Is it really that hard to file paperwork?

As I promised in last night’s post, I looked up some of the many campaign finance accounts that were opened for this year’s election, including older accounts that have been around for years. My focus was on those who are on the November ballot in Wicomico County, although I also looked at candidates who failed to advance beyond the June 26 primary.

This post was inspired by the long-standing deficiency of Kirkland Hall, who went several months overdue without filing the required campaign finance paperwork with the state Board of Elections. However, as I found out in looking at the 64 candidates who are/were on the Wicomico County ballot, it must be a mean feat for some people to do this.

(Hall and opponent Delegate Charles Otto are not actually on the Wicomico County ballot, but they are part of our District 38 nonetheless. Otto was first elected in part with Wicomico County votes in 2010, before District 38A was gerrymandered to place Otto and former Delegate Mike McDermott in the same district by shifting it eastward into the southern end of Worcester County.)

I’m going to reach back into my memory bank for this, because one needed change for 2018 was a revision to campaign finance laws to make them easier on party office candidates (as I was.) Prior to that, I ran for office three times in 2006, 2010, and 2014.

The first time I had a treasurer who took care of the modest amount of paperwork for what they called a Personal Treasurer Account (PTA), with the biggest (only) contribution I had being the $100 I donated to my campaign, the in-kind donation that I was advised to consider my website as, and the two expenditures my filing fee and the $58 or so I used to buy palm cards to distribute among my close neighborhoods. At that time, you could have a non-continuing account so after that campaign it went away, with the proceeds donated to our Central Committee.

But the second time in 2010, they eliminated the PTA option so I had to keep my account open for the four years between the 2010 and 2014 elections, which meant I had to file all the 2010 reports, the annuals for 2011-14, and all the 2014 reports until after my primary when I formally closed the account since I didn’t intend to run again. During that time, my treasurer/(then) fiance and I missed the 2013 Annual Report by five days, so we had to pay a $20 fine. Honestly, I don’t remember seeing the little green reminder card so I think it went to our previous address – the 2012 one came right at the end of our forwarding order. But I should have known it was time.

So I have some empathy for those who miss the deadline by a few days, especially in a small-scale campaign like most of those at the county level. However, it turns out that group was the minority as out of 64 candidates I checked – the majority were in complete compliance:

  • 36 of 64 had no violations.
  • 15 of the remaining 28 had just one violation, with fines ranging from $10 to $250 – these two gentlemen on the extremes both missed the 2012 Annual Report, but Senator Jim Mathias was a day late and County Executive Bob Culver was almost a year late. Neither have missed another deadline in the last six years, though.
  • 4 of the remaining 13 had two violations: County Council at-large candidates Julie Brewington and Jamaad Gould, Senator (but at the time of the violations, Delegate) Addie Eckardt, and perennial primary and write-in candidate Ed Tinus. All have racked up over $200 apiece in fines.

And then you have the serious scofflaws. All of these nine have three or more violations; however, since Christopher Adams has only generated $40 in fines for three offenses, his reports are only a day or two late at most. It’s the rest who seem to have some issues. This is done in order of fine, smallest to largest:

  1. Delegate Christopher Adams, District 37B: 2014 Pre-General 1, 2017 Annual, 2018 Annual – $40 in fines
  2. William Turner, candidate, Wicomico County BOE District 3: 2018 Spring, 2018 Pre-Primary 2, 2018 Pre-General 1 – $90 in fines
  3. Michelle Bradley, candidate, Wicomico County BOE District 1: 2018 Spring, 2018 Pre-Primary 2, 2018 Pre-General 1 – $220 in fines
  4. Larry Dodd, Wicomico County Councilman (District 3): 2016 Annual, 2018 Annual, 2018 Pre-Primary 2, 2018 Pre-General 1 – $490 in fines
  5. Kirkland Hall, candidate, District 38A Delegate: 2018 Annual, 2018 Pre-Primary 2, 2018 Pre-General 1 – $1,340 in fines
  6. Mimi Gedamu, candidate, District 37B Delegate: 2018 Pre-Primary 1, 2018 Pre-Primary 2, 2018 Pre-General 1 – $1,390 in fines
  7. Ernest Davis, Wicomico County Councilman (District 1): 4 in 2010, 2011 Annual, 2015 Annual – $1,530 in fines
  8. Marvin Ames, candidate, Wicomico County Council (District 1): no filings since inception in February 2018 – $1,890 in fines
  9. Jim Shaffer, candidate, District 38C Delegate: no filings since inception in February 2018 – $1,890 in fines

Yes, Ames and Shaffer have never filed a single report. Since both lost in the primary, their campaigns are finished but they cannot close their accounts until the fines are waived or (more likely) paid. Honestly, I think they have more in fines than they raised for the campaigns!

In case you wanted to use this as evidence that one party or the other is worse about the situation, be advised that of the highest nine there are two in a non-partisan race, four Republicans, and three Democrats. Ironically, none of the top 4 face a November race as Ames, Shaffer, and Gedamu lost in the primary and Davis (who, admittedly, seems to have put these issues in the past since he’s been “clean” for almost three years) is unopposed.

I may take a look at the situation again when the last pre-general reports come out later this month but I suspect most of the campaigns will be careful to file coming into the election. No need for an October surprise on that front.

Wicomico County races: a closer look at finances

Earlier this month I took a look at the financial situation of the various state candidates in Districts 37 and 38, so now I’m going to narrow the focus down to Wicomico County, which has a number of interesting contested races going on – although only a few have much money involved to speak of. No six-figure war chests here.

I’ll begin at the top with the County Executive race, where Bob Culver has an interesting split going on:

  • 49 donations from individuals in county for $5,910
  • 9 donations from individuals outside of county for $1,175
  • 13 donations from businesses in area for $2,300
  • 4 donations from businesses outside of area for $6,700
  • 2 donations from PACs and other committees for $600
  • Average donation: $216.69
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $15,398.33

Because of the 2 large donations from Comcast (considered a business outside the area) totaling $4,000, Bob’s numbers are skewed: 49.2% of his money came from inside the area, with a hefty 47.2% coming from outside the area and just 3.6% from PACs and other committees. Out of the 96.4% coming from individuals and businesses, 42.5% was out of individual pockets and 53.9% was from businesses – again, the Comcast donations make up almost 1/4 of Bob’s total take.

Now let’s look at the “independent” challenger Jack Heath:

  • 68 donations from individuals in county for $14,825.05
  • 10 donations from individuals outside of county for $1,950
  • 8 donations from businesses in area for $1,771.76
  • No donations from businesses outside of area
  • No donations from PACs and other committees
  • Average donation: $215.66
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $8,897.41

For Jack, 89.5% of his money came from inside the area and 10.5% from outside. Similarly, the heavy preponderance of contributions are from individuals: 90.4% compared to 9.6% from businesses. Heath has raised more money than Culver but his burn rate is faster, too.

Democratic County Executive candidate John Hamilton has filed only ALCEs since opening his campaign, meaning he has raised and/or spent less than $1,000. He’s the first of many candidates who can claim that route, as you’ll see moving forward.

Regarding the quotes around “independent” for Heath: that lack of movement from the elected Democrat has prompted at least one recently-elected member of their Central Committee (who’s also the president of the Wicomico Democratic Club) to resign from the DCC so he and the club could back Heath, while others on the Wicomico DCC (who presumably are club members, too) are more tacit in their support for Jack.

It’s much simpler when it comes to other county-wide races. I’ll hold off on the County Council and school board for the moment to look at the two single-victor races for State’s Attorney and Clerk of the Circuit Court. The two other countywide positions (Register of Wills Karen Lemon and Sheriff Mike Lewis) feature unopposed candidates who have regularly filed ALCEs – Lemon’s streak goes back to 2010.

The State’s Attorney race has the current appointee, Republican Jamie Dykes, running for a full term. Her campaign so far:

  • 80 donations from individuals in county for $13,388.25
  • 6 donations from an individual outside of county for $1,000
  • 11 donations from businesses in area for $4,065.47
  • No donations from businesses outside of area
  • No donations from PACs and other committees
  • Average donation: $189.63
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $6,087.33

Jamie received 94.6% of her money from inside the county and 5.4% from outside. Individuals also chipped in the most by far: 77.9% compared to 22.1% from businesses.

Conversely. Democrat Seth Mitchell, who previously ran for the post in 2010, has ceded the financial field to Dykes thus far: Mitchell has filed nothing but ALCEs in his run to date.

The fight has been joined on both sides for the Clerk of Court race, an open seat thanks to the retirement of longtime Clerk Mark Bowen.

For Republican Chris Welch:

  • 47 donations from individuals in county for $4,255
  • 10 donations from individuals outside of county for $1,030
  • 7 donations from businesses in area for $1,566
  • 2 donations from businesses outside of area for $408
  • No donations from PACs and other committees
  • Average donation: $109.98
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $4,643.05 – with a $40 loan outstanding.

For Welch, 80.2% of his money came from within Wicomico County and 19.8% from outside; meanwhile, 72.8% of donations came from individuals and 27.2% from businesses – much of that business income was in-kind donations for a raffle Welch must have had.

Turning to Democrat James “Bo” McAllister, he has a very unusual setup:

  • 25 donations from individuals in county for $2,865
  • 48 donations from individuals outside of county for $7,367.11
  • 4 donations from businesses in area for $600
  • 1 donations from a business outside of area for $500
  • No donations from PACs and other committees
  • Average donation: $100.86
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $3,268.97, but with loans for $10,190.07 outstanding.

Not only is McAllister heavily in debt, he really has one major benefactor: the Robins family in Ocean City. (Chris Robins is his treasurer.) Between standard donations and in-kind offering, the Robinses have contributed $6,333.91, or nearly 56% of everything taken in. It appears that most of Bo’s early campaigning came out of their pocket, but with a family member as treasurer that seems to be a little cozy.

Now that I have those countywide races out of the way, I’ll shift gears to County Council and begin with the two at-large seats.

As the lone incumbent Republican John Cannon is first up, but he hasn’t been very busy:

  • 2 donations from individuals in county for $350
  • No donations from individuals outside of county
  • 3 donations from businesses in area for $251.68 ($1.68 is interest on the bank account.)
  • No donations from a business outside of area
  • 1 donation from a PAC for $2,000
  • Average donation: $433.61
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $10,961.34

The huge Realtor PAC donation completely skewed Cannon’s take: 23.1% of his money came from within Wicomico County and 76.9% from the PAC; because of that bump just 13.5% of donations came from individuals and 9.7% from businesses. (The rounding doesn’t allow it to add up.)

Fellow Republican Julie Brewington is less well off:

  • 8 donations from individuals in county for $1,920.49
  • 1 donation from an individual outside of county for $300
  • No donations from businesses in area
  • No donations from businesses outside of area
  • No donation from PACs
  • Average donation: $246.72
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $809.30, with a $1,000 loan outstanding.

For Julie, 86.5% of her donations came from individuals inside the county and 13.5% from outside, with all of it from individuals.

On the Democrat side, former County Council member Bill McCain has the financial advantage to return:

  • 43 donations from individuals in county for $5,850
  • 1 donation from an individual outside of county for $100
  • No donations from businesses in area
  • No donations from businesses outside of area
  • 1 donation from a PAC for $2,000
  • Average donation: $176.67
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $4,828.89

McCain has had 73.6% of the 74.8% of his take from individuals come from within Wicomico County – the other 25.2% is the donation from the Realtor PAC (the same group that gave to Cannon.)

Lastly is the second Democrat for the at-large County Council position, Jamaad Gould:

  • 16 donations from individuals in county for $952
  • 2 donations from individuals outside of county for $110
  • 1 donation from a business in area for $10
  • No donations from businesses outside of area
  • No donation from a PAC
  • Average donation: $56.42
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $325.85

Jamaad is the first of two sub-$100 average donation candidates, but the only countywide one. Percentage-wise, 89.7% of Gould’s donations come from inside Wicomico County and 99.1% come from individuals. It’s a very local-source campaign.

District races are rather low-key as well. In District 1, Ernest Davis had to survive a primary so he raised money earlier in the cycle.

  • 27 donations from individuals in county for $1,085
  • 1 donation from an individual outside of county for $20
  • 1 donation from a business in area for $250
  • No donations from businesses outside of area
  • No donations from a PAC
  • Average donation: $46.72
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $828.00

District 2 is contested: incumbent Republican Marc Kilmer is running for a second term. His totals were very simple:

  • 2 donations from individuals in county for $450
  • No donations from individuals outside of county
  • No donations from a business in area
  • No donations from businesses outside of area
  • No donations from a PAC
  • Average donation: $225.00
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $2,198.39

That’s one of the healthier on-hand totals around; however, Marc does have a Democrat opponent who is also fundraising in Alexander Scott:

  • 3 donations from individuals in county for $550
  • No donations from individuals outside of county
  • 2 donations from businesses in area for $800
  • No donations from businesses outside of area
  • No donations from a PAC
  • Average donation: $270.00
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $550.00

Both donations from businesses were in-kind, which explains the even $550 balance on Scott’s first report – previously he had filed ALCEs and has reported no spending. (So where did the filing fee come from?) But it works out to 40.7% from individuals and 59.3% from businesses.

The District 3 race features incumbent Republican Larry Dodd, who reported just one donation of $1,000 (from the Realtors PAC) and has an outstanding loan of $100 against a balance of $1,784.91. Some of that will be eaten up by a pending fine to be paid to the state Board of Elections of $160 for late filing – the fourth time this cycle (and third this year) that his campaign has been late. After my experience with Kirkland Hall last time (see updated post here) this is a subject I’m going to get back to for a later post.

However, his Democratic opponent Michele Gregory has filed nothing but ALCEs.

Moving to District 4, which is one of the two open seats on County Council (one at-large is also open) we find Republican Suzanah Cain has these statistics:

  • 24 donations from individuals in county for $1,496.16
  • 11 donations from individuals outside of county for $625
  • No donations from businesses in area
  • 1 donation from a business outside of area for $0.28 (a setup fee for an account)
  • 2 donations from a PAC for $4,000
  • Average donation: $161.09
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $703.01

Like her fellow Republican John Cannon, the huge Realtor PAC donation completely skews Cain’s take: 24.4% of her money came from within Wicomico County, 10.2% from outside the county, and 65.3% from the PAC. All but less that 0.1% of that non-PAC cash is from individuals.

For Democrat Josh Hastings, the story is a lot different:

  • 68 donations from individuals in county for $4,940
  • 27 donations from individuals outside of county for $2,425
  • 1 donations from a business in area for $50
  • No donations from a business outside of area
  • 1 donations from a PAC or other committee for $100
  • Average donation: $77.47
  • Cash on hand (bank account balance) – $1,512.38

Hastings had 66.4% of his donations come from within the county, 32.3% from outside, and 1.3% from the other committee. 98% was offered from individuals, with 1.3% from the one business.

Finally for County Council, you have the unopposed District 5 Republican Joe Holloway. He loaned his campaign $5,000 and still has $4,975 left after the $25 filing fee.

The other partisan office on the ballot is the Orphan’s Court. Not one of the four candidates have filed anything but an ALCE – as expected in a bottom-ballot race for which the Republicans have seldom filled the slots. (All three incumbents are Democrats; however, one lost in the primary.)

Now for the Board of Education. These non-partisan slots are being filled as follows:

  • At-large candidates: 2 from a group including Tyrone Cooper, Don Fitzgerald, Michael Murray, and Talana Watson
  • District 1: Michelle Bradley or Allen Brown
  • District 2: Gene Malone
  • District 3: David Goslee, Sr. or William Turner
  • District 4: David Plotts or Ann Suthowski
  • District 5: John Palmer

Out of that group Cooper, Murray, Malone, Turner, and Palmer reported no contributions. Malone loaned himself $100 so that’s his balance.

Fitzgerald reported $1,400 in contributions (all from the candidate and his treasurer) and has $212.12 on hand.

Watson reported $1,000 in contributions from 2 local businesses and loaned her campaign $1,000 with $909.51 available.

Bradley reported $150 in contributions, one $100 from an individual in the county and $50 from one outside. She still has the $150 left.

Brown reported $860 in contributions, all but 2 of the 13 from individuals within the county and accounting for $660 of the take. He has a balance of $25.

Goslee had the biggest stake among the district aspirants, receiving $1,650 from 4 local individuals – however, $1,100 was from his own personal funds. $586.80 is the largest war chest among the remaining district candidates.

Twelve people have given $706.96 to the Plotts campaign, which includes in-kind donations. (One who donated $25 was from outside the county.) His balance is $187.45.

Suthowski was the second-biggest beneficiary with $1,500 from 13 local individuals (including $400 of her own.) She has $376.46 to play with.

I sort of suspect the real money in the school board race is going to be revealed on the post-election report since the Wicomico County Education Association has yet to be heard from and they’ll certainly have a preferred slate.

That brings this look at finance to a close. But I have a little more research to do after seeing the Kirkland Hall and Larry Dodd debacles. Is it really that hard to do campaign finance reports on a timely basis?

Reversing the tempo

March 22, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Bloggers and blogging, Campaign 2018, Delaware politics, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Reversing the tempo 

Yeah, I’ve been down awhile. Working on a book (plus doing my weekly Patriot Post, plus a disinterest in everyday politics) will do that. But now that the book is through the rough draft stage 90-odd thousand words later I can get back to what sharpened my skills enough to write such a book, and perhaps be a better blog writer for it.

But the reason I wrote this post is to inform you of the road ahead, sort of a heads-up for the near and medium-term future. There’s also a completely unrelated segue at the end, which is why you may see the photo on the social media sharer.

I have two major political projects to do this spring and summer, and both have deadlines attached. The first one is to begin the research for the twelfth and final edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project for the Maryland General Assembly. This one will come with some additional information for whoever takes up that baton going forward, but the idea is to have it done prior to the June 26 primary.

The reason it will be the last edition is that I’m going to have less interest in Maryland politics in future years – my wife and I are looking to purchase some land north of the border and build our happy home. Instead, I will almost immediately begin after the Maryland primary on the Delaware edition so it can be completed by their September 6 primary date. (Their session ends June 30.) That will be the second of what will become its own ongoing process, with the advantages of only having to do it semi-annually (because Delaware carries items over between sessions) and only dealing with 62 legislators. I think I did my Delaware charts in one or two nights, rather than taking a week or so like I do with Maryland’s.

Once I complete that – and deal with the usual summer distractions such as Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month, the Tawes event in Crisfield, and so on and so forth – I have a longer ongoing project in mind.

Over the years I have used a couple different photography hosts. At first I used an Adobe website, but when they decided to migrate that to another site I lost all the links I had placed (not to mention some of the photos.) Then I went to a service called Photobucket, which was originally free but then began to charge $2.99 a month for hosting. Now they are supposedly changing the service again – but they have a plan for me at the low price of $9.99 a month.

Sorry, but when it costs more to house my photos than it does for my website host it’s time for a change. This is because in the meantime, maybe 2 or 3 years ago, I got a deal from midPhase (my server since the website’s inception) that gives me unlimited space. I used to have a limit, which is why I needed the outside service. Since that change it was only a matter of convenience because working with Photobucket was easier than working with previous iterations of WordPress. I have found, though, that the recent WordPress upgrades make working with photos noticeably better.

Anyway, if you go back to my archives from about 2008 to 2012, you’ll notice a lot of holes there where the photos are missing. Those are the dead links I need to replace, and it’s more than likely the same fate will occur with Photobucket since I began using them in 2013. Thus, on an ongoing basis (I’m hoping for two months’ worth of posts a week) I will upload the old photos to this server and repoint posts (as I have with a select few already because they are links in my book.) For that, it’s a matter of FINDING the photos, which I believe are on a external drive someplace in my house. If not, I am a saver and I have both my old computer and original laptop.

In a more immediate timeframe, though, I have a crapton of items I can use as odds and ends. One of them will be straight up and the other can deal almost strictly with energy, if I so choose.

So I may get back to the posting tempo I was envisioning when I stopped the everyday rat race. Ideally four or five posts a week will bring back some interest and maybe double my readership. Dare I dream of triple or quadruple, which used to be a bad week? Ah, the good old days when people paid attention to blogs and weren’t nose-deep in social media.

I think this is from the July 4, 2009 TEA Party in Salisbury.

Speaking of that latter subject, you know you’re in an information silo when you go to social media and the same photo of a certain political candidate I know well as an erstwhile colleague keeps showing up. It’s unfortunate I can’t find a certain photo of my own, although this one that is traced to Lower Eastern Shore News may be pretty similar because I’m guessing it’s from the July 4, 2009 TEA Party in downtown Salisbury. (This is one set of photos that may be on the old laptop.)

Now I have known Julie Brewington for about a decade, since she and I met when the TEA Party got started. For two-plus years (2014-16) we were colleagues on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, and to say she has a roller coaster of a relationship with her fellows is an understatement.

Over the years Julie and I have had the occasional lengthy social media conversation regarding local political issues. There are a lot of things she’s been accused of over the years, but I don’t think she’s a bad person. I think she’s a good person who needs help with her current difficulties and our prayers for strength, wisdom, a thick skin, and a penitential personality.

Given the charges against her, it’s fortunate she only wrecked the car she was in and, to an extent, her reputation – although there are a number of people who already believe she’s done that before all this happened. But let us pray she seeks and receives the help that she needs. We will have to be without her passion for a time, but I think she’ll be better in the end.

Election analysis: how did the slates fare?

May 16, 2016 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2016, Campaign 2016 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Election analysis: how did the slates fare? 

If you have read my site over the last couple weeks, you’ll know that I had a fascination with how the slates of delegates and alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention came together. As it turned out, there were four of them:

  • The Conservative Club slate, which was the first one out. It featured ten Delegate and nine Alternate Delegate candidates, of which only seven actually ran. Four of those on the Delegate ballot were state elected officials.
  • The Trump slate, which obviously featured more backers of Donald Trump to add to the total he has. Of the 22 they fielded, seven were state (or federal) elected officials. Both the Trump slate and Conservative Club slate featured the soon-to-be-elected as National Committeeman David Bossie, who was the overall top vote-getter among Delegates.
  • The Cruz slate, which as I was told was an unofficial slate but featured those who worked for and trusTed Cruz. Their 22 hopefuls had just one state elected official, but two others who ran unsuccessfully in recent elections.
  • And finally, the Unity slate, which was an effort to bring all of the camps together. It intentionally excluded current state elected officials.

Out of 96 who ran, 67 (by my count) were on one of the slates, and while it didn’t guarantee election it bears noting that only Steve Schuh, who had the advantage of hosting the convention, beat the odds and won without being on a slate. The other 21 victors were on at least one slate.

So how did the slates fare?

  1. The Trump slate. It was no surprise that this slate was built for success, as it was heavy on elected officials. All but one of those who ran for Delegate finished in the upper half of the field, with five of the eleven slots taken by Trump backers. Collectively they received a healthy 30% of the vote. The success was even more pronounced in the Alternate Delegate field, where the names were less familiar so voting was based more on the slate. Again, all but one finished in the upper half of the field and an amazing eight of the eleven were chosen, overwhelming the rest with 46.6% of the vote.
  2. The Conservative Club slate. Had they ran with a full field, they would have presented a decent challenge to the Trump backers. Still, all but one of their ten Delegates finished in the upper half and they won four of the eleven slots when you count Bossie. House of Delegates member Deb Rey would have made it five but she just missed the top eleven by an eyelash. They finished with 26.5% of the Delegate vote as a group. As for Alternate Delegates, two of their choices did not actually participate in the election. Of the seven who did, six finished in the top half of the field with one making it to Cleveland. Their 23% of the vote was solid for just seven participants – had they fielded eleven, they may have made the low 30s.
  3. The Unity slate. In a race based as highly on name recognition as this one, not taking elected officials was destined to cut into overall success. Their Delegate field ran the gamut from third overall to 60th (of 61), with nine finishing in the top half and three of the top eleven Delegates. Overall they picked up 23.6% of the collective vote. On the Alternate Delegate side they placed seven in the top half and advanced four to the national convention – Marcus Alzona just missed making it five – scoring 33% of the Alternate Delegate vote.
  4. The Cruz slate. Out of their 11 selections for Delegate, just six finished in the top half and only two in the top twenty – their best Delegate finisher was Deb Rey, who as I noted just missed the field in 12th. Collectively they picked up only 17.8% of the ballots. The news was a little better for the Alternate Delegates – although only three finished in the top 20, two of those made the Cleveland field. The Cruz crew got 23.8% of the Alternate Delegate vote overall.

So in terms of those going to Cleveland, the score was Trump 13, Unity 7, Conservative Club 6, and Cruz 2. This adds up to more than 21 because David Bossie was on both the Trump and Conservative Club slates, Kory Boone was on both the Conservative Club and Unity slates, Cynthia Houser was on both Trump and Unity, and Alirio Martinez, Jr. and Christina Trotta had the trifecta of Conservative Club, Unity, and Cruz. (No wonder Trotta finished third and Martinez eleventh.)

But how did the monoblogue Slate do? Here’s the list I voted for, which began with crossing out the Trump backers and most of the elected officials.

Delegates:

  • Don Murphy (3rd, Unity)
  • Deb Rey (12th, Cruz/CC)
  • Maria Pycha (14th, Cruz)
  • John Fiastro Jr. (16th, Unity)
  • Faith Loudon (19th, Unity)
  • Michael Smigiel (21st, Cruz)
  • William Campbell (22nd, Cruz)
  • Julie Brewington (27th, Cruz)
  • Gus Alzona (34th, Cruz)
  • Donald Frazier (40th, Cruz)
  • Patricia Fenati (43rd, Cruz)

Alternates:

  • Christina Trotta, 3rd (Cruz/CC/Unity)
  • Gloria Murphy, 6th (Unity)
  • Alirio Martinez, Jr., 11th (Cruz/CC/Unity)
  • David Dobbs, 18th (Cruz)
  • Chike Anayanwu, 21st (Cruz)
  • Daniel Lathrop, 23rd (Cruz)
  • C. Paul Smith, 25th (Cruz)
  • Samuel Fenati, 27th (Cruz)
  • Luis Puig, 29th (Cruz)
  • Nathan Weirich, 30th (Cruz)
  • Robert Charles, 34th (Cruz)

Combined the monoblogue slate received 22.6% of the total Delegate vote and 27% of the total alternate vote – not counting the 100% of the votes that mattered, which would be mine.

So I pray that these folks who are going to Cleveland make some wise decisions for us when it comes to the platform, rules, and even perhaps reconsideration of the presumptive nominee if he continues to drift away from what I’ve always understood to be Republican principles on all three legs of the conservative stool.

Having done this before and not been on any sort of slate, my advice to those of you wishing to try in 2020 is to get on one. Unless you have stratospheric name recognition in the party, it’s highly doubtful you’ll advance to the national convention based on past results. It’s a sad state of affairs that this process generally benefits the “establishment” but it is what it is, and the best way to combat it seems to be putting together a slate. Remember, the bottom half of this field was littered with non-slate hopefuls, distasteful as that may seem.

WCRC meeting – February 2016

This time we meant it. After having a last-minute meeting called last month, a little planning made this month’s meeting go a long way. It got off to an unusual beginning as the Jaycees meeting in the next room joined us for the Pledge of Allegiance before we went solo on the Lord’s Prayer. (Usually we do this in reverse – as a former WCRC president once said, God before country. I think that it was the late George Ossman who introduced that tradition.)

The meeting was jam-packed with information because we had two speakers. It was suggested to us that we have Anthony Gutierrez from the Board of Elections in to go over the new paper-ballot voting machines we will be using, so he led off the evening with a pair of short videos explaining how they will work. For early voting there will be one ADA unit (which is slightly enhanced for those who are physically impaired but can be used by anyone) and two optical scanner units. Filling out a paper ballot is like filling out the standardized tests you had in school except you fill the circle in with an ink pen.

There were a few other election notes he passed along, including the fact that over 10,000 Wicomico voters will not be participating in April’s primary because they are unaffiliated. (This is out of about 58,000 total.) Gutierrez noted as well that the last Presidential primary with no incumbent (2008) had 48.9% for a February primary, but he predicted April’s turnout would be more like 35-40%. There will be five separate races on the ballot, he added: President, U.S. Senate, Congressional representative, and delegates/alternate delegates to the national convention. Voters will be sent their specimen ballots the Monday before early voting begins.

Mark McIver of the Central Committee asked whether more election judges were needed, and Gutierrez said they were fine for the primary. But he encouraged those interested to apply anyway for November and to be backups in case they have a need in April. Compensation for the day is $250.

Another question about same-day registration came up, and Anthony replied that it would be effective only for early voting. Some voters who had MVA information in the system would be “precleared,” he added.

I asked if the new machines would result in delays, but Gutierrez noted from the experience he had with observing these machines in other elections that the process was actually faster. They would use the primary to make adjustments for the larger turnout in November, he added.

Once Gutierrez wrapped up, our other featured speaker began. Having served as the co-chair of the Redistricting Reform Commission (RRC), Walter Olson came to speak about Maryland’s gerrymandering and the commission set up to suggest improved voting districts. Legislation to create a non-partisan redistricting body was introduced earlier this session, with hearings next week in both the House and Senate.

“I think we’ve got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters and not the other way around.” Those weren’t the words of Walter Olson; it’s a quote from the most recent State of the Union speech Barack Obama delivered. He also made the point in Illinois during a recent appearance there, said Olson. Moreover, 70 percent of Maryland residents would prefer an independent commission, which is fitting: since North Carolina’s gerrymandering (considered the worst in the country) was struck down in court, the new number one worst was the great state of Maryland.

With the recalcitrant Democrats being placed in an uncomfortable position of being against both their president and the voting public – as Olson pointed out, “they’re not happy with what we’re doing” – their only response was to complain that five hearings around the state weren’t enough. And “did we ever get an earful” at the hearings, said Walter. Districts were created not to fairly represent, but “to reward and punish” legislators. Olson handed out a chart that clearly showed how the system was exploited: all but 6 Republicans represent districts with larger-than-average population, while Democrats represent all but one of the smallest 25 districts. (The one Republican who represents a small district won election in 2014 over an incumbent Democrat.) Needless to say, Mike Miller and Michael Busch are “not enthusiastic” about this proposed change, even though it’s been debated off and on over the last half-century.

The RRC was an 11-member commission, with seven selected by Governor Hogan (3 from each party, plus one unaffiliated) and two from both the House and Senate, one from each party. Their report of suggestions were based mainly on those adopted by California, with some tweaking to fit our Constitution. The report was adopted by a 9-2 vote, and you can imagine which party had the two and where they came from to serve on the RRC. The legislation introduced on Hogan’s behalf has “most of” the recommendations, Olson added.

What the RRC asked for was stronger criteria for population, with just a 1% variation. Districts had to comply with the Voting Rights Act, of course, but also needed to be congruent, contiguous, and compact. No more “blood splatters at a crime scene,” as Olson described Maryland’s Third Congressional District.

The redistricting body itself was intriguing to me. Applicants would be screened to make sure they weren’t connected to the process as members of the legislature, their families, etc. After that, they would be placed into groups representing each of the two principal parties and unaffiliated/minor party voters, those who hadn’t switched registration recently. Out of 10 applicants in each pool (Republican, Democrat, unaffiliated) selected based on these criteria, three of them would be randomly chosen to serve on the body, with the chair chosen out of the three unaffiliated members.

But the cool part was that anyone could submit a map. Olson said that Pennsylvania’s map, which replaced a gerrymandered original done by the legislature, was done by a piano tuner who submitted a map which best complied with the requirements.

In the question-and-answer period, Olson stressed that the redistricting body would do both Congressional and state legislative districts. But it likely wouldn’t be pressed into service until after the next census because it was unlikely the system in place now would be overturned unless it was found to be a Voting Rights Act violation. A suit by Judicial Watch regarding Maryland’s gerrymandering was “somewhat of a long shot” to succeed, assessed Olson.

Walter also was careful to add that, while he works at the Cato Institute, the Institute is not involved with this. He was doing this as a private citizen.

Finally, we got to club business. The treasurer’s report was given by Muir Boda, who has stepped in to become treasurer since the previous officeholder had to resign to take a job across the Bay. We are working out kinks in the accounts since they were based on her e-mail.

Mark McIver reported for the Central Committee. After a moment of silence for Blan Harcum, we learned his funeral will be Saturday, March 5 at Holloway Funeral Home, with visitation the evening before. He also related that he testified for the elected school board bill, which has now passed the full Senate (with a clean sweep 47-0 vote, by the way.)

Julie Brewington, speaking on behalf of the Ted Cruz presidential campaign as its Lower Shore coordinator, announced she had county chairs in each of her counties and was seeking sign locations along U.S. 50.

I made a motion to clean up some business so we could have our officer elections, and all five officers were nominated and elected by acclamation. I’m going to use Julie Brewington’s photo here. (She posted it on social media last night, so she gets the credit.)

From left to right, it’s Treasurer Muir Boda, First Vice-President Dave Snyder, President Shawn Jester, Second Vice-President Shawn Bradley, and Secretary Michael Swartz. (Me on the far right – whooda thunk it?)

We found out from Jackie Wellfonder that the Ehrlich book-signing was rescheduled for Friday, March 11 and relocated to the lobby of the City Center building, adjacent to Roadie Joe’s. She was hoping to coordinate with the College Republican event that has to be similarly rescheduled, but the date didn’t work with SU.

Woody Willing reminded us the WCRC Scholarship was still available, but the deadline was fast approaching (March 1.) Graduating seniors from any Wicomico County school (public, private, or homeschooled) are eligible provided they complete the application process. I asked if the application could be put online.

Willing also asked if we could make our annual YMCA donation, which was met with the club’s approval.

Julie Brewington returned to announce the Republican Women of Wicomico would next meet March 2, with Mitzi Perdue as the speaker.

Joe Ollinger and John Palmer gave us some news about the Wicomico Board of Education, which was getting deeper into its superintendent search. They should be close to selecting the next time we meet, said Ollinger. Various focus groups comprised of about 75 people total were considering the applicants, added Palmer. John also said we were “on track” to getting Board of Education meetings on PAC14.

Nate Sansom updated us on the Teenage Republicans, which would have their first meeting March 4 at the Centre of Salisbury library branch. This led to Patty Miller being asked to fill us in on the SU College Republicans, which are having a fundraiser at the Greene Turtle March 21 and are “working on some big things.”

Matt Maciarello updated us briefly on legislation he was interested in, adding the Eastern Shore delegation is “working so hard” on these items. Included in his assessment was the bomb threat prosecution bill sponsored by Mary Beth Carozza as well as a bill dealing with sex offenders.

As you can tell, it was a meeting full of information that we somehow crammed into about 90 minutes. Our next gathering will be March 28, with U.S. Senate candidate Dave Wallace the first statewide candidate to stop by one of our meetings since 2013.

A trio of events

February 4, 2016 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2016, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on A trio of events 

Before I step aside for a few days, there are some things I’ve been meaning to push. I’ll do these in chronological order of occurrence.

I had wondered when the First District challenger would have an event in Salisbury, but he has the uncharacteristic bad luck of picking the weekend I’m away (this Saturday) to do a combination townhall and fundraiser at two popular downtown venues. So I will just pass this on without additional comment, except for noting that the Roadie Joe’s event is $40 (or $30 if you’re wearing camo or hunter orange.)

Another would-be challenger is bringing one of the last stops on his three-day announcement tour to Salisbury University next Wednesday. SU is the penultimate stop on the tour for U.S. Senate candidate Dave Wallace, who will stop at Holloway Hall next Wednesday, February 10th, around 4 p.m. (His day will wrap up in Easton before returning the vehicle to the Western Shore.)

As his campaign’s advance person pointed out:

If you have owned or operated a business on the Eastern Shore, you know how hard it has been to work with all the new laws, regulations, fees and taxes. When did Senator Barbara Mikulski, our Democrat US Senator for 30 years, decide to work with Safran Labinal, one of Wicomico County’s largest companies, with more than 650 workers?  When they announced they were moving to Denton, Texas – a bit too late, don’t you think?  Have you wondered why Perdue AgriBusiness is planning to build their corporate offices in Delmar, DE? Could it be that Delaware is more business friendly?

Wallace will be the second candidate to announce in Salisbury, as Kathy Szeliga made a swing through town in November.

Finally, I took advantage of a rare weekday off to attend yesterday’s Republican Women of Wicomico monthly meeting. (Yes, there were three guys there, including speaker Muir Boda.) But they wanted me to pass along word of their Paint Night fundraiser on Thursday, February 11 at Brew River. It goes from 6 to 8 p.m. and the cost is $40. Men are invited and encouraged to both attend the fundraiser and be associate members of the group, said RWOW president Julie Brewington. (Associate membership is only $15, if I recall correctly, and they run a pretty good meeting.)

This should fill the political calendar pretty well.

WCRC meeting – January 2016

If not for Jonas, this post probably would have had at least one photo of our former Republican governor Bob Ehrlich. But since our friend Jonas left him stuck across the bridge, in lieu of the book signing fundraiser we instead had a hastily arranged meeting to go over a handful of announcements, with the first one being prospective dates for rescheduling the event are March 7 or 14. Of course, that’s subject to change and as I brought up the former date would conflict with our Central Committee meeting. Jackie Wellfonder added that the event was nearly sold out, but there were still a few spots available.

(Historically there seems to be an issue with wintertime events featuring Bob Ehrlich here in Wicomico County.)

But anyway, the meeting announcement caught me by surprise since I hadn’t even gone through and compiled the minutes from the last one. Nor did we have a copy of the Treasurer’s Report, but interim treasurer Muir Boda had the excuse of having a meeting prior to this one. We were informed, though, that there were some changes to our accounts made necessary by the abrupt resignation of our previous treasurer and integration with the WCRC Paypal account.

Julie Brewington and I tag-teamed on the Central Committee report, which didn’t feature a whole lot. As a body we had done our post-mortem on the Lincoln Day Dinner and discussed having another “retreat” as we did last year.

Jackie Wellfonder informed us that the Governor’s Ball would be February 18. That brought up another question regarding how successful a couple local events turned out to be, with Jackie and Julie replying that Mary Beth Carozza’s fundraising event was “hugely successful.” Shawn Jester added that Andy Harris’s Fruitland town hall meeting was well-attended, without the drama of the subsequent Bel Air townhall.

Julie Brewington then noted the Republican Women of Wicomico group was growing, and its next meeting would be February 3 at Brew River. Muir Boda is the slated speaker for the 11:30 lunch meeting, with Mitzi Perdue set for the March meeting. She was “very optimistic” about the direction the group was taking. Julie also took a moment to announce she was the Ted Cruz campaign coordinator locally.

Marc Kilmer gave us an impromptu update on County Council, with the biggest issues right now being the capital budget and proposed mega-chicken house. The bulk of the capital budget borrowing would be going toward updating and upgrading the county’s radio communication system, to the tune of $11 million. As for the chicken house, which would be the largest in the county, Kilmer explained that the county really had no say on its construction and operation beyond the planning and zoning aspect – it would be an agricultural use in an area zoned for agriculture. Most of the scrutiny of its operation would come from the state, Kilmer added.

Kilmer also expressed his concern with negotiations with the county’s law enforcement officers regarding a proposed pension program, noting other counties have had issues with the costs.

There were a couple legislative updates given. I updated the progress of the school board bill (SB145), which has a hearing on Wednesday, while we also were alerted to the possibility the sprinkler bill (HB19) wouldn’t make it out of committee. (I checked on the latter, and found its scheduled hearing has been cancelled.)

In more mundane club news, we’ll have to look for a new Crab Feast chair and we discussed some planning items for the coming year.

Things to add to the calendar: The RWOW group is doing a paint night at Brew River on February 11 from 6 to 8, said Julie, while Jackie added that Bob Ehrlich is scheduled for another book signing event at SU, but there you don’t have to buy the book to attend (at a reduced cost.) She suggested we could support their February 15 event without buying the book then doing the WCRC fundraiser to get a copy.

Next month’s meeting will be a double dip: Walter Olson of the Cato Institute will discuss Maryland’s gerrymandering, while Anthony Gutierrez of the Wicomico Board of Elections will demonstrate the new voting machines. That meeting will be February 22. Sounds like a good one!

The course we should take

Ringing a bell about something that I was previously planning to post on anyway, my Central Committee cohort Julie Brewington wrote on social media today about a disagreement she had with the Assateague Coastkeepers regarding what they consider “factory farms” being proposed and built in Wicomico County. (So I’ll give the onetime blogger a hat tip.) Obviously the Coastkeepers have a concern about what they see as excessive pollution arising from what chickens naturally do, which is doo-doo. It’s been a concern of the state for years, and earlier this year you may recall Governor Larry Hogan thwarted the efforts of the outgoing O’Malley administration to curtail chicken farming via the Phosphorus Management Tool. Unfortunately, Hogan later conceded that these farms and their by-products are an issue worth regulating (with his Agriculture Phosphorus Initiative) to the point where some farmers would not be allowed to use this natural fertilizer. This edict disproportionately affects Eastern Shore farmers.

At the risk of excessive aggravation, I visited the Assateague Coastkeeper site for one simple reason: if they didn’t want the poultry industry and its huge economic impact of the area, what do they see as job creators? As I expected, I was disappointed in what I found: aside from a legislative agenda that would subsidize offshore wind, their overall strategic plan fails to address the economic impact their wish list would create or lay out an alternative scenario. (They are working on the “educational” part of the agenda, though.)

Not only do the Coastkeepers have an objection to the chicken farms, though, but they also object to offshore drilling off our coast despite its potential for good-paying jobs. In fact, their advocacy shuts the door to even doing the seismic testing needed to see how much oil and natural gas could be out there. It’s rather unfortunate that Ocean City and Lewes, Delaware have fallen for the scare tactics groups like the Coastkeepers use to try and prevent this technique, which is already used in the Gulf of Mexico. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (a federal agency) notes that:

To date, there has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from air guns used in geological and geophysical (G&G) seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities.  This technology has been used for more than 30 years around the world.  It is still used in U.S. waters off of the Gulf of Mexico with no known detrimental impact to marine animal populations or to commercial fishing.

If you want to know the truth, I think the Coastkeepers aren’t worried about the harm to marine life. They’re more worried that their smug assertions that there’s only a small amount of oil and natural gas out there – not really enough to be commercially viable – will be proven wrong. As technology improves for oil extraction, we could find there’s billions of barrels of oil or trillions of cubic feet of natural gas out there, meaning those nasty fossil fuels will be cheaper and obviously far more reliable than the bird-chopping windmills they want to build instead. Personally, I think if the market is there the wind turbines and oil rigs can co-exist – but I’ll bet the oil rigs create more local jobs.

Oil drilling, if it occurs, is probably a decade or more away, so in the here and now we have to be concerned with their opposition to expansion of the local poultry industry. And let’s face it: without Perdue, Mountaire, Tyson, et. al. there would be nothing on this part of the Eastern Shore to speak of except perhaps Salisbury University and Ocean City. Basically, Salisbury would be a slightly larger version of Princess Anne, which is a modest little county seat where the University of Maryland – Eastern Shore is located. That’s about it – there’s little commercial development in Princess Anne and not much to create jobs in Somerset County aside from UMES and the Eastern Shore Correctional Institution.

It’s understandable that someone who has chosen to live in a development bordering a rural area may object when a typical chicken farm opens up, but that is the deal with living by a farm. Any of us who grew up in a rural area can tell you that animals tend to smell sometimes, as does fertilizer. It’s all part of that “fresh country air.”

But to many thousands in the area, the smell of chicken poop is the smell of money – directly or indirectly, it’s how they make a living and thank God people around the world like to eat chicken. This region has had chicken farmers for generations, ever since the Perdue family put Salisbury on the map with their chickens.

So if this region is ever going to diversify its economic interests, one path we should explore is the path offshore. Let’s find out once and for all if there’s oil and natural gas out there, because as I said I think the Coastkeepers are worried that the answer is a resounding yes.

Losing valuable time

Sometimes the best of candidates are derailed by bad management, bad preparation, or just plain bad luck. I’m not sure how much any of those three apply to a campaign which initially held promise, but it’s sad to see Charles Lollar get such bad press. Some, like blogger Jeff Quinton, are comparing Lollar to Doug Gansler – to me that’s way out of bounds. On the other hand, this push against Lollar has been greeted by a somewhat shrill retort by Julie Brewington, who is my local Lollar campaign coordinator. That light you see on the horizon is all those bridges she’s torching.

Still, both have some valid points. I’m going to focus on three which are holding him back.

At this stage in the game, the most valuable introduction to a campaign is their website, which is supposed to serve as a one-stop shop for getting to know the candidate, soliciting donations and volunteers, and keeping abreast of their comings and goings. Certainly there’s a place for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media as well, but I prefer to have all of this information in a single point source and I’m sure others do too.

So I have to question why the Lollar team has had three separate URLs, including a .co which made little sense as a political website. While the other campaigns have registered a fairly simple, straightforward .com address, these guys can’t settle on a site.

On the other hand, I disagree with Quinton in that the new Lollar site (assuming its layout and design remains as he’s pictured) looks to me very clean and easy-to-use. It would be a contrast to the photo-heavy splash pages of all three Democrats; more businesslike. The other two GOP contenders have intro pages which seem just a bit too busy to me, but it’s all a personal preference. I’m sure my layout isn’t for everyone either.

While I admire Julie’s tenacity in sticking up for her chosen candidate, the question she doesn’t answer is why Charles has missed a number of key events, including the opportunity for free media on Pat McDonough’s radio show last week (for which he ran a few minutes late.) Far be it for me – of all people – to be a subscriber to conventional wisdom, but there are times to play the outsider and times where it doesn’t pay to. I’ll grant that perhaps Charles was out meeting voters and working on retail campaigning rather than hang around with people who would almost certainly at least vote for him if he garnered the nomination (in the same grudging respect that many Brian Murphy supporters like myself bit the bullet and backed Bob Ehrlich in the general election) but there are places where your face needs to show once in awhile to be considered serious. Out of the three contenders, Charles is the only one who’s not won a general election. (The same can be said, though, for Larry Hogan if he gets into the GOP race.)

Whether Karen Winterling has to go, or whether former jailbird Jason Boisvert is a help or hindrance to the Lollar effort – that’s really only relevant to some political junkies and others looking for blog fodder. (I think Jason’s a halfway decent writer, though, at least insofar as education is concerned.) Most of that does weigh into my decision on the race as intangibles, but to me what really matters are issues.

So at this particular moment in time the piece which irks me most is the website being down because I’m working on dossiers of the GOP candidates for use in future posts about the race. An issues page is quite useful in that regard – heck, if the Lollar campaign is reading this (I’ll bet they are) can you shoot me an .html of the issues page of the website? Or just get it up and running?

I think Charles is learning that being a statewide candidate is an entirely different animal than working around a Congressional district. Let’s hope the road from here on out becomes a lot less bumpy.

Entitled to their own facts

There are two sides to (almost) every story, and after being raked over the coals by a Change Maryland study which received national attention and offended the sensibilities of our governor – you know, the one who’s already mentally measuring the drapes in the Oval Office? – the empire struck back today with a meaningless bunch of mumbo-jumbo about “partisan organization,” “decisive actions taken,” and “third lowest state and local tax burden adjusting for income.”   Shoot, at least I parsed the actual study instead of picking out items which have little to do with Change Maryland’s point, although I thought it was telling that the O’Malley retort conveniently forgot to mention that those 2007 tax increases came with millions of dollars of additional spending.

Now that I’ve managed to get a breath in after that first paragraph, allow me to decipher what this really means: it was a direct hit to the O’Malley 2016 battleship. Obviously, the Change Maryland piece making it to CNBC – which, coincidentally, today put out their annual ranking of the top business-friendly states where Maryland only ranked 31st (a decline of 2 spots from last year) – had to be interpreted as a shot across the bow by O’Malley and Maryland Democrats. That’s why they had to make sure to paint Change Maryland as a “partisan organization.”

Yet it’s no surprise that Virginia and North Carolina, two states that Change Maryland highlighted as recipients of Maryland’s tax base loss, ranked #3 and #4 respectively in the CNBC survey. (Texas and Utah were first and second, while North Dakota rounded out the top 5. I also found it telling that right-to-work states comprised the top 7 in the rankings, 9 of the top 10, and 14 of the top 16; meanwhile, closed-shop states comprised the bottom 4 and 7 of the bottom 10.)

But there’s something that Governor O’Malley and his administration cannot paint over, and that’s the mounting frustration of many of Maryland’s working families who continue to see tax and fee increases to support higher and higher spending on those they see as not contributing to society, especially illegal immigrants. All around them, they see their cost of living going up with one exception: the value of their homes, which continues to plummet.

Maybe it’s not so acute in other parts of Maryland, like downtown Annapolis, but out here there’s a lot of worry. And the numbers don’t lie: on much of the Lower Shore – where good-paying jobs are hard to come by in a roaring economy, let alone the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy we’re under now (h/t to Tom Blumer of Bizzy Blog for that acronym) – those who left Wicomico, Dorchester, and Somerset counties had higher incomes than the arrivals did. I would also bet that if the northeastern quadrant of Worcester County (Ocean City, Berlin, and Ocean Pines) were excluded that county’s numbers would be similar.

My fellow Salisbury blogger Julie Brewington took less than 3 minutes while driving back from Ocean City to explain the quandary many thousands of not-so-Free Staters find themselves in. She well represents the producers of this economy:

I would guess that she and her husband, if they left, would tilt the income scale of the outgoing a little bit upward from the $37,000 or so figure that I gleaned for Wicomico County from the Change Maryland study. And it’s not just that, as her family has fairly deep roots in the area.

But if people don’t feel economically welcomed to a place, they will leave. Of course, that’s only my opinion but it seems to be an option more and more of those private-sector job creators in Maryland seem to be considering, to the detriment of those of the rest of us who choose to stay and fight. Who can blame them, though?

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.

Storming the establishment

Well, it’s been at best a difficult week for the so-called Republican Party establishment. Not only is there much wailing and gnashing of teeth at Christine O’Donnell’s Delaware victory, but one local blogger has taken her time to blast the local establishment as well. I’ll get to her in a minute.

Even before the polls were closed in Delaware, though, there were those who bemoaned the lost opportunity in Delaware since Mike Castle was defeated in his bid to become the caretaker Senator from the First State. Normally I like Hans Bader and his writing, but I have to disagree with his whinefest on this one. Most tellingly he writes:

People who think the country is conservative beneath the surface — or even firmly “center-right” — are living in a bubble, just like the Obama supporters were deluding themselves when they came to the conclusion that the country had become staunchly liberal just because Obama won in 2008 based on the bad economy.

The problem with Bader’s theory is that conservatism is the leading ideological identifier, according to polling data. Yet there always seems to be this tug-of-war between various factions of what can be termed “mainstream” Republicans like Bader who accept that having the party label is more important than principle, against those in the Tea Party Express Bader slams because they remain ideologically purer to conservative principles.

Bader is correct in saying the Obama supporters were deluding themselves, but that’s simply because the country is more right than left – unfortunately those on the right were let down when a centrist candidate was nominated. It was a selection process based to a large extent by primary voters in open primary states and the mainstream media cheerleaders who backed John McCain until the moment he picked the much more conservative Governor Sarah Palin. Ironically, that was the point where McCain peaked and briefly led in the polls.

As events play out, the race may not matter for control of the Senate anyway and there’s no guarantee Christine O’Donnell won’t pull off the shocker in November as she did last week. Before the beginning of September and the Tea Party Express getting involved, no one gave O’Donnell a shot at making it this far nor was the Senate even deemed in play earlier this year – most pundits saw the possibilities as perhaps a 52-48 or 53-47 Democratic edge. But in the eyes of many conservatives, 50-50 with Biden being the tiebreaking vote is better than 51-49 but always having to worry whether Castle would sell out. Such a scenario would likely prove the Democrats who demanded equality in a similar situation under President Bush a decade ago as complete hypocrites now when they deny the GOP that same parity.

Yet the Tea Party vs. establishment battle roils closer to home as well.

Obviously one could consider Julie Brewington’s diatribe against the state Americans for Prosperity chapter and the local Republican Party a serious case of sour grapes since she finished last in a four-person field. She describes herself as “too trusting” of certain people who “used me,” especially when she bucked the trend and supported the more conservative candidate for Governor, Brian Murphy (as did I.) Except for myself and another current member of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee, she takes aim at party leadership and some of my fellow local bloggers as well. At least one time in the past I advised Julie to grow a little thicker skin, but in this case she makes some very valid points.

There has always been that undercurrent of conservatism locally, and the GOP has been the beneficiary of it for nearly a quarter-century. The last time a Democratic candidate for Governor or President carried Wicomico County was in 1986, and William Donald Schaefer could neither be described as a very liberal Democrat nor did he have much opposition from an extremely weak GOP candidate. Oftentimes we get the benefit from a pocket of Democrats who are simply DINOs and vote mostly Republican tickets on Election Day. This year the good climate for the GOP was manifested by the number of candidates under our banner for local seats, including the Central Committee.

Yet those voters we depend on to carry us despite our disadvantage in registrations are the same ones being alienated by the games being played by establishment Republicans. Trying to tilt the playing field to benefit certain candidates shouldn’t be the job of the state party, and all candidates should be treated with respect. I know there are some who don’t like our current leadership (that line doesn’t start with Julie) but now we’ll enter a new era with a few new players – the leader of the local AFP chapter, a longtime county activist, and the person behind “Conservatives for Maryland.” (I have to scratch my head at the Ehrlich backing by that group though; then again, when the lead local person for Bob runs the group I guess you get a few compromises.) Of the seven who were elected in 2006, it appears just four of us will survive to begin this term.

Yet there will be a particular dynamic to our group which has the potential to discourage the Tea Party from further involvement. Enough of the old guard and (perhaps) tea party skeptics remain that the struggle for leadership may be real and damaging. Obviously this group will back the Republicans who survived the 2010 primary (and it’s a very potent group) but once the state reorganization begins it’s anyone’s guess which way we will go. I doubt that on that front we will be as united as some may desire – I sense there will be profound differences among us.

Having said that, though, we need people like Julie Brewington to keep us honest. What we don’t need, though, is to have all of our dirty laundry aired in public. Sunlight is a great disinfectant but it also makes certain things fade over time, and we need to keep those new political recruits we’ve gained in the conservative movement within the Tea Party in the bold colors they represent. We tried the pale pastels over the last decade and see where they got us.

While the Tea Party exists without a strong inside leader, those within the Republican Party need to take the elephant by the tusks and work on reforming the state party so it better reflects the conservatism of its members.

But we also need to be teachers and present alternatives to the statism we see in Annapolis and Washington. The ‘party of no’ can work for now but we need to become the party of limited-government alternatives once we secure leadership positions. If someone like Mike Castle was going to simply present a slower drift toward statism,  it’s best he lost and the job of Delaware Republicans should be to teach the voters that having an advocate for limiting government is in their best interest.

It should be our job as well.

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