2016 Maryland GOP Spring Convention in pictures and text (part 2)

When I last left you, I was commenting on having to get up at 6:45 for breakfast. Given that this was our election day and the polls were yet to open, this was the scene around the hotel on available spaces.

Aside from the Coke can (which, as an aside, is a drawback to this hotel because Pepsi products are difficult to come by), I often wonder what non-political guests think about all this. I’m sure they are amused.

On the way back to breakfast from putting my stuff in the car (on a glorious morning) I snapped this shot of the convention hall.

One tangible improvement was our county signs, which have finally been upgraded after a decade.

Our breakfast speaker was introduced by the recovering MDGOP Chair Diana Waterman, who was thrilled to report her hair was growing back after the chemo and surgery she has endured for her fight against breast cancer.

She called Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh “a great Republican.” Schuh began his remarks by noting this was the “most unusual election in at least 100 years.”

But Schuh went on to praise Donald Trump for tapping into several “electoral undercurrents,” particularly when he brought up the issues of immigration and national security. Yet while he said the “misgivings were understandable,” Schuh has “come to peace with a Trump candidacy.” Steve then outlined a number of stark differences between Democrats and Republicans: the role of government, immigration, Second Amendment, free speech (where the Left uses “shoutdowns as a weapon of choice”), taxation, private property, and life itself. It was a “belief in limited government and personal responsibility” that set the two major parties apart, Schuh added.

Schuh’s rather brief remarks allowed me to grab a good seat for the convention itself, which featured a number of reports in the morning. I wasn’t satisfied with how most of my photos came out inside the hall, so you will have to read about most of what was said inside without the visual aids.

Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides welcomed us to his city, noting that the Maryland GOP “got involved in my race in a very big way” and allowed him to win by a narrow 59-vote margin. Encouraging us to note on social media that the event was being held in Annapolis, Pantelides also called both County Executive Schuh and Governor Hogan “mentors to me.” His was the one city in Maryland with Republican leadership across the board: mayor, County Executive, and Governor, Mike added. Solid Republican principles and leadership could provide solutions, concluded Pantelides.

This photo of Congressman Andy Harris came out all right, and so did his message. He warned us that the Democrats have “a lot of assets” to throw at Governor Hogan in two years, so we needed to raise millions of dollars to assist him. But there were some advantages we had, too: for example, the sign denoting the reduced toll rates at the Bay Bridge is “like a Republican ad.”

Turning to the national scene, Harris noted we could not have another four years of liberal policy. And even though he endorsed Ben Carson in the GOP race, he came out to say, “I’m a Donald Trump guy 101% now.” He also told us there was no fight between Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, despite what the media would lead you to believe.

We had two legislative reports, one from Delegate Nic Kipke and the other from Senator J.B. Jennings.

Kipke believed that we were “at the precipice of…another surge of Republicans” added to the House ranks. “There are a lot of seats in play for us,” he assessed, particularly when Larry Hogan won in 21 more House districts than the Republican House candidates did. And the Democrats “are losing their minds” about it: Kipke gave the example of the bill allowing felons to vote before completing their sentences. Despite the fact 80% of Marylanders disagreed with this, and many of the General Assembly Democrats agreed with the veto, “the Democrats require compliance,” said Kipke – so the veto was overridden.

There were Republican-backed items we should be proud of, though, said Nic – another budget with no new taxes, the elimination of preschool testing, and the adoption of P-TECH schools, beginning in Baltimore City. Republicans are “leading on issues, big and small, that make sense,” said Kipke. He also awarded their Republican of the Year award to state Executive Director Joe Cluster.

Regarding the felon vote, Jennings later added that it actually failed 28-18 the first time, but was allowed to be reconsidered and passed 29-18.

One thing Senator Jennings stressed was the devious ways Democrats tried to flout the rules; in one example they tried to put one Senator on two committees, which is a no-no. They also worked hard to fix bad bills to make them more palatable.

But the problem Senate Republicans have is that “we are short five votes.” Getting to 19 votes would allow Republicans to sustain filibusters and kill the worst legislation. And there may be a lot of it next year: Jennings remarked that year 3 of an administration is where major pieces of legislation come out.

In between the legislative reports, MDGOP Chair Diana Waterman gave her report. She opened by welcoming new members but also remembering members who had recently passed, including my late cohort Blan Harcum who passed away earlier this year. She also announced the traditional June Red, White, and Blue Dinner would be pushed back to a date in early September because of the convention.

Diana also had a comment about the so-called “Republican war on women” when she asked “where is the ‘war on women’ when the Republicans have two (federal candidates) running and the Democrats have none?”

Waterman also gave the newly created Chairman’s Elephant Award to Dwight Patel, but the key remark to me was an offhand one where Diana referred to chairing “my last convention” in November. If so, Diana would conclude a remarkable four-year run where she took over a party in crisis and guided it to electoral success.

We then heard from our National Committeewoman and National Committeeman, respectively Nicolee Ambrose and Louis Pope.

Much of what they said was a rehash of what they told the Executive Committee on Friday night, although this time Nicolee came equipped with a slideshow. Here are the party’s goals for the new Precinct Captain recruitment program.

She also had a lot of these handy flyers to distribute.

I’m only giving you the top five – for the rest, come see us when we are out and about in the community.

Louis reiterated that this year’s convention “will be about unity,” for it’s the RNC’s “#1 job” to elect the President. And while Pope believed the GOP has “an amazing array of tools to make sure we win this year” and has “tremendously expanded minority outreach” over the last four years, it all comes down to our candidate. Pope conceded that “Trump changes our plans quite a bit,” and added it may “take a little bit of sculpting of (Trump’s) policies” to have effective minority outreach. But Louis also contended the “Trump effect (on downticket races) is not going to materialize.”

Pope’s remarks concluded the morning session. I went out to eat my lunch (with Andy Harris, no less) and saw this nice display from someone who would like to join him on Congress.

I was less interested in this swag, although I could have picked up a Cruz hat, too.

I also spied the potential National Committeeman making last-minute preparations.

One other task I had to perform was voting for Delegate and Alternate Delegate. Because I refused to add to the Trump slate I only voted for four winners, including the guy voting immediately after me.

At these conventions it seems like Don Murphy is my shadow. But he and Gloria should enjoy Cleveland, since they were two of my four that won.

The system was neat and easy – we knew the winners five minutes after we voted, as I will explain shortly.

Up first was the National Committeewoman election. Since that was a walkover for Nicolee Ambrose, I can simply comment that she had one of youngest members of the General Assembly, Delegate Robin Grammer (a member of the “Dundalk Revolution”) nominate her and Senator Steve Waugh second her. Both were results of the hard work Nicolee has done to elect more Republicans as both flipped Democratic districts. And I really liked Waugh’s line about how Republicans “focus on putting air conditioning in the classrooms and not transgenders in the bathrooms.”

We then had the National Committeeman election. Because the nominating and seconding speeches came in alphabetical order of the candidates, Bossie’s went first. Nominating Bossie was the highest elected federal official in the state, Andy Harris, who said David represented “a new way of thinking” that we need.

But the jaws hit the floor for the seconding speech, as Joe Steffen notes on his site in more depth. None other than Nicolee Ambrose delivered the dagger to her associate’s heart. “This is serious, serious business,” said Nicolee, and “we need a fighter.”

Despite that blow, Pope could counter with some firepower of his own. Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford nominated Pope, recalling how he had worked with Louis for years in the Howard County party and that he’s been fighting for the GOP. His seconding speech, delivered by Martha Schaerr of Montgomery County, added that Pope was “a tireless, trustworthy leader.”

The focus shifted back to Bossie for his remarks, and he closed the sale by saying “I believe I can bring a lot…to the Maryland Republicans.” It was “critical to have new blood in leadership,” David went on, and while he promised to raise Maryland’s profile, he also said “we must not cede ground to liberal Democrats, anytime.”

Pope could only appeal to the masses with his experience and passion, countering, “I’ve spent a lifetime working for the Republican Party…I stand on my record of accomplishment.”

But Pope’s defense was to no avail. It was clear when the first four jurisdictions to report (Allegany, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore City and County) picked Bossie by a combined 56-8 margin that the rout was on. In terms of our voting system the count was 365-188, but in actual bodies it was 182 to 91 – a perfect 2-to-1 margin. Pope only carried eight counties (Caroline, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Howard, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, and Talbot) and in four of the eight it was a 5-4 verdict. Only Garrett (6-0), Caroline (7-2), and St. Mary’s (7-2) were big wins for Pope. (Wicomico County was 7-2 for Bossie.)

This was an emotional moment as the baton was figuratively passed, but we still had work to do.

There was a resolution that would allow the Bylaws Committee to perform what I would call a curative function, making minor changes to the bylaws in places where references were incorrect, misspellings, and so forth. They would report and we would review changes at the Fall Convention. That passed by a voice vote with one objection.

The first Bylaw amendment was an effort to both restore voting rights to the various ancillary organizations (Maryland Federation of Republican Women, College Republicans, Young Republicans, etc.) and set standards for their inclusion. But after some discussion and debate, it failed by a 188-361 vote (105-167 in terms of voters,) falling far short of the 2/3 majority needed.

The second one was less controversial, although there was enough of an objection to a lengthy lame duck period for party officers to transition after our organizing conventions (such as will occur this fall) that the date of takeover was amended back to January 3 rather than based on the day after the Governor or President of the United States is inaugurated. As amended it passed 438-99, although the amendment barely passed 283-258. (It was behind until Montgomery County sealed the deal.)

All this concluded just in time for the Delegate and Alternate Delegate results to be revealed.

As I said above, I only ended up voting for four winners: the two Murphys, Christina Trotta, and Alirio Martinez, Jr.

We then got to hear from our candidate for U.S. Senate, Delegate Kathy Szeliga.

Kathy thanked us for her support, then added that Bossie and Ambrose are “going to do a great job for us.” She also added that the fourteen U.S. Senate candidates are “unified and together.”

And while she gave something of a standard stump speech recalling her middle-class background, she noted that the business they created was “struggling like many small businesses in the country.” Repeating her message that Washington is broken, she chastised the Democrats for electing their “golden boy” Chris Van Hollen, pointing out that since he’s been in office the national debt has tripled and calling Van Hollen an “attack dog” for Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid.

“Together we can change Washington,” the candidate, who Nic Kipke had earlier called “relentless,” concluded.

Our final task was to select electors, which necessitated us gathering in groups by Congressional district. Our district has the largest number of Central Committee members so we all crammed into one corner of the hall to hear several nominations. For the second time in a row, I nominated the First District winner: Diana Waterman, who prevailed over five others. The others will be Tony Campbell, Jane Roger, Faith Loudon, Cathryn Grasso, Dick Jurgena, Loretta Shields, and Alan McMahon.

Once Diana Waterman announced her choices for the at-large electors would be Ellen Sauerbrey and Michael Steele, we could finally adjourn. Next time is slated for Frederick this November – the question is whether it will be a wake, a celebration, or some combination thereof?

Prison scandal topic of ‘Minority Report’

June 2, 2013 · Posted in Campaign 2014, Campaign 2016 - President, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Prison scandal topic of ‘Minority Report’ 

Perhaps adopting a new and more aggressive tactic with the change in leadership to Delegates Nic Kipke and Kathy Szeliga, the Maryland House Republican Caucus on Friday unveiled its first ‘Minority Report’, which deals with the ongoing Baltimore prison scandal.

Their first order of business was to note this had been a longstanding scandal:

As he took office in 2007, Governor O’Malley was well aware of the corruption in the prison system but has chosen to focus his energy on the issues that would aid his Presidential bid, not solve the serious public safety issues in our state.

In a press conference held last month, the House GOP called for an independent investigator and outlined some of the steps they had attempted in curtailing the situation – steps which were defeated by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly:

“In the 2008 and 2009 session, I proposed legislation to create a substance abuse treatment program that would have redirected many gang members away from their daily drug dealing and into treatment programs,” said Delegate Ron George of Anne Arundel County. “This bill was supported by the Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services as a way to rehabilitate inmates and reduce drug dealing within correctional facilities, but was ignored by Democratic leaders.”

Indeed, 2008’s HB160 died in committee and HB967 in 2009 didn’t even get to a vote. Both had a bipartisan base of support in their sponsorship.

Delegate John Cluster continued:

Since 2010, legislation to strengthen penalties for transportation and possession of cell phones in correctional facilities has been before the House Judiciary Committee, but has been defeated by Democratic leadership for the past four years.

Delegate John Cluster of Baltimore County, sponsor of the legislation in 2013 said, “The Administration and Democratic leaders again defeated a bill that could have prevented or mitigated the latest prison scandal. Members of the House Judiciary Committee were presented with evidence illustrating the serious issue of cell phone possession in jails long before the Federal indictment was issued.”

Cluster’s 2013 version of the bill, HB651, failed 11-10 in committee. While Judiciary Chair Joseph Vallario, Jr. doesn’t generally vote, there have been exceptions to that rule and his vote could have carried the bill. Ironically, he was listed as the sponsor of the 2012 bill (HB587) which failed in his committee 9-11. The fiscal note for that bill notes the Judiciary Committee killed the bill in 2011 (5-16) and 2010 (9-11) as well, both of which had Vallario listed as sponsor (as Chair of the Judiciary Committee.)

So the Delegates are speaking correctly with their assertions. The anticipated payoff is a hearing on June 6, when House Republicans vowed:

The House Republican Caucus is committed to asking the tough questions, holding the right people accountable and working towards reform.

Obviously the proof will be in the pudding come 2014. Surely a bill similar to that of Cluster’s will be introduced, probably once again at the behest of the Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services and sponsored by Vallario, so Democrats can accrue credit for it. It would only take a vote or two on the Judiciary Committee to swing and push the bill to the House floor.

As for George’s bill, it’s interesting to note he made his remarks before formally announcing for Governor (although many say he’d privately hinted at that desire for several weeks beforehand.) Calling for treatment facilities may not establish him as “tough on crime” in the usual sense, but the bipartisanship would certainly be played up to appeal to the middle in a general election campaign. Still, he will presumably be a member of the House caucus which will be pressing this issue both at the hearing and in next year’s session.

With regard to Martin O’Malley, the challenge for him will be appearing to “do something” and minimizing the damage which will certainly accrue as more comes to light in this prison scandal. Can’t have any of these pesky Maryland problems overshadow the 2016 campaign, you know. Nor can he throw Anthony Brown under the bus, since he’s already endorsed Brown as his logical successor next year – so look for Brown to be placed in a leadership position on any task force created for this production.

It’s interesting that a bunch of people who (supposedly) can’t vote – after all, if they have cell phones and are making babies in prison, what else are they doing? – may have a significant influence on the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Leadership turnover in Maryland House

Of course, it’s not with the Democrats.

This was supposed to happen several weeks ago during session, but cooler heads prevailed and pushed the vote back to last night. All it did, though, was delay the inevitable and this time Delegate Nic Kipke won. Instead of Delegate Michael Smigiel as second-in-command, though, the new Minority Whip will be Delegate Kathy Szeliga. They replace the old leadership team of Delegates Tony O’Donnell and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, which had held their respective Minority Leader and Minority Whip positions since 2007 and 2011, respectively.

And like Delegate Ron George’s announcement last night, it seems like the center is striking back. With O’Donnell being fairly conservative in philosophy – at least as evidenced by his voting record – Kipke leaves a lot of room for improvement; in fact, for as much grief as I gave Delegate George for his choices, Kipke’s have been even worse every year since I started the mAP in 2007, and for many of the same reasons. Yet when I hear Mike Busch saying “Tony did a good job of providing the loyal opposition,” I wonder if the change wasn’t needed.

On that note, Kipke is pledging to work with center-right groups like Americans for Prosperity, Change Maryland, and the central committees to “coordinate the GOP’s push for support.” We won’t find out if this bears fruit, though, until next January.

At that point Nic may have to be the circus master as Delegates eyeing new districts or higher office add their political calculations to the already volatile mix of session business.

New House of Delegates GOP leadership could be on tap

A story by John Wagner which ran online at the Washington Post website earlier this week suggested that changes could be in order for Maryland House Republican leadership, with an election held after this year’s session ends in April. In his piece, Wagner suggests the caucus could be leaning toward Delegate Leroy Myers, Jr. (R – Washington) as the new Minority Leader and Delegate Kathy Szeliga (R- Baltimore County) as the Minority Whip. They would replace current Minority Leader Delegate Tony O’Donnell (R – Calvert) and Minority Whip Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R -Talbot). O’Donnell has held the Minority Leader post since 2007, while Haddaway-Riccio took over as Whip in 2011. One Delegate who wished to remain anonymous confided that 22 Delegates are on board: “Enough to do it,” said the Delegate.

Leadership struggles in Maryland’s perpetual minority are not uncommon; most recently, in the summer of 2011, Mark Newgent at Red Maryland reported on an uprising featuring Delegates Nic Kipke (R – Anne Arundel) and Michael Smigiel (R- Cecil). At the time, the disagreements stemmed from a perceived lack of fiscal conservatism, with Kipke being quoted as being encouraged to run by a “contingent of delegates from the Anne Arundel County, the Eastern Shore, and Western Maryland.” It just may be the same restive group wishing for change this time, but just like I pointed out when I criticized Kipke’s anemic record of conservatism, the same can be said about Delegate Myers.

In looking at his overall record, Delegate Myers lags behind a number of other conservatives in the General Assembly. For example, he has often voted for Governor O’Malley’s budgetary plans as well as a number of other steps toward a Radical Green agenda, such as solar energy portfolio standards and overly broad coastal buffer zones. He’s also missed a large number of votes over the years for various reasons, including his son’s 2009 death in a motorcycle accident which occurred as that session was reaching its close.

Nor has Myers been an outspoken advocate for conservative causes, which makes the prospect of support from the body surprising unless that bid is coming from the more moderate members.

On the other hand, conservatives who are unhappy with O’Donnell’s leadership have a number of good, outspoken leadership choices:

  • Delegate Neil Parrott (R – Washington) is best known for his leadership on the petition drives which brought three ballot questions to the voters in 2012. Although none succeeded at the ballot, the petitions motivated tens of thousands of voters to vote in the election; for example, opposition to both Question 4 and Question 6 outstripped the 971,869 votes cast statewide for Mitt Romney.
  • Delegate Michael McDermott (R – Worcester) has developed a reputation as a fiery orator, one who can speak extemporaneously on a number of subjects. Chief among his initiatives this session is a bill to repeal the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Prreservation Act of 2012, better known as the “Septic Bill” or “Tier Map Bill.” McDermott was considered enough of a thorn in the Democrats’ side that his district was redrawn to place both him and Delegate Charles Otto (R – Somerset) in the same single-member district.
  • Since both Parrott and McDermott were elected in 2010, members may want a more veteran presence as leader. If they want one with a lengthy and solid conservative voting record, they could choose Delegate Warren Miller (R – Howard), a member since 2003. In this term he is primary sponsor of both a right-to-work bill and enacting a statewide E-Verify program.

While the current situation suggests there’s “enough to do it,” April 30 is a long way away. A lot can change in that time: deals can be made, Delegates get cold feet, or leadership reads the writing on the wall. Whether any or all of these happens remains to be seen, but it’s probably best that any leadership struggle waits until after the session to occur.

Turning the Tides 2013 in pictures and text (part 1)

Yesterday was a good day at the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis.

Somehow I had managed to miss the first two renditions of Turning the Tides, but when this year’s date was announced I pounced on making my way into the event this year. Part of this was the opportunity to network with over 200 of the state’s finest conservative minds, but part of it was a guest list dotted with nationally recognized speakers.

Unlike the many GOP conventions I had attended in the same building, there were no hospitality suites on Friday night. Turning The Tides was a one-day affair, which started with a breakfast I unfortunately missed. But I was set up on bloggers’ row next to a variety of state and local bloggers (including my “biggest fan” Jackie Wellfonder,) which gave me the opportunity to live-Tweet the event throughout.

The Tweets didn’t take long to build up steam once we dispensed with the preliminaries and heard from our first guest speaker, the exceptionally quotable Pamela Geller. Most people know Geller from her website Atlas Shrugs, which briefly covered TTT here, but she has been a tireless leader in the ongoing battle against radical Islam. (If you follow the link you can also see the extent of the crowd in the conference.)

Pamela praised the conference attendees, who she termed “smeared, defamed, and marginalized for standing in defense of freedom” by the “enemedia.” Her key point was defending the freedom of speech, without which “peaceful men have no alternative but to turn to violence.”

“Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it,” she continued, “Withdraw your sanction.” She also called Delegate Nic Kipke, who ignored a boycott call by the pro-Islamic group CAIR, a “rare bird in today’s environment (because) truth is the new hate speech, and just telling the truth is an extreme act.”

She went on to explain how she purchased ad space on the New York subway in response to anti-Israel ads, but was rebuffed because “the word ‘savage’ was demeaning. So I had to sue…and I won on all points. Freedom of speech protects all ideas.” Ten of her ads were destroyed within an hour, which she termed “a physical manifestation of this war on free speech.”

She also detailed her battle against the Ground Zero mosque, telling us the images of 9-11 have been “embargoed” because they offend Islamic sensitivities. “You defeated that mosque (when) everyone was against you.”

Yet there is a “sea change” occurring in attitude, she said, citing how comments used to be highly stacked against her, but now run strongly in her favor.

“No war has ever been won on defense,” she continued. She begged us to use our “spheres of influence” to fight this fight. “Silence is sanction.” We have to contest acceptance of Shari’a, since Mohammed “ain’t my prophet.”

Geller finished by taking a number of great questions on anti-Shari’a legislation, a nuclear-armed Iran, and the “cultural war” of politics which will include the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera.

The next speaker, author Diana West, touched on the Current TV sale in her opening remarks as well, as well as the foreign ownership of Fox News. But her remarks centered on her choice in foreign policy, of which she remarked “I’m debuting it here” – with one option to follow the “neoconservative” foreign policy based on universal values. “This has been a disaster.” The other side was a more libertarian-style idea: “I subscribe to ‘coming home America,'” said West, but they suffer the same flaw in that negotiations with Islamic nations “worse than fruitless (and) dangerous to our liberty.”

It begins with love of country, said West, and we would keep the allies with the closest philosophical views. But it would require one radical change: “It would…require leaving the United Nations.” (That was perhaps her best applause line, which she said did far better here than the “blank stares” she gets at the Washington Times.)

It would also be designed with the interests of the American people in mind. “We should fight for the American people.” Instead, we’ve begun to negotiate with terrorists, defend Shari’a-based regimes, and tell our military to look askance at “absolute outrages against American beliefs and sensibilities” in Afghanistan and other Islamic nations.

“And why? Why – nobody’s answered this – why did the Obama administration lie for two weeks that lawfully-protected free speech in America caused the Benghazi attacks?,” asked West. “Why didn’t Mitt Romney ask any of these questions?”

The key question, said West, was whether we were fighting abroad to protect liberty at home. “American interests have been blown to smithereens” by leadership, Diana asserted. Our borders are “essentially open” while National Guard troops protect Afghan citizens. Moreover, this is a contradiction to American values because 3/4 of Hispanics want bigger government while just 2/5 of the population at large feels the same.

West outlined a number of changes she would make, from a secretive foreign policy without much Congressional oversight over “a President run amok.”

“I have not seen terrible damage from Wikileaks,” she continued. “I have seen much corruption and lies on the part of our public officials.”

“I don’t believe that’s the way a republic functions. That needs to change,” said Diana. The war of our next generation is not the one we’re fighting, but a war against Shari’a. “Liberty is imperiled right here in our back yard,” said West, who also called the Islamization of Europe “the great uncovered story of our time.”

Our first group discussion panel, moderated by writer and columnist Marta Mossburg, featured a solid bank of speakers: Frederick County Commission president (and 2014 gubernatorial candidate) Blaine Young, writer and author Stanley Kurtz, and Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild.

Young started out in a jovial manner, joking about the Geller controversy and about once being a Democrat: “Well, everybody can be misinformed, ill-advised, and brainwashed.” But he turned more serious about his assigned topic, telling those gathered “I’m a very pro-property rights person, always have been…property rights is where I’m at.”

Stemming from the very first attack on property rights, zoning, which began in the 1920s and has been accepted in most places – Young pointed out Garrett County is an unzoned exception – Blaine turned to the state as it stands and told us “we’ve never seen an attack like this on the state level,” referring to PlanMaryland. “This is a tool, to slow down the rural areas for growth.”

But Young’s most brilliant point was equating things done “for the Bay” with laws passed “for the children.” As I Tweeted:

 

Indeed, I have mentioned this a number of times over the years – here’s one. Great minds think alike?

Stanley Kurtz quickly asserted that “President Obama is not a fan of the suburbs.” As a community organizer, those who mentored Obama had the main goal was to abolish them because they were drawing away tax money rightfully belonging to the cities. To that end, Obama “has been a huge supporter” of that movement. “Barack Obama wants to redistribute the wealth of America’s suburbs to the cities,” said Stanley. He identified the philosophy as the “regional equity movement.”

But among the federal programs imposed on the state, the Sustainable Communities Initiative is perhaps the one affecting Maryland the most. “Nobody pays attention to the Sustainable Communities Initiative,” despite the fact Baltimore was a “regional planning grant” recipient. It’s a program where the federal government pays for regional planning, such as PlanMaryland but on a smaller scale. The goal, though, is to make the receipt of federal aid contingent on adopting these plans, much like schools which accept federal money do so with stipulations placed on them.

And while everyone has heard of Agenda 21, not so many are familiar with the workings of the Smart Growth movement, concluded Kurtz. “Conservatives are missing where the real threat is coming from,” warned Kurtz, “We haven’t studied the home-grown (regional equity) movements.”

But Rothschild was the most strident speaker. “The question of the War on Rural Maryland begs a bigger question: why does this happen?” Richard went on to postulate that it happens “because we let them.”

“Those people that disrespect the Bible and the Constitution are invariably the ones who know the least about either of them,” said Rothschild. “We (conservatives) are abdicating our responsibilities at all levels of government to do what needs to be done.”

“Being a Constitutionalist requires practice,” opined Richard. Elected officials need to ask themselves not just ‘what would Jesus do,’ but a second question: what would Jefferson do?

Elected officials aren’t trained to uphold their oath of office and the Constitution. “We’re not thinking the right way.” As an example, he stood alone in his county in an effort to nullify SB236. A further test was when he went to the recent Maryland Association of Counties meeting and asked six random county officials about what they would do if an order was passed down to confiscate guns in their county.

“Three of them said they don’t know, and the other three said they would resign from office,” Richard charged. “Not one said they would nullify, interpose, or engage their locally elected sheriff to defend their citizens’ Constitutional rights.” That was the fundamental problem.

Richard even spoke on comments he made regarding the SB236 Tier IV opt-out provision proposed right here in Wicomico County. (The original post is on the Conduit Street blog.) “They do this because we let them…we are tolerating the intolerable.”

“I don’t negotiate one-sided contracts…we shouldn’t even engage,” Richard opined, “Constitutional rights are non-negotiable.” Rothschild vowed to work with the Institute on the Constitution to put together a training course on how to uphold their oath of office.

“(Liberal groups are) going to spend a fortune to try to defeat like Blaine and people like me during the next election because they hate us,” Richard concluded to a raucous standing ovation. And he’s right.

The final session of the morning discussed the “War on Jobs,” with Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton and Delegate Nic Kipke, who was introduced as a member of the Maryland Health Reform Coordinating Council. Fitton focused on illegal immigration while Kipke naturally looked at Obamacare. “Nic knows more about Obamacare than the legislators who voted for it in 2010,” noted moderator Paul Mendez of Help Save Maryland.

Fitton described his work with Help Save Maryland and other legal groups interested in upholding the idea that workplaces should have workers here legally. But that fight began with Montgomery County Community College giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. “They thought they could get away with it,” noted Fitton. A nice thing about Maryland law, he continued, was that it has a provision allowing citizens standing to sue the government to prevent illegal expenditures of funds.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been given to illegal aliens who can’t work, stated Tom, “Maryland is a magnet for illegal immigration, and the impact on jobs is obvious.” Most affected were the construction trades where the majority of contractors, who are law-abiding, are “competing against crooks.”

“It’s a racket” to keep certain politicians in office, Fitton charged. And speaking of Maryland politics specifically, Tom also alleged there was corruption behind the passage of the ballot initiatives. “(O’Malley) was using his office to promote the approval of the referenda,”

Tom also had kudos for Delegate Neil Parrott, who he’d worked with on the ballot issues, calling him an important figure in Maryland democracy. “We’ve been proud to stand with him,” Fitton beamed.

The lesson here, Fitton said, was that the illegal immigration issue is not automatically a turnoff to Hispanics. He cited polling data which said, in the most recent election, 40% of Hispanics “agreed with the idea of an Arizona-style approach to illegal immigration.” It was 13 points more than Romney received among Hispanics at large. “This is a majority issue for us,” Fitton claimed.

“We’re really in a battle for our lives in a lot of ways,” Kipke opened. “It used to be we were in a battle for our rights, but we’re also in a battle for our way of life.”

He went through a couple examples of the “trainwreck” of Obamacare, one being the fact that the age breakdowns – lumping everyone from age 21 to 60 in a group – will create a spike in rates making insurance unaffordable to young people. (One estimate pegs the additional cost as anywhere from $280 to $400 a month.) “It’s almost designed to fail,” said Kipke.

The second problem is that the exchanges will essentially all offer the same programs – health insurance has to be approved by and purchased from the state – generally these are the “richest packages available.” At this time, Maryland is one of just eight states with an exchange in place. “If Obama is successful, health insurance will be purchased through the state, and it will be the state design,” Kipke said.

The Delegate urged us to use him and Delegate Parrott as a conduit to the General Assembly. “If you have access to technology, you should see the stuff that goes on. Bring a camera, we’ll tell you where to stand and we’ll put you up in front of the next Delegate who embraces socialism. We’d love to get that on video.”

That brought us to the lunch break. While most of us grabbed a quick bite to eat, there was a lot going on both inside and outside the lobby.

On the inside, a total of fifteen groups had information tables and other items set up. Here are a few of those:

In order, these were Accuracy in Media, Defend Life, Maryland Republican Network, and Election Integrity Maryland. Other groups in attendance were the Franklin Center (sponsor of Bloggers’ Row), the Red Maryland Network – which did a live broadcast from the lobby – Institute on the Constitution, Americans for Fair Taxation, Montgomery County Republicans, Stop Agenda 21, Help Save Maryland, the Leadership Institute, Maryland Legislative Watch, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC, and Conservative Victory PAC.

There were also merchants, with event T-shirts and Breitbart design shirts on sale.

We also had a chance to meet some of the speakers and purchase their books.

From left to right, represented were Stanley Kurtz, Diana West,  Pamela Geller (crouched), and Tom Fitton. Dun Scott (husband of organizer Cathy Trauernicht) is standing in the center; thanks to Ann Corcoran for the correction.

As I noted, there was also action outside the building. The CAIR protest of Pamela Geller finally showed up two hours after she finished speaking. (Photo by and courtesy of Jackie Wellfonder.)

Yet the ten protesters got media attention. If it weren’t for them, I doubt the TV stations would have showed up.

So that’s where we stood as lunch concluded. In part 2 I’ll cover the four intriguing seminars which occurred afterward and the closing remarks by Jim Rutledge.

Romney gains Maryland support (and Pawlenty’s, too)

This news didn’t come to me directly, but it is legitimate: I found it on Mitt Romney’s website too.

Mitt Romney today won the support from leaders in Maryland.

“It is an honor to have the support of so many in Maryland,” said Mitt Romney. “They share my goals in this campaign to reverse President Obama’s failed policies and get our economy moving again. I look forward to working with them as I bring this message to Maryland and the American people.”

Announcing his support, State Senator Richard Colburn said, “Mitt Romney has a proven record of creating jobs and cutting spending. President Obama has failed on these points and it has hurt the American economy. Mitt Romney has the much-needed experience to lead our country toward an economic recovery.”

Maryland Leaders Endorsing Mitt Romney:

  • State Senator Richard Colburn
  • State Senator Joe Getty
  • State Senator Allan Kittleman
  • Delegate Kathryn Afzali
  • Delegate John Cluster
  • Delegate Addie Eckardt
  • Delegate Donald Elliott
  • Delegate Michael Hough
  • Delegate Nic Kipke
  • Delegate Steven Schuh
  • Former United States Ambassador to New Zealand Robert Goodwin
  • National Committeeman Louis Pope
  • National Committeewoman Joyce Terhes
  • 2010 Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor and Former Secretary of State Mary Kane
  • Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane
  • Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman Audrey Scott
  • Former Maryland Republican Party First Vice Chair Chris Cavey
  • Former Maryland Republican Party First Vice Chair Chuck Gast
  • Maryland Republican Party Treasurer Christopher Rosenthal
  • Garrett County Republican Party Chairman Brenda Butcsher
  • Howard County Republican Party Chairman Loretta Shields
  • Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Mark Uncapher
  • Frederick County Councilman Paul Smith
  • Howard County Councilman Greg Fox
  • State Central Committee Member – St. Mary’s County Mary Russell

Well, you won’t find my name on that list – it’s pretty safe to say that Mitt isn’t among my top picks. I see him as 2012’s answer to John McCain. Obviously, these 25 feel differently and that’s fine. Aside from Senator Colburn’s brief statement sure to draw a primary challenger in 2014, I don’t know what led the others to support him so I can’t really pass judgement on their intentions.

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The leadership fight to come

Last week Mark Newgent of Red Maryland gave us the story about a possible Republican leadership fight upcoming in the House of Delegates. According to Mark, the tag team of Delegates Nic Kipke and Michael Smigiel will challenge the current House Republican leadership of Delegates Tony O’Donnell and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio for the positions of Minority Leader and Whip, respectively.

The upstart pair are challenging the current leadership based on two separate but related items: the House GOP establishment “leading from behind” on the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants petition and a perceived lack of fiscal conservatism, especially from Delegate Haddaway-Riccio.

Well, let’s look at the record, shall we?

In 2011, Kipke was alone among his leadership peers (the group of four including O’Donnell, Haddaway-Riccio, and Smigiel) in voting for the Invest Maryland boondoggle. He was also the only vote among the four to allow the expansion of suits brought for workplace discrimination to include places of public accommodation, which will subject small businesses to harassing lawsuits from aggrieved members of the general public as well as disgruntled employees. Kipke also voted to extend unemployment benefits via SB882, which also depends on so-called ‘stimulus’ funding.

And that’s not a new trend. In 2010 Kipke was the sole member of the group to vote for the pro-union ‘Fairness in Negotiations’ Act, along with accepting the $126 million federal bailout of our unemployment fund (with strings attached, of course) and the 2010 version of the “bond bill.”

You may not be able to access my monoblogue Accountability Project records because I placed them off the public website – but I can still dig them out. And I did.

In retrospect over the 2007-10 term, neither O’Donnell nor Smigiel consistently voted in such a manner to annoy me – in my Accountability Project scoring system Tony O’Donnell ranked 3rd for the 2007-10 term and Smigiel was 17th, in part because he missed a number of votes in 2009 (the absences lowered his overall score.) Otherwise Michael would have likely landed in the top 10.

On the other hand, Haddaway-Riccio ranked a very pedestrian 27th while Kipke was behind her in 29th place. (Bear in mind that there were only 37 Republican members of the House of Delegates at the time, with the lowest Republican – the late Delegate Page Elmore – ranking 39th overall.)

To quote the Newgent Red Maryland piece, it’s Smigiel who “wants a fiscally conservative leadership team ‘willing to fight for the conservative principles they expound.'” The question, then, is why he hitched his wagon to Nic Kipke given Kipke’s penchant for going along to get along with the other side on a number of key issues? (I really didn’t get into the environmental side of things where he and Haddaway-Riccio both cast votes in favor of the “Sustainable Growth Commission,” ‘Sustainable Communities,’ or the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. How is encouraging top-down state planning and little green community organizers in any way conservative, fiscally or otherwise?)

Personally I don’t think it’s wrong to demand some ideological purity among Republicans with a base in conservative principles – especially in the leadership – and it’s really making me wonder who is encouraging Kipke and Smigiel to pick this fight just before the Special Session, a time where we need strength in numbers and good strategy to thwart the massive tax increases planned by the Democrats.

Perhaps O’Donnell was behind the curve on the SB167 petition issue, but those who have been rooted in the way things always have been done tend to be the most resistant to change. Yet the Republicans in the House of Delegates this time around did a lot of good because they generally possessed a united front. Unfortunately, it seemed like one of the weakest links to that front was Nic Kipke – and, based on his legislative record, now is no time to go wobbly by placing him in leadership.

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