Can things really be changed with a Convention of States?

It’s a funny thing: when I last broached this subject I noted that the momentum toward a Convention of States had stalled out as no state had passed a call for an Article V Constitutional convention in nearly three years. Apparently, though, getting past the CCP virus has popped the cork on the movement because in the nearly three months since I last wrote on the subject the CoS effort has gained the support of Wisconsin, Nebraska, West Virginia, and most recently South Carolina, bringing the total to 19. They’ve also come closer to melting away opposition in Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota and there was even testimony on a CoS bill in Maryland – yes, Maryland.

Granted, the Maryland bill didn’t get beyond the hearing stage – and it will probably never get beyond that unless there is a sea change in their General Assembly beginning this fall – but the fact that nearly half of their Republican delegation co-sponsored the measure is encouraging, especially since the 2021 version only had a sole sponsor. (What is not encouraging is the lack of interest from the lower Eastern Shore delegation, from which only Delegates Johnny Mautz and Charles Otto were co-sponsors. That leaves Delegates Chris Adams, Carl Anderton, and Wayne Hartman along with both lower Shore Senators, Addie Eckardt and Mary Beth Carozza out of the picture. It goes without saying that Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes wouldn’t be a backer; after all, she just voted for allowing easier access to baby murder.) On the other hand, a Democrat-sponsored Article V resolution to protect “voting rights” was not introduced this session after failing to advance in a two-year run in the MGA from 2020 to 2021.

Shamefully, Delaware is one of those states where a CoS resolution hasn’t been introduced in recent years (more on that in a bit.)

One thing the CoS has been circulating of late is an endorsement of sorts from radio host Glenn Beck, who basically told his audience that, “a convention of states is the best thing we can do” to rein in government. Beck explained that the process would not be open to making other changes in the Constitution besides those which are spelled out, which is why the Democrats in Maryland had to create their own proposal rather than just jumping on board the Republican Article V resolution figuring they could take it over.

I noted back in January why I’ve begun to feel this is the better solution to our longstanding issues with government, but let me give you another analogy: if you are related to an alcoholic, do you just let them continue down their self-destructive path or do you get together with caring friends and family to do an intervention? Government will not fix itself because there are too many in it for themselves and their little fiefdoms of power, so someone else has to come along to starve that beast.

I’ve been in politics long enough to see what normally happens with “reformers” when they are first elected to office. They promise the moon but once they get there the excuses begin and the reform becomes going along to get along. The people the TEA Party sent to Congress in 2010 first said they couldn’t do anything because they only had half of Congress. In 2014, once they got a Senate majority, they bemoaned the fact that Obama was still in office, and promised action once a Republican was elected President.

In 2016, we got the ultimate reformer in Donald Trump and what did Congress do? Well, maybe it’s better to to say what they didn’t do: after six years of promising to repeal Obamacare, when they had the opportunity they didn’t do a thing – not even the damned “repeal and replace.” We got a temporary tax cut that the Democrats are already trying to dismantle, and government is bigger than ever because, as fast as President Trump was undoing regulation, the Biden regime is working triple-time to replace it, and then some. For having the barest of Congressional majorities, the Democrats are doing more to pursue their regressive agenda than those who promised the TEA Party the swamp would be drained ever did.

We could elect 60 new conservative House members this fall and somehow get to a filibuster-proof Republican majority in the Senate, while overcoming the Democrats’ best effort to swipe the election in 2024 with Trump, DeSantis, or whoever but there would still be excuses. Perhaps an external intervention is in order here?

Obviously there is risk in “imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limiting the terms for office for its officials and members of Congress.” Balancing the budget may mean significant new taxes, the Swamp can figure out workarounds on limits to power and jurisdiction, and term limits don’t apply to entrenched bureaucrats that are much of the problem. But if we can get the momentum in putting together a Constitutional convention, perhaps we can work at the problem in a new manner. If the regressives are against it, claiming, “The constitutional convention idea is a special interest-funded, anti-democratic endeavor that will almost certainly strip power from the American people, while leaving our cherished constitutional rights up for grabs,” then maybe it’s not such a bad idea. That’s pretty much how they play, isn’t it?

In looking up the author of that op-ed, Claire Snyder-Hall, I found out she is the executive director for Common Cause Delaware, a self-described “nonpartisan citizens lobby, dedicated to fostering open, honest and accountable government at every level.” You would think they would be for a more limited government because there’s less incentive to be secretive, dishonest, and unaccountable when the honey pot is smaller, but no. One of their “accomplishments” is that they:

…was also the primary organization responsible for stopping the dangerous legislation to call for a Constitutional Convention in 2016.

(…)

Recent Activities

May 2016

Vote on House Concurrent Resolution 60 – Rescinding the Article V Call for a Constitutional Convention. 

Delaware rescinded all calls for a Constitutional Convention. House and Senate leaders joined with Common Cause Delaware to pass HCR 60 and stopped Delaware from going down a dangerous path. Common Cause made a difference by educating and opposing the convening of a Constitutional Convention.

Common Cause website, “About Us” and “Our History.” Accessed April 12, 2022.

If you recall from January, that HCR60 vote was one featured on that year’s monoblogue Accountability Project. A vote against HCR60 was a proper vote. But the first part of that blockquote was why I changed the paragraph above: it turns out there was legislation introduced in 2015 to join the call for convention, which unfortunately was stricken in 2016. I’d love to have any of the Senators involved (Dave Lawson, who was the sponsor, Gerald Hocker, or Colin Bonini) explain why it was stricken. (I presume it means the same as withdrawn, which is a term I’m more familiar with because Maryland uses it.) I wish there was some sort of voting record on it as there was with HCR60, but maybe we can get some insight from the trio.

So there is precedent in this state, and maybe this idea is something we can keep in our back pocket for this fall’s campaign. It’s time to get the First State to be on this list with nineteen or more of its brethren. What do we have to lose?

Things aren’t always what they seem

I haven’t been paying nearly as much attention to Maryland politics the last few years but every so often I find something rather intriguing. In this case, it’s not too many miles away in Dorchester County.

I saw that over the weekend their county Republicans had their Lincoln Day Dinner. Initially I learned this thanks to a social media post by a locally noted political sign critic but then it went further when I noticed a promoted post on that same social media outlet that led to this blog post.

Apparently we are still far enough away from the primary that Republicans are coming to the Eastern Shore to solicit votes, and in this case the Dorchester LDD featured the two leading contenders for their gubernatorial nomination: Delegate Daniel Cox and onetime Delegate and Hogan administration official Kelly Schulz. In this particular retelling of events it was obvious that the writer was heavily favoring the Cox campaign, which is fine. What’s most interesting, though, is that the contact address for the Shore Times blog where the article came from is the exact same one used by Marc Schifanelli for his school board campaign in Queen Anne’s County. Of course, students of Maryland politics know that Marc’s wife Gordana is Cox’s running mate. So we’re not exactly being stealth here, and I will give credit for pointing that out in due time.

On the other side of the equation – and not being too stealth themselves – is The Duckpin, a site which seems to spend its time tearing down Cox, who they swear up and down isn’t much of a threat on par with the other two no-names in the race. Yet somehow Dan lives rent-free in their heads as they keep writing about him instead of promoting their endorsed choice in Schulz. (Apparently Brian Griffiths wanted to write about more than politics, so Red Maryland was put to bed and The Duckpin was born. He finally figured out what I knew over 16 years ago.)

Anyway, I was reading a piece on the race that made the claim about the link and indeed it’s true. So give the man his credit. But what’s the big deal?

Here’s the problem with being a Republican and running for governor in Maryland: you have to survive a GOP primary.

In 2010, Larry Hogan deferred to Bob Ehrlich, who then proceeded to lose even worse to Martin O’Malley than he did the first time. You may recall there was this phenomenon going around the country back then called the TEA Party…well, they liked this heretofore unknown businessman named Brian Murphy in the gubernatorial primary and enough of them tuned out the overly moderate Ehrlich once Murphy was dispatched back to anonymity to doom Bob to defeat in the general.

In 2014, there was an open seat and the Democrats decided to promote their bland, personality-free LG Anthony Brown to governor. Larry Hogan had spent the four years building up a grassroots group called Change Maryland and he parlayed that into securing the nomination then winning in November – thanks to a lot of the people who abandoned Ehrlich because he wasn’t conservative enough for them. This despite the fact Hogan’s website was about content-free and you couldn’t nail down what he was actually for, just what he was against based on Change Maryland.

Fooled you once… the next time in 2o18 Hogan only won because the Democrats went extreme left with their choice for governor; otherwise, the election was a disaster for Republicans on the order of 2006. (Had he run in 2018 instead of this cycle, we would be commenting on the prospects of Governor Franchot’s re-election. Or perhaps Governor Delaney’s.)

So here’s the problem with Kelly Schulz. In looking her up in the archives of the monoblogue Accountability Project, I had forgotten that she was relatively conservative by my standards – not enough to be a consistent Legislative All-Star (she was just one time in eight years I covered her) but she had an 85 average and that’s very good for a Maryland politician. (With an average that high, I would be hailing her as a savior in Delaware.)

But what I didn’t see when she went into the Executive Branch was a great deal of conservative innovation. It’s good that her “proudest accomplishment (at DLLR) was guiding Maryland’s youth apprenticeship program,” but I would have rather seen efforts to wrest the state from the grip of its unions by edging it toward right-to-work status or taking a hacksaw to regulations like Donald Trump did at a federal level. And the question I have: is this the record of a conservative?

Member, Maryland Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, 2019; Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic Commission, 2019; Small Business Resources and Data Collection Work Group, 2019; Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, 2019-20; P-20 Leadership Council of Maryland, 2019-21. Board of Directors, Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation, 2019-22. Member, Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Board, 2019-22; Governor’s Intergovernmental Commission for Agriculture, 2019-22; Animal Waste Technology Fund Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Aviation Commission, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Bainbridge Development Corporation, 2019-22. Member, Coast Smart Council, 2019-22; Correctional Education Council, 2019-22; Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays, 2019-22; Maryland Cybersecurity Council, 2019-22; Interagency Disabilities Board, 2019-22; Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority, 2019-22; Maryland Economic Development Commission, 2019-22; Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund Authority, 2019-22; Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities, 2019-22; Interagency Food Desert Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Green Purchasing Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, 2019-22; State Highway Access Valuation Board, 2019-22; Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs, 2019-22; Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority, 2019-22; Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board, 2019-22; Maryland Manufacturing Advisory Board, 2019-22; Council on Open Data, 2019-22; Maryland Opportunity Zone Leadership Task Force, 2019-22; Maryland Port Commission, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Maryland Public-Private Partnership Marketing Corporation, 2019- (chair, 2019). Executive Board, Regional Additive Manufacturing Partnership of Maryland, 2019-22. Member, Governor’s Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting, 2019-22; Renewable Fuels Incentive Board, 2019-22; Rural Maryland Council, 2019-22; Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs, 2019-22; Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority, 2019-22; Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, 2019-22. Board of Directors, Maryland Technology Development Corporation, 2019-22. Board of Regents, University System of Maryland, 2019-22. Member, Governor’s Workforce Development Board, 2019-22; Youth Apprenticeship Advisory Committee, 2019-22; Maryland Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council, 2019-22.

Member, COVID-19 Small Business Task Force, Baltimore City, 2020; Task Force on the Economic Future of Western Maryland, 2020-22; Maryland Food System Resiliency Council, 2021-22; Historic St. Mary’s City Fort to 400 Commission, 2021-22; Maryland Semiquincentennial Commission, 2021-22; Work Group to Study the Transformation of Manufacturing in Maryland’s Emerging Digital Economy, 2021-22.

Maryland Manual online, accessed March 22, 2022.

Granted, I’m sure most of these are ex officio positions she gathered as the Secretary, but no one said she had to accept a position on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities or the Maryland Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council. Her acceptance to me equates with support.

That’s not to say I’m the biggest fan of Daniel Cox, who has styled himself as something of a Trump fanboy. But if you drive around on the back roads of Dorchester County that I frequent on a regular basis on the way to my in-laws’ house, you see a lot of Trump paraphrenalia and a lot of Cox for Governor signs. (Not many people go through Eldorado or Rhodesdale, but I do.) It’s a slice of the electorate that probably won’t turn out for someone endorsed by Larry Hogan because they can’t stand what he’s become. While many were pushed over the edge by the bad blood between Larry Hogan and Donald Trump, they were placed at the precipice like I was after our side was quickly sold out by Hogan to the environmentalists who saddled farmers with onerous phosphorus regulations and later saw Larry kill a golden opportunity for economic growth with an ill-advised fracking ban. So Hogan’s support is electoral poison in those quarters.

Certainly there will be those who say that their staying home and not backing Kelly Schulz will ensure Democratic victory in November. But then again, the same prediction of GOP doom holds true if Cox wins so why not stand up for what you believe?

And people wonder why some of us are so fed up with the system?

monoblogue Accountability Project: the 2021 Interim Report

I’m sure most of my longtime readers know that, for many years, I have embarked on what I call the monoblogue Accountability Project: grading state legislators on votes they made through my “barely left of militia” lens that has a decided libertarian and Constitutionalist sheen to it. (If you don’t believe me, just look on the right sidebar under the Amazon ad for my latest book. And that doesn’t show the decade-plus I did one for Maryland when I lived there.)

When I began the Delaware edition back in 2016 because I was working in the state at the time, I realized that it often takes two years (in other words, the full session) to acquire a baseline of 25 good, contested votes by which to grade the legislators. In 2019 I had an issue like I have this year, with a number of votes that would likely make the cut but, because the session is so long, no promise that I will have the same next year – especially in a year where all 62 members are on the ballot due to redistricting (which, in turn, will likely bring its own vote to be scored in the special session upcoming this fall.) I tried to do a 2019 report but found out in 2020 – perhaps thanks to the pandemic – that doing 2020 as a stand-alone session wouldn’t have provided nearly enough votes to consider. (In that case, I appended the 2019 report into a 2019-20 report and dropped four 2019 votes from the package.)

So this year I’m going to try a streamlined, stripped-down approach. At this point I have 26 votes to consider. As part of my long Independence Day weekend I did the research and compiled the chart I’ll need next year to do the full report, but for this interim report decided to grade legislators on a strict votes correct vs. votes incorrect basis, ignoring factors I use in the formal mAP such as absences and ducking votes. Instead, this relatively simple chart will have a ranking by percentage basis of all 62 members regardless of chamber.

The reason I’m doing it this way is that there’s no guarantee I’ll use a particular vote next year – there are a few that I suspect won’t make the cut but fill out the roster of 25 for now. One of them will be out for (almost) sure because I have 26 votes graded. (The caveat is that the 2022 session is so ambitious and contentious that I get 24 more votes to make it an even 50.) Just a sampling of the issues I dealt with this time: minimum wage, automatic voter registration, the renewable energy portfolio, educational issues such as school board terms and what amounts to a month of Critical Race Theory education, further plastic bag bans, the usual plethora of gun restrictions, and a George Floyd bill to handicap the police a little more. It’s sad just how many legislators got a big fat zero percent here.

It didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it because it’s an image file, but you get the idea.

Those of you who live in the districts with Republicans may want to consider goading your representatives to do a little better. Those who have Democrats – and I know there are some districts where the Democrat primary is the decider because Republicans are outnumbered like Custer at his last stand – need to find candidates more toward the Ennis side, because the 0% side is constantly looking for Democrats to knock the centrists off.

And another point: I don’t like RINOs any more than you do, but sometimes they serve a purpose. In 2020 the GOP lost two Senators in Cathy Cloutier and Anthony Delcollo, representing Districts 5 and 7, respectively. Their lifetime mAP ratings were 5 and 11, respectively. However, they were replaced by Kyle Evans Gay and Spiros Mantzavinos, who collectively batted 0-for-52 this year. All they had to do was get three votes right to match the average of my worst RINOs but they couldn’t even do that.

As for the rest of the 0% side and my earlier point about Democrat centrists, there were a few ousted in the 2020 primary and in each case things got worse. David McBride’s lifetime 10 rating became Marie Pinkney’s 0%, Raymond Siegfried’s 16 rating in his brief tenure became Larry Lambert’s 0%, John Viola’s 9% lifetime score became Madinah Wilson-Anton’s 3.8% this year, and Earl Jaques’ 11% became Eric Morrison’s 3.8% this time around.

So I’m bringing this information in the hopes that 2022 brings the counter-trend at a time when Delaware needs it more than ever. We may be stuck with two more years of Governor Carnage and gerrymandered districts that will probably shortchange Sussex County somehow, but getting better candidates in all parties can thwart those statist schemes.

A whimper rather than a bang

For many years I made a lot of hay out of the fact that the Maryland General Assembly session is prescribed to last just 90 days, a time period I dubbed the “90 Days of Terror.” On the other hand, while Delaware does not have a full-time legislature, the relaxed and less frenetic pace of the deliberations (which only just concluded Wednesday after starting in mid-January) makes for a General Assembly that comparatively out of sight and out of mind – so much so that I found doing an annual monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware doesn’t work.

Perhaps the extended time period leads to more congeniality. By my (admittedly rather quick) count, just 152 of 917 House and Senate votes in this portion of the two-year General Assembly term were contested. Looking through the vote tallies only, you find a lot of 21-0 and 41-0 totals, along with a growing number of votes that are blank because they were passed by a voice vote. (No one records if these votes were unanimous or who would have spoken out in opposition, and I suppose those in charge like it that way.)

And instead of being pushed into overtime by a need to pass a budget, this year’s session ended several hours early as the last recorded vote came sometime after 4 p.m. on June 30. All in all, it was a rather uninspiring session when it comes to accountability.

You may have noted that I stated the Accountability Project has to be semi-annual in Delaware, and here’s why. Because I prefer that votes be contested for the mAP, I begin with a base of 152 votes. Now you would think it would be easy to pick out 25 votes, but remember this covers both House and Senate so in reality I need 50 votes.

I start with 152, but the number dramatically drops because one chamber or the other (usually the Senate) has a unanimous vote and I want contested votes in both chambers. The other limiting factor is that many of these votes are on amendments that are only voted for on one side. I used to have a few of these votes in Maryland during the early days of the mAP, but I eventually streamlined the process.

What I think I will do in the coming weeks, though, is provide an interim report that simply tallies up the right and wrong votes of the legislator as a percentage of the bills that came up this year, without a great deal of further explanation that I use to build out my Accountability Project report. It’s actually rather easy to do and can be the beginning of putting together the 2021-22 mAP for Delaware.

And while I’m on the subject of future posts, methinks it’s time to revisit something else I used to do on a regular basis thanks to a chance encounter with one of those involved. Maybe I’ll work on it over this long holiday weekend. So besides that and the upcoming Shorebirds of the Month for June I will begin writing a bit in this venue. I’m looking forward to it.

The several mornings after

I began this post late Wednesday night but I didn’t figure on getting it out until Friday. Then it’s time for a few days of well-deserved R & R.

So, about that crystal ball of mine. There are a lot of moving parts remaining in this Presidential election. I definitely whiffed on Minnesota – I guess people don’t mind rioting as much as I thought. And President Trump may well lose Wisconsin and Michigan as I predicted, but then he has to keep Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania to prevail. All three are a little fishy.

Because of that, I’m reticent to discuss that race. As for the overall Senate, it may come down to Georgia either holding that 51-49 majority or possibly 51-50, as predicted. And based on the House races out and who leads, I may not be terribly far off my guess on that. It’s hard to count (and count on) little dots, but I think we may indeed have a 219-216 House if results hold. I suspect it will be a couple-three less than that because Democrats have a way of stealing finding enough votes to win races, especially in California.

My focus was pretty good on Delaware races, with one exception. In a nutshell, here’s what I guessed and the results:

  • Delaware President: Biden 56-41 (actual: Biden 59-40)
  • Delaware U.S. Senator: Coons 60-37 (actual: Coons 59-38)
  • Delaware U.S. House: LBR 55-43 (actual: LBR 58-40)
  • Delaware Governor: Carney 50-45 (actual: Carney 59-39)
  • Delaware LG: Hall-Long 60-40 (actual: Hall-Long 59-41)
  • Delaware Insurance Commissioner: Navarro 60-40 (actual: Navarro 59-41)
  • Composition of Delaware Senate: Democrat 14-7 (actual: Democrat 14-7)
  • Composition of Delaware House: Democrat 26-15 (actual: Democrat 26-15)

I literally missed the Senate race by about 1/2%, the LG race by .36% and the Insurance Commissioner race by .02%, or 42 votes statewide. The biggest error I made was overestimating the level of enmity for John Carney, meaning Delaware is a state full of sheep. (But we already knew that, given other results.) I also gave the third parties more of a wide berth than they received, but that goes back to their exclusion from debates and media coverage.

I also figured the two Republicans who were picked off in the State Senate would indeed be the ones to go. It cleaned out my entire roster of Delaware winners of the monoblogue Accountability Project’s RINO Huntee Award, although I would have definitely preferred they go by the wayside in a primary. But if you’re going to vote like a Democrat, why not just have the real thing?

So while I don’t like the Delaware results, they were pretty much in line with how I guessed they would be, moreso than the primary.

The last race – one that I could not get a sense of – was the race I talked about across the way in Wicomico County. The good news is that Nicole Acle, the Republican, leads by about 1,100 votes so far. The bad news is that there are several thousand mail-in and provisional ballots left to count and “conservative” Democrat Alexander Scott had about a 2-1 margin in the mail-in votes already received. Essentially there needs to be about 3,000 votes out for Scott to have a chance if the mail-in trend holds with those and the provisional votes. (By the way, it’s normal that Maryland’s count is extended, but what is not normal is the number of mail-in votes. In a usual year we may be talking 100 votes tops out in the district by now; for example, in the 2018 midterm there were just under 400 of these votes total for that district, and most are counted by the Friday after the election with a handful withheld to mix with late-arriving military votes for the following Thursday when they wrap up. I recall sweating bullets for a week-plus after the primary I won to retain my seat on the Central Committee – by 30 votes countywide.)

If there wasn’t already enough evidence that mail-in voting was conceived as a huge advantage to Democrats, consider that between early voting and Election Day returns in Maryland, the Trump/Pence ticket leads by about 28,000 votes. Yes, in Maryland. Unfortunately, the mail-in balloting has Harris/Biden in the lead by 676,199, meaning the overall percentage is 63-35 Democrat. That may balloon even some more as the ballots left to count are mail-in so I figure Trump may lose by 30 points this time rather than 20.

One reason is the slight shade of purple we’re now seeing on the Eastern Shore. No, Andy Harris is not in serious danger of losing with a 30-point lead but I figured on 70 percent given his Democrat opponent is a girl who used to be a guy and doesn’t actually live in the district. (Never mind the far-left political stances.)

But with some mail-in votes left to count there’s some chance that Andy may not have a 12-for-12 sweep in the counties as he usually enjoys. I know Kent County (Maryland) has had it in for Andy ever since he kicked their favored son Wayne Gilchrest to the curb and out of Congress in the 2008 GOP primary but they may turn blue in the Congressional race just as they did the presidential as Harris leads there by just 2 points. Same goes for Talbot County, another popular Annapolis exurb. Andy is hanging on to a slim 8 point lead there. Oddly enough, sandwiched between the two is Queen Anne’s County, which is the eastern terminus of the Bay Bridge – Harris has a 67-33 lead there.

So I guess my handicapping wasn’t half-bad, but now I’m going to take a weekend away. I need a break!

After that I owe you an odds and ends piece, maybe some more election wrapup, and then the retrospective things I do about this time of year. Hard to believe I am wrapping up year number 15 of this enterprise.

Announcing: the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project

For the third time, I have graded all the legislators in the Delaware General Assembly based on their voting patterns on a number of key issues. The final product can be found in its usual sidebar location or through this direct link.

Last October I did an interim edition for this session, but because of the truncated 2020 portion it was adapted to a full-session edition with just 4 new votes. I dropped four votes from the 2019 portion to maintain my even 25 votes, with scores revised accordingly. (This actually helped a fair number of legislators.)

And if you were sharp-eyed over the weekend, you would have noticed I did the usual “soft opening” yesterday by updating the widget before this post was finished and set to be placed up at this early hour.

Without getting too much into it – after all, I want my friends in the First State to read and share the information – it was another discouraging session for the Delaware General Assembly. The nanny state and Trump Derangement Syndrome were out in full force this session, certainly driven in large part by a number of new faces elected in 2018 in both bodies.

The pandemic has radically changed our lives, but aside from a few knee-jerk bills we will probably rue later, the DGA continued our fair state’s march to the left. Unfortunately, no one took my advice last year and became primary opponents to the RINOs who occupy many of the GOP seats in Delaware, nor are most of these legislators going anywhere.

Consider that, out of the 52 seats available this time (10 Senators are in the middle of their four-year term), there are 31 held by Democrats and 21 held by Republicans of all stripes. Out of that group, only two legislators are not seeking another term – notably, Senator Harris McDowell is retiring after 44 years. That brings us down to 50 seeking to retain office (29 Democrats, 21 Republicans.)

On this year’s mAP I have a series of columns that show whether legislators have primary and/or general election opponents. I’m ashamed to tell you that, out of 50 remaining DGA members, 27 of them have no opposition on the ballot at all (11 Republican, 16 Democrat.) Take the remaining 23 and subtract 3 Democrats who only have primary opposition (no Republican opponent), and you’ll see there are only 20 seats in the DGA which could flip between parties.

Currently the DGA is 25-16 Democrat in the House and 12-9 Democrat in the Senate. As it stands right now, barring a miraculous write-in campaign, the House is already 17-9 Democrat and the Senate 9-6 Democrat, so the Democrats only need to win 6 of the remaining 21 elections to maintain control. Thanks to mail-in voting they can cheat their way to that, no sweat.

Moreover, look at who actually drew primary opponents. Eight legislators have one thing in common: all Democrats. Not a single Republican drew a primary opponent. Are you telling me that the GOP rank-and-file is satisfied with the pathetic, milquetoast opposition their legislators provide? Meanwhile, the Democrats who were primaried tend to either be first-term legislators or, more likely, the old guard who is being targeted by younger progressives. The Democrats are very successful at replacing centrists with radicals, but the Republicans just drift leftward to go with the flow.

It’s time for conservatives to put their money where their mouth is. 2022 is an off-year election but every seat is up due to redistricting. That will be the time to step up. And yes, I know the Democrats will be drawing the districts to present themselves the best advantage possible but that can be overcome. We need to right this ship of state because I’m sure you’ll see in two years when I revisit the mAP that things are even worse.

Bringing it into focus

Tonight I finally finished my political widget for 2020 with the races I intend to highlight. Nationally I have the Presidential race, of course, with those who will be on the ballot in Delaware. [I have spotted the Green Party this one; however, I may have to change Howie Hawkins to a write-in if they indeed don’t make the ballot – they were right on the bubble last I saw.)

The biggest amount of work I had was the Senate race, although the Governor’s race was a surprisingly close second. In both instances, not everyone has a website as some simply get by with a social media page – and are lucky to get 1% of the vote.

Indeed, we will have the largest GOP primary field for governor in the state’s relatively brief history of primaries – the most I found in my limited research was three, and this time we have a half-dozen thanks to Scott Walker’s late entry. He is one of two of those perennial candidates, the type I’m familiar with from Maryland thanks to their comparatively lax threshold for getting on a party ballot. It’s not quite “alive and breathing” but it’s not that far off, either. Walker and David Graham are serial candidates, although neither has always run as a Republican.

With businessman Neil Shea formally withdrawing on Thursday, the two outsiders are attorney Julianne Murray and business owner David Bosco, who was actually the first one of the remaining six to formally file after Shea got the ball rolling in late May. Add in the two sitting State Senators able to run from cover this time around (Colin Bonini and Bryant Richardson) and it’s a race where any of them would kill for 40% because that is likely sufficient. (In six-way Democrat primaries four years ago, Lisa Blunt Rochester won with 43% to 25% for her nearest competitor and Bethany Hall-Long prevailed with 29% to 22% for second place. So first to 40 almost definitely wins and 35 may be enough.) Right now Bonini would probably be the favorite simply based on name ID but he’s also lost statewide twice so one of the new faces may be a surprise winner.

By the same token, the Democrat primary is also worth watching because John Carney has a primary challenger from his left (just like U.S. Senator Chris Coons does.) There’s little doubt Carney will win, but a showing of 25-30% from the challenger would mean Carney’s support would be soft among progressives or could be construed as a protest vote against his draconian rule during the pandemic. I think the latter would be more true if the Democrat turnout was much lighter than the GOP’s or Carney’s race was significantly undervoted compared to the other statewide races. (This also applies to the Coons race.)

The U.S. Senate and House races are rather “meh” compared to the battle for governor. There are only two contenders on the Republican side for both House and Senate, and they both pit multi-time losers against fresh faces which have their own baggage. It’s actually possible that both members of Delaware’s Congressional delegation would have jail time on their resumes, although both claim to have been humbled by the experience. Both these races are older men against younger candidates roughly half their age – one a photogenic woman and the other a Log Cabin Republican.

Aside from that, the statewide ballot will be rather light in September. Primary voters will see a race for Insurance Commissioner on the Democrat side, but that’s it. On a local level, there is only one race for a Delaware General Assembly seat from Sussex County and that’s not decided until November. Out of ten possible contests, only one will be elected by other than acclamation.

Now that my field is pretty much locked in, my weekend project is to put the final bow on this session’s monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware edition and begin working on a dossier series similar to those I’ve done in previous years. For those new to the website, the idea for the dossiers is to take topics of my choosing that I deem most important and take a deep dive into the candidate’s stance on them. (This includes asking them directly.) Each topic is assigned a point value and each candidate is given points based on how closely they fit my ideal, with the winner getting my endorsement. (They don’t get my primary vote because I’m still in the Constitution Party.)

To begin the series, I’m going to lay out one ground rule: the first round through the topics will focus solely on the GOP candidates. I don’t have to worry about the IPOD or Libertarians until after the primary and the Democrats won’t score well with me anyway, so there’s no need for me to score Carney vs. Williams or Coons vs. Scarane. Doesn’t matter which of them win because they’re Lenin to me.

Here are the proposed topics for the 2020 races. If you were here in 2016, these will sound familiar for the federal races:

Federal races: Education, Second Amendment, Energy, Social Issues, Trade and Job Creation, Taxation, Immigration, Foreign Policy, Entitlements, Role of Government, and Intangibles. (Intangibles is sort of a catch-all of other stuff.)

Governor: Agriculture/Environment, Transportation, Social Issues, Law Enforcement/Judicial, Education, Second Amendment, Job Creation, Taxation, Role of Government, Intangibles. Notice the order shifts around somewhat at the state level.

Once I get the mAP up next week, I’ll begin posting my dossier series. It’s going to be a busy couple months here at monoblogue.

Odds and ends number 97

You know, I figured just as soon as I put old number 96 to bed that my e-mail box would fill up with interesting tidbits, so it wouldn’t be nearly as long before I got to number 97. So let’s see what I have here.

A look at theology

People tend to think of Erick Erickson as just a radio personality and pundit, but it’s not as well known that he’s studied divinity. So when he talks about religion it makes my ears perk up, and this recent column of his was one of those times.

Christians need to be preaching Jesus, not Christianity. We need to preach about the end and the return and the world made new. It is fantastical and supernatural and unbelievable for so many. But it is real and right and true and will give the hopeless hope.

Erick Erickson, “Groaning for Justice: The Theology of What is Happening”, June 25, 2020

It sounds a lot like my church. But it’s worth remembering that on one side is the world and on the other side is God, expressed in the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I have a simplistic perspective about it all, but then again I came to the game later in life than a lot of other people so my flaws were more apparent.

I believe that when Jesus said no one comes to the Father but through him that He was absolutely right. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make the world better but there should always be that end goal in mind, too.

Is there any reason for college?

This may seem strange to say as an alumnus of Miami University, but insofar as career preparation I learned as much in a year of work as I did in securing my four-year degree. (However, I did manage to consume many “Gobblers” and adult beverages from various eating and drinking establishments around Oxford, Ohio, and I got to go see Division I sports for free. So there was that.)

By the same token, Victor Davis Hanson has toiled in the academic field for decades – yet he delivers a scathing critique of college life and educational achievement in 2020, 34 years after I walked away from Millett Hall with my diploma case in hand.

31 years later I was witness to a similar scene but under wildly different circumstances, as my wife received her bachelor’s degree from a nationally-recognized college after taking online courses tailored to the working world. For these folks, their campus was the Washington, D.C. area and beyond, and hundreds of them were in what was then the Verizon Center for their big day. They received their degrees after enduring a lifestyle of trying to juggle work, kids, and other responsibilities with their academics as opposed to being cloistered on a campus and shuttling between academic halls, student centers, and their dorms. That was my world in the mid-1980s as a snot-nosed kid from a small Ohio town.

Yet many kids still do the same thing I did four decades ago, and the problem with that approach is that it’s rapidly becoming an information silo. Kids learn a lot about things of little importance in real life then wonder why it bites them in the ass. I remember pounding the pavement for a job right out of college then finally taking something outside my field to tide me over – turns out I was there less than a month before I got the break I needed; then again I was in an avocation where there was demand in the real world so it finally needed my supply.

And my alma mater wonders why I ignore their pleas for alumni donations.

More from smart people

How this guy ever got to be governor of his state – and then re-elected – often mystifies me. IMHO he was really too smart for the job, and the same went for being President. I think Bobby Jindal could have been the next Calvin Coolidge, a President who exhibited admirable restraint of his powers and led the government to do the same.

Recently he penned an op-ed for the Washington Examiner where he focused on some items he saw as long-term trends accelerated by the onset of the Wuhan flu. This one was the one that piqued my interest the most:

De-densification: Elevators, mass transit, and air-conditioned spaces, all critical components of urban living, will be rendered safe again one day. Yet, the nation’s most successful cities were already victims of their own success, with the rising cost of living pushing working families to the suburbs and exurbs. Workers are going to demand more flexible work arrangements and less time wasted commuting. Remote work and virtual meetings will allow many office workers to be productive in the exurbs and in the country. Wealthy families will join them with getaway homes, and companies will require less-dense and smaller offices. Smaller communities near urban centers will benefit and become more economically viable for their permanent residents. The economic efficiencies that have driven urbanization will still continue to be compelling, and first-tier cities especially will reinvent themselves and continue to attract immigrants and new businesses.

“How the COVID-19 pandemic will change us”, Bobby Jindal, Washington Examiner, June 24, 2020.

The initial push to the suburbs in the postwar era was fueled by the surge of new families looking for room to grow, coupled with the inexpensive cost of gasoline and car maintenance and expansion of highway construction allowing commuters to bypass mass transit. Suddenly small towns that were once on the outskirts of metro areas and surrounded by cornfields became the loose center of dozens of subdivisions looped together by beltway interstates surrounding the city core. My parents did this in spades, bypassing suburbia altogether to buy five rural acres for three active boys to play ball on and dealing with a half-hour or more commute.

Being in the design world, I’ve seen the push for a new urbanism. For example, in nearby Salisbury their mayor Jake Day has pushed for a new style of downtown revitalization, attempting to bring in mixed-use development accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Surface parking on city-owned lots downtown is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as lots are sold to developers.

Fortunately for Day, Salisbury is still a small enough city that it doesn’t suffer from the maladies of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, and others which have seen their urban core rot away from a toxic combination of crime, poverty, and lack of opportunity. It could yet go that way, or it could become a destination precisely because it’s been small enough to escape these issues – the sort of small town Jindal envisions succeeding thanks to the remote technology we now have.

But these urban escapees have another close-by alternative which is also retiree-friendly – if we don’t screw it up.

Picking too many losers

The state of Delaware lags the field in state-level GDP growth these days, one survey placing the First State last in the nation.

Perhaps a reason for this, argues the group A Better Delaware, is that our state government is terrible at determining winners and losers. As it has often turned out, the well-connected are the winners and taxpayers are the losers, and the group goes through some examples in this recent piece.

As I see it, job creation is about filling needs. An entrepreneur sees a market void and figures out a way to fill it, then once that venture is a go he or she may find the work is too much for one person to handle. Suddenly they’re signing the front of a paycheck, and the measure of a business-friendly state is just how easily that employer can get to that point without feeling violated from the anal rape of a corrupt system installed to grease the palms of a thousand bureaucrats. Somehow Delaware seems to believe that making life easier for those who promise scores of jobs without figuring out the market void is a good thing to do. I tend to like my strategy better.

The library

I was recently introduced to an interesting website in a unique way: one of its employees requested to purchase a paper copy of The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party. So I autographed it and sent it to Tennessee for his enjoyment. (By the way, I have several more available.)

So while Ammo.com sells – as you may guess – many different varieties of ammunition, they also feature what’s called the Resistance Library: a collection of articles on many and varied topics. (Actually, the whole site is worth exploring.) The post my newfound friend was dying to share with me, though, was on “Policing for Profit.”

Civil asset forfeiture is a popular concept with the “if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about” crowd; the same ones who shout “blue lives matter!” (And they do, but so does the law.) In reading this lengthy, well-written treatise on the subject I found out that Delaware is a state which is one of the worst in that regard.

And civil asset forfeiture laws are difficult to change because there are two large lobbies already stacked against these efforts: law enforcement and local government. Imagine what $200,000 seized could do for a local government’s bottom line when they may spend $2 million on a police department annually. Never mind it’s not their property and they have only suspicion that it was gathered illegally. It’s like crack cocaine to an addict: wrongly or not, they can’t pass it up. We need to send our state to a proverbial NA meeting next year when the General Assembly reconvenes.

More bad advice

I like to end on a light-hearted note when I can, and what better way than to poke fun at those who tell me how to run this place?

Hello monoblogue.us team:

As you know because of Global pandemic, the world has shut down and a big question mark on sustainability of business.

We are connecting the business owner to create a high standard for their business website and marketing strategy. To start this, we recommend to upgrade the website to more customer friendly.

If you have same idea in your mind, Let’s discuss about redesign of your website in economic cost.

A really badly written e-mail.

I can’t decide whether this came from China, India, or some other third-world country where English is taught as a second language. (In this case, maybe third.)

Fortunately, I didn’t shut down during the pandemic. Now I won’t say that I was terribly productive during the time span, but the college degree I alluded to way above led me to a job deemed “essential” so I have been working my usual full-time hours. Even so, I sustain into my fifteenth year of this site. (I even outlasted Red Maryland.)

My site is not really a business site, but I do have a marketing strategy: write good sh*t. It’s even customer-friendly because I kept out the offending letter.

And, in case this guy missed it, I redesigned my website a couple years ago, finally retiring old “Black Lucas” after nearly a decade of service. I still miss that theme sometimes but I like the back end that goes with the current “Twenty Sixteen” theme much better.

So I think I have flogged the dead horse of my inbox enough for one visit. I didn’t even get to the silliness that’s the Delaware governor’s race, but maybe I’ll hold onto that for a standalone post after all.

Programming note

Once we clear the filing deadline this coming Tuesday I’m going to add my Delaware political sidebar with all the primary and general election candidates and then the following Monday or Tuesday release the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware edition. The delay is because I have to determine whether the legislators involved get a free ride in November or not.

Because the Delaware session was truncated this year, I decided to simply amend the 2019 edition to use four votes this year and drop the least impactful four votes from last year to maintain 25 separate votes. You’ll see what I mean when I put it up later this month.

Announcing: the 2019 monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware Edition

For the third time, I have graded all the legislators in the Delaware General Assembly based on their voting patterns on a number of key issues. The final product can be found in its usual sidebar location or through this direct link.

This year is a little different as I have decided to do an interim edition given there were enough bills of interest with divided votes to have 25 scoring opportunities. (Spoiler alert: way too many were not taken advantage of; however, my average scores in both chambers were up slightly this year.)

Without getting too much into it – after all, I want my friends in the First State to read and share the information – it was another discouraging session for the Delaware General Assembly. The nanny state and Trump Derangement Syndrome were out in full force this session, certainly driven in large part by a number of new faces in both bodies.

But because of the mix of bills I used, the partisan divide narrowed significantly this year, as both parties had their highest aggregate score ever but Democrats increased theirs at a faster pace.

And if you were sharp-eyed last night, you would have noticed I did the usual “soft opening” by updating the widget before this post was finished and set to be placed up at this early hour.

So, Delaware, here is the voting guide you need – use it wisely in considering which members need primary opponents. (Hint: pretty much all of them.) If you want to change the state in the right direction it’s a good place to start.

Beginning from my little corner

There are some who will likely appreciate the symbolism in this post.

I’m standing in Maryland but pretty much everything you see in the photo beyond the fence is Delaware.

On Friday I took a little side trip on my way home. I’ve passed by this place a few times over the years, but since I’ve moved to the First State I drive by this monument every day on my way to work. But until the other day I’d never stopped to look at it despite its historical significance.

The plaque explains the significance of the monument.

On my way into work one day it dawned on me that the monument is the perfect symbol of a new beginning, a staking out of a starting point and a redirection for this site. For many years I’ve been known as a Maryland-centric political blogger, but since I left the political game as a participant I had ceded the field to others who have done their level best to monetize their work and proclaim themselves as some sort of kingmaker in a Republican governor’s office. And that’s fine, more power to them – they live closer to the seat of power and apparently have to time to invest in those activities.

While I don’t have the utmost in time, in scanning the situation here in the First State I’ve found that there aren’t any active conservative blogs here. (If there are, they are pretty well hidden.) Truth be told, there aren’t a whole lot of liberal ones either but they do exist and I can’t abide that sort of situation. It’s something which needed to be addressed, so I will make up the hedge for the time being – assistance is encouraged!

So here I begin, almost literally from square one because I don’t yet know the players aside from studying the voting records for the Delaware General Assembly for the last couple years. (More on that in a bit.) The way I look at it is that I have staked out this corner as a beginning spot. Yes, it’s symbolic but in actuality I don’t live all that far from this point. (I think as the crow flies it’s about 5 1/2 miles, but I live less than two from the northerly extension of this line.) If you took in the territory between our home and this point, there are probably only a few hundred people living there in scattered homes and one development. And right now that’s probably about all I have to go to war with in this state – a state that is rapidly changing, and not necessarily for the better.

I wonder how they divvy up all this coin. By blind chance, 3/4 of it would fall in Maryland.

I suppose, then, that step one of this process is to announce the 2019 edition of the monoblogue Accountability Project for Delaware, which I finally got to wrap up this weekend. I’ll formally announce it tomorrow morning although the soft opening will be this evening once I create the PDF and add the link. (And no, I did not do a Maryland one this year, nor will I. That can be someone else’s baby, maybe some red-colored site.)

I think it’s a start to rally the liberty-lovers in this state, who I’ve found to be really, really, really poorly served by the Delaware GOP. I have more thoughts in mind on a number of First State issues, but this will be the first in what should be a few significant changes regarding this website. Stay tuned.

Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (last of four parts)

Late edit: Need to get up to speed? Here are parts one, two, and three.

In this final installment comparing the differences between District 38 State Senator Jim Mathias and his challenger, District 38C Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, we have the second-smallest number of voting differences between them for this term. But as I wrote in my wrapup of the legislative year for the monoblogue Accountability Project (mAP):

Turning to this year’s session, one conclusion is inescapable: the last four years have been a steadier and steadier test of wills between a governor who is trying to promote a particular agenda and a state majority party that had its apple cart upset and is being begged by the special interests that control it to put those apples back and bring back the regular order of things where everyone was fat and happy except the private-sector working families and taxpayers. We’re at the point now where political victories are more important than improving the citizens’ lot, on both sides of the aisle.

In 2018, Mary Beth got just 12 votes correct out of 25, although she stumbled into the twelfth by changing her incorrect vote on HB1302, the “red flag” gun bill. Jim Mathias may have always intended to vote the correct way, but the 22-day hiatus between Mary Beth’s vote and Jim’s tally was punctuated with a loud outcry from the 2A community that Mathias had to hear. [However, despite the NRA support Mathias joined Carozza on a vaguely-written ban (HB888/SB707) of so-called “bump stocks.”] Jim’s only other instance of getting a vote correct (a term-low 2 correct out of 25 votes) was sustaining the veto for HB694 – but that was the “ban the box” bill he originally voted for!

Is it any wonder that people like me can be cynical about Jim’s record?

A major bill that the pair parted ways on will also be decided in this election – same-day voter registration is already in place during early voting, but HB532 established a referendum for this year that mandates its inclusion on Election Day, presumably beginning in 2020. Jim Mathias may not mind this extra work for poll workers and increased risk of voter fraud, but Mary Beth stood against it.

That government we elected last time around kept trying to usurp power from the executive branch, and they succeeded with a pair of measures that Carozza and Mathias voted opposite ways on: Mary Beth was correct in attempting to stop HB230/SB290 (a bill requiring legislative approval to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative scam) and the sour grapes represented by SB687, laughingly referred to as “state vacancy reform.” Unfortunately, Jim Mathias backed an effort that succeeded in creating an unelected board to distribute school capital funding, removing the duty from the partially-elected (2 of 3 members) Board of Public Works – a slap at Democrat Comptroller Peter Franchot, who apparently votes too often with the Republican governor. (To his credit, Mathias voted for a floor amendment to restore the BPW to its place, but its failure was not enough to either dissuade him from voting for final passage or overriding the veto.)

The Big Labor interests that have supported Jim Mathias to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars over the last twelve years got their money’s worth this term – bills that dealt with making new hires opt out of being harassed to join the union rather than having to opt in (HB1017/SB677), another allowing disgruntled employees disputing prevailing wage decisions being allowed to take their suit directly to court (rather than to a state arbitrator, part of HB1243/SB572), and a huge gift as the precedent was set (with Jim’s support) for paid parental leave in SB859. This was on top of getting the veto override of HB1 from 2017, in part thanks to Mathias.

Mary Beth stood with providers by opposing a bill written by the insurance companies (HB1782) establishing a re-insurance program through a renewed assessment (formerly on a federal level, but being shifted to a state one) on those same insurers. Jim Mathias obviously isn’t into fee relief.

Finally on the environmental front, Mary Beth was on the right side of a proposal (HB1350/SB1006) that mandates certain state-funded construction projects be adapted to conform with weather conditions brought on by supposed global climate change. It may be prudent in some instances, but will certainly bust the budget elsewhere.

Because District 38 is my home district, I have been paying particular attention to the race. But it’s worth noting that a similar race exists in Senate District 8 which pits Senator Katherine Klausmeyer against Delegate Christian Miele.

While the differences aren’t as stark between those two as they’ve been between Carozza and Mathias, they are still there: over the last four years where they have served together, Klausmeyer has racked up annual mAP scores of 32, 2, 24, and 4 for an average of 15.5, while Miele has scored 58, 44, 60, and 26 for an average of 47. On the average, then, Miele would get 7 to 8 more mAP votes correct than Klausmeyer each term, which can mean more money in your pocket and more opportunity for businesses to thrive and create good-paying jobs. The records are there for inspection on the sidebar.

One final word. We can talk about voting records all day, but there are those who swear by Jim Mathias because he “works hard for the district” or some variation of that remark. As proof they can point to social media, where Jim is often going live at some event or gathering – even if it’s walking in a parade 100 miles outside his district. Look, I’m into hometown pride as much as anyone given my affinity for particular sports teams and number of my friends still hailing from mine, but the whole “look at me” attitude seems a little artificial and contrived after awhile.

Over this campaign I’ve pointed out the perceived flaws in Jim’s record in both the votes and money he takes for and from special interests, groups that seemingly are more concerned with combating the good things Governor Hogan does (yes, there are a few) and keeping the state as the East Coast’s answer to California and Chicago than they are with the needs of our diverse district. It’s telling that the latest charge by the Annapolis Democrats against Mary Beth is that she’s a “Washington insider” because she’s worked for several members of Congress and in the George W. Bush administration. If the party roles were reversed, they would call that “a career of public service.”

I noted four years ago that many of Mary Beth’s former cohorts provided the seed money for her campaign, but in this round it’s become far more local as she has gained the confidence of those who donated to her. Mary Beth wasn’t someone I knew well prior to her 2014 campaign: I met her years ago when she worked for the Ehrlich administration, but it’s not like our paths crossed a lot.

One thing I’ve noticed as she’s run her two campaigns, though: that woman is everywhere. But she isn’t one to plaster it all over social media, opting to be more of the work horse than the show horse. Maybe that costs her a few votes among those who like glamour and popularity, but the thoughtful voters notice.

I saw Jim on Sunday at the Autumn Wine Festival, just as Kim and I were leaving. While he probably shook more than a few hands while he was there, the reason he came was to sing with the band that was playing to close out the event – more on that band in a future post. It’s nothing new, as Jim has sung with On The Edge before at the AWF and, in general, has been around the local music scene as long as I’ve been aware of it. Obviously that’s something he enjoys doing, and I don’t see a thing wrong with that – in fact, I wouldn’t mind him having more time to sing after this November.

In short, the reason I’ve been on this race so much and for so long is that I think Jim’s a fine enough and likable fellow, but is also a political mismatch as a representative of this district – he seems to be much more suited for a district across the bridge, a place from where a significant portion of his financial support comes. Here we have a district that is much more right of center than he is.

So while she’s not as far to the right as I would prefer, I think that in order to make a better team for local success throughout District 38 we need to promote Mary Beth Carozza to be our next State Senator. I urge you to vote accordingly, whether at early voting beginning tomorrow and running through next Thursday or on the traditional November 6 date.

Dealing with facts in Senate District 38 (third of four parts)

In this third part of a four-part series, I’m reviewing votes in the 2017 monoblogue Accountability Project (mAP) where Mary Beth Carozza and Jim Mathias landed on different sides. (If you need to catch up, here are parts one and two, covering 2015 and 2016 respectively.) In 2017 Mary Beth Carozza dropped slightly to a score of 74 on the mAP despite 19 correct votes and just 6 incorrect ones because she changed her vote to be correct on one bill – a bill which happened to be one Jim Mathias got right the first time. Unfortunately, those instances were few and far between for Jim Mathias as his score of 12 on the mAP was unchanged from 2016. He had just 3 correct votes out of 25 cast.

Besides the bill Mathias got correct the first time and Carozza didn’t (SB355, which had to do with gas companies being able to recoup certain environmental remediation costs), the only instance where he was correct and Mary Beth was not was a measure to require licensing to sell vaping products (HB523.)

On the other hand, Mary Beth fought at times against a broadly liberal agenda that was a reaction to the era of Trump. Meaningless resolutions such as protecting Obamacare (HJ9) and repealing votes for common-sense Constitutional amendments such as a balanced budget or gerrymandering prohibition (HJ2/SJ2) were coupled with real far-left agenda items that were even too radical for the centrist Governor Hogan like paid sick leave (HB1) and a “ban the box” bill (HB694). These drew vetoes that were voted on in 2018, but in the initial case they weren’t too far left for Mathias to support while Carozza held the line closer to the center and opposed them.

Another vetoed bill that was sustained was the cynical Democrat attempt to hold off a gerrymandering ban until other states did one (SB1023), as that was too hot for even the Democrats to handle in an election year. But Jim Mathias was fine with it in the first place, while Carozza was correct in seeing through its hypocrisy. Vetoes of two other bills, the 2016 version of HB1106 that revised the renewable energy portfolio and the attempt to make failing schools less accountable for their problems (HB978) by taking the prospect of school choice off the table – a teacher’s union wet dream if there ever was one – were sustained by Carozza and overridden by Mathias. The MSEA got its money’s worth on their $6,000 in campaign contributions to Mathias (in just the last four years) there.

Unfortunately, our governor didn’t have the stones to veto some other far-left pipe dreams that Mary Beth Carozza opposed but Jim Mathias was perfectly willing to support. Worst of all was a bill in reaction to the proposed cutting off of federal funds to Planned Parenthood embodied in HB1083/SB1081.

Another example: the “Maryland Defense Act” (HB913) that has allowed AG Brian Frosh to run wild, filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit against the Trump administration. In 2017 we also got commissions to counter the potential dismantling of onerous Dodd-Frank financial regulations (HB1134/SB884) and the effects of repealing Obamacare (SB571). Yet no one suggested a commission on how to deal with the effects of illegal immigration, did they?

Further reaction to the twin elections of Hogan and Trump were broadly written screeds on coordinated election expenses (HB898) and PAC compliance (HB1498), coupled with the aspect of allowing a change in voter address to be updated during early voting without verification (HB1626). All these were supported by Jim Mathias and opposed by Mary Beth Carozza, almost as if Jim saw he would have significant opposition this time around.

For all the controversy about Mathias supporting facilities “where drug users can consume preobtained drugs” (as written in the bill he co-sponsored) it should have been foreshadowed by his support of repealing drug testing requirements as a condition of receiving SNAP benefits for those previously convicted of drug distribution (HB860/SB853). This was an “opt-out” to federal law Carozza opposed.

On the mundane side was a bill to allow mass transit to gain more subsidies by requiring less of a farebox recovery to avoid a large fare increase (HB271/SB484). As I noted then, no one seems to worry about that happening to the gas tax.

Last but not least was perhaps the most galling betrayal from the first term of the Hogan administration: reversing course on fracking in Western Maryland. The fracking ban (HB1325) was properly opposed by Mary Beth Carozza – who obviously believes in an “all of the above” energy solution where prudent – and opposed by Jim Mathias, who I guess must like high electric rates and Maryland being a net importer of reliable energy because that’s what we have now.

While the last two sessions featured a lot of differences between Mary Beth Carozza and Jim Mathias, the final installment covering this most recent session is a bit shorter insofar as voting is concerned. But it’s still worth pointing out in my final part tomorrow.