The straight-ticket election

Most newspapers will use their Sunday edition before the election to either make the most key endorsement, such as for governor or president, or summarize their endorsements into a ballot guide for voters.

I’m not a newspaper, but I have a news source. And I’m urging you (all of you, including the ten friends you drag to the polls) to march right into that ballot box, look for every Republican name on it, and check that box right next to it – making sure, of course, that the ballot summary agrees with your steady diet of Republicans and doesn’t show a “calibration error.”

Let’s begin from the top. Does this state really need a third term of Martin O’Malley? Thought not.

I will grant that Larry Hogan wasn’t my first – or second – choice for the GOP nomination, but I also have to admit as well he has run about as good of a campaign as a Republican can run statewide in Maryland and picked up national attention for it. Yes, I would like him to be stronger on the Second Amendment and I cringed when I heard him say no to addressing social issues, but the overall electorate in this state is still conditioned to believe that there’s a right to privacy and gay marriage is no big deal. They need a little work yet. Let’s at least get someone who won’t be completely hostile to those interests like Anthony Brown would be.

(And yes, I hear the Libertarians caterwauling in the corner. When you get to double-digits with a candidate, we’ll talk.)

Actually, though, I must say some bloggers have a point about the Libertarian candidate for AG, Leo Dymowski. But the election is about more than the failed “war on drugs” – although I agree with that particular assessment, I would also like the AG to fight on other issues. Unfortunately, the late start Republican Jeffrey Pritzker got means the chances are good that we’ll have to endure four years of gun-grabbing Brian Frosh; however, every vote counts and stranger things have happened.

For 2018, though, I think a county-level State’s Attorney needs to make that step up. It’s something Matt Maciarello should consider.

And we have a more than qualified Comptroller candidate in William Campbell. My main mission in two festivals was, every time I came across a Maryland voter from outside our county, to push the candidacy of one Bill Campbell. Everyone knew who Larry Hogan was but not enough knew of this fine gentleman. If Maryland voters have a clue they will choose Campbell.

And then we have local races. Frankly, I’m not too worried about Andy Harris although it would be helpful for Sixth District voters to add Dan Bongino to the GOP roster at the federal level. But there’s a lot at stake on the General Assembly front.

Try as we might, we had to concede the District 37A seat for this term to Sheree Sample-Hughes. If she gets more than single digits on the monoblogue Accountability Project I will be shocked. Otherwise in District 37, you know its a conservative district when even one of the Democrats is running on a platform of lower taxes and less government. But why have conservative-lite when the real thing is attainable?

Even if we sweep those three District 37 seats, though, we don’t really gain anything because three of the four representatives are already Republican. But in District 38 we can reclaim the Senate seat lost in 2010 to a liberal Democrat and take over a seat in the House of Delegates to bring us closer to that magic number of 47, where, as I understand it, we can work around Democrat-controlled committees. (A Hogan win may make that necessary more often.) Aside from that splotch of blue in our county we can work on for 2018, I’d like the Eastern Shore painted red, gaining the one Senate seat and one House seat we can contribute to the GOP effort statewide.

And then we have Wicomico County, which needs a strong leader in Bob Culver. We’ve done eight years with the affable bureaucrat Rick Pollitt, but those eight years have seen our county backslide economically. We can blame the national economy to some extent, but other surrounding counties seem to be succeeding – so why haven’t we?

Unfortunately, the problem Culver has is that two of the Republicans who will likely be on County Council are already stabbing him in the back. With one Democrat assured of victory in Council District 1, it makes the County Council races very important. We know District 5’s Joe Holloway is a conservative who will win and Marc Kilmer in District 2 has an excellent chance to join him, but the John Cannon vs. Laura Mitchell race is a key along with Larry Dodd vs. Josh Hastings in District 3. Both Democrats are trying to convince voters they’ll be fiscal hawks, but don’t be fooled. We need the 6-1 Republican majority to have a potential 4-3 conservative majority behind Bob as he tries to right the ship. Finding good local candidates is a priority for 2018 as well.

As for the issues on the ballot, I’ve already urged a vote AGAINST Question 1 because it’s a weak excuse for a lockbox and Maryland taxpayers deserve better: send it packing and insist on a 3/4 majority provision to be voted on in 2016. On Question 2, I think on balance it’s a good idea but it will also demand vigilance, as Election Integrity Maryland’s Cathy Kelleher points out in a Sun editorial opposing the question.

Lastly, I must say this is the time for conservative voters to shine. The fact that early voting had as many Republicans as Democrats by percentage statewide and by raw numbers on the Lower Shore (despite a registration disadvantage of about 10 percent) indicates the GOP is more keenly interested in this election. But I want to run a few numbers, with the photo below telling the tale.

For this exercise, I used the voter proportions illustrated in the recent Gonzales Research poll, which is probably a fairly realistic model. I assumed undecided voters would remain in proportion with their trend (as opposed to breaking for the challenger) and left 1% for other candidates, write-ins, etc. (I also didn’t figure in the 50,000 or so registered to minor parties – if they vote they’ll not influence the result significantly.)

The sheet on the left is my calculations using a Bob Ehrlich Republican turnout from 2002, 68% of Republicans.

The sheet on the right is the same calculations for Democrats and the unaffiliated, but assuming a turnout like we saw in the Presidential election two years ago, when 78% of Republicans came out – even though Maryland was considered a lost cause for Mitt Romney.

Indeed, we turn from crushing disappointment to “winner, winner, chicken dinner” simply by getting an extra 1 in 10 Republicans to turn out.

If Republicans turned out like that for an election which was an almost foregone conclusion in this state, hopefully this simple calculation will provide the incentive to Maryland Republicans to come out in a gubernatorial election where they have a shot to sneak away with a close victory!

Early voting numbers were encouraging, but Tuesday it will be time to finish the job.

Update: Hey, I missed a key set of races. It’s not a partisan race, but M.J. Caldwell is a far more qualified jurist than the guy Martin O’Malley picked based on his last name. And speaking of O’Malley picks, there are two others on our ballot who we can remove from office and perhaps allow for the first crop of Larry Hogan appointees. So vote “no” on continuance in office for Kevin Arthur and Andrea Leahy.

Calling the questions

Because early voting begins tomorrow, I feel it’s necessary to talk about how Maryland voters should vote on the statewide issues they’ll face in the election. A total of seven questions are on the statewide ballot – four of them referred by action of the General Assembly and three of them via referendum. This is the first time since 1992 that state voters will have the option to overturn previously passed measures from the Maryland General Assembly and potentially break a forty-year string of honoring the General Assembly’s will.

I’m going to go down the questions in order, but Questions 1 and 2 are essentially similar – they just affect different jurisdictions.

Question 1 reads as follows:

Requires judges of the Orphans’ Court for Prince George’s County to be admitted to practice law in this State and to be a member in good standing of the Maryland Bar.

Substitute the word “Baltimore” for “Prince George’s” and you have Question 2.

Apparently the idea has spread that only an attorney and member of the Maryland Bar can understand the law as it relates to probate law. Now my understanding is that current Orphans’ Court judges who aren’t members of the Bar need to have certain decisions reviewed by a licensed attorney, but this process doesn’t seem to be an issue in most jurisdictions. The people of Prince George’s and Baltimore counties are already free to elect a standing member of the Maryland Bar if they feel the person is qualified to take on the task of Orphans’ Court Judge, but in not making that a requirement it allows people who are in other related occupations or even just those with simple common sense to hold these positions.

Further, while the ballot issues only affect Baltimore and Prince George’s counties now, it’s only a matter of time before the legal lobby gets this to be a statewide prohibition. That would artificially limit the pool of qualified applicants in many smaller counties in the same respect that only a small number are allowed to be State’s Attorney. It prevents turnover in the position, even if someone who may do a better job but lacks a legal qualification comes along.

Rather than set this further precedent (which started in the 2010 election with Baltimore City) I recommend a vote AGAINST both Questions 1 and 2.

Question 3 was also referred by the General Assembly:

Changes the point at which an elected official charged with certain crimes is automatically suspended or removed from office. Under existing law, an elected official who is convicted or pleads no contest is suspended and is removed only when the conviction becomes final. Under the amended law, an elected official is suspended when found guilty and is removed when the conviction becomes final or when the elected official pleads guilty or no contest.

To be quite honest, this ballot language is confusing to me. As I think I read it, basically an elected official who pleads guilty or no contest also forfeits his office. But an honorable public servant wouldn’t get into the situation in the first place.

I don’t see the need to change existing law and on my ballot I’m going to vote against it. But insofar as recommendations go I will remain neutral.

Question 4 is the first of three brought to the ballot via referendum back in 2011.

Establishes that individuals, including undocumented immigrants, are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges in Maryland, provided the student meets certain conditions relating to attendance and graduation from a Maryland high school, filing of income taxes, intent to apply for permanent residency, and registration with the selective service system (if required); makes such students eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university if the student has first completed 60 credit hours or graduated from a community college in Maryland; provides that students qualifying for in-state tuition rates by this method will not be counted as in-state students for purposes of counting undergraduate enrollment; and extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates.

First of all, the opening sentence is wrong – they are not “undocumented immigrants,” they are “illegal aliens.”

And the argument that these families have to pay taxes is a red herring – they only have to file. Chances are they’re going to get a refund from claiming the child credit so in that instance they are a net taker of government largess.

This bill is also disingenuous in the fact that these illegal aliens will pay in-state tuition rates but for official enrollment counts will be deemed out-of-state students. So why are they entitled to pay in-state tuition again?

Aside from the last sentence, which according to Delegate Pat McDonough was the original intent of the bill until hijacked by illegal immigration advocates like CASA de Maryland, this ballot issue is a trainwreck for hard-working and legal Maryland residents.

Don’t fall for the sob stories presented by supporters – I urge a vote AGAINST Question 4.

Question 5 was also made necessary via petition, although it had the slimmest measure of success and made the signature threshold with fewer than 60,000 valid signatures (slightly over 55,000 were required.) It is also perhaps the most poorly-worded item on the ballot.

Establishes the boundaries for the State’s eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.

I don’t know who dreamed up this description, but they left out the obvious word: “gerrymandered.”

It’s worth noting that Maryland Republicans created a map which was very elegant in its simplicity and only carved up a handful of counties in a relatively sensible manner. Of course, that was ignored by the Democrats who drew up our current abortion of a map, with districts resembling Rorschach ink blots. Their main objective was to set up State Senator Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola with his own Congressional seat but that plan was foiled by John Delaney.

Of course, there are those who prefer the current lines because they see a slight partisan advantage for themselves and, indeed, we run the risk of an even worse map should the current lines be tossed out. But I’ll take my chances. Vote AGAINST Question 5.

Next up is the petition which secured the most signatures – over 200,000 at last count as thousands continued to pour in months after the official deadline. Here is Question 6 in legalese:

Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

The other day I posted a video which explains well the overall argument against same-sex marriage, but one other point I’ve heard refutes the religious exemption fig leaf: that only applies until some clergy member creates the precedent of marrying a same-sex couple. Once precedent is established, there’s less legal recourse for recalcitrant clergy to refuse to perform ceremonies, much like those religious organizations which provide health insurance for their employees are being forced to cover birth control and abortions via federal edict. Those portions of the law would be the first to be struck down in any liberal court of law, and Maryland has enough of those to make it a slam dunk.

Honestly I don’t care who sleeps with who, but marriage should remain as being between a man and a woman – it’s for the children. Vote AGAINST Question 6.

Finally, we come to Question 7, which has been – by far – the one generating the most media attention thanks to nearly nine figures of spending by various casino interests. In all honesty, it’s a battle between gaming concerns Penn National and MGM for the hearts and minds of Maryland voters. Penn National has casinos in Charles Town, West Virginia and Perryville, Maryland which would be hurt by the competition a new casino would provide while MGM finally got a sweetheart deal from the state it could accept since they chose not to bid on any of the five original casinos provided by state voters in 2008.

Question 7 reads:

Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education to authorize video lottery operation licensees to operate “table games” as defined by law; to increase from 15,000 to 16,500 the maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the State; and to increase from 5 to 6 the maximum number of video lottery operation licenses that may be awarded in the State and allow a video lottery facility to operate in Prince George’s County?

I’ve already talked about this issue at length so I see no need to reinvent the wheel, whether it’s roulette or otherwise. Vote AGAINST Question 7.

Because of my inclination to disfavor Question 3, it will be an easy trip down the ballot for me – no, no, no, and so forth. But on the Wicomico County Questions A through D, all deserve support as they were carefully thought out by a Charter Review Committee whose judgement I trust. These are outlined on page 2 of our sample proof ballot here.

Of the four, perhaps the weakest link is Question C because of the removal of the residency requirement. But while a 2/3 majority doesn’t seem like a lot, having a seven-person County Council translates to a 5-2 majority. I’d be a little more hesitant with a nine-person County Council and 6-3 requirement but that’s not in the cards anytime soon.

The others are good ideas, particularly Question A. Having experienced the Council replacement process I would have liked an additional 15 days to make a better-informed decision.

So now you know how this voter will fill out his ballot, and I suggest you do the same.

 

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  • 2018 Election

    The Maryland primary election is June 26.

     

    Governor

     

    Republican:

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    Delegate – District 38B

     

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