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.
Every year there are bills introduced late in the session which seem to be fraught with peril. For example, last year we were saddled with a new gasoline tax from a bill introduced one year ago Tuesday, well after the cutoff for new bills to avoid the need for Rules Committee approval. Last year’s session also brought a late bill, introduced at the end of February, which radically changed campaign finance law and, among other things, pushed the filing deadline to February from April. Bad idea.
Because the filing deadline was much earlier this year, a certain delegation must not have liked the hand it was dealt insofar as those running for Central Committee. To that end, the Harford County delegation introduced House Bill 1513, which makes a key change to the Central Committee in that county only.
At this time, there are 12 members of the Harford County Republican Central Committee – twelve positions that a whopping 32 people are seeking. (All of them are at-large countywide positions similar to many other counties in Maryland.) Out of that crowd, it’s apparent that a number are members of the local Campaign for Liberty chapter, and those who would be considered the “establishment” came running to their General Assembly delegation for aid. The result was HB1513, which is written as an “emergency” bill so it would take effect once passed and approved by the governor. Generally this occurs no later than May.
The idea behind the bill is that Republican members of the county’s delegation to Annapolis would become ex officio members of the HCRCC, with voting power in just two instances: removal of members and new appointments. At this time, there are seven members of the Harford County delegation who would become members: Glen Glass, Rick Impallaria, Susan McComas, Pat McDonough, Wayne Norman, Donna Stifler, and Kathy Szeliga. With the exceptions of Norman and Stifler, all could be members going forward into next term if this law passes.
What this bill would do is expand the voting from 12 members to 19 members (as it stands now) or perhaps even 20 members if all members of the General Assembly from Harford are Republicans. (There is one Democrat among the eight presently.) The key reason for this is to make the difficulty of having a 2/3 majority on these issues – where 8 of 12 have to agree – to a situation where it becomes 13 of 19 or 14 of 20.
I think the fear is that a majority of the insurgents will win over so-called “establishment” candidates. By stacking the numbers with members of the General Assembly, they need only convince about half of the existing body to vote with them in order to reach a 2/3 majority. (I use this number because it’s an operative one here in Wicomico County.)
While the numbers would be much less significant here in Wicomico County, if a similar law were passed for us it would add four members to our nine. In that case, attaining a 2/3 majority if the Delegates voted as a bloc could require only a minority of original members (4 of 9.) In Harford’s case, it could be a 6-6 split turned into a 13-6 majority.
And while we certainly would welcome our Republican delegates to our meetings, I think this bill sets a tremendously horrible precedent. There was nothing stopping any of these Delegates from running for Central Committee, aside from the obvious fact not all of them live in Harford County – that in and of itself is a terrible feature of the bill. Again using Wicomico County as an example, all four Delegate slots would go to members who live outside Wicomico County. Shamefully, the only two resident Delegates we have are Democrats.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t surprise me if this bill passes, even if it does so on just Democratic votes (which is very possible.) And I’m not sure what sort of legal challenge could be made to it, aside from perhaps the fact they would be adding non-residents to the Central Committee – but it could be argued as well that they were voted in by the people of Harford County, too. And if it does, look for a lot of copycat bills in the coming years as the legislative branch consolidates power.
To this I say not just no, but “hell no!” They won’t let us come vote in the General Assembly on bills, so why should they have the right to vote on our Central Committee?
The other day I got an interesting note from onetime Maryland Senate candidate turned campaign director Chris Cavey. I’ll just start with it and comment later.
Just wanted to write you a quick note of congratulations as an officially filled Wicomico Central Committee candidate! I think you have made a wonderful choice. Building our party has long been a personal cause of mine and I am proud to say my name is on the ballot for Central Committee in Baltimore County – so, perhaps we will be working together building a stronger MDGOP during the next four years.
You should know Larry Hogan has also been very committed to our party for many, many years. Not only did he run several of his father’s campaigns and serve for many years on the Prince George’s Central Committee; but he has been to several national conventions including 1976 where he Chaired Youth for Reagan! Over the past several years Larry has been a major sponsor of MDGOP including hosting numerous events for the party – and many convention hospitality suites. We were proud to have our Change Maryland Fall Harvest Party in conjunction with MDGOP at this past Winter Convention in Annapolis. It was quite a success with over 1100 people in attendance.
Campaigns are exciting and addictive for people like me who are political junkies. I halted my Senate Campaign in District 42 to work fulltime for Larry – and I am very committed and pumped about the Hogan for Governor Campaign. Since our announcement, just five short weeks ago, we have hit the road at a sprint. The on-line presence with over 80,000 Facebook friends creating new volunteers every day has actually shocked me and I believe it will be a wonderful outreach for our party.
It is very rewarding, for a long time Central Committee member like me, to see so many new and excited people wanting to volunteer. In these few short weeks we have had three major fundraisers each exceeding expectations. Our mail program and on-line donations have been outstanding. Internal polling has us in very good position and we were very pleased to see similar reflections in outside public polling. Long story short – all is well.
Please feel free to call or contact me anytime should you wish to coordinate or work with the Hogan Campaign. My job as Campaign Director includes working with you as a candidate, all Central Committees and MDGOP. Our campaign has made the decision that we are open to helping all GOP candidates, working directly with each County Committee and MDGOP as we each work hard to change Maryland.
See you on the campaign trail!
I guess what made it funny for me is that certainly Chris knows who I am since I’ve been on our Central Committee for eight years – he was first vice-chair under Jim Pelura. I’m sure someone from Larry’s campaign just went through the hundreds of Central Committee candidate files, pulled out their e-mail addresses, and blasted out this form letter regardless if they were running for the first time or the tenth. The only fields they had to rearrange were the first name and the county.
Well, first things first: I’ve been trying in my own special way to build this party for eight-plus years, so I wish your boss wouldn’t be so coy about how he will reach out to people who care about a number of issues: education, the environment, Second Amendment rights, and agriculture being chief among them. We are well aware of all the tax increases we’ve been forced to endure – if we didn’t vote with our feet and leave the state, as Change Maryland has so often pointed out – and we know economic conditions here are lacking. But those aren’t the only issues and all I hear from your boss is the same message of how Change Maryland appeals to independents and how bad the situation is right now. Remember, I was at the Change Maryland party in November, in part because I figured he’d actually make it official that night.
Yet there’s a line I find interesting in your e-mail:
The on-line presence with over 80,000 Facebook friends creating new volunteers every day has actually shocked me and I believe it will be a wonderful outreach for our party.
So it leads me to a question: what if Larry either isn’t the nominee or doesn’t win in November? Does Change Maryland go on, and will you share resources with the Maryland GOP? One criticism I heard in the years following Bob Ehrlich’s defeat was that the party was still overly oriented to Bob’s success rather than trying to be there for everyone. I’m sure there were some who were relieved when Bob lost in 2010, taking the short-term pain in looking at the long road because the party could finally move on from the Ehrlich legacy – let’s face it, we’re not exactly talking about Ronald Reagan here.
So Chris, if Larry wins, this will not be the Maryland Larry Hogan Party, it will be the Maryland Republican Party. We will work appropriately for his re-election but not exclusively as it seemed, by many accounts, like the MDGOP did from 2002-06 (and even during O’Malley’s first term, when Larry ran the first time before ceding the field to “my friend” Bob.)
Finally, you may want to make sure April 12 is clear on your calendar because it looks like that will be the date of our Lincoln Day Dinner. I understand Larry is in demand for fundraisers but we would kinda like him to show up at our LDD since no candidate has a home-field advantage here and we just might want him to say a few words.
Listen, I really would like to back Larry but so far I don’t know where he stands on a lot of important issues. He has a good overall message but one thing I’ve found about certain candidates is that once you look deeper into what they have to say, they tend to either contradict themselves over time or they pander to the crowd they’re speaking in front of. I suppose Larry’s keeping it simple to stay on message but sooner or later people like me have to ask and there has to be more than one dimension. We know it’s easy to be the opposition party and stand on the sidelines, so – aside from the three-point test Larry touts – how will he govern and lead?
There you have my response, Chris. Color me skeptical – and still undecided – for now.
The puzzle pieces will be complete by Tuesday.
I had already found out with good authority that Ron George has secured a running mate, with an announcement to come at a later time, but Charles Lollar sent out word yesterday evening that he will announce his LG pick Monday morning in Annapolis. For these two, that will be the final hurdle before beginning the campaign. (Update: George will introduce his running mate Tuesday morning in Annapolis.)
While Maryland election law dictates each candidate for governor have a running mate, the idea of waiting until the last minute fueled speculation that one or both of the two who selected last would be dropping out; moreover, the idea of the two joining forces has even been pitched to me as well. Since both Lollar and George have trailed in polling and in fundraising, there’s a certain logic to this.
And the dance card is filling up around the state. Just so you know, last Monday I filed for re-election to the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee for a third term. At the time I was the third to file, but the race has blown up over the last couple days and it appears we will have about the same number of candidates as we did in 2010 – a lucky 13. (I was the luckiest because I finished ninth with just 30 votes separating me from being tenth and out in the cold.)
But around the state it’s not filling as fast as I’d like. As of today we are conceding 21 State Senate seats to the Democrats (out of 47) and 72 of 141 Delegate seats. Even if we won them all it’s still a minority in both houses. Obviously some will be filled at the last minute, but not enough.
This continues a sad trend among Republicans who leave a lot of seats uncontested – in 2010, 15 Democrats in the Senate and 35 in the House got practically free rides after the primary – only 4 Republicans in each chamber had the same luxury. Obviously candidate recruitment is difficult at best in districts where the voter registration numbers are skewed even 10 to 1 against a Republican, but it’s still important for candidates to hoist the flag and – more importantly – be educators. Plant the seed for future victories. And by pinning the Democrats down with at least some opposition, they can’t help as readily in other districts. The days you force them to campaign are days they can’t help out in a swing district. Notice that Democrats only left 4 seats uncontested – in House Districts 33A, 33B, 36, and 37B and Senate Districts 1, 2, 33, and 35. Even in the GOP stronghold of Carroll County, they contested those seats.
Hopefully the news will be better as we complete the field and find out who the last two running mates will be.
At last we have a scientific poll to determine who is the top dog among Republican voters, and the big winner is…undecided.
I know that belies my headline, but an OpinionWorks poll for the Baltimore Sun found 68% of Republican voters hadn’t made their mind up yet. Of those expressing a preference, the poll looks like this:
- Larry Hogan – 13%
- David Craig – 7%
- Ron George – 6%
- Charles Lollar – 5%
Doing some quick math and extrapolating the numbers, the primary would come out like this:
- Larry Hogan – 42%
- David Craig – 23%
- Ron George – 19%
- Charles Lollar – 16%
In other words, I would be pretty close to my 60 percent statement from the other night.
According to the Sun, the poll was taken from 1,199 likely Maryland voters over last week (Saturday through Wednesday.) 499 of them were likely Republican primary voters, with 500 likely Democratic primary voters backing Anthony Brown by a significant 21 point margin over Doug Gansler, with Heather Mizeur just 4 points back from Gansler. (40% are still undecided, though.) Margin of error on both polls is 4.4 points, so in actual terms all four GOP candidates are within the margin of error at this point.
OpinionWorks is the Sun‘s resident pollster, and they recently did a poll suggesting an additional $1 per pack tobacco tax would be acceptable to state voters. (They didn’t call me, or the “no” would have been larger.) Based on their body of work, they would seem to be a more left-leaning pollster, sort of in the same vein as Public Policy Polling. At this point, though, there’s no real reason to suspect they would have their finger on the scale of the Republican race.
Of course, we didn’t get any direct polling of possible matchups, such as Brown vs. Hogan, which is unfortunate because there’s no way to find out whether Larry’s more or less populist, anti-establishment message is selling. He’s been good at criticizing the current lieutenant governor for both actions and inaction, but Hogan hasn’t completely spelled out an agenda on key issues like education and the environment. Does he tack to the center and risk alienating a large portion of his base like his former employer did?
There’s also the aspect of name recognition. Back in November I wrote about a Goucher College poll measuring how well-known the various candidates were. It still seems to track well, given that the Democrats were more well-known at the time and now have far fewer undecided voters. Indeed, a current 28-point difference in undecideds matches up well with November’s 31.7 point name recognition gap between Anthony Brown and David Craig. (Larry Hogan was not part of the November poll.) Once people begin to pay attention to who the players are, the polls will start moving up for the various candidates.
My last observation is wondering whether Hogan’s success is akin to a “convention bump” because he’s announced so recently. A poll taken in March or April will help to determine this. I think Larry is indeed the leading contender, but I don’t think he’s really getting nearly twice as many votes as any of the others in the field – this is why I compared the results to giving up a 3-run homer in the top of the first. As people begin to get to know Larry Hogan on the campaign trail, he will either break the game open or allow the opposition to catch up.
At this time of year many counties are scrambling to find speakers for their annual political dinners, whether they’re the Lincoln or Reagan Day events Republicans hold or Jefferson-Jackson dinners for Democrats. However, the Maryland Liberty PAC has scored a coup by securing libertarian favorite Senator Rand Paul for their upcoming event.
Obviously being close to Washington, D.C. assisted the Maryland Liberty PAC in their effort, but having Rand Paul as a keynoter may bring more interest to the group than the buzz about securing former VP candidate Paul Ryan to speak at the 2013 Red, White, and Blue Dinner sponsored by the Maryland Republican Party last June. The worrisome trend for Maryland Republicans: reports seem to indicate attendance at the event has declined markedly in recent years – while 400 came to see Ryan, close to 700 came for Mitt Romney in 2010 and for Newt Gingrich in 2009. Gingrich also spoke there in 2011, while Karl Rove and Grover Norquist have also addressed recent RWB gatherings. Although the attendance goals expressed by the MLPAC are somewhat more modest, in the range of 150 to 200, it may be a sign that allegiances in the continuing MDGOP struggle between establishment and grassroots may be shifting. All the Liberty PAC needs is the group which has tuned out the mainstream GOP over the last few years to be successful.
MLPAC chairman Patrick McGrady added in a release that:
It is widely rumored that Dr. Paul will run for President of the United States in 2016.
March 26th is your opportunity to meet this rising star within the Republican Party.
Maryland Liberty PAC is committed to building a 21st Century Republican Party that brings new ideas and new people to the cause for liberty in our country.
Rand Paul is one of those new voices who presents a bold, conservative message that’s appealing to millions and millions of Americans.
The proceeds from this event will continue to support Maryland Liberty PAC’s ongoing efforts to
- Build the statewide liberty movement
- Train new activists on effective tactics
- Mobilize the grassroots around liberty issues
- Hold leftist politicians accountable
Don’t miss your chance to build the cause for liberty in Maryland and celebrate an instrumental leader in the movement.
But it’s interesting to me that the MLPAC wants to work within the framework of the Republican Party, considering the fact they and their subgroup the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance – particularly the latter – tend to aim their fire at recalcitrant Republican members of the General Assembly as opposed to Democrats.
Moreover, the money raised may not go to the candidates and causes more mainstream Republicans may want to support. Unlike most PACs, the MLPAC doesn’t directly support candidates. Indeed, a look at their campaign finance reports shows they’ve never transferred any money to candidates and have endorsed just one local candidate in their history. Much of what they’ve raised so far has gone to political education, as expressed in their frequent e-mail blast campaigns against members of the General Assembly or advocacy for or against certain bills (particularly the 2012 Septic Bill and 2013 gun control legislation) in session, with most of the rest going toward fundraising expenses.
According to McGrady, that trend will continue. “We are primarily focused on issue advocacy and informing the public about voting records of politicians on those issues,” he said. McGrady went on to add that they wanted a price point which was “attainable for everybody,” and I would say $30 to hear Rand Paul accomplishes the goal – although the hourlong VIP session is more conventionally priced at $200 a head. Dirty little secret: that and the sponsorships are where the money is really made.
This show of support from Rand Paul may put a little spring in the step of Maryland’s “tireless, irate minority” and give them more impetus to change hearts and minds. It should be a fun event, nonetheless, and the question of whether any of those who attend are Republican elected officials and candidates will be something to check for the next financial report.
In certain quarters of the Maryland GOP, a video is being shared – one that’s less than flattering to candidate Larry Hogan. It was done by a gentleman named John Lofton.
Biographically, John Lofton is a journalist of some repute, including a stint as editor of an RNC newsletter during the Nixon era and jobs as a syndicated columnist as well as op-ed writer for the Washington Times in its infancy. He’s now Communications Director of the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC), and perhaps one of the quirkier, if God-fearing, people in the state. This video illustrates the point. As for the state of the GOP these days, Lofton writes that “(b)eing a Republican is not a disease; it is a choice – a very bad choice, but a choice nonetheless.” His other working title is the director of the God and Government Project, billed as “an outreach mission” of the IOTC.
Yet on the way to a Republican coronation, in a race where at least one supporter feels the other candidates should drop out, Larry Hogan stumbled over what was a simple philosophical question posed by Lofton: what is the purpose of government? Admittedly, I might have, too, although when asked a second time about the role of government the change in terms may have helped me understand what he was driving at. Instead, the Lofton-Hogan conversation came to an end and has not been restarted despite what Lofton calls repeated efforts to conclude what John calls “possibly the shortest interview of my career.”
So while blogger Jeff Quinton saw Larry’s supporters as perhaps a little thin-skinned, and Richard Cross took time to note that Lofton, indeed, has some views which could charitably be considered as somewhat outside the mainstream of thought, it fell on some of the strongest Hogan backers to shoot the messenger and blame the spread of the video on Charles Lollar supporters, a group which Red Maryland Radio called “Facebook warriors.” On Thursday’s show co-host Greg Kline assessed it this way, part of a conversation during the show’s first segment:
(John Lofton) is one of these guys who’s, you know, Christian nation – his answer to the question, by the way, is the purpose of the government is to serve God, that’s the answer he was looking for. And because this interview got cut off, and Larry Hogan – I think you can hear, even in that clip, I think he realized ‘what am I doing here’…
…he gets interviewed all the time and doesn’t get that question very often.
That may be true, but the question has validity – regardless of its source or the answer the questioner was looking for – because voters aren’t as familiar with Larry’s stand on all the issues. One weakness of a candidate who comes from a non-political background is that we can’t tell political philosophy based on voting records or how he or she has governed in smaller jurisdictions, which on the GOP side covers Ron George and David Craig, respectively. This is tempered somewhat in the cases of Charles Lollar and even Brian Vaeth by their recent unsuccessful runs for office, but aside from an abortive 2010 run for governor, Larry Hogan last completed a campaign 22 years ago – in politics, that’s a lifetime. (To put this in context, that was the election cycle just before the Contract With America.) That’s not to say political experience is a requirement, but without it a candidate should take pains to reveal to voters where he stands.
Yet there’s a second aspect to this. If the situation were reversed, and Anthony Brown similarly blew off an interviewer asking a “crazy” question, most on our side would be caterwauling (and rightfully so) about ducking the tough questions in order to maintain spin control. On the other hand, Larry Hogan has thus far run one of the most non-specific campaigns in recent memory. I want to believe that Larry will be different, but we all see what happened the last time someone ran on a “change” platform – millions have been disappointed with the changes which were made. And when he’s been given the forum to expand on his plans, he’s taken a pass or simply refused to answer the question.
I’ll leave aside my opinion that Larry should have gotten into the race sooner as well as the strange itinerary which has had him miss certain key events. But let’s look at how other candidates have addressed key issues.
Both David Craig and Charles Lollar made whistle-stop tours, engaging voters at several stops along the way. (This is from Craig’s stop in Salisbury last June. Unfortunately my outside job precluded seeing Lollar on his September tour here.) Meanwhile, Ron George eschewed the bus tour but released a multi-point agenda of proposals shortly after he announced.
Some may say that gives the other side ammunition to pick apart certain pieces of the candidate’s platform, but in looking at the Democratic contenders I see no shortage of specific proposals from them. We certainly don’t agree with most of them because they’re not going to be in the best interest of Maryland voters, but at least we have somthing concrete to debate on a philosophical basis. This is lacking from Larry Hogan thus far, and it bothers me because I like to know where those seeking office stand. Ducking a legitimate question and calling it “crazy” didn’t help because I’d also like to know how candidates feel about the role of government.
Finally, I have one statement about all this fallout, charges, and countercharges.
On June 25th someone will emerge from the chaos of our Republican primary with the nomination for governor. And unless a candidate or two drops out before the primary, the chances are pretty good that the victor will only have a plurality of the vote. If Bob Ehrlich suffered in 2010 from the disinterest of the 1/4 of GOP primary voters who backed Brian Murphy, can you imagine the headwinds our candidate will have when 60% or so supported someone else?
Say what you will about Democrats – once the primaries are over, they seem to quickly get on board with their winner. It’s likely we will have the situation I described above, so the underlying thought all candidates should have is how to get those who supported the opposition behind them in a state of unity. Having Lollarites at war with the Hoganistas in a show of junior-high style personal attacks on supporters’ weight and brushes with the law, with the Craigsters and Bygeorges looking on hoping to gain advantage, is no way to run a party.
You may not like the supporters of the other guy, but just remember who the real enemy is. Hint: it’s the guys on the other team making this a less Free State.
As Republicans in Maryland, we are always pining for a time when we develop a deep bench of candidates, something to act like the farm system Democrats seem to have where they can send out waves of liberal idealistic candidates across the state to attempt to shuck and jive their way into office through slick messaging without a great deal of substance or, for that matter, originality.
So this morning I received a press release from one of those new young candidates, Kevin Hornberger from Cecil County. He’s the first from either party to file in the rebadged District 35A, which more or less takes in the area of the current District 34B. That district is now represented by Democrat David Rudolph.
I’ll share a little bit about Hornberger, as he writes:
An engineer and small business owner since 2006, Hornberger said he intends to bring increased fiscal responsibility and spending oversight to Annapolis. A lifelong conservative, he will challenge the tax and spend practices of the state’s liberal super majority. “Annapolis has to stop treating its citizens like ATMs. Instead, less spending through better oversight of expenditures is the only way to ensure families in this our great state can prosper—and one way is by keeping more of their own money.”
As a Library of Congress employee for over eight years, Hornberger has effectively managed multi-year, multi-million-dollar contracts and capital improvement projects. In one instance, his innovative approach saved taxpayers more than half a million dollars. “My yardstick for civil service is how much money can you save the taxpayer and still provide an acceptable level of service.”
As a gun-rights advocate and NRA life member, he has already begun to work with his future colleagues in the General Assembly to reverse the unconstitutional gun laws passed by the current Democratic majority. “One of my top priorities,” Hornberger said, “is to restore Marylanders’ Second Amendment rights, and to prevent continued attacks from close-minded extremists—whose positions show they are ill-informed about the vital present day role and historical importance of firearms in our country.”
I saw the next part as the money quote, though.
“I think any political incumbent should be very concerned about maintaining his elected position,” he said, “particularly after what has transpired in our state over the last four years. It is time for fresh leadership. The greatest threat to our God given constitutional rights is the super majority ruling our current one party state.”
It’s a great message, from a candidate who was an Eagle Scout. But the way it was disseminated was interesting as well.
My site was one of several not local to Cecil County which received this release; so far the Dagger Press is the only one to run the story (too bad they messed up the name.) Others like Red Maryland, The Quinton Report, and Maryland Reporter have taken a pass, which is their right. (I think I have a little fan base in Cecil County, which may be why I was included.) Moreover, you’re probably not going to get such a fair shake from the mainstream media – witness this Daily Times story I found linked on Maryland Reporter. (This mayor sure is trying to sound like a conservative, isn’t he? Stick with the real thing in Charles Otto.) Outlets like the Baltimore Sun or other large-circulation newspapers weren’t even included in the list.
Obviously Kevin is just getting his feet wet politically and needs to get out his word on a budget – the release doesn’t even have a letterhead and the Facebook page has only 18 likes. It’s the grassroots that count in this case.
If the Republican Party here in Maryland is ever going to become relevant, we need to find people of all stripes willing to put themselves out to endure the slings and arrows certain to come their way from an entrenched majority ruling against the peoples’ best interests. Will they make some mistakes? Certainly – it’s not like we have a template for success we can follow nor the built-in advantage of registered voters.
But we have the ideas to succeed, if only the word gets out. We probably have 100 Kevin Hornbergers running across the state who just need a little encouragement as they begin a political journey. The least we can do to change this state is take a look at their campaign and help them as needed.
Three of those gentlemen who would like to deliver the next State of the State address in 2015 put out remarks in reaction to the current occupant of Government House and what he had to say yesterday afternoon. These are in alphabetical order, by the way, not necessarily in order of preference.
David Craig called the O’Malley era a “sad legacy” in his brief statement, one which focused on the failure to implement the state health insurance exchange but the success he had in implementing higher taxes and fees:
The O’Malley-Brown years leave a sad legacy for those interested in basic government competence, fiscal responsibility and individual freedom.
While Governor O’Malley acknowledged the failure of his Administration and Lt. Gov. Brown to implement Obamacare, there are important facts missing among the many statistics he likes to choose. The Administration has a long way to go on providing transparency on health care including the number of how many consumers are obtaining actual coverage, the number of people dropped from private plans and the total cost.
We have heard for several years now the growing amount of money in so-called ‘cuts’ to the budget, when in fact the budget has grown $10 billion during the O’Malley and Brown terms. Over 70 tax, fee and toll increases are hurting the economy, reducing employment compared to other states in the region and is taking more money for more government.
Similarly, Delegate Ron George attacked O’Malley’s economic record, calling it a “burden on job creation”:
Never has a governor so boldly claimed budget cuts, economic growth and a shrinking executive branch in the face of such clear evidence against. Small businesses have seen their taxes rise tremendously under the O’Malley/Brown administration. Now in 2014, he is burdening job creators with the rain tax, implementation of Obamacare and a forced wage increase.
The O’Malley/Brown administration has seen the relocation of thousands of small businesses and tens of thousands of taxpayers due to a hostile state government. Our mom and pop shops, who employ the majority of our workers, are already struggling to stay open. We must focus on expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs and technical training for our unemployed to protect and grow our middle class for generations to come.
More bluntly, Larry Hogan called O’Malley’s tenure one of “nothing more than lip service” to working Marylanders:
Year after year, this governor has provided nothing more than lip service to hundreds of thousands of hard working Maryland families who look to their governor for leadership. Today was no different. We heard nothing about how the O’Malley-Brown administration plans to turn our economy around, nothing about attracting job creators to Maryland, and no apology to the tens of thousands of Marylanders who have not been able to participate in Maryland’s healthcare exchange.
Instead, what Governor O’Malley delivered today was pure fiction. The Governor continued his perennial claim of spending cuts when the simple fact is the O’Malley-Brown administration has increased spending by 33 percent: from $29.5 billion in their first year to $39.2 billion proposed in their final year.
O’Malley talked a lot about the middle class but, under this administration, the middle class has never felt more pain. The O’Malley-Brown administration paid for their excessive spending on the backs of the middle class. Forty consecutive tax and fee increases – record sales tax increases, the massive gas tax increase, and higher fees on nearly everything – have hit the middle class pocket book the hardest. Their taxes have gone up, their jobs have disappeared, and they now pay more than ever to heat their homes, commute to work, and feed their families.
Marylanders deserve better.
These themes and more were woven into the “official” Republican response, which came this year from Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley.
But all of them – with the exception of Ron George, who briefly touched on a couple ideas he had – did a great job of identifying the problem, yet didn’t pose any possible solutions. Having the longest space in the official response, Brinkley did well speaking to the issue with O’Malley’s signature initiative this year of raising the minimum wage, but what is really needed are some actual business people testifying that if the minimum wage goes up, they’ll have to reduce staff and raise prices to consumers. What’s not generally mentioned is that the process of raising the minimum is envisioned as a multi-step program, as the $10.10 per hour wouldn’t take effect until July 1, 2016. (As the bill is written, the wage would step up in 95-cent annual increments beginning July 1, 2014. However, after that point the intention is to index the minimum to inflation so it would automatically go up each year at a slightly faster pace – the bill rounds it up to the nearest penny.)
The other initiative items O’Malley touched upon in his remarks were “advancing” universal pre-kindergarten across the state and revamping domestic violence laws, both of which also happen to be key platform planks in his lieutenant governor’s campaign. My question on pre-K, though, is twofold: what sort of “investment” are we talking about and is it going to be worth it? Studies of the effects of Head Start on young students show that the advantages gained in such a classroom environment evaporate quickly, at best by the time the child reaches third grade but perhaps even after first grade. But it sure would create a lot of union jobs.
Most disappointing – although I can’t say I’m surprised after seven years of this mismanagement at the state level – are the two most fundamental misunderstandings uttered by our state’s chief executive.
Here’s the first one:
We’ve lost sight of how our economy works when it is working well.
Prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top.
It never has.
It’s built from the middle out — and from the middle up.
It was O’Malley’s Democratic fellow, President John F. Kennedy, who popularized the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Using the ocean as an analogy, O’Malley’s argument would seem to be that the ocean rises when the streams which feed it increase their inward flow. Indeed, this is true to some extent, but remember those streams are replenished by the rain which falls from above, as it also does over the ocean.
Obviously there are some people in the world who would be happy with a middle-class existence. But I haven’t seen the lottery yet which succeeded on the promise of $50,000 a year – people aspire to wealth, although obviously with the caveat of not having to do more than purchase a ticket to secure it. The odds are vastly better that someone who works hard to enact his entrepreneurial ideas will become wealthy, dragging many of those who simply aspire to be middle-class upward with him or her through being employed in the enterprise.
Unfortunately, the path to becoming middle-class seems now to be most readily available through government. I have a friend who has been an entrepreneur; unfortunately, his ventures haven’t been as successful as he would like. His new job is with a state agency – yes, the pay is decent but the problem his conscience wrestles with is one of being a taker rather than a creator. There are many fine federal, state, and local government workers out there but all of them share one thing in common: they’re paid by revenues mainly collected from the private sector. The O’Malley legacy is one of absolutely brutalizing the private sector producers, who can’t trickle anything once the state is through with them.
Here’s the second issue – stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
Seven years later, we are not just One Maryland. By many measures, we are Number One Maryland.
And by many other important measures, we are number 24 or 41 or 44 Maryland. But my contention is that the state is not One Maryland, but really at least four: the western panhandle, which combines rugged beauty with the potential to tap significant energy reserves; the I-95 corridor where most people live, a study in contrasts between rich and poor, educated and streetwise, and all shades in between; southern Maryland, which is the quickly evolving bedroom community and playground for those who work in government; and the Eastern Shore, where agriculture and tourism have to co-exist, doing so more or less peacefully. Making decisions for one region tends to adversely affect the other ones.
But I think “One Maryland” to Martin O’Malley is his code to continue the top-down, Annapolis-knows-best leadership style for which his administration has been known. We’ve had the septic bill, the rain tax, educational maintenance of effort requirements, and dozens of other instances where counties serves as little more than lines on a map because their authority is folded under the Annapolis bureaucracy.
I understand the Republicans only had a limited time to respond, but there was so much we left on the table in replying to Martin O’Malley’s message. I’m looking forward to Republicans laying out their plan for Maryland, since I’m confident conservative leadership can really move this state forward.
This is the piece I promised you the other day. Originally I was going to lay this out one candidate at a time, but then decided it may be more to the point to compare and contrast all of the gubernatorial candidates in one place. It’s a lot of numbers, but I’ll try and make it interesting.
For each category, I’m going to do a rank order among the six gubernatorial contenders who have filed a campaign finance report covering 2013. There are a few other candidates who have filed or seem to be raising money – on the GOP side they are Brian Vaeth and Meyer Marks, while the Democrats have perennial candidates Ralph Jaffe and Charles Ulysses Smith. Except for Marks, all have turned in an Affidavit of Limited Contributions and Expenses, better known in our game as ALCEs. Marks has an active account but no report, which is a no-no.
To begin this comparison, it helps to know how much was raised during the 2013 period, which is about a week off the actual calendar since it ended January 8, 2014.
- Anthony Brown (D) – $4,019,803.13
- Doug Gansler (D) – $1,487,704.79
- Heather Mizeur (D) – $493,173.55
- David Craig (R) – $249,808.75
- Ron George (R) – $130,159.00
- Charles Lollar (R) – $65,329.67
Another piece of this puzzle which interests me is trying to figure out an average contribution. But rather than count the actual number of line items, I decided it was easier and far faster to assume there would be a certain number of contributions per page. This is the number of pages of contributors each report had.
- Anthony Brown (D) – 358
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 202
- Doug Gansler (D) – 125
- David Craig (R) – 58
- Ron George (R) – 46
- Charles Lollar (R) – 36
So, assuming 17 contributors per page, the average donation per contribution comes out like this.
- Doug Gansler (D) – $700.10
- Anthony Brown (D) – $660.50
- David Craig (R) – $253.36
- Ron George (R) – $166.44
- Heather Mizeur (D) – $143.91
- Charles Lollar (R) – $106.75
Something I found intriguing, particularly in Lollar’s case, was the fact that several contributors were serial repeaters. Some campaigns seem to have a feature where a donor can use an automatic monthly withdrawal, but in Lollar’s case it appears to be through PayPal and a large share of his backers tended to use that feature. That made for dozens of pages of expenditures on individual PayPal fees, which don’t seem to be a very efficient use of what turns out to be hundreds of campaign dollars a few pennies at a time, particularly on a $10 monthly donation.
Now let’s look at where the overall take came from. In all cases, the overwhelming majority of funds came from individual donations. But Charles Lollar took the cake there.
- Charles Lollar (R) – 100%
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 99.53%
- Ron George (R) – 98.12%
- Doug Gansler (D) – 97.5%
- David Craig (R) – 93.19%
- Anthony Brown (D) – 91.65%
I think there is a glaring mistake in Lollar’s totals, though, as I think the $6,000 transferred in from Blaine Young’s shuttered gubernatorial campaign probably should count as being from what the Board of Election calls “Maryland candidates or slates” and not as an individual contribution. Based on overall 2013 totals, that would actually put Lollar near the bottom of the list. But he’s not the only one who made mistakes, as I found PAC money interspersed with individual contributions on a number of reports, along with missing addresses and the like.
Without changing the Lollar numbers, here’s the percentage of contribution some of these six receieved from other candidates or slates.
- Anthony Brown (D) – 3.27%
- David Craig (R) – 0.64%
- Doug Gansler (D) – 0.52%
The others received none.
But how about state PACs? I would have thought they comprised a much larger share of the pie, but none of the candidates received more than a tiny percentage of PAC money.
- Anthony Brown (D) – 3.13%
- David Craig (R) – 2.8%
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 0.44%
- Doug Gansler (D) – 0.42%
Neither Ron George nor Charles Lollar were beneficiaries of PAC money. Obviously in terms of actual dollars there’s a huge difference between Brown and Craig, but percentage-wise they are fairly even.
Oddly enough, though, Ron George leads in the percentage coming from political clubs. I think it’s based on one contributuion.
- Ron George (R) – 1.88%
- Anthony Brown (D) – 0.21%
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 0.04%
Again, it’s a matter of scale – Brown’s largesse from political clubs is nearly fourfold more in actual dollars. The lieutenant governor is also the sole beneficiary of federal committee money, to the tune of $69,000.
Since individual contributions are such a large part of the game, though, I wanted to take a closer look at where they came from. To that end, I decided to categorize appropriate donations into one of five categories, if they fit – most did not, while some fit more than one.
- percentage from LLCs, LLPs, trusts, and other similar financial arrangements
- percentage from law firms, as I could reasonably ascertain same (inexact, to be sure)
- percentage from unions, although most give as PACs and I didn’t track those this time
- percentage from businesses
- percentage from out-of-state – in contrast to a federal race where out-of-state money is to be expected, it struck me that some campaigns leaned heavily on donors outside Maryland
I’ll start with the LLC category, which is being addressed for the next election cycle. Some believe it’s too easy to skirt contribution limits by maxing out a donation as an individual then shelling out more under the guise of an LLC. Each candidate got some LLC money, but some more than others.
- David Craig (R) – 25.16% of individual contribution money
- Anthony Brown (D) – 17.58%
- Doug Gansler (D) – 14.2%
- Ron George (R) – 4.69%
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 3.56%
- Charles Lollar (R) – 0.58%
Heather Mizeur is low on some of these categories because individual contributions from certain entities, like LLCs and businesses, could not be counted toward her matching funds for public campaign financing.
I sort of expected this result from law firms, although percentages were lower than I figured on.
- Doug Gansler (D) – 3.6%
- Anthony Brown (D) – 0.73%
- David Craig (R) – 0.6%
They were the only three receiving contributions from what I reckoned were law firms. Even if I was wrong on a few, Gansler took that category with ease.
The same was true of unions, where Democrats Anthony Brown (0.59%) and Doug Gansler (0.07%) were unsurprisingly the leaders.
And if you thought pay-to-play was the rule in Maryland, well, you may be correct. The individual share from businesses went like this.
- Anthony Brown (D) – 17.38%
- David Craig (R) – 15.33%
- Doug Gansler (D) – 12.6%
- Ron George (R) – 5.09%
- Charles Lollar (R) – 2.85%
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 0.17%
Maryland may have one of the worst business climates in the country, but the big, established players must like the way competition is curtailed in the state. Some of the largest businesses in the country gave big checks to Brown and Gansler, with health care businesses propping up Brown and some large technology firms backing Gansler.
Finally, I thought it was telling who got support from out-of-state. This may be controversial because I counted Washington, D.C. addresses as out of state and surely some business people who are Maryland residents wrote checks based on their place of business. But I had to draw a line somewhere and the results are telling to me. These figures represent the percentage of individual contribution money drawn from out of state.
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 36.63%
- Doug Gansler (D) – 32.67%
- Anthony Brown (D) – 25.55%
- Charles Lollar (R) – 7.09%
- Ron George (R) – 4.11%
- David Craig (R) – 3.87%
In the cases of Brown and Gansler, it seemed like much of their out-of-state take came from the District of Columbia, while Mizeur’s came from all over the country. Yet if you considered Takoma Park and Silver Spring as part of another state (sometimes we here on the Shore consider them another country) I believe Mizeur would have been over 50 percent. Does everyone in Takoma Park have an extra Benjamin to spend on her race? Seems like it.
This final category shows that Maryland Republicans can’t seem to nationalize this statewide race as they could recent federal races with Dan Bongino and Andy Harris, for example. This is a pity because what better encouraging message to conservatives than a Republican winning in Maryland?
To be a Republican in this state, though, it almost always means being outraised and outspent. But I find it interesting that Democrats have to pull so much money in from other states or corporate entities to produce these war chests. Sure, in Maryland we have our share of those who would dream of purchasing access via political contribution but it is encouraging that four of the six in the race still rely heavily on the grassroots. Sadly, though, they are the four who don’t have seven-figure bank balances.
So when you see the inevitable campaign commercials building up one candidate or tearing down another, consider where the money came from. The reports are somewhat dry reading, but you might find out the business you patronize donates to the wrong side.
Over the next few weeks I’ll look at some other races, including a couple local ones. Bet I find a few surprises.
Update: It’s probably been priced into the market anyway, but Brian Sears reports that Second District Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is, as most have come to expect, skipping the 2014 gubernatorial race to make another Congressional run. So the fields will probably not get any larger, although I wouldn’t be shocked to see a dropout on the GOP side.
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?
It’s interesting how the blogosphere works.
At 3:19 p.m. yesterday I received the e-mail about Richard Douglas deciding not to run for Attorney General, presumably at the same time several others got it because we were all “providing coverage of his potential run during the exploratory phase,” as the e-mail said. I say I received it, but I actually didn’t read it until maybe 3:45 or so because I was out when it hit my e-mail box.
As it turned out, there were six media sources which received the e-mail, although it went to a total of eight people excluding the common practice of self-addressing to make sure the e-mail went out. (Three of them represented Red Maryland, although Brian Griffiths wrote their coverage.)
Now I’m not sure who had it out first between Michael Dresser of the Baltimore Sun, The Quinton Report and Red Maryland, but the latter two outlets more or less reprised the press release in full with a line or two of comment. Dresser’s piece was even more brief, and shows why he’s a professional – assuming he got the e-mail at about the same time the rest of us did, it was written in a matter of minutes. As a summary it was well done. All three did the quick and dirty thing, getting the news out to their readers.
Jackie Wellfonder and I took a little longer to write our coverage, but both of us added more summary to the news release, which she printed in full and I excerpted from. Jackie brought out the idea of a task force, which I will speak to shortly. For my part, I was hoping to be first out with the news (I wasn’t) but I also wanted to add some opinion and context, which I did. As it turns out I wasn’t at my outside job so I had my piece set to go about 4:30 yesterday.
The other person who received the e-mail has chosen thus far not to write on it. So there’s my compare and contrast of the coverage, for what it’s worth. I thought the situation made for an interesting case study.
Now here’s some more context and information. In looking at the election calendar, we all know the filing deadline is February 25, so any candidate for Attorney General (or other office) has to have his or her affairs in order by then. But it’s not the actual “drop-dead” date for the Maryland GOP.
If you remember the 2010 election – the one where Republicans ended up with no AG candidate – there was a controversy which came to a head two years later when Audrey Scott, who was the Chair of the Maryland GOP during the 2010 election, made an unsuccessful bid for National Committeewoman. Jim Shalleck, who had volunteered to place his name on the ballot for the AG post, claimed in a letter sent out during Scott’s 2012 NCW campaign that his would-be candidacy was scuttled because of inaction by the state party. At the time, state parties had a full fifteen days to fill any ballot vacancies which occurred during the filing period – here in Wicomico County, that’s how current State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello made it onto the 2010 ballot because no Republican filed for the office during the prescribed time frame. Fortunately, it worked out for us as a local party and for the county as a whole. On a state level, we failed.
This year, however, the time frame is much shorter as the “drop-dead” date is Monday, March 3. (Note to state Executive Committee: pencil in a Saturday, March 1 meeting now for a task force or however you wish to handle this.) I have no idea if Shalleck is still willing to run, since he seems to have the qualifications to do so if not the fire in the belly, but this is actually a pretty good shot for a Republican because there’s no incumbent, a four-way primary on the other side, and perhaps a wave year for the GOP. That confluence of factors rarely comes along in the downballot races where there are no term limits – before Doug Gansler won the office in 2006, his immediate predecessor Joe Curran served 20 years.
Many of those who came before Curran served until a judgeship came open, which is how the last Republican AG got into office – his elected Democratic predecessor moved to the Maryland Court of Appeals and Edward D.E. Rollins of Cecil County was appointed to the post in 1952 by the last Republican governor to win re-election, Theodore McKeldin. It’s been 96 years since a Republican won the AG job via election, and that streak’s not in jeopardy until someone steps up on the Republican side.