It’s not quite as momentous as the 1920 election, where Warren G. Harding made my title part of his post-World War sloganeering, but today the holidays are now behind us, we return to the five-day workweek, and the political world awakens from its slumber later this week as Congress returns to session. (Maryland politicians will wait another week, as the second Wednesday in January falls at its latest possible date, the 14th.) Soon we will begin to see if the solutions that were promised to the voters will be the agenda for the new sessions.
But there are other aspects of “normalcy” we are beginning to see as well, as the power brokers jockey for position in the Republican Party. Case in point: the hue and cry put up by supporters of the next-highest primary vote-getter in the process of selecting a replacement for Delegate Kelly Schulz, who was tapped by Governor-elect Hogan to be his Secretary of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. It was up to the Frederick County Republican Central Committee to select three people for a final interview process out of the sixteen applicants, and the three they selected were Barrie Ciliberti, a former delegate from Montgomery County who finished fifth in the primary (the top three advanced); Paul Stull, a former delegate who lost to Schulz in the 2010 Republican primary, closing a 16-year run in the House, and Chris Glass, Sr.
Wendi Peters, who finished fourth in the primary, did not get the nod to move on. Her sin? Not being on a slate with Senator-elect Michael Hough, Delegate Kathy Afzali, Delegate-elect David Vogt, and Ciliberti. Instead, she was a supporter of losing Senator David Brinkley – yet she had the backing of Schulz for the seat. A Central Committee chaired by JoeyLynn Hough made the selections.
I’ve been around this block a time or two. As a member of a Central Committee, our focus in selecting replacements was on whether the new person would be relatively conservative and also electable for the next term. Admittedly, we’ve had at least one swing and miss in this regard but the County Council chose not to select our committee’s top vote-getter for a 2011 vacancy. In the instance of picking a Delegate – which we had to help Somerset County do when Page Elmore passed away in 2010 – it occurred at a time when we didn’t want to influence a primary campaign in progress, so we agreed to select his wife Carolyn to finish the term.
In Frederick County’s case, an argument could be made for the former Delegates but personally I would have preferred someone younger than their late seventies, which is the case for both Ciliberti and Stull. But ignoring the voters who picked Peters as the highest vote-getter that didn’t advance – as well as the choice of the Delegate who is leaving the seat to replace her – seems to me a slap in the face to those voters over petty politics and a disservice to the Republicans they purport to represent. It’s a battle which reminds me of the entirety of the District 36 fiasco back in 2013 when Senator E.J. Pipkin resigned.
On a national level, this is reflected in the grassroots movement to dump John Boehner as Speaker of the House. Take as an example an e-mail I received from the Wicomico Patriots:
Now it is time to engage again as Congress returns on Tuesday to swear in the members and to vote for Speaker of the House. Please call or write an email to Andy Harris encouraging him to vote for a new speaker. It only takes 29 congressmen to block Boehner’s re-election as speaker. Once he is blocked, the opportunity is there for a new person to step up.
I am aware that it is potentially politically dangerous for Andy Harris to vote against Boehner. If Boehner were to win anyway, then he can retaliate by removing people from their prestigious positions. Andy Harris is on the appropriations committee, one of the most powerful committees. However, we did not vote for Andy Harris so that he could protect his political power in DC. We voted for Andy Harris to stop the Obama agenda. Boehner has been completely ineffectual in stopping Obama.
So, Andy Harris, will you listen to the people who got you elected and take the difficult step of voting against Boehner or will you continue to follow him?
Your CRomnibus vote was very discouraging to your conservative base. Do we really think that you and Boehner will suddenly get the courage to block the funding of Homeland Security in February? Do you think that blocking funding for that is easier than refusing the whole 1000 page monstrosity called cromnibus?
No, the excuses keep coming as the can is kicked down the road over and over again. Now is the time for you to stand up and fight for us.
Please do contact Andy Harris at: (202) 225-5311. (Emphasis mine.)
And here’s my own message to the Congressman:
For too long we have heard excuse after excuse from your leadership, accompanied by the promise to fight at the next critical juncture. If the Republicans want to be the opposition party they were elected by We the People to be, then they need to show some opposition on Obamacare, on securing the border and addressing executive actions further encouraging the torrent of illegal immigration, and on spending beyond our means. Collectively, you will be painted as a “do-nothing Congress” by the President, Democrats, and media (but I repeat myself) anyway so just pass those common-sense measures and dare Obama to veto them.
In short, we want a Speaker of the House with the backbone to stand up to Barack Obama so we demand you withhold your vote from John Boehner. It’s worth pointing out that a 2016 Congressional run from a conservative member of the Maryland General Assembly is possible and doable – just as you did against a sitting Wayne Gilchrest when you were first nominated in 2008. Certainly there would be a monetary disadvantage for the challenger, but in my opinion no one should be immune from a serious primary challenge – particularly if he or she isn’t listening to the wishes of the district being represented. A poll cited by Jim Geraghty of National Review Online shows 60% of Republicans would “probably” or “definitely” replace Boehner as Speaker. Even as an Ohio native, count me as a “definite.”
These are two stories to keep your eye on in the coming days. Why do I get a sinking feeling they won’t end well for the good guys?
Now I’ll turn my attention to illegal immigration, another subject which suffers from a lack of attention and detail thus far. Then again, the issue is more cut and dried.
David Craig: I will seek to overturn the state law enabling illegal immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. (campaign website)
Ron George: (S)tates should not encourage those that come here illegally and those who have become illegal due to expired visas or are undocumented. States must resist providing these illegal aliens Driver’s Licenses, In-State Tuition, free public services, or the allowance for over capacitated group houses in neighborhoods that are otherwise zoned. Encouragement of these activities strains the infrastructure of communities while perpetuating a larger increase of illegal immigration. (campaign website)
But while others emphasized George’s support for such issues as requiring legal residence for immigrants to obtain a driver’s license…(Maryland Reporter, June 6, 2013)
Charles Lollar: (question) Do you believe Maryland county police forces should follow Frederick County’s example and seek ICE training?
Lollar: ”Frederick Co Example – This example should be seen as a benchmark for Maryland counties and states across our nation. Although opponents feel this is profiling, I completely disagree! The FC model simply checks those who have been arrested for illegal activity and those arresting such individuals are trained by the ICT to conduct these checks of legality.” (Blue Ridge Forum, November 20, 2009)
In 2010, running for Congress, Lollar received a “True Reformer” rating from NumbersUSA.
As you may recall, I was dead-set against the in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Personally I think that those here illegally should be sent home, and if they want to come back they should do it the correct way. It’s only fair to those who have taken the steps to become Americans through legal methods, and are we not a nation of laws? I understand people want a better life and I certainly don’t blame them for coming to America, but those who go through the legal channels generally become some of our best and brightest citizens – particularly if they’ve emigrated from an oppressive homeland. Those who come illegally have to continue being illegal to get along; for example, it’s nothing for them to offer money for a valid Social Security number as happened to a friend of mine.
So no driver’s licenses or special favors for those who came in without permission and unpersecuted. Needless to say, Democrats don’t talk about this issue because they’re the ones who encouraged the mess in the first place.
David Craig takes a couple important first steps in the process, although I’m certain many in the business community will work against him on E-Verify. Yet he overcame any opposition in Harford County, so I will give him 3 out of 5 points for the promising beginning.
Of the three, Ron George provides the best of these (limited) responses. But once elected (and as I mentioned above) I would hope the candidates work to reverse the Question 4 debacle Maryland voters unwisely upheld in their emotional outburst last year. If Ron is out to resist the other aspects of illegal immigration, he needs to show leadership on that part of it too.
But there’s one item where George somewhat contradicts his tough talk. Remember on Sunday when I discussed education and one of Ron’s points was:
By the creation of charter schools where immigration numbers are high and test scores are dropping such as in Montgomery County so that the immigrant population can receive education tailored to help them get acclimated into their new society, addressing language and other needs while other students can concentrate on their needs.
Wouldn’t that fall under a “free public service” for illegal aliens? I downgrade him slightly for that idea, but otherwise I get the impression Ron is a hawk on this issue so he gets 3.5 points of 5.
Despite the fact Charles Lollar talked about this issue on a national level, the fact he received a good grade from Numbers USA gives me confidence he will lead in the right direction. But I need more specifics, so he picks up 2 of 5 points.
Next week I’m getting back into this with energy issues.
Certain quarters of the Maryland blogosphere are reporting that one prospective participant in the governor’s race is going off in another direction. A website called The Red White Blue as well as Jeff Quinton at RedState have both made the assertion that something I heard when speaking with a representative of another politician was true – Dan Bongino will be announcing his intention to reclaim the Sixth Congressional District seat for the GOP. Shades of Alex Mooney!
This is particularly interesting to me when you consider that just last week Bongino put out a release purportedly critical of Martin O’Malley:
Sadly, the plague of bureaucratic, government corruption is not limited to the IRS and DOJ. It appears that the O’Malley administration is attempting to rival the Obama administration in bureaucratic ineptitude with its newest scandal. The lavish, inappropriate spending of federal “stimulus” funds by Baltimore City school staff on fancy dinners and expensive watches is another sad example of the very real penalty of an increasingly unaccountable and growing government. The growth of both federal and local bureaucracy has created a ‘soft tyranny’ of diffuse responsibility. When government grows large enough to diffuse responsibility among many than the responsibility for managing it effectively belongs to no one.
But that O’Malley criticism was absent in a statement Dan made yesterday on Facebook. Instead, it leaned more in a direction critical of Washington:
The recent spate of scandals is indicative of a trend line moving painfully in the direction of a “Members-Only” government.
In over a decade within the ranks of the Secret Service, and many years in the White House, I was unfortunate enough to have been a witness to this system, which has become strictly insider-driven.
Those who are appropriately “connected” live by a completely different set of rules & government means something completely different to them. The tax code, healthcare policy, election law, environmental regulation and many other areas have been corrupted and are being used as tools to both punish and reward.
There are solutions out there but you must push your Representatives. A simplified tax code, patient-centered healthcare reform, a reduction in the burgeoning administrative state and the rolling back of many administrative functions to the states would reverse this destructive trend and help restore us to vibrant growth and give our children hope that this is not the best it is ever going to be.
Interesting choice of words: “you must push your Representatives.”
Yet the obvious question I first had when I heard this assertion was: Bongino lives nowhere near the Sixth District. There’s nothing stopping Dan from moving to that area prior to the 2014 election, though, nor does the law preclude a “carpetbagger” from representing a district because Congressmen need only live within the state they represent. Perhaps it’s still the second-best Maryland option for a Republican despite Roscoe Bartlett’s 20-point loss last year. (Andy Harris isn’t going anywhere.)
But if you look at election results, the numbers indicate an uphill battle for Bongino: he ran seven points behind Bartlett’s pace in Montgomery County – albeit these are countywide numbers for Dan and his was a three-way race.
On the other hand, Bongino carried Frederick County over Ben Cardin (although not necessarily the Sixth District portion, which Bartlett lost by 20 points.) Bongino was 400 votes behind Bartlett in Washington County, just over 1,000 votes behind in Allegany, and a little over 200 behind in Garrett. In the latter three counties, though, Rob Sobhani drew 19 percent, 13 percent, and 4 percent respectively. These counties also lie completely within the Sixth District, permitting a more direct comparison.
So I’m sure Dan Bongino has the same information I do, and probably more since he has the time and staff to delve into precinct-by-precinct results. The obvious question is whether he can make up twenty points.
One thing Democrat John Delaney has now that he didn’t have in 2012, though: a voting record. But John will have plenty of money, and perhaps the one advantage Bongino would have over would-be challengers like Delegate LeRoy Myers – who decided earlier this month not to seek another term as Delegate – is the success he had nationalizing his Senate campaign.
Of course, all this speculation could be for naught, just as the phony Bongino/Keyes ticket was last month. This is doubly true considering the source, who would likely benefit from Bongino skipping the governor’s race. But if anything it proves that Dan Bongino has some mojo as a prospective candidate for something, whether he stays home or becomes a proverbial carpetbagger.
Maybe Andy Harris should watch his back.
On Monday night the Wicomico County Republican Club held its monthly meeting with gubernatorial candidate Blaine Young as the guest. Young spoke for about a half-hour on a number of topics, mainly relating to events in Frederick and surrounding Frederick County, a place where rapid growth over the last several years has come from those he jokingly described as “refugees from Montgomery County.”
Blaine outlined his position as President of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, although that position will soon be abolished as Frederick County will join a number of other Maryland counties which have adopted a County Executive form of government. In fact, just like Wicomico County, Frederick will have a similarly-comprised seven-member County Council as well beginning in 2014.
In speaking to those gathered, though, Young made it clear his biggest influence after completing a brief previous political career as an alderman in the city of Frederick was that of becoming a small business owner. “It woke me up and opened my eyes,” he said. Blaine is also a radio host, a daily enterprise he claimed the local papers and liberals hate. But his overall stable of business support between 120 and 140 people, stated Young.
But Blaine made the case that he took the appointment to the Commission in 2010 and subsequently decided to run for a full term because his predecessors “liked to spend money.” Instead, the slate he led into office is “a very property-rights oriented commission” which “started slashing away” at a $48 million deficit and turned it into a $29 million surplus. They did so by cooperating with the local Chamber of Commerce to adopt over 200 of their suggestions, eliminating taxes and rescinding “frivolous” fees. The number of county employees had also declined by 400 during his tenure, Young added.
(continued at the Watchdog Wire…)
It was a pretty packed house last night for the Wicomico Maryland Society of Patriots meeting, in part because it was a joint meeting with Worcester County’s TEA Party chapter and partly because we had a strident Constitutional defender speaking. That gentleman is familiar to liberty lovers across Maryland as a leader who conceded that the Democrats and unions will be gunning for his seat next year. “They hate me,” said Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild.
But before Richard spoke, we had to get some of the preliminaries out of the way: a prayer, which was originally uttered by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, the Pledge of Allegiance, the assessment by host Dr. Greg Belcher that “I’m pretty confident we’ll have some good information” coming out of this meeting, and some words from Sam Hale of the Maryland Society of Patriots, who characterized our situation as “not only fighting for our freedom, but fighting for our lives.”
We also introduced a number of elected officials and other public figures, including three members of Wicomico County Council (President Matt Holloway, Vice-President Bob Culver, and former President Joe Holloway), Jim Bunting of the Worcester County Commissioners. and a number of Republican Central Committee members from Wicomico, Worcester, and Dorchester counties. Salisbury mayoral candidate Joe Albero also put in an appearance.
Matt Holloway alerted us to an upcoming hearing regarding how we’ll address the provisions of SB236 on February 20 at the Civic Center. It was also announced that Delegate Mike McDermott had filed a bill in the House of Delegates to repeal last year’s Senate Bill 236, which provided much of the impetus for tonight’s gathering. But as a pair of videos shown tonight revealed, the process has been in the words for nearly three decades.
Indeed, there was a lot to digest in the 2 1/2 hours we held court at The Legacy Restaurant, and I haven’t even gotten to what our featured speaker said yet. Granted, some of it – particularly on the Constitutional aspects of holding office – was rehashed from that which he said at the Turning the Tides conference on Saturday, but the Agenda 21 and SB236 information was less familiar. Some of it had appeared in 2011 at a conference he’d spoken at (before SB236 even passed) but a number of predictions Rothschild made within that presentation have panned out.
A pair of guests were pointed out by Richard, and they weren’t those you may expect at a TEA Party meeting. But the two came representing the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, venturing into enemy territory as it were. But Richard didn’t see it that way, encouraging the group to join the Clean Chesapeake Coalition of seven Maryland counties. And while he contended that conservatives were capable of abating more pollution than our liberal opponents, he assured the CBF representatives that “I am committed to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.”
Yet Richard also contended that “if it’s sound policy it won’t need to be forced by the state.” SB236 and PlanMaryland both fail that test. Moreover, Rothschild was distressed by the vague and undefined terms in PlanMaryland, giving several examples. To him, “‘sustainability’ is a euphemism for ‘government approved.’”
“I said to the state of Maryland, ‘let the free market do its work,’” repeated Richard.
Rothschild went on to explain that in the old days, planning was a map. Now it’s a goal, a movement, and a new way of life required by government. The “smart growth” concept was a noble idea, he continued, but it ignores empirical realities. “The facts do not support their assertions,” he said. One example of that was failing to take into account that clustering housing units as proponents of smart growth suggest won’t raise enough tax revenue per unit to be viable without a massive increase in the tax rate.
And if the numbers don’t support the correct assertions, then create new ones. Rothschild criticized the new Genuine Progress Indicator standard, in which some portions increase through negative outcomes – for example, if all of the job producers who make high incomes are driven out of the state, the “income inequality” indicator would reflect this in a positive direction. Never mind the higher unemployment and economic misery sure to follow. “This is Machiavellian,” said Richard.
Another facet of this push toward cleaning up the Bay by fiat was the uneven distribution of costs. Using what he termed “rough order of magnitude” costs as an example, in order to cover the increased costs of Watershed Implementation Plan compliance Carroll County would have to raise taxes 10 percent and Frederick County 20 percent. But those property owners here in Wicomico County would be saddled with a DOUBLING of the tax to cover a $1.2 billion overall cost – bear in mind our annual budget is not far north of $100 million.
Yet, as he described later, the state was less than aggressive in addressing the problems at the Conowingo Dam, where over 100 feet in depth of nitrogen-rich sediment has filled in the waterway behind the dam. In severe storms, that sediment escapes into the Bay, wreaking havoc on the uppermost portions of the estuary.
Part of this presentation was handled by Phil Hager, the Carroll County Director of Land Use, Planning, and Development. Rothschild noted that it took a long time to fill the position because “I couldn’t find a land use manager who respects the Constitution” until Phil came along.
Hagar focused on some of the nuts and bolts of the law, noting that SB236 was passed in lieu of a BAT (best available technology) law by the General Assembly. Instead, the Maryland Department of the Environment administratively enacted the BAT regulations a week after the session ended last year.
Phil also made it clear that Carroll County was not hurrying through SB236 compliance, instead choosing to address this as part of their comprehensive plan, with ample public input. He added that Cecil County passed its map “acting under duress and protest.” Wicomico County is charting a similar path to Carroll County’s, holding off on submitting a map until more public input is granted.
Returning to the podium, Richard stated the case again that we can’t be so bold and arrogant to presume we know what’s best for our children and grandchildren. Too many innovations can take place to assume what is now will always be – for example few know there once was massive concern over reliance on horses, dubbed the Horse Manure Crisis of 1894. Instead of being buried under tons of horse droppings, though, technology intervened as the automobile was invented.
“I personally believe this law demands nullification,” Rothschild asserted, adding “if I tried to go the other way (and make zoning less restrictive) I’d be told ‘you’re violating the law.’” Yet no one bats an eye at this process, whether it be intrusions on property rights, the Second Amendment – which Richard called “a God-given right that’s not negotiable” – or any other intrusion. “We (as counties) don’t project power,” said Richard.
Finally, Richard predicted 2013 would be the year of greenhouse gas in the Maryland General Assembly. The goals are already in place: a 15% reduction from 2006 levels by the year 2020 and 95% reduction by mid-century. The 15% reduction is expected to cost $20 billion, a toll which Rothschild charged would create “devastation of our economy of epic, Biblical proportions.”
He closed out by telling the crowd what many of us already harbor as a gut feeling: “It will end in a trainwreck.”
On the other hand, I found the meeting as informative as predicted. The good news is that PAC14 taped the proceedings, so at least some of it will be available for future viewing on our cable access channel as well as online.
Well, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
So perhaps it was a good way to introduce himself to those whom prospective 2014 gubernatorial candidate Blaine Young wanted to influence, as he held a meet-and-greet event in Ocean City earlier tonight. Aside from a couple signs on the wall, this was pretty much the extent of the campaign paraphernalia.
There was a handout I picked up, though – three pages of the “major accomplishments” the Frederick County Commission has achieved since Young came on board. This was likely an attempt to convince backers at the individual county level – which probably explains the timing, given that the annual Maryland Association of Counties summer gathering hit the beachfront resort this week – with the lead item on the first page titled “Budget Impacts.”
While the room was set for perhaps 100, I would say the crowd rarely exceeded half of that at any particular time as guests came and went. As I was told beforehand, this wasn’t a formal event – Young said he “will be talking to people individually as they mingle.” So he held court with an ever-changing group in the front of the room while others conversed in surrounding areas. Perhaps most notable among those circulating around was Harford County Executive David Craig, who’s also (okay, almost certainly also; I’ll leave that 1% proviso) running for governor. Craig and I actually talked a little about the recently-passed gambling legislation, though.
Speaking of gambling, Worcester County Delegate Mike McDermott was also one of the visitors. I told him I wasn’t happy with his vote on the gambling bill, but he pleaded his case as to why he was one of the five Republicans who said yes to O’Malley’s scheme. I’m expecting a more formal missive from him in the next couple days, which I’ll be happy to dissect. I did learn something interesting, though – from what I was told, a number of Delegates changed their votes to be against the bill in the final tally once the result was known. I’ll find out for sure when I do the research since it’s a vote for the monoblogue Accountability Project.
Thus far, though, I have found it interesting just how the three odds-on leaders in the Republican gubernatorial sweepstakes have conducted their campaigns:
- David Craig has probably had his organization working the longest of the three, even including an overture to state political bloggers like me almost a year ago. As part of that event I got a thumb drive with everything I need to know about David (still have it, as a matter of fact.)
- Larry Hogan is probably the furthest from making the official announcement that he’s in, but if Larry indeed is in the running he has a ready-made social media setup thanks to Change Maryland.
- Meanwhile, Young is focusing more on raising both money and his profile – this event and getting 80 volunteers to come to Crisfield two years before the election have done a nice job with the latter, according to at least one veteran political observer (who I’ll leave nameless since we weren’t speaking on the record. But he was on the record here.)
So the meet-and-greet can’t necessarily be judged like other political events. Certainly I’m sure Young would have liked more people to show up, but if those who did got a favorable impression about his campaign then the event achieved its purpose. Later on, when there’s a need for money or manpower, the true measure of the event’s success would be known. And I had a good time catching up with some people I hadn’t seen in awhile while meeting a few nice new folks.
It wasn’t quite what I expected, but any time I can go to Ocean City and relax a little bit I’ll take it. Now I see why MACO does this every year.