Yes, you get pictures with this one!
First of all, can you tell it’s election season?
After the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, minutes, and treasurer’s report was read it was time for the main attraction of the evening – candidate for Governor Brian Murphy. It was before a packed house.
Murphy described a childhood spent being both rich and poor, with a public school education and much of the time spent on the Eastern Shore (in fact, Brian graduated from Easton High School.) After going to the University of Maryland in College Park and spending one summer working in the World Trade Center as an intern, Brian went to work for Constellation Energy.
“I love talking about deregulation,” he said. But noting that the system was set up by lawyers and politicians, he asked, “why am I the only one surprised when it failed?”
After his stint at Constellation, Brian went into business for himself and started the Smith Island Cake Company. Now boasting 21 employees, Murphy claimed, “we created jobs where there were no jobs,” and made the point that, “no government can create a job.” (Sadly, he did not bring samples.) Right now, we don’t compete with Delaware, Brian continued, and there are “no answers” coming from either Annapolis or Washington, D.C.
Turning to a criticism of the budget, Brian recounted that his GOP opponent, Bob Ehrlich, raised the budget 28 percent during his term while Martin O’Malley tried the opposite tactic of raising taxes. “Our budget is broken,” said Brian, “We can’t afford more taxes.” Yet, “no one thought (the budget) was important enough to fix,” Murphy noted. And why is government “invincible?”
And while Ehrlich, “didn’t keep a lot of promises to the base,” Brian said that we can and should easily be able to compete with other states. Being Governor of Maryland “is like cheating…the deck is stacked in our favor” because of the natural and cultural advantages we enjoy.
Brian called running mate Mike Ryman “Kojak without a lollipop” and touted Mike’s experiences as a Marine officer and for the FBI as an asset in rooting out waste.
I also didn’t know that Brian was once a Democrat but like many others “I got evicted” when the party turned radically leftward.
He concluded his remarks by saying, “I’m not here for a career. I’m here for my kids.”
Murphy was kind enough to take questions. Asked about the Arizona SB1070 law, Brian stated his support for the law and touted his endorsement from Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins, but also warned, “I will not tolerate racism.”
I asked him how he could work around the vast amount of our budget tied up in various funds. “Democrats don’t control the purse (if I’m elected),” Brian fired back, and “unfunded mandates are an excuse.” True, Maryland has an executive budget and we’ve already seen a, “duct tape and baling wire” budget as Murphy termed it. One thing I didn’t know is that Maryland has the largest Gross State Product in the country.
On stopping frivolous lawsuits, Brian conceded that, “I can’t make bills” but would promise to use his veto pen on bad ones. (Actually, bills can be introduced on the Governor’s behalf.)
The final question he took was on eliminating the state’s Department of Education. Brian stopped short of advocating its elimination but also opined, “money is not the problem, so money isn’t the solution.” Under his administration, “bad programs don’t get dollars.” He finished by taking a swipe at his two opponents, saying that because they’re lawyers, “I wouldn’t trust those two to run my bakery.”
Before he left, though, he stopped for a quick picture with District 38A hopeful Julie Brewington.
Ironically enough, our next speaker was a lawyer and will have Kendel Ehrlich speak at an upcoming fundraiser. John Phoebus took pains to proclaim he was a “Republican lawyer” who made sure to study the local small businesses he represented. His experience as a small-town attorney would “carry over well in Annapolis.”
While he was excited to be in the District 38A race, he was sorry that it was under the circumstances of Page Elmore’s illness and eventual death. Phoebus called Elmore a “great example” and a “strong voice” for Somerset County.
In some respects, though, Phoebus echoed the statements of Murphy, claiming Maryland was in a “bad position” to compete due to our tax structure. John would work to repeal the O’Malley sales tax increase and eliminate both the corporate tax and “millionaire’s tax.” “(The) anti-business climate needs to change” in Maryland, said Phoebus.
He concluded by touting his, “true conservative values…(that) government should be limited.”
Like Murphy, John answered a few questions.
But the first one, which asked about term limits, may have betrayed those conservative values. Speaking of the need to establish seniority, Phoebus said term limits could be enforced at the ballot box so they were not needed.
He did better on the issue of tort reform, where he thought laws should be set up to encourage mediation and perhaps a modified form of “loser pays” based on Canadian legal rules.
But when asked about a state exclusion from Obamacare, John said “I don’t know enough” about the proposal for a yes or no answer.
A question about the assessment process revealed John’s thought that the assessment process was “out of touch” with the real estate market, with rates, “going up like a rocket but down like a feather.” He thought he could support a cap on assessments but not a revenue cap.
Naturally, the follow-up question was posed about a revenue cap repeal, to which Phoebus responded would be best left up to local voters and not dictated from Annapolis.
Even after two somewhat lengthy speakers, we weren’t done yet. District 38A Delegate Carolyn Elmore, Page’s widow, rose to thank us for the outpouring of well wishes and support. She also proclaimed that, “maybe I’m a lame duck (since she’s not running for a full term) but I can quack loudly.”
Woody Willing repeated his call for silent auction items for the August 28 Crab Feast.
Mark Biehl gave the Lower Shore Young Republican report. The state candidate forum held earlier this month was plagued by low attendance but they would try again anyway August 11 with county candidates. They also have a hog roast coming up September 11 at Leonard Mill Park.
In his Central Committee report, John Bartkovich talked about all the “great candidates” the local GOP has and exhorted us all to help them. He was “most excited” about District 37A hopeful Dustin Mills, who was one of a dozen or more local officeseekers in attendance.
Marc Kilmer related that we will need volunteer assistance in cleaning out the former Hollywood Video location, which will become our local headquarters early next month. The lease was signed yesterday.
Mark McIver gave the report for Bob Ehrlich’s campaign, which will be hosting a fundraiser on August 1st at Palmer Gillis’s Ocean City home.
Ed Nelson, speaking on behalf of Andy Harris, introduced his youth coordinator Daryl Ann Dunigan. She will be working with Eastern Shore college students.
Joe Collins reminded those gathered the local AFP chapter will meet on July 28. Featured speaker will be District 38 Senate candidate Michael James.
Joe Ollinger asked us to put a fundraiser on the calendar, to be held September 22.
Finally, good news from longtime Republican Blan Harcum, who is on the mend and “will see us soon” after a stint in the hospital and subsequent rehabilitation.
The next meeting will be August 23rd and feature the remaining candidates from District 38A: Julie Brewington, John Cannon, and Charles Otto. We may also have the four hopefuls from District 38B.