After the 2010 election, where Norm Conway barely carried the Worcester County portion of his former district by 311 votes over Mike McDermott - and just 665 over third place finisher Marty Pusey – I’m sure statewide Democrats didn’t want to take a chance on an upset in 2014 given Worcester County’s trend toward the Republican Party. So they drew him into a single-member district which mostly held onto the far western end of his existing territory here in Wicomico County but also gave him some new voters close by Salisbury University, knowing that this part of his old district was perhaps the area which backed Norm the strongest.
It took awhile for a local Republican to answer the challenge, but Delmar mayor Carl Anderton, Jr. wrapped up the process of filing yesterday and is now on the June 24 primary ballot. Anderton, who is also the current president of the Maryland Municipal League, seems to be the young, energetic challenger Republicans were looking for once the district was drawn. Conway, who will be 72 in January as the General Assembly session begins, has spent over half his life as an elected official – he was first voted onto Salisbury City Council in 1974, moving to the General Assembly in 1986. (Interestingly enough, according to his official state bio, Conway was also a Maryland Municipal League officer, but only as a regional vice-president.)
Anderton has served as Delmar’s mayor since 2011, replacing longtime mayoral fixture Doug Niblett.
The candidacy of Anderton serves as a reminder why it’s so important to have a political “farm team” in place. While it may seem like a mismatch in terms of political experience, one has to really ask what having an entrenched, longtime politician has really done for a county which has seen its workforce shrink by nearly 2,000 in one year (July 2012 – July 2013) and a net loss of 1,573 jobs during that same period.* The only reason unemployment fell from 8.5% to 8.3% was the bottom falling out of the workforce – otherwise unemployment would be well over 10 percent. If that’s the mark of a successful chair of the House Appropriations Committee I’m afraid to know what failure would be like.
It will be interesting to see the platform Anderton develops, but one thing is clear: the incumbent is going to point to a few key votes where he was allowed to depart from the Annapolis majority in order to save face in his district. Ask yourself: where was his leadership against all these issues in the first place?
* Here are the actual numbers:
July 2012: 54,801 in workforce, 50,161 employed, 4,640 unemployed, 8.5% unemployment rate
July 2013: 52,964 in workforce, 48,588 employed, 4.376 unemployed, 8.3% unemployment rate
It was a Friday afternoon document dump on the state level, but today the Maryland Department of Agriculture dropped its phosphorus management tool regulations. A piece in the Daily Times by Jennifer Shutt reminded readers that area farmers had objected to these changes since the discussion began in 2012.
But before doing a victory lap, it should be noted the regulations aren’t going away:
As a result of concerns identified in the public meetings and public comment process, MDA is withdrawing the regulations. The department will consider all comments and critical issues raised by stakeholders, develop an approach that addresses concerns raised to date, and resubmit a new proposal to AELR in 2014 that includes a phased implementation schedule for the new tool.
Local reaction was pleased, but cautious. Delegate Mike McDermott, whose district covers much of the lower Shore, noted:
While this is great news for Marylanders and the lower shore specifically, we must remain vigilant in the coming year…they will not stop. Today, I pre-filed a bill that would require a thorough fiscal review and economic impact study on regulations brought before the AELR Committee by state departments. I will also be offering a bill that would remove the ability of the Executive Branch to implement a regulation if it is not approved by the AELR Committee. The General Assembly must stand up to the overreach by this or any future governor’s administration whey they attempt to bypass the legislative process. Today is akin to a ballgame being called on account of rain…rest assured, their will be a make up and we all need to be prepared!
Added local candidate Christopher Adams, who is seeking to represent another portion of the Lower Shore in Annapolis:
Governing to the brink of disaster is just bad public policy. While this is good short term news for the agricultural community, it is a shame that a reasoned approach was not contemplated from the beginning.
So what is a reasoned approach? Buddy Hance, the state’s Secretary of Agriculture, defended the idea behind the regulations:
The O’Malley-Brown Administration remains committed to adopting the PMT through rule making and developing an approach that further considers comments raised by policymakers and citizens alike. MDA is confident that the PMT science is sound, based on 20 years of evolving federal and state research to better understand soil phosphorus and managing risk of loss to our rivers and streams.
I guess the state was hoping to get this done before the election season heats up, but we on the Shore raised too much of a stink. (Pun intended.) Certainly the O’Malley minions in Annapolis are making the political calculation that the farmers on the Eastern Shore aren’t going to vote for them anyway, but such a proposal would please those who swoon at the thought of pristine wildlife corridors on the Eastern Shore and figure farmers are the sole source of pollution for the Bay because of that icky chicken manure.
Moreover, something tells me that research “evolved” in the direction of the wishes of those paying for the studies. Since both the federal and state governments are tightly clutched in Democratic hands, and that party is the home of those who tip the balance furthest away from coexistence between poultry production and acceptable water quality – forever chasing a goal of placing the Bay in the pristine condition it was in when just a few thousand native tribesmen lived here as opposed to the millions who now inhabit its watershed – it’s no surprise the research has suggested regulations local agricultural advocates reject.
But it’s like almost any other cherished liberal dream – like water eroding a large rock, cracks develop and eventually the obstacle is surmounted. Many of the initiatives our state is saddled with withered and died multiple times before the General Assembly finally relented. So it will be with this package of regulations: they didn’t get them this time, but in 2014 they’ll hope it flies under the radar with the looming election. If not, it might be an O’Malley parting gift at the dawn of 2015, daring a Republican successor to overturn it.
Or worse, it could be the stepping-off point for another Democratic governor to cite even more favorable and extreme “evolving research” and really clamp down on the Eastern Shore’s agricultural industry.
Poultry producers are getting it on all sides now: their feed costs continue to be well above average thanks to the ethanol mandates and their effect on corn prices, the value of their land is significantly and adversely affected by state-mandated tier maps which hinder opportunities for development on road frontage if desired, and now these new proposed regulations layered on top of hundreds of pages of existing state and federal mandates. Add to that competition from abroad, and one has to ponder how much more the major players will take.
If Perdue ever left our little corner of the world, the cherished Radical Green dream of wildlife corridors may follow. There won’t be a lot of point for many local farmers to stay in business.
I think I’ve trod down this road before, but a post Sunday by DaTechGuy (aka Peter Ingemi) brought the name Jimmie Bise back out. And the points he made echo the points I made when I wrote my piece in early 2012 and the thoughts Bise had back in 2009. So I wouldn’t call this a tragedy – because Bise is still very much alive – but more like a case of lessons not being learned.
Yesterday I wrote at length about a piece in the Baltimore Sun which was repeated by a fairly liberal blogger who happened to be a statehouse reporter for decades. I don’t know who else, if anyone, wrote about this report but considering the paucity of Maryland-based conservative outlets it’s pretty likely I was the only one. (I checked a few and indeed I seemed to be the only one paying attention; then again, it fit in with my interests.)
And when I say paucity of conservative outlets I think it’s safe to say that our combined efforts – and by “our” I’m including the dozen or so regularly updated conservative sites in Maryland, including this one – might reach an audience perhaps 1/10 of what the Sun draws for its print edition daily (about 170,000 readers). Note that doesn’t count their online services, which probably draw another 100,000 or so per diem.
So what if some conservative bought the Baltimore Sun? This isn’t completely far-fetched, since there was some interest in the Sun‘s parent company from the Koch brothers, but the likelihood of the owners selling to overt conservatives is slim.
That leaves the internet, which is the venue of choice for most of those whom we want to reach anyway.
It’s helpful for this exercise to remember that a person is only allowed to donate a maximum of $10,000 to Maryland candidates this election cycle, with $4,000 the maximum to a particular candidate. If you figure even $1,000 per person donated to the ten most conservative members of the General Assembly (or conservative challengers) that’s going to give you 10 members of the body out of 188, assuming they were all elected – and in the state’s current political climate that’s one hell of a crapshoot. If you want to build a conservative movement in Maryland, you have to do better and begin with spreading the message among the populace.
I know Bise talked about running a national news agency on $500,000 a year, but if you took even half that money and spread it around the twelve or so top conservative sites in the state we could build a tremendous online following. We could work day after day pounding home the proper message, pointing out the frequent hypocrisy of the liberal state regime, and figuring out new ways to reach the desired audience. It would be an investment repaid eventually in better opportunities for all who live and work in Maryland.
As it stands, we in the conservative blogosphere along with a handful of talk radio hosts around the state probably feel like the 300 Spartans desperately fighting our own Battle of Thermopylae against the hordes who would tax and spend Maryland into oblivion, driving away the productive and leaving only the parasites who feed off the government and those producers unlucky enough to be still stuck here.
And it’s not just Maryland, either. Most of the northeastern part of the country, the West Coast, and pockets of the Midwest suffer the same problems our state endures. Certainly there’s a conservative movement crying out for help in those areas, with the thought that changing hearts and minds make winning elections down the road much easier.
People tell me that we may as well give up on Maryland, but I cede no ground. It doesn’t take a majority to “get it” to instill change, just a majority of those who vote. If we don’t have the conservatives in Maryland ready to not just dash to the polls the moment they’re open but also grab their like-minded friends and neighbors to do the same, we’ll be in for yet another four-year cycle of misery. And contrary to popular belief, our misery doesn’t love company – our special brand of misery drives company away.
We can do much, much better, with a little help. (Why not rattle my tip jar? My annual server fee is coming due soon.)
As a means of getting back into things political after my weekend away, I found this chart – compiled by newly reinstalled Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley – quite instructive. It’s meant to be an ongoing narrative of the legal fight against 2013′s SB281, better known as the O’Malley gun law. (Some also refer to it as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, but the only people who will be made safer by it are the criminals.)
As you can see, the good guys have been shut out so far, and to be perfectly honest I think that as long as this stays in Judge Catherine C. Blake’s courtroom the side of right will continue to be denied. Perhaps we’d have a better shot at the appellate level; unfortunately, the Fourth District Court of Appeals based out of Richmond is littered with Obama appointees, as 6 of the 15 jurists were appointed by our current chief executive. Conversely, just three judges remain from those appointed by George W. Bush; out of the other six there are four Clinton appointees and one holdover each from George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan – so the odds for a positive outcome aren’t exactly stacked in our favor. This despite the fact that Senate Bill 281 clearly infringes on our right to bear arms.
So it comes back to the decision on whether we should have put more effort into the referendum to stop SB281. Sadly, that ship sailed long ago and while I understand the track record for ballot issues on the conservative side isn’t very good, it should have been noted that the ballot issues which passed did so in a year where turnout was higher than would be the case in a gubernatorial election and no one named Obama will be on the ballot. In short, the electorate should trend more conservative in 2014.
Thus, it will be left to us to inflict the punishment as best we can on the party which sponsored and created the draconian measures. While seven Senate and seventeen House Democrats voted against the bill, they were mainly from districts deemed vulnerable by Democratic leadership so I’m betting they were given a pass to vote as if their jobs depended on it. Why have the faux conservatives when you can have the real thing?
If the right governor and enough members of the General Assembly are elected, the first bill out of the chute in 2015 might just be the one entitled “Firearm Safety Act of 2013 – Repeal.” That has a nice ring to it.
Ironically, another referendum effort gone awry is now winding its way into court as well. This came from MDPetitions.com last week:
If someone asked you whether or not you supported the US Constitution, would you say yes or no? Of course you would say yes! Hopefully, most Americans would say yes to that basic question.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in November 2012. The Maryland government pulled a “bait and switch” trick on Maryland voters. An overwhelming majority of Marylanders voted to uphold the requirements of the US Constitution, not realizing that they were voting on a redistricting map that has made Maryland the laughing stock of the country. See here for references to quotes about how bad our districts are, even Comedy Central poked fun at our “ugly” districts.
How can people vote on the redistricting map, when they had no idea that that was what they were voting on? The hard-won voice of the people was snuffed out through trickery. That’s not right, and MDPetitions.com has been working hard for you to RESTORE YOUR RIGHT TO A FAIR REFERENDUM.
The illegal ballot language deprived Maryland voters of a fair opportunity to approve or reject the law/map, and therefore, justifies a re-vote on Maryland Question 5. MDPetitions.com and Judicial Watch believe that a re-vote on Question 5 with language that actually describes the situation is the only accurate and truthful way to govern our state.(Emphasis in original.)
I hate to say it, but it was MDPetitions’ decision to forgo a referendum on SB281 that got us into this gun law mess. The redistricting would have been more appropriate for a court case, but instead we got it to the ballot (barely) and the voters supported the redistricting – in part because of the language and the fact the map wasn’t shown on the ballot. All that a 2014 revote would do now is confuse the issue, although there is the chance we could elect a GOP governor who could draw things in a more logical manner.
On the whole, though, we really shouldn’t have to rely on the legal system to safeguard us.
After the arrest of and subsequent publicity over Robert Small’s unauthorized questioning of Common Core at a Baltimore forum, the incident has attracted statements from two GOP gubernatorial contenders.
David Craig mentioned the arrest in a preamble to his statement, but refrained from directly referencing the incident in his official remarks:
The value in public meetings – whether it is about Common Core or any other policy issue affecting a community – is giving people the opportunity to speak. It is a long tradition that goes back to the founding principles of our country and occurs in county and municipal forums to this day. When speech is limited or meetings are overly scripted, it tends to cause angst among all who are involved.
The Common Core national education standard is controversial and for good reason. It slipped under the radar in Maryland three years ago and there are serious concerns about it, many of which are being raised for the first time. School administrators should be holding public forums like the one in Baltimore County, but these officials will actually learn more by encouraging a robust debate and the exchange of ideas. Their ultimate constituents are students and their parents and those voices must be heard.
Angst? I would have to say Mr. Small was a) pretty upset and b) had a good point, not to mention pretty solid grounds for legal action of his own. It was noted at our meeting last night (which, by the way, no one was ejected from) that it was fortunate someone was taping the meeting or we may have never known fully about the incident because it would have been excused by the mainstream media as never happening.
On the other hand, Delegate Ron George is going to try more definitive action as only he (among the contenders) can do:
I have opposed Common Core from its onset. Parents have the right to have their voices heard in all matters concerning the education of their children. This is a vast overreach by the federal government that should not even be considered until it has been thoroughly vetted by parents.
It is very clear to me that Common Core is nothing but an attempt by the federal government to take control over our children’s education and to force parents to sit on the sideline. It is outrageous and I intend to fight it with all of my energy.
It’s very clear to me, though, that whatever bill George introduces, it will be locked in the committee chairman’s drawer. He’ll be lucky to get a hearing after all the controversy, which Democrats aren’t going to want going into 2014. (Of course, once the bill is introduced we can freely call the committee chair and demand action. Most likely a bill such as this would land in George’s Ways and Means Committee and its Chair Delegate Sheila Hixson, but they may switch it over because George is a sponsor and it would be a hot potato.)
But then the question comes from the vetting process. Unfortunately, out of a public school classroom of 15 to 20 kids, you might – maybe – have one set of parents who follows Common Core and cares enough to ask questions, Hopefully this arrest will startle a few more, but it’s worth mentioning that only one other observer complained at that poorly-run meeting. Many of those who protest Common Core don’t have kids in the public schools, so they don’t have a say at the PTA meetings and other events where those parents might attend.
So the question to ask is really: what was wrong with the curriculum we had? One thing which bothers people about Common Core is that it prepares children for community college as opposed to a college-prep lesson plan. Parents – at least the ones who care and don’t use their kids as a means to milk more freebies out of the government while they watch Dr. Phil – would just like to have their kids taught the basics, like reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Pink Floyd once sang “we don’t need no education.” But what they truly meant was “we don’t need no thought control.” Double negatives aside, let’s teach kids critical thinking and not how to pass a standardized test.
For the third month in a row (and fourth overall this year), a gubernatorial candidate came to speak to the Wicomico County Republican Club. This time it was Delegate Ron George who graced us with his presence.
So once we opened the meeting in our usual manner, with the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of a growing number of distinguished guests, we turned the meeting over to Ron. He began by making the case that he was making the “sacrifice” of running because “I don’t want to leave the state (as it’s becoming) to my sons.”
And after giving a brief biography covering everything from being far enough down the sibling food chain to have to learn a trade instead of going to college, learning the business of being a goldsmith well enough to make his way to college at Syracuse University, making his way to New York City and briefly acting in a soap opera (“I died…but then I came back later,” he joked) it eventually ended with him meeting his wife and returning to Annapolis to start a family and business.
But it was his time in New York where “I saw a lot of people suffering on the street” that moved him the most. “I’m a man of faith,” continued Ron, and the experience gave him insight into the situation in Baltimore and other impoverished areas. One problem in Maryland was that “we don’t have an economic base in this state.” He pointed out that employment in the public sector in Maryland was up 7% while private-sector employment was stagnant. The budget had increased from $27 billion to $37 billion, and “they’ve squeezed you to death,” said Ron.
It was interesting to me that Ron provided some insight on how he got into politics – in essence, his frequent testimony in Annapolis got him noticed, and he was asked to run in the same district as Speaker of the House Michael Busch. Ron stated that Busch spent $350,000 and turned to negative ads in the campaign’s waning days. At first the mudslinging appeared to work as George was behind on election night by about 50 votes, but absentees sent in before the negative campaigning began pulled Ron over the top by 53 votes when all was counted.
On the other hand, George did such an effective job in the General Assembly that he was the top vote-getter in 2010, finishing 1,636 votes ahead of Speaker Busch. “I never ran to the middle,” Ron reminded us, “I spoke to the middle.”
But the idea behind the 2006 run was also one of keeping Michael Busch from spending his money to help other Democrats. (Hence why I harp on having a full slate of candidates.)
Ron then turned to this campaign, stating the case that his 10-point plan was based on three things: “economics, economics, economics.” It was a message which played well in Democratic areas, alluding to polling he was doing on the subject.
He also revealed why he had the success he’d had in Annapolis. Liberals “like to feel good about themselves,” said Ron, but never thought of how their policies affect the average Marylander. By organizing opposition testimony on various issues, particularly the abortive “tech tax” – where he found dozens willing to testify and put a face to the opposition – Ron got bad laws reversed or changed. “I’m very solution-oriented,” he added.
As Common Core has been in the news, Ron weighed in on how Maryland adopted it. The package of bills was fourfold, he explained, with the first two not being too obnoxious – but once they passed the fix was in for the bad portions. Ron stated he was “very much against” the mandates in Common Core. It’s being forced on the counties, he later said, but was “totally dumbing down” students.
To conclude the initial portion of his remarks, Ron noted he was the Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s legislator of the year, in part for his work in capping the state’s boat excise tax, and promised that, if elected, “I will make sure (rural areas of Maryland) get their fair share.”
While Ron delivered his remarks well enough, though, I sensed he was almost ill at ease making the stump speech portion of the remarks, expressing several times the preference for a question-and-answer session. It wasn’t as somnambulant as David Craig can occasionally be, but wasn’t delivered with the passion of Charles Lollar, either.
As was the case Saturday at the First District Bull Roast, Ron seemed better with the give-and-take of answering questions. When asked about the impact of the banes of rural Maryland – the Maryland Department of Planning, Department of the Environment, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation – Ron launched into an explanation of how he got the state to revisit laws passed in 2008 and misused for two years afterward, noting that several of those overcharged for permits were quietly reimbursed after it was revealed they were interpreting the law too broadly in order to collect additional permitting fees. On that front, Ron also vowed to work toward repealing the “rain tax” and following Virginia’s lead in challenging the EPA.
He was equally as excited about the prospect of auditing state agencies. “I guarantee we’ll find about $5 billion in waste,” promised Ron. The Delegate blasted the current administration for its handling of highway user revenues, pointing out previous shortfalls were paid back, but not with real revenues. Instead, more bonds were issued, and rather than the standard five-year payback these were 15-year bonds.
Finally, Ron made sure to remark the Second Amendment “has my full support,” noting he was the only Delegate to actually testify at the afternoon regulatory hearing in Annapolis. He noted eight different problems with the regulations, where legislation was being written in. (It was also why Ron missed a planned appearance at the club’s happy hour.)
As Lollar did the month before, Ron was courteous enough to stay for the meeting, which meant he sat through my lengthy reading of the August minutes and our treasurer’s report. Deb Okerblom was pleased to report the Crab Feast did better than expected financially.
Jackie Wellfonder, in her President’s report, also thanked those who put together the club’s main fundraising event. She also noted an event to be held in Wicomico County October 20 but benefiting the Dorchester County GOP, which was represented by Billy Lee. She also announced “we have a new website” and asserted our happy hours are “going well.”
Speaking in the Central Committee report, county Chair Dave Parker reminded us of upcoming events like the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting featuring Charles Lollar this Wednesday (as well as his appearance at a business roundtable the previous evening), the Good Beer and Autumn Wine festivals in October, and the state party’s Octoberfest on the 12th. Parker was pleased at the amount of attention we were getting from the gubernatorial hopefuls.
Parker also filled us in on some news, particularly the Common Core meeting fiasco in Towson. (Ron George noted the charges against the speaker have been dropped.) Dave also related a Forbes article claiming families will pay an extra $7,450
annually over a period of nine years for Obamacare. Apparently Maryland has the highest increase in the nation.
But this gave Ron George the opportunity to add that he created the Doctors’ Caucus in the General Assembly and reveal that 60% of doctors were near retirement age. Some are more than willing to hang up the stethoscope thanks to Obamacare.
Blan Harcum chimed in to alert us to a Maryland Farm Bureau campaign seminar in Annapolis October 14 and 15. Then it was my turn as I updated those in attendance on the status of our candidate search.
In club business, we found a chair for our upcoming Christmas Party, I reminded the folks they could sign up to help at the upcoming festivals, and we secured space for equipment one of our members urged us to purchase. These are the mundane things which seem tedious, but can turn out to be important.
The same may be true about our last three meetings with gubernatorial hopefuls. Next month we go back to local races and speakers, although the exact keynoter is to be announced. We will see you October 28.
Today my op-ed for the Salisbury Daily Times was published as part of their “Point & Counterpoint” series, with the topic: “What’s at stake in Maryland’s 2014 midterm elections?”
This piece is the “as submitted” version, which differs slightly from the actual print run and internet edition available at the paper’s website.
While we are still months away from knowing who the nominees will be for Maryland’s state and local elective offices, one thing which is becoming more and more apparent with each passing day is that the key issue on the ballot will be a stark choice.
With the exception of one term of Bob Ehrlich, the Republican governor who presided over a sound Maryland economy and was defeated for re-election despite positive approval ratings, the Democratic Party has held each of the three statewide elected offices and control of the General Assembly for decades. They’d be the first to tell you that this phenomenon is due to voter satisfaction, but we contend instead that the reason is the perception – reinforced by Democrat-friendly media outlets in the state – that the Republicans have nothing to offer and are a weak, ineffective opposition party.
So what they don’t tell you is that Republicans have, for the last several years, annually put up an alternative budget in the General Assembly – one which holds the line on excessive spending and returns money to the pockets of hard-working Marylanders regardless of their party affiliation.
It’s been a well-kept secret that instead of amassing all state power in Annapolis and making the state itself prostrate to the whims of inside-the-Beltway bureaucrats who tell the state how high to jump, Republicans fought for the interests of counties and of rural Maryland – the state’s breadbasket. But measures to repeal the state’s onerous 2012 septic bill were haughtily dismissed this spring in Democratic-controlled committees; meanwhile, our right to own a handgun was severely curtailed by tone-deaf members of the majority despite the pleas of hundreds from all parties who signed up to testify on behalf of the Second Amendment.
This cavalier Democratic attitude of know-it-all superiority even extends to the voting process, as state law dictates their candidates will be listed first on the ballot.
Just because Republicans haven’t had the opportunity to govern in this state with control of the state’s General Assembly and statewide offices doesn’t mean they won’t be able to do what’s right for the state in key areas such as job creation and education. Instead of the stagnation of the last eight years and legislative rot stretching back decades, Maryland can turn a new page and join other successful states where Republicans have control.
It only takes one vote: yours.
The key difference in the print version was combining the final sentence with the preceding paragraph, which made it lose its punch somewhat. (Mark Bowen, my Democratic opponent, got his concluding sentence to stand by itself.) They also butchered the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph in that version, leaving it hanging a little bit. Hence the need to set the story straight, sort of like the “director’s cut” of a movie.
But it’s interesting how Bowen and I interpreted the question in different ways. When I received the invitation to write this piece, I was told the subject would be Maryland’s 2014 midterm elections, so I looked at it on statewide level. Obviously Bowen chose to approach this from a national perspective as he discussed Obamacare and the prospect of electing “right-wing extremists.” (I happen to think we need about 300 more of them in Congress so maybe we can get a body which will properly assist in running this nation.) He really didn’t address the state situation at all, which leads me to believe they think things are in the bag here. I’m all for shocking the world on that one.
It’s unfortunate, but I didn’t save my original draft. I had to cut it under 400 words so I had to leave a couple subjects on the cutting room floor. I would have liked to point out the 40 tax increases enacted under our current regime but decided the idea of the alternative budget was a better way of looking forward. The key element of my argument was showing how out-of-touch the current administration in Annapolis truly is, yet it only takes one vote to change it.
So what do you think? Did I mop the floor with Mark Bowen? I encourage you to leave the Facebook comments and let the online Daily Times readers know that the state is truly ready for a change.
The Maryland Pro-Life Alliance is at it again, apparently gathering more ammunition to harass Republicans who don’t toe the group’s line.
A couple weeks ago the group sent out a three-question survey to every member of the General Assembly to gauge whether they will be supporting, co-sponsoring, or sponsoring one of two proposed bills as well as whether they’ll vote for the FY2015 budget for the state should it include funding for abortions.
The two proposed bills are the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (PCUCPA) similar to this bill from the 2013 session, which had 24 House sponsors and two for the Senate version, and a bill to stop all taxpayer funding for abortion in Maryland.
Since the responses are due by Wednesday, I’m certain that any Republican who fails to get this survey back in time will be strung up for ridicule by the MPLA; meanwhile the 100-plus Democrats who ignore the survey will get a pass. I’m sure the MPLA will once again tell me that they want 100% backing from the GOP first before they even start to work on the Democrats, but to me that’s preaching to the choir.
If I have to make it racial, so be it, but it seems to me the best place to begin is on the population which is aborting more babies on a per-capita basis. According to Census Bureau estimates, abortions performed on white women decreased at a rate 11% faster than those on black women, and 22% faster than those of other races, in the 1990-2007 period. Moreover, the abortion rate for black babies is nearly four times that of white babies and over twice that of other races. If you want to address the problem, go to where the abortions are! It seems to me the target audience should be that of the minority community, which is being decimated by the Kermit Gosnells of the world. What sort of outreach is the MPLA doing there? With social media it’s getting easier to target a message,
Furthermore, after the events of the last few weeks, I’m growing weary of the continual efforts to divide the Maryland Republican Party from within. Is there a certain candidate for governor I support more than others? Of course, I only have one’s shirt. And I reserve the right to question the conservative/pro-liberty bonafides of a candidate should I see that as important to the overall cause – Lord knows I haven’t always been kind to all Republicans.
There are times it’s politically prudent to move the ball slowly down the field, and abortion is one of those issues where we need to tread somewhat lightly in some respects. Obviously I think it’s a more important issue in certain communities; unfortunately that segment of society seems to be the most susceptible to the message that promiscuity comes with no consequences for either the “baby daddy” or the mother, who can just have the problem taken care of at the clinic. Even our first black President stated he didn’t want to see his daughters “punished” with a baby ”if they made a mistake”, fumbling on the question even as he attempted to chide the culture which leads to thousands of unplanned pregnancies. (Too many seem to forget that keeping it zipped up works wonderfully for preventing pregnancy, 100% of the time. It may not be the socially acceptable thing in this day and age of “hook-ups”, but it is the prudent thing.)
I suppose the message I repeat upon seeing this latest attempt at relevancy from the MPLA is that the bullhorn needs to be directed at the other side, not so much within our own ranks. The criticism of former Senator E.J. Pipkin was legitimate given his spotty record on the issue (as it would be for a few other sitting members of the GOP) but going after solidly pro-life legislators without having all of the background was out of bounds, and they were rightly called on it. Sadly, I suspect there’s another round of Republican-bashing in our future, but I hope the MPLA will prove me incorrect.
After coming from nowhere and arousing a great deal of controversy in a quixotic bid to replace E.J. Pipkin in the Maryland Senate, the surprise choice of Queen Anne’s County’s Central Committee suddenly withdrew from the race late Friday afternoon, according to a story broken by Mark Newgent at the Red Maryland blog. In a communication to the committees in question and the state party, Scott told them that:
It is my hope that my withdrawal from consideration will permit Queen Anne’s County to revote for another candidate of their choosing.
Now, with both Delegate (Michael) Smigiel and Delegate (Steve) Hershey each receiving a vote from a Central Committee, putting them each in a position to be the next State Senator, I do not wish for my presence in the race to interfere with either person being selected.
Had it remained a three- or possibly even a four-way race – Caroline County apparently hasn’t finalized its selection process – it would have been very likely Governor O’Malley would have selected Scott in order not to elevate a Delegate from the district. So unless Caroline stays home and picks a third name and/or Queen Anne’s makes a different choice, it’s likely O’Malley would be stuck with his preference of either Hershey or Smigiel. My guess would be Hershey.
Of course, there is still the possibility that no candidate could get a majority of the counties – four could win one county apiece, or Hershey and Smigiel could each take two counties. It’s brought up the thought of having special elections when these situations occur, but with 188 legislative districts in the state, filling each vacancy in this fashion could be very expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. So far this year, for example, we’ve had one death and two resignations, including Pipkin’s. It would make more sense to have such a law if the vacancy occurred in the first 18 months of the term, before the Presidential election (there would still have to be a special primary in many cases.) Having gone through an instance where our Central Committee had to select a “caretaker” delegate when Page Elmore passed away barely two months before a primary to replace him, it seems to me the system as is works sufficiently.
There’s no question I disagree with Audrey Scott on a number of issues, and I’m not convinced she would have been a good State Senator anyway. But I’m curious about who the “numerous Central Committee members” are who asked her to run in the first place. If they’re aware in any way how the political system works in Maryland, they would have had to know that at least one Delegate would seek the seat and would be a natural successor. So what purpose would there be in having Scott try for the position in the first place? Drumming up business for her son?
Anyway – at least until a seat for Delegate opens up – it looks like the Audrey Scott saga may end as quickly as it blew in earlier this week. All it seems to have accomplished is allowing some of us a little more fodder for the internet archives.
It also makes the Maryland Liberty PAC look a little foolish, as they got all worked up over the possibility of Scott moving up. Think they’ll take credit for her withdrawal?
Update 10:45 p.m.: You betcha. This just hit my e-mail box:
I could not be more proud to be a part of the Maryland Liberty Movement tonight.
We just received word that Audrey Scott has now officially dropped out of the State Senate race in District 36.
Our objective was to get this RINO out of the race and tonight we did just that.
Multiple sources are telling us that a huge number of emails and phone calls were flowing into Central Committee members.
This ultimately gave them the support they needed to stand up to the Establishment.
The question, though, is just how much influence they had since it was Scott’s decision. But regardless they got what they wanted this time.
The self-induced black cloud over Delegate Don Dwyer’s head just got a little darker last night when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. While he did not take a breathalyzer test (automatically forfeiting his license for 90 days in the process), the officer at the scene “could smell a strong odor of alcohol,” according to news reports. This comes after the boating accident for which he was blamed last year and even a citation for illegal crabbing earlier this year. Despite all this, Dwyer had announced plans for running for re-election next year, even conducting a gun raffle for a fundraiser.
But the political landscape is different than when he last won election in 2010 in a three-person District 31. That legislative district has been sliced into two subdistricts, and while I believe Dwyer lives in the larger one he was third in the last election and third won’t cut it this time. (The two-seat District 31B is also fairly narrowly Republican, as opposed to more heavily Democratic District 31A.)
And the outcry for Dwyer’s resignation is strong – particularly from fellow Anne Arundel County Delegate and gubernatorial candidate Ron George, who advised, “out of concern for others who could be harmed and for Don Dwyer himself, I call on him to resign and get help. His constituents deserve good representation.” In fact, this has been an issue during the General Assembly session as Dwyer missed almost half the votes I tallied on the monoblogue Accountability Project.
But if Dwyer wants to be in company of a group that’s generally forgiving of the largest number of human foibles, up to and including substance abuse and sexual harassment, perhaps he should follow through on something he posted on his “dispatches” earlier this year: switching parties and becoming a Democrat.
This would accomplish two things: not only does it bring Dwyer to a new political home among the most forgiving of folks, it also means Dwyer can reduce the time he needs to straighten himself out – after all, it only took Democrat and San Diego mayor Bob Filner two weeks to get well from years of sexual harassment.
But seriously, folks, Don Dwyer is a dead delegate walking. Whether he resigns or not isn’t the point, because his political career is probably over, either the day he resigns or after the 2014 primary election. (Unless somehow miraculously unopposed in the primary, he won’t win it.) The only advantage which could be gained from a Dwyer resignation would be that his successor would be the incumbent for 2014, although you can bet your bottom dollar the Baltimore Sun will, as often as possible, refer to that person as “reckless boater Don Dwyer’s successor.”
I’ve also found this evening a lot of discussion on social media about the unwritten Republican policy of endorsing incumbents. Officially, there is no such policy in the Maryland GOP but on the whole there’s that tacit understanding that the preference is that incumbents don’t receive a primary challenge. Of course, that goes out the window in Dwyer’s case but I think we all deserve a choice, even if it serves simply as a referendum on an incumbent. Looking at my potential state and local ballot, there are a number of Republicans who I believe need and/or deserve a primary challenger – but many of them will skate unscathed to the general election and perhaps a few fortunate ones will be unopposed there.
I suspect that, for those who don’t like Don Dwyer for whatever reason – whether strident political positions or not handling his obvious problems with alcohol – the third time is the charm and they won’t have him to kick around much longer. But wait and see what issues are swept under the rug (or excused, like another Delegate’s DUI offense) because the majority party engages in them – do you think this guy could stand a little anger management, or does “political thuggery” come naturally to him?
Whatever personal demons Don Dwyer has, public office is generally not the best place to deal with them. Maybe the local police make sure to check by the local watering holes to see if Dwyer’s Cadillac is there, but with scrutiny should come better behavior. Apparently not in this case.
It wasn’t how you’d expect the political career of a man who served as Minority Leader of the Maryland State Senate – and who was brash enough to seek statewide office just two scant years after upsetting a longtime incumbent to enter the Senate in the first place – to end. But no one ever said E.J. Pipkin did the expected as a politician.
In a letter written on Maryland Senate stationery but addressed as a “Letter to the Editor”, I found this in my e-mailbox tonight:
First, I want to thank the citizens of the Upper Shore and the State of Maryland for giving me the honor of representing them in the Maryland Senate. My eleven years in the General Assembly has been a time of challenge as a Republican, a time of accomplishment as a State Senator and a time when I have learned much about people and what can be achieved when people are determined.
One’s responsibilities to family and oneself often change the direction of life. So, it is with regret that I am resigning as Senator from District 36. My last day will be Monday, August 12, 2013. I will carry with me both the bitter and the sweet memories of the past eleven years. My family will be moving to Texas, where I will pursue studies at Southern Methodist University for a Masters of Science in Sport Management.
I chose to resign now, rather than serve out my term, which ends in January 2015, in order to give the Republican who fills the 36th District Senate seat the advantage of serving the people until he or she runs for re-election.
Again, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity and honor to serve as your representative.
I’d actually first heard this at our Central Committee meeting this evening. But while the multimillionaire Pipkin follows his dream of higher education, those in his district have to consider a successor and, for the rest of us, the battle to become new Minority Leader among the other eleven Republican Senators is on.
I’ll look at the successor first. The obvious choice would be to elevate one of the three sitting Delegates from the district – who are all Republicans – to serve as the new Senator. In terms of seniority in the House, there is no contest because Delegate Michael Smigiel was elected in the same 2002 election which saw Pipkin win office. The other two Delegates, Steve Hershey and Jay Jacobs, were first elected in 2010. Smigiel also has the advantage of greater name recognition as he’s taken a lead role in the fight to uphold our Second Amendment rights.
Moreover, elevating Smigiel could allow the Central Committees within District 36 to correct a grievous wrong which has affected Caroline County for several years – it is the only county in Maryland without a representative in Annapolis, basically owing to its small population and unfortunate geographical position of always being part of large, multi-county districts. While District 36 covers all or part of four counties, the Cecil County portion is also in two other House districts, with District 35A being exclusive to the county.
On the other hand, the race for Minority Leader boils down to just a few possibilities. Starting with the eleven remaining Senators, we can probably throw out three who are leaving the Senate next year: Nancy Jacobs is retiring, while Allan Kittleman and Barry Glassman are seeking County Executive posts in their native counties.
Senator David Brinkley, though, served as Minority Leader for two years (2007-08) and more recently was Minority Whip (2010-11). His counterpart George Edwards was the House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007 under Governor Ehrlich, though.
The only other members with leadership experience in the General Assembly: Senator Joseph Getty was a Deputy Minority Whip in the House from 1999-2002, and he was succeeded by fellow Senators Christopher Shank from 2002-03 and J.B. Jennings from 2003-06. Shank was Assistant Minority Leader from 2003-06, though.
Since it’s probably going to be more or less of a caretaker role I wouldn’t be surprised if Brinkley doesn’t get another turn, although the newer members may want a fresh start with a new face. With only 11 votes (or 12 if a new Senator from District 36 is selected before the leadership change) the winner only has to convince five or six others.
Such is the sad state of affairs for Maryland Republicans when a former statewide candidate decides a gig in a master’s program is better than politics. I must say, though, it’s a good exercise in citizen legislation since Pipkin wasn’t a lifer and went on to something new after 11 years. I wish him the best of luck in Texas, and suspect he’ll like it there.
For the sixth consecutive year, covering sessions since 2007, I have completed my annual guide to the voting record on key issues from the 188 members of the Maryland General Assembly.
There will also be the sidebar link I maintain for future reference.
This guide not only features the General Assembly’s voting records on specific votes in graphical form for easy comparison, but also my take on the bills they voted on this year. Some of the key votes I cover are those on the state’s budget, early voting, and offshore wind, as well as those where foes attempted to petition them to referendum – the (so-called) Firearms Safety Act of 2013, and the death penalty repeal.
I began this project in 2008 as a continuation of the former Maryland Accountability Project, which was a similar attempt to catalogue legislators’ votes that ended with the 2006 session. (Here is a cached version of its website, which is no longer active.) Over the last seven legislative years I have focused on well over 200 votes by the General Assembly. Once committee votes became publicly accessible in 2010 I began adding those as well, giving me a total close to 400 separate tallies over the life of the mAP. This year I looked at 52 separate votes – 22 floor votes and 30 committee votes, or three from each of the ten voting committees in the General Assembly.
So what can you do with the information?
Well, while the mAP is by its nature reactive because it documents events which occurred in the recent past, we can learn from history. While I can count the number of legislators who have attained a perfect 100 percent rating in any given year’s legislative session(s) on one hand, the sad truth is that Maryland has far too many who score 10 percent or less year after year cluttering up the General Assembly. Our job is to learn who they are, find quality opponents for them, and most importantly educate the voters of that district why their legislators are voting against the interests of the people in the district. That’s why the bulk of the mAP is a summary of why I, as someone who favors liberty, would vote in the way I denote in the report.
On the other hand, there is a group I consider the Legislative All-Stars, those who score 90 percent or above or at least lead their legislative body if none reach 90 percent. (Sadly, this has happened on occasion.) If the Maryland General Assembly had those legislators as a working majority we could vastly improve our state’s lot in life.
It’s particularly important that this year’s edition came out early and was indeed a fortunate break that no Special Sessions are anticipated for the remainder of the year. There’s still a little time to get together a campaign against some of these entrenched incumbents of both parties who seem to have lost their way. Many of them will be leaving on their own, but newcomers who would be high scorers on this chart are encouraged to get involved.
Before I conclude, I want to point out that there is a relatively new accountability project which perfectly complements the idea of this one by working during the legislative session. Elizabeth Myers (who I have interviewed before for TQT) runs Maryland Legislative Watch, which works during session to determine the merits of each bill and works to keep bad ones from ever getting out of committee. With over 2,500 bills introduced last session, dozens of volunteers are needed to keep track of them all, grade them on pro-liberty merits, and keep the heat on legislators in stopping violations of liberty from proceeding.
Moreover, they actually just completed yesterday a far larger voting compilation which has every single vote – for example, my legislator’s chart runs 91 pages. It may seem like competition but we actually work together in the respect that MLW provides a lot of raw data and I give context on key issues. The Maryland Legislative Watch data is also useful for showing just how many votes are unanimous and how much of the legislature’s time is devoted to local issues; these are the ones which incumbents generally point with pride at bringing home the bacon.
You can judge for yourselves whether legislators vote the correct way on the issues I present. I simply provide this service to Marylanders as a way of being more aware of how the sausage grinding in Annapolis turned out this year.
Methinks there was something rotten in the state of Maryland, now known as the “Fee State.”