Bongino newest poll champion

You know, I have so much fun with these occasional polls I do.

As I said in June when I did the last Senate one, I obviously know the polls are manipulated. But in making the assumption that those who would manipulate a poll exist in the same general proportion as supporters in the population at large, I can at least gather a trend. At least in this sort of instance it’s doubtful anyone would lie to a pollster.

These results, though, show a trend which may only be occurring within Republican circles until we know for sure if other key contenders are getting into the party. Here’s how the poll went:

  1. Daniel Bongino – 3,425 votes (75.66%)
  2. Eric Wargotz – 1,068 votes (23.59%)
  3. Robert Broadus – 23 votes (0.51%)
  4. William Capps – 5 votes (0.11%)
  5. Rich Douglas – 2 votes (0.04%)
  6. Rick Hoover – 2 votes (0.04%)
  7. Pat McDonough – 1 vote (0.02%)
  8. Corrogan Vaughn – 1 vote (0.02%)

Having said that a trend may exist, I need to caution those reading into the results that there’s little chance Dan Bongino will get 76% of the vote – I don’t care if the Constitutional Conservatives Fund of Senator Mike Lee has endorsed Dan or not, he’s not getting 75 percent of the GOP vote. In 2006 Michael Steele didn’t even get 90 percent and he was the sitting lieutenant governor, had plenty of name recognition, and basically controlled the whole Maryland GOP apparatus. I can see something in the 40’s for Bongino if all goes right but a lot depends on who else gets into the race and we won’t have a couple possible entrants with statewide name recognition make a formal announcement on their status until later this month.

But I have to admire how Dan is laying the groundwork for his campaign, including people passionate enough to drive internet poll numbers over 75 percent.

Let’s compare this to June numbers, for example. The number of votes cast was nearly the same (4,716 in June vs. 4,527 now) but the results were somewhat different:

  1. Eric Wargotz – 44.87%
  2. Daniel Bongino – 36.28%
  3. William Capps – 17.62%
  4. Corrogan Vaughn – 0.81%
  5. Robert Broadus – 0.23%
  6. Rick Hoover – 0.19%

Since I didn’t figure Capps ever really had 18 percent, the idea of a two-man race at the time had merit. But if Eric decides not to run – and remember, he had not made a final decision as of a couple weeks ago – that only leaves Pat McDonough as a possible major opponent. (I wouldn’t completely discount Rich Douglas either, given his background.)

This election is a little bit different than the last cycle, where the primary was late – so late, in fact, that federal law precludes us from having a September primary again. (Too bad, because I liked that compressed season.) Now there’s less than six months remaining until election day and truly we won’t be really paying attention until after the holidays anyway. It’s possible we could have a post-holiday bid, sort of like Bob Ehrlich’s coyness about his 2010 try for governor, but like Ehrlich it would have to be someone with some name recognition already because the filing deadline is January 11.

In any case it won’t be as easy as voting in a monoblogue poll.

Senate hopeful Bongino featured WCRC speaker

For the first time since Brian Murphy spoke to us last July, a statewide candidate will grace the Wicomico County Republican Club stage – ironically, with a boost from the aforementioned 2010 candidate for governor.

Daniel Bongino is making his first political run a challenging one by running in a statewide race to unseat incumbent Senator Ben Cardin. Cardin defeated former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele in 2006, keeping the seat in Democratic hands after longtime Senator Paul Sarbanes retired following a thirty-year run.

Featuring the tagline, “we did nothing wrong, government failed us,” Bongino’s key issues appear to be the economy, health care, energy, the environment, national security, and immigration. Certainly he’ll discuss these and other topics Monday evening.

The meeting, as always, will be held at the Chamber of Commerce building at 144 E. Main Street in downtown Salisbury. We gather for a social time at 6:30 p.m. with the meeting beginning around 7:00.

It’s likely that Bongino will be the first of several GOP Senatorial candidates to grace our stage, since six people are currently in the race. However, Bongino is coming off a strong second-place finish in my most recent Senate poll, just behind 2010 nominee Eric Wargotz.

Budgetary woes: it’s not just a state party thing

While Alex Mooney joined his two Maryland cohorts in pledging to vote for Michael Steele, at least “on the first ballot,” it’s one of those two fellow RNC members who now plays a different role in the election.

Louis Pope was picked two years ago to be the party’s treasurer in a downballot race which attracted much less interest than the Chair’s race. Yet, according to this Washington Times story by Ralph Z. Hallow, Pope approved a 2012 budget which figures to leave the national GOP $10 million in the hole – shades of Jim Pelura!

While one can joke about persistent debt being part of the Maryland GOP’s DNA and it carrying over to the national party once Steele assumed command, the fact that the party may not be able to pay its bills without a large line of credit is a charge contenders for the position have used to hammer the incumbent Steele, who backed Pope for the treasurer’s post.

Obviously politics is somewhat different than a business – and it should be, since there better not be a profit mode in the political arena – but the ideal would be a zero-sum game. Yes, ask any politician and certainly they’d love to have more money to help them get out the vote and convince the electorate their ideas are best. They don’t call money the mother’s milk of politics for nothing.

But our side is supposed to be the conservative one, and this lack of leadership by example tends to paint the GOP with the same big-spending brush it was tarred with during the Bush years. Worse yet, a party hampered by debt in 2012 may have a difficult time digging out of the hole if it has nothing to offer. Obviously another trip to the political wilderness like it had over the last two years is still possible after 2012 if the GOP challenger to President Obama loses and people lose faith in the Republican brand to create the change we really need. Undoubtedly the partisan media will be playing up the contention between Congress (particularly the Republican-controlled House) and President Obama.

There’s no need to rehash the financial truth of the Maryland GOP, since it’s existed in the political wilderness for longer than the national party. Every few decades they capture the governor’s office, but they have yet to crack the Democratic strangehold on the General Assembly. (It just wants to make you go beat some sense into the residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City who somehow keep voting against their best interests. I can see the cushy government job aspect in some areas, but why listen to the poverty pimps in the inner city?)

This financial question may be a key as to why Mooney only committed to Steele for one round of voting and Pope “knows who he will vote for once Steele drops out after the first or second ballot.” That can’t be good news for the incumbent, who may be looking for a new full-time gig in a couple weeks.

In the meantime, look for more “surveys” and other pitches (overt and covert) from the RNC for fundraising. They may not quite be reduced to the “buddy, can you spare a dime” pitch on the street corner, but they could be closer than you think.

Home state advantage?

It was a small sample to be sure, but unsurprisingly Michael Steele won my RNC Chair poll. There were only 33 votes, which I found disappointing. I enjoyed the write-ins, though.

Here’s how the totals break down (including write-ins):

  • Michael Steele – 11 (33.3%)
  • Reince Priebus – 5 (15.2%)
  • Saul Anuzis – 4 (12.1%)
  • Maria Cino – 3 (9.1%)
  • Gentry Collins – 2 (6.1%)
  • Ann Wagner – 2 (6.1%)
  • Sarah Palin (write-in) – 2 (6.1%)
  • Michael Swartz (write-in) – 2 (6.1%)
  • Gary Johnson (write-in) – 1 (3%)
  • Rush Limbaugh (write-in) – 1 (3%)

While I thank my supporter (or supporters) for the two votes, let me just quote William Tecumseh Sherman, “If nominated, I will not accept; if drafted, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.” Still, I’m flattered.

I think this poll proves two things, though. As I was watching this poll develop over the last few days, initially Steele had an absolute majority but as time went on it became a plurality. This is interesting because the majority (about 3/4) of my readers come from Maryland so one would naturally assume he would do well. Either I had more out-of-state voters come on board or Steele is losing his status as a favorite son.

Secondly, there seems to be a large streak of “none-of-the-aboveism” among the rank-and-file, almost as if they are asking, “is this the best we can do?” Certainly there is some celebrity involved (witness the votes for Palin and Limbaugh) but the votes for Gary Johnson (and to a lesser extent, yours truly) may suggest that a direction more conducive to the TEA Party is desired. (Just for the record, I didn’t vote in this poll.) Despite the naysayers, I think the TEA Party is finding its voice in the GOP. (I’ll have more to say on that opinion in coming days.)

Even so, among the people who count, there is a suggestion that Steele is in peril as he bids for a second term as GOP head. We’ll see how it all shakes out on January 15, although there is a debate scheduled for this afternoon among the six announced contenders. (I had other plans.) I believe a number of those who can vote may be making their mind up after they hear all six speak in a public forum, and I also think that when we get to voting in twelve days there will only be three or four nominated. The bottom-feeders know the score as well as the rest of us.

The man of Steele in trouble?

One outlet following the RNC Chair race closely has been the Hotline OnCall section of the NationalJournal. While the rest of us were watching bowl games or recovering from a night of revelry (or both) they were again updating their whip count on the race. With nearly half the voters having made a first-ballot commitment, none of the six candidates are over 1/3 of the way to the 85 votes they need to succeed.

Surprisingly, though, the leader at this point is Wisconsin state Chair Reince Priebus. Michael Steele lags behind in second place with 15 confirmed to 28 in the Priebus corner.

Further, while it’s no surprise that our national committeeman Louis Pope and national committeewoman Joyce Terhes are in Steele’s camp, the willingness of newly elected Chair Alex Mooney to shop around is encouraging. I happen to know some aspects of what Mooney is looking for in a Chair, but am not at liberty to divulge them. Michael Steele might not be the perfect fit for Alex, although in later rounds (and there will be later rounds if the last RNC election is any sort of guide) he could gravitate back to Michael if that option is still available.

It’s also worthy to note that the last incumbent RNC Chair also made a bid for re-election, but Mike Duncan lost his race on the heels of a 2008 campaign that saw a Democratic expansion of influence in Congress and capture of the White House. Obviously Michael Steele had a better election on his watch, but there have been complaints that the GOP left a few races on the table – particularly Senate races in Alaska, Nevada, and Delaware where ‘establishment’ GOP candidates lost in the primary and TEA Party insurgents faltered in the general election. (The GOP kept the Alaska seat as Senator Lisa Murkowski maintained her party affiliation while winning a write-in campaign.)

Yet the chief complaint against Steele is financial, with opponents pointing out that the party will need a huge infusion of cash to compete for the White House in 2012. President Obama may run the first billion-dollar campaign (not to mention the free publicity of a fawning press) so in order to compete fundraising needs to be key.

Tomorrow will feature a debate between the six announced candidates, with streaming available here. The election will be held on January 15, with the winner possibly becoming the GOP’s 65th Chairman.

Odds and ends number 24

Note: updates to the final news item are at the bottom. There is a link to a RNC whip count included too.

As one may expect, the combination of the snow and the season makes this a deathly slow news week – but here are some things I found interesting.

If you are a thinking conservative as I aspire to be, I came across a list of questions one can ask those of the liberal persuasion in a piece by Oleg Atbashian at Pajamas Media today. It always seems to me that those who have lived through statism as practiced around the world (in the former Soviet Union, Communist China, Cuba, former Eastern European Soviet satellites, etc.) and escaped to America have both a keener appreciation of the freedom we enjoy and the memory of just how their homelands arrived in the state they became.

I’m not sure if the book tour he describes will make it anywhere around these parts, but you can certainly tell Atbashian has embraced capitalism by looking at his The People’s Cube website. And you can certainly ask questions – after all, wasn’t the mantra of ‘question authority’ popular in the 1980’s? So why did we stop then?

Speaking of authority, the authority behind the Republican National Committee is at stake in an election held next month. Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post broke down who he considers the contenders and pretenders in a post which appeared late last night.

Seeing that we have a ‘favorite son’ of sorts in the race (Maryland’s incumbent Chair Michael Steele) it may be a shock to see Cillizza rank him among the three-person ‘second tier’ of contestants. I would presume Steele has the support of at least two of Maryland’s three-person delegation to the convention and most likely would get newly-installed state party Chair Alex Mooney’s vote as well. But I encourage all three to consider a second choice because I think Michael Steele has worn out his welcome, despite the successes of the 2010 campaign.

And unlike our recent state Chair election which relied on a complicated vote-tallying formula, every state and territory in the RNC universe will have an equal say – so the three votes Steele could presumably count on from Maryland are balanced by the three votes Saul Anuzis would get from his home state of Michigan, the trio of ballots Reince Priebus would secure from Wisconsin, and so on.

As a reminder, I looked at the other contenders a couple weeks ago. I suspect Maryland will have to deal with the post-Steele era in the RNC beginning next month.

Update: Heather Olsen alerted me to an ongoing whip count – judging by his comment our state Chair may be withholding his support for Michael Steele, at least for the moment.

Turning to state politics it’s worth noting that Delegate Michael Smigiel, who was re-elected in November, has prefiled two measures which were attempted last year – the eniment domain reform bill which was HB63 last year will be HB8 this time around, while the firearm licensing reciprocity bill known as HB52 in the last session was assigned to be HB9. Hopefully they will get out of committee this time around since there need only be four thoughtful Democrats necessary to bypass the committee and bring legislation to the floor (assuming all 43 House Republicans sign on.)

Finally, a weather-related note – the State of the County is snow-covered, thus Rick Pollitt has cancelled the State of the County speech scheduled for tomorrow morning. (This was announced today by county PIO Jim Fineran.) I have a question in to Jim regarding rescheduling, so if I find out I’ll amend the post to share the information.

Update: according to Jim Fineran, the speech will not be rescheduled. I’ll receive a copy for my review later today.

Update 2: Rick Pollitt released a statement with the annual report, which read in part, “Each year, I have published a printed ‘County Executive’s Report to the People’ in compliance with the terms of the Charter and then chosen to follow with an oral presentation from the council chambers. However, due to the current snow emergency and a variety of other significant items of business currently underway, I plan to publish the usual report as required but will postpone an oral presentation to a future date.” (Emphasis mine.)

No word on what the ‘significant items of business’ are. Later today I will have a review of the report.

He’s out, he’s in – Michael Steele looks like a contender

After spending a good part of yesterday salivating over rumors that Michael Steele would give up the reins of the Republican National Committee after his term is over in January, much of the media had to eat crow when Steele announced he was in last night. So what does this mean?

Currently there are several potential opponents for Michael Steele. Saul Anuzis of Michigan, who is one of them, claims that there are four announced contenders on his website and has already done his own video:

Perhaps Saul’s biggest selling point is the vow to be a “behind-the-scenes” chairman, which isn’t exactly Michael Steele’s forte.

But the other contenders aren’t letting Anuzis, who announced first, get a large lead. Here’s Ann Wagner of Missouri making her pitch.

It’s longer and less slickly produced than Saul’s, but Ann touts her experience.

Yet perhaps the most formidable contender is a former Steele supporter and party General Counsel, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin.

Obviously both he and Wagner can point to statewide successes where Steele cannot.

Others who have announced include Maria Cino from New York, who was a former Deputy Secretary under George W. Bush and former RNC Deputy Chairman, and Gentry Collins of Iowa, who has the slickest website by far.

Regardless of how many contend for the title, it’s highly doubtful that anyone in Maryland’s RNC delegation would vote against Michael Steele. But I believe it’s up to our three representatives – particularly newly elected Chair Alex Mooney – to carefully consider the alternatives. While Steele points to his electoral successes, there are others who contend that we left a lot of races on the table nationally due to a lack of fundraising just as Alex Mooney bemoaned the close races the Maryland GOP lost for much the same reason.

We’ll never know if one of the five contenders Michael Steele bested in 2009 would have taken the GOP to further victories. But the uncertainty of whether the party is positioned well for the 2012 cycle should give pause to those who reflexively believe Michael Steele deserves another two years at the helm. In truth, his position parallels the initial position Mary Kane was in for our state Chair race – Steele is the favorite, but by no means a prohibitive one. And we saw just how that favorite ran on Saturday as the state party decided a clean break from a previous era was best.

Our delegation might be forgiven to support the favorite son once, but as subsequent ballots go on – and I’m sure there will be – they should consider the other candidates remaining as well. Remember, you are elected to represent us and to do what’s best not just for Maryland but for the Republican Party at large. Don’t sell us short.

Update: John Gizzi at Human Events has his take on the race.

Steele draws opposition in RNC Chair race

Even after a reasonably successful midterm election cycle, current RNC Chair Michael Steele is drawing opposition for re-election from a former foe.

Saul Anuzis, who finished third in the balloting for the post in 2009, outlined a number of reasons he was taking on the incumbent, with the key being a “dramatic change in the way the RNC does business.” “I will be a tenacious fundraiser,” claimed Anuzis, who pointed out the RNC didn’t fund certain winnable races in several states.

But he also slammed Steele in a backhand way, saying:

My agenda is very straightforward. I have no interest in running for office. I won’t be writing a book.  It is not my goal to be famous.

In fact, most RNC chairs have been relatively anonymous except to political junkies and party leaders. Of course, in the era of a 24-hour news cycle the head of a political party can become part of the backstory and Steele’s ascension was seen by many as the GOP’s answer to the election of Barack Obama as our first black President.

Yet his tenure hasn’t been without controversy on overspending and, as Anuzis claimed, the lack of fundraising on the RNC’s part.

(I)n 2010 a group of alternative organizations emerged to help fill the void created by the RNC’s shortage of resources. They found support from many RNC major donors who had lost faith in the RNC. We need these groups and their support, but they can’t be expected to replace the RNC in a presidential year. We must rebuild the trust with our party’s major donors and bring them back to the table.

Obviously the drawback to having a national body such as the RNC is that they sometimes will be forced to support candidates who may not reflect the tastes of contributors; the RNC stepped in it on several occasions by backing moderate candidates like Dede Scozzafava in New York and Charlie Crist in Florida who alienated conservatives and eventually endorsed a Democrat (in Scozzafava’s case) or made an independent run for office as Crist did. It’s why a number of former contributors opted instead to donate to these other organizations or individual candidates, and this could be a problem Anuzis won’t be able to address.

One omission from the Anuzis announcement, though, is the 800-pound gorilla the GOP has to deal with – there was no nod to the TEA Party and its influence. That could be a drawback to some who are newly minted conservative activists and would like a signal that the Republican Party isn’t going to return to its former ways.

However, Saul comes from a state where success was such that the GOP won an open governor’s seat and regained total control of their state legislature, obviously with the help of activists inside and outside the TEA Party. As we all know from bitter experience, Maryland somehow avoided the Republican tide the rest of the nation reveled in, with only scant gains in the House of Delegates to call victories.

Anuzis just wishes to be a temporary Mr. Fix-It, since he states up front he wants to only serve until a Republican is elected President and installs his or her choice to run the Republican National Committee. While there was success in this election we can always strive for better and Anuzis is likely just the first to provide the members of the RNC an alternative to keeping Michael Steele on.

Speaking of the RNC, I got an interesting call this morning from a nice young lady who was trying to see what sort of interest there was in electing former gubernatorial candidate (as in keeping the seat warm until Bob Ehrlich decided what to do) Larry Hogan as state party chair. I’m all for him running if he wants, for the more choices we have the better winner we will likely have. So far I’m only aware of two other prospective candidates: Mike Esteve, who heads the Maryland College Republicans, and Sam Hale of the Maryland Society of Patriots.

We should be treated to an interesting race; may the best person win.

Friday night videos – episode 49

The last episode before the historic midterm and state elections may be a little on the long side. I have four videos from earlier today to feature first, with Andy Harris, Bob Ehrlich, and two doses of Michael Steele speaking before a crowded Salisbury GOP Victory Center earlier today.

Another short video which is important to our election on a more local scale comes from State’s Attorney hopeful Matt Maciarello.

All in all, Barb Mikulski’s another brick in the wall.

Perhaps a good way to look at the future is remembering the past, like this video from the Republican Study Committee does. This man is a good one to study.

We can roll back the damage done.

I told you I might reuse this one.

That WILL be Tuesday. We can truly drain the swamp of all the scum that’s accumulated over the last couple election cycles.

And when you go to vote, don’t forget what Ava says.

You just HAD to know I would call it a wrap with her – there is no other way but to close a long and bitterly fought election season but with that song.

Fire Pelosi tour comes to Salisbury

This morning there was a big red bus out front of the Salisbury GOP Victory Center.

Eventually we saw there were a number of special guests on the bus, and our small city will get a little love from Fox News as well. Bret Baier sat in our headquarters taping an interview with Michael Steele for later broadcast.

Apparently Bret’s aboard the bus for today. But people were excited even if they’re not on the bus, and passers-by were greeted by about a dozen sign wavers – that’s the first picture below.

Overall well over 100 people crammed into our South Salisbury Boulevard headquarters, including practically every local candidate and state party Chair Audrey Scott. As you’ll see in the second picture below, that guy running for governor is also a popular fella to be pictured with. Bob referred to the group as “the James Gang”, playing off the rock band of yore. Bob made sure to point out that “I don’t support Jim Mathias, despite what he may say.”

It was also an excuse for GOP candidates to see and be seen. Marty Pusey was out making her rounds.

Mike McDermott, her fellow District 38B House candidate, was also there but had this high-visibility item nearby as well.

So after the bus made a show of re-arriving, leading to the quip of the day – Michael Steele joked as he was departing that, “I tell my Democratic friends the bus is a little understated, but it gets the job done” – we all crammed into the headquarters building itself to hear what they had to say. When I say crammed, it was pretty crowded.

State chair Audrey Scott, who you may see in the middle of the above picture, served as the emcee.

As I write this, I’m uploading the videos from today’s remarks for a special edition of FNV. But Michael Steele didn’t get right back on the bus after his remarks were through. He also gave a pep talk to the volunteers who jumped on the phones to make the calls we need for victory.

He also had time to tape a quick interview with local radio host Bill Reddish and talk to other reporters.

Michael noted the 2010 campaign, “is unreal…a tidal wave that’s brewing.”

We will find out on Tuesday, but the group here sounded pretty confident of victory.

Still holding faith in Steele

No matter how embattled Michael Steele may become as the head of the Republican National Committee he will always have a base of support here in Maryland, where his name is still golden among certain circles. One case in point: an Anne Arundel County candidate for Delegate is holding a fundraiser tomorrow with Steele as the featured attraction.

(continued on my newly revamped page…)

The lone wolf

In the political world oftentimes a primary election has a prohibitive favorite who, tacitly or not, has the support of party brass. Here in Maryland a recent example on the Republican side was Michael Steele’s U.S. Senate run in 2006, where Steele won 87% of the vote against nine opponents because the GOP establishment was firmly behind him. While other candidates may have been more appealing on the issues, Steele locked up most of the donors through the connections being a party insider provided.

As a party chair who just recently stepped down, Jim Pelura could be considered part of the Maryland Republican Party establishment. But as published reports indicated yesterday, Pelura has chosen to support upstart Brian Murphy for the GOP nomination rather than Bob Ehrlich. Pelura cited the need for “new blood” as part of the reason for his support.

(continued on my page…)