A lack of interest?

January 28, 2016 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2016, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on A lack of interest? 

There are still a few days to the primary, but I’m using the occasion of Greg Holmes’s entry to the Republican U.S. Senate race and check how the field is shaping up. (And if you say “who?” you’re not alone – Holmes was one of the also-rans in 2014’s Fourth Congressional District primary.)

Having done this political thing for a few years, I know that there are usually 10 or so Republicans who run for U.S. Senate in any given cycle. My first election here was 2006, the year Michael Steele was the overwhelming choice of the state party (and accordingly won 87 percent of the vote.) Despite that, there were 10 people on the GOP primary ballot, nine of whom split the other 13 percent of the vote. (With an open seat, that was a scrum on the Democratic side – they had 18 running.)

As of this writing, though, we are only at eight running on the GOP side and Holmes would be nine – so we should be in the ballpark for an average election. On the other hand, the open seat on the Democratic side isn’t bringing out nearly as many – just nine have signed up for the Democrats, with at least four being the perennial candidates who rarely get more than 1% of the vote.

Of those nine Republicans, most have some sort of electoral history: Holmes and John Graziani both ran for the same Congressional seat in 2014, while Dave Wallace was the Republican nominee against Democrat Chris Van Hollen that same year. Richard Douglas was a Senate candidate in 2012 and Richard Shawver was in 2006, but Kathy Szeliga is the only one who’s won a legislative position as a Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly. It appears Chrys Kefalas, Lynn Richardson, and Anthony Seda are first-time candidates.

So while Szeliga probably has the greatest name recognition, followed by Douglas, it is a relatively wide open race. If someone were to do favorability numbers on the GOP side right now, I doubt any one of the candidates would be over 20% favorable, with the vast majority saying “never heard of them.” I myself didn’t know many of these people were in the race until I looked tonight.

Meanwhile, in looking at our First District, it’s still a four-person race on the GOP side where incumbent Andy Harris is joined by 2014 challenger Jonathan Goff, first-time candidate Sean Jackson, and former Delegate Mike Smigiel. Jim Ireton hasn’t filed yet, so Joe Werner (who ran for the seat in 2008) is the only candidate so far on the Democratic side.

I think there will be between one and three more in each of the aforementioned races by the time Wednesday’s filing deadline expires. But I am sort of surprised that we’re not seeing as many candidates up and down the ballot this year.

It’s now or never, Maryland

That was the message put forth today by a number of speakers at the Salisbury stop of the “Now or Never Maryland” bus tour.

Well, I use the term ‘bus’ loosely. This looked more like an extended straight truck.

The person posing with the bus is former Senate candidate Jim Rutledge. In part he was responsible for bringing this crowd, but more on him later.

A total of eight speakers orated at the hour-long event, with AFP Maryland head Dave Schwartz acting as master of ceremonies. In his opening remarks, he reminded us that AFP has 26,000 members in Maryland among 17 chapters and stated his reason for doing this as “I want to protect the American Dream.”

Dave rattled off a laundry list of offenses by government, saying that the federal government overreached on doing the stimulus bill and bailing out Wall Street while the state government enacted the largest tax increase and worst deficits in our state’s history, not to mention creating a poor business climate.

As AFP supporters we needed to get involved – two suggestions Schwartz had were to enlist in the group’s “Freedom Phone” project or to walk your neighborhoods with door hangers (provided by AFP) and engage neighbors in political discussion.

Tim Phillips is the head of the national AFP, and here’s what he had to say.

And you thought I skipped Friday Night Videos? Nope, I just cleverly made them the story!

Local AFP head Joe Collins also said his piece, telling us that as a budding activist “I chose AFP for the voters” and that this election was time to “rebalance the scales.”

I stole Andrew Langer’s joke as he came up since there wasn’t a chicken suit in sight. (Maybe they went to the wrong location – I was a bit confused at first too.) He recalled the town hall meeting where Frank Kratovil gave his reasoning for voting for cap-and-trade as keeping the EPA from regulating it. When it was pointed out that Frank was a Congressman and could pass a law, Langer quoted him as asking, “I can do that?”

The head of the Institute for Liberty warned us to be vigilant of what the executive branch will try to do over the next two years as they face the prospect of an unfriendly Congress.

Also speaking to an AFP rally here for the second time in a month was WGMD-FM host Duke Brooks, who remarked that his liberal callers claimed they didn’t hate this country, but…there was always a “but.” They “think the country is flawed.”

It was only up to the government to provide equality of opportunity, continued Brooks, but not equality of outcome. He quoted Tony Blair’s line that the measure of a nation is how many want to get in vs. how many want to leave, and part of the reason for our success was that we had no elite ruling class.

Of the three candidates for the First District Congressional seat who were invited to speak, it’s not surprising only one showed. This is what Andy Harris had to say.

But the person I wanted to hear from came next. I actually recorded this because his biggest fan (Kim) wasn’t there to enjoy it, but it turned out so good I decided to share. Here’s Jim Rutledge.

And you wonder why there’s a push by some to write him in for the Attorney General slot thoughtlessly left unfilled by the Maryland GOP. He’s got my vote.

One elected official who spoke was Joey Gardner, who was elected earlier this year as one of Princess Anne’s Town Commissioners.

His message was simple – when he saw a need “I got involved.” We shouldn’t put any limitations on our involvement when it comes to helping the community.

While Gardner was the last speaker he wasn’t the only candidate for office people could get face time with. The entire statewide ticket of Maryland’s Constitution Party was there.

Gubernatorial candidate Eric Knowles is in the dark suit, with his running mate Michael Hargadon giving me the thumbs up next to him and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Shawver in the blue coat on the right.

Also looking on was Republican District 38A hopeful Charles Otto.

The Libertarian candidate for District 2 County Council was there as well. If you don’t know who he is, read the sign.

So it was at least a tri-partisan event, with a touch of good old-fashioned capitalism thrown in.

Something tells me this rig was at all the stops, but it didn’t look like he did a lot of business.

Believe it or not, there is yet another bus rally scheduled that I found out about last night. The RNC’s Fire Pelosi Bus Tour will stop at the Salisbury Victory Center (the old Hollywood Video at 1016 South Salisbury Boulevard) at 9:30 a.m. next Friday – featured speaker is some guy who used to be our Lieutenant Governor, Michael Steele. To RSVP, contact Patrick at (443) 736-8042 or via phefflinger (at) mdgop.org.

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