Now that the General Assembly has made it to sine die, the transition to regular campaigning can begin. Certainly there will be posturing over one issue or another, and there are rumblings that the “bathroom bill” and perhaps even marijuana decriminalization could be placed on the ballot. But for better or worse, the General Assembly has completed its work for the year, and at least 37 members out of the 188 will not be back – many are retiring, but some are seeking other local or statewide offices.
So for those who are looking for greener pastures, as well as the 150-odd who are willing to serve another term – with many among them trying to move up from the House to the Senate – the campaigning can begin in earnest. Only seven Senators (three Republican, four Democrat) have a free ride to re-election, barring a late write-in entry. Two Democrats running for the House of Delegates will enjoy the same freedom, and both will be newcomers – Will Campos in District 47A (Prince George’s County) and Sheree Sample-Hughes from right here in Salisbury. Both had opposition, but the one filer against Campos was disqualified and incumbent Delegate Rudy Cane from District 37A withdrew from his race, leaving it for Sample-Hughes.
Some in difficult races have been chomping at the bit to go out there and press the flesh, along with once again having the chance to raise funds. An e-mail from Delegate Neil Parrott greeted me this afternoon in my e-mail box, and certainly many others were making plans to raise some dough.
While he didn’t serve in the General Assembly, Larry Hogan is making a push to look good on his initial campaign finance report. Messages like this have been appearing on his Change Maryland Facebook feed:
Thanks to the generous support of engaged and informed Marylanders like you, we are EVEN CLOSER to hitting our fundraising goal before tonight’s finance report deadline! We have less than TWELVE HOURS to hit our goal – Can we count on you to help us get there? Any contribution you can afford, whether it’s $5, $50, or $500, will make a big impact on our campaign and could be enough to put us over the edge to reach our goal!
Of course, since they’re not letting on exactly what the goal is, I highly doubt they’ll actually fall short. Yet what would be success in fundraising? Back in January, it was revealed that David Craig raised just under $250,000 in 2013 after a similar performance in 2012. Since we’re closer to the election, I would have to assess success as whether Hogan raised the amount required to qualify for matching funds, which would come pretty close to matching Craig’s total 2013 take. Since Hogan has media up already with a cable television buy, it’s likely he’s raised at least $200,000.
(It’s worth pointing out as well that Hogan is slated to appear at our Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday, as are Ron George and Charles Lollar. Jeannie Haddaway will pinch-hit for David Craig, who has another engagement. So if you’re coming you can ask the tough questions, although we don’t plan this as a debate.)
For us, the event will serve as a kickoff to the serious campaigning to come since it’s likely we’ll hear from a number of Republicans who are running, even if we have to drag out the egg timer to make sure they keep things short for our featured guests. If we let all of the District 37B aspirants go, we’ll be there all night! (Yes, that was supposed to be funny. You are allowed to laugh.)
After all, not that I’m trying to hurry it along by any stretch of the imagination, we’re just 30 weeks away from the November election (and 11 weeks from the primary, which I have a vested interest in.) Lots of time for good things to happen.
As I begin to write this, we have about an hour and ten minutes remaining in the 90 days of terror that is the annual Maryland General Assembly session. And because of the Maryland Legislative Watch website, the process of completing my annual monoblogue Accountability Project will be a snap – they’re kind enough to align all the votes taken during session by individual legislator.
So the process of weeding out what I’ll be focusing on has been my task over the last couple weeks. Since I cover 25 different votes, with three of them being committee votes for practically all the legislators (there are three exceptions: Speaker of the House Michael Busch, Senate President Mike Miller, and Delegate Don Dwyer, who was stripped of a committee assignment as punishment for his misdemeanor conviction last year) having them already arranged by legislator is a HUGE help.
Sadly to me, out of the hundreds of votes the General Assembly takes each year, the vast majority are unanimous or have very limited opposition. While there have been occasions I’ve used such exercises in futility for the minority, generally I like to find bills which have a significant number of votes on both sides. Unfortunately, this has eliminated a number of good bills I would have used via what I call the “gutless Senate syndrome” – a bill which may be 96-38 in the House passes 46-0 in the Senate. For example, did you know the state was soon to ban “vaportinis”? (Interesting, since they’re decriminalizing pot in the same session.) It would have been a good vote to use, but our gutless Senate passed it with no opposition. The same went for bills designating new wildlands, financial assistance for so-called “food desert” areas (not “desserts,” by the way), mandating balcony inspections, and several others.
All told, I will probably have 25 to 30 candidates to distill into the final 22 votes – there were a few bills which may have received a vote in their opposite chamber tonight. The “automatics” in this term will be the budget bills, the “bathroom bill”, minimum wage, and the “fix” for individuals who were hosed out of health insurance because the state screwed up. Those were always going to make the cut, even though the Senate vote on the capital budget was 46-0. Talk about gutless!
So when can you look for the monoblogue Accountability Report? I figure it could be done by month’s end.
One change I’ve made from previous editions is that legislators will be arranged into groups based on whether they are retiring, running for higher (or different) office, or trying for another term. Of course, I will still have the Legislative All-Stars and my usual rewards and criticism as well.
The process can go full throttle in less than a half-hour.
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.
Controversy is still swirling about a proposed bill that is all but universally despised by Republican Central Committee members and the state party itself, with one local member alluding to a new twist in the saga.
Scott Delong, who is a member of the Harford County Republican Central Committee, sent out a lengthy e-mail yesterday to fellow Central Committee members detailing his opposition to the move. While this bill has remained bottled up in the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee of the House of Delegates due to its late introduction, a committee where no further meetings are planned for this session, Delong alleges that sponsor Delegates Rick Impallaria. Pat McDonough, and Kathy Szeliga are trying to petition the bill to the floor.
Assuming this is indeed the case, it’s worth pointing out that petitioning is a rarely-used alternative to the standard committee process, but while the GOP is seemingly afraid to use this procedure to move bills along which have merit, such as repeals to onerous legislation like the Septic Bill or so-called Firearm Safety Act, these members are apparently embracing this manuever to promote a bill harmful to the state GOP. It wouldn’t surprise me to see mostly Democrats sign this petition just as a way of dividing their opposition prior to an important election.
Delong also comments on the responses from Delegates Szeliga and Impallaria in links from his e-mail. It seems that the good Delegates have some concerns about the way things have operated in the past, which is fine. So why wait until after the filing deadline to put this bill in the hopper if this has been a concern? Amazingly, the 12 positions on the Harford County Republican Central Committee have attracted a total of 32 aspirants – only the far larger counties of Baltimore and Montgomery have drawn more for their positions, but many more will be elected from those jurisdictions.
Again, the biggest problem I have with this proposal is that it’s none of the Delegates’ business who sits on the Central Committee, aside from the vote they cast in that election. Moreover, certain people who are co-sponsors of this bill don’t even have that right because they don’t live in Harford County – neither McDonough nor Szeliga live there, as both come from Baltimore County. To use Wicomico County as an example, there could be four Republicans in our county delegation but potentially only one actually living in the county. And because all of Harford’s (and Wicomico’s, for that matter) members are elected at-large, would it be fair for someone for whom only some of those who live in the county cast a vote to have the power to represent an entire county in this manner?
Let’s hope the bill remains buried in committee. I also call on the Delegates to abandon any effort to petition this to the floor, as it is simply a divisive and unacceptable abuse of power to follow through with this bill.
There’s no doubt the importance of the 2014 elections in Maryland can’t be overstated. At stake will be the very direction of the state: will it continue to re-elect the same failed liberal leadership that’s been bleeding jobs (and may continue to do so) and can’t seem to balance a budget, or will it try the GOP alternative that at least promises to reduce the state’s onerous personal tax burden, depending on whether the victor is David Craig, Ron George, Larry Hogan, or Charles Lollar? And will the GOP get to those magical numbers of 48 Delegates and 19 Senators which will allow it to be a viable minority party?
To address the latter point, it’s worth mentioning that the GOP has conceded 46 House seats and 14 Senate seats to the Democrats because they couldn’t find a willing candidate. Most of these vacancies are in what I call the 10, 20, and 40 districts, which in the state’s numbering system cover areas around Washington, D.C. and inner-city Baltimore – basically the counties and Baltimore City which haven’t quite figured out yet that it would be in their best interest to divest themselves from big government and voted for Martin O’Malley and Barack Obama. Most of the areas which backed Bob Ehrlich and Mitt Romney lie in the districts with single digits 1 through 9 or in the 30s. (For reference, here on the Eastern Shore we have districts 36, 37, and 38.) In the latter areas, Democrats conceded five House seats and three in the Senate, so at play are a total of 90 House seats and 30 Senate seats. In order to get to 48 and 19, respectively, the MDGOP has to win 43 out of 90 races in the House and 16 of 30 in the Senate.
We obviously won’t know those results until November, and they will go a long way in determining the fate of the Free State. They will also go a long way in determining who will lead the party over the next
four two years, and I think Diana Waterman is working hard to overcome her early missteps – so would she be in the mix for a full four-year term starting this November? (Corrected: I forgot we changed the bylaws a couple years ago to a two-year term starting in 2014, to match the national party.)
Certainly many have been impressed with her response to the ill-considered HB1513 on behalf of the state’s Central Committees, which Joe Steffen elaborated on yesterday. But she’s also been careful to reiterate that Central Committees cannot endorse candidates in contested primaries (although individual members can) and that our terms run until the election is over. (This year’s Fall Convention doubles as the quadrennial organizational meeting for the party, when new members are officially sworn in.)
And she also reminded us:
I’m sure you’re getting tired of hearing this but our number one job is to get Republicans elected. This is our time – the stage is almost set (Primary first to determine who will be facing off against the Democrat). The only way we will be successful is by working together. We are outnumbered. We must find a way to pull together – even if don’t see eye to eye with the candidate or some of their volunteers. And I expect all of us to run clean campaigns so that they day after the Primary we can stand together and show our complete support for our ballot. I promise you, no matter who the candidate is, even if they were not your candidate, that you will have more in common with them than you will the Democrat on the other side of the ballot. I am not asking you to yield on any of your principles but to remember, even if the candidate who won the Primary is too conservative or too moderate for you – they are better than the Democrats who have a strangle hold on everything in our State. For starters, the Democrat who wins in the Legislature will case their first vote for Mike Miller or Mike Busch. And it just goes downhill from there!
Precisely. So the question is whether the grassroots and activists will follow, or take their ball and stay home on election day if their chosen candidate doesn’t win. Remember, based on the polls we’ve had so far, a majority of voters will not have their first choice be the nominee for governor; unlike other states, we don’t have a runoff to ensure majority support.
That healing process has to start June 25, because I know from experience that the other side sucks it up and gets behind whoever they pick, generally having their arguments behind closed doors.
But if Diana Waterman can pull off these electoral miracles with very little money and the more than 2-to-1 registration disadvantage with which we’re currently handicapped, the only races we may have would be for the vice-Chair positions. I can’t see the Republican winner wanting to put “their guy” in as the party chair after success like that. She’s mended some fences over her term, and standing up for the Central Committees may allow her to climb out of the hole she dug early on.
As the Maryland House of Delegates considered a bill to increase the minimum wage statewide a curious exemption was slipped in, a change in language seemingly placed in the bill to benefit amusement parks like Six Flags.
Seeing that, Delegate Mike McDermott tried to add an exemption for another tourist playground: Ocean City.
The amendment would have exempted Ocean City’s seasonal employees – defined as those who work a maximum of 120 days in a calendar year – from the new wage law, instead maintaining the current federal standard of $7.25 per hour. Said the Delegate:
“Prince George’s County wisely decided that locally this is what they needed to do. Everyone across the state is dealing with their own issues and everyone is dealing with their own different unemployment rates. (Counties) should be able to decide for themselves whether it’s higher or whether it’s lower.
We struggle right now keeping these jobs available for these kids… The lower shore is not recovering; the unemployment rate is still soaring… Our Ocean City businesses will lose out to competition in Delaware with Bethany and Rehoboth Beaches and to competition in Virginia and North Carolina. Ocean City is our world class resort and this state’s premier destination. The revenue from Ocean City paves a lot of roads in Baltimore City; the revenue from Ocean City does a lot for the state of Maryland.
If you can see it for a sector like Six Flags, or Jolly Rogers…if you can capture a vision for how [minimum wage] impacts that industry…Can you not see how that impacts an entire region like Ocean City?
This is about creating an atmosphere where people can still afford to come and the employers can still afford to keep people there.
Needless to say, McDermott’s argument fell on deaf ears, as the amendment failed on an 89-47 vote. The bipartisan support for the amendment included six Democrats (Bromwell, Conway, James, Kevin Kelly, Minnick, and Wood) and all 41 Republicans who voted (Cluster and Frank were absent.) The original amendments to exempt Six Flags and other like businesses were added at the committee level and not through a floor vote, including one by committee Chair Delegate Dereck Davis of Prince George’s County.
But as the process goes on, it appears low-wage Marylanders will get a raise come January whether they deserve one or not, which probably means more layoffs than normal after the holiday season.
Of course, McDermott’s amendment was nothing more than symbolic because there wasn’t much of a chance of it passing anyway. One thing it did, though, was give local Delegate Norm Conway a chance to vote against the minimum wage bill on that particular amendment. It wouldn’t surprise me if he voted against the entire bill since it’s an election year and he needs to look business-friendly to the good conservative folks on the Shore – surely his union supporters can give him a hall pass since the votes will likely be there. It’s just another example of the BOHICA form of government a state which finds itself in yet another budget shortfall will enact upon its citizens.
Over the last few years, Delegates Susan Aumann and Kathy Szeliga have generally tag-teamed on announcements and updates for their respective districts, which makes sense because they’re representing adjacent areas of Baltimore County.
But recently they did a video which sort of represents the last seven years in Maryland.
No, it’s certainly not the most slickly produced video but I thought it got the point across relatively well – through a little here and a little there, the state is nickel-and-diming us into the poorhouse in the name of wealth redistribution. What, you thought it was government services?
But the wealth redistribution isn’t necessarily from rich to poor; instead it flows from politically incorrect to politically correct, non-connected to crony, and independent to dependent, with the sole aim on enriching the latter listed groups at the expense of former ones. Those at the bottom of the economic pile have to watch out as people fall into their group from above, because it seems like those standing at the top plateau are sawing off the ladder at a fairly low point and pulling it out of reach to the rest of us.
Government isn’t supposed to be like that. As a matter of rule people aren’t excited about paying taxes, but where they tend to object most is when the benefits seem dubious at best. The rain tax is a perfect example of this: we know property owners will pay it and supposedly it will help clean up Chesapeake Bay, but we have no clue how they’ll get from point A to point B.
That’s why this video seems to work.
There are occasions in life where everything goes full circle, bringing you back to where you began – just older and (hopefully) wiser.
So it is with the political journey of Carmen Amedori, who’s been quiet on these pages for some time as she tried to build a real estate business in Ocean City. It was a well-deserved respite after a tumultous few years which took her from the House of Delegates seat she won in Carroll County in 1998 to an appointment by then-Governor Bob Ehrlich to the Maryland Parole Commission in 2004, where she served five years.
But 2010 was Amedori’s year of chaos, pinballing between an abortive run for the U.S. Senate, a 10-day stint as gubernatorial challenger Brian Murphy’s running mate – a move she later regretted – then, after winning a seat on the Worcester County Republican Central Committee in September 2010 she considered a run for state Republican Party chair before later backing out.
So imagine my surprise when I saw this linked on my Facebook page:
Former state Delegate and Maryland Parole Commissioner Carmen Amedori has filed her candidacy for the Maryland House of Delegates Legislative District 5 Carroll County. Amedori represented Carroll County in the House from 1999 to 2004. In 2004, she was appointed to the Maryland Parole Commission where she served five and a half years as a Parole Commissioner.
“It would be an honor, once again, to work for the citizens of Carroll County and serve as their voice on issues such as no tax increases, protections for the unborn child, and the Second Amendment for gun owners, and defeating Common Core curriculum in our schools,” Amedori said. “Under the eight years of O’Malley-Brown administration citizens have been overburdened with more taxes and fees which the current House delegation did not fight hard enough against. As a knee-jerk reaction to rogue school shootings one of the most restrictive anti-gun legislation packages was passed hindering law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to purchase and own a firearm. We need to do more and do it better. We need a stronger voice in Annapolis from our House delegation.”
“Our House delegation has had problems getting legislation passed in Annapolis such as the non-profit Casino bill. This is a revenue issue and our non-profit volunteer fire companies will benefit by it. I would work to eliminate the current gridlock on local legislation and would enjoy working with our Senate delegation as a unified voice for Carroll County. I am excited to begin my campaign to put Carroll County first.”
“I have been encouraged by many of Carroll’s constituents and friends to run,” Amedori said. “They are looking for conservative representation in the House from a person they can trust, and who will uphold their oath to honor the Constitution and vote accordingly.”
At this moment, Amedori joins a field with three incumbent legislators, two of whom were redistricted into the revamped District 5. Donald Elliott was elected in District 4B, which covered both Carroll and Frederick counties, while Susan Krebs hails from the Carroll side of District 9B, which also covered a portion of Howard County. Justin Ready already represents Carroll in the former District 5A. The new map somewhat resembles the district Amedori was originally elected in, a time when she served with both Elliott and (later) Krebs in the General Assembly. Ready was first elected in 2010.
Of course, the obvious question for voters in Carroll County will be whether Carmen’s heart is in this, given her recent tendencies. Then again, she won two elections in Carroll County so she had some appeal to voters back then. Will everything old become new again, and if so, at who’s expense?
I’m glad conservatives are playing the game liberals in the Maryland General Assembly play – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Many of the restrictions and regulations we’re currently saddled with came on the second, third, or later try in the General Assembly.
So it’s nice to see that a PlanMaryland repeal bill is being introduced again, by Delegate Michael Smigiel. It was pre-filed this session as HB74.
Understandably, the Maryland Liberty PAC was pleased to see this:
Plan Maryland is a statewide development plan designed to consolidate everyone’s property rights into one simple document.
Centralized government planning has never and will never work, but that won’t phase (sic) Martin O’Malley.
The agenda behind Plan Maryland is not to improve our state, it’s to kill all new development that doesn’t match the left’s green agenda.
Many of you, especially those who are property owners or business owners in the development industry know all too well the headaches caused by Maryland’s radical land use policies.
Well now, Plan Maryland is just another headache that we have to deal with statewide.
I used to talk about things which were in the category of “duh” and the last three sentences of this portion of their notice fit the bill. But this bill will get a hearing in the Environmental Matters Committee on Thursday, January 30 at 1 p.m. Delegate Maggie McIntosh is the chair of that committee, and she is definitely the keeper of all things Radical Green in this state.
The MLPAC notice goes on to note the bill introduced last year, but in reality this is the third straight year a similar bill was introduced. However, the 2012 version had many more co-sponsors.
In both cases, though, the votes were there to kill the bills in committee. And even though they were both 17-6 against the side of good, it’s worthy to note that Delegate Herb McMillan switched sides between 2012 and 2013, voting to kill the bill in the latter case. Delegate Patrick Hogan, who was excused from the 2012 vote, voted the correct way in 2013.
Bear in mind this is not the same bill as the one which attempted to rescind the 2012 Septic Bill, a proposal which was introduced by Delegate Mike McDermott last year but failed. The Smigiel bill simply tries to eliminate the aspect of a statewide plan in favor of leaving things to the local jurisdictions which best know their own situation.
There are a lot of bad ideas which eminated from the General Assembly over the last several years, so many more repeal bills need to be introduced. This is one which has merit – if a county wishes to be less than developer-friendly it’s their right. But don’t impose those restrictions on places which may seek to utilize their resources in the highest and best manner.
It’s obvious the Democratic Party is all for “feel good” legislation, but this one probably takes the cake. I received a press release today from State Senator Brian Frosh, who has the ambition to be our next Attorney General. I won’t bore you with the whole story, but here is the upshot:
Senator Brian Frosh (D-16) and Delegate Curt Anderson (D-43) have introduced legislation to rescind Maryland’s ratification of a constitutional amendment to preserve slavery in America.
In January of 1862, the General Assembly of Maryland ratified an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, proposed by Thomas Corwin of Ohio, that would have prohibited any future abolition of slavery. After its adoption by Congress, only the Ohio and Maryland state legislatures ratified the Corwin Amendment before the Civil War made further state action irrelevant.
Ohio rescinded its ratification in 1864, but Maryland alone has allowed its approval to stand for 152 years.
Senator Frosh said, “Ratification of the Corwin Amendment is a stain on our state’s history. I think the legislature owes it to the victims of slavery and to those who marched, fought, and died for freedom to set it right.”
This sort of meaningless legislation is nothing new. Two years ago Maryland finally got around to ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, which (sadly) became law in 1913, with only a handful of Delegates (and no Senators) properly objecting.
I’m sure these bills sponsored by Senator Frosh and Delegate Anderson will pass unanimously – after all, who wants to be on record as supporting slavery? – but what I really want to know is: which party supported the ratification in the first place? Secondly, and since we’re talking about cleaning up a few Constitutional loose ends here, will Frosh be as circumspect about the Second Amendment should he become Attorney General? I doubt that.
If you didn’t read my piece on public financing the other day, you may have missed Ron George’s response in the comments section. Since I set my links to open up in a new window, you can easily leave the post up for reference.
The upshot of what George argues – repeatedly – is that “public financing” is somewhat of a misnomer because no tax dollars are used; the funding was from a line item where taxpayers could add a contribution to their tax payment. In looking at recent tax forms, though, the last year that option was in effect was for tax year 2009. In 2010 it was replaced by a solicitation for the Developmental Disabilities Waiting List Equity Fund. So I’m quite surprised Martin O’Malley didn’t empty the campaign financing fund during the interim.
Anyway, it’s money collected from the people of Maryland and placed in a fund maintained by the state government. Personally I think people would have been better off keeping their cash but it is what it is.
The other point Ron makes comes with this statement:
As a delegate, my ability to fundraise will be limited so I accept limits in the amount I will raise and I receive some money while concentrating on the session.
Obviously this makes a lot more difference during a campaign season where the break between the end of session and the primary is compressed to just 10 weeks, as opposed to the old calendar where there were five months between session and primary. Given Ron’s argument that the Virginia election took valuable resources – perhaps tenuous; then again look at what the Maryland-based Conservative Victory PAC did – it’s likely that fundraising could pick up and this is Ron’s opportunity to keep the lights on and concentrate on his job serving the people of his district for one last session.
Yet one still has to ask why the state (and eventually, counties) should be involved in the process. I can understand the “political machine” argument, but the problem with public financing is that it’s just as likely a donated dollar can go to a politician I disagree with as it can one with whom I’m foursquare. I have no control over the recipent as I would with a direct donation. So I would encourage counties not to adopt the practice, and judge Heather Mizeur and Ron George (if he chooses the option) accordingly.
Because the General Assembly session begins next Wednesday, a number of local and statewide politicians who cannot legally raise money during the session are cramming fundraisers into the last few days before the session begins. Originally I was going to focus on a luncheon fundraiser being held in Ocean City by Delegate (and Senate candidate) Mike McDermott on Monday which will feature Congressman Andy Harris.
But at the same time at the BWI Marriott, Delegate (and gubernatorial candidate) Ron George will host what he calls a “Pre-Session Business Legislative Luncheon” with Anirban Basu of the Sage Policy Group. As is the case for McDermott, Ron’s hosting a fundraiser, and an important one. While others in the gubernatorial race on both sides can still raise funds through various means, Ron would be stymied for 90 days – unless he went through an unusual route, one which fellow Delegate Heather Mizeur is already taking.
A loophole in state campaign finance laws allows guberatorial candidates who accept public financing to raise their “seed money” during the legislative session, and Ron is reportedly considering the idea. It would place a spending cap on his campaign (as it would Mizeur’s) but where Mizeur would be dwarfed in spending by her Democratic primary counterparts who already have millions to spend, George wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the amounts his competitors are expected to raise in the primary.
Campaign finance of a different sort has grabbed the headlines of late, but while Ron George is within his legal right to do so why does he feel like he’s perhaps forced to dip into taxpayer funds to run a campaign? The flip side of pay-to-play – besides limiting the government in an effort to starve the beast – is that I think there should be no restrictions on political giving except one, that being rapid disclosure. This would eliminate the artificial wall of separation between a politician in session and fundraising – do you honestly think a large donor isn’t going to expect his back scratched whether he gives on September 1 when the legislature is off or on March 1 during session?
Interestingly, the campaign finance reform George sponsored last year will allow counties to have their own public campaign financing (see page 39 here). So we may be dealing with more taxpayer financing of campaigns in the future, and not less. Yet we’ll still be stuck with the slow campaign finance reporting process where, for example, a contribution made January 1, 2012 isn’t reported until mid-January the next year. Granted, the reporting pace is faster during election years but still runs weeks to months behind.
We have an internet – why not use it and put campaign treasurers to work supplying us information we can use in a timely fashion?