Sitting right next to square one: a postmortem, part three

November 20, 2016 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2016 - President, Culture and Politics, Delaware politics, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Sitting right next to square one: a postmortem, part three 

I’m not patient enough to wait on the final Maryland results, but if they hold fair enough to form they will conform to a degree with my prediction.

Evan McMullin will get the majority of counted write-in votes, eclipsing the 5,000 mark statewide. I think Darrell Castle comes in next with around 1,100, which almost triples the 2012 Constitution Party candidates Virgil Goode and James Clymer (both ran under that banner as the party had split factions.) This would be astounding when you consider there were over 10,000 write-in votes cast in 2012 but most of those weren’t counted…Thanks to McMullin, though, this year the stigma behind write-ins will be broken somewhat.

On the Wicomico County level…Evan McMullin will beat (Jill Stein) by getting 0.6% of the vote. Of the other 100 or so votes, I figure Darrell Castle gets about 45.

If I had to make a living predicting write-in votes I would go broke in a week. However, there is something very instructive about how they did turn out.

Just based on the state results that are in, and making an educated guess about the remainder, it looks like Evan McMullin will handily exceed the 5,000 mark. Based on the number of votes left to be counted and where they come from, I wouldn’t be surprised if McMullin picks up close to 9,000 statewide. But compare that to the 34,062 Jill Stein received as the bottom on-ballot candidate. McMullin’s success comes in a field of write-ins that is far outshadowed by the “other” write-ins category they don’t count (that category is beating Stein so far but its numbers will dwindle as counties sort out the results.)

On the other hand, my expectations of Castle may be twice what he actually draws, as he’s looking at about 500 to 600 votes when all is said and done. However, there is a chance he may finish third among the group of write-ins depending on how many wrote in Michael Maturen of the American Solidarity Party – I would describe that group as having a left-of-center Christian worldview and the counties that remain to be counted would be more likely to support that than a conservative, Constitutional viewpoint. (99 votes separate the two.)

Here in Wicomico County I think double-digits could be a stretch, although the comparable Cecil County gave Castle 17 votes. (Proportionately, though, Somerset County cast 6 votes for Castle, which put him at 0.1%. So my vote for Castle may have quite a bit of company.)

But think of all the press coverage Evan McMullin received during his brief run of 3 months; by comparison we heard next to nothing about Darrell Castle accepting his party’s nomination in April of this year. I did a Bing search just a day or two before the election and found out that McMullin had five times the number of mentions that Castle did. Although that rudimentary measuring stick alluded to a large disparity, it doesn’t factor in the depth of coverage, either. McMullin got a serious number of pixels from #NeverTrump personalities such as Erick Erickson and Glenn Beck, so people had an awareness of a candidate whose campaign turned out to be more or less a favorite-son quest in Utah to deny Trump 270 electoral votes.

And there is a legitimate argument to be made for a very pessimistic point of view regarding this. My friend Robert Broadus remarked yesterday on Facebook that:

Considering that among all these choices, Castle was the only candidate representing a pro-God, pro-Family, pro-Constitution platform, I think it’s safe to say that conservatives are a negligible minority in the United States. Either it’s time for conservatives to adopt a new philosophy, or it’s time for a new party that can attract conservative voters, rather than abandoning them to liberal Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, and all the other flavors of Communism that exist on the ballot.

Nationwide, Evan McMullin has 545,104 votes (with ballot access in just 11 states and write-in access in 31 others) while Darrell Castle is at 190,599 with ballot access in 24 states and write-in access in 23. If nothing else, this shows the power of media, but I disagree that conservatives are a negligible minority. Rather, they fall prey to the notion that the election is a binary choice and the two major parties aren’t exactly going to go out of their way to say, hey, we know you may not agree with us so you may want to consider (fill in the blank.)

But it’s also clear that ballot access makes a difference. In looking at the states where Castle was on the ballot and McMullin a write-in, the limited amount of data I could find (the state of Missouri and a sampling of Wisconsin counties – they report that way) suggested that a Castle on the ballot far outdistanced a McMullin write-in. Castle received nearly ten times the votes in Missouri, for example, and generally defeated McMullin by a factor of 2 to 4 in Wisconsin.

So if you are the Constitution Party (which, based on their platform, would be my preference as an alternate party) – or any other alternate to the R/D duopoly not called the Libertarian or Green parties – job one for you is to get ballot access.  Granted, the Constitution Party only received between .2% and 1.1% of the vote in states where they qualified for the ballot, but that was vastly better than any state where they were a write-in.

Maryland makes this a difficult process, and this is more than likely intentional. To secure ballot access, a party first needs to get 10,000 valid signatures to the Board of Elections stating that these voters wish to create a new party. To maintain access they then need to get at least 1% of the vote in a gubernatorial election or 1% of the total registered voters – at this point, that number would be about 38,000. The Libertarian Party maintained its access in 2014 by receiving 1.5% of the vote, while the Green Party managed to once again qualify via petition, so both were on the ballot for the 2016 Presidential race. The Constitution Party did field a candidate for Maryland governor (Eric Knowles and running mate Michael Hargadon) with ballot access in 2010, but did not qualify in subsequent elections.

I also looked up the requirements in Delaware:

No political party shall be listed on any general election ballot unless, 21 days prior to the date of the primary election, there shall be registered in the name of that party a number of voters equal to at least 1 0/100 of 1 percent of the total number of voters registered in the State as of December 31 of the year immediately preceding the general election year.

In the First State the same parties as Maryland (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green) qualified for the ballot; however, the Green Party made it by the skin of its teeth as they barely broke the threshold of 653 they needed – they had fallen below that earlier in 2016. At this point Delaware would be adding the American Delta Party (2016 nominee: Rocky De La Fuente, who has 6 Maryland write-in votes so far) and maintaining the other four; meanwhile the Constitution Party sits at 311 of what is now a requirement of 676. (The Conservative Party is also in the same boat with 432. Perhaps a merger is in order? Also worth noting for the Constitution Party: Sussex County could be a huge growth area since they only have 36 of the 311 – they should be no less than Kent County’s 135.)

So the task for liberty- and Godly-minded people is right in front of them. While it’s likely the Republican Party has always been the “backstop” party when there are only two choices, more and more often they are simply becoming the lesser of two evils. Never was that more clear than this election, as most of the choices they presented to voters were the “tinker around the edge” sort of candidate who will inevitably drift to the left if elected.

Of course, Broadus may be right and those who are “pro-God, pro-Family, (and) pro-Constitution” may be a tiny minority. But so are homosexuals and they seem to have an outsized role in culture and politics. (I use that group as an example because they have successfully created a perception that homosexuals are 20 to 25 percent of the population.) It’s time for the group I write about to become the “irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” It may be a stretch when most people think Samuel Adams is a brand of beer, but I choose to try.

Redefining marriage wasn’t enough. Now some in Maryland want to redefine birth.

By Cathy Keim and Michael Swartz

The twin byline is present because Cathy came to me with her thoughts on these bills, writing up a post quoting Delegate Parrott at some length along with some of her thoughts. I liked the direction of the piece, but thought I could add more and she was amenable to the changes. So here you go.

Recently Delegate Neil Parrott sent out a newsletter that had some information about two “shockingly bad bills” that are about to pass in the General Assembly. We had both heard from Robert Broadus with Protect Marriage Maryland about the first bill, but Delegate Parrott alerted us both to the second bill. Both have more or less passed under the radar in a session which has focused more on the budget, gubernatorial appointments, and environmental regulations.

In his message to constituents and other interested observers, Delegate Parrott stated:

Two shockingly-bad bills…are on their way to passing.

(snip)

HB 838/SB 416 is going to cause your health insurance rates to go up, when Maryland already has some of the highest health insurance premiums in the nation. This bill forces Maryland insurance companies to cover the cost of expensive In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments ($12,500 each time) for same-sex married couples.

Our high insurance costs in Maryland are primarily due to the great number of insurance mandate laws already in effect, and this new bill will simply make the problem worse. Governor Hogan and I both support leading Maryland towards more fiscally-responsible laws and policies, and the voters overwhelmingly agreed in the last election. However, the majority of Delegates and Senators still voted to create more complex and unnecessary insurance mandates in our flawed health system.

(snip)

Under current Maryland law, a husband and wife must donate their own sperm and egg to be eligible to receive insurance benefits for IVF treatments. If the couple requires a donation of an egg or sperm, IVF treatments would not be covered under current Maryland law. Under this new law, a same-sex couple would obviously need to get a sperm donor to have a child. This is a very unequal situation.

Same-sex couples have been allowed to adopt or have children, but many studies have been done that confirm that children born into a family with a mother and a father do the best in all measures – economic, social, educational, and emotional. Not only does this law create an unequal and less-stringent requirement for same-sex couples, but our insurance premiums will also be paying to have a child brought into the world to a situation where they will most likely be statistically worse off than other children. By passing this law, we are intentionally putting a child into a “family” where a father will knowingly be absent.

This sort of social engineering and fiscally-irresponsible law-making, solely for the pleasure of adults without any regard for the children that will grow up in these situations, is reprehensible. What homosexuals cannot do naturally, the General Assembly has now mandated must be provided by all insurance plans, creating a false sense of equality, with little to no regard for the children who will be negatively affected.

This leads to the concern of what could come next if this bill is passed. Will the General Assembly pass a mandate requiring insurance companies to cover the costs of hiring a surrogate to carry the child for male, same-sex marriages? (Emphasis in original.)

As Cathy wrote Sunday, our culture is under attack to redefine and destroy every institution that has sustained us as a nation since our founding. Marriage and our families are worth defending. The progressives only exist to tear down. We are the ones that believe in ideals that are true and good and have stood the test of time. When this country is a faint memory, the family will still exist. They may destroy our culture, but they cannot destroy truth. The family is the basic building block of society. Despite the malice and ridicule heaped upon the traditional family with a father, mother and children living and growing together in love, the family will still survive.

Delegate Parrott has made the case, as Cathy has before, that children do best when raised in a home with a married mother and father. Why should the state pay to circumvent this?

Senator Jim Mathias and Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes both voted for this bill. When somebody says the Eastern Shore is conservative, just remember to check how Senator Mathias and Delegate Sample-Hughes vote.

The second bill that Delegate Parrott wrote about was HB862/SB743, which as Delegate Parrott notes:

…allows people to rewrite history. It would allow someone who gets a note from their doctor saying they are transitioning from male to female or from female to male to literally change the gender on their birth certificate. The new birth certificate would not even indicate that it has been “Amended,” as is the case when an individual decides to legally change their name. The change would not require that the individual has had a sex-change operation, but just relies on hormone therapy and how the person feels at the time. The change caused many of the legislators who work in law enforcement to question how they could even solve crimes given these false records. For example, suppose they are looking for the DNA of a male, but all they have is a female suspect.

Changing factual birth records without leaving a record of the change could have significant and harmful consequences for our society and is simply irresponsible policy.

Senator Mathias also voted for this bill as did Delegates Carl Anderton, Jr. and Sample-Hughes. Needless to say, we’re both disappointed with Delegate Anderton’s vote as he represents us in Annapolis. We would have expected this out of his predecessor, but Carl was supposed to be different.

At this point in time these bills are on their final step to passage, and it seems like the skids are being greased as the House versions of the Senate bills are passing without any amendments – this is important because no conference would be necessary.

Yet besides the many objections Delegate Parrott raised, both bills also raise a number of ethical questions about child rearing. Regardless of who has to pay for in vitro fertilization, there’s also the ongoing concern about the rights of the third party which needs to be involved with any same-sex attempt at creating progeny – either the surrogate mother for a gay couple or the sperm donor for the lesbian pair.

And much like the Hobby Lobby situation with abortifacient drugs, there’s a legitimate question of whether a religiously conscientious business should be forced to cover this procedure since it involves two partners of the same gender. It’s a situation which becomes quite complicated and I feel this is needlessly so.

As for the birth certificate bill, it would be more palatable if there was a notation of amendment. A law such as this may open the door to parents who are trying to raise a child as if it were the opposite gender (such as this recent case) to amend his or her birth certificate as a minor.

We believe that gender is not a mistake, nor was it an error that a person of each gender was required to create a new life. Even with in vitro fertilization, there’s no escaping the need for a male to do his part and a female to be the willing host for the embryo.

While there is an element of humanity in the selection of gender, I think I speak for Cathy when I say we believe that it was our Creator who made the ultimate decision as to whether we were male or female. Taking hormones, undergoing genital mutilation surgery, and identifying as someone of the opposite gender doesn’t change the fact one was born with the chromosomes and genitalia of a particular gender in all but a few extremely rare cases. It’s what the birth certificate should reflect.

However, it’s likely these bills will pass the General Assembly, so we call on Governor Hogan to use his veto pen on these ill-considered measures. And it’s all but certain these votes will be among those I use for the monoblogue Accountability Project later this spring.

Running for the tall grass

Over the last several days, it’s become clear that Democrats believe they own this state lock, stock, and barrel. Why else would they raise a stink about an otherwise obscure local county council race?

On June 24, Michael Peroutka won the Anne Arundel County District 5 County Council primary on the Republican side by just 38 votes out of 7,181 cast in a five-way race – meanwhile, the Democratic candidate won with a majority out of the 4,062 votes Democrats in the district tallied. Presumably, then, this is a majority-Republican district; however, Peroutka won with just 32.5% of the vote but defeated incumbent Council member Dick Ladd in the process. Ladd’s downfall, according to Peroutka, was his vote in favor of Anne Arundel County’s “rain tax.” Peroutka also noted his belief that the rain tax was “an end run around the (county’s) tax cap.”

This is the platform Peroutka ran on:

I have an American View of government. I believe, like many others across America and my home state of Maryland believe, that there is a God, the God of the Bible, and that our Rights come from Him, and that the purpose of civil government is to secure our rights. I am the only candidate who pledges:

  • To NEVER increase taxes for any reason, period!
  • To work for the repeal of the rain tax which Dick Ladd voted for “with pleasure.”
  • To be guided in all things by the original, true view of American law and government which is: There is a God; our rights come from Him; and it is the purpose of government to protect God-given rights.
  • To work tirelessly to make government smaller with less debt.
  • To courteously pay attention to what our citizens say when they come before the County Council.

I am strongly for:

  • Traditional, man-woman only marriage;
  • 2nd Amendment right to self-defense;
  • Legal protection for innocent, unborn human life.

And strongly against:

  • Obamacare;
  • Common Core;
  • And any programs or proposals not authorized by the US Constitution or the County Charter.

I will admit that few of these are applicable to the Anne Arundel County Council but the idea of smaller, more limited government is appealing – or at least it was to the plurality of voters. So what was the issue?

Peroutka is “affiliated” with the League of the South, a group which claims to stand for “Servant Leadership, State Sovereignty, and Southern Independence.” In addition, their statement of purpose is to:

“We seek to advance the cultural, social, economic, and political well-being and independence of the Southern people by all honourable means.”

I say “affiliated” because Peroutka is currently listed as neither a state or national leader of the group, but was previously appointed to its board.

Regardless, the group has attracted the attention of the left-wingers of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which classified the League of the South as a “neo-Confederate” group:

The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.” The league believes the “godly” nation it wants to form should be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite.

The SPLC also considers the American Family Association, Family Research Council, Federation for American Immigration Reform, and WorldNetDaily among its targeted “extremist” groups, although it also considers the Nation of Islam and New Black Panther Party in that vein as well. Perhaps there are some groups too far to the left for them.

It was the SPLC involvement which got a couple prominent Republicans to run for the tall grass. Larry Hogan quickly disavowed the “secessionist” Peroutka, while Anne Arundel County Executive hopeful Steve Schuh called on Peroutka to resign from that group. Others took a wait-and-see approach.

While most people reading this have probably never heard of the League of the South, I actually wrote about one of their Eastern Shore events in 2012. The “Take Back Maryland Rally” featured onetime Congressional candidate Robert Broadus, State Senator Richard Colburn (speaking on Eastern Shore secession) and David Whitney of the Institute on the Constitution, which Michael Peroutka co-founded. I did not attend the event, but noted at the time that a number of their ideas (short of secession, since we already had that war) were worthy of discussion in a cultural and societal context.

Democrats have become good at painting Republicans in a negative light for casual encounters with unpopular causes – for example, in 2010, an Ohio Congressional candidate was targeted by liberal media because he played a Nazi soldier in various World War II re-enactments as a hobby. (Never mind that Rich Iott was a successful businessman and film producer.)

To me, the proper response would have been along these lines:

While I don’t personally agree with the League of the South’s views on secession, the fact that Democrats are using this national issue in a local race speaks volumes about what they’re worried about come November. As a local Council member, Peroutka will have little influence on broad cultural and spiritual context nationally, although one has to ask why our opponents would disagree about reminding our people that we were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

Rather, the focus should be on the important issues where the opposition regularly falls short: addressing a “rain tax” which is unfairly penalizing certain counties of the one state which has rolled over to federal demands rather than standing up and asserting a shared solution proportionate to the cause of the problem, rightsizing a local government which can be more efficient in its services while minimizing its reach into people’s pockets, and, above all, listening to the people and not the siren song of a state government too powerful for its own good, one where the opposition has fiddled while this great state burned under a stalled economy and terrible business climate.

As long as Peroutka can be a trusted public servant who devotes his time and effort to the people of his district while advocating for the causes he’s placed on his platform, his affiliations are his business. It is a local matter and I trust the voters of his district will judge the candidates accordingly.

At the same time, perhaps we need to look a little bit closer into who the other side affiliates with. Chances are there are skeletons in their closets which really will negatively influence how they operate.

Sons of Liberty punctuate Wicomico MSOP meeting

In front of about 50 diehard lovers of freedom who decided the fate of their country was more important than a Ravens game – which meant they had their priorities in order – the Wicomico chapter of the Maryland Society of Patriots met Thursday night at Mister Paul’s Legacy Restaurant.

I’m sort of glad they modified the choices at the end. Anyway, Dr. Greg Belcher, the leader of the WMSOP, opened the meeting by bringing up the subject of an upcoming petition drive which had copies on each table, including mine. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, but I’ll bring you up to speed in a moment.

Senate Bill 236, which passed in the 2012 regular session, is thought of as an extension of the PlanMaryland and UN Agenda 21 movement to revoke property rights. In fact, Belcher intoned that “our property rights future is at stake.” All 24 Maryland jurisdictions, including Wicomico County, are supposed to have the prescribed four-tier plan in place by December 31 of this year.

Next with remarks was local activist Cathy Keim of Election Integrity Maryland, who reminded us that there are two more online poll watcher training seminars coming up: October 1-2 and 24-25. While this training isn’t required to be a poll watcher, it’s helpful to know what can and can’t be done, said Cathy.

Keim briefly went over the seven statewide issues on the ballot this November, with a particular emphasis on the latter four. “Martin O’Malley will look pretty silly (running for President in 2016) if we stop him” in 2012, added Keim.

She mostly reserved comment on Question 6, though, to the next speaker: Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland.

Broadus actually began his presentation by speaking briefly about Question 5, the redistricting issue. He quoted former Baltimore County GOP head Tony Campbell, who commented that “all we have to do is show people the map and it’s a winning argument.”

As for the gay marriage issue and other referendum questions, Broadus emphasized the importance of reaching out to the local minority population. For example, in majority-minority Prince George’s County local leaders there support both Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens) and Question 6 because they are considered civil rights issues, and oppose Question 5 for the same reason. On the other hand, they are against Question 7 (expanding casino gambling) because they see it as benefiting the so-called “1 percent,” said Broadus.

Gay marriage is on the ballot, not just in Maryland, but three other states: Maine, Minnesota, and Washington, Robert reminded us. “The goal (of proponents) is to change our society,” he added.

Broadus also conceded that some were for Question 6 because they had gay friends or family, but asked whether the relationship with these friends or relatives was more important than their relationship with God. And while secularists “are attacking on all fronts,” Broadus called this “our Roe v. Wade moment” and admonished people not to trust the polls on this issue.

In response to a comment about secular rather than faith-based arguments about Question 6, Broadus believed this was an effort to neutralize gender in society, even though God created man and woman differently. “Marriage is not a right,” concluded the longtime marriage protector.

Finally, it was time for our main speakers, the Sons of Liberty. If you can’t read the background slide, here it is below.

It’s sort of a long name for their ministry, but Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillan have taken their show on the road to hundreds of high schools throughout the country. What we were presented is only about a quarter of what they do in a normal high school stop, said Dean.

In his presentation, Bradlee Dean bemoaned a nation which had seen a “decline since the Supreme Court said no to God” back in 1962. What we are now seeing is “the fruit of a nation which turns its back on God.”

Bradlee continued by saying the Catholic Church is “right on the money” in fighting President Obama and his contraception regulations. He asked, “Why are (leftists) always attacking God? Because they want to be God.” Dean showed a number of different quotes from the earliest leaders of our country acknowledging the divine Providence shown by our Creator, as opposed to the secular humanist attitude of today’s leaders.

That general attitude was due in no small part from our mainstream media. Just read the quote on the wall behind Dean.

It was determined that controlling 25 newspapers would do the trick, and this was back in 1917! Now we have a cabal of alphabet networks working in conjunction with the largest newspapers to promote a overtly secular agenda. “You’re being lied to. End of story,” said Dean. “The media works for a corrupt administration.” Even Fox News didn’t escape Bradlee’s blunt assessment, since they decide what they want to report to you as well.

At this point Dean stepped aside for a moment, allowing “The Other Guy” Jake McMillan to present a short question-and-answer section admonishing us to think about what we read and say, with a little audience participation.

A sample question: What do they call the raised lettering which enables the deaf to read? Most people would reflexively say “Braille” but if you pay attention you’ll know the true answer is “deaf people can already read, they just can’t hear.” It was part of a broader point that “most of the liberals count on ignorance of the issues,” said Jake.

Returning to the microphone, Bradlee rattled off a number of observations about the media and Hollywood. One slide referred to a warning sign he saw in an AMC theater in Kansas a few years back when the Mel Gibson movie “The Passion of the Christ” was showing. While the sign correctly noted the movie was in Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles, and had violent content enough to earn an R rating, curiously there were no other warning signs for the other PG-13 and R rated movies in the theater. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the indoctrination,” said Bradlee. “If I entertain you, I’m controlling you.”

Dean then turned to a distinction not often found in the media, which commonly refers to our nation as a “democracy.” (As have presidents since Ronald Reagan, Bradlee noted wistfully.) Our nation is a republic, continued Bradlee, ruled by law and principle rather than by what the public desires. Dean quoted several early Americans who pointed out that democracies expire from within to become tyrannies. And having visited hundreds of public schools, Dean observed that they commonly are surrounded by fences, covered by security cameras, and patrolled by armed law enforcement officers. “They’re getting kids ready for a police state” in public schools, he warned.

Continuing on to a subject near and dear to several there, Bradlee went on to describe the fight about gay marriage as one “about upending your Constitution.” It’s being used as a “political battering ram” to take us further away from our roots as a nation. “You’re dealing with totalitarianism,” Dean believed.

But it wasn’t all bad news. Bradlee wanted to stress as well his thoughts on those who have perished in defending those rights endowed by our Creator, the over 400,000 who died and the millions who live on while missing their friends and family lost in battle. “Who’s going to stand up for the veterans?” he asked.

Overall, the message was simple yet elegant: “If you don’t know your rights, you don’t have any rights.”

Afterward, Bradlee and Jake stuck around for over a half-hour to answer questions, sell their various wares, including CDs, DVDs, and books, and pose for pictures like the one below.

From left to right you have Bradlee Dean of Sons of Liberty, Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland, Jake McMillan of Sons of Liberty, and Dr. Greg Belcher of the Wicomico Maryland Society of Patriots. It’s also worth mentioning that a number of Republican Central Committee members were in attendance, along with the head of the Worcester County TEA Party and MSOP head Sam Hale.

And while there was no media there besides this reporter and Julie Brewington, who’s mostly pulled away from her Right Coast Conservative blog (but was videotaping the proceedings nonetheless), we did have two write-in candidates for office.

On the left is Mike Calpino, who’s running in the First District Congressional race as the write-in not endorsed by either political party, and on the right is Worcester County resident Ed Tinus, who is resurrecting his U.S. Senate campaign after finishing last out of nine Democratic candidates in their primary with 1,064 votes, or 0.3%.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this meeting because I’d not heard of the Sons of Liberty or Bradlee Dean’s Christian rap-rock band Junkyard Prophet before last week when I first promoted this meeting. In doing a little research on the group, the prevailing opinion on them was that they were typical bigoted Christian haters – yet I found nothing overly controversial about their viewpoints. I will grant they did not speak much specifically about gay marriage or Question 6, but their opinions on the subject are likely shared by millions in this state and across the nation. Having seen the trend of a nation falling away from a Christian God, they obviously fret that allowing same-sex marriage may open the door to an even further slouch towards Gomorrah, to borrow a term made famous by Robert Bork. I think it’s a legitimate concern, others may disagree.

And if the idea of public school is to teach children critical thinking then I can’t understand what the big deal is to have them come to a school for a few hours and speak to the kids there. But the impression I get is that Sons of Liberty faces a lot of static in putting together these presentations simply because they don’t have a politically correct viewpoint, even if the opinions they present are based in historical fact.

The duo is in the midst of a four-day swing through Maryland and northern Virginia, with future stops in several other states. Dean admitted it was hard on him to be away from his five children, but the fight to preserve his country and its God-given freedoms was worth it. Having heard the presentation, I tend to agree.

Free (if politically incorrect) speech

April 19, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Free (if politically incorrect) speech 

It’s billed as a non-political event, but something tells me that they’re not going to sit around sipping on Coca-Cola.

I got the invitation from Robert Broadus, who will be a speaker at the Take Back Maryland Rally on Saturday in Federalsburg. It’s organized by a group I was heretofore unfamiliar with called the League of the South, and I’ll get to them in a little bit.

First of all, the topics seem quite interesting: during the three-hour Saturday afternoon event, Broadus will speak on “Defending Marriage in the Old Line State,” State Senator Rich Colburn talks about “A 51st State: Partitioning ‘Red’ Maryland from ‘Blue’ Maryland,” and David Whitney of the Institute of the Constitution pondering “Is the 14th Amendment Legal?” All seem like intriguing topics worth listening to, particularly since they don’t seem to come from an orthodox point of view in Maryland.

The sponsoring organization bills itself as maintaining the spirit of the Confederacy, noting “We seek to advance the cultural, social, economic, and political well-being and independence of the Southern people by all honourable means.” Obviously this brings up the familiar images of the rebel flag, white-hooded Ku Klux Klan members, and separate but equal facilities. And of course we’ve already fought one War Between the States that their side lost.

Still, if you ignore the racial portion of the equation (as Broadus is apparently doing, since he is a black man) there are some aspects of Southern life which could stand a revival. A couple in particular are the restoration of state’s rights and the Southern emphasis on family and community – the definition of which comes from achieving the greater good through local, privately-based efforts rather than a government program. Taken in that context, the selection of speakers makes a lot of sense.

Without question, this will be the kind of event that liberals fall over themselves condemning because they see almost everything through a lens of perceived racism. But the League of the South contends (and I think to a significant extent rightfully so) that southern Maryland, the Eastern Shore, and lower Delaware are bastions of the old South trapped inside northern states; on the other hand portions of Confederate states like Florida and Texas are no longer “southern” as they define it because of Yankee and Latino influences.

And while there isn’t a shooting war going on between the blue and the gray, there’s no denying we have a cultural and social war going on between the principles being stood for by the League of the South and ideologically similar, socially conservative and even libertarian groups versus those promulgated by their perception of government policy and the influence of Hollywood and the mainstream media.

Just witness the GOP Presidential primary schedule – Mitt Romney didn’t win any states in the Deep South except Florida, and Florida was won only because Romney carried the urban areas. The northern tier of the state and panhandle was Gingrich country, as was Newt’s adopted home state of Georgia and South Carolina. Rick Santorum carried Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee during his Presidential bid.

They didn’t call the South the Bible Belt for nothing, and over the last many decades it’s been Hollywood’s task to sell the idea of Southerners as white trash while government enforces policies which many evangelicals in the South disagree with. Yet Southerners are proportionally more likely to fight and die for their country.

But I guarantee that some of those who read this article are going to shake their head and think to themselves that these speakers are making a mistake appearing before such a group, one which believes the South should rise again and eventually secede from the rest of the Union. I have news for them: we already live in a polarized and divided nation, made so because it benefits certain people and groups at the expense of the rest of us. We don’t have to agree with everything the League of the South says, but we should give it the respect due any other group of citizens who have a political or social view to express. A country which allows both the hatred of Fred Phelps and the perversion of the Folsom Street Fair (just Google both, I’m not linking) definitely should make room for a group advocating a return to the better points of tradition.

Where I went wrong (and right)

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.

Primary crystal ball predictions

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:

  1. Mitt Romney – 41%
  2. Rick Santorum – 28%
  3. Newt Gingrich – 16%
  4. Ron Paul – 11%
  5. Fred Karger – 2%
  6. Rick Perry – <1%
  7. Buddy Roemer – <1%
  8. 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:

  1. Rick Santorum – 35%
  2. Mitt Romney – 33%
  3. Newt Gingrich – 18%
  4. 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:

  1. Dan Bongino – 36%
  2. Richard Douglas – 34%
  3. Robert Broadus – 8%
  4. Corrogan Vaughn – 5%
  5. Joseph Alexander – 4%
  6. David Jones – 4%
  7. William Capps – 3%
  8. Rick Hoover – 3%
  9. John Kimble – 2%
  10. 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.

One last appeal

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.

Video streaming by Ustream

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.

For U.S. Senate

I was actually going to wait until the Sunday before the primary to do this, but realized with early voting I probably should put this out at a time when I can maximize the effect.

When the filing deadline came and went in January, we ended up with ten people on the ballot seeking to challenge incumbent Senator Ben Cardin on the Republican side. (There are also eight Democratic challengers who, with the exception of State Senator C. Anthony Muse, will be lucky to see 20 percent of the vote as a collection.)

But if you look at the ten on our side as a group, you can start to pick out those who have a legitimate chance pretty early. Some have been on the ballot before, but have never come close to grabbing the brass ring. You know, one would think guys like Corrogan Vaughn or John Kimble might get the hint at some point but they soldier on nonetheless, appearing on ballot after ballot every two years for some office. This is Vaughn’s fourth Senate try (counting an abortive 2010 run) and Kimble’s third, although he’s been on a ballot every two years for some federal office since 1996. Another 2012 candidate, Joseph Alexander, ran in the 2010 Senate primary and finished a distant third with 5.9% of the vote.

Others have been in local races and lost. Rick Hoover ran twice for the Third District Congressional nod in 2004 and 2006 and didn’t distinguish himself enough to not be an also-ran. William Capps took on an incumbent State Senator and lost in 2010, while Robert Broadus had the unenviable task of attempting to win as a Republican in the Fourth Congressional District. While Broadus only gathered 16% of the vote, it was a better showing than the Republican winner had in 2008 against Edwards. But even Broadus lost in the 2008 primary – he was unopposed in 2010.

There are four others who are making their first run for statewide office, with Brian Vaeth and David Jones the lesser-known duo of the group. I haven’t heard anything from Vaeth, but David Jones is a candidate who, with some polish and a more appropriate race for a single dad to get into (on the scale of a countywide or House of Delegates district contest) could have a future in the political arena. He had a message which was trying to come out, but a statewide campaign presents an awfully steep learning curve.

Out of the eight I have cited so far, the battle for third place shapes up between Broadus, based on his performance in a difficult district and the ready-made issue he has with his position as head of Protect Marriage Maryland, Alexander (simply based on 2010 results), and Jones (as a hard worker who’s quite likable.) One of the others might surprise me, but these are the guys who seem to me as the aspirants for Miss Congeniality.

Yet the race is really coming down to two men. Each brings something unique to the table.

Read more

‘I can’t lose this…I gave up everything’

On Wednesday evening I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in a conference call with U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, and I was joined by a handful of other political bloggers around the state. Insofar as I know (and I haven’t checked today, so I may now be incorrect on this assertion) no one else has written about this call, and that’s sort of a shame.

The call itself was timed just before Dan’s “20 on 20” moneybomb, which turned out to be, in his words today, “an incredible success” which “surpassed our one-day goal.” But Dan lauded the support of the Maryland conservative blogosphere, which had been “absolutely invaluable” to his campaign, arguably moreso than the mainstream media’s. I’m not sure I would agree with that totally, but when you stop to consider the interests of our audience (which is more attuned to politics and forms the backbone of donors, volunteers, etc.) I can see his point. The mainstream is more valuable for building up name recognition, though.

Speaking of volunteers, Dan assessed his campaign as “in great shape” as far as that goes; still he conceded “we need a little help” in fundraising – “but we’re doing okay.” Much of the fundraising would go toward media, and it’s no secret that whoever wins the GOP primary will have to contend with Cardin’s massive warchest, $1 million of which he’s purportedly spending on media buys in the runup to the primary. And while Cardin has a contested primary, with the main opponent being State Senator C. Anthony Muse of Prince George’s County, it’s probable that the lone question surrounding the April 3rd contest is the over-under on Cardin’s margin of victory. As others are finding out on a more limited scale, it’s difficult enough to run a campaign during the General Assembly session let alone attempt a statewide one as Muse is attempting. You can also factor in the tacit disapproval of state Democratic party brass as another hindrance to Muse’s upstart bid.

But Dan brought up a good point about Ben’s media buy – why is this necessary after 45 years in public office, particularly when he’s run for election 16 times? Granted, Ben hasn’t been on the ballot since 2006 but he’s obviously a familiar name in one of the state’s two leading media markets, and it’s not like he won’t get the covert backing of the state’s key media outlets either.

I asked a question of Dan regarding the Muse challenge and what it means to the minority vote: what percentage of the vote are you looking for? “All of them,” he replied. But to Dan that sphere of voters presents a “target-rich environment” where several conservative issues can resonate. There’s no doubt that Bongino is basing his campaign on kitchen-table issues – “I know what it’s like to be hungry,” he said, regarding his upbringing in a impoverished family – but there are other “wedge issues” out there like school choice, which “resonates strongly” in many areas, where the incumbent is working against the interests of minority voters. “We can do better” with them, assessed Dan.

Other issue-based questions dealt with the recent CBO re-estimate of Obamacare’s costs, which Dan remarked is “not realistic…not even close” to the true costs and what he felt were key issues: of course the economy and jobs topped the list. “Folks want to hear about putting Cheerios on the table right now,” said Bongino.

He was also pleased to get the endorsement from the Gazette website, which is based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., along with additional coverage from Newsmax and the G. Gordon Liddy radio program. “Seven million eyeballs” saw the Newsmax piece, beamed Bongino.

All in all, the conference call, which lasted a few ticks short of a half-hour, was a valuable tool in gauging the strength of the Bongino campaign at this point. There’s no doubt he (or any other of the ten GOP aspirants for the nomination) will have an uphill battle this fall, but there are reasons to believe Democrats in general have cracks in their Maryland armor. Will the base turn out for Obama? And what about the two referenda which will most likely be on the ballot – will they drive conservative turnout?

I’m not sure how much Bongino or any of the other Republicans who will survive the primary will tie themselves to these issues, as we have a long way to go to find out whether the gay marriage question will even be on the ballot. Moreover, and quite frankly, gay marriage can be characterized as a side issue in a race for federal office. But these ballot issues will bring conservative voters out and we know Cardin is foursquare behind placing the support of same-sex marriage in the Democratic party’s platform so we don’t necessarily have to be strongly against gay marriage in federal races.

But I appreciated being included in the call, and know that the campaign begins in earnest once nominees are selected April 3.

It’s worth noting that, while Bongino doesn’t have a local event scheduled I’m aware of, two of his opponents will be in the Salisbury area on Monday, March 26th. Richard Douglas is the featured speaker for the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting at the Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Salisbury while fellow GOP officeseeker Robert Broadus will address the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting at Adam’s Ribs in Fruitland.

Senate candidates in person or on video (or online)

March 5, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, Senator Watch · Comments Off on Senate candidates in person or on video (or online) 

The two leading Republican candidates for U.S. Senate are making their play for votes in various ways.

If you want to see one up close and in person, you may simply attend the Republican Women of Wicomico’s Membership Lunch this Wednesday at noon at Brew River Restaurant, when Richard Douglas will be their featured speaker. Perhaps he’ll talk about the Israeli situation, where Douglas blasted the incumbent Senator for discussing postal closures and not making any statement on Iran in nearly six months. Or Douglas may tout his latest endorsement from Baltimore County Delegate Bill Frank, who called Douglas “the right candidate at the right time.” Certainly he’ll update those attending on his campaign to date.

The cost is $12, and reservations are available from Brew River. But call tomorrow (Tuesday) to assure a place.

Right now you can sit in the comfort of your easy chair – or wherever you access this site – and see a 90-second video put together on Dan Bongino’s behalf.

Interestingly enough, I saw my first Bongino yard sign today locally so the word is beginning to get out on him. “Government is not the answer. We are the answer.” It’s a good message. And who knows, perhaps I can get that video to 1,000 views by placing it here.

We have two good candidates for Senate who have a reasonable shot. That’s not to dismiss the other eight who are running, as all of them who I’ve met seem to be men of character and honor. But the realist in me sees this as now a two-man race for a number of reasons, particularly money and visibility.

Consider these social media facts. If you take the  footprint of their respective websites based on Alexa ratings and the reach of their Facebook and Twitter pages, this is what you would find among the U.S. Senate candidates. Granted, Alexa is sort of a weak indicator of readership but it’s a decent indicator of relative popularity between sites – I would be confident that a site with a rating of 3 million is more widely read than one at 7 million.

Alexa ranking (lower is better):

  1. Dan Bongino – 2,652,827
  2. Ben Cardin – 3,543,017
  3. Richard Douglas – 3,609,731
  4. David Jones – 6,604,886
  5. Robert Broadus – 7,137,723
  6. William Capps – 8,325,982
  7. John Kimble – 10,628,905
  8. Brian Vaeth – 11,095,766
  9. Rick Hoover – 11,786,645
  10. Corrogan Vaughn – no data (I think his site is new at the address.)

Not every candidate has a Facebook or Twitter page devoted to their campaign, but for those who do here are likes and follows, respectively:

Facebook:

  1. Ben Cardin – 3,500
  2. Dan Bongino – 1,680
  3. Corrogan Vaughn – 157
  4. Rich Douglas – 81
  5. Brian Vaeth – 25
  6. Robert Broadus – 17
  7. Rick Hoover – 4

Twitter:

  1. Dan Bongino – 1,317
  2. David Jones – 819
  3. Corrogan Vaughn – 149
  4. Rich Douglas – 108
  5. Rick Hoover -27

(Apparently, Ben Cardin’s campaign isn’t on Twitter.)

It’s fairly evident that Bongino has a good lead in the social networking area, but that doesn’t always translate into votes. I was told that Bob Ehrlich had more Facebook followers than Martin O’Malley did and we see how that turned out.

And if you compare these numbers to a well-read website like Red Maryland, which perhaps has the best social media presence of any statewide political website, you’ll see all of them fall short on at least one count: Alexa for RM is 859,533 and they have 616 Facebook followers along with 761 on Twitter. Of course, a blog has far longer to build an audience so the Alexa should be expected; on the other hand, creating buzz should work in the favor of the campaigns yet only a few do better than the website.

But regardless of who wins this race on April 3rd, we need to close ranks behind them so that Ben Cardin is retired from public life come next January.

2012 Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner in pictures and text (updated)

Update: Rich Douglas responds to my assessment of his statement, see end of column.

We were expecting around 100 to show up, along with most of the 10 contenders for U.S. Senate and a host of local Republican elected officials. Well, two out of three ain’t bad, as Meat Loaf used to say.

I don’t have the official numbers, but I would guess our attendance were closer to 120. But we had just four U.S. Senate contenders make their way down here, with Robert Broadus showing up well before the 6 p.m. opening.

Senate candidate Robert Broadus.

Those candidates who came had a spot to put their literature. However, we did not have a visit from Ron Paul – just local supporters.

A literature table filled with campaign placards.

I would say of the four Senate candidates who came, Broadus had the most stuff, with Dan Bongino and Rich Douglas bringing a more modest amount. David Jones had no literature (or support staff; he was truly a one-man operation.)

And we had a few ideas for promotion of the event, with some of the patrons taking advantage of this one.

We made photos with Abe Lincoln available for the first time.

The who’s who of local Republicans came out for the event, as well as several from around the state – included in that complement were MDGOP 1st Vice-Chair Diana Waterman and both candidates for National Committeewoman, Nicolee Ambrose and Audrey Scott.

As always, we had President Lincoln make his appearance at the event, too. He brought a small regiment of troops for protection.

Lincoln with three reenactors.

There were also reenactors in each corner of the room as well as Civil War-era photographer Mathew Brady taking snapshots of the proceedings.

President Lincoln.

“Our country is in great peril now,” said President Lincoln. What I’ve found interesting each year is that the President brings the problems of 150 years ago to compare with the modern day. “In my opinion, we would do better to leave the Constitution alone,” Lincoln echoed from long ago, “It can scarcely be made better than it is.”

“My hope is that our Republic can be redeemed,” he concluded, “and that you will kick the scoundrels out.”

In speaking to Lincoln beforehand, he remarked that the portrayal gets a little easier every year because he’s getting more wrinkled. But he does a good job in setting the mood each year.

County GOP Chair Dave Parker.

And this guy does a good job in setting up the affair each year. As always, sporting the red (naturally) blazer, Wicomico County GOP Chair Dave Parker set up the rest of the program.

As it turned out, we had a total of eight featured speakers; four Senate candidates and four state elected officials. We also heard briefly in between from Mark McIver, who is the Lower Shore liaison for Andy Harris. Andy could not attend our dinner this year.

Each Senate candidate was given about seven to eight minutes to speak, while local officials were allotted five. Now one would think that having the Senate candidates speak first, before the local officials, would be a mistake, but I didn’t see anyone heading for the exits before the benediction to close the proceedings (from Wicomico Central Committee member Dave Goslee, Sr., who also did the invocation.)

U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino.

Dan Bongino had eight minutes but took five to deliver an uplifting message that “Maryland is not a lost cause.” He was quite feisty, as a matter of fact, telling those assembled that “it’s time to pick a fight…this is our home.” The statists have no entitlement to the state, he added.

While he didn’t get into many policy specifics, Dan said that conservative ideas have won before, citing Ronald Reagan’s re-election. (George H.W. Bush also carried Maryland in 1988.) What we need is a “clear delineation” on the issues, said Dan, and if we can get that “we can win this.”

And when all his friends told him he should move to Virginia from New York, Dan instead chose Maryland because “I saw Maryland first and I fell in love with it.” Now he’s made it home.

Robert Broadus at the podium.

Robert Broadus was in the Navy. When he got out, he “saw a government that was not following its charter, the Constitution.” Furthermore, his representatives were “unresponsive” and weren’t listening. So he became involved and aware.

While he was “raised to vote Democrat” by virtue of his skin color, Broadus asserted that, in Maryland, “too many vote their identity” and we need to change the narrative of Republicans as rich and white – after all, President Lincoln helped end slavery as the first Republican president.

Yet the NAACP, supposedly an advocate for his race, instead supports things like illegal immigration and same-sex marriage, he continued. And when Ben Cardin came to Prince George’s County to announce his support of Obamacare, backed by the purple shirts of the SEIU, everyone – even the Republicans – was applauding. But he wasn’t.

“I stood up to Ben Cardin two years ago,” said Broadus, and “we can’t let that destruction of liberty continue.” His agenda was simple: repeal Obamacare, end the IRS, and protect marriage. The state should stop pushing a social agenda.

Broadus has run for Congress twice before, but is perhaps best known in Maryland as an advocate for protecting the concept of marriage between one man and one woman – a value system most in the room agreed with wholeheartedly.

U.S. Senate candidate Rich Douglas.

I found it quite telling that Rich Douglas brought a book with him; a book I had a blurry picture of, unfortunately. The tome contains the rules of the U.S. Senate, and this dogeared volume was several hundred pages thick.

And while the last attack on the Bill of Rights was at Fort Sumter under President Lincoln, Douglas opined, this White House has also attacked the Bill of Rights as well. But Rich’s task of the evening was “to persuade you I am the right candidate to defeat Ben Cardin.”

He attacked the incumbent on three levels. First of all, the Senate has a lot of input on national security, but Douglas was “alarmed” by the lack of military veterans in the Senate. Bolstering his credentials in that respect was his endorsement by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Secondly – and this is a point he’s made frequently – Ben Cardin has never worked in our private-sector economy. He’s been an elected official since 1966, fresh out of law school. Someone who understands the private sector may have convinced Caterpillar to bring its new plant and 1400 jobs to Maryland – Douglas “would’ve camped out at the front door of Caterpillar” to bring the jobs here. (Imagine that in Salisbury.)

But most important was “backbone.” Douglas worked for the late Senator Jesse Helms, and Helms had principles, said Douglas. But Maryland has no Senate representation because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s priorities are “high priorities” for Cardin. That’s why we have spent nuclear rods in the open at Calvert Cliffs instead of at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, Douglas said.

As I noted about the Senate rules book, another advantage Rich claimed was knowing how the Senate rules work and using them to our advantage.

But perhaps the most controversial thing Douglas said was that the “only good conservative outcome” of the Supreme Court battle over Obamacare was that it be upheld. Congress has greater discretion under the Commerce Clause, he argued.

It was interesting that after the event was over he and Robert Broadus were having a friendly debate over that very subject.

Republican Senate hopeful David Jones.

David Jones actually spoke the longest of the four candidates. Now it’s obvious that, at just 32 years of age, he doesn’t have the pedigree the others do so that wasn’t his message.

Jones is a working man, who makes $32,000 a year and is the single dad of a four year old son. He conceded that it’s “damn near impossible” to run and win as a 32 year old Republican in Maryland.

But then again, Bob Ehrlich won in 2002. Of course, part of that was the fact that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was an “insult to the people of the state” and Ehrlich was a “good leader.” But Martin O’Malley didn’t insult the Democrats so he won. Republicans have to “speak for all,” Jones added.

David jumped into the race because he believes “nothing is being done for the majority of the country…I’m tired of it.” And those people he encounters as part of his job “don’t believe it works anymore” either. The people need leadership, Jones believed.

But while he certainly played the role of a disaffected youth well, I never heard exactly what he stands for. Certainly he’s a likable guy, and he asked the bartenders afterward what they thought of his remarks, but I’m curious whether he can flesh out a platform next week at a Worcester County candidate forum he’s planning on attending.

State Senator Rich Colburn.

After going over a list of his upcoming fundraisers, State Senator Rich Colburn announced he now officially represented about 49,000 of Wicomico County’s residents thanks to redistricting. The Democrat majority didn’t look at any alternative redistricting bills in the first 45 days of the session.

Instead, to keep up with potential 2016 Presidential rival Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Martin O’Malley’s top priority was getting same-sex marriage passed, Colburn said. This prospect even affected the timing of his State of the State address, which was late because they “needed him here” rather than out traveling the country.

And apparently the new definition of millionaire was someone who made $150,000, since those who make that amount would begin losing tax deductions. Throw in the proposed gas tax, the septic bill – a “feelgood bill by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation” which won’t address the bulk of the problem – and the flush tax, and there’s a lot of damage which can yet be done in this session.

Colburn saved the last part of his enmity for the Waterkeepers Alliance, a group which is suing the Hudson family of Worcester County with assistance from the University of Maryland Law School. Colburn noted “North Carolina would love to have” our poultry industry and “every farm (in the country) is jeopardized” by the Waterkeepers’ efforts. Rich has a bill pending which would compel the University of Maryland Law School to reimburse the Hudsons $500,000 for damages. “I will continue to fight against the injustices of the University of Maryland Law School,” he vowed.

Delegate Addie Eckardt.

After she sang ‘God Bless America’ as part of the opening festivities, Delegate Addie Eckardt returned to the microphone to give a more sobering report, although she was “excited to see friendly faces.”

Republicans in Annapolis were “working very diligently for a way to offer an alternative budget proposal” as they have for several years now. All we need to do is “take a break” and let the revenues catch up, she assessed.

But when entities are coming up and asking for huge increases in the capital budget – which is paid for mostly from property taxes and proceeds from bond sales – she was “concerned (about) how we’ll survive.”

“There needs to be discipline in spending,” she concluded.

Delegate Mike McDermott.

But while Eckardt and Colburn were rather subdued in their remarks, Delegate Mike McDermott had the delivery and cadence of a Pentecostal preacher during Sunday service. When reminded of the five minute limit, McDermott quipped “I don’t listen to the Speaker of the House, I certainly can’t listen to you.”

“We need to re-adopt the founding principles of the Declaration of Independence,” Mike thundered, as “liberty is a gift from God.” He believed that “your enemy (in Annapolis) has overreached…when (they) have to pray to God to get 71 votes.”

But all over the state, “people are infuriated with the overreach of government,” Mike continued. “They fear the people.”

Candidates for office this year need to tie themselves to the two referendum efforts going on. McDermott cited a poll taken which showed 96% of Marylanders thought they paid too much in taxes, which was awfully coincidental with the 96% of transportation money going to serve the 4% of the state which actually rides mass transit, while our roads and bridges crumble.

He also announced that Friday they saved the state $100 million. Well, they are on their way as two bills Mike sponsored are winding their way through the House. He singled out Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello for his help on HB112.

And because of this overreach by the other side, Mike concluded, we can divide and conquer the opposition. Then we can wistfully look back and tell our grandchildren about the time Maryland was a one-party state. In the meantime, it’s time to “take back our state.”

Delegate Charles Otto acknowledges Mike McDermott.

And poor Charles Otto. He drew the short straw of following McDermott, saying “we may as well pass the plate right now” but on the other hand he would be the last word.

In his typical low-key style, Charles implored us to get the vote out since we have a “so-called leader in the White House that needs to be replaced.” As part of that GOTV effort, Otto encouraged us to check in often at mdpetitions.com and work to get the same-sex issue on the ballot. Our GOP delegation “represents the values we grew up with,” Otto said.

Delegate Charles Otto.

But he also noted one thing the previous speakers didn’t bring up – the possible upcoming shift in state pension obligations to the counties. Charles claimed that, for Wicomico County, it would be a $4 million hit and taxes would almost certainly need to be raised locally. (As I recall, each penny increase in the property tax per $100 of assessed valuation equals about $750,000 to the county. So it would mean about a nickel’s increase.)

Yet maybe, concluded Charles, the opposition party which has already spent a lot of political capital on passing same-sex marriage will be fiscally responsible.

I’m not going to hold my breath on that myself.

It’s worth mentioning in closing that I had the chance to speak at some length with Nicolee Ambrose – not necessarily about her run for National Committeewoman but about the political scene in general. Now I agree with some things regarding the two who seek the post and I disagree with some. I haven’t made up my mind yet but speaking with Nicolee helped to lean me in a particular direction. To be fair, I also spoke more briefly with Audrey Scott before the event.

Early on Saturday, I wasn’t sure how we were going to pull this off. We had no idea how many Senate candidates would come and the person who originally was supposed to do our sound had to work. But the event turned out to be a success thanks to my cohorts on the WCRCC and all who attended. We’ll review this edition when we next meet and start working on a bigger and better one for 2013!

Update: Rich Douglas’s campaign communications director Jim Pettit sent me the following from the candidate:

Monoblogue provides a vital service for all Marylander’s, namely, covering important political events that mainstream media often misses.

Such was the case in the February 27 coverage of the Wicomoco County Lincoln Day Dinner.

I was quoted about the Supreme Court and its relationship to Congress. Let me elaborate.

Information is power. The Constitution’s Commerce Clause says Congress has the power to regulate commerce between the several states. In the courts, President Obama cited Congress’s Commerce Clause power as the authority for the insurance mandate. Over the decades, the US Supreme Court (including Marylander Robert Brooke Taney) has held that Congress has significant leeway to regulate commerce under the the Commerce Clause. So on Obamacare, the main question for the US Supreme Court is likely to be: is Obamacare a proper exercise by Congress of its power under the Commerce Clause? At this point in our logic-walk, it is vital to remember a fundamental principle of conservative judicial thought: Courts should not substitute their will for the will of the legislature. And please: don’t take my word for this — read Judge Robert Bork. My point at Salisbury was that the conservative wing of the Supreme Court (assuming that they, too, believe what Robert Bork believes) should not be expected to substitute their will for Congress’s will unless they find that Congress clearly violated the Commerce Clause with Obamacare. I’m not sure they will do this. To put it another way: if the Court is NOT offended by this ‘new’ Commerce Clause power asserted in Obamacare, and in keeping with Bork’s philosophy, the mandate will be upheld.

This tosses the hot potato back to Congress. For men like Bork, that’s where it belongs in the first place. I think this is what will probably happen. Here’s my Salisbury point: I don’t count on the Supreme Court to save our bacon. So Maryland will need a Senator who has the guts to take the hard votes on Obamacare after January 2013. Now here’s a new point: Maryland also needs a Senator who genuinely understands the Constitution, who understands how it has been interpreted, and who has taken the time to explore and understand conservative judicial philosophy before talking about it.

As a Senator I will vote to repeal Obamacare.

R. Douglas
US Senate Candidate (R-Md).

Now, allow me to add something. As an assistant in covering the event, I recorded each candidate’s speech and took notes on what I heard last night as I compiled the post into the wee hours of the morning.

I’m going to go ahead and add links to all four Senatorial candidate speeches so you can check my work:

Just think, we paid $40 for the privilege. Of course, you may get the occasional comment or two from me.

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  • 2018 Election

    Election Day is November 6 for all of us. With the Maryland primary by us and a shorter widget, I’ll add the Delaware statewide federal offices (Congress and U.S. Senate) to the mix once their July 10 filing deadline is passed. Their primary is September 6.

    Maryland

    Governor

    Larry Hogan (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Shawn Quinn (Libertarian) – Facebook

    Ben Jealous (D) – Facebook Twitter

    Ian Schlakman (Green) Facebook Twitter

     

    U.S. Senate

    Tony Campbell (R) – Facebook Twitter

    Ben Cardin (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Arvin Vohra (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    There are three independent candidates currently listed as seeking nomination via petition: Steve Gladstone, Michael Puskar, and Neal Simon. All have to have the requisite number of signatures in to the state BoE by August 6.

     

    U.S. Congress -1st District

    Andy Harris (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Jenica Martin (Libertarian) – Facebook Twitter

    Jesse Colvin (D) – Facebook Twitter

     

    State Senate – District 37

    Addie Eckardt (R – incumbent) – Facebook

    Holly Wright (D) – Facebook

     

    Delegate – District 37A

    Frank Cooke (R) – Facebook

    Sheree Sample-Hughes (D – incumbent) – Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 37B (elect 2)

    Chris Adams (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Johnny Mautz (R – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Dan O’Hare (D) – Facebook

     

    State Senate – District 38

    Mary Beth Carozza (R) – Facebook Twitter

    Jim Mathias (D – incumbent) Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38A

    Charles Otto (R – incumbent)

    Kirkland Hall, Sr. (D) – Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38B

    Carl Anderton, Jr. (R – incumbent) Facebook Twitter

     

    Delegate – District 38C

    Wayne Hartman (R) – Facebook

     

    Delaware

     

    U.S. Senate

     

    Republican:

    Rob ArlettFacebook Twitter

    Roque de la FuenteFacebook Twitter

    Gene Truono, Jr. –  Facebook

     

    Libertarian (no primary, advances to General):

    Nadine Frost – Facebook

     

    Democrat:

    Tom Carper (incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

    Kerri Evelyn HarrisFacebook Twitter

     

    Green (no primary, advances to General):

    Demitri Theodoropoulos

     

     

    Congress (at-large):

     

    Republican:

    Lee MurphyFacebook Twitter

    Scott Walker

     

    Democrat (no primary, advances to General):

    Lisa Blunt Rochester (D – incumbent) – Facebook Twitter

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