40th annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in pictures and text

It was awful tempting to jump on into that water, but several thousand people managed to sweat their way through another hot Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. While Republicans tend to have a little more presence in the area, some of the Tawes regulars were absent because the event coincided this year with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

That convention minted the GOP Presidential nominee, who seemed to be pretty popular.

That group of signs dwindled little by little, as Trump adorned a number of tents. On the other hand, there were far fewer Hillary signs – but the Democrats also had their crowded space.

Sarah Meyers (in the blue shirt) is a friend of mine, and she was tearing her hair out as the coordinator there because they overbooked the space. (You may see her at the Democratic Convention next week, as she will be there as a page.) By the same token, the Somerset Republicans only went with one tent as well and it was packed, too. So both parties had close quarters.

Yet the businesses seemed to have ample space. I didn’t peek into every tent, but many of them (as well as businesses lining State Route 413 into Crisfield) had a simple message: welcome Governor Hogan.

Even lobbyist Bruce Bereano, who always has the largest space, got into that act.

Yet among those businesses I did pick out I found an odd juxtaposition there, particularly under the auspices of the local economic development commission.

In order, these businesses are Cleanbay Renewables, which is a chicken waste recycling firm, Pinnacle Engineering, which services NASA, the Somers Cove Marina Commission, and Great Bay Solar I. The last is interesting because this project was originally supposed to be wind turbines, but objections to the siting of the turbine towers from the Navy forced the company to go solar, making lemonade out of lemons. With the exception of Pinnacle, the state has sort of forced the market for the other two businesses.

Yet on the other side was a law firm that objects to the approach the state is using to clean Chesapeake Bay through its Clean Chesapeake Coalition. They believe much of the problem comes from the sediment that leaches out from behind Conowingo Dam in severe storms.

I happen to think the CCC has a pretty good case.

Speaking of business, the food business did pretty well there. Almost too well.

According to my cell phone camera, which took all my photos today, I took that picture at 12:01 as I walked over to get in line for food. Here is the end result, 46 minutes and four lines later.

I actually asked for the onion rings as I inched closer to the front of the French fry line. And I certainly don’t fault the crew because they worked hard, even toward the end when I snapped this.

I think the issue is the increasing use of “runners” who get multiple orders of food and slow down the lines. It seemed like every third person in line was one, which meant those who just wanted to fend for themselves had to wait.

The guy who didn’t have to wait in line was Governor Larry Hogan, because I don’t think he ate a bite.

This is a second segment of time lapse. I took this photo above in the area where the food lines were at 1:57 p.m. Now, let me ask you: where’s Hogan?

He’s barely visible in the center of the photo, obscured by Delegate Charles Otto in the pinkish shirt. In 35 minutes he had advanced maybe 80 yards thanks to the crush of well-wishers who wanted to shake his hand, have a photo with him (although he suggested it in a number of cases) and perhaps say their piece. I was in the latter group as I wanted to thank him for his stance on the Presidential election. Larry commented that he had noticed the reception I’ve received on social media a couple times as it echoed a lot of what he had seen on his.

Stay strong, Governor.

The two major-party candidates for U.S. Senator were also there. Now I missed Democrat Chris Van Hollen – perhaps because I didn’t recognize him walking around – but I did get a glimpse of Kathy Szeliga from the GOP.

Of the people I saw and photographed, she was one of the few I didn’t speak to at least a little bit. I don’t blame her – our paths just didn’t cross but once.

Of course, a few locals managed to be in front of my camera, such as Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, who brought her family and a batch of others from Worcester County.

She was speaking to Duane Keenan from Red Maryland.

The other half of Worcester County must have come with Senator Jim Mathias, who had a number of folks with a matching shirt to his. He was a little peaked by the time I took the moment to thank him for his assistance with the school board election bill.

Yet while we had hot and cold running politicians there, we also had a lot of media asking questions. I noted Duane Keenan above, but here’s Ovetta Wiggins of the Washington Post (right) speaking to Jackie Wellfonder. Jackie made the cut in Ovetta’s story.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mike Bradley, who hosts WGMD’s morning show out of Lewes, Delaware. Since his station covers a fair amount of the lower Shore in its signal, he was interviewing some of the local players. It’s a very good show that I catch once I cross into Delaware on my way to work.

And it could be that the Tawes event is becoming one for the greater Delmarva area. A delegation of elected officials from the First State included Representative Tim Dukes, who covers the Laurel and Delmar areas in his 40th District.

The reason I’m in the photo on the right: it was taken by Dukes’ fellow representative (and Minority Leader in the Delaware House) Danny Short of Seaford. Since we’re neighbors with Delaware it was nice to see some of their elected officials, too.

In that respect, this coverage was a little lacking because I did a lot of walking and talking to a number of nice folks from around the state. I want to say I overheard Jackie Wellfonder say this, but Tawes really is “like a big ‘ol family reunion.” We don’t often see a lot of politicians travel across the bridge but for attending Tawes, so you have to say hello and speak your piece when you can.

2016 Maryland GOP Spring Convention in pictures and text (part 1)

It had been awhile since I had been to the DoubleTree in Annapolis, but seeing the place was like old home day. While the MDGOP often holds its conventions there, it hadn’t hosted one in some time – in fact, Fall 2013 was the last one. But this time instead of the big news being the impending candidacy of Larry Hogan, it was the presumptive nomination of this guy.

(No, not Don Murphy sitting on the bench – I’m referring to the guy who supposedly will make America great again.)

Also different than our last visit was the number of sponsors.

It sure doesn’t hurt to have a governor from your party. But the story of this convention was all the electioneering going on. As I pointed out earlier this week, 98 people were seeking office and some were on this “unity slate.”

The idea was to take some folks from each of the campaigns and send them off to Cleveland to represent us. But after I had the chance to freshen up and get registered, those who represent us in the Maryland Senate made for my first stop of the evening. I could freshen up with some light snacks and an adult beverage.

(Note that Donald Trump is adding to that $2 billion in free media coverage on the adjacent TV. I didn’t say it was flattering.)

Speaking of media coverage, these two erstwhile associates of mine were doing their semi-annual Friday night internet radio show from the convention lobby.

I wasn’t listening so I have no idea who they dragged on as guests, aside from me not being one of them. I was downstairs at the Executive Committee meeting, where I found out the MDGOP had “a great fundraising quarter…our best since 2006,” according to party treasurer Chris Rosenthal.

But Diana Waterman had a message. “We must get behind Mr. Trump,” she said, “Trump is a helluva lot better than Mrs. Clinton.” Yet she also urged us to be respectful to those who can’t support our nominee.

She also pointed out that there’s no Republican “war on women” in Maryland given the fact two of our Congressional nominees are women versus none for the Democrats.

After National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose updated us on some of the upcoming goals and events for the GOP, National Committeeman Louis Pope discussed the national scene, stating regarding this year’s primaries, “the goal was to have as fair of a nominating process as possible.” He added that the debate control “worked very well.”

Pope was looking forward to Cleveland, saying he was “preparing for a unified convention” and predicting Donald Trump “will be a pretty cool nominee.” As he saw it, the convention will be a “four-day infomercial for the Republican Party.”

Yet the Presidential election was to the benefit of local parties as well, added Pope, because they could use the national race as a tool for local fundraising, allowing them to build up their war chests.

We also learned about two proposed bylaw amendments and a resolution, which I will simply foreshadow because they will be covered more in-depth in part 2.

The Executive Committee was done in remarkable time, meaning that shortly after 8 I could go see what was going on. This was my initial stop.

It wasn’t a place I stayed long, for obvious reasons. But it appeared they were having a good time celebrating their presumptive nominee status.

My second stop was nearly as uncomfortable, but I did see Louis Pope there and wished him luck.

If you look closely in front of his sign, you can see Louis behind the other gentleman. He apparently held court in his suite for most of the evening, as I didn’t see him circulating. Nor did I see his opponent David Bossie, who co-sponsored the suite I stopped at later.

First, though, the prize for most appetizing spread went to the host County Executive Steve Schuh.

This doesn’t show the vegetable tray and chicken on the other table. Oftentimes there’s not enough good stuff to eat at these hospitality suites but between the spring rolls at the Maryland Senate pre-party and Schuh’s suite, my appetite was satisfied. I was there quite awhile, eating and talking to Senator Justin Ready.

Next, I went upstairs to the Conservative Club suite. But since I didn’t see Bossie, I didn’t hang out too long there.

As it turned out – at least judging by the times on my photos – the Harris/Szeliga suite was where I stayed the longest. It was a happening place.

It’s where I ran into an old friend of mine, Maria Ialacci of PG County, and my partner in crime Heather Olsen. So I was there awhile, although I retreated to the hall so I could hear and cool off – it was hot in there, and when I say it’s hot it’s downright uncomfortable to most people.

So I got to see the co-star of that show as she happened by.

I still haven’t spoken with Kathy Szeliga, but at least I have seen her so that’s a start.

My penultimate stop was a suite that wasn’t on the “official” list but somewhat underground – both literally and in spirit.

The only one down on the first floor, the combined suite of Don Murphy and John Fiastro was the famous grilled cheese suite, with Fiastro doing most of the flipping.

Let’s see what they can do with this.

I did not take a picture at my last stop, which was definitely a shame because Delegate Tony McConkey and his wife Susan did an after-hours (after 10 p.m.) ice cream suite. (They also had it during our lunch break today, but I didn’t go.) Now I was a little worried since it was situated just 2 doors from my room, but it must have died down by the time I talked to my sweetie and finally went to bed because I pretty much slept like a log. The hard part was getting up at 6:45 to get ready for breakfast, which is where I will pick things up tomorrow in part 2.

In defense of Haddaway-Riccio

On Thursday Red Maryland noted that David Craig’s LG candidate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio voted five years ago for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2009. Although it’s a bit of a stretch to say she “put the VMT tax on the table,” she was one of a handful of Republicans who voted for the measure.

And even though Red Maryland has already expressed its support for Craig’s opponent Larry Hogan, the Craig campaign felt compelled to put out talking points rebutting the piece by Mark Newgent. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to defend this law within these quarters.

#1 – The VMT tax was proposed by the O’Malley Administration and was the result of an O’Malley Executive Order, not legislation.

Indeed, we have not seen a VMT tax come to fruition as legislation, although we have had, over the last two sessions, a bill to prohibit collection of such a tax introduced and heard in the General Assembly.

#2 – The legislation Delegate Jeannie Haddaway voted in favor of (as did other Republicans) ensured that other states do their fair share to improve air quality standards so that Maryland citizens – and Maryland utility companies – do not bear the full burden in the effort to clean the air (especially since our airshed goes all the way out to Ohio). Air pollution costs MD millions of dollars each year (it accounts for one-third of the acid deposition in the bay, crop damage, health care, etc).

Maryland was actually ranked highest in the country for deaths related to air pollution.

In reading the bill, I see no assurances of the kind. Much of it was based on future legislation. Moreover, we can’t guarantee any other state does its “fair share” just as they can’t guarantee we do things for them. This legislation wasn’t part of a compact, so Ohio can do as it wishes in their part of the “airshed.”

#3 – This was good legislation for Maryland taxpayers. The legislation resulted in tens of millions of dollars in ratepayer relief for ratepayers that would be reflected on their utility bills until the O’Malley/Brown administration took the money and put it in the General Fund.

But we don’t know that, as such reductions were not explicitly spelled out in the bill or the fiscal note. It did mandate that changes not adversely affect certain electric ratepayers (or manufacturing) but that was something the state would judge, not those affected.

#4 – Who are democrats and independents that care about the environment and the economy going to vote for in the General Election? A team that can balance the environment with our economic needs or a real estate developer that has developed 35,000 acres and doesn’t care about the environment?

You’re talking to the wrong person if you want to go on an anti-development screed, because there’s nothing wrong with development. If a state or region doesn’t grow economically, it dies. However, while it’s possible Hogan does care about the environment, his agenda has never been formally spelled out. In a subsequent conversation Newgent stated Hogan wanted to address the sediment behind the Conowingo Dam, which will assist in restoring the Bay’s water quality, but we still don’t know where he stands on other aspects of environmental policy such as pulling out of RGGI, or what Chesapeake Bay measures he would cease or continue. Actually, I hope Craig revisits some of the legislation that’s already passed as he said he would.

#5 – Maryland’s economy depends on clean air and water. Farmers and watermen depend on a clean environment, our tourism industry depends on a clean environment. Delegate Haddaway has successfully balanced jobs and the environment; she has consistently earned high scores for her environmental record while still maintaining a 100% business rating (MBRG).

I don’t doubt that because where Jeannie usually falls short on the monoblogue Accountability Project is in the realm of environmental votes like the vote being discussed here. It’s why her lifetime rating is only in the 70s. Government tends to forget the earth does a very good job of healing itself.

So I really don’t buy the talking points. But I also have to consider the source of this slam on Haddaway, and remember: the assertion was that Haddaway’s vote “put the VMT tax on the table.” That cause-and-effect doesn’t compute, because in this term no bill has been introduced to enact a VMT levy. nor did Haddaway write the state’s master transportation plan. Unfortunately, neither VMT prohibition bill ever got past the hearing stage so we don’t have a recorded vote (although she was not a co-sponsor.) Even without the legislation or the master plan, though, it’s likely the greedy Maryland tax collectors would be among the first to seek a VMT whether the GGRA was passed or not. By this token, Haddaway should be given credit for voting against the “rain tax” that some Republicans backed.

Yet this post of mine may never have happened without a patented parting shot from the guys at Red Maryland:

Now this brings us to our friend Michael Swartz, who, in his endorsement of David Craig, wrote that picking Haddaway-Riccio “sealed it” and made “the difference” in his endorsement.

This is curious given Swartz is such a critic (and rightfully so) of the very policies Haddwway-Riccio  not only voted for, but sponsored.

It’s true that I disagreed with the vote, but when I weighed all the evidence I still came out with the Craig team on top. This would be true of any legislator, and had I been here in the initial days of the Ehrlich administration I may not have agreed with all of Larry Hogan’s appointments. As I’ve noted on my Facebook page, Larry was praised by Red Maryland for selecting “the most bipartisan, most inclusive, and most diverse administration in Maryland history.” As I asked there, what about conservative? Being “bipartisan” only seems to work one way in this state.

And unfortunately there was a lack of context in what Newgent quoted, since the reason Haddaway sealed it and made the difference was that Ron George picked a weaker LG candidate. At that point Hogan/Rutherford wasn’t even in the running.

But a particular reason I selected Craig/Haddaway over Larry Hogan was the vague platform Larry’s put out thus far. And the Red Maryland bloggers aren’t helping in that cause – instead, they seem to focus on attacking everyone else in the race. In many cases, it’s legitimate criticism of the others, but they seem to turn a blind eye to actually educating voters on the merits of the candidate they support through discussion of his proposed policies. “Jobs, middle class families, and restoring our economy” are nice catchphrases, but how will you get there?

I did a little reading through Red Maryland just to see what light they have shed on Hogan. Since January they’ve done a total of 17 posts on Larry, ones I found by typing “Larry Hogan” in the search box. A number of those posts were radio show promos, but here’s what else came up:

  • May 21 and 22 posts about the “coordinated effort,” as Ron George and David Craig questioned the connection between Change Maryland and Hogan’s campaign, a legitimate query which RM called “desperate times” from George and Craig.
  • A series of posts May 12 concerning a poll that the authors claimed was evidence Larry could “compete if not win on November 4.”
  • A May 5 article claiming that, “Most candidates have talked solely about reducing taxes, though Larry Hogan…has also focused on the need to reduce spending.” Yet David Craig notes under “Taxes and Fiscal Responsibility” that he will “use this (budgeting) authority (as Governor) to make actual cuts to the budget.” Ron George is a little more vague, but points out he would be “cutting any waste found by these (independent) audits” and would level funding “whenever the economy slows.” The assertion is only correct about Charles Lollar. On May 1, they also promoted Hogan’s “reduce-spending first strategy” as a discussion topic for their radio show.
  • Other articles dealt with milestones like Hogan’s fundraising, first television ad, and initial web advertisement. Hogan was also peripherally mentioned in the Media Matters and Baltimore Sun controversies.

And what did we learn about the others? In 13 posts about David Craig and/or Jeannie Haddaway, they noted the aforementioned VMT tax, her wobbly stance on bond bills, her support of film tax credits which helped her district, and property tax rates in Harford County under Craig. Most of the 13 could be construed as negative. They grudgingly praised Craig’s idea to eliminate the income tax, although the focus of that piece was to hammer Charles Lollar (more on him in a bit.)

Ron George merited just six posts, with just a couple being negative – mainly he was a peripheral mention in a larger Hogan context, although in the controversy over film tax credits Ron got a much larger role when the RM crew railed against fellow blogger Joe Steffen. They did give Ron the chance to clarify his position on the film tax credit issue, but did not on the “desperate times” posts.

And while Hogan had 17 posts, Charles Lollar rated 15, with nearly all of them severely negative towards him. Indeed, Charles was caught in a number of contradictions (as I also noted in my endorsement post) but the venom toward Lollar was palpable. You’d have thought Charles was Anthony Brown, who received 18 posts in the same time frame – in that case, the negativity was more justified.

In all, Red Maryland has done 235 posts (as of this writing) in 2014. As I noted, just 17 promoted Larry Hogan in some way, with 22 others (by my count) talking about other gubernatorial candidates. I will grant I rarely listen to the RM radio network so I don’t know what conversation has come up there, yet it seems that the majority of Red Maryland‘s time is spent painting their non-endorsed candidates in a negative light. And that’s fine because politics ain’t beanbag.

Yet one has to ask: does that help the overall cause for Republicans in Maryland? I’m not saying by any means we should just parrot the talking points, because each candidate has areas which need improvement. When people ask me, I can honestly tell them good things about the four Republican gubernatorial candidates as well as places where we may disagree. Perhaps the RM crew can do the same, but their stance on Hogan seems to be one of “trust us, you’ll like him and we need the change.” I don’t dislike Larry but I do dislike trying someone unproven, and even many who endorse him don’t know all Hogan stands for. They just equate leadership of a development company and a popular social media group – which has brought a number of good issues to the forefront – with being able to run the state. I don’t.

And look what Red Maryland has reaped from this approach, which makes this post seem prophetic. Obviously their promotional appeal fell on deaf ears: there are no candidates advertising on their website or radio network, which only attracts a few hundred listeners a week as shows have dropped off for other outlets or simply faded away over the last several months.

Just as a contrast, this post will be number 191 on the year for me, so the comparison is relatively apples-to-apples. By my count, I have written about Larry Hogan the most (59 posts), with Ron George meriting 45, David Craig 44, and Charles Lollar 36. (Obviously many posts feature more than one candidate.) Many have been critical, but my goal has been to enlighten voters and let them decide. It also helped me out because I was truly undecided on the governor’s race right about up to the time I wrote my endorsement. While I don’t have a radio show (nor any plans to begin one) I do have a solid cadre of local candidates who wanted to advertise here.

If you assume the polls are correct and Larry Hogan wins the primary, I’m assuring you he’ll get my vote in November. It’s the baseline level of support any Republican should give a GOP candidate. But the question is how much support will those who backed other candidates give to Hogan? In some respects, Red Maryland has burned quite a few bridges in the last few months by dropping any pretense of objectivity and becoming Larry Hogan’s attack dog, and that could spill over to other races they involved themselves in, such as the Hough-Brinkley race in Senate District 4 or the free-for-all in House District 31B.

These tactics could shift those races. Already I hear a number of people who say they’ll sit out November if Hogan wins, and that’s not good for any of us. I encourage those people to reconsider, or at the very least find some local races to get involved in.

I probably don’t speak for everyone, but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say Red Maryland has let us all down as “Maryland’s premier conservative source.” Endorsing Larry Hogan before he even formally announced was their right, but their actions since haven’t endeared them to many conservatives around the state.

“Thanks for everything you guys have been doing…you’ve been doing a terrific job.” – Larry Hogan on Red Maryland Radio, June 13, 2014.

No foolin’ – really?

I know a fair number of people will consider this a cheap shot, but is this something a legitimate candidate would cite?

As I pointed out yesterday, I get a lot of e-mail from candidates asking me for money. But in building his case for his campaign, Larry Hogan made the following statement:

My campaign for Governor has a commanding lead in the Republican primary. In fact, a recent poll shows that we garner more support than all the other candidates combined, with over 50 percent of voters supporting us. We can win this race!

Really? You’re citing the Red Maryland poll, which even the authors admit isn’t scientific and is backed by a website which endorsed you before you even formally entered the race? How low of information voters do you think you’ll reach?

Granted, I’ve made news before from a Larry Hogan poll of my own but at least at the time I fessed up to the fact it wasn’t a scientific poll.

And maybe it’s not Larry’s fault, since the e-mail itself traces back to a firm called SalientMG. But it is a little deceptive to say you already have over 50 percent primary support when no reputable poll puts you over 20 percent at the moment.

In many respects Hogan’s statement is like bragging about winning a straw poll, which a fellow candidate has done on a couple occasions only to be mocked for doing so. Then again, we can be far more certain those running the straw polls probably weren’t in the tank for the winner. The Red Maryland poll wasn’t quite like the Crimean referendum, but it was sort of close.

I’ll be more interested to see the fundraising reports in a couple weeks. If Larry Hogan has raised over 50% of the Republican money then maybe I’ll see him as a more legitimate front runner – right now I think it’s still anyone’s race. Some have a lot more work to do than others, but we still have almost three months.

A palace coup?

After a hiatus from blogging, political hatchet man turned fiction writer Joe Steffen – best known as the “Prince of Darkness” – turned his attention to my old friends at Red Maryland. At the risk of getting carpal tunnel problems, I have a few observations about this argument between the two sides.

Joe Steffen

First of all, let’s discuss the characters. You may recall the fall 2010 convention, where I took these photos. The bottom photo may be hard to read at this scale, but it was posted on the wall at our fall 2010 state convention – GOP activists may recall that gathering as the wake for those who believed Bob Ehrlich would be the savior or our party because he had just been trounced by Martin O’Malley on an even worse scale than his 2006, despite overt help from the state and national Republican parties. So we had a lot of interest for Chair that year and Joe decided to make his statement as part of the “Renegade Revolution.” In short, we were a group which was fed up with the whole incumbent protection attitude, which led to the Rule 11 resolution Heather Olsen and I spent 2011 trying to get approved, to no avail.

Renegade Revolution sheet

As for Red Maryland, most longtime readers are aware I am what they refer to as an “erstwhile” contributor. I crossposted there perhaps a couple dozen times between about 2007 and 2011 – more, I’m sure, than some of those they still list as contributors. For a couple years afterward I was still listed as a contributor, but the list was culled probably about the time I threw in my support for Collins Bailey for state party Chair over Red Maryland co-founder Greg Kline. Despite that, I’ve also been a guest on a number of their extant radio shows, with the exception (oddly enough, since we are both officers in the same political club) of Jackie Wellfonder’s show and perhaps the one Mark Newgent hosts now. I’ve probably been on their airwaves a half-dozen times, enough to be heard but certainly not a frequent guest.

Also, to keep the players straight, it should be known that Jackie Wellfonder (and Andrew Langer, while he was there) are exclusively radio hosts and don’t blog with Red Maryland. Sorry if all this bores you, but I want to make sure people know just who is involved here. Generally when I start discussing Red Maryland, at least one of the players gets up in my face about something I wrote, and I think one of their favorite descriptions of me is that I’m “passive-aggressive.” Water, meet duck’s back. If I didn’t think I had something to add, I would ignore this tete-a-tete.

Anyway, I read what Steffen had to say about this purloined letter the good folks at Red Maryland sent out to Maryland GOP candidates in order to drum up business, one Joe calls a “protection racket.” Honestly, I didn’t have a problem with that letter – sure, I’m questioning the wisdom of $5 a spot on their radio shows when one on a terrestial station which reaches a broader and more diverse audience can be had (at least here locally) for just a few dollars more, but it is what it is. I haven’t caught a Red Maryland radio show recently to see how this approach is doing. (Jackie’s is the only one I listen to on a semi-regular basis – the others just aren’t my cup of tea.)

Moreover, I’m quite aware they are now a part of the Baltimore Sun, which seems like a case of strange bedfellows but they got the gig – bully for them. But herein lies the rub.

In the letter, the editors of Red Maryland write:

Using our platforms at BaltimoreSun.com, RedMaryland.com, and the Red Maryland Network we can help introduce you to the public and make sure that your message gets heard.

So are they going from “the premier blog of conservative and Republican ideas in the Free State” to promoting just those candidates and ideas which supply a paycheck? That’s how I read the letter – and trust me, all of us bloggers could use a little extra money – but something tells me takers are in short supply. What do we get if no one ponies up?

As I write this, the posts on their front page deal with Charles Lollar’s reaction to David Craig’s income tax package, the probable minimum wage increase, a piece panning an idea to adopt a Utah-style “hybrid” primary system (proposed by the aforementioned Collins Bailey), several promotions for radio shows, Sun editorials, and their monthly poll, and one piece by contributor D.C. Russell on the state of Prince George’s County politics. With the exception of Russell’s article, there was really nothing I could construe as introducing candidates or making sure a message gets heard; on the other hand, they have already endorsed a handful of candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful Larry Hogan. Conversely, Charles Lollar has been regularly criticized on Red Maryland – sometimes deservedly so.

Steffen goes on to be critical of Jackie Wellfonder and Mark Newgent for their roles outside Red Maryland, claiming they do take money for what he termed “political favors.” That fact both Wellfonder and Newgent have political clients for their various enterprises isn’t in dispute, though – it’s whether they have adequately explained their roles.

Now perhaps it’s because I know Jackie quite well, but I’ve been aware for awhile that she has a consulting company and has been on the payroll of at least two campaigns this election cycle – Senator Steve Hershey, as Steffen mentioned, and also Christopher Adams, a candidate for Delegate. However, she has featured a number of candidates on her website and radio program and I think she treats them rather fairly. Yes, she is a Larry Hogan backer but candidates seem to know this up front and agree to speak with her anyway.

By the same token, I’ll take Mark at his word that he’s gone through the Hogan situation, as it came up one time in a chance conversation we had that he was doing work for Change Maryland. And that’s fine, too. As Red Maryland has explained, it takes the unanimous vote of the four editors to make the endorsement, and obviously sharp eyes will be going over Larry’s campaign report to see if any campaign funds went their way. (Newgent has also admitted to being on the Hogan team for opposition research.) So whatever Newgent is getting, he’s only a fraction of the team.

Now this brings me to the crux of the matter: why would this e-mail be received by saying, “(a) bunch of us got this, and had a nice little laugh” – isn’t Red Maryland supposed to be a “premier” blog?

I suppose if I wanted to I could argue a claim to the premier blog insofar as “ideas” go, since I have come up with some discussion items, suggestions, and resolutions in the past. Now if you want to talk about a premier marketing blog, yes, they’ve more than earned that title – otherwise, why would we even be discussing Red Maryland in the first place? For all I know, this unnamed group may laugh at my website too but no one knows about it.

So when did Red Maryland cross the point of derision? Was it the fawning over Larry Hogan, or maybe Greg Kline’s bid to become Maryland GOP Chair where he finished a distant third? Maybe self-promotion has gotten into the way of their original purpose, but all I know is that they (and their detractors) have become the sideshow sucking up all the oxygen in the room. Are we really that bored with the candidates we’re putting up – the ones who are working hard to get elected?

Respect takes a long time to earn, but can be gone in an instant. The Red Maryland crew continues to claim that #IntegrityMatters, but it’s apparent that a number of people question whether they have any left.

Ducking the question

In certain quarters of the Maryland GOP, a video is being shared – one that’s less than flattering to candidate Larry Hogan. It was done by a gentleman named John Lofton.

Biographically, John Lofton is a journalist of some repute, including a stint as editor of an RNC newsletter during the Nixon era and jobs as a syndicated columnist as well as op-ed writer for the Washington Times in its infancy. He’s now Communications Director of the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC), and perhaps one of the quirkier, if God-fearing, people in the state. This video illustrates the point. As for the state of the GOP these days, Lofton writes that “(b)eing a Republican is not a disease; it is a choice – a very bad choice, but a choice nonetheless.” His other working title is the director of the God and Government Project, billed as “an outreach mission” of the IOTC.

Yet on the way to a Republican coronation, in a race where at least one supporter feels the other candidates should drop out, Larry Hogan stumbled over what was a simple philosophical question posed by Lofton: what is the purpose of government? Admittedly, I might have, too, although when asked a second time about the role of government the change in terms may have helped me understand what he was driving at. Instead, the Lofton-Hogan conversation came to an end and has not been restarted despite what Lofton calls repeated efforts to conclude what John calls “possibly the shortest interview of my career.”

So while blogger Jeff Quinton saw Larry’s supporters as perhaps a little thin-skinned, and Richard Cross took time to note that Lofton, indeed, has some views which could charitably be considered as somewhat outside the mainstream of thought, it fell on some of the strongest Hogan backers to shoot the messenger and blame the spread of the video on Charles Lollar supporters, a group which Red Maryland Radio called “Facebook warriors.” On Thursday’s show co-host Greg Kline assessed it this way, part of a conversation during the show’s first segment:

(John Lofton) is one of these guys who’s, you know, Christian nation – his answer to the question, by the way, is the purpose of the government is to serve God, that’s the answer he was looking for. And because this interview got cut off, and Larry Hogan – I think you can hear, even in that clip, I think he realized ‘what am I doing here’…

…he gets interviewed all the time and doesn’t get that question very often.

That may be true, but the question has validity – regardless of its source or the answer the questioner was looking for – because voters aren’t as familiar with Larry’s stand on all the issues. One weakness of a candidate who comes from a non-political background is that we can’t tell political philosophy based on voting records or how he or she has governed in smaller jurisdictions, which on the GOP side covers Ron George and David Craig, respectively. This is tempered somewhat in the cases of Charles Lollar and even Brian Vaeth by their recent unsuccessful runs for office, but aside from an abortive 2010 run for governor, Larry Hogan last completed a campaign 22 years ago – in politics, that’s a lifetime. (To put this in context, that was the election cycle just before the Contract With America.) That’s not to say political experience is a requirement, but without it a candidate should take pains to reveal to voters where he stands.

Yet there’s a second aspect to this. If the situation were reversed, and Anthony Brown similarly blew off an interviewer asking a “crazy” question, most on our side would be caterwauling (and rightfully so) about ducking the tough questions in order to maintain spin control. On the other hand, Larry Hogan has thus far run one of the most non-specific campaigns in recent memory. I want to believe that Larry will be different, but we all see what happened the last time someone ran on a “change” platform – millions have been disappointed with the changes which were made. And when he’s been given the forum to expand on his plans, he’s taken a pass or simply refused to answer the question.

I’ll leave aside my opinion that Larry should have gotten into the race sooner as well as the strange itinerary which has had him miss certain key events. But let’s look at how other candidates have addressed key issues.

Both David Craig and Charles Lollar made whistle-stop tours, engaging voters at several stops along the way. (This is from Craig’s stop in Salisbury last June. Unfortunately my outside job precluded seeing Lollar on his September tour here.) Meanwhile, Ron George eschewed the bus tour but released a multi-point agenda of proposals shortly after he announced.

Some may say that gives the other side ammunition to pick apart certain pieces of the candidate’s platform, but in looking at the Democratic contenders I see no shortage of specific proposals from them. We certainly don’t agree with most of them because they’re not going to be in the best interest of Maryland voters, but at least we have somthing concrete to debate on a philosophical basis. This is lacking from Larry Hogan thus far, and it bothers me because I like to know where those seeking office stand. Ducking a legitimate question and calling it “crazy” didn’t help because I’d also like to know how candidates feel about the role of government.

Finally, I have one statement about all this fallout, charges, and countercharges.

On June 25th someone will emerge from the chaos of our Republican primary with the nomination for governor. And unless a candidate or two drops out before the primary, the chances are pretty good that the victor will only have a plurality of the vote. If Bob Ehrlich suffered in 2010 from the disinterest of the 1/4 of GOP primary voters who backed Brian Murphy, can you imagine the headwinds our candidate will have when 60% or so supported someone else?

Say what you will about Democrats – once the primaries are over, they seem to quickly get on board with their winner. It’s likely we will have the situation I described above, so the underlying thought all candidates should have is how to get those who supported the opposition behind them in a state of unity. Having Lollarites at war with the Hoganistas in a show of junior-high style personal attacks on supporters’ weight and brushes with the law, with the Craigsters and Bygeorges looking on hoping to gain advantage, is no way to run a party.

You may not like the supporters of the other guy, but just remember who the real enemy is. Hint: it’s the guys on the other team making this a less Free State.

Going for the throat

Every so often I have to just sit and shake my head.

As I usually do when I look at Facebook, I take a look at what various groups post on their pages. Last night I spied the Wicomico Society of Patriots page and found that Andrew Langer had posted a link to a Red Maryland article claiming Matthew Adams of Somerset County was behind a fairly new blog that seemingly, in the eyes of those on Red Maryland, exists only to bash them and those who work with that group, particularly my friend Jackie Wellfonder. The Red Maryland post, written by Mark Newgent, is based on photos from this post at the MD Watch site.

So I was appalled to see over 170 comments on that Facebook post, most consisting of a running argument between Langer and various local WMSOP members including Julie Brewington, who’s had her own share of run-ins with Red Maryland leading to her naming by the blog as Maryland’s least valuable conservative player.

Yet in reading all of the blow-by-blow regarding this situation, there’s one question Mark Newgent, who’s usually a pretty good investigative reporter, missed: who is the “we” referred to in the MD Watch post? Obviously Matt Adams was there at the Hogan event and I’ll allow the allegation that he was in the Executive Committee meeting to take the unflattering photo of Jackie from behind to stand for the sake of argument, given the case put together by Mark.

But is it Matt Adams who is writing as a collective “we” of the Lollar campaign or did someone else use the photos attributed to Matt in writing the Hogan/Wellfonder hit piece, which is authored by “James”? “James” is one of the two attributed writers on the MD Watch site; the other is “Veracruz.” Other posts have no attribution. Find out who “James” and “Veracruz” are and we’ll get a long way toward solving some problems.

Lord knows I haven’t often agreed with Matt Adams on many things – for example, he was a Diana Waterman backer – but I don’t see the evidence he did anything but take the pictures and own the domain name to the administrative part of the Lollar website. I’ve figured out that the guys at Red Maryland don’t care much for Matthew Adams and Julie Brewington (and seem to have a pretty dim view of the Lollar campaign in general) but I don’t see the leap to the accusations they made in their post. We may find out the owner(s) of MD Watch have nothing to do with any campaign and just like stirring crap. If so, sad to say they did a good job.

Then again, as poorly written as that MD Watch website is I would probably hide behind anonymous pseudonyms, too. Rehashing press releases is one thing, and I often use excerpts myself. But at least I try to advance conversation with them. And, for heaven’s sake, use spellcheck and proofread!

However, I do agree with a point Andrew Langer made in the long Facebook discussion – where is Julie Brewington in condemning the Wellfonder photo, particularly given Julie’s past history with being the subject of leering, candid photos, or shots she was the subject of but thought better about later on? I get the “freedom of speech” part, but don’t act the victim then when it’s pointed at you.

When I write, I try to use facts and learned opinion in my argument. My learned opinion of the Wellfonder photo is that it was garbage and doesn’t belong in a serious discussion. If anything, I would suggest that there’s a little jealousy of Jackie in play here, since she’s rather rapidly become part of the insider GOP crowd in the state. To make fun of her size, well, I thought we got past that once we left junior high. (And yes, I’m on the portly side too. Jackie likes her Starbucks, I like my chocolate.)

Still, it’s unfortunate that there’s no shortage of bad blood these days from a few who apparently fall within the tent of Charles Lollar supporters directed at Jackie, who’s doing her best to make a living at disseminating the campaign knowledge she’s learned over the last few years. She’s starting small, running a Delegate race, and so far seems to be successful with her instincts. We’ll see how it all works out come June, both in the Delegate race she’s running and her bid for our county’s Central Committee, which wasn’t news to me. Guess I won’t be on the bottom of the ballot this time.

Red Maryland is what it is; we’ve had our differences and I’m sure they may crop up again. Personally, I have to say these two wrongs don’t make a right.

You know, I’m not from Maryland, so I didn’t really know a lot about the whole blue crab thing growing up. (But I know what a buckeye is, both the object and the food product.) One tidbit I’ve learned since moving here, though, is that a group of crabs, when caught in a crab pot, will work together in one key respect: to pull down the leader who tries to escape. Obviously that’s good for those who are looking for dinner, but Maryland Republicans seem to have this crab mentality down pat.

We can argue now, but I want to make sure that on June 25 it’s full speed ahead getting rid of the Democratic dominance in this state. I know some will protest about my choice of words and say they should have the right to defend themselves, but I think most would agree that petty crap like this has to come to a halt. Just remember who perpetuates it henceforth.

2013 Maryland GOP Fall Convention in pictures and text

I think I can get all this in one part. To be quite honest, this convention didn’t match the buildup.

It was sort of strange. I noted earlier in the week that the whole Lollar controversy in the blogosphere overshadowed the months-long debate over the open primary question, and then the prospect of a Larry Hogan gubernatorial announcement upstaged several other events.

These were the scenes around the main ballroom on Friday night after arrival.

There was no doubt that they were proud of their achievements.

And something tells me that most of these stickers were gone by the end of the night.

The Change Maryland party even had a live band, called the Great Escape Band. I noted on Facebook that may be something subliminal if Larry doesn’t win.

Aside from one song they sort of butchered up in my line of thinking, the band was really pretty good. They also reinforced my belief that there’s not a band which doesn’t know ‘Mustang Sally.’ Although he actually didn’t write the song Wilson Pickett must be proud, wherever he is.

But when they took their break, the real rock star came into the room.

What I have found interesting in looking back and listening again to what Larry said is that my interpretation is much different than what Larry presented to other outlets.

This, which I transcribed from the remarks he presented, is part of what Larry Hogan said last night:

Now everyone who knows me knows that I love this state, I hate to let people down, and that I’ve never walked away from a tough fight.

I’m not a professional politician – I’m just a businessman – but I don’t think that you need to be campaigning all throughout 2013 for an election that takes place at the end of 2014. But, you know, we are getting pretty close to the end of the year.

I promised my wife and family that I would spend a little quality time with them over the holidays, and I’m looking forward to that.

And as you may know I founded and run a group of companies that has brought hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs to Maryland, and I promised the employees and my colleagues that I would stay at the helm and continue to work hard with them to try to have a strong finish to the calendar year.

So there won’t be a formal announcement or an official launch until January, but tonight – tonight I wanted to be very clear about our intentions.

I happen to believe very strongly that the people of Maryland simply cannot afford another four years of O’Malley/Brown/Gansler tax and spend policies.

Hogan went on to say, “This isn’t a fight between right and left, it’s a fight between right and wrong.

I honestly believe people went in there expecting Larry to make the formal announcement last night, so once he made his remarks a good percentage of the people left his party.

Of course, Hogan’s wasn’t the only party. Before I stopped by the Change Maryland event, I dropped in to Ron George’s suite which featured this.

I had one other photo which, alas, didn’t come out. Ron actually had a pretty lively thing going early on.

Just downstairs from Ron was David Craig’s suite. The candidate wasn’t there because he was at the RGA meeting in Arizona, but David had a lovely second-in-command to take his place.

LG hopeful Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio held down the fort. It’s worth noting they had pretty good traffic.

They also have a slew of printed material. I suppose you can cut out the Craig part if you really share the sentiment.

Instead of a suite, fellow candidate Charles Lollar (who was also in Arizona at the RGA) had a lobby table.

On the table, among the other handouts, was a letter explaining his absence, which read in part:

Unfortunately, this means I will miss the opportunity on Friday evening to meet with you, answer your questions, and tour the hospitality suites, but I look forward to joining everyone on Saturday to share my plans for returning prosperity to Maryland.

One place Charles may have found himself welcome was the Maryland Liberty PAC suite, which was all by itself on the other end of the building. Despite that, they had a lively group.

Alas, I think I missed this presentation.

The other suites were county suites from Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties. This photo was of the Anne Arundel suite, which by the way had the best food.

But it seemed like a lot of the air was sucked out of the celebrations early, with most of the parties finished before the clock struck 12. That’s when I took to Facebook and wrote:

So my thoughts on day 1 as I head to bed:

I’m sure I’m not the only one scratching my head over Larry Hogan and his decision to wait to announce his intentions until January. The chatter around the convention seemed, well, less than positive. He had 1,000 supporters in a festive mood and plenty of press only to cite family and business as reason to wait.

There were a number of good parties about, though, and I renewed acquaintances with a number of friends and fans. But pardon me if tomorrow seems a little less exciting.

I think I’ll have some more thoughts on all this tomorrow, but allow me to move on. They probably won’t be in line with the thoughts of these gentlemen: from left to right, Jeff Quinton of The Quinton Report and Greg Kline, Mark Newgent, and Andrew Langer of the Red Maryland Network.

And no, I was not on their show last night. Wasn’t sought out and didn’t seek them out – gave some others a chance.

This is what I saw looking out the window this morning.

So when I woke up, I was at least expecting to deal with this lengthy issue regarding open primaries – finally, a chance to decide. Wrong!

I suppose I should back up and point out that I did not cover the Friday evening Executive Committee meeting as I usually do. There were a couple reasons for this, but the primary one is that I was the escort for a good friend of mine who was the lucky recipient of my second Change Maryland ticket. But had I done so I may have found out that open primaries wouldn’t be discussed. Nor did I do breakfast this time, because the speaker didn’t appeal to me.

So the first (and only) Saturday event I attended was our combination lunch and session.

Let me say that I thought having the lunch and session as we did was a splendid idea, with the key reasons being we didn’t have to get settled in after lunch in a different venue and the fact we could sit at tables – no more balancing my note pad on my lap.

First we heard welcoming remarks by Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.

Yes, the photo is dark. But Laura had an intriguing story of being an MBA without being a high school graduate. Her remarks reflected a philosophy which said “over and over, if I worked hard, opportunity would be available to me.”

“My story could only happen in this country,” she added. “That’s why I’m a Republican.” She expressed the belief that hard work should equal opportunity.

Our luncheon speakers both came from the RNC.

Kristal Quarker-Hartsfield is the director of African-American Initiatives whose family “has been Republican since Reconstruction.” Her task was to spread the Republican message to areas not typically reached by the party, including black churches, historically black colleges and universities, and so forth. She added that Reince Priebus was “serious about going into these communities and doing things the right way.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Fong noted there’s “a good mix of people” here, and talked about the GOP’s renewed emphasis on minority communities. He made the case that many blacks would “consider” voting Republican if we were “just showing up.”

There was a buzz about the next speaker as well.

Described by Chair Diana Waterman as the future of the party, Annapolis Mayor-elect Mike Pantelides briefly outlined some of his secrets to success, particularly in social media. (The Twitter debate seems like a good way to promote brevity of remarks.)

With that out of the way, we rolled through some convention business so routine I snapped this on the Allegany County sign.

I guess the one interesting part was the complaint that the minutes didn’t reflect a resolution which was on the spring agenda but not brought up – the Tari Moore resolution tabled a year ago. But parliamentary procedure showed it was dead once the gavel fell in April.

So we moved on to State Senator David Brinkley’s report on the Senate, where we have a “tremendous field of candidates.” He made sure to mention that if Anthony Brown thought he’d have a coronation, he should have a cup of coffee with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Brinkley bemoaned the economic state of the state, making the case that job creators are “voting with their feet” and “anyplace south of the Potomac is friendlier (to business) than Maryland.” If we want more manufacturing jobs, Brinkley added, “right-to-work has to be one of the conversations.”

Overall, David believed that “even the Democrats are disgusted with the games and gamesmanship.” All we need are candidates who are conversant with the issues.

On the House side, Delegate Kathy Szeliga was kind enough to pass out her report, which highlighted many of the measures to be considered in next year’s session. It’s a list which includes tax cuts, a repeal of the “rain tax” and Common Core, protecting charter schools and creating a voucher system, and modifications to the gun bill.

Moving into the Chair’s Report, Diana Waterman exhorted us to “take advantage of all the opportunities our liberal Democrats gave us.” She also pushed an initiative called the Old Line Club, which was a monthly fundraising of $8 or more a month, automatically deducted.

But I found the Executive Director’s Report from Joe Cluster made me sit up and take notice: county-by-county goals. Even the Republican strongholds of Carroll and Garrett counties had marching orders: hold what you have and help other counties out.

Nicolee Ambrose, in her National Committeewoman’s Report, touted the successes of the Super Saturday program in Annapolis and Frederick. It also served as a good test market for issue advocacy, and next year the program will be expanded and divided into pre-primary and post-primary positions.

She also related the success of 3-part fundraisers like the Allen West event in Prince George’s County as a model for others to follow.

On a national scale, Nicolee spoke on IT improvements the party was undertaking as well as the winter RNC meeting in Virginia.

As is often the case, National Committeeman Louis Pope was optimistic: “We’re going to have a phenomenal year in 2014,” he predicted. He shared good news on the financial front and on how the party was working on regaining its technological advantage. Moreover, Obama’s “Teflon-coated presidency is coming to an end,” said Louis.

Pope also spoke on Maryland, calling the state one with a “very angry electorate” and “very energized (GOP) base.”

Finally we made it to resolutions. Two of them made it out of committee and two didn’t.

The ones which were presented to the floor came from John Fiastro, Jr. and Dave Myers.

You could call Fiastro’s resolution the Don Dwyer resolution, since it seemed tailored with his situation in mind. But Delegate Michael Smigiel, who was carrying a proxy, spoke up and called it “too broad.” An amendment to allow for acts of civil disobedience to address Smigiel’s concerns failed on a voice vote when Smigiel noted “there’s not enough lipstick to put on this pig.”

Once the question was called, the Fiastro motion failed by a large margin, over 75 percent voting against.

The other resolution was one which called on the party to stop sending “mixed messages” and integrate the pro-liberty community. It lost on a voice vote, even after the “mixed message” portion was excised. But Diana Waterman promised to create an advisory committee to hear the diverse portions of the party after the first of the year. So we’ll see.

Certainly the Maryland Liberty PAC and other groups will be watching.

There was an attempt to get one other resolution to the floor concerning the Frederick robocall, which had some support. But more people wanted to adjourn, which was the motion presented by Nick Panuzio of Talbot County. He’s good at that. (Update: I’m told by Denise Lovelady of Talbot that it actually was Josh Horner who motioned to adjourn, but I heard the motion credited to Nick by the Chair. So let’s say Talbot County is good at that.)

Upon driving home, though, the four of us who traveled together saw perhaps the prettiest sunset we’d seen in quite some time, so I’m going to take it as a divine sign we did something right even if it wasn’t expected.

The high road

For the most part, the votes are counted in the 2013 elections. A few conservatives won, but others lost – and that’s always disappointing. I’m going to leave the finger-pointing to others, but some reactions to the Virginia and New Jersey races worth sharing came from national heavyweights Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh as well as new media names like Peter Ingemi, Soopermexican, and Dan Riehl.

But for now I’m going to focus on the state races, which despite being a year away have attracted a fair share of headlines. One sidebar story to most, though, is roiling Maryland’s conservative new media, as it’s full-on open warfare between blogs and personalities supporting gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar vs. blogs and personalities which are claiming to vet Lollar for a number of issues ranging from out-of-state tags on the announcement tour bus to pulling a salary during his 2010 Congressional campaign to missing key GOP events.

I thought one generous olive branch was extended by J. Doug Gill on his radio show this evening. Why not talk out these issues and get some explanation from the guy on top, the leader of the campaign?

I know people on both sides of this issue; for example I’m friends with Jackie Wellfonder and work with her closely as part of Wicomico County Republican Club leadership – having met her as a local leader in the Dan Bongino Senate campaign, yet I also know Julie Brewington as an earnest believer in her cause who worked in the development of the local TEA Party as well as the former Americans for Prosperity chapter we had here. She also stuck her neck out to try and change Annapolis by running for office. Certainly, the results weren’t what Julie would have desired because she finished last, but few people make the commitment to run for such elected office. I consider her a friend as well. Sad thing is that there’s probably 80 percent or more common ground there but Julie is a local leader for Lollar and Jackie is on record as pining for Larry Hogan, so there’s now plenty of animosity there.

Yet look where this infighting has gotten us – talk of blackmail, mea culpas on subjects better left unsaid (and really irrelevant to the campaign), and talk of “vicious attacks.” I don’t know which wheel squeaked first – although as you’ll see below I have a guess – but I hope my wheel is the one that squeaks last. If Charles Lollar is running a poor campaign, the voters will figure that out soon enough. There isn’t a campaign among the four Republicans with a realistic shot of winning the nomination that I wouldn’t support when compared to the Democrats in the field who promise the same old bromides of tax, spend, and redistribute in an effort to buy more votes.

My gosh, if we as conservatives have enough pride to not fall for the redistribution trap, let’s not get bogged down in this crap. If people spent half as much time and energy working out the obvious flaws in Lollar’s campaign – and yes, the lack of a website for a week was a legitimate criticism of an unforced error, as were some of the missed appearances – as they did in figuring out ways to trash the Red Maryland crew, which may be of use to them later, they would stand a much better chance of winning.

I think it was a main protagonist of Red Maryland, Greg Kline, who got this whole ball rolling with his June assessment that Lollar “does not seem ready to be a serious contender for the Office of Governor of Maryland.” Since then, the Lollar camp has seemed hypersensitive to any criticism from that direction, which includes by extension Wellfonder (a Red Maryland radio host) as well as Jeff Quinton (also a former Red Maryland radio host.) Moreover, the blowback even extends to the Steve Hershey appointment. It almost seems like a cynical attempt to “slime the messenger” is at play here.

Now you can trust me when I tell you this “erstwhile contributor” to Red Maryland has had many differences with them over the years. But I have to say that they are an important piece of Republican politics in this state, for better or worse. I would have more respect for those running the Lollar campaign if they pointed out the differences between their guy and the other Republicans running than I do with their spending time worrying about what a group of bloggers thinks. If you disagree with Kline’s assessment, prove him wrong and step up your game.

As for myself, it’s time to concentrate on the issues. I think Sunday I’ll break out the first of several parts of my dossier, which is pretty much complete in several areas, so look for that.

It’s election day somewhere

While Maryland statewide voters will have another 52 weeks to wait until their time has come, there are certain Free State towns and cities where the polls are open today. Of course, we also get some spillover from the races down in Virginia, whose voters may well be sick of the campaign Terry McAuliffe has ran against Ken Cuccinelli – a guy who’s actually held elected office and wasn’t rejected by his party’s own voters four years ago.

Obviously the focus in Maryland has been on those municipal elections in Frederick and Annapolis, where a strong crop of Republicans must be scaring those higher up on the food chain:

Decisions are made by those who show up. That is never truer than on Election Day. And in Maryland, people like you have some important decisions to make.

The polls open tomorrow morning, which means it’s time to step up, make a plan for how you’re going vote, and stick to it.

Commit to vote now:

(link redacted)

Barack Obama, if people like me made the decisions in Maryland this state would be far better off – instead, they voted against their best interests and re-elected you. Obviously this is boilerplate since he didn’t know the only election I’m involved in is the one for the Mobbie Awards. And did his people really write “you’re going vote”? Must be taking a break from working on healthcare.gov.

At least the Red Maryland guys have a clue:

It’s Election Day in Annapolis and Frederick. We’re proud of the hard work our Republican candidates have been doing, and of all the work conservative activists from across Maryland have done to help them on to victory today.

If you live in Annapolis and Frederick; please vote today!

And yes, they have a radio show tonight, expanding Jackie Wellfonder’s normal hourlong show to two hours and taking it on the road.

The state Republican party has made a push in these two cities as well. From Chair Diana Waterman:

If you have some free time, consider making calls on election day to remind voters to go vote! Or help at the polls. I’ll be working a poll in Annapolis from 4 – 8PM.

Want to help tomorrow? Call (410) 989-2095 in Annapolis and (740) 816-1465 in Frederick. Or make calls from home – all you need is a computer and a phone. Click here to find out how to do it! It’s so easy!

In Frederick, we will elect Mayor Randy McClement and Alderman candidates Daniel Cowell, Phil Dacey, Alan Imhoff, Katie Nash, and Dave Schmidt!

In Annapolis, we’re going to shake things up and elect Mike Pantelides as mayor and Alderman candidates Allen Furth, Fred Paone, and James Clenny!

Of course, depending on who wins all these contests it will either be a “bellwether election” or “temper tantrum.” That’s the job of the spinners of the political world who might take a day or two off once the counting ends before firing back up with their thoughts on the 2014 election.

Yes, today ends a chapter in the book of politics, but I’ll be around to start on writing the next one as soon as tomorrow – maybe even this evening after the polls close depending on how much work I get done on other tasks.

2013 First District Bull Roast in pictures and text

For many years, local Republicans in Wicomico County had to make a choice: support the local Republican Club by attending their annual Crab Feast or show their backing of our Republican Congressman – at the time, Wayne Gilchrest – by making it up to the Upper Shore for the annual Bull Roast. Now that Wicomico Republicans have settled on a date closer to Labor Day, though, it opens the field up for us and several of us from our local Republican party attended the annual First District Bull Roast. If one more Central Committee member had shown, we would have had a quorum.

The venue was impressive, so I made sure to follow the rules.

This sign was actually in a side building which, I was told by volunteer E. Dee Monnen, serves as a dorm for inner-city kids who spend time on this working Schuster farm – on this day, though, it served as the venue for a VIP gathering. This mini-tour was one advantage of our timing: because Kim and I did an event with her side of the family earlier in the morning, we arrived somewhat early.

Not two minutes later my fellow blogger and radio host Jackie Wellfonder arrived for her stint as Red Maryland Radio co-host for the day, with Andrew Langer as her sidekick.

But the real stars of the show were those elected officials and longtime Republican fixtures who came to speak to us. (Best Supporting Actor, though, has to go to whoever made the beef, which was flavorful and nicely seasoned for my sandwiches. If I were more of a foodie you’d have had the pic, horseradish and all. But I’m not.)

After he renewed acquaintances with friends and volunteers, Andy Harris pointed out he couldn’t initially answer questions for the day because of his boss, who served as the opening speaker.

Ellen Sauerbrey served to introduce the large number of elected officials and candidates who attended the event. The room was set up for about 150 and as you’ll see later it was pretty full. As she spoke, the next two in line waited in the wings.

I have to give an assist to my fiance Kim for the great photo. Most of my readership recognizes Congressman Andy Harris, but the gentleman on the left would be far more familiar if you heard his voice – our featured speaker was WCBM morning radio co-host Sean Casey.

First up to speak was the host himself.

The key point of Andy’s message was that our side was beating back the Obama agenda and had done so for the last three years, since the election of 2010. He predicted the next three weeks would be “a wild ride” for the House majority as pressure will be brought to bear from the White House and Senate Democrats to cave on defunding Obamacare and not risking a government shutdown.

It will be interesting to see what this reporter has to say about what Andy said. I believe she’s from the local Easton Star-Democrat newspaper.

The next speaker was less kind to the media, particularly the “Maryland Democratic Party house organ” known as the Baltimore Sun. Yet we were told that Sean Casey arises each morning by 3:15 to review items for use on the Sean and Frank morning show. He had the attention of those who came to the event.

Casey spoke on a number of current events – the Navy Yard shooting, Benghazi hearings, the incident in Baltimore at a Common Core townhall meeting – but the most intriguing part of the program was his moderation of a mini-debate between two of the contenders for governor, David Craig and Ron George. Casey came up with the questions and the candidates gave their answers.

I actually caught up to both of them before the impromptu debate began, as they were preparing to work the crowd.

David Craig wasn’t by himself, but was assisted by a member of his team clad in the same familiar blue Craig color. Meanwhile, Ron George was chatting up old General Assembly friends – he’s pictured here with former Delegate and 2014 State Senate candidate Richard Sossi, who is on the right.

In general, David Craig leaned heavily on his experience as mayor and Harford County Executive in spelling out his vision for Maryland, while Ron George referred a lot to his newly-expanded ten-point plan for the state should he win election to the governor’s seat.

Worth noting as well was that the third gubernatorial candidate, Charles Lollar, also planned on attending but had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t arrive from Harford County in time. He was speaking before a women’s group there, according to Julie Brewington, a Lollar campaign coordinator from Wicomico County.

So my first Bull Roast is in the books. Not bad for leaving the camera and notebook at home, eh?

Radio days volume 19

It was a whirlwind week for me in terms of radio appearances. First I was invited to do a segment on “Watchdog Wire Radio” which aired on Friday night regarding my recent release of the monoblogue Accountability Project. I was thrilled to give my baby a little more exposure, as I think it should be required reading for all Marylanders considering going to the polls.

So on Tuesday morning I was invited to record my segment, which we finally got to do Thursday night. (“Watchdog Wire Radio” is apparently one of at least two shows taped beforehand for later broadcast.)

Oddly enough, by that point I had already done an interview with Brian Griffiths, who conducted a number of interviews at the Tawes event. Mine was one of a number that happened to air on the Red Maryland Network’s Saturday “Election Focus” hour, joining the likes of gubernatorial candidates David Craig and Ron George, among others. I believe mine was the first one Brian did, since he was using me to check his levels and such. No biggie, someone has to do it.

So allow me to discuss the actual shows, “Watchdog Wire” first. The thing which sticks out at me about doing “Watchdog Wire Radio” is that I need to either sit closer to my computer or play around with the recording volume a little bit. Mark does his interviews via Skype, and while I’ve worked with it before I’d always done it on my desktop computer. It’s a little different on my laptop, which has a built-in camera and microphone (although I didn’t need the camera.) So maybe I need to lean into it.

As for the content, I was pretty pleased with how it went initially, although I think I bogged down a little bit talking about the accolades and admonishments. It shocked me, though, that I had the entire first half of the 50-minute show. Obviously host Mark Newgent came prepared with a lot of questions for me, but I didn’t think I had that lengthy of a segment. This is particularly true when I was one of four pieces.

There were a couple of things I could have kicked myself for. One is that I didn’t explain the point system and the reason 25 votes is easy math – each correct vote is four points. I also have deductions of 1 to 6 points for absences, not voting while present, and changing a vote to incorrect (which is possible in the House, as is the half-credit I give for switching to the correct side.)

The second is not being able to navigate through it as quickly as I should have. I knew exactly the bill I was referring to for Delegate Norman, but couldn’t locate the title. Obviously there’s much more to the mAP than just the votes and accolades, as I try to give a reason why I would or wouldn’t support a bill. We also didn’t get into the committee votes, which I suppose is just as well because you should always leave an audience wanting more.

Well, they got more on Saturday night, right off the bat. The first ten minutes or so of “Election Focus” was my interview at Tawes. This made sense because, as I noted above, I was first out of the chute. Given the roster of guests I don’t mind being an opening act.

Once I got used to Brian Griffiths’ rapid-fire delivery and got into the flow of things, I think I did all right (except for not recalling Laura Neuman’s name.) Listening to the rest of the interviews, I noticed Brian is that way with most of them. On the other hand, you can tell I’m from the Midwest because I speak more slowly.

And because I was sort of the “home team” for this effort – and they knew I’d done several recaps of Tawes – I enjoyed giving the lowdown on the local scene around the lower Eastern Shore. Perhaps I was a little tongue-tied speaking about the second bananas on the Republican ticket, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on around here.

Overall, “Election Focus” seems to be an interesting show for Marylanders to get to hear from a number of candidates from top to bottom on the ballot. (It will be better when it’s not “300 degrees,” apparently.) With about 48 weeks or so until the primary, there’s a lot of airtime to fill. I was happy to do my little part.

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