Once again taking what would normally be a fairly localized race and nationalizing it, Sixth District Congressional candidate Dan Bongino announced his first major national endorsement today: former Congressman and conservative darling Lt. Col. Allen West.
In a statement released today, Bongino simply noted:
I am both proud and honored to receive the endorsement of Lt. Col. West, a man who has developed a large national following due to his reliance on principles and not cheap party politics.
There will be a formal event October 10 in Washington, D.C. to officially make the endorsement, in which Dan is joined by three other officeseekers.
But this is important in nationalizing the race because West’s Guardian Fund has plenty of support nationwide, despite the fact West was a one-term Congressman from Florida. Needless to say, I don’t think Dan is going to honor opponent David Vogt’s call for a campaign finance limit in the race, perhaps because incumbent Congressman John Delaney has plenty of money himself.
Meanwhile, Dan continues to rack up support from potential TEA Party peers in Washington and beyond – but it brings a point to mind. Obviously. since we are nowhere near the Sixth District, I have no idea how the grassroots in that region are taking to Bongino since he’s an outsider to the district. I know he had plenty of support in his statewide race from a plethora of volunteers, but I need to be convinced that the same passion is there this time around. While some had fun at Vogt’s handling of the Richard Douglas endorsement, having someone familiar with the lay of the land like Bud Otis can be an advantage as well. It means Vogt might be showing up at the right events and meeting the correct people therein.
But can that compete with the influence and power of Allen West? Only time will tell.
It’s beginning to look like a race out in the Sixth District, but the question is now becoming one of whether the establishment Republican is really Dan Bongino, who earned his stripes by garnering the Maryland GOP’s senatorial nomination last April. Consider that Dan’s closest opponent in that race, Richard Douglas, is now backing Vogt:
Service in the armed forces is not the only quality required of a conscientious member of Congress. But it is an enormous asset. For this reason, I believe that former Marine rifleman and Afghanistan veteran David Vogt is the best choice to represent Maryland District 6 in the U.S House of Representatives.
During the last twelve years, our nation’s most important national security enterprises have been combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. After September 11, 2001, Americans like Mr. Vogt enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and other branches of the armed forces to perform our nation’s dangerous and demanding work. They volunteered without fanfare, fully aware that they would be deployed to combat theaters, rifle in hand. Their willingness to go in harm’s way is the essence of service and sacrifice.
Even Americans who opposed U.S. operations in Iraq or Afghanistan can appreciate the worth of such badly-needed qualities, today, in every walk of our often-troubled national life. These qualities are important because the interests of Maryland and our nation often demand that elected representatives in Congress, regardless of party, cross swords with the people who govern us from the White House, the Pentagon and other Executive branch departments and independent agencies.
Staring down the President, the Pentagon, a massive bureaucracy, or your own party leadership to serve the people takes genuine courage. But that is a House member’s duty, regardless of the political consequences. Armed forces veterans — particularly those with combat experience in the ranks — understand and have lived the duties of self-sacrifice and courage. They are less likely to become the star-struck cheerleaders for bad military, foreign, and domestic policy which, sadly, populate Congress today.
Service, seasoning and wisdom matter. Marylanders have had a bellyful of tough-talking lightweights in public life. Mr. Vogt is a step forward. He is the Republican primary candidate who has demonstrated the courage, seasoning and experience required to represent Marylanders well.
Mr. Vogt’s Afghanistan service in the U.S. Marine Corps did not make him a better American than his electoral opponents. But it will make him a better member of the U.S. Congress.
I’ll leave aside the question of Douglas’s backing vis-a-vis the question of establishment vs. conservative for the moment, because it’s worth pointing out that Bongino and Douglas were rivals for the same job last year, and the backbone of Richard’s campaign was his foreign policy experience as well as his tenure as a Senate staffer. At the same time, the question of Afghanistan was still in the air and Dan made a compelling case for pulling out, which automatically and immediately puts him at loggerheads with the Afghan campaign veteran Vogt. For that reason alone, I’m not surprised at this endorsement, which could help Vogt most in the extreme western part of the district where Douglas prevailed in the 2012 primary.
But this is also shaping up to be yet another establishment vs. outsider proxy battle, with Bongino again playing the role of outsider against Douglas in an election with few established names. It’s true that Vogt has no elected political experience, but the same could be said for Douglas – yet he was embraced by a number of MDGOP insiders as well as those inside the Beltway.
I find it interesting, though, that Bongino hasn’t chosen to begin rolling out endorsements yet. Maybe he feels less need to since it’s implied that many of those who backed his Senate run will do the same for a Congressional bid, but if Vogt’s ball keeps rolling he could make it a race. While it’s very unscientific, the most recent Red Maryland poll gives Bongino a solid – but not convincing – 17-point edge. Considering his name recognition from being on the ballot last year, that’s got to be too close for comfort.
So how will Dan Bongino play this? I can only speculate, but I suspect the big push will begin after Labor Day and it will center on pocketbook issues.
Meanwhile, there are some in the online media who are questioning the way the Vogt campaign is being run, particularly staffing decisions. There’s no question that Dan Bongino has rubbed some in the Maryland GOP the wrong way, but one name in particular continues to pop up on the radar screen of Jeff Quinton and his Quinton Report, and apparently that person is now involved in Vogt’s campaign as well.
Leaving aside the personality aspect, Jeff makes a valid point – why would a story like this be buried on a weekend? (I received this word before this evening, but it was embargoed to today and I respected the campaign’s wishes.) One might posit that a release on Saturday assures more attention during a slow news period and perhaps placement in the Sunday paper, but having done this gig for awhile I know the ebb and flow of readership and when certain material works best and Saturday is an unusual day for political activity like this. And having noticed a similar line on a Facebook posting from Monday, arguably that would have been the time to lead with it if the endorsement were in the can.
So far we have proven that first-time campaigners make mistakes. The question is whether the unforced errors will doom the Vogt campaign.
Fellow blogger Judy Warner, who now contributes to the Potomac Tea Party Report, tipped me off to an article on the Atlantic website; an article which provided a glimpse at perhaps the most important part of Barack Obama’s electoral victory. Obviously it’s packed with effusive praise for Obama’s campaign in general, for the Atlantic is at heart a highbrow liberal magazine.
But there’s an important point to be considered: say all you want about Obama’s wretched foreign and domestic policies, but he knew how to get re-elected despite being arguably the worst president since Jimmy Carter when it came to bungling both sides of the equation. Oh sure, we on the conservative side know that the mainstream media ran interference for him like the Chicago Bears of another era blocked for Walter Payton but in the end it was Payton who made the defense miss tackles and not easily bring him down.
The part about the Atlantic‘s piece by Alexis Madrigal which stuck out to me the most, though, was the Obama campaign’s willingness to go outside the political arena and find people who simply knew how to make the best use of the technology out there. (If only he would do the same for economics and Constitutional scholarship.) Of course, there was a symbiotic relationship between the two since I’m certain the vast majority of those who signed on were in Obama’s philosophical corner, but this is the technology edge that the Republicans swore up and down they would negate this time around. Instead, we had the well-documented and discussed crash of the ORCA system on Election Day which cemented the demise of Mitt Romney’s Presidential bid.
The orphan of Romney’s technology failure could be traced back to the fact that those who were by trade political consultants – and hence “knew how the system worked” – really didn’t know squat about the technological side of things. Ten years ago e-mail lists were golden because that was going to be the new way to reach voters. In fact, as I recall, the first rendition of Obama
For Against America had a massive list of somewhere around 13 million e-mail addresses to start from (including mine.) But their technology team built up from there and integrated all sorts of data collection and outputs tailored from it.
As an example, remember the post where I related the fact they knew I hadn’t donated to the Obama campaign? The fact that they could tie together the database which had my e-mail address and the one where they had the records of who donated was seemingly beyond the capability of the Romney camp. Instead, the Romney side would send me the EXACT SAME e-mail several times – once from their campaign and then through three or four different “sponsored content” sites to whom I’m sure the Romney people paid handsomely for their list. Unfortunately, I happened to be at the very center of that Venn diagram and I’m betting that most of you reading this were too. But does a generic e-mail motivate someone to go to the polls or donate?
Once again, the key difference came down to data. Maybe I wasn’t high up on the sophistication level of the Obama people because they knew I was sort of a lurker on their e-mail list. I’d bet a dollar to a donut they knew I was a XXX Republican voter and therefore gave me the minimum of e-mail efforts; meanwhile, the uncommitted or newly registered voter (or one who bothered to fill out more information at the Obama site, unlike me) had a variety of messages tailored for him or her. You don’t honestly think the “Julia” advertising campaign or the Lena Dunham “First Time” commercial weren’t calculated to arouse a group they knew they had a maximum of potential voters within? It’s also why they promoted the false “war on women” narrative, with plenty of media help to play up unfortunate statements by U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.
Since the Romney campaign all but ignored Maryland, let’s look at one statewide Republican campaign we contested, that of Dan Bongino. Just as a recap, Bongino began running for the U.S. Senate as a first-time candidate in the spring of 2011. He had no political experience and his main initial backing was from someone who had ran and lost badly in his first run for political office at the statewide level a year earlier in Brian Murphy. It wasn’t exactly a broad platform to begin from, and the key question in the race early on was whether 2010 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Eric Wargotz would try again. He didn’t.
But Bongino worked hard to overcome many of his disadvantages, and had the attribute of a compelling, man-bites-dog sort of story: a former Secret Service agent quits to make a seemingly quixotic U.S. Senate run in a liberal bastion of a state. Moreover, he’s young, well-spoken, and telegenic, with a rags-to-riches life story that unfortunately too few got to hear outside of the conservative echo chamber. Dan did well at nationalizing his campaign thanks to that story, and managed to win the Republican primary in April over the game but underfunded Richard Douglas and several other less qualified candidates.
Perhaps the Bongino campaign hit its peak just before Labor Day, because just as people decided to start paying attention a newcomer jumped into the race with a populist promise and millions of dollars at his disposal. Obviously this threw the Bongino campaign out of balance and too much time was spent trying to fight off the challenger on the ladder below while the guy above him had little to do but watch the other two battle it out. It was almost as if Dan had to run a second primary campaign in the midst of a general election, this time against an opponent who was much better-funded and inundated the airwaves with slick 30-second commercials beseeching people to “declare your independence.” Like it or not, the “independence” pitch was a message that worked with those who were sick of party infighting but didn’t want to bother enough to go into the details of Rob Sobhani’s pledges.
But imagine what could have been had Dan had the same sort of database and expertise used by the Obama campaign? He could have targeted his message in such a manner to counter the incumbent’s record to certain voters, rebuke the so-called “independent” to wavering supporters, and kept the money stream flowing from the die-hard element. There was no question in my mind that Dan’s message had broad appeal, and perhaps had the roles been reversed between Bongino and Sobhani to where Rob was the GOP nominee and Bongino the unaffiliated candidate, the results would have been about the same. The only difference would be that the Maryland GOP would have been embarrassed about losing to an independent candidate as well as a Democrat.
That’s not to say that there aren’t potential databases at our disposal. We have an idea of those who are most worried about illegal immigration (Question 4), and are pro-family (Question 6). Those who came out against Question 5 and Question 7 can also be construed as sympathetic to at least part of our message. Then add in all the AFP people, TEA Party participants, and fiscal conservatives we know and one can build up a little bit of a knowledge base. Of course, the key is keeping it up to date and determining relevant messaging for the situations which crop up.
A new era is dawning in politics. The old scattershot standby of sign waving doesn’t seem to be very effective anymore, even as well as Dan did it in one memorable afternoon. There were a lot of cars going by on Rockville Pike that day to be sure, but there was no way of knowing whether these were even registered voters. Maybe it’s because I don’t get a lot of Democratic campaign e-mail, or maybe there’s just not enough of a base around here to make it worthwhile, but I never hear about a Democratic sign waving unless it’s in the form of a larger protest. What few Democratic tactical e-mails I received (from the Obama campaign, naturally) had to do with person-to-person events – making phone calls from the local headquarters or having “watch parties” for various campaign events at people’s homes. The former was probably more effective for reaching out to undecided voters while the latter kept the zealots motivated to keep giving of their time and talents. And it came down to having the database to know where I lived and what events were being planned by supporters via solid communications between volunteer and campaign. Those functions were handled on a local level on the Romney side, not always well.
It has been said to me on many occasions that conservatives win on issues and that we are a center-right nation. Obviously I believe that and if anything I think we need a stronger dose of limited government.
But data is king. It’s not enough to have the registration lists and do the door-to-door and phone calls, both of which seemed to be sadly lacking in Maryland thanks to a self-defeating prophecy which states Republicans can’t win statewide elections so why bother trying? That’s a good start, but we also need to invest in the electronic end of things and, more importantly, look outside the incestuous web of political consultants who talk a good game about political IT and find those who do these things for a living. Not all of the Web and social media gurus are liberal Democrats – admittedly, most are but we have to build up a farm team there as well.
I believe we can overcome all those “demography is destiny” and “you can’t convince the minorities to vote GOP” naysayers by using the right data to send them the conservative message. We can win, but it will take hard work, a lot of prudent investment outside of the good-old-boy, inside-the-Beltway system which continues to insure us defeat after defeat, and less of a reliance on things we always thought worked before but have outlived their usefulness.
All of us movement conservatives have some sort of talent, and there are a growing number who believe mine is in analyzing information and providing it to readers in a coherent fashion. As I said in my book. I believe there’s a place for someone of my talents in a conservative, limited-government movement. Years ago I read a self-help book which said I should manage around my weaknesses so I took that to heart and play to my strengths, and mine is in gathering my thoughts and turning them into pixels on a computer screen or words on a page.
But there’s a far bigger place for those who know how to corral data and put it to use so people like me can communicate to the largest number of relevant people possible, while others who have that gift of gab and outgoing personality needed for the task are sent to knock on the right doors and dial the right phone numbers with the right message for the listener. It’s never going to be foolproof, but we have a long way to go just to be adequate.
Finally, we have to treat this like a war. Of course I don’t mean that in the sense of carnage and mayhem, but the idea of taking time off or letting someone else do the job is no more. A soldier has to be ready for anything at any time, and we have to be ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice, keeping an eye out for future elections. On that front, I’m very disappointed I’ve seen no action in my hometown and no credible candidate file to either run against our mayor or the two City Council members whose seats are up in this cycle. Nor do we have a good idea yet of who will be running locally in 2014. (In that case, though, we happen to have a number of incumbents but there are seats we’d love to contest and fill as well.)
Not all campaigns will be successful, but I think we can take a step toward eventual success in learning from our tormentors, and the Atlantic profile provides a quick case study.
It’s almost like Dan Bongino wanted to hit the reset button.
No, he hasn’t made any sort of campaign gaffe that I’m aware of (although Rob Sobhani alleges one of Dan’s campaign volunteers did) but the confident challenger to Ben Cardin of a month ago has had his horse shot out from under him via Sobhani’s insurgent, predominantly self-funded campaign. So Dan’s going back to what built his campaign in the first place: another key endorsement and the re-release of a 90-second campaign commercial I felt was one of the best presented in this campaign.
The endorsement comes from former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who also served as President Bush’s first Homeland Security Secretary. In a statement released by Bongino’s campaign, Ridge said:
Dan’s qualifications for a seat in the Senate reach beyond his experience in law enforcement and national security. His personal initiative, diverse education, and impressive achievements in community service as well as private enterprise, will well-serve the people of Maryland.
It would be interesting to see how much further assistance Ridge or any of those others who endorsed Dan will provide now that he’s being attacked from both the left and (mostly) from the left-center. Personal campaigning would be particularly helpful since Dan and Paula can’t be everywhere.
Through the grapevine I have heard a little bit of muted criticism of how Dan is running his campaign, basically from people who either a) are disgruntled because Dan is not addressing their pet issues or b) believed Richard Douglas would have been a better Republican nominee (even though he got into the race later and, like Sobhani, also had primarily self-funded his campaign.) Personally I don’t necessarily agree with every plank of Dan’s platform and I certainly would have been comfortable had Richard won the primary, as he actually did in my home county.
Yet in looking at Rob Sobhani’s key issues I’m left wanting – for example, why isn’t a 15% tax rate good enough for everyone? And level with us about where this $5 billion in “public-private partnership” money is coming from – are we going to socialize risk and privatize profit? We already have a Senator who’s great at spending money; something particularly irksome when his party can’t even be bothered to put together a budget.
Even some of Rob’s not-so-key issues bother me: on his petition, Rob’s nascent campaign expressed that Sobhani was “pro-choice and supports gay rights.” Granted, these aren’t as important as the economy but since I’m pro-life and read the latter as support of Question 6, I can’t support that when I have a much better conservative alternative who would support private investment targeted as those individuals wish because the government would take less of their sweat and toil, not at specific projects which may be helpful in limited instances but would more likely enrich Sobhani’s cronies.
So Dan is working back to square one, resuming the important endorsements which bolstered his campaign before Sobhani even considered getting into the race. He also has something just as important: plenty of grassroots support. Once the air war is joined, which is a given because of Bongino’s solid fundraising quarter, the early advantage Sobhani enjoyed by not having to survive a primary will dissipate.
This isn’t about “hitting the jackpot,” nor is it about putting someone back in office so he can make it a half-century on the public’s dime as an elected official. It’s about serving the people of Maryland.
Remember that on Election Day.
I have seen a lot of disappointment over the last 36 hours or so, as conservatives lash out at a decision they believe was ill-considered. I get a lot of e-mail from numerous sources, so I’ll have several links for you to follow. But I’m saving room for my reaction, too.
And if you’re wondering, I really don’t give a damn about what Democrats are crowing about, because they’re almost always wrong anyway. I don’t have to be fair and balanced here. So I’ll concentrate on some of the Republicans and Libertarians who we can vote for here in our locality.
For example, Mitt Romney promised to repeal Obamacare on his first day as President. While that may seem like a little bit of a stretch, it’s actually possible because Congress is in session a couple weeks before the new President is sworn in. If H.R. 1 in the 113th Congress is a full-blown repeal of Obamacare and the Senate can get past a Democratic filibuster (which some say isn’t possible anyway) they could present to bill to President Romney on January 21, 2013. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
Onetime Republican Gary Johnson agreed, with the Libertarian pointing out:
There is one thing we know about health care. Government cannot create a system that will reduce costs while increasing access.
Johnson also believed the “uncertainty” of the health care law was contributing to the unemployment problem in America.
Turning to our state of Maryland, U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Bongino called the decision “a serious blow to the freedoms of all Americans.” But he implored his supporters:
We can fix this, we will fix this. Get off the mat, there is one more round to fight…
From now until November 6th be a wolf not a sheep. Commit yourself to changing the country for the better and make today nothing but a bad memory.
Similarly, Congressman Andy Harris dismissed the ruling as
…determin(ing) the law’s constitutionality, not whether the law is good policy. Americans have already made up their mind on that issue. A majority favor repealing the law.
The sentiments were echoed by the Maryland Republican Party, where Chair Alex Mooney called yesterday “a very difficult day for all of us.”
I wanted to add one more from a group called the Job Creators Alliance. I don’t recall hearing from them before but it’s a group of CEOs who banded together to advocate business-friendly policy. And Staples founder Tom Stemberg spoke on behalf of the group when he said:
The Supreme Court of the United States has dealt a critical blow to free enterprise. By upholding the mandate as a tax, the Court and this Administration has ensured that taxes will go up for middle class working families and small businesses everywhere. Legal arguments aside, Obamacare is a disaster for small business owners and entrepreneurs. It will result in thousands of lost jobs, increased health care costs and an increased inability for small businesses to provide coverage to employees.
Today’s decision not only leaves the hurdles to job creation that Obamacare posed untouched, but adds additional uncertainty to the economy which will make it much more difficult for our economy to grow.
My reaction sort of falls along the same lines, but I thought I saw a silver lining when the individual mandate was struck down – Congress can’t necessarily compel us to buy a product. But they sure can set up a punishment for not doing so, and that’s the scary part.
However, this goes back to something which was said during the U.S. Senate campaign by Richard Douglas when he argued repeatedly that SCOTUS should uphold the law. Because this has been kicked back to Congress to resolve, it only takes a determined effort by voters to elect enough conservatives to Washington to overcome the kicking and screaming objections by Democrats to overturning Obama’s namesake program. If they can repeal a Constitutional amendment by enacting another one scant years later, Obamacare can be eliminated as well.
Of course, this all depends on electing the right legislators – unfortunately, if the American people are really the “sheeple” some would lead you to believe we are that may not happen. If the same actors remain in place, come 2014 we’ll be on the road to the government telling us just how and when to wipe our asses.
Stemming back to her days as a candidate for state office as an unsuccessful aspirant for the District 38A seat now held by Charles Otto, Julie hasn’t exactly been all warm and fuzzy about the Maryland Republican Party. It’s understandable because, by and large, the candidates she’s fallen in behind have rarely been the preference of the state’s party establishment – a cadre I can pretty confidently claim no part of.
But the money phrase in Julie’s critique of the Gazette story is this, which she claims as an indictment of all things Republican in Maryland:
Last week, he beat out nine other Republicans for the nomination, leading his closest competitor by more than 9,600 votes. But Bongino said his plan is to run as a Republican, not as a part of the Republican Party.
I can understand the distinction because there is a difference, and while Julie demands the MDGOP “(g)et on the Bongino campaign bus instead of trying to throw him under it, or get the hell out of the way” she’s bluntly saying what I’m going to write in a more graceful and palatable manner.
You see, for the last several years we have been told that conservatives have to compromise their principles and fall in behind whoever the party brass picks out – the “more electable” candidate, if you will. And they know that, in most cases, those of us on the right side of the political line have two choices: vote for the lesser of two evils or stay home. Of course, the problem has been that the “more electable” candidate still gets his ass handed to him by somewhere between 10 and 30 points regardless of how much work is put in and how much the establishment stands behind him.
In 2012, though, it looks like the shoe is on the other foot in this statewide race. While it was a somewhat tepid backing, it seemed like those who would know better preferred Rich Douglas to be the GOP U.S. Senate candidate. Yet it was the suburban counties which seemed to propel Bongino to the nomination – he won a core area of Anne Arundel, Frederick, Howard, and Montgomery counties by 12,000 votes – and that outweighed Dan’s weakness in rural counties. Out of the ten counties which have 20,000 or fewer registered Republicans, Rich Douglas won eight of them. Queen Anne’s and Worcester counties were the two exceptions.
Yet this could be the key to Dan’s success, because rural voters aren’t exactly going to be sold on Baltimore Ben Cardin and establishment Republicans may see the formula for success in Maryland appear before their eyes. Obviously Dan needs to spell out his platform and how it would enhance the interests of rural Marylanders as well as their suburban counterparts.
However, there are going to be some very, very necessary factors in defeating Ben Cardin. First is the easy task of equating him with the career politician well past his sell-by date that he is rather than the kindly grandfather image he’ll attempt to present to voters. I liked the way we were running the primary campaign because it focused on Ben’s lack of leadership and unresponsiveness to the needs of working Maryland families rather than bashing each other.
The second is finding volunteers and money to outmaneuver the special interest funding and union thug backing Ben is sure to have. This also goes for the other eight Congressional candidates Democrats will attempt to foist upon us – for example, as populist as Sixth District Democratic nominee John Delaney may make himself out to be the fact he’s sunk seven figures of his own money into his campaign suggests otherwise. And they call Republicans the party of the rich.
Realistically, I think we can thwart the Democrats’ best efforts at gerrymandering and pick up a Congressional seat to make Maryland a 5-3 Democrat advantage. Don’t forget that Ben Cardin hasn’t run for election in six years, and a lot changes on the political landscape in that amount of time. Just like Massachusetts reclaimed the “Kennedy” seat for the people by electing Scott Brown, re-electing Ben Cardin based on the fact he has a familiar name and got into political office because his uncle stepped aside and allowed him to run for a House of Delegates seat way back in 1966 doesn’t fly with me, and shouldn’t with other right-thinking Maryland voters. While Ben would beg to differ, he’s not entitled to the Senate seat like royalty nearly a half century later. We fought a war of independence to get away from that.
Truth be told, Republicans have a pretty good slate of candidates running this time around. I may not be a big fan of all of them, but you better mark it well that I believe they would be a far sight better representing the real interests of Free Staters than the sorry group of liberal Democrats we have, who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag for the producers who still attempt to make an honest living in this state.
So it’s up to the Maryland Republican establishment to do what they always told us conservatives to do when a Bob Ehrlich or some other middle-of-the-road, milquetoast candidate was nominated by party faithful – shut up, donate lots of money, and get out the vote. We can impede our progress – as we have managed to do splendidly over the last decade or so – or we can advance ourselves. It’s our choice November 6th, and Dan Bongino is leading the way at the top of the Maryland ticket. Get on the bus or get run over.
I suppose you can call this the post-election edition because a few of these items were swept aside in the runup to our primary earlier this week.
This one’s a bit controversial.
It’s only 37 seconds and while it makes a great point, I find it intriguing that the “dislikes” are running 2-1 over the “likes” on YouTube. Truth hurts? Any questions?
One thing we can’t question is the fact that as of Sunday the United States had the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. But the Republican Study Committee makes a good point:
Of course, volumes and volumes of special credits, deductions, and loopholes mean similar companies often pay very dissimilar tax bills. It’s natural for people and businesses to use every means available to hang onto the money they earn. We wouldn’t be an entrepreneurial nation if we didn’t. But the more time and money we spend navigating our ridiculously complex tax code, the less we produce of real value.
And that was part of the point in the Cain video. Not only is the tax rate high, but those who can afford lobbyists and campaign contributions tend to be the ones who pay the least in taxes – meanwhile, the mom and pop operation takes it in the shorts again. (That’s why 9-9-9 appealed to me. Any questions?)
The state of Maryland doesn’t get this either, according to Kimberly Burns of Maryland Business for Responsive Government.
As the Governor said himself, all this proposal does is delete the word ‘gas’ from ‘tax.’ A sales tax increase is an easy, unacceptable short-term fix to the longer term problem of business competitiveness. Just like the gas tax, it hits every Maryland working family and business right in the wallet.
Say hello to more factory outlet stores near Maryland’s borders in Delaware and Virginia. When you’re a small state like Maryland, sandwiched between two low-tax states, it’s foolish to think increasing the sales tax won’t effect Maryland’s competitiveness and the behavior of consumers.
If the 7% sales tax is passed – and remember, anything is possible in these desperate last days of the session – Maryland would have one of the highest sales taxes in the country and Delaware merchants will be licking their chops as their price advantage jumps to seven percent.
Maryland Republicans in the Senate point out another misconception on the offshore wind boondoggle by citing a Sun letter from Teresa Zent which makes an interesting charge: that $1.50 per month price is only “a cap on what a developer can plug into its proposal. It is not a cap on what a ratepayer might actually have to pay.” And that’s a tremendous point, because if your electric bill is figured on a price of perhaps 11 cents per kilowatt hour and wind energy will cost a quarter per, someone has to pay and the utilities (which, remember, have a monopoly on servicing a particular area) aren’t in it to lose money. By necessity, Maryland would be stricken with a further competitive disadvantage in electrical costs.
And while the election is over, I have to commend the participants in the U.S. Senate nomination battle for the campaign which was waged. They differed on issues, but when it came to attacking the opponent that was reserved for the real opponent, Ben Cardin. And even those weren’t personal but focused on how Cardin is out of touch and lacking in leadership in fighting for Maryland’s working families.
So it wasn’t unexpected that the two leading contenders released statements in this vein after the counting was done. Rich Douglas conceded thusly:
I want to congratulate my opponent on a hard-fought race in the Republican primary. Republicans and Democrats challenging Ben Cardin know that defeating elite royal family rule in Annapolis and incompetence on Capitol Hill is an enormous undertaking. I urge like-minded Democrats and Independent voters to close ranks with Mr. Bongino to replace Ben Cardin in November. It is time for a strong Maryland voice to be heard in the U.S. Senate. Today was the first step toward that goal.
Meanwhile, Bongino praised his opposition for the races they ran:
I am grateful to the voters of Maryland who have given me this amazing opportunity. I would also like to thank the other Republican challengers. We all share the same concerns about the direction of this country and agree it is time Maryland had new representation in Washington. I hope they will join my campaign to bring an outsider’s perspective to the US Senate.
Dan also set himself up for November, promising a campaign devoted to “the economy, national security, energy and government accountability.” He also added:
The people of Maryland deserve a Senator who will fight for them, and not the Washington establishment. We need leadership in the Senate that will work to increase opportunity for middle-class Americans, that will provide a path for those in poverty to advance and ensure this nation will once again be a place where jobs are created and people are willing to invest.
Part of doing that will be encouraging entrepreneurs and small business by making the tax code simpler and fairer instead of what the Cain video depicted.
Lastly, some laughed when Newt Gingrich spoke about bold initiatives in the space program, as he did last week. But the Competitive Enterprise Institute posited a step even beyond mere space travel: private ownership of other celestial bodies?
A proposed law requiring the United States to recognize land claims off planet under specified conditions offers the possibility of legal, tradable land titles, allowing the land to be used as loan collateral or an asset to be sold to raise funds needed to develop it.
Such a law would vitiate the 1979 Moon Treaty, which does outlaw private property claims in space, but to which the U.S. is not a signatory. This should be viewed as a feature, rather than a bug. The law would not impose any new costs on the federal government, and would likely generate significant tax revenue through title transaction fees and economic growth from new space ventures carried out by U.S. individuals and corporations. It would have great potential to kick the development of extraterrestrial resources—and perhaps even the human settlement of space—into high gear.
It’s quite a fascinating report, and it points out the difference between development in similar areas deemed off-limits to private property (Simberg cites Antarctica as an example of government-controlled property) where little development is occurring, as opposed to the far northern reaches of the planet where several companies are exercising mineral rights. He theorizes that billions of dollars could be made if private property rights were granted in space, and I can’t disagree.
I’m not going to be the first in line to be a space tourist or worker, but if opening up space can help the economy and promote future prosperity for succeeding generations, what are we waiting for?
Okay, the results have come in and I got some sleep and a day at my outside job to consider them, so let’s go back to my prediction post and see how I did.
I was actually correct in the order of presentation on the top four Presidential candidates statewide, but Mitt Romney exceeded even the pollsters’ expectations when he won just under half the vote. I suppose that inevitability factor may have affected the results because it appears our turnout in 2012 will end up about 20 percent less than it was in 2008, when the race was effectively over by the time we voted. Because few people like to admit they’re backing a loser, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of voters changed from Gingrich to Romney at the end while other Newt backers stayed home. It also proves Ron Paul has support a mile deep but an inch wide since both well underperformed what I thought they might. I actually missed Santorum by less than a point, although it surprised me that Rick only won two counties (Garrett and Somerset.) I would have thought Rick would carry 4 to 6 of the more rural counties, including Wicomico. But once Romney outperformed it was over.
And you may wonder why I had Fred Karger at 2 percent. I thought he would do better because, as a gay Republican candidate in a state which was bound to be a Romney state anyway, voting for him may serve as a message about the gay marriage referendum likely to appear in November. Instead, he got only less than 1/10 of my predicted total and finished dead last. I also managed to garble up the exact order of the also-rans, but with such a small sample who knew?
That same statewide trend seemed to affect my Wicomico result too because Romney outperformed and Gingrich/Paul suffered for it.
And while I didn’t predict it, I find it quite fascinating that 12 percent of the Democratic primary voters selected “none of the above” rather than Barack Obama. However, that statewide average varies wildly from under 3% in Prince George’s County, about 5% in Baltimore City, and just over 7% in Montgomery County to fully 1/3 of Democrats in Allegany County and a staggering 34.7% in Cecil County. In the last comparable election with a Democratic incumbent (1996) President Clinton only received 84% of the vote (onetime perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche got 4%) but no county came close to getting 1/3 or more of the ballots against the President.
I didn’t miss the “barnburner” aspect of the Senate race by much as it wasn’t called until nearly midnight. But Dan Bongino carried 34% of the vote and won by 6 points over Richard Douglas. (I called it for two points, but I underestimated the impact of the little eight.) I think Joseph Alexander gets the advantage of being first of the ballot, and that accounts for his second straight third-place finish. The rest? Well, the order wasn’t all that correct but they were mostly only off by a percent or two and I got last place right. And to prove it was a close race, both Bongino and Douglas carried 12 counties apiece.
What mystifies me the most isn’t that Rich Douglas carried Wicomico rather easily, but how much support the other eight received – they collectively picked up almost 100 more votes than Douglas did! I would love to know the mindset of the people who voted for most of these minor candidates. I can see a case for Robert Broadus based on the Protect Marriage Maryland group, but what did the others really do to promote their campaigns? At least I know Douglas had radio spots and reasonably good online coverage.
But I did peg Ben Cardin to within 4 points statewide.
On some of the Congressional races: despite the fact I screwed up the percentages, at least I correctly called the Sixth District winners as Roscoe Bartlett and John Delaney. Both did far better than I expected, and I think part of the reason was that both their key challengers’ campaigns imploded in the last week or two. A week ago we may have had something closer to the numbers I predicted. Think Rob Garagiola and David Brinkley may commiserate anytime soon?
The ‘relative ease’ I suspected for Nancy Jacobs was even easier than I thought. I guess Larry Smith didn’t have nearly the campaign as I believed because he came up short on my prediction about as much as Nancy Jacobs was over – I wasn’t all that far off on Rick Impallaria.
While there is a slim chance I may have the First District Democratic race correct, I was surprised that Eastern Shore voters didn’t get all parochial and support the one Eastern Shore candidate, John LaFerla, over two from across the Bay. He only won Worcester, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties, and I would chalk most of that up to Wayne Gilchrest’s endorsement. Kim Letke was about 6 points better than I thought and LaFerla was six points worse because he way underperformed on the Eastern Shore. I suspect no small part of that underperformance by LaFerla was his extreme pro-choice stance, as getting the NARAL endorsement doesn’t play well among local Democrats. There is a 136 vote margin out of about 23,500 cast.
Out of the rest, the only one I got wrong was the Eighth District, and I think that was a case of better name recognition than I expected for Ken Timmerman and less of a vote split among the three candidates from Montgomery County.
As for the Democratic incumbents, I could have wrote “over 85%” and still been right, with the minor exception of Steny Hoyer getting 84.8%.
So this is how the races for November will line up. Sometime this evening I will update my sidebar to reflect this:
- U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino (R) vs. Ben Cardin (D – incumbent)
- District 1: Andy Harris (R – incumbent) vs. Wendy Rosen (D – pending absentees and possible recount)
- District 2: Nancy Jacobs (R) vs. Dutch Ruppersberger (D – incumbent)
- District 3: Eric Knowles (R) vs. John Sarbanes (D – incumbent)
- District 4: Faith Loudon (R) vs. Donna Edwards (D – incumbent)
- District 5: Tony O’Donnell (R) vs. Steny Hoyer (D – incumbent)
- District 6: Roscoe Bartlett (R – incumbent) vs. John Delaney (D)
- District 7: Frank Mirabile (R) vs. Elijah Cummings (D – incumbent)
- District 8: Ken Timmerman (R) vs. Chris Van Hollen (D – incumbent)
So out of 19 contested races I predicted 15 correctly, and I stuck my neck out on percentages a few times as well. I missed Romney by 8 points statewide and 9 points here in Wicomico County. I think the “inevitable” mantle made the difference.
But with Dan Bongino I was only 2 points off statewide. Probably my worst guess, though, was being 19 points off with him in Wicomico County. It’s worth noting that the Douglas late-game media strategy seemed to pay off on the Eastern Shore since he carried six of the nine counties and would have carried the nine-county Shore if he hadn’t been blown out in Cecil County by 1,250 votes. Bongino carried five counties with over 40 percent of the vote (Cecil was one along with Anne Arundel, Frederick, Queen Anne’s, and Montgomery) while Douglas could only claim two such counties (Dorchester and Talbot.)
I saw this possibly ending up as a rerun of the 2010 race where Eric Wargotz had more money while Jim Rutledge had more grassroots (read: TEA Party) support. Obviously media reaches a LOT more people quickly than grassroots efforts do in a statewide race, and the money to buy media is a key element of a successful campaign. That’s where Eric Wargotz succeeded, because Jim Rutledge didn’t raise a lot of money and Eric had a sizable bank account to tap into.
But as it turned out the Douglas bankroll wasn’t all that large, and an abbreviated campaign with a spring primary didn’t give Rich quite enough time to build a support base of his own. Those three or four extra months Dan worked on his campaign (at a time, remember, when better-known prospective opponents like Wargotz and Delegate Pat McDonough were considering the race) turned Bongino from an also-ran into a nominee. By succeeding enough to nationalize the campaign Dan made himself into a formidable opponent to Ben Cardin. Had this been a September primary, though, the result may have been different.
Now we have just under seven months until the general election, a chance for the campaigns to take a quick breather and begin to plot the strategy for November victory. For Democrats, it will be a hope that Obama can fool people into believing he’s an effective President and having long enough coattails. On the other hand, Republicans need to point out the Obama record while spelling out their own solutions – that’s where we’ve been lacking in some respects. We need to give people a reason to vote FOR us rather than AGAINST the other SOB.
So start working on those platforms, ladies and gentlemen. If we are to win, we need to not be a pastel Democrat-lite but present bold colors to Maryland and the nation.
Just for the heck of it, I’m going to do my set of predictions on some key races locally and around the state. In the past we did this among ourselves at the Central Committee meetings but we didn’t discuss it last night. So tell me what you think, and if I turn out to be wrong – well, don’t laugh too much. Most of this is a (somewhat) educated guess.
I’m going to begin with the Presidential race, on a statewide level. There have already been several polls on this, so there’s a little bit of cheating involved; then again, the polls actually pretty much mirrored my gut instinct all along.
In Maryland, I see the race like this:
- Mitt Romney – 41%
- Rick Santorum – 28%
- Newt Gingrich – 16%
- Ron Paul – 11%
- Fred Karger – 2%
- Rick Perry – <1%
- Buddy Roemer – <1%
- Jon Huntsman – <1%
The polls seem to have Romney winning bigger (Rasmussen has it 45-28) but I think Mitt’s people will tend to figure he’s got it in the bag and turnout will be better in certain areas where Gingrich and Paul may run a little stronger.
How about Wicomico County? This is more of a crapshoot but I think the top 4 results will be a little different:
- Rick Santorum – 35%
- Mitt Romney – 33%
- Newt Gingrich – 18%
- Ron Paul – 13%
The voters here tend to be more conservative than the state at large.
The other statewide race is for U.S. Senate. Now I’m really going to go out on a limb here, because there aren’t any polls I’m aware of (aside from the sure fact campaigns have internal polling I’m not privy to) but my gut is telling me we may have a barnburner on our hands:
- Dan Bongino – 36%
- Richard Douglas – 34%
- Robert Broadus – 8%
- Corrogan Vaughn – 5%
- Joseph Alexander – 4%
- David Jones – 4%
- William Capps – 3%
- Rick Hoover – 3%
- John Kimble – 2%
- Brian Vaeth – 1%
In Wicomico County, I suspect the top three will be Bongino (42%), Douglas (36%), and Broadus (8%). None of the others will be over 3 percent. Incumbent Ben Cardin will be the opponent, with the over-under line for me being 70% of the statewide vote.
And how about the Sixth District race? It’s the most talked-about Congressional primary since the 2008 First District primary, with the added benefit of mud flying on both sides.
On the Republican side, I think Roscoe Bartlett will hold on to his seat with 33% of the vote, with David Brinkley gathering 29%, Joseph Krysztforski 14%, Robin Ficker 10%, and Kathy Afzali 7%. The other three will split the remaining 7%.
What saves Bartlett’s bacon is the fact that there are so many in the race that people may just throw up their hands and go with the name they know. If there were just four or five in the race I think Brinkley has a shot, although the last-minute release of 9-1-1 tapes featuring his ex-wife may knock a point or two away from Brinkley and provide Roscoe’s margin of victory. It’s the voters on the extreme western end of the district who are likely most swayed by that because they don’t really know David that well.
On the Democratic side, I’m sensing a bit of an upset. We figured that this seat was drawn for Rob Garagiola, but I suspect the charges laid against him by John Delaney have done enough damage that Delaney will squeak out a close win, something on the order of 31-30. Milad Pooran will likely run a respectable third with 21%, while Ron Little grabs 10% and Charles Bailey the last 8%.
The Second District GOP race is also interesting, but I think Nancy Jacobs will win it with relative ease, probably with 40% or so of the vote. Larry Smith comes in around 28%, Rick Impallaria with 19%, and the other two with single digits apiece.
Meanwhile, I think John LaFerla will be the First District Democratic nominee against Andy Harris and he’ll end up just short of a majority – 49% district-wide against Wendy Rosen’s 43%. Kim Letke will get the last 8%. What puts LaFerla over the top in the primary is the endorsement of Wayne Gilchrest. What keeps him from winning in November is being endorsed by NARAL and Planned Parenthood.
GOP winners in other districts will be Eric Knowles (3rd), Faith Loudon (4th), Tony O’Donnell (5th), Frank Mirabile (7th), and Dave Wallace (8th). Wallace gets the nod because the other three candidates will likely split the Montgomery County vote just enough for him to win over Ken Timmerman. Of course, there will not be any upsets among the incumbent Democrats – all of them will get over 75% in their respective primaries.
So what do you think? Am I all wet or do I have a good chance of being correct – and why? As opposed to yesterday, I’m going to leave this up all day until results come in.
On Thursday Anne Arundel County voters got to meet a half-dozen of the aspirants for the United States Senate in one of the last debates before the April 3 primary.
The Maryland GOP was heavily promoting this event, so if you haven’t made up your mind yet, this is a chance to do so.
In the last week of the campaign Richard Douglas is making a charge down the stretch to grab the GOP nod for U.S. Senate. Witness this commercial, which is actually a pretty well-done 30-second spot:
But I can’t help noticing parallels between the 2010 and 2012 GOP Senate races. The two things which got eventual 2010 nominee Eric Wargotz through the primary and into a general election shellacking by Barbara Mikulski were the tacit backing of the state party establishment (as opposed to Jim Rutledge, who was perceived as more of a TEA Party candidate) and a lot of the candidate’s money. Fast forward to 2012 and you find that, on the first point, Richard Douglas has retained the services of Lawrence Scott’s political consulting firm. Lawrence Scott is the son of former MDGOP Chair and National Committeewoman candidate Audrey Scott, who has also endorsed Douglas.
I don’t doubt that Scott Strategies has had its share of successes over the years, but FEC records show his firm has received over $27,000 from Douglas. By comparison, the campaign has raised just over $26,000 in individual contributions.
So where is the money for what the Douglas campaign describes as a “six figure advertising buy focused on statewide radio, direct mail and voter turnout phone calls as the April 3 primary nears” coming from? Richard has secured over $100,000 in candidate loans, meaning his campaign is (as of the March 14 filing date) nearly $111,000 in debt with just over $20,000 cash on hand.
This is similar to 2010, where Eric Wargotz had over $500,000 cash on hand before his September primary but was $575,000 in debt based on campaign loans (he ended up raising just over $250,000 from outside contributors for the 2010 campaign but spent $1.24 million overall.)
By comparison, Dan Bongino raised over $187,000 in individual contributions by March 14, and had only loaned $3,000 to his campaign. A significant portion of his expenditures went to several paid members of his campaign rather than to an outside consultant. But maybe he needed a better audio feed for this spot, because it doesn’t compare well with his radio ads.
Of course, financially neither holds a candle to the nearly $1.9 million Ben Cardin had on hand. Ben obviously didn’t sleep through the class on how to shake down unions, PACs, and other special interests for campaign cash.
I also wanted to add a few words about early voting in Maryland. So far, according to the latest figures which now include five days of the six-day process, not even 2% of voters have come out. Even if the final day is as busy as Saturday was, fewer than one out of 40 registered voters will partake in the process. So I must ask: why are we bothering?
The only counties which may have significant early turnout (that being on the order of seven to eight percent) are Talbot and Kent counties; on the other hand some of the largest counties will likely lag under 2%. (Wicomico is at 2.37% with 1,063 voting at the Civic Center so far.)
As far as party affiliation, the GOP is ahead in terms of percentage with 2.17% turnout compared to 1.97% for Democrats. That’s a little ironic given the fact the GOP didn’t care for early voting when it was presented to the General Assembly, but both parties have encouraged its use since.
As for me, I’m going to the polls Tuesday like we should.
It was a last-ditch effort to garner votes, and we’ll see how much it helps next Tuesday night. But U.S. Senate candidate Richard Douglas was introduced to the Wicomico County Republican Club and was rather well-received.
Of course we did our usual bit of club business, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance before I read a rather lengthy accounting of the February meeting. We even had a hiccup in the treasurer’s report that I pointed out. But none of it dissuaded the Republican who boldly proclaimed for his opening, “I’m here because I want to beat Ben Cardin.”
To illustrate his point, Douglas took us back about three decades. When he left the Navy in 1979, he took his GI Bill benefits and enrolled at the University of South Florida where a professor told him the Soviet Union would be eternal and America would have to learn to live with it. Well, we saw how that turned out, and while there are those in Annapolis who would have us believe that one-party rule in Maryland is eternal as well, that’s not necessarily so.
Rich compared Ben Cardin to a brick in a wall – as the mortar is wearing away, soon the brick would drop from the wall and the remainder of the house would follow. And Douglas wasn’t going to be timid in his role, either, warning “Martin O’Malley is going to be one unhappy fella” when Rich wins. “(He’ll) wish he’d never heard my name,” continued Douglas, because he has a “duty to speak” as a Senator. Douglas promised to be our voice and vote in the Senate.