The state of the ballot

March 24, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The state of the ballot 

Is it just me or is the 2018 primary season just not that exciting?

The reasons it could be just me are both an accident of geography and the fact that something is missing. Since we moved again last year, I’ve returned to County Council District 5. If you are a voter there of either principal party, you have very little to choose from on a district level: we have one Republican running for County Council (incumbent Joe Holloway, seeking a fourth term) and one person for school board (incumbent John Palmer, who we Republicans appointed a few years back. Bear in mind school board is non-partisan.) The poor Democrats in my district don’t even have a candidate.

In fact, unless you live in County Council District 1 and are a Democrat, there’s no need for a primary to whittle the field for County Council. Both parties found the requisite two candidates for the at-large seats, and all district incumbents who chose to run (John Hall of District 4 did not) except Ernie Davis in District 1 are unopposed for their spots. The Democrat primary in District 1 decides the seat, since no Republicans ran there.

That District 1 race will be interesting as it features three familiar names. Marvin Ames ran for the seat last time around and was third in a three-person field. More than likely that will be his fate yet again as he takes on the incumbent Davis and the former Salisbury City Council member Shanie Shields, whose district there overlaps to a great extent with the County Council District 1 boundaries.

Council Districts 1 and 4 have the best school board races as well, as there are three contenders for that position. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if there’s a primary runoff for the position to whittle three candidates down to two or if it’s left to voters in November. I think the latter course of action is more prudent, particularly since more unaffiliated voters would be involved in a non-partisan race. There are four vying for the two at-large spots, which would reflect the County Council at-large race – so it’s likely that’s how a primary would proceed. Having an elected school board is a new process, so there’s no experience to back it up.

I mentioned earlier that something’s missing: well, that would be me. The ballot looks strange without my name on it for the first time in twelve years. But they found – for the third cycle in a row – thirteen Republicans to run for nine spots on their Central Committee, and the Democrats (who are showing their segregationist roots) feature the same number but split among five women and eight men for four spots apiece. (If you are keeping score, Republicans have four women in their thirteen-candidate field, the most in recent history. When I was first elected in 2006, we had none.)

I can’t speak for the Democrats, but the GOP Central Committee is assured of some significant turnover. Only four of the nine elected four years ago are seeking another term, as is appointed incumbent Nate Sansom – a.k.a. the guy who I recommended for the job when I left. If just one of them loses the WCRCC will be a majority of “new” people, although most have been involved with the party for several years beforehand. It also means I’ll cast multiple votes for the position for the first time – nothing against my peers, but in a race such as that you better believe I bullet-voted just for myself. This time I may cast a half-dozen or more as a sort of referendum on job performance.

Now I haven’t even discussed some of the bigger, statewide races. That boring primary in my County Council district extends to those who happen to reside in the state District 38B end of it, where Carl Anderton will be elected by acclamation. Those Democrats still have nothing to do in the adjacent District 38C (which overlaps into that Council district) because none ran there – my Republican fellows, on the other hand, have a great four-person race to attend to. On the other side of the county, District 37B Republican voters have a four-person race they get to whittle down to two, and Democrats in District 37A pit the incumbent Sheree Sample-Hughes against fellow Democrat Charles Cephas. (There’s also a Republican in the race for the first time in eight years.) Meanwhile, on a State Senate level, the fields are already set.

For all their bluster, Republicans who were upset with Larry Hogan as governor couldn’t put their money where their mouth was and find a primary opponent (like Brian Murphy in 2010 against Bob Ehrlich.) At least there are GOP candidates for the other two statewide slots, so neither Peter Franchot nor Brian Frosh get a free pass.

As for Democrats in the governor’s race, having a governor who governs from the center means they are positioning themselves just as far-Bernie Sanders-left as they can go. I don’t think there’s a conservative atom in their collective bodies, although to be fair I don’t know all of their positions. If they have any conservative ideas, they hide them well.

It’s also interesting how many Democrats signed up for the “I’m the insurance policy in case Ben Cardin crumples over from a coronary” part of the ballot. (Based on name recognition, the winner in that case could be Chelsea Manning, the artist formerly known as Bradley.) There are eleven Republicans in that race as well although none of them have thrilled me yet to put my support behind them like a Jim Rutledge, Dan Bongino, or Richard Douglas did. And considering none of these eleven had a current FEC account, voting for one may be an exercise in futility – in their defense, though, the FEC only reports quarterly so this doesn’t yet reflect 2018 results.

So pardon me if I have to suppress a collective yawn for this election, particularly given the tendency for both parties to govern in a manner that’s reminiscent of two teenagers fighting over who’s going to go out and wreck Dad’s car. They may not know the result at the time, but that’s what’s going to happen if they win.

Exploring no more: Douglas says no thanks to AG

It appears now the Maryland GOP will have to dig a little harder to find a candidate for Attorney General. Those who had hoped Richard Douglas would formally enter the race – a number which included me – will be disappointed to learn he’s taking a pass:

Exploring a race for the privilege of serving as Maryland Attorney General left me with the clear conviction that, under current circumstances, I would be obliged to put campaign responsibilities ahead of responsibilities to my new family. I am unwilling to do that.

I considered a race seriously because of our sitting Attorney General’s habitual failure to perform bedrock duties of his office:

  • To expose and eliminate corruption at all levels of Maryland government.
  • To hold all Maryland officials accountable (himself included) without favoritism.
  • To inform Marylanders fully and impartially about the implications of legislation, taxation, regulation, and judicial action for Maryland job growth and manufacturing.
  • To reduce barriers to individual, educational, and commercial success.
  • To shield young workers from high health insurance costs and prevent “physician flight”.
  • To help single mothers collect child support and protect their children from crime.
  • To make Maryland government friendlier to the families of deployed military personnel.
  • To fight mistreatment of aliens by Maryland authorities.
  • To improve conditions in Maryland jails for inmates and corrections officers.
  • To resist federal usurpation of Maryland state authorities.
  • To return common sense, integrity, and transparency to Maryland government.
  • To make Maryland a better place for all.

My conscience will not allow me to enter the Attorney General’s race. In the future, circumstances may permit me to re-enter competitive Maryland politics. Maryland is worth it. When the time comes, I will reassess the potential for making a positive difference.

Instead, Douglas vowed to “consider ways to effectively improve Maryland state government’s performance on public corruption, official integrity, and return on taxpayer investment.”

But with only about six weeks remaining before the filing deadline, the prospects of Republicans whiffing on the post for a second consecutive cycle loom considerably larger. Before 2010, the last time the AG slot had been uncontested was 1986. Douglas was ideal for the party since he had recently run a statewide campaign against Dan Bongino for the U.S. Senate nomination, losing to Dan by 5 percentage points, or 10,831 votes. Richard carried half of the state’s 24 jurisdictions, however, including here in Wicomico County. With the prospect of four Democratic contenders beating each other up during the primary season, the prospect of a single Republican avoiding the mudslide may have made this a winnable race. While most of the AG candidates in recent memory failed to crack the 40 percent barrier, the 1994 election saw Richard Bennett lose by a 54-46 margin to incumbent Joe Curran, who was then seeking a third term. Potentially the 2014 election could be a wave election for conservatives like 1994 was, even in Maryland.

There’s also the question, though, of whether the sins of the incumbent AG will reflect on any of those running to replace Doug Gansler as he runs for governor. Certainly each will promise to do a better job than Gansler, at least until they’re sworn in and continue the same old pattern of rewarding political friends while ignoring the foes who point out clear language in the state Constitution.

So that’s two good potential candidates who passed up the race. Jim Rutledge was a grassroots favorite for the 2014 AG nomination after losing the 2010 U.S. Senate primary to a better-funded Eric Wargotz, but he chose to instead run to become the president of the Harford County Council in 2014.

So the question for Maryland GOP leadership to ask: Surely there’s an ambitious conservative attorney out there who would like to run?

Conservative victories – wherever you can get them

Tuesday is a big day for a Maryland-based PAC as they attempt to broaden their reach and influence.

That evening the Conservative Victory PAC is sponsoring a fundraiser for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, with plenty of influence from Maryland: Dan Bongino will give  “special remarks”  and the host committee features both former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich and lieutenant governor Michael Steele. As they note, “proceeds will be provided to the Cuccinelli Campaign Team,” and there should be plenty of proceeds seeing that the admission prices start at a steep $135. This ain’t no little spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

My erstwhile Red Maryland colleagues Brian Griffiths and Greg Kline have been critical of the CVPAC on their website and radio show this week, contending the group should be paying attention to local races in Annapolis and Frederick. But unlike last year, Diana Waterman stated to me in a recent conference call that there were no plans for the state party to help in Virginia as they did for Mitt Romney. So in that respect the CVPAC is taking up that slack.

Yet there’s a factor which makes the CVPAC decision less surprising for me. With the exception of Jim Rutledge, the CVPAC Board of Directors lives in the Washington metropolitan area, so they likely follow Virginia politics almost as closely as Maryland’s because their local media deals with both. And while I disagree that the host committee is necessarily the shining example of conservatism, certainly Ken Cuccinelli would be considered a conservative rising star and perhaps future Presidential material in 2020 (after his one term in Virginia would be completed) if he succeeds in winning this year.

And it’s not like this should be a surprise, coming from the CVPAC. If you recall their trailer for 2014, the video narrator intoned that “alliances will be formed” between Maryland and Virginia. Moreover, their stated goal for Maryland is 19 State Senate seats and if they can get some reciprocal help from the commonwealth to our south – yes, that’s a big ‘if’ but they’re trying to form the alliance – we may be able to tip those scales. (Meanwhile, a member of their Board of Directors is running for governor here, so one might think CVPAC may be looking for assistance there, too.)

Are the races in Annapolis and Frederick a big deal? To an extent, yes – perhaps they can succeed and show us a path for success in Salisbury come 2015. (By population, Salisbury is quite comparable to Annapolis and is Maryland’s ninth-largest city; it’s also the largest on the Eastern Shore.) But every political operation has its priorities and it sounds like CVPAC is trying to leverage conservative success in Virginia into victories next year in Maryland.

But you have to have the Virginia success first for that plan to work.

The path will be found later

First the bad news: the Pathfinders program scheduled by the Maryland Republican Party for Wicomico County for Saturday, March 23 has been rescheduled for two Saturdays later, April 6. Conservatives who would like to learn more about the process of running for office will have to wait two more weeks for this valuable training.

This news, however, came as a minor annoyance on a day when the Maryland GOP was embarking on a new initiative. This from interim Chair Diana Waterman:

As Interim Chair of the Maryland Republican Party, it’s no question that Maryland matters to me, and if you’re reading this note it matters to you too. That doesn’t mean Maryland has been at its best lately. Between 2007 and 2010, 31,000 Marylanders have left the Free State thanks to the burdensome taxes–which get worse every year. These tax increases have gone hand-in-hand with a 30% increase in spending and growth in state debt payments of 50%.

In short, to make the Free State free again, we must get off this unsustainable path.

To make sure we play a critical role in Maryland’s turnaround, we are proud to launch our “Maryland Matters” campaign.

The initiative is a survey, which greeted me with the message that my input was “critical to the future of the Maryland Republican Party.” Well, I certainly hope so, since I went through a contested election to secure my position for the next 18 months or so.

So I filled my copy out, which took a few minutes and definitely gave them my two cents; in fact, I think I approached a quarter.

I can tell you what I thought the number one priority was in my eyes: candidate recruitment. Let me give you an example from 2010.

In that year, we had two Republican candidates for Governor, three for Comptroller, eleven for United States Senator, and 28 would-be Congressman (the actual number for each district varied from one to five.) But we didn’t manage to have an Attorney General candidate and we left nearly 50 General Assembly seats unopposed.

Now I understand there are people out there who believe they would be the perfect person to move from citizen to Congress or to the governor’s chair. I’ll grant it’s somewhat possible, and God bless people like Brian Murphy, Dan Bongino and Jim Rutledge for making their first try for elective office a statewide bid.

But there is something to be said about building a farm team, which is how the Democrats have managed to corner the market in this state. It really doesn’t matter if three or four of their local officeholders are defeated in a primary for a higher position, such as the situation which may develop in their primary for Governor between a sitting Lieutenant Governor, sitting Attorney General, sitting County Executive, and sitting Delegate – there are several more than willing to move up from local and small-district positions to take their place. In turn, there are those local campaign workers and volunteers being groomed to take the positions vacated at the bottom.

While I disagree with the words of some who think we have no shot in a statewide race, I do agree with the aspect of working on local races. In Wicomico County we have the majority of officeholders, but we allowed too many Democrats to slide by without a contest last time. Granted, here in Wicomico we had very few primaries for Republican nominations – while we had to run a primary in 2010, it was only necessary to eliminate one would-be aspirant in Council District 3 and one for the at-large Council seats. On the other hand, 13 of us ran for 9 Central Committee seats.

If we can get some good young candidates to run in seats where we need people willing to be the state leaders of the future after getting some valuable experience in the trenches, we can build up our own farm team. That’s not to say we don’t want those who have reached a certain age to run for positions where experience is desired (such as Orphans’ Court, Register of Wills, Clerk of the Court, and the like) but generally political futures are built on the legislative end of the spectrum.

Just to use myself as an example, the fact is I’m 48 years old and the second-youngest on my Central Committee – all of us have seen 40 come and go. I realize where my political future is and it’s not in the legislative arena – win or lose, I’ve decided the 2014 election is my last as an officeseeker. (I figure 12 to 16 years on Central Committees between two states is plenty, since I served four years in Ohio before moving here and was elected to my current post in 2006.) But those who would like to build up a political resume may be well-served by serving a term on the Central Committee.

So when Pathfinders training comes around, I encourage you to take advantage. Nearly 60 years ago President Dwight Eisenhower said:

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.

For most of the past two decades, politics has been my part-time profession and I think it’s made me a better person. Conservatives and pro-liberty freedom fighters: if you’ve been on the sidelines, it’s time to step out onto the field.

Turning the Tides 2013 in pictures and text (part 2)

I covered the events of Saturday morning in part 1, so if you enjoyed the “lunch break” I pick up the events with one of the most popular conservative politicians in Maryland.

Yes, on the far right of the picture is Dan Bongino. He was the star attraction of a panel discussion called “Changing the Ground Game in Maryland.” Moderated by Kari Snyder, the other participants were 2012 Congressional candidate and author Ken Timmerman and Delegate Neil Parrott.

As he stated in his interview here, Bongino had some definite criticism of the MDGOP’s efforts and suggestions for improvements. For example, “if you’re not registering voters at the gun shows in Maryland in the next two months, you should be arrested for political malpractice.”

Obviously Dan harped on the voter registration aspect – “they’re kicking our butts” – and how badly we were trounced there, although not to the extent he did in our conversation. But he also spent a lot of his time on the concept of message vs. marketing, rhetorically asking “do you know what the most dangerous branch of government is right now? The media!” Dan also restated the point that “(Barack Obama) ran on our message.”

“We’ve never had a message problem,” continued Dan. “We’ve always had a marketing problem.”

Meanwhile, the effects of economic neglect are apparent in Baltimore. “Baltimore City is in a catastrophic economy. There is no economy in Baltimore City,” added Bongino.

Another facet lost in this recent campaign was the school choice issue. He called on us to “isolate and humiliate every one of our opponents” who don’t support the issue. “It is the civil rights issue of our day,” Dan stressed. Yet he had the awareness to realize “we’re in the echo chamber now…action matters.”

After Bongino received a standing ovation both at the introduction and the close, Ken Timmerman had the unenviable task of following Dan. He chose to focus on his race with Chris Van Hollen, noting that opposition research is very important. Van Hollen “did not know what hit him” when portions of his record were released, so much so that he stopped doing joint appearances.

Other observations made by Timmerman were somewhat obvious to us: first, “Democrats will not vote Democrat lite,” and second, “the media is not our friend….don’t let them get away with anything.” (The easily ascertained evidence of that was the camera crews showing up for the protest outside.)

Ken also spoke on the role of the Maryland (and national) GOP, stating that “They didn’t give me any assistance to speak of.” It would have been helpful to get good, reliable voter data, for example. Timmerman also warned that “it’s easy to introduce malicious software into these electronic voting machines.” The technology simply isn’t secure.

Timmerman also made the statement that “we have to start with trench warfare” in the Maryland General Assembly and “hit their core beliefs.” Ken then went through a list of proposed bills, many of which I noted to myself have been tried. “It doesn’t matter if they fail,” he went on to say, because “we force them to engage.” It provided a nice transition to Neil Parrott’s remarks.

However, Neil began by rehashing the previous ballot initiative campaign, saying “we won by getting (them) on the ballot.” He went over the several steps to get a referendum on the ballot: approval of the ballot language by the Board of Elections, gathering of signatures, the inevitable defense in court, and finally the writing of the language by the Secretary of State – often that can require another trip to the judicial system to clean up misleading statements, like 2012’s Question 5 on gerrymandering which alluded to the Constitution, making it sound like the ballot issue had that imprimatur.

The one thing missing was any sort of campaigning. One obvious problem was a lack of funding; for example on Question 4 we were outspent $1.7 million to $60,000. All that money allowed the proponents of Question 4 to successfully shift the narrative from one of illegality to one of “fairness.” “We need to reinvent MDPetitions.com,” Parrott explained.

One other well-taken point by Parrott was that Question 7 “sucked the oxygen out of the room.” More money was spent on that than the 2010 governor’s race.

Activists were well-aware of most of these facts, though. The next session turned our focus to energy issues.

Moderator Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty was joined on this panel by journalist Mark Newgent, blogger of Junkscience.com Steve Milloy, and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute – a source which regularly appears on this page.

Newgent opened by making a salient point: despite the push by the O’Malley administration and the adoption of ill-advised renewable portfolio standard goals, the 1.6% of electricity provided by renewable sources at the turn of the century was now a punier 1.3% as of 2010. Mark also explained that the purchase of a “renewable energy credit” was a purchase of “absolutely nothing,” but it was a fine excuse for crony capitalism. Sometimes it even had a negative effect, like a (now-expired) federal tax credit for the usage of the “black liquor” by-product of the wood pulping process; one which produces more carbon dioxide than burning coal or natural gas because they mix black liquor with diesel fuel to burn it.

Newgent followed the money to the Town Creek Foundation, an Easton-based environmental organization. “We’re up against some stiff competition,’ he added.

“This is the game that’s going on,” Mark concluded.

Milloy derided the concept of global warming as an excuse to advance policy. “They don’t want to know anything about science,” he opined. But the small number of people on our side concerned with environmental issues had to deal with a swarm of so-called experts on the Left. “Their fondest dream is to saddle the country with some sort of climate legislation that enables them to have control of the economy,” said Steve. “Climate is the best scam they’ve ever worked.”

One statement I enjoyed was Milloy’s call to rip your ‘Save the Bay’ plates off your car. The point was that there’s nothing we can do about carbon dioxide emissions, or to fix the Bay, so save your $20.

CEI’s Ebell bluntly assessed that “the (energy) myths are winning; in particular, they’re winning in states like Maryland.” But there was some good news: unlike other states, there was very little potential for vastly more expensive wind or solar power here in Maryland. Other states had much more ambitious schedules for renewable standards; for example, California’s goal is 33 percent renewables by 2020. As a result, “they’ve already driven out most of the manufacturing in their state,” said Ebell.

“This is the level of intelligence you’re dealing with…you should be shocked, but you should also be really angry,” he added.

But the problem with any renewable source of power, explained Myron, was that they weren’t terribly reliable. Wind costs more because you also had to build a natural gas plant for the 3/4 of the time the wind didn’t blow, particularly in the summer when demand was higher but winds were generally calmer.

Even on the oil front, Myron noted that the 3% of the proven reserves it’s claimed we have is a number so low simply because we can’t explore many other areas which could potentially have large reserves, such as the North Slope of Alaska.

Speaking of energy, my friend Jackie Wellfonder happened to return with some goodies about this time.

These were handed out at the CC4MD table, an organization for which Jackie serves as treasurer. She must have sensed that I like my chocolate.

As opposed to me not being cheated out of some goodies, the next group was dubbed “The Cheated Generation.”

Blogger and radio host Jimmie Bise was the moderator for this group, which included Gabby Hoffman of the Leadership Institute, Baltimore Area Young Republican president Trae Lewis, Brandon Cooper, a campaign coordinator for Dan Bongino, and businessman Brian Meshkin.

Bise opened his segment a little differently, urging people to turn on their cellphones and spread the word on social media using the #TTT13 hashtag for Twitter. (I did, quite a bit.) He added that entitlements are shifting the cost burden from older Americans to the youth, from a group which can’t afford this because, among other things, there’s $1 trillion in college debt.

Cooper opened up the remarks by remarking on a handout he passed around, one which explained the economic realities younger people face. These mainly stem from student loans, which hamper the average student to the tune of $23,300. “Government spent $500 million on student loans in 1978; $115.6 billion in 2012,” the handout revealed. Brandon went on to add that, because the federal government was now the sole distributor of student loans, there were no more price control incentives.

Brian Meshkin chastised the government’s tendency from our kids to pay for “selfish excesses.” As the only elected Republican in Howard County (a member of the school board) he told us that “education was a huge, huge winning issue.”

“No child should be held back by the street they live on,” said Meshkin to raucous applause.

There was more cheering as Gabby Hoffman revealed her story as the daughter of Lithuanian immigrants, parents who were now seeing “too many parallels” to the situation they grew up under in the former Soviet Union. And she saved severe criticism for Sandra Fluke, who she called a “repugnant human being…no young woman should look up to that trash.” Obviously it followed that Hoffman also believed that giving up on social conservatism was “a completely BS move.”

But her message overall was blunt: if you don’t learn from communism’s failures, we will have it in America. We have to scare young people with the truth, Hoffman concluded.

Trae Lewis began by giving us some bad news: if Martin O’Malley is the Democratic nominee in 2016, we are likely spotting him 215 electoral votes. (Actually, we are doing so regardless of the nominee.) The reason: “he’s hitting us where we ain’t,” meaning the urban centers of America. “The American city is the epitome of what liberal leadership will do for this country,” warned Lewis, and there’s no reason not to harp on wedge issues like school choice.

“You can’t turn a tide from the middle of the ocean,” Trae pointed out, “you have to start at the shore and work your way out.”

That wrapped up the “cheated youth” segment, but there were several other “cheated” groups. With so many speakers and panels and only a one-day timeframe, there were bound to be some issues which received less coverage so we had what was called the “coalition round-up.” This had representatives of groups focusing on immigration, election integrity, the General Assembly, school choice, pro-life issues, and the Second Amendment.

While much of his ground was covered by previous presenters, Paul Mendez of Help Save Maryland repeated the fact that 90,000 more people in Maryland voted against Question 4 than voted for Mitt Romney. And there was an economic benefit even in failure: not only did they delay the implementation of the bill by over a year – saving Maryland taxpayers thousands – over $1 million was pumped in from out of state to pass Question 4.

Cathy Kelleher of Election Integrity Maryland gave a short history of the group, which was inspired to begin after activist Anita MonCrief appeared at the first Turning the Tides conference in 2011. It “started with four people at a kitchen table,” but after pointing out thousands of voter roll irregularities over the last year EIM could claim the success of removing 15,000 1,500 dead people from Maryland voter rolls. (Thanks to Cathy for pointing out my overexuberant typo.)

On the flip side of the electoral process was the legislative process, and Elizabeth Meyers introduced her Maryland Legislative Watch group to the audience. This group of volunteers (of which I’m one) reviews every bill introduced to the General Assembly to determine if it’s an anti-liberty bill.

While activist and writer Doug Mainwaring wasn’t affiliated with a particular pro-traditional marriage group, he worked closely with them in an effort to defeat Question 6. And when asked how an openly gay man can possibly be against same-sex marriage, he quipped “You’re an adult. You have children. How can you possibly be a liberal?” Needless to say, Doug brought down the house with that remark.

But Doug was concerned that Republicans and conservatives “are crumbling on this issue.” Some examples were National Review, the Washington Times, and Newt Gingrich.

David Spielman, the outreach coordinator for National School Choice Week, told us he was “giddy” about all the school choice talk at this forum. But the problem we had was deeper than just one issue, for Spielman assessed that “Obama was talking to everyone; we were talking to ourselves…we were outmatched, we were beaten.”

School choice will take outreach, he continued, but so far over 3500 events had been held over the period School Choice Week had been celebrated. (The 2013 edition begins January 27, but there are no events on Delmarva.)

Jack Ames of Defend Life, who was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the pro-life message he said was free for the asking, but with the promise it would be worn in public regularly, claimed that most people are philosophically pro-life, they’re just not actively pro-life. Still, “we’re literally killing God’s creation.” The Defend Life organization, he went on to say, works in three main areas: a lecture tour with several speakers which is available for groups, a magazine, and the “Face the Truth” tours, which feature photos of aborted fetuses. He urged pro-life activists to “be fearless” and do what we can to embarrass Martin O’Malley. (Isn’t he Catholic? Wonder how he reconciles his pro-abortion stance in his church?)

Finally, decorated Vietnam veteran and retired NRA attorney Jim Warner gave a roundup of the Second Amendment. He also gave us some sage advice: the only way to stop a bad person with a gun is to have a good person with a gun. Finally, we should “tell the Marxists to go to hell!,” Warner shouted.

The “words of encouragement” to wrap up this long day were delivered by 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge, who took the stage to the chant of “A-G, A-G!” Many (myself included) would like to see Rutledge make a run for Attorney General in 2014.

Rutledge pointed out that “a storm…cannot be avoided. We’re getting ready to learn some very profound, painful lessons. And that lesson is this: unlimited, centralized power cannot coexist with liberty.” Jim blasted the concept of machine politics, one which Maryland had lived under “for far too long.” Baltimore City was “a great example” of this; a philosophy where Jim postulated that the machine asks “what you’ve done to serve the machine?”

On the other hand, liberty asks what your rulers have done for you, Jim thundered in his distinctive, appealing style. Yet too many in Washington, D.C. are “uncomfortable promoting liberty.” To that he strongly asserted, “Washington, D.C. cannot fix Washington, D.C.”

Meanwhile, Maryland is no better: “We’re on our own in this state,” said Jim.

There’s no doubt that Rutledge was a good choice to motivate the crowd and renew their spirit. It’s too bad he’s not utilized by the Republican party here in Maryland, but his may be a case of alienating the wrong insiders.

Finally, the day was done. Well, there was a Happy Hour sponsored by the Conservative Action Network, Conservative Victory PAC, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC, and the Montgomery County Federation of Republican Women. I was also cheered to see some of the Maryland GOP leadership dropped by, as First Vice Chair Diana Waterman and National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose were present for at least part of an event where the party wasn’t always shown in the best light.

But the question is one of continuing the effort beyond the walls of the Doubletree Hotel. There were perhaps 300 of us who attended the event, but, for example, in 2010 1,044,961 voters were foolish enough to re-elect Martin O’Malley. On the other hand, only 67,364 Republicans voted for the more conservative Brian Murphy in the primary election and just 74,404 voted for the aforementioned Rutledge in his Senate bid. Indeed, we have a problem with our message insofar as not enough people are making the educated, real world proven choice of conservatism.

Yet if 300 people can both reach one voter a month and, in turn, convince that voter to reach one other voter a month, the force multiplier will get us to the 1.2 million votes we will need in 2014. But we have to step beyond preaching to the choir and get in the faces of the opposition. Stop being afraid.

Several people at the conference, both speakers and in general conversation, suggested reading and studying how the Democrats succeeded in several areas, with the closest parallel being the state of Colorado. Obviously they had the weaker message, but the better techniques of making people believe in voting against their interests. So it’s our job to remind Maryland voters that the government which is large enough to give you everything is also powerful enough to take it away – don’t say we didn’t warn you when the excrement hits the fan.

After all the shouting

We’re just about through the last weekend of the 2012 campaign, and hopefully by late Tuesday night we will have a good idea of where the country will be heading over the next four years (or perhaps four decades, should the incumbent win.) Of course that’s assuming we have no protracted recounts such as we endured 12 years ago – the prospect of two such occurrences in a lifetime boggles the mind.

Yet regardless of what happens Tuesday life will go on, and the sun will come up Wednesday. I’ll still have my work to do as will most of the rest of us who don’t toil for candidates.

I’ve always been about thinking two to three steps ahead where possible, which is why I’m writing this postmortem of sorts on the Sunday before the election. (It’s also why I wrote my book and eschewed the normal publishing process to get it to market prior to the campaign season hitting high gear. Did it cost me some sales? Perhaps, but readers can remedy that situation easily enough as I link to the sales sites from monoblogue.)

Just in the next three months there are a lot of political stories still to be written, from the local to the national. Here in my adopted hometown of Salisbury, the mayoral race will take center stage. No one has formally declared for the office yet, but it’s highly likely we’ll have at least two (and possibly three) candidates: incumbent Mayor Jim Ireton will go for a second term, realtor Adam Roop made it known almost a year ago he was seeking some unspecified office – his two choices are a City Council district seat or mayor – and recent transplant and blogger Joe Albero has made his own overtures. At least he’s invested in the shirts:

That will probably begin to play out in the next couple weeks.

After that we begin the holiday season, which may be politicized to a certain extent as well. My thought is that if Barack Obama wins, the early predictions of a modest year-over-year growth will hold true or end up slightly lower than imagined. I seem to recall last year started out like gangbusters on Black Friday but tailed off once those big sales came to an end. On the other hand, a Mitt Romney win may open up the purse strings and result in an increase twice of what was predicted. I think seeing him win with a GOP Congress will boost consumer confidence overnight as they figure the long national nightmare is over.

Once the holidays are over, it’s then time for both the 113th Congress to get started and, more importantly for local matters, the “90 days of terror” better known as the Maryland General Assembly session to begin. In the next few weeks I will finally wrap up my annual monoblogue Accountability Project for 2012 in order to hold our General Assembly members accountable for all the good and bad votes they made in the three 2012 sessions. With so much written about in 2012 on my part, I had to put that project on the back burner for most of the fall.

At the same time, state races for 2014 will begin to take shape. Unlike the last three gubernatorial elections we do not have the prospect of a candidate named Ehrlich in the race, which leaves the field wide open. While the three who have made overtures toward running on the GOP side have already made their presence known, only one (Blaine Young) has formally announced and the conventional wisdom (such that there is for Maryland GOP politics) labels him as the longest shot of the three most-rumored candidates, the other two being early 2010 candidate Larry Hogan and outgoing Harford County Executive David Craig.

But there are also down-ticket statewide races to consider as well, and there’s a decent chance that both Attorney General and Comptroller may become open seats as Doug Gansler and Peter Franchot, respectively, consider a race for Governor. (While there are three hopefuls so far for governor on the GOP side, there may be at least five on the Democratic side: Gansler, Franchot, current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and Delegate Heather Mizeur.)

The GOP bench is a little shorter for the downticket positions at this time, but I believe William Campbell is willing to reprise his 2010 Comptroller run and wouldn’t be surprised if Jim Shalleck doesn’t make sure he’s on the ballot this time for Attorney General. Another intriguing name for the AG position would be 2010 U.S. Senate candidate (and attorney) Jim Rutledge, who obviously has the advantage of having already run statewide. On the other side, I’m hearing that State Senator Brian Frosh (who generally serves as a dictatorial Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee) is one name in the mix for AG, but another intriguing one is former First District Congressman Frank Kratovil, who is now a judge in Queen Anne’s County.

So the beat will go on after this year’s election is over. It’s not surprising to me that I’ve had some great readership numbers over the last few weeks, but the last couple weeks in particular have blown me away. The trick, though, will be maintaining the audience through a period where fewer discuss politics and more concentrate on friends and family during the holiday season. I won’t be so presumptuous to believe that my humble little site should be uppermost on everyone’s mind, but I hope to roll into year number 8 of monoblogue in grand style.

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 latest to endorse Timmerman

July 19, 2012 · Posted in DC Examiner · 1 Comment 

Because this story is relatively short for me on Examiner (just over 250 words) and there’s a long lag in between the time I placed it on that site and here, I’m just going to go ahead and reprise it in full.

Perhaps it’s a symbolic gesture, but the Conservative Victory PAC announced on Tuesday their wholehearted endorsement of Eighth District Congressional hopeful Ken Timmerman.

CVPAC president Chuck Floyd conceded the “massive financial advantage” Van Hollen has in the race – the incumbent has $2.2 million on hand, and has remitted thousands of dollars to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – but asserted that “Marylanders are just beginning to learn the truth about Van Hollen’s brand of machine politics and crony capitalism that is driving hard working businesses out of state or into bankruptcy.” Floyd spoke at a fundraiser for Timmerman, who indeed has a significant financial disadvantage because he had only around $50,000 on hand through June compared to Van Hollen’s $2.2 million, which is unusually high even for a sitting Congressman.

However, the Eighth District may not be the walkover people think it will be since a significant amount of conservative voters were added during redistricting. And there’s a lot of grassroots organizing experience in the Conservative Victory PAC fold as many of the members of their Board of Directors are veterans of Jim Rutledge’s 2010 Senate campaign. That campaign relied heavily on grassroots support as it was well-outspent by eventual GOP nominee Eric Wargotz yet received 31% of the vote in a crowded Republican field. Apparently this crew knows how to work on a shoestring budget.

So while the fundraiser may not have brought in a lot of money, the backing of the army of Rutledge supporters could turn out to be the most important result of the evening.

********

This is the video I included. We’ll see how it works, since I normally use the old embed code.

I had one other thought. Ken Timmerman isn’t someone who has to run for Congress. Come on, the guy is a successful author.

(Actually, I forgot I had this picture. Probably should have used it on Examiner.)

So why would someone of his stature go through the trouble of running for office for the second time? (Ken also ran for U.S. Senate in 2000.) You’d have to ask him (or read his thumbnail bio) but it’s people like that who I think should be elected, as opposed to political hacks who have held elective office for most of their adult lives. (Case in point: his opponent Van Hollen, who started in the Maryland House of Delegates way back in 1991 at the age of 32 and has held some political job since. And that doesn’t count Van Hollen’s previous experience as a political staffer.)

In fact, if you look at those who are on the state GOP ticket this time, there’s an interesting mix of veteran politicians and newcomers to the scene. Admittedly, Nancy Jacobs and Tony O’Donnell are longtime members of the General Assembly, but they didn’t begin their lives in the political arena – Jacobs was first elected at the age of 47 and O’Donnell was 33. Even Roscoe Bartlett and Andy Harris were rather seasoned when first elected to office, winning at the ages of 66 and 41, respectively.

The point is that they experienced life outside politics before running for office, and that’s the way it should be. Ideally, a legislator would be a citizen who becomes successful in life away from (and despite) politics, serves a handful of years, and then departs rather than spend decades in a position. I understand this places me in a precarious position of hypocrisy since I would support Roscoe Bartlett in his race over a political newcomer in John Delaney, but philosophy is important as well and Bartlett won his primary fair and square. Unfortunately, sometimes people go for the familiar name.

Obviously this took me pretty far afield from my original post but sometimes I think of ways to improve things, even after they’re put to bed. So it is with this post.

An Independence Day message

July 4, 2012 · Posted in Delmarva items, National politics, Personal stuff, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on An Independence Day message 

I don’t normally write a lot on Independence Day, for I know that most people have better things to do than celebrate the holiday reading my space. But it’s not like Christmas Day where I actually leave the site dormant for the day, because I have something to put in the space.

This year I wanted to point out that 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge wrote a piece he sent to a number of conservatives around the state (I was one of them) and it was something I thought worth the link – in this case I linked to his Facebook page, where you can read what he had to say.

But this was also reposted in a number of locations, and in this case I’m going to steer you to the Right Coast blog that Julie Brewington hosts, with the reason being the comments afterward. There’s no doubt we have freedom of speech in this country and I’d be the first to defend Liberal Elite’s right to say what he/she wants. But I’ve seen this comment thread for three days now and I’ll still be damned to know what the objection to Jim’s subject matter was?

Now we can sit all day and debate some of the concepts and whether our freedom and liberty is put at risk by one party or another – while liberals are great at telling people what to do, the point made that certain conservatives do the same thing in certain areas of life is one well taken.

For example, as I note in a comment made I am pro-life and believe life begins at conception. But I would disagree with a Constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion because I also believe in the sanctity of state’s rights and, while it is acknowledged the right to life is endowed by our Creator as part of our Declaration of Independence, the Constitution is the actual law of the land and it clearly states in the Tenth Amendment that powers not specific to the Federal Government are reserved for the states or the people. (Moreover, the Fourteenth Amendment says that states can’t deprive anyone of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.)

Regardless, the entire concept of independence is more and more a moot question because many in our society have, as Rutledge says, “trade(d) his liberty for his rulers’ promises of health and welfare.” That’s simply part of the human condition, and no matter how noble the American experiment a sizable portion of people will be happy to be what others would consider a slave – just as long as they have a benevolent master. Personally I would lump about 90 percent of Obama supporters into that group, but that’s just me.

So the choice is more and more clear: are we free or are we slaves? No, I’ve not suddenly warped in time back to 1860 but the upcoming election presents a rather stark choice nonetheless. I sure have no desire to celebrate Dependence Day, but too many out there are happy to do so.

Senate and early voting updates

In the last week of the campaign Richard Douglas is making a charge down the stretch to grab the GOP nod for U.S. Senate. Witness this commercial, which is actually a pretty well-done 30-second spot:

But I can’t help noticing parallels between the 2010 and 2012 GOP Senate races. The two things which got eventual 2010 nominee Eric Wargotz through the primary and into a general election shellacking by Barbara Mikulski were the tacit backing of the state party establishment (as opposed to Jim Rutledge, who was perceived as more of a TEA Party candidate) and a lot of the candidate’s money. Fast forward to 2012 and you find that, on the first point, Richard Douglas has retained the services of Lawrence Scott’s political consulting firm. Lawrence Scott is the son of former MDGOP Chair and National Committeewoman candidate Audrey Scott, who has also endorsed Douglas.

I don’t doubt that Scott Strategies has had its share of successes over the years, but FEC records show his firm has received over $27,000 from Douglas. By comparison, the campaign has raised just over $26,000 in individual contributions.

So where is the money for what the Douglas campaign describes as a “six figure advertising buy focused on statewide radio, direct mail and voter turnout phone calls as the April 3 primary nears” coming from? Richard has secured over $100,000 in candidate loans, meaning his campaign is (as of the March 14 filing date) nearly $111,000 in debt with just over $20,000 cash on hand.

This is similar to 2010, where Eric Wargotz had over $500,000 cash on hand before his September primary but was $575,000 in debt based on campaign loans (he ended up raising just over $250,000 from outside contributors for the 2010 campaign but spent $1.24 million overall.)

By comparison, Dan Bongino raised over $187,000 in individual contributions by March 14, and had only loaned $3,000 to his campaign. A significant portion of his expenditures went to several paid members of his campaign rather than to an outside consultant. But maybe he needed a better audio feed for this spot, because it doesn’t compare well with his radio ads.

Of course, financially neither holds a candle to the nearly $1.9 million Ben Cardin had on hand. Ben obviously didn’t sleep through the class on how to shake down unions, PACs, and other special interests for campaign cash.

I also wanted to add a few words about early voting in Maryland. So far, according to the latest figures which now include five days of the six-day process, not even 2% of voters have come out. Even if the final day is as busy as Saturday was, fewer than one out of 40 registered voters will partake in the process. So I must ask: why are we bothering?

The only counties which may have significant early turnout (that being on the order of seven to eight percent) are Talbot and Kent counties; on the other hand some of the largest counties will likely lag under 2%. (Wicomico is at 2.37% with 1,063 voting at the Civic Center so far.)

As far as party affiliation, the GOP is ahead in terms of percentage with 2.17% turnout compared to 1.97% for Democrats. That’s a little ironic given the fact the GOP didn’t care for early voting when it was presented to the General Assembly, but  both parties have encouraged its use since.

As for me, I’m going to the polls Tuesday like we should.

Odd and ends number 45

Thanks to Dan Bongino, who I spoke to the other night at our Lincoln Day Dinner. As he reminded me, I am now on number 45 in this occasional series of short items I grace with a paragraph or three.

So how about I start with an item involving him?

You probably don’t know the name Mia Love, but perhaps you should. The Utah Congressional candidate endorsed Dan with this statement:

“I first learned about Dan when he was being covered for a segment on Fox News.  I was amazed by his story and the passion he has for the state of Maryland,” said Mia Love.  “If we are going to change the way Washington operates, we need to start by electing folks like Dan Bongino.”

So I’m sure you’re thinking, well, that’s nice. But take a look at her website and read this piece of her life she shares therein:

On the day of Mia’s college orientation, her father said something to her that would become the ethos for her life:

“Mia, your mother and I never took a handout. You will not be a burden to society. You will give back.”

Consider that she’s born of Haitian parents and is a minority conservative Republican with a sound track record in her home state, and the strategy of this endorsement makes much more sense.

But there’s other endorsement news out there as well. This particular one shakes up the Sixth District race a bit, as former Senatorial hopeful Jim Rutledge eschewed endorsing one of the better-known candidates in the race and instead backs the underdog Robert Coblentz, calling him “a concrete conservative who understands the core principles and values that make America great.”

Perhaps that’s not a complete surprise, though, as Coblentz was the coordinator of Jim’s campaign in Washington County in 2010. Still, it gives him a little bit of gravitas in his uphill battle against more well-known candidates, and politicians have to start somewhere.

Returning to the Senate race, candidate Rich Douglas has been scoring media points with a couple appearances over in western Maryland. He called out Ben Cardin for not taking a stance on the gas tax during Alex Mooney’s WFMD-AM radio show Sunday evening, saying “I haven’t heard a peep from Ben Cardin (on the gas tax). There’s one simple way he can make his position known – go to a microphone and say what it is.” It also gave Mooney a free shot at Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola, who’s changed his stance on the issue since he decided to run for Congress in the Sixth District. “These politicians all look out for each other,” added Douglas.

Rich was also featured in a Cumberland Times-News story by Matthew Bieniek on Friday where he echoed some of his job creation arguments presented Saturday at our Lincoln Day Dinner:

Job growth is Douglas’ priority and he doesn’t think the current administration in Washington, and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, are doing enough to bring new jobs to Maryland and the nation.

“The unfavorable business climate is a major factor. … Congress has a duty to remove obstacles to success,” Douglas said. A senator should be out there promoting Maryland as a business destination, he said.

A strategic, comprehensive vision for the nation’s economic future is needed, he said. The current “salami slice approach” isn’t working, Douglas said.

Obviously Douglas is covering the state quite well, and the strategy of using local media may pay off come April.

Read more

Endorsements and other fun stuff in the Maryland U.S. Senate race

It seems to me that, much as I could probably like the other eight gentlemen seeking the Republican nod to charge up the hill that is Senator Ben Cardin, I only get to hear a lot from two of the ten contenders. And the dynamic between their campaigns is generally interesting, although I have to concede the advantage in communication goes to Dan Bongino over fellow candidate Rich Douglas. This list is culled just from items this week, which are coming at me in rapid-fire fashion.

Read more

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  • 2018 Election

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

    Maryland

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    Delegate – District 37B (elect 2)

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    State Senate – District 38

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    Delegate – District 38C

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    U.S. Senate

     

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    Libertarian (no primary, advances to General):

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    Democrat:

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    Green (no primary, advances to General):

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    Republican:

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