 35%
  2. Mitt Romney – 33%
  3. Newt Gingrich – 18%
  4. Ron Paul – 13%

The voters here tend to be more conservative than the state at large.

The other statewide race is for U.S. Senate. Now I’m really going to go out on a limb here, because there aren’t any polls I’m aware of (aside from the sure fact campaigns have internal polling I’m not privy to) but my gut is telling me we may have a barnburner on our hands:

  1. Dan Bongino – 36%
  2. Richard Douglas – 34%
  3. Robert Broadus – 8%
  4. Corrogan Vaughn – 5%
  5. Joseph Alexander – 4%
  6. David Jones – 4%
  7. William Capps – 3%
  8. Rick Hoover – 3%
  9. John Kimble – 2%
  10. Brian Vaeth – 1%

In Wicomico County, I suspect the top three will be Bongino (42%), Douglas (36%), and Broadus (8%). None of the others will be over 3 percent. Incumbent Ben Cardin will be the opponent, with the over-under line for me being 70% of the statewide vote.

And how about the Sixth District race? It’s the most talked-about Congressional primary since the 2008 First District primary, with the added benefit of mud flying on both sides.

On the Republican side, I think Roscoe Bartlett will hold on to his seat with 33% of the vote, with David Brinkley gathering 29%, Joseph Krysztforski 14%, Robin Ficker 10%, and Kathy Afzali 7%. The other three will split the remaining 7%.

What saves Bartlett’s bacon is the fact that there are so many in the race that people may just throw up their hands and go with the name they know. If there were just four or five in the race I think Brinkley has a shot, although the last-minute release of 9-1-1 tapes featuring his ex-wife may knock a point or two away from Brinkley and provide Roscoe’s margin of victory. It’s the voters on the extreme western end of the district who are likely most swayed by that because they don’t really know David that well.

On the Democratic side, I’m sensing a bit of an upset. We figured that this seat was drawn for Rob Garagiola, but I suspect the charges laid against him by John Delaney have done enough damage that Delaney will squeak out a close win, something on the order of 31-30. Milad Pooran will likely run a respectable third with 21%, while Ron Little grabs 10% and Charles Bailey the last 8%.

The Second District GOP race is also interesting, but I think Nancy Jacobs will win it with relative ease, probably with 40% or so of the vote. Larry Smith comes in around 28%, Rick Impallaria with 19%, and the other two with single digits apiece.

Meanwhile, I think John LaFerla will be the First District Democratic nominee against Andy Harris and he’ll end up just short of a majority – 49% district-wide against Wendy Rosen’s 43%. Kim Letke will get the last 8%. What puts LaFerla over the top in the primary is the endorsement of Wayne Gilchrest. What keeps him from winning in November is being endorsed by NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

GOP winners in other districts will be Eric Knowles (3rd), Faith Loudon (4th), Tony O’Donnell (5th), Frank Mirabile (7th), and Dave Wallace (8th). Wallace gets the nod because the other three candidates will likely split the Montgomery County vote just enough for him to win over Ken Timmerman. Of course, there will not be any upsets among the incumbent Democrats – all of them will get over 75% in their respective primaries.

So what do you think? Am I all wet or do I have a good chance of being correct – and why? As opposed to yesterday, I’m going to leave this up all day until results come in.

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  • 2018 Election

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    Maryland

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