Splitting the opposition: securing the coin and what they do with it

Editor’s note: Back in January I promised a multi-part series of posts based on a book I started on the Indivisible movement that, simply put, just wasn’t coming together as I would have liked. So I decided to serialize that beginning of a book draft – with a little more editing as I see fit – and add more writing to make this into a multi-part series of posts.

This is the (long-awaited, as it turned out) third and final part, which will talk about how aggressively Indivisible is seeking its funding and converting it to radical action. You can start this back up with me here.

Money is the mother’s milk of politics.

Former California state treasurer (and Democrat) Jesse Unruh

It’s an unfortunate fact of American political life that organizations require money to get out their message. Even a candidate who received billions of dollars’ worth of “free” media thanks to a measure of celebrity prior to his run needed $68 million in the waning days of the 2016 campaign to succeed. “What if we hadn’t spent that?” asked Brad Parscale, digital media director for Donald Trump’s campaign. “We might not have won.”

Knowing that, imagine having the lofty goal of disrupting the Trump presidency and winning the first midterm elections against him – but beginning from scratch financially. And while the Indivisible movement had a few built-in advantages, such as a sympathetic media and no shortage of progressive groups willing to pass the hat around in order to get them off the ground, that gravy train wasn’t going to last forever given the number of other left-wing advocacy groups standing in line with outstretched hands, begging to save the whales or secure slavery reparations, among thousands of others. Once the e-mail list was created and the contacts were verified, the pitches began.

Anyone who has spent time in the political world – or even donated a few times to a candidate or cause – knows the tenor of a fundraising letter. It always begins in a conversational style, almost apologetic that there’s a problem which needs to be addressed, but eventually insisting that your contribution of $10 to $100 will be VITAL in getting the candidate elected over his unworthy opponent. (Yes, they liberally use the bold fonts, too.)

For all their insistence that they were different and “had a ‘fundraising second’ approach” which made it a secondary concern – in many instances they insisted that, given one’s choice between activism and donation they’d prefer the activism – as the 2020 campaign began to take shape, the tenor of the average Indivisible e-mail changed significantly. While they generally communicated a weekly “to-do” list of five or six items to those on their e-mail list, by the time the middle of 2019 rolled around these missives also just as frequently had the “ask” for contributions, as did several other e-mails each week. Did you really expect grassroots?

For example, in a July 1, 2019 e-mail to supporters, the curtain was opened for a peek at some of the expenses and dollar amounts Indivisible was expecting to attain in 2019:

  • $275,000 for a mass e-mailing tool
  • $20,000 for the peer-to-peer texting tool
  • $15,000 for September “Day of Action” materials – this was representative of the usual “Day of Action” budget, which would be replicated a few more times in 2019.
  • $20,000 for “bird dogging” materials (“bird dogging” is basically a real live version of online trolling.)
  • $380,000 for in-person training and other organizing events for groups and group leaders
  • $350,000 for access to the voter file and other organizing tools for groups

They don’t fail to note that “this doesn’t even include things like salaries and benefits for organizing staff!” But just this budget for a half-year was $1.06 million.

And this isn’t the only time. In fact, practically all of their e-mail missives now have an “ask” for several ongoing organizing projects. But the Wuhan flu – and yes, I use that phrase just to needle them – made necessary a change in tactics as face-to-face meeting was out and virtual strategizing was in. Take this idea for example:

On May 12, Indivisible groups in Tallahassee, Phoenix, and Austin littered the grounds of their statehouses with body bags, representing the 81,000 American lives lost to COVID-19. Lives that could have been saved if not for President Trump and GOP Governors and Senators’ failure to adequately respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 

These incredible actions generated national media attention for their destructive responses to the virus, the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Americans, and dangerous re-open orders in states around the country.  

“Indivisibles marked National Hospital Day with Body Bag Protests”, May 15, 2020.

Unfortunately, they seemed to forget the biggest concentrations of those deaths were in progressive-run places like New York City, New Orleans, and Seattle. None of those places have a Republican mayor or governor; meanwhile, Florida, Arizona, and Texas combined (as of this writing) have fewer COVID-19 deaths than Democrat strongholds Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York have by themselves. Hopefully those body bags were sent by Indivisible to the progressive areas which truly needed them.

Of course, the Indivisible folks have also jumped on the George Floyd bandwagon with another ludicrous scheme. This is from policy team member Eli Gerber:

We’re unpacking the racist history of policing, the impact policing has on Black communities, and why taking money out of the multi-million dollar budgets of police forces and using it to fund resources and programs that people really need is so urgently necessary – especially during the COVID-19 outbreak, which has revealed how badly we are failing to meet people’s basic needs.

Policing Black communities and inflicting violence on black people can’t fix the problems that centuries of racist policies have created. It’s time to defund the police and invest in things like schools, clean water, food and housing assistance, social workers, and more.

“Police Violence is its Own Pandemic – Tune into Episode 3 of COVID Corruption”, June 6, 2020.

Honestly, I didn’t sit and watch the latest video after I wasted five minutes of my life watching Gerber whine about the Wisconsin primary being held as scheduled back on April 7 in part 2 of this awful series. I guess the logical question is then just who will enforce the laws in these cities if there is no police department?

If these views are mainstream then we don’t live in a Constitutional republic anymore.

In less than two years the Indivisible movement (Indivisible Project and Indivisible Civics) had garnered over $25 million in contributions, according to these summaries of their IRS 990 forms. And that was only through 2018 – they may have doubled their take again in 2019 and 2020. Moreover, there are only a handful of local Indivisible groups with their own 990 forms, which tells me all their action is inside the Beltway.

On the other hand, looking through that same data source and doing a simple search for “tea” provided 200 results, and many of them were local TEA parties reporting little to no assets. The largest TEA party group spent most of its six figure take on website and media consulting, making it sound like a scam PAC from the get-go. (It was not the Tea Party Patriots, who have even more modest fundraising figures.)

It’s a case of claiming to have a “fundraising second” approach like the national Indivisible movement does versus actually scratching out an existence on a shoestring as most TEA Parties do (and have done since their inception.) This disparity may be part of explaining the success of Indivisible, but it also shows that it’s a far more Astroturf entity than the TEA Party ever was, despite all the accusations otherwise.

So where does all this lead?

Americans who still believe in the ideals of their nation as defined by its Constitution are the majority, but it’s one that’s rapidly dwindling because people believe the Indivisible propaganda echoed all across the media and culture.

“The truth shall set you free” is not just part of a Bible verse (John 8:32) but is more important than ever. Take a look beyond the seductive promises of so-called progressives to the essence of individual freedom and self-governance.

Last year I wrote a book about the TEA Party and closed it by explaining how to renew its tree of liberty. We should get involved in the political process at the local grassroots again and propose real solutions that don’t involve overbearing government and that empower all of us, not just a manipulative elite residing far away. It’s past time to divide Indivisible by beating them at their own organizing game.

Guess I really didn’t need a whole book to tell you that, so my initial instincts have been proven correct. But if you want to start this study from its beginning way back in February, here’s part one.

The battle now turns on fundraising

(Update: I was surprised to find Bossie read this piece and sent along pages of additional Presidential Coalition donations since 2006, to the tune of almost $140,000.)

Do you think Louis Pope is feeling the heat? I got a second letter from him Monday; this was the letter I alluded to Monday evening and was hoping to get to yesterday.

There were one passage in it that I found interesting. It talks about his opponent’s lack of party experience and Pope’s fundraising ability:

I now have competition in my race for re-election. My opponent has not yet served in any of the (party-related) jobs listed above, nor on a Central Committee or any party office. I wholeheartedly invite him to become more involved on the local & state level over the next few years. Experience pays in politics and I am one of the most experienced members of the Maryland Republican Party as well as the RNC. My seniority on the committee is important as I am able to direct RNC resources and funds back to Maryland.

The final piece of the puzzle needed for success at both the MDGOP and RNC is the ability to continually fundraise. Virtually ALL of our money comes through donations and you can only get those by making thousands of phone calls along with e-mails and letters to my personal donor base. Over the last two decades I have helped raise millions of dollars for MDGOP and our local & statewide candidates in Maryland, as well as Presidential candidates. (Emphasis in original.)

As we have seen in the last several months, GOP voters are perfectly comfortable with eschewing experienced politicians for someone who has done practically squat for the Republican Party until the day he decided to run for President representing it. And perhaps this is the problem with Pope’s experience: those who have stayed in an office too long tend to lose touch with their electorate, and become immersed in a world divorced from reality. Pope moved up the Republican ranks over a couple of decades, making it to state party chair in a good year to do so (2002.) And it seems the glide path for a former party chair involves serving in a different capacity with the RNC, since both Pope and former National Committeewoman Joyce Lyons Terhes were state party chairs at one time – Audrey Scott thought she could get in on that, too, but the Central Committee voters thought differently four years ago.

But I have to question whether that much in “resources and funds” accrued to the state party before Larry Hogan became governor. When I first became a Central Committee member in 2006, the Maryland Republican Party was worse than bankrupt financially – for years we were saddled with debt and things really didn’t come around until Hogan was elected. (And note that he used public financing to do so.) Perhaps Pope escaped Audrey Scott territory by being less than specific about dates and fundraising totals, but there were a lot of lean years while Pope was in office.

But Bossie’s organization has been no slouch, either. As part of the Citizens United umbrella, their Political Victory Fund has donated $119,000 so far this cycle to 40 different candidates, including a $5,000 shot in the arm to Kathy Szeliga’s Senate campaign (as well as a radio ad) and $3,500 to Andy Harris. In addition, this 2014 release shows the Presidential Coalition (another offshoot of Citizens United) donated over $33,000 to state candidates during that cycle.

I don’t doubt the Republican establishment likes Pope, as he’s been one of their loyal footsoldiers for many years. But perhaps it’s time for a new chapter, some fresh ideas, and a different style. One thing that struck me about Pope’s letter was how much it looked back at accomplishments rather than forward at goals. While there’s the idea of supporting the GOP nominee for President, the fact that Donald Trump begins with a “yuuuge” 325,000 vote deficit here in Maryland to Hillary Clinton (in a state which only has 677,000 unaffiliated voters compared to almost exactly 1 million Republicans) means that a more realistic goal is to concentrate on keeping a Republican governor and chipping away at the Democratic majority in the General Assembly – if the GOP succeeds there, they can finally control redistricting for the first time in decades and perhaps have districts more fairly drawn based on geography and not politics.

As I said a couple weeks ago, twelve years is enough. Looking back into the past is nice, but I prefer to look forward when I can.

The struggle to save babies

Who will stand in the gap? That was the question asked in a presentation by Texas pastor Charles Flowers as he keynoted the eleventh annual Labor of Love fundraising banquet to benefit the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center. Despite being plagued by some technical gremlins, Flowers presented a message mainly based on Proverbs 24:11, which oddly enough was the same verse used by Cathy Keim in her post the other day.

Flowers was introduced by local pastor David Diskin, who appealed to Christians to stand against abortion. We have to support life, Diskin added, despite living in a nation that overall has “slapped the hand of God.”

Pastor Flowers agreed. “We are in a day of adversity,” said Flowers, before asking who would deliver those drawn to death. He noted that the government had no interest in it, considering they were giving half a billion dollars to Planned Parenthood.

And regardless of the educators present that Flowers called “beacons of light” in our public schools, theirs was a “Godless field” as well. Even churches couldn’t fill the need as they were being pulled in many directions in their ministry. It was up to us to, as he put it, “trade babies for paper.”

Now before I continue with Pastor Flowers, it’s worth stating that the ESPC served over 350 women last year. Director Jackie Seldon relayed the story of one young woman and her boyfriend who were set on terminating the pregnancy until they saw the ultrasound. She changed her mind, and the boyfriend turned from passive observer to a guy who wanted a girl “so I can spoil her.” That’s the sort of success story they managed to achieve 50 times in the last year and their goal for this coming year was to make it to 85.

So the calculation of the paper needed to trade for each baby was $1,200. It’s a goal of about $100,000 overall.

Thus, despite the fact the government was against us, explained Flowers, we were called upon to answer to a higher law even at the price of civil disobedience. He cited the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah, who fibbed in Exodus 1:19 that Hebrew women were stronger and delivered babies more quickly than Egyptian women, thus they could not follow Pharaoh’s order to execute Hebrew boys. “God places the value of life extremely high,” added Flowers, and challenged us to do the same.

There’s no doubt that in our secular society, where a child is but an expression of “choice” rather than a living human for whom the mother and father should take responsibility and (hopefully) bring up in a Godly manner, many have strayed from assigning a high value to life. There were close to 200 people at the dinner, but that is a small portion of the local population – I pray it’s but a small fraction of those around here who value life.

Even without the visual aid, Flowers illustrated the impact of nearly 60 million abortions. As he read off a list of states, he asked everyone who was born there or had parents or grandparents from there to stand. The last one was Maryland, so most stood. Regardless, if you took the 25 smallest states in population and imagined them wiped out, you’ve reached the number of babies aborted in the country since Roe v. Wade. (In political terms, it’s generally those states that only have 3 to 8 electoral votes. Those who support Planned Parenthood may not be against that since the bulk are loyal to the GOP.)

As I stated above, the goal is an ambitious one. We didn’t get there tonight, but if you count what the sponsors gave (nearly $8,000 based on the minimums listed in the program) and the amount donated and pledged tonight, they made significant progress of over $63,000. At $1,200 per, they have already made their budget for saving 50 babies, but more can and should be done.

If you are pro-life like me, or just want to assist a noble cause, the ESPC is always looking for both compassionate volunteers who can spare time as well as those who want to trade paper for babies. It may not be the most popular or politically correct cause, but it is a rightful one.

Pro-life community shows its support

Last night supporters of the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center turned out in force to assist the organization with its 2015 goals. The occasion was the first annual spring coffeehouse and benefit concert fundraiser, held at Providence Presbyterian Church.

Youth was the rule for the music at this event, beginning with an a capella group of young children called Rivers of Living Water and also featuring a group of 13-year-old triplets called (naturally enough) Triple Praise. Both sang spirituals and hymns, with Triple Praise employing recorded background music.

Even the adult groups tended to be on the youthful side, with Beauty for Ashes dedicating songs to their young children featured in the slide show that was playing behind them.

The married couple leading this group has a pair of three-year-old twin girls.

Similarly, Steve and Olivia (or Liv and Steve, as they billed themselves) are also recent parents. This shot also gives you an idea of how many were there – my guess is about 150 people.

In their own way, all four groups were entertaining although none of them played more than a handful of songs. The event was only a couple hours long and it also featured testimony from a young parent of three named Danaica Pierrot as well as remarks from ESPC Executive Director Jacquelyn Seldon.

Seldon was pleased about the progress the ESPC has made since acquiring a sonogram unit last year, but outlined a couple of worthy goals for this year: spreading the message on billboards near local university campuses in order to reach college-age prospective parents, and following up on the permission they were granted by the Wicomico County Board of Education to promote their services in the local high schools.

Of course, this event was also serving as a fundraiser. And while there were envelopes and donation slips on each table, the opportunity was also there to bid on a number of interesting, intriguing, and useful items. This was just one of three long tables the group had, with 35 different lots up for bids.

With the silent auction and the table top appeals, I’m pleased to report the event raised over $4,000 for the ESPC. But then that’s not to say they won’t take donations outside the event as well, and they definitely can use them because the need is there. They’re not getting even a tiny fraction of the $528 million Planned Parenthood received from government, in part as PP “fought abortion stigma in popular culture.”

I’m probably injecting far more politics in this report than many would feel comfortable with, for it was truly an apolitical event. Yet I would wager that most of those attending last night’s benefit would not participate in that “stigma” but would instead encourage and counsel those who made that choice. For those who are expecting, though, the range of options is much larger than groups like Planned Parenthood would have you believe, and the worthy goal of the ESPC is to bring that number who choose abortion in the Salisbury region down from its present 300 or so to as few as possible.

Too quiet

It’s been a strange week on the political front, because there hasn’t been a lot of news on the Republican side of things. And it may be because all hands are on deck soliciting money by Tuesday night to add to their first pre-primary report, then counting up the contributions and filling out the paperwork for a campaign finance report due right after Memorial Day.

So I found it quite the paradox that a campaign which has supposedly raised over $500,000 sent me an e-mail which told me:

As of (Thursday), our campaign to end the status quo in Annapolis is just $5,633 from reaching the matching funds threshold. When we hit that number, the money we have raised qualifies for the 12:1 match!

But wait – I thought the threshold was about $250,000. Naturally, there are some catches:

  • Only contributions from private individuals count, so money from business, other campaign entities, PACs, and LLCs are among those funds which cannot be used.
  • The limit on a matched donation is $250, so if someone donates $4,000 only the first $250 goes to the kitty.
  • Campaign loans do not count.

Having looked at Hogan’s first campaign statement, it was clear that many of his contributions didn’t meet those criteria, so he’s still short on attaining the match. That’s not to say that any of the other campaigns have made it either, so it essentially remains a two-man race insofar as fundraising goes. And neither of them can hold a candle to all the special interest money pouring into the Democrats’ coffers.

But when May 27 comes we’ll have a good idea where the campaigns sit financially as the campaign enters its final month. In the meantime, next week will probably be somewhat of a quiet week as people prepare for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial beginning of summer. Surely the campaigns will be out there among the people too.

Running out of steam?

I don’t think anyone else has picked up on this, but in the middle of an otherwise boilerplate appeal for donations I came across this tidbit, from May 8:

The incredible response our campaign has already received demonstrates that Marylanders are ready for a change.

In our first 100 days, we have raised over $533,000 from more than 2,400 donors, raising more — with three times more contributors — than one of the leading Democrats in the race, Attorney General Doug Gansler who raised just $306,000 in the first 100 days of his campaign.

In fact, we have over twice as many donors in our first 100 days than Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown did – proving that with broad grassroots fundraising support, this race can be won.

Let’s roll the tape, shall we? Here was Hogan on April 11:

In the first reporting period of his campaign for governor, Larry Hogan raised $422,000 in mostly small donations from more than 1,800 individuals. The sheer amount of money raised puts the Anne Arundel County business owner and grassroots leader on par with where Lt. Governor Anthony Brown was at this stage of his campaign but with nearly twice the number of donors.

The early haul puts Hogan ahead of where Attorney General Doug Gansler was 68 days after his announcement and approaches the combined amount raised by his Republican challengers in the last calendar year.

If you translate the message as I do, this means he’s still behind Brown and ahead of Gansler. But the latter isn’t as relevant because Doug had much more money available to him when he formally launched a gubernatorial campaign because he was unopposed in 2010.

More importantly, I’ll remind you that Hogan actually raised nearly $454,000 in the first 68 days, according to a published report. (His campaign finance form shows total receipts at just over $487,000, which includes a $100,000 loan to himself and over $30,000 from various other internal sources.) That translates to just under $6,700 per day and makes the income rate over the last month of about $2,500 per day look fairly weak. One would think the frontrunner would be doing better in fundraising per diem as the election gets closer.

This is particularly true because the social media end of Hogan’s campaign continues on its 2014 pace of about 130 new “likes” a day. But those social media accolades aren’t translating as well into checks. And considering Larry spent far more on the race than anyone else during the early days of the campaign, to a point where his cash on hand was probably equal to or somewhat behind David Craig’s, one has to wonder if the wave has crested. Some of the discussion we had on Saturday pondered that very point.

It will be most helpful once we get “apples-to-apples” financial statements at the end of the month. But not participating in debates and assuming all of your grassroots will be covered by social media seems to me an odd method of running a serious campaign. It would be interesting to see the internal polls of the candidates because I’m not convinced that Hogan remains the frontrunner after such a lackluster month.

Missing in action again

It’s almost becoming a running joke now.

Larry Hogan can crow as he wishes about raising $450,000 in the initial months of his campaign (although a significant portion was his own money, as I’ll document later this week) and make hay about being on both TV and radio in most parts of the state, but the reputation he’s building as a guy who avoids debates and tough questions is getting harder to shake.

Let’s begin with the television ads. As I speculated when I first wrote about it, it was indeed a cable buy, but now it’s spread across most of the state:

Two days after his campaign reported raising more than $450,000 in its first filing period, gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan significantly expanded his TV and radio advertising campaign.  His first 30-second ad entitled “Dedicated” which began running in 11 Maryland counties on April 3 is now airing on cable networks in a total of 19 counties.

The presser mentions radio, and I can vouch that the Hogan campaign is on our local talk station since I heard the ad Thursday. It’s a fairly good spot, but using the live audience feed on what Larry had to say in his stump speech was a little distracting because of the applause lines used. He also mentioned last Saturday when I spoke to him before our Lincoln Day Dinner that he had done another interview that day with WGMD-FM out of Georgetown, Delaware – a station popular in the Ocean City/Ocean Pines area. This is one area Hogan has used to advantage – one-on-one interviews where he can take his time to answer questions and steer the conversation back to his main campaign topics. When the questions depart from those areas, in at least one well-known instance Hogan’s called them “crazy.

In the release, Hogan is quoted as saying:

Through our one-on-one meetings with voters in their homes, places of work and communities and now with statewide advertising, Boyd and I are bringing our message of fiscal restraint and common sense reform to Marylanders who simply can’t afford another four years of single party rule and  incompetence by Annapolis elites.

Yet that message can’t seem to stand the scrutiny of direct questioning with other candidates present. On May 9 the Maryland Public Policy Institute is hosting a GOP gubernatorial debate and just three of the four candidates are participating. I’ll give you three guesses as to who declined, first two don’t count. You would think Larry can change pre-scheduled events with a month’s advance notice when he had a late change to his official announcement due to a predicted snowstorm (which indeed occurred.) So the excuse that “we have a lot of scheduling conflicts” won’t wash if he misses the May 31 debate scheduled for here in Salisbury.

Another candidate who developed the reputation of missing events early in the campaign has cleaned up his act to a large extent, and the party he’s promoting at the upcoming state convention in Bethesda promises to be a tightly-packed gathering if the guest list is accurate. Emceed by WMAL radio’s Larry O’Connor, the sponsor list includes “Ben Carson, Jr, Jimmy Kemp, Henry Marraffa, Richard Rothschild, Armstrong Williams and many others.” Most readers know who Ben Carson, Sr. is but this event features his son. Similarly, Jimmy Kemp is the son of onetime GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Jack Kemp (1996) and, like his dad, a former pro football quarterback. Marraffa and Rothschild are local elected officials, but Armstrong Williams is best known as a syndicated columnist. So it’s an eclectic group of conservatives who will be featured at Lollar’s soiree, and perhaps Lollar will get a Carson endorsement after all.

Let the campaigning begin

Now that the General Assembly has made it to sine die, the transition to regular campaigning can begin. Certainly there will be posturing over one issue or another, and there are rumblings that the “bathroom bill” and perhaps even marijuana decriminalization could be placed on the ballot. But for better or worse, the General Assembly has completed its work for the year, and at least 37 members out of the 188 will not be back – many are retiring, but some are seeking other local or statewide offices.

So for those who are looking for greener pastures, as well as the 150-odd who are willing to serve another term – with many among them trying to move up from the House to the Senate – the campaigning can begin in earnest. Only seven Senators (three Republican, four Democrat) have a free ride to re-election, barring a late write-in entry. Two Democrats running for the House of Delegates will enjoy the same freedom, and both will be newcomers – Will Campos in District 47A (Prince George’s County) and Sheree Sample-Hughes from right here in Salisbury. Both had opposition, but the one filer against Campos was disqualified and incumbent Delegate Rudy Cane from District 37A withdrew from his race, leaving it for Sample-Hughes.

Some in difficult races have been chomping at the bit to go out there and press the flesh, along with once again having the chance to raise funds. An e-mail from Delegate Neil Parrott greeted me this afternoon in my e-mail box, and certainly many others were making plans to raise some dough.

While he didn’t serve in the General Assembly, Larry Hogan is making a push to look good on his initial campaign finance report. Messages like this have been appearing on his Change Maryland Facebook feed:

Thanks to the generous support of engaged and informed Marylanders like you, we are EVEN CLOSER to hitting our fundraising goal before tonight’s finance report deadline! We have less than TWELVE HOURS to hit our goal – Can we count on you to help us get there? Any contribution you can afford, whether it’s $5, $50, or $500, will make a big impact on our campaign and could be enough to put us over the edge to reach our goal!

Of course, since they’re not letting on exactly what the goal is, I highly doubt they’ll actually fall short. Yet what would be success in fundraising? Back in January, it was revealed that David Craig raised just under $250,000 in 2013 after a similar performance in 2012. Since we’re closer to the election, I would have to assess success as whether Hogan raised the amount required to qualify for matching funds, which would come pretty close to matching Craig’s total 2013 take. Since Hogan has media up already with a cable television buy, it’s likely he’s raised at least $200,000.

(It’s worth pointing out as well that Hogan is slated to appear at our Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday, as are Ron George and Charles Lollar. Jeannie Haddaway will pinch-hit for David Craig, who has another engagement. So if you’re coming you can ask the tough questions, although we don’t plan this as a debate.)

For us, the event will serve as a kickoff to the serious campaigning to come since it’s likely we’ll hear from a number of Republicans who are running, even if we have to drag out the egg timer to make sure they keep things short for our featured guests. If we let all of the District 37B aspirants go, we’ll be there all night! (Yes, that was supposed to be funny. You are allowed to laugh.)

After all, not that I’m trying to hurry it along by any stretch of the imagination, we’re just 30 weeks away from the November election (and 11 weeks from the primary, which I have a vested interest in.) Lots of time for good things to happen.

My perfect record

I just have to have fun with these sometimes.

While I think more about the state financial reporting deadlines, we’re coming up on a federal quarterly deadline tonight. (Is this year already 1/4 over? Sheesh.) So since I’m on the mailing list for both sides, I got this the other day from Jordan Kaplan, who needs 14 people in Salisbury:

Michael —

We’re coming up on the first major fundraising deadline of 2014, which means that I’m spending an unhealthy amount of time looking at spreadsheets to figure out if we’re going to be able to give Democratic candidates the resources they need to continue building their campaigns.

Now, Michael, my eyes are pretty bleary, so I wanted to check in: Is this a mistake?

YOUR ONLINE SUPPORTER RECORD (click here to update)
NAME: Michael
EMAIL: (redacted by me)
SUPPORTER ID: xxxxxxx758087
2013-2014 DONATIONS: $0

Nope, Jordan, your eyes are perfectly fine, even if your taste in employers is quite questionable. The only mistake would be if there were any number higher than zero. Although, then again: don’t I give Democrats enough? After all, they’re running this state and nation into the ground while taxing us to death, especially here in Maryland.

However, it’s not like I give the GOP a whole bunch of money either, aside from the couple hundred dollars I pay for registration to our conventions and my Lincoln Day Dinner ticket. (Both are reported to the Board of Elections.) Being a struggling writer means my checkbook generally has to stay shut, which is too bad because we have some great candidates.

Yet if you are like me, you are being bombarded with a lot of requests from federal campaigns. Obviously they’re trying to look good for their reporting even though the money would do them practically as much good donated April 1st as it would March 31st.

And I must say: Democrats are the whiniest bunch. They love to make bogeymen out of the Koch brothers despite the fact that most of the top donors are Democrats – the Koch brothers don’t even rank in the top 50. But they sound eeeeeeeevil.

So they haven’t given me any reason to break up this perfection. Almost everyone with any common sense has long since left the Democratic Party – but do you notice that when they come this way to speak, they generally try to sound like the second coming of Ronald Reagan? I look forward to those explanations in coming days.

A novel fundraising approach

Because the General Assembly session begins next Wednesday, a number of local and statewide politicians who cannot legally raise money during the session are cramming fundraisers into the last few days before the session begins. Originally I was going to focus on a luncheon fundraiser being held in Ocean City by Delegate (and Senate candidate) Mike McDermott on Monday which will feature Congressman Andy Harris.

But at the same time at the BWI Marriott, Delegate (and gubernatorial candidate) Ron George will host what he calls a “Pre-Session Business Legislative Luncheon” with Anirban Basu of the Sage Policy Group. As is the case for McDermott, Ron’s hosting a fundraiser, and an important one. While others in the gubernatorial race on both sides can still raise funds through various means, Ron would be stymied for 90 days – unless he went through an unusual route, one which fellow Delegate Heather Mizeur is already taking.

A loophole in state campaign finance laws allows guberatorial candidates who accept public financing to raise their “seed money” during the legislative session, and Ron is reportedly considering the idea. It would place a spending cap on his campaign (as it would Mizeur’s) but where Mizeur would be dwarfed in spending by her Democratic primary counterparts who already have millions to spend, George wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the amounts his competitors are expected to raise in the primary.

Campaign finance of a different sort has grabbed the headlines of late, but while Ron George is within his legal right to do so why does he feel like he’s perhaps forced to dip into taxpayer funds to run a campaign? The flip side of pay-to-play – besides limiting the government in an effort to starve the beast – is that I think there should be no restrictions on political giving except one, that being rapid disclosure. This would eliminate the artificial wall of separation between a politician in session and fundraising – do you honestly think a large donor isn’t going to expect his back scratched whether he gives on September 1 when the legislature is off or on March 1 during session?

Interestingly, the campaign finance reform George sponsored last year will allow counties to have their own public campaign financing (see page 39 here). So we may be dealing with more taxpayer financing of campaigns in the future, and not less. Yet we’ll still be stuck with the slow campaign finance reporting process where, for example, a contribution made January 1, 2012 isn’t reported until mid-January the next year. Granted, the reporting pace is faster during election years but still runs weeks to months behind.

We have an internet – why not use it and put campaign treasurers to work supplying us information we can use in a timely fashion?

A change in tempo

Generally the interregnum between Election Day and New Year’s Day is a dead zone for politics. Admittedly, there are exceptions – Obamacare passed the Senate in a series of late-December votes culminating on Christmas Eve, leading to the potential for coal in a lot of stockings four years on; about the only use allowed for it anymore. But for the most part, the political world is placed on the back burner in November and December.

But I’ve noticed the Maryland gubernatorial campaigns are pressing on at an increasing pace these days, and there’s probably no stopping anytime soon as they try to blunt the impact of the presumptive new entrant, Larry Hogan. While Hogan and Change Maryland have continually been critics of the off-tune Martin O’Malley/Anthony Brown second term, the pace of Hogan’s criticism has picked up in recent weeks in preparation for what appears to be a gala announcement at the state’s upcoming Republican convention. One can argue that the Hogan candidacy was already priced into the market – for example, I received two mailings yesterday from the David Craig campaign proclaiming that “governor is not an entry-level position” and that David has “The experience we need. The leadership you can trust.” But when you consider he was talking about making a January decision, the fact Hogan moved his timetable up may be an indication that he feels the race would be getting away from him if he waited.

Larry also seems to be using the toughest rhetoric, saying Anthony Brown “intentionally misled” voters on Obamacare and accusing Martin O’Malley of “cherry-picking data.” Hopefully he will remain on that path of making the race a referendum on disastrous Democratic policies.

One offshoot of this potential Hogan entry will be how it affects fundraising by the other candidates. We won’t have our first indication of how any of the candidates are progressing on that front until mid-January, but it bears mentioning that several gubernatorial candidates will have to put fundraising on hold during the General Assembly session: all three on the Democratic side (Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Delegate Heather Mizeur) as well as GOP Delegate Ron George. This is true unless they are taking public financing, and I doubt any Democrat will live under those spending limits.

So this won’t matter as much to the Democrats who are already pretty flush with cash, but Ron George will be at a disadvantage during that crucial time just months before the primary so he’s passing the hat now. If money gets more scarce with Hogan jumping in he would be placed at the largest disadvantage.

I suspect the race will be trimmed to three once again before the primary begins, but it’s anyone’s guess who the odd person out will be.

Getting while the getting is good

In the nine years since I’ve moved to Maryland, I’ve attended a handful of political fundraisers and other similar events for which the common denominator seems to be crabs and camaraderie. But that equation seems to be changing as the O’Malley gun bill takes effect.

While I was out at the Autumn Wine Festival on Sunday, a much different event was occurring a few miles away in Mardela Springs. I don’t think WBOC did justice to the gathering, billing it as “a fundraiser against gun control” and making sure to find some poor downtrodden person to counter the argument with feelgood platitudes about “I just think we need to control (guns).” But they raised $6,000 at the event and when you compare that to what we raise at a Lincoln Day dinner, I think we may need to steal the idea. In this neck of the woods people like to shoot guns – it’s as simple as that.

In fact, gun raffles and outings seem to be more popular than ever as a means of raising money, which leads me into the next event.

The Maryland Citizen Action Network (the group which also sponsors the annual Turning the Tides conference) is having their own “Skeet and Eat” fundraiser where participants can fire their weapons. There will also be other family activities as well, but the main point is to keep those skills sharp and the aim true. Certainly the money raised will help them support conservative candidates and also put on another great Turning the Tides conference this coming year.

So if you happen to be in that area, or would like to support the fine work MDCAN does, be sure to sign up now – space is limited! It’s likely I’ll be at another local family-friendly event (see below) but MDCAN is certainly a worthwhile cause in need of support.

[gview file=”http://monoblogue.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/FSK-Event.pdf”]

If you want to support a candidate or cause, now is the time.