The process of change (part 1)

October 19, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The process of change (part 1) 

Last week the state wrapped up a series of hearings on the state’s redistricting process. Unfortunately, the local hearing was neither local (held in Easton) nor convenient (held on a weekday afternoon.) While the Eastern Shore is well-ensconced in the First Congressional District, it endured plenty of change in the last state redisrtricting as boundary lines were shifted dramatically and former multi-delegate districts broken down for single delegates.

To be more specific about the points I mentioned above, the Democrats in charge of the 2010 census redisrtricting placed two Republicans in a single-member district based mainly in Somerset County. To form the revamped District 38A, they chopped off the southern portion of Wicomico County that freshman Republican Charles Otto was elected to represent in 2010 and pushed the district eastward into Worcester County to include fellow freshman GOP member Mike McDermott. Otto kept the seat in 2014, but McDermott lost a bid for Senate to incumbent Jim Mathias.

The part of Wicomico County formerly represented by Otto shifted mainly to District 37B, a fairly safe GOP district then represented by Delegates Addie Eckardt and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. After neither sought re-election in favor of higher office, the district became home to two freshmen Republican Delegates: Christopher Adams of Wicomico County and Johnny Mautz of Talbot County.

The rest of the old 38A was placed into a greatly diminished District 38B, one which encompassed territory from Delmar to Fruitland through the eastern half of Salisbury. Removing the rural portions of a former two-delegate seat was supposed to make it easier for incumbent Democrat Norm Conway, but he was still ousted by Republican Carl Anderton. The rest of District 38B not taken by Otto’s district was rebadged District 38C, a fairly solid Republican area now represented by Delegate Mary Beth Carozza.

The only district that stayed relatively the same was District 37A, a majority-minority district where Delegate Rudy Cane retired and left the field to freshman Democrat Sheree Sample-Hughes. As it turned out, the only incumbent Delegate to survive out of the two districts was Charles Otto. Wicomico County is now represented by five freshman Delegates, four Republican and one Democrat.

Yet the cynicism wasn’t just limited to our area. According to Delegate Jeff Ghrist, there are 71 districts that have an above-average population while 70 fall below the average. It’s just amazing that 44 of the 50 Republicans represent districts in the larger-than-average category, while 64 of 91 Democrats come from “small” districts. Given that a variation of 5% is permissible, there could be 4,000 more residents in a GOP district than a Democratic one, allowing the party in power an extra 6 or 7 seats across the state.

Ghrist also complained about the size of the districts. He lives near the border of District 36, but noted adjacent District 37B spans from Denton to the Somerset County line and from the Delaware border to the far reaches of Oxford and St. Michael’s as a two-member district. His District 36 takes in the northern part of the Eastern Shore as a three-member district. While most of the counties on the Shore are too small to support their own district, it is possible for the Shore to fill four full three-member districts with a little help from the eastern end of neighboring Harford County.

The key, though, is single-member districts. A county like Wicomico could have two members to itself, while sharing the majority-minority district in existence with Dorchester County. Geography may dictate some crossing of lines, but the districts can be made much more compact and contiguous.

Obviously Senate districts will need to span several county lines. The remedy to this is to go back to a system which, unfortunately, was dealt its mortal blow by the ill-advised passage of the Seventeenth Amendment and formally died with the Reynolds vs. Sims decision in 1964. Until then, each Maryland county had its own Senator to represent county interests. The right thing to do would be place the Senate in the hands of each county’s legislative body, allowing them to choose two (for a total of 48) and staggering the terms to having them pick a new one every two years. (Like the U.S. Senate, it would be the job of the Lieutenant Governor to break tie votes.)

If they had the cojones to challenge the 51-year-old Reynolds ruling Maryland can be a leader in moving forward into the past, restoring the original intent of our founders in balancing the interests of the people and local governments.

In part two, I want to consider our Congressional districts.

History and context

A couple weeks ago I covered the first of four hearings on the potential for an elected school board. At that time I pledged to add some history and context to my remarks from the other day.

First of all, the recent history of the attempt to get an elected school board has both a local component and a state component. I was elected to the Republican Central Committee in 2006, and one item which we agreed to pursue was an elected school board. Unfortunately, the composition of county government at the time didn’t lend itself to further action on the subject. It wasn’t until the election in 2010, when a GOP supermajority was elected to County Council, that local legislative action occurred.

In both 2011 and 2012, the County Council passed legislation on a 6-1 party-line vote to ask the Maryland General Assembly for the enabling legislation for a referendum question to be set before voters. It would simply ask whether voters wanted to adopt an elected school board.

The 2011 version of the bill, HB1324/SB981, was sponsored by six local Delegates and both local Senators, and each version passed its respective legislative body overwhelmingly – the only “nay” vote came from Delegate Nathaniel Oaks of Baltimore City. SB981 passed both houses, but the amended House version did not return to the Senate for a vote.

In the House, the Ways and Means Committee amended the bill in a curious way. They revised the referendum question to read, “Are you against changing the changing the current method of selection of the members of the Wicomico County Board of Education of appointment by the governor?” It seems the idea was to confuse the voter.

The next year HB966/SB99 was introduced by the four Republican delegates and both Senators. This time, though, the bills did not progress beyond the hearing stage.

In 2013 and 2014, no legislation was passed locally nor was any introduced in the General Assembly. The feeling was that there were three roadblocks to the process: Rudy Cane, Norm Conway, and Rick Pollitt. None of those three survived the 2014 election, so we were hopeful the process would be on its way once 2015 began.

There were two key differences in the 2015 version of the bill, though. In an effort to foster a united front, County Council allowed for the idea of a hybrid elected/appointed board of five elected and two appointed by the County Executive with approval from the County Council. Indeed, that version passed 7-0 and was sent up in February.

But the bill was stalled in committee, with the problem determined to be the lack of having both Senators on board. Senator Mathias requested more hearings and public input on the issue, so County Council has arranged the four hearings with plenty of time to pre-file a bill once the hearings are over.

It’s been pointed out frequently that Wicomico County is one of the few without an elected board. Back in 2002 just half of Maryland’s counties had an elected school board. Since then, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Harford, Prince George’s, Somerset, and Talbot counties have switched over to elected (or mostly-elected) boards, while Anne Arundel County now has retention elections for its appointed members.

So the precedent for change is certainly there on the Shore and around the state. A number of counties have been allowed to proceed with their wishes over the last dozen years, but there always seems to be a roadblock when it comes to us. It is long past time to clear the way for us to decide as so many others in the state get to.

I am aware there are naysayers who say it doesn’t matter who is on the school board for the tune is called in Annapolis. But we have some creative folks around here who may figure out a few alternatives to really help our schools become better, and I don’t think they would have a prayer of being appointed through the process in place. Let them make the case to the parents who vote, not the faceless bureaucrats in Annapolis.

A look ahead: 2015 in Wicomico County

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s telling that most of the issues I wrote about last year at this time are still with us.

And as I suspected when the pixels were placed in late 2013, we have a majority of “new” Council members and, as it turns out, a new County Executive in Bob Culver. That new broom is already in the process of sweeping clean as the county’s former public information officer was relieved of her duties and the longtime Parks and Recreation director suddenly opted for retirement.

Yet almost all of the issues I alluded to last year are still with us. One thing which may assist the county in moving forward, though, is that the County Executive and County Council will be working from the same political playbook, with elections now a relatively safe four years away. Maintaining the 6-1 Republican majority on County Council will mean that there should be few issues, although one might argue that the support certain GOP members gave to the former Democratic County Executive Rick Pollitt could make some votes interesting.

The three main issues of 2013 could be resolved at the state level, though, with a little help from a Republican governor. For example, a more farmer-friendly tier map which places less land off-limits to development may be doable with a less stringent Maryland Department of Planning, one which grants more leeway to county desires and less emphasis on the despised PlanMaryland guidelines. As a corollary to that, the “rain tax” may not get to Wicomico County, although the city of Salisbury approved its version late last month. This could provide some tension between city and county as those who would want access to city water and sewer may balk at the additional fees.

On the other hand, the quest for an elected school board will certainly get a boost since the three largest obstacles are all out of the way: Rick Pollitt, Norm Conway, and Rudy Cane all have left (or will leave) office. With the resident delegation now boasting two Republicans to one Democrat – all of whom are freshmen – electing a school board may occur as soon as 2016.

In short, the biggest issue facing Wicomico County in 2015 will be what it does (or can do) to arrest a lengthy slide in employment. Year-over-year employment in Wicomico County has declined all 11 months this year and in 18 of the previous 22 months, with the most recent peak in employment being 50,369 in July 2012. (As a rule employment in this county fluctuates by a few thousand each year, peaking in July.) And while the unemployment rate is down for 2014, the number is somewhat deceptive because a lot of that positive change came as a result of a labor force that averages 847 fewer workers while average employment is down 380. Job one of the Culver administration is to make Wicomico County a more business-friendly environment, although having a governor who also wants to decrease red tape at the state level will help. Still, the solution for our needs may be as simple as attracting business out of high-overhead urban areas across the bridge to relocate here.

There is also the prospect of a revitalized downtown Salisbury to help attract new residents. Salisbury will one of six county municipalities to hold elections for municipal office in 2015, with Salisbury’s situation this year being rather unique: a charter change put in place a few years back will allow all municipal offices to be contested in one election this year, rather than the staggered terms common to most towns and cities. They are also adopting a five-district system, the boundaries of which leave three current City Council members in one district. According to the Maryland Manual, the other municipalities holding elections next year are Delmar (3 seats in November), Hebron (3 seats in April), Mardela Springs (2 seats in August), Pittsville (2 seats in November), and Willards (2 seats in May.) Fruitland and Sharptown will have their next elections in 2016.

With the new administration coming in, along with a revamped County Council, it won’t take long to find out whether the management style of Bob Culver will feature the leadership our county needs to recover and compete. Tomorrow I will turn my attention to the state of Maryland, including what role a bevy of new local elected officials might play.

District 37 House: the five contenders

September 16, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on District 37 House: the five contenders 

For my final look this round at local races, I decided to do both Districts 37A and 37B in one feel swoop, mainly because the District 37A is already set in Sheree Sample-Hughes. She had a free ride once Delegate Rudy Cane dropped out days after the filing deadline, but it’s also worth seeing how she’s set financially to begin her sure re-election run in 2018. I’ll get to her in due course.

Meanwhile, in District 37B there is one real race. Although the top two would normally be declared the winners, a state law prohibits two members from the same county in this two-person district which spans four counties. So the two contenders from Talbot County, Democrat Keasha Haythe and Republican Johnny Mautz, could finish 1-2 but only the winner would be seated. I’ll begin with that race.

[gview file=”http://monoblogue.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/House-37B-Talbot.pdf”]

While Johnny Mautz has far outraised his opponent, the cash on hand is surprisingly close because Mautz had to survive a primary while Haythe did not – in fact, she has only filed one actual report (the Pre-Primary 1 report in May) while spending less than $1,000 in the last two reporting periods. She attested to this through Affidavits of Limited Contributions and Expenses, better known in the game as ALCEs. Obviously she’s had some spending since she has a website, but it doesn’t rise to the level of filing the paperwork.

Keasha’s report is fairly vanilla, although it would be interesting to know who pays for her website. As far as the small amount she’s raised, the $1,000 contribution from Rudy Cane’s account provides the most insight. She’s the perfect contrast to Mautz as all her contributions are local.

On the other hand, Mautz’s report reminded me of Mary Beth Carozza’s in District 38C because a huge portion of the seed money for both has come from connections they’ve made in Washington, D.C. But while Carozza’s local share has increased over the last several months, Mautz maintains his tremendous haul from friends in the Capital region. Over 60 percent of his total individual contributions come from outside the district, but not much comes from businesses and none from LLCs.

Mautz has also picked up some non-individual donations: $1,000 from the Republican Leadership Council of Talbot County, and PAC donations from the Maryland Farm Bureau, Licensed Beverage Association PAC, and the Maryland Dental PAC. He’s also received transfers from two federal accounts belonging to current Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia and former member Jim Saxton of New Jersey, as well as $500 from the NCPA Legal-Legislative Fund (which represents community pharmacies) and a cool $4,000 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

But the eye-popper is the fact Mautz has gone into six figures for spending – more than any other candidate in either District 37 or 38. Over $63,000 has gone just for printing and nearly $14,000 for media, generally to local businesses. (The folks at Bay Imprint and Poore House have made a lot of money from Johnny this election.) One other interesting expenditure is $9,750 to Public Opinion Strategies for a poll back in April. (Full disclosure: Johnny’s payment to me for his sidebar ad should be on his next report.)

So Mautz is the undisputed spending leader in this race. In contrast, the other Democratic contender, Rod Benjamin, is running the ultimate low-budget campaign because he’s neither raised or spent above $1,000 as a serial ALCE filer.

[gview file=”http://monoblogue.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/House-37B.pdf”]

So that leaves me Christopher Adams, who’s also paid for advertising here. His figures are a little bit hard to follow, since a lot of his contributions and expenditures are tied up as loans. He took out and paid off a $20,000 loan from Value Enterprises, LLC and borrowed from his own personal coffers to replace the $20,000. So in truth he’s raised $11,370, with an 11% portion from LLCs and about 1/4 from out-of-district.

Adams has spent on some interesting items, with the biggest being $19,000 to Scott Strategies. He’s also transferred out some good-sized amounts on other entities and races: $500 apiece to the Caroline and Dorchester County Republican Central Committees (although the latter is mis-identified as the Democratic one), as well as to District 38B hopeful Carl Anderton. As far as media goes, I’m a line item along with an ad in the Salisbury Independent, among other things. But if you threw out the loan repayment, Scott Strategies would be well over half Christopher’s spending.

Finally, let’s look at the unopposed Sample-Hughes.

[gview file=”http://monoblogue.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/House-37A.pdf”]

As you can see, the biggest part of her contributions is the $6,000 she received from the coffers of Rudy Cane. It’s worth noting that Cane’s campaign account was closed out as he distributed over $47,000 to several groups – local candidates Sample-Hughes, Haythe, unsuccessful Salisbury City Council candidate April Jackson, and Wicomico County Councilman-elect Ernest Davis all got something from Cane, as did the House Democratic Committee Slate ($13,242.40.) However, Rudy also gave $20,000 to Shore Up! (a local advocacy group) and distributed $13,000 between three local churches.

Sample-Hughes also received small donations from several local Republicans, such as her fellow Wicomico County Council members John Hall and Matt Holloway, along with Sheriff Mike Lewis. The Maryland Farm Bureau PAC chipped in $500 to her as well. She received very little from businesses, nothing from LLCs, and hardly anything from outside the area.

One thing I noticed is that her fundraising expenses were barely covered by the money raised, but aside from that it’s the sort of a report one might expect from an unopposed candidate. Fortunately, that $6,000 from Cane is about all she’s got so any 2018 contender isn’t far behind in the money race yet.

So that’s how District 37 shapes up. The next report is due October 24, just days before the election.

The life of one (soon to be) former Delegate

August 9, 2014 · Posted in Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The life of one (soon to be) former Delegate 

While we have to wait and see what November brings, the chances are pretty good that there will be an additional few dozen Marylanders walking around with the unofficial title of “former member of the General Assembly.” Some, like outgoing Senator Nancy Jacobs or Delegate Donna Stifler, decided well in advance, while our local Delegate Rudy Cane cynically waited until after the filing deadline to insure no one would oppose his apparent choice for successor, Sheree Sample-Hughes.

And then we have the handful who lost in their primary – among them was Delegate Don Dwyer, whose well-documented personal struggles and legal issues, along with redistricting, made his an uphill battle. But as he wrote a few days back:

I simply couldn’t walk away without committing to continue my efforts in regaining liberty and true freedom. I believe as many do, that the one best solution to federal tyranny is the doctrine of NULLIFICATION under the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution. I would like to introduce the States Rights Foundation and new blog The Rightful Remedy.

Washington will not fix itself. Our intent is to partner with other groups and people who are dedicated to advancing the 10th Amendment movement. It is the solution to the out of control Federal Government. If enough States say NO, the Federal Government will be unable to enforce its unconstitutional laws, lacking the resources to do so without aid by the States.

Whether intentional or not, The Rightful Remedy was officially launched on Bastille Day, July 14.

As has been his modus operandi in the past Dwyer is holding a gun raffle to raise funds for his project, which he explains further:

As a Maryland State Delegate, I introduced several bills considered Nullification Legislation, by which the State of Maryland would refuse to comply with Federal “laws” for which the Federal Government has no Constitutional authority to impose. The legislation essentially prohibits the State to use any resources to assist the Federal Government in taking action against Maryland Citizens who are not complying with any Unconstitutional Federal Act. The result, should such legislation pass, profoundly affects the ability of the Federal Government, which rely (sic) heavily on resources from the state, such as police, to effectively enforce their “laws.” (Emphasis in original.)

Nullification is an intriguing practice, although it’s not often tried (here’s one example.) It brings arguments about whether it should be up to the states or left to the judiciary to decide what is in accordance with the Constitution.

But states are generally reined in under the federal judiciary’s interpretation of the Supremacy Clause (such as the case with Arizona’s SB1070 in 2010) as well as the prospect of losing needed federal funding if they don’t perform a particular action – examples I’ve often used are the .08 blood alcohol level standard and legal drinking age of 21, for which the lack of acceptable state law resulted in a deduction of federal highway funding. It would take a state willing to endure the penalties of perhaps defying the Supreme Court (as in a fictional example I recently reviewed) and losing a significant part of its federal funding to openly adopt nullification, and I can tell you Maryland politicians are way too gutless to try either. (Given his go-it-alone attitude, I daresay Rick Perry and Texas might come the closest to using the approach.)

Yet there is a logical argument to non-enforcement as well. We’ve often heard about the prospect of gun confiscation, but there’s an open question as to whether law enforcement – particularly in rural areas like the Eastern Shore – would be willing to go on what’s been described as a “suicide mission.” At the time, Dwyer was calling for the formation of a “voluntary militia” in each county. On the other hand, we have constant complaints about the federal government not enforcing certain other laws, such as the ones dealing with illegal immigration – a backhanded form of nullification unto itself.

I guess the problem is who decides which laws to not enforce, and if they’re not enforced, are we still a nation of laws? A stricter adherence to the Tenth Amendment and Constitution in general would help, but for that we need to clean out our judiciary swamp. I think an equally productive avenue for Dwyer to pursue with his States Rights Foundation would be to work for repealing the Seventeenth Amendment, which has been argued in some circles for several years and is something I’ve advocated for on both a federal and state level as well. That would help to assure the interests of the several states are represented in Congress, so nullification may not be as necessary.

Cane no longer able

February 28, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Cane no longer able 

As I predicted in this space a few weeks ago, Rudy Cane has indeed pulled out of the District 37A race; he will leave after 16 years of service to his Dorchester and Wicomico county constituents. While the Delegate is having some minor health issues, the fact that he all but ceased fundraising last year and allowed his website to go dark pretty much revealed his plans. It seems he was in the race simply to keep other interested Democrats away from challenging his would-be successor.

With Cane’s withdrawal Wednesday, current Wicomico County Council member Sheree Sample-Hughes will become the Democratic nominee. And unless a Republican who is agreeable to both the Wicomico and Dorchester county Republican Central Committees steps forward before next Monday, it’s likely she will be sworn in next January as the new District 37A representative. I think this was the plan all along.

So the questions going forward are twofold: what will happen to the $47,742.40 remaining in Cane’s campaign account, and how would Sample-Hughes fare in the General Assembly if no opponent is found?

I suspect a number of Democrats – particularly minority ones – around the state already have their hands out trying to get some of Rudy’s leftover campaign cash. In order to close his books according to state requirements, he has to have a balance of zero. Rudy has already transferred $6,000 to Sample-Hughes, which made up most of her cash on hand as of the January filing.

As far as voting record goes, Sample-Hughes will probably be as reliably leftwing as Cane, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the makeup of her district. For example, while Cane serves as the Chair of the Agriculture, Agriculture Preservation and Open Space subcommittee of Environmental Matters, he voted for the SB236 Septic Bill in 2012 and against its repeal in 2013 as a member of the Environmental Matters Committee. Cane is also infamous for his strident opposition to an elected school board in Wicomico County, a position which is shared by Sample-Hughes. While they cite the concerns of the minority community, it would be interesting to see how quickly those concerns would vanish should a Republican governor be elected.

Yet this potential Sample-Hughes walkover could be a concern a few years from now, as she may use the Delegate seat as another stepping stone to the Maryland Senate in 2018, as either Richard Colburn or Addie Eckardt may be ready to retire. (Current Democratic opponent Chris Robinson lost to Colburn by 18 points in 2010, so it’s likely the winner of the GOP primary will be the Senator.) But with the prospect of a majority-minority district remaining carved out of the strip between Salisbury and Cambridge, she may be difficult to beat (but not impossible – ask Don Hughes, who squeaked out a win over Cane in 1994 in a 3-way race) regardless of voting record.

Campaign 2014: a District 37 look at finance

As part of my ongoing coverage of the 2014 campaign, today I’m going to look at a number of candidates who are running for seats in District 37, which covers portions of Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico counties here on the Eastern Shore. Presently the district is served by three Republicans and one Democrat, with the district’s State Senator being Republican Richard Colburn. In the lower House of Delegates, Democratic Delegate Rudy Cane handles the smaller District 37A, which takes in portions of Dorchester and Wicomico counties and is drawn to be a majority-minority district, while GOP Delegates Addie Eckardt and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio currently hold down the larger District 37B. In Maryland, House districts can serve as subdivisions of Senate districts and combinations of House districts (such as the case here) will have the same overall border as the Senate district.

I’ll begin with the Senate race: while Colburn has come under fire in recent months for both campaign finance issues and a messy pending divorce, he’s filed to run for another term and currently has no GOP challenger. Democrat Cheryl Everman of Talbot County is the lone Democrat in the race.

In terms of cash on hand, it’s no contest: Colburn has $31,994.55 in the bank while Everman is sitting at just $1,885.88. Moreover, the incumbent added to his total by collecting $35,101.55 in 2013 through a near-equal proportion of individual contributions (46.16%) and ticket purchases (46.65%), with political clubs making up the other 7.19%. In looking at the report, however, those political club contributions seem to be misclassified as they appear to be from various state PACs. Regardless, 104 individual contributions and 128 ticket purchases made for an average contribution of $140.42 to Colburn’s coffers.

On the other hand, only 38.61% of Everman’s $1,890.56 take for 2013 came from individual contributions – she received the balance of the money from the candidate account of “Joe Reid for Maryland.” Her 6 individual donors chipped in an average of $121.67 apiece. Since she started her reporting on May 30, this covers a little over seven months’ worth of financial activity.

In my coverage of the governor’s race, I also apportioned contributions into various categories: those from LLCs and similar legal entities, the legal community, unions, business, and out-of-state. (Many fell into more than one category.) I’m doing essentially the same here with the exception of the last category being out-of-district, and in this case I’m considering District 37 as the region covered by 216xx and 218xx zip codes – in essence the lower 2/3 or so of the Eastern Shore.

Colburn did well with the business community, receiving 30.84% of his 2013 donations from business entities. Just 2.66% came from law firms and only 0.31% apiece from LLCs and unions. (That translates to $100 each.) Only 16.02% came from outside of the enhanced district.

With such a small take, Everman’s totals reflected just 4.11% from outside the district, or $30. None of it came from businesses, law firms, unions, or LLCs.

Turning to the Delegate races, the District 37A race is most interesting financially. Democrat Rudy Cane has no GOP opponent yet, but is being challenged by current Wicomico County Council member Sheree Sample-Hughes. That’s not too shocking in and of itself.

However, Cane reported no cash balance on his report – yet is carrying forward $47,742.40 to his next one. Evem more mysterious is the fact he recorded no contributions for calendar year 2013, and the only incoming entry to his ledger is a $250 contribution from the AFSCME union in Salisbury on January 7 of this year. Yet he spent $6,250 on some interesting items – there’s only three, so this is an easy read.

In August, Cane reimbursed himself $50 for his filing fee. Prior to that, his campaign made two expenditures: on January 25, he gave Salisbury City Council candidate April Jackson a $200 boost to her campaign. But stranger still, July 13 saw a $6,000 transfer to…wait for it…Sheree Sample-Hughes.

Now consider that Sheree has a balance of just $7,147.04 in the bank right now. She took in $8,260 in 2013 so obviously only 24.33% of her income came from individual contributions while 3.03% (or $250) came from ticket sales. The other 72.64% of her campaign funding for 2013 came from her ostensible opponent.

But some of those individual contributions came from those one would consider political opponents. For example, fellow Wicomico County Council members John Hall and Matt Holloway (both Republicans) chipped in $100 and $50, respectively, while Wicomico’s GOP Sheriff Mike Lewis gave $40. All these were done in December, well after she had announced for the District 37A seat.

So while Cane got 100% of his contributions from unions based on the one donation, Sample-Hughes received just 1.77% from businesses and 1.11% from outside the district. Her 37 individual contributions and 9 ticket sales worked out to an average of just $49.13 apiece.

My gut instinct tells me that Cane isn’t really going to run to keep his seat unless he has to. The reason he filed, I think, was to keep another person from filing and challenging Sample-Hughes, who may win the district in the primary as sort of the anointed successor to Cane, who will turn 80 in May – thus the large contribution to her coffers. If he indeed runs, it’s likely he’d win another term then resign at some point, making Sample-Hughes the logical successor.

Meanwhile, there’s a financial shootout going for the District 37B seats, one of which is opening up as Delegate Haddaway runs as the lieutenant governor on the David Craig ticket.

It’s no surprise that the other incumbent, Addie Eckardt, leads the cash-on-hand parade with a balance of $44,488.89. But right on her heels is Republican newcomer Johnny Mautz, Jr. of Talbot County, who boasts $44,200.95 on hand. A third Republican hopeful, Christopher Adams of Wicomico County, has $24,777.29 in his coffers.

There are two others in the race, but Rene Desmarais of Wicomico County, a Republican, and the race’s lone Democrat, Keasha Haythe of Talbot County, only filed what are known as ALCEs, which attest a candidate has not raised or spent over $1,000 in the cycle. This isn’t surprising since both filed in mid-December, less than a month before the reporting deadline and just before the holidays, when political activity takes a hiatus.

So in looking at the three who filed full reports, we find that Mautz raised by far the most in 2013.

Cash raised:

  1. Johnny Mautz, Jr. – $56,186
  2. Addie Eckardt – $7,225
  3. Christopher Adams – $6,165

As it turned out, Mautz raised every dime from individual contributions, while Eckardt raised 84.26% that way and Adams just 23.56%. The remainder of Eckardt’s money came from Maryland PACs ($1,350 or 15.74%) while Adams loaned his campaign $20,000 to make up 76.44% of his receipts.

But there’s a world of difference in the contributions each received. Mautz’s 143 individual contributions resulted in a whopping average of $392.91 per donation. Conversely, Adams received 40 contributions for an average of $154.13 apiece, and Eckardt picked up 74 contributions at an average $97.64 per.

And while none had significant contibutions from LLCs (Adams had 4.06% and Eckardt 1.38%), law firms (none reported), or unions (Eckardt received the only union contribution of $250, or 3.46% of her total), there was quite a difference in business support:

  1. Addie Eckardt – 19.79%
  2. Christopher Adams – 8.52%
  3. Johnny Mautz, Jr. – 0%

Yet the one which made my jaw drop was out-of-district contributions:

  1. Johnny Mautz, Jr. – 68.65%
  2. Christopher Adams – 15.57%
  3. Addie Eckardt – 13.84%

There’s no other way to say it: Johnny Mautz, Jr. had a lot of large checks dropped into his campaign from a number of inside-the-Beltway friends and acquaintances he’s gathered in several years of working in Washington, D.C. Obviously this will bear watching in future reports to see how much local funding begins to come in, but it’s obvious his end-of-year push came from outside the district. The initial money for Mautz’s campaign came mostly from locals, but those tended to be smaller amounts.

It’s obvious the big money in District 37 is going to be put into the open seat race for District 37B, although the rumored emergence of a big-name Democratic contender for Colburn’s Senate seat may bring some more money to that contest, and may cause some dominoes to be knocked over on the GOP side.

Tomorrow I’ll look at the races on the District 38 side.

Update: In looking up items for the sidebar widgets I’m going to feature for easy campaign website access, I came across a note on Cheryl Everman’s campaign Facebook page from January 12 stating she would withdraw from the District 37 Senate race for health reasons; however, she has not finalized that paperwork.

Picking on homeschoolers

September 26, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Education, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Picking on homeschoolers 

It appears that Wicomico County is trying to bully those who choose to homeschool their children into conforming with how they think it should be done.

Homeschooling parents received a letter from the county school board asking for information they weren’t legally entitled to, according to Scott Woodruff, Senior Counsel of the Home School Legal Defense Association. “(Y)our letter is out of line with state policy in a number of respects,” wrote Woodruff.

In particular, objections were raised about requests for contact information, including mailing address, cell and home phone numbers, and e-mail address. There’s noting in state law which requires this.

The letter also attracted the attention of the Maryland Liberty PAC, which restated that:

The Wicomico County Board of Education recently sent a letter to area homeschool families that misquoted and misapplied the Maryland homeschool regulations and made improper demands.

Yet, while at least one parent objected to the requests made by the Wicomico County Board of Education, how many unthinkingly returned the form? And now that Lori Batts, the Supervisor for Counseling for Wicomico County Public Schools, has this information, what are the chances the families may come under additional scrutiny? Even the slightest hint of abuse – or behavior which could be interpreted as such – may be used as an excuse for authorities to intervene, especially as they already know the child is receiving an unapproved course of education. I’m sure that’s the concern of the Maryland Liberty PAC and those who brought this up – as one observer noted:

It is…an example of the kind of thing we might expect from a school board that is Governor-appointed and therefore not responsive to the people of Wicomico County whom they are charged to represent.  With little to fear from voters, this kind of overreach should not come as a surprise.  The big question, of course, is what we can do to stop it.

So let me remind you that the only people standing between you and an elected school board in Wicomico County are County Executive Rick Pollitt and Delegates Rudy Cane and Norm Conway. The County Council has twice requested the state take the steps necessary to bring the issue before voters and they have been rebuffed twice because Pollitt wasn’t on board. So don’t blame the County Council.

This can be rectified in 2014.

Showing how useful we on the Shore are

You know, it’s interesting. While Republican gubernatorial candidates come down, talk to the people, and press the flesh at open (or at least nominally priced) events, those on the other side are going to be far from the limelight and even farther from a bus stop.

No, Ken Ulman isn’t exactly stopping in a transit-oriented development, and you better check for a nitrogen-reducing septic system since that area is pretty far outside the urban core. But the list of sponsors is the A-list of local Democratic officials from Salisbury and surrounding areas – although interesting exceptions to the list are Delegate Rudy Cane and Salisbury City Council members Tim Spies, Terry Cohen, and Laura Mitchell. Are they supporting Doug Gansler, Heather Mizeur, or waiting for a better offer? I know Mitchell gave to Martin O’Malley in his re-election effort, so perhaps she’s not as impressed with the mini-me?

The interesting piece of the puzzle is that I received this from a Republican friend of mine who got this invitation, with another intriguing sidebar being that one of the sponsors listed here was apparently the guest of a sitting member of County Council at our Wicomico County Republican Club Crab Feast. While we don’t mind taking money from Democrats, who wish to donate of their free will – unlike the usual case with their side and their oppressive taxation – you wonder what might be said at this Ulman soiree regarding the Republican candidates who showed up at our Saturday event.

Now this list of sponsors is nothing new at local Democratic events. Although not all are presently elected officials, most are regular supporters of local Democratic candidates for whom big government and/or the “good old boy club” mean enhanced business and personal fortune – for example, Marty Neat is a local bank CEO.

Obviously the take here will be but a drop in the bucket for the overall campaign. But Brown’s is a campaign which eschewed the Eastern Shore on its announcement tour back in June, unlike his Republican counterparts, so it’s apparent that all the Eastern Shore is good for to them is money. These sponsors are donating it willingly so that the rest of us will be compelled to part with ours in a not-so-voluntary manner.

Stuff getting serious

As the General Assembly session – that annual event I have dubbed the “90 Days of Terror” – winds down, it’s looking more and more certain that a day of reckoning is coming. For Delegate Don Dwyer, the straw which broke the camel’s back was the House passage of a draconian new gun law by 78 Democrats, mainly those hailing from the I-95 corridor. In an unusual move, even reliable local Democratic stalwarts Rudy Cane and Norm Conway couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the bill, saving them from an act of pure political suicide in this part of the state. None of the nine Eastern Shore delegates voted for the measure.

But in Dwyer’s case, the result meant one thing: it’s time to unite in an act of non-compliance:

Dear Maryland Patriots, I was certain that the time would come when there would be a need to organize the “Voluntary Militia.” That time has come. The voluntary militia is recognized in the Maryland Constitution under Article 9, Section 1, and the Declaration of Rights under Article 28 that notes “a well regulated Militia is the proper and natural defense of a FREE Government.”

Please know that I am NOT calling for insurrection of any kind, I am simply calling for you to join me in establishing an organized effort to establish a Voluntary Militia in every county of the State.

MISSION STATEMENT

It is the intent of the Maryland Voluntary Militia to protect the law abiding Citizens of Maryland from any form of confiscation of firearms from April 3, 2013 forward. The Maryland Voluntary Militia members will not participate in any form of insurrection unless forced to do so to by the tyrannical acts of the Legislature, the Governor and of the federal government upon the Citizens of Maryland.

(Emphasis in original, although I took a small bit of editorial license with formatting.)

And when you add to that the declaration by our Sheriff Mike Lewis that, “I will not allow any deputies to go into any law-abiding citizens’ houses (to confiscate guns),” it’s clear the battle lines are starting to be drawn. Maryland was spared much of the fighting in the initial War Between the States, but seems to be ground zero in a battle over guns.

The worst thing, though, is how they determined the ends justified the means. Not enough people have seen this video of the joint Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committee meeting last week, where an amendment went from being passed to killed in just a few short minutes (and twisted arms.) It was almost criminal.

In fact, former U.S. Senate candidate and rising conservative media star Dan Bongino charged Delegate Joseph Vallario, who chaired the proceedings, with “thuggery and bullying tactics” in getting two Delegates to change their orginal votes to set up a scenario where he could vote to kill the amendment with the tie vote, as the video showed. As Dan explained:

First, political cowards in the Maryland Legislature scheduled a gun bill hearing on Good Friday to avoid media attention after a massive public outcry against this overreaching legislative firearm grab. Then, they crossed a line that should never be crossed in a civil society, and forfeited any semblance of dignity, ethics, or respect for their oaths of office by brazenly violating their own parliamentary procedures in order to punish legal firearm owners and protect criminals.

(snip)

We are moving into a dangerous place in both Maryland and national politics. One where a political end justifies an unethical and undemocratic means. Marylanders of all political stripes should be outraged at this naked display of political cowardice and legislative malpractice.

Unfortunately, too many of them either don’t know about these tactics or will shrug their shoulders because it doesn’t affect them because they don’t own a gun. These people forget that perhaps the next act of chicanery may affect them more directly, and that some of us are going to look out for their liberty whether they’re deserving of it or not. Yes, you are free to be an idiot and I would assess 78 members of the General Assembly qualify under that banner at the moment.

A gun control story

This story, as I continue on the subject on the Second Amendment, almost writes itself – in fact, it fell together when I received an e-mail from an acquaintance of mine who recently relocated for his job to a warmer locale down south:

There is feel good gun control and then there is real life. This is our story.

Our family lived on the east side of Salisbury, Maryland for over 10 years. The last 3 years we had lived there every convenience store within a few miles had been robbed at gun point. One shop owner had two fingers of his hand blown off during the robbery. These were the stores we went to get gas; we didn’t have much of a choice. Every time we got gas we never knew if we would be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were effectively victims waiting for a crime to happen.

The police departments, including the sheriff’s office, were doing their best however, their hands were tied. With budget constraints the county, state and city could not offer the citizens the level of support the city needed. You may have heard that, “When seconds count the police are only minutes away.” This was truly the case for us.

We have since left Maryland and in our new state we have gotten our carry permit and I can hardy describe the feeling now that I don’t have to be scared my family will be the next victim.

It just so happens I frequented some of the same convenience stores for gas as I literally drove by this family’s house every day to and from work. Sure, you would see the headlines on the local news when these and other convenience store tragedies happened (particularly this 2009 murder, which remains unsolved) but life would continue on for the rest of us who had to buy our gas and other needed items. With the difficulty many in Maryland will have in getting a gun should the O’Malley gun bill pass, the situation will get even worse for law-abiding citizens.

Yesterday I told you about Sheriff Mike Lewis of Wicomico County and his actions against the bill, but another group is speaking out as well against a Democratic legislator. On Saturday the Cecil Campaign for Liberty organized a protest at the office of local Delegate David Rudolph, a Democrat thought to be in the gun-grabbing camp. Over 300 turned out for the “pre-emptive” event, which is a good turnout for a local gathering and allowed it to succeed in bringing local attention to the problem.

It bears noting as well that neither of the local Democratic delegates list a district office address (all four local Republicans, on the other hand, show a district address of some sort.) So it would be a little more difficult to hold a protest at the district office of these two who may well vote for the gun control legislation – my bet is that both Norm “Five Dollar” Conway and Rudy Cane will vote against the interests of their district and the Constitution they swore to uphold. We won’t forget in 2014.

Expected: McDermott Tier Map repeal dies in committee vote

Update 2-21-13: Surprisingly, the Senate companion bill (SB391) received a vote in their Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. It failed 7-4, with the committee’s three Republican Senators (Jennings, Reilly, Simonaire) being joined by Democrat Roy Dyson – that part was no shocker.

I knew this would primarily be a symbolic bill because Democrats in Annapolis weren’t going to cede back any sort of planning control to the counties upon gaining it in 2012. But I was disappointed in the vote on Delegate Mike McDermott’s House Bill 106 for two reasons: the lopsided 19-5 margin and the abandonment of common sense by two Republicans: Delegates Cathy Vitale and Herb McMillan, both of Anne Arundel County.

It’s also worth pointing out on a local level that Delegate Rudy Cane, who is the Chair of the Agriculture, Agriculture Preservation, and Open Space Subcommittee within the Environmental Matters Committee, voted to retain a bill which won’t do a thing to preserve agriculture – although it may increase the amount of “open space” as farms go bankrupt and become overgrown.

While there is a companion Senate bill, Senate Bill 391, the common procedure once a crossfiled bill is killed in one chamber is for the measure to either be withdrawn or simply not get a committee vote since the other chamber rejected it. We’ll see if Senator E.J. Pipkin, who sponsored the bill, presses for a vote anyway to put people on the record.

Since the repeal bill was defeated in committee, it will be up to counties to now either defy the state’s edict or go along with it. There is another bill pending – House Bill 1385, also sponsored by Delegate McDermott – to extend the deadline to July 1, but any artificial deadline defeats the purpose of localizing zoning decisions. Wicomico County residents will have their say on the issue Wednesday evening at 6 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center; also worth mentioning for my Cecil County audience is they’ll have a similar hearing on the Tier Map they already passed tomorrow night at 7:00 at the Cecil County Administrative Building, apparently because the state overlords don’t care for it.

Finally, it’s very likely that this HB106 vote will be one of the three Environmental Matters Committee votes I use for the 2013 monoblogue Accountability Project. So it looks like Delegates Hogan, Jacobs, Norman, O’Donnell, and Otto have an early lead on getting Legislator of the Year honors. I’d like to publicly thank them for voting for the people (and agricultural industry) of Maryland, even if it was in vain.

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