The sidebar sidestory

January 25, 2018 · Posted in All politics is local, Bloggers and blogging, Campaign 2018, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on The sidebar sidestory 

While I haven’t been hanging around here as much as I used to with this book I’m writing and all, a service I’ve always provided here is being a one-stop shop to link to political candidates in season. And seeing that the season is fast-approaching – the filing deadline is barely a month away – I suppose it’s time to build out the 2018 version of my widget.

One change I think I’m going to make from previous years is to not just link their websites, but their social media as well. It seems now that most of the action on the political position front comes from those sites because they are interactive by nature. So I’ll figure out a way to integrate them into the links.

In looking at some of the local races, the most statewide attention seems to be on the State Senate race between incumbent Jim Mathias and current Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, who’s trying to move up after just one term in the House. If that seems opportunistic, bear in mind that Mathias also moved up after one term and about six months of change (he was appointed Delegate after the incumbent died in office.) However, at the time Mathias ran for an open seat thanks to the retirement of longtime GOP State Senator Lowell Stoltzfus. And while Mathias is best known for being the popular mayor of Ocean City, it’s also the area Carozza represents in the House. Her task will be to catch up name recognition in Somerset County, although it’s likely she’ll get the backing from Stoltzfus and current Delegate Charles Otto to help her along there.

With Carozza moving up, the opening for Delegate in District 38C is shaping up to be an interesting GOP primary. (With the political composition of the district, frankly that is the race.) Four contenders are in the running so far, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see one or two more crowd the ballot. While Ed Tinus, a perennial candidate, moved down from the Senate race when Carozza made it official, the others waited to jump in and made it a race. Wayne Hartman is an Ocean City Council member trying to advance, while Joe Schanno is making a second run eight years after his first in what was then a two-Delegate district. (He finished fourth of the four in the GOP primary.)

There’s not nearly as much suspense in the other local districts. The only other one really worth mentioning at this point is District 37B, where a third business person has thrown his hat into the ring in a district already boasting two in Chris Adams and Johnny Mautz. Keith Graffius is running in large part because Dorchester County doesn’t have a native Delegate – an unfortunate reality in that part of the Eastern Shore where two three-person districts span seven of the nine counties of the Eastern Shore – so someone will be left holding the bag and after the last election Dorchester County replaced Caroline County as the state’s red-headed stepchild. (The District 37 Senator, Addie Eckardt, lives in Dorchester County so they are not shut out entirely.)

Here in Wicomico County, the key races are the County Executive race, which thus far pits incumbent Bob Culver against independent Jack Heath, who has to petition his way onto the ballot, and the new school board elections that will fire up for the first time in 2018. So far only three incumbents on County Council have filed (Democrat Ernie Davis and Republicans Larry Dodd and Joe Holloway) and one challenger had popped up for an open seat – Josh Hastings makes his second try after moving from District 3 to District 4.

Something I’ve found interesting is how many people have already filed for Central Committee races. In the three times I ran, I was not one who waited around – I filed several weeks before the deadline and was normally among the first to do so. (The only election I was a dawdler was my first, but I was still 5th of 7 to file. The other two I was 4th of 13.) These candidates are notorious for waiting until the last minute, but this year there are already enough Central Committee hopefuls on the male side of the Democrat Party and they’re only one short among females. On the GOP side we already have five of nine so they may exceed their previous high-water marks of thirteen in the last two elections. I suspect the same may be true for school board as well. And because of school board, for the first time every voter in Wicomico County may have a ballot to vote on come June since school board is a non-partisan race.

So anyway I will have some work to do over the coming days. Fortunately I have an old widget extant so it’s not much of a chore to do.

A million and four too many

October 12, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on A million and four too many 

I have a friend that’s tired of seeing this commercial for Jim Mathias because, as she said, “I feel like I’ve seen this same Jim Mathias commercial a million and four times already.” So it’s time for me to expand it and tell you what he’s really saying.

The ad cuts through a number of different scenes from around the area. Most of it is shot in a restaurant but there are stills from a number of outdoor scenes, inside a firehouse, and so forth.

The script is rather simple.

Mathias: Hi, I’m Jim Mathias, your Senator. In Annapolis, I make SURE we get heard and get results for the Eastern Shore. I fight for lower taxes and less regulation so our businesses thrive, make money, and hire more people.

When we need to repair a bridge like a Pocomoke, make our roads safer like Route 113, or improve our schools like James M. Bennett, I get the job done. I’m asking you for your vote so that we can continue to preserve our way of life on the Eastern Shore.

So let’s go through this a little at a time.

Hi, I’m Jim Mathias, your Senator.

Not by choice, and certainly not by voting record.

In Annapolis, I make SURE we get heard and get results for the Eastern Shore.

That can be taken any number of ways, but based on the fact we have higher unemployment and slower growth than the state as a whole, I’m not sure you’re getting them to listen or give us the desired results.

I fight for lower taxes and less regulation so our businesses thrive, make money, and hire more people.

Now wait a second. You’ve voted for 11 of the 12 total state funding items since you’ve become Senator – all four operating budgets, all four capital budgets, and three of the four BRFA bills – 2012 being the exception. In that year, you waited until the Special Session to vote for that BRFA, which was the one that shifted teacher pensions to the counties. Seeing as that the budgets you voted for were increases over the previous year, wouldn’t it follow that revenue had to come from somewhere?

It seems you don’t have a lot of influence on your party since they keep voting for the tax hikes and regulation, yet many of them give you campaign financing. And as I referenced above, when compared to other parts of the state, businesses aren’t hiring more people so it’s doubtful they’re thriving or making money.

When we need to repair a bridge like a Pocomoke…

Interesting you should bring that up. According to the SHA, the Pocomoke River bridge project was paid for by the gas tax increase you opposed, yet it’s been in the pipeline for a few years. From the minutes of the Somerset County Roads Commission, November 15, 2011:

Commissioner (Charles F.) Fisher then asked about the status of the Pocomoke River bridge. Mr. Drewer (Donnie Drewer, SHA district engineer) stated that the north bound side deck will be replaced and a latex overlay will be placed over the south bound lanes. The project is slated to be funded with FY2013-2014 funding.

FY2013 began July 1, 2012, so the project ended up being almost two years behind schedule.

It’s noted that Mathias was present at that Somerset County meeting so if he was fighting as hard as he states, wouldn’t that bridge be finished by now? Instead, the SHA added it to their FY2013-18 plan, which reveals that of the $17.2 million cost, the federal government covers almost $13.8 million. (Page 447 of this exceedingly large file shows it.) So maybe Andy Harris deserves more credit.

…make our roads safer like Route 113…

This is a project which has spanned decades, with original studies dating from the 1970s and off-and-on construction over the last 20 years. So there’s not much Mathias has really done for it. It’s actually been dedicated to the man Mathias was appointed to replace in the House, Bennett Bozman.

…or improve our schools like James M. Bennett, I get the job done.

Actually, much of the money for improving the Bennett Middle School – which I assume is the one he’s talking about since the high school was under construction when he became Senator – comes from Wicomico County taxpayers, who are the recipients of millions in debt to build the new school after two members of Wicomico County Council caved to a vocal support group and changed their initial vote against the bonds. The state money wasn’t coming until the Council bowed to the “Bennett babes.”

The job that was done was placing those children who will eventually attend the new BMS in debt.

I’m asking you for your vote so that we can continue to preserve our way of life on the Eastern Shore.

There are a lot of things worth preserving on the Eastern Shore. But for all the rhetoric, I come back to something I wrote four years ago when Mathias took advantage of the retirement of Republican Senator Lowell Stoltzfus to jump from the House to the Senate:

There’s a reason that I get day after day of mailings from Jim Mathias explaining how, despite his Baltimore roots, he’s an Eastern Shore conservative at heart (today it’s being against “liberals” and for the death penalty.) Annapolis Democrats wouldn’t be backing him if he weren’t useful to them – they know the score and the fact they need Republicans to have fewer than 19 Senate seats to keep them meaningless. He will be no such thing as a loose cannon.

In order for the state of Maryland to be a true two-party state and keep in check the appetite of the liberals who have been running our state into the ground for God knows how long, Republicans need to maintain at least 2/5 of the Senate, or 19 of the 47 seats. (Getting 19 Senate seats is paramount because that can sustain a filibuster.) The GOP got to 14 seats in 2006, only to lose two in 2010 – one of them being to Jim Mathias. Prior to that, the 38th District Senate seat had been Republican for nearly 30 years, which matched the conservative nature of the district.

I won’t deny that Jim Mathias has a more moderate voting record than most Democrats in Maryland, and on certain issues he will vote with Republicans, such as overt tax increases or the gun law. But these seem to be the exceptions to the rule, and now Jim is casting himself as someone who got pork for the district. Going along to get along, with the exception of votes where the hall pass to vote against the party line because the votes are already there, is one thing.

But in order to “preserve our way of life on the Eastern Shore” we need a reliable conservative voice to reflect the conservative area and that’s not Jim Mathias.

The same old story

Proving once again that elections mean something, Delegate Mike McDermott pointed out the voting record of his upcoming opponent, Senator Jim Mathias. Mathias supported the state’s Capital Budget of $1.17 billion as well as a $300 million transfer from the General Fund, leading McDermott to predict a property tax increase to cover the difference.

McDermott went on to note:

There are many good projects in the Capital Budget but, quite frankly, voting for the Capital Budget is irresponsible with this state’s economy. Making your grandchildren pay for their parents’ playground is immoral. You’re using a credit card with your kid’s name on it.

(Mathias’s) vote goes to support extremist liberal groups like CASA de Maryland who receive funding for their illegal alien advocacy at the expense of Eastern Shore families struggling to live paycheck to paycheck. This must stop!

In 2010, Jim Mathias lost both Wicomico and Somerset counties to Republican Michael James, but prevailed by enough in Worcester County to win election by just 640 votes – in percentage terms, it was 1.4%. The bulk of that damage came from absentee and provisional votes, probably swayed by Jim’s insistence he was the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Okay, that may be a little over-the-top, but as I wrote at the time he sent out a lot of mailings insisting he was conservative. (I debunked them, too.)

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Michael James would have been a rock-ribbed conservative in the Maryland General Assembly, but I’m very sure Mike McDermott would be a far better steward of our tax dollars. After all, I have his voting record over 4 years in the House of Delegates to back that assertion up.

Yet Mathias has a number of built-in advantages which need to be overcome: he’s very personable and quite popular as a former Ocean City mayor, plus he has a boatload of campaign money available to spend – lots of it came from across the Bay, too. Starting in late summer I’m sure the good citizens of District 38 will get the full-color mailers telling us Jim’s fighting for us in Annapolis, even though his true voting record on this is spotty at best. Given the Democrats’ 35-12 advantage in the Senate, they can afford to have Jim side with the Republicans once in awhile.

But what if it begins to appear that the GOP may win several seats in the Maryland Senate? For many years, District 38 was ably represented by Lowell Stoltzfus, who decided to retire despite the fact he could have kept the seat for years to come because he was popular and his conservative voting record fit the district. The only reason Mathias even ran for the Senate was because Lowell decided to call it a career. I happen to think that, when the chips are down for Annapolis Democrats, Jim Mathias will be right there to save their bacon at the expense of the needs of his district. This budget vote stands as proof, and underscores the importance of bringing this seat back to the GOP column where it belongs.

To conclude, I found it apt to remind people of how I reported something Mike McDermott said four years ago:

(Mike) thought it was funny to hear liberals talk about conservative values. “Don’t tolerate that nonsense,” he said.

Because 641 too many in District 38 bought the line Jim Mathias handed them, we’ve tolerated nonsense the last four years. It’s time for that to stop.

Rage against ‘The Machine’

May 24, 2013 · Posted in Business and industry, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Rage against ‘The Machine’ 

Oh, I’m sure I torqued those communists with the title of this piece, but it lends itself to a delicious irony. Just watch the video.

Perhaps a little overblown on the scale of quirkiness, the video still is rather effective in getting across its main points. (As I saw it, though, a little judicious pruning and it could have easily made it into a two-minute window.)

To me, the irony is that the band RATM and the CVPAC video are fighting against the same thing. The big difference is how we address the problem and what we see as a solution to it. Obviously we’re not leftists, and where the idea of collectivism generally fails is that it runs counter to human nature because people don’t seek equality, they seek to be more equal than others. Our side would prefer to limit the influence of government and enhance the opportunities for individuals to improve their lives as they see fit, in particular allowing them to keep more of the fruit of their labors.

Ordinarily I would be disappointed in such a modest goal as securing 19 Maryland Senate seats if it were the sole aim of, say, the Maryland Republican Party. But as a small political action committee, the Conservative Victory PAC seems to have set an agenda which is realistic for the scope of their work.

Just as an example, I’m sure CVPAC would be gunning for the seat of District 38 Senator Jim Mathias, in whose district I reside and for whom I’ve not voted because I studied his record and believed we could do far better. According to Jim’s 2013 campaign finance statement, he had about $105,000 on hand when the report was due in January and I’m sure that figure will probably be several thousand dollars greater after his annual fundraiser next month. My educated guess would be he’ll be closer to $150,000 – by comparison, the two most likely Republican challengers (Delegates Mike McDermott and Charles Otto) have less than $10,000 apiece as of the January reporting date. So having CVPAC on their side would be some help, although it’s likely Republicans will be outspent here anyway. (Off topic, but I hope that the popular former District 38 Senator Lowell Stoltzfus takes a key role in the GOP campaign as well.)

This is an example of where grassroots can come in handy and political neophytes can get their feet wet. 2014 will have a multitude of opportunities for learning how to reverse the curse of Democratic mismanagement which has plagued this state for decades. It may not be the most slickly produced video out there, but for the people who put it together it’s a chance to see how that particular rendition of the message plays out – it can be tweaked, amplified, or buried as necessary.

The age-old quandry

March 15, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The age-old quandry 

I know I’ve made this point before, but Second Congressional District candidate Larry Smith argues that representatives should refrain from taking available funding for district projects, even if a Democrat may grab it.

Claiming opponent Nancy Jacobs “didn’t hold the line in Annapolis (thus) likely won’t in DC either” Smith criticized the Senator for a $100,000 earmark she secured for the Plumpton Park Zoological Gardens in Rising Sun. Larry also quoted a Washington Post story from last April where Jacobs made the case that “she recognized the political reality that Democratic leaders, who control both chambers, were going to divvy up the money regardless, and she didn’t want her constituents to get ‘shortchanged.'”

And it’s a subject which has often come up in state politics. I began talking about it way back when Nancy’s former cohort Senator Lowell Stoltzfus spoke about it at a Wicomico County Republican Club meeting, when he argued “that he was conflicted about that – on the one hand, it goes against his grain to spend this extra state money on items in the 38th District, but if we don’t get it, someone in another part of the state will be happy to grab it. (Stoltzfus) noted that one budget during the Ehrlich years did not have any money for legislative initiatives and he was quite happy about that fact back when it occurred.”

The key is within the statement – when the money wasn’t made available, this wasn’t an issue. And a key difference between Congress and the state of Maryland is that our budget is made by the governor, with the only input from the legislature being that of cutting. Obviously there is the possibility that the General Assembly could cut that part out of the budget but under a Democratic governor and General Assembly pigs will fly first. On the other hand, Congress sets the federal budget so if they put their mind to it they could eliminate all the earmarks. Smith could conceivably argue the point he makes about Jacobs would apply because she may be all in favor of earmarks once she goes into Congress, but using the Maryland General Assembly as an example is sort of an apples to oranges comparison.

There’s no doubt Smith is hanging his hat on being a fiscal conservative – just take a look at his 20-point plan of cuts. But it’s a little bit unfair to say, as Smith does, that “Jacobs single-handedly managed to cede the moral high ground that Republicans could have held regarding earmarks during Session 2012.” She was far from the only one.

So if you take an honest look at the situation, both parties have blame to share. But there’s some teaching we need to do, too. Too many people judge their representatives by how much bacon they bring home, but there are times when the bacon is lean and times where the fat should have been cut out. Obviously there are functions government needs to perform but too many people believe their projects need assistance. A discerning district wouldn’t give Jacobs credit for $100,000 to help a zoo, but it’s obvious she saw the probability she could get kudos for this.

The question of how much credit she got may be answered come April 3.

Timing is always important…

August 15, 2011 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Timing is always important… 

Darn! I got all excited when I misread the title of District 38B Delegate Mike McDermott’s latest message as “Rally by the River.” I’m used to that term because that’s what the city of my birth called its Friday night party downtown; a weekly event during the summer which carried on for a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s and had an ill-fated attempt at a rebirth last year. (Think of Salisbury’s Third Friday on a 20x larger scale, held on a weekly basis, and set in a park directly on the river.)

But instead McDermott’s gathering is a “Rally on the River,” and I don’t foresee any classic rock bands long past their prime at the event. (Besides, we already have that covered with ‘Chickenstock.’) However, attendees do get to hear from McDermott along with House Republican leadership (at least for the time being, anyway) Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell – and I presume none of them will sing.

There’s a reason I pointed out the timing, though. State law says a sitting member of the General Assembly can’t fundraise while the body is in session, and a Special Session begins later in October. McDermott notes in his message that “the upcoming Special Session in mid October promises to be full of challenges and attacks on the wallets of Marylanders.” His event will be held October 8th, just days before the cutoff.

In many respects the event reminds me of the “Picnic in the Park” former State Senator Lowell Stoltzfus used to have, particularly since that fundraiser was always held in the early fall and featured a number of political speakers who gave their impressions on the election or General Assembly session to come. As an added bonus, Mike also returns to the location where he kicked off his successful 2010 campaign two years earlier.

The details can be found here. It’s not an overly expensive fundraiser, but I already know I have to send my regrets as I have a prior commitment that day.

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