In 52 weeks from Tuesday, Marylanders will go to the polls to decide the fate of their state government for the next four years. How long that four years will seem to Maryland Republicans will hinge on the results.
But there are a lot of people already pondering the message the party should put across, or even whether they can. Take Richard Falknor at Blue Ridge Forum for example, who wrote today:
Our take: there is a broad culturally conservative base in the Old Line State, as well as a deep reservoir of those who quite rightly believe they are vastly overtaxed and overregulated. Understandably, many of these citizens have found the state Republican Party ineffective. How congenial is the G.O.P. to Blue Collar Maryland of all ethnicities when its chair here and the sole Republican U.S. Representative here flirt with amnesty? And why run the business risks of joining the opposition party in a one-dominant-party state if that opposition party has few fixed principles and won’t make serious trouble for the dominant party anyway?
The Maryland GOP and its politicians fell far short last year on two unusual outreach opportunities: they failed to put full energy and resources behind the referenda against gay marriage and against in-state tuition for illegals. Both these referenda did better here than governor Mitt Romney in 2012 in Maryland.
The state needs an energetic, organized conservative-grass-roots organization drawn from all parties. But the problem is like the one school reformers face: deciding whether to shut down a failing high school and start a new one with a new team, or to try to rehabilitate the failing school.
Whether to rebuild or replace the Beltway-Establishment-linked Maryland GOP is an open question.
Unfortunately, the question is already answered by the rules written for electioneering, as the two principal parties have distinct advantages over attempting to get on the ballot via a third party or as an independent. Few independents make it to the ballot in a statewide race, with failed onetime Republican Rob Sobhani the most recent example.
So the Maryland GOP it is. But which one?
Is it the group which seems content to be the perpetual opposition party, playing the game as best they can hoping for approval from the dominant side so that the state can move forward in a bipartisan manner? Damn, I hope not.
No, I’m more into the bomb throwers; the type who assumes that in order to make an omelet you have to scramble some eggs. Once the TEA Party came into being I hoped it was the impetus which would shake up a moribund state party which saw its lone Republican incumbent governor in two generations shellacked at the polls, losing one of its two Congressional seats two years later when the national elections gave the other party a stranglehold on the federal government. That was the situation we encountered at the dawn of 2009.
Once the TEA Party got rolling, I was hoping the Maryland Republican Party would embrace it. Instead, they decided the retread who had been pounded four years before was good enough to run again. But the upstart campaign of Brian Murphy brought a new element into the MDGOP - particularly once Sarah Palin endorsed him – and the 2010 primary results showed just how significant a portion it was. To get 1/4 of the vote against a candidate the state party all but endorsed was an accomplishment.
But the race for party Chair that fall still showed we had a long way to go, with the most overt TEA Party participant receiving only a smattering of votes. It’s funny, though, how turnover in the state party erodes that which most people thought was conventional wisdom because the TEA Party favorite just missed winning the special election for Chair this spring and ended up as First Vice-Chair. Still, observers like Falknor saw it as a Pyrrhic victory at best, choosing to advocate for a different path.
I bring all that history to the fore because 2014 will be the first state election where the TEA Party is more integrated into the political process. We gained experience with the 2010 campaign, but now the hard work begins. And the question we must answer: how can we make sure those in the political middle receive the conservative message? We know the other side tries to smear and obfuscate it as much as possible.
A lot of people say the way to accomplish this is to focus strictly on pocketbook issues. But to me that misses the point – if we’re going to be painted as extremists, why not explain why we feel the way we do instead of being defensive? For example, I’m pro-life and believe life begins at conception because how else would you define when life begins? How is it logical that a child one centimeter away from exiting the birth canal can be murder but once outside is considered human?
On the other hand, though, I feel that those who commit premeditated murder forfeit the right to life through their action, and in so doing deserve the ultimate punishment of the death penalty.
Life is about far more than money and the size of government. It is also up to us to construct the guard rails for our progeny so they stay on a relatively straight and narrow path. Yes, they will have their period of rumspringa but the idea is not to allow them enough rope to hang themselves with.
Liberals will tell us that delving into social issues will keep us from winning elections, but since when do we solicit counsel from an enemy? It would be like John Harbaugh taking play-calling advice from Troy Polamalu. You know, for as far-left a state as Maryland supposedly is, it took a Presidential election against a weak Republican candidate to get more than 50% of the voters to support gay marriage. As I said at the time, that was their best chance because no one wanted it on the 2014 ballot with them,
So I don’t think all discussion of social issues should be off-limits if we use them as a teachable moment. In order to change Maryland to a “purple” state we need to educate the public on the benefits of conservative thought.
Sitting here and catching up from what was an extremely busy week (with next week promising more of the same) I had something of an “aha!” moment – not to be confused with the ’80s pop band by the way – where two seemingly disparate pieces of information just clicked together.
Let’s examine piece number one, shall we? For days (or is it months, or years? I sense a continuing theme here) Maryland Republicans have been divided into a number of camps, tribes which rarely come together except on a small handful of issues. In the last year, I think resistance to Martin O’Malley’s draconian Second Amendment upheaval (legally and laughingly officially known as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013) was about the only issue drawing universal resistance from Republicans, and even then they parted on how best to fight its enactment, whether through the court system of via referendum. In the end, the court system won out but, as it stands, in a month the law will take effect.
In the meantime, we couldn’t even get the GOP to vote as a group against Martin O’Malley’s bloated budget – yet we call ourselves the party of fiscal responsibility? I understand our alternative budget is DOA in the General Assembly, but at least put up a united front against O’Malley’s principles.
The long introduction I just completed leads me into an Examiner post by J. Doug Gill, where he takes a long look at how the party has been divided since the Ehrlich era of 2003-07. This “bare knuckle brawl for irrelevancy” makes a number of valid points, although I don’t agree with its somewhat pessimistic outlook for the future. As Gill notes:
Any citizen of Maryland who has had it up to their well-spelunked pockets wants a strong, vibrant and relevant opposition party – and there are untold numbers who don’t care if it’s the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Tupperware Party.
The sooner some entity – any entity – sorts itself out and provides a credible opposition to the Democrats the better for all of us – including our friends on the left whose bank accounts are just as empty as ours – well, save for the union leaders and cronies and appointees, and, well, you get the picture…
But right now, and in its current incarnation, the only thing the Maryland Republican Party has learned from history is that they never learn anything from history.
Yet it’s not just about credible opposition – it’s also about creating a choice. This is something the majority party won’t do.
There was something about this Ballotpedia report which caught my eye. See if you can spot it, too – I’ll give you a moment and even put in a page break for the fun of it.
In what turns out to be the second of three consecutive club meetings featuring a gubernatorial candidate, a packed room enjoyed the presentation from Charles Lollar. While Lollar hasn’t formally announced – one item he mentioned was that this area will be part of his bus tour on September 5 – it’s clear he’s intending to run for the GOP nomination.
So, as is our usual custom with visiting dignitaries who travel from afar, once we got through the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduced our other distinguished guests we turned the meeting over to Charles, who brought his wife Rosha along.
Lollar started right out by telling those gathered it was “awesome” we began with the Lord’s Prayer. (It’s actually something I believe our late former president George Ossman started. We later paid tribute to George, who passed away last week and was remembered as “a great Republican and club member,” with a moment of silence.) Charles continued on that point, saying that religion was the fabric of our nation, He also contended that the political process of late was one of deciding between whether our rights derived from God or were passed along by mankind, “If you think our rights are from men, don’t vote for me,” said Lollar. “Rights and liberties…come from the Creator of our universe.”
Charles pondered what could happen next year given three items: the new majority of local elected officials statewide who belong to the Republican Party, the impact of fights over state Constitutional amendments such as the one permitting gay marriage, and the influence of conservative Democrats in rural areas upset about the current administration’s efforts to instill draconian gun control measures.
But Lollar urged those attending to gather as much information as they could before making a decision on the gubernatorial race. For his part, Charles claimed “we will represent you well…when you run your campaign from here,” pointing to his heart.
In going over some of his qualifications, LtCol Select Lollar pointed to his service in the Marines as a leader of men as well as the turnaround he worked at Cintas, taking a division lagging in the bottom 15% of the company and transforming it into a top five percent outfit. “I’m a completely boring person (in my personal life)…but I understand money (and) leadership,” Lollar said. He repeated the case later: “I have more leadership experience than all of them.” referring to all those running for the state’s top office.
Regarding social issues, Charles made the point that he would be “elected as governor, not priest.” That’s not to say he’s not a social conservative, but his focus would be on the fiscal side. “We’re in it until the budget is balanced,” promised Lollar.
Charles brought up a fantastic point, stating that a significant portion of the state’s budget came from the federal government and because of that Washington controls much of what our state government does. He gave the example of a western state which enacted an 80 MPH speed limit until they were threatened with the loss of federal highway funds, at which time they reverted back to the standard 65 MPH. (Pity.) The states lose their ability to govern themselves when federal funding becomes a significant part of their budget, he added.
One solution he advocated was a taxpayer’s bill of rights (or TABOR law) like Colorado adopted some years ago. Simply put, a TABOR law means annual spending can only be increased by the sum of percentage of population growth plus the rate of inflation. For example, in FY2012 Maryland’s population grew by 0.8% while inflation was measured in 2012 at 1.7 percent. Thus, the maximum budget increase allowed by law would be 2.5 percent. (In reality, Maryland’s budget grew just over 4 percent. Had the TABOR been in effect, Maryland taxpayers would have saved roughly $650 million this year.)
In answering questions, Charles explained how he could run despite the Hatch Act (he is now a reservist, not on active duty), deferred on a lieutenant governor choice by stating “we are strongly considering and praying” about who the person would be, but wishing to get the campaign off the ground first, and noted his “concern” about cancelling out loyal Republican votes in an open primary.
But one questioner seemed to catch Charles off guard a little bit, if only because he may not be familiar with Mark Levin’s recent book. Once explained briefly, Lollar opined it “sounds like something I would agree with.”
And there was the obvious ask: how do you win in minority areas? Charles noted he didn’t need to win outright, and victory was possible with just 35% in those areas (knowing he’ll roll up sizable majorities in places like Wicomico County.) But he’s been active there, and while there are some who he knows won’t be receptive to his message, he’s going at these communities with the statement that “the best entitlement program is a job.”
Finally, it was noted that with the recent endorsement from Blaine Young, the Frederick County Commission president would be an honorary chairman of Lollar’s campaign.
With that, we returned to the usual order of business, with the minutes being read, treasurer’s report given, and Jackie Wellfonder introducing another former WCRC leader who would promote her event later.
Giving his Central Committee report, county chair Dave Parker conceded, “it’s been a hard week.” Parker pointed out the “assault” on State Senator Rich Colburn by the Daily Times - an article which aroused one supporter to warn “we can’t let them get away with this” and call on the group to burn up the editor’s phone lines starting at 8:30 the next morning – and the circus surrounding the District 36 seat. He said he had personally spoken to Diana Waterman, who denied any allegations of impropriety, but still believed the “state level was doing its best to self-destruct.”
And after bringing up the upcoming events of the WCRC Crab Feast on September 7 (contact me for tickets, by the way – I still have a few left to sell) and our next Central Committee meeting on September 9th, he urged those in attendance to consider joining the Central Committee next year. There will likely be turnover, and “we need some troublemakers” on the Central Committee, said Dave.
The aforementioned WCRC president, E. Dee Monnen (who I referred to last week) was promoting the upcoming First District Bull Roast on September 21 in Queen Anne’s County. Unfortunately, she could not secure a local bus for the event but still urged us to attend and show support for our GOP candidates, including Andy Harris.
Also speaking on behalf of Harris, Shawn Jester added that he was pleased with the Fruitland town hall turnout of over 100 people.
We also heard from District 38C candidate Mary Beth Carozza, who gave kudos to those running the Wicomico Farm and Home Show. (I credited my volunteers; they did most of the hard work. All I did was badger them a few times and bring the big red bin of Central Committee stuff I now need to go through.) She was planning to attend a now-scrubbed legislative hearing on onerous state regulations on the poultry industry as well as visit with the Rural Maryland Council.
And while the Colburn supporter was stating her case against the Daily Times, one observer believed the Senator indeed exhibited “poor judgment” with these expenditures. Personally, I’m hoping they check into the campaign finances of some on the other side of the aisle just as closely.
Our next meeting will be September 23, and as I noted at the top we complete our gubernatorial trifecta with Delegate Ron George introducing himself to the club.
I would like to make one final comment. In many instances, we allow the visiting speakers to speak early figuring they have a long drive back home or to where they are staying. Few stay for the whole meeting, but Charles indeed stuck it out and spoke to several members afterward individually. That sort of gesture is not forgotten.
There was a lot of excitement in the gubernatorial race on the Republican side yesterday – David Craig formally announced Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio as his running mate and Ron George selected an up-and-coming Republican group for fundraising.
But the potential for a race to out-liberal one another is gaining ground on the Democratic side. We know that Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman have joined forces as one team, but two others threaten to drag that race far to the left. Aside from a formal announcement that’s promised for September, Doug Gansler has made all the moves one would expect from a candidate in the race (and has $5 million or so in the bank); meanwhile, this Tweet came yesterday from MetroWeekly‘s Justin Snow:
.@heathermizeur to announce candidacy for Maryland governor tomorrow. She faces an uphill battle, but could become nation’s first gay gov
— Justin Snow (@JustinCSnow) July 17, 2013
In particular, the gay aspect of the race is intriguing: the guy who had articles of impeachment brought against him for unilaterally declaring Maryland would recognize gay marriages in other states (despite clear language in the Maryland Constitution defining it as between a man and a woman) and is rumored to be considering an openly gay running mate takes on a woman who’s been electorally unaffected by her sexual preference, at least in her legislative district.
Yet while these two are trying to outdo each other with a famously liberal special interest group, what will they do to cater to the rest of the Democratic party, let alone independents? Gay marriage may be a settled issue electorally, but what other ideas would these two have to draw voters to the polls? Say what you will about Anthony Brown and the long shadow of Martin O’Malley, but there is a segment of voters who believe our governor has done a good job which makes up a large segment of would-be primary voters.
Is it possible the Democrats could select someone too far to the left, even for Maryland? Only time will tell, and the bloodier the primary fight the better.
The race for Maryland GOP Chair came into a little sharper focus last night as the three candidates stated their case for the last time before they appear at Saturday’s MDGOP Spring Convention.
Collins Bailey, Greg Kline, and Diana Waterman were mainly cordial toward each other but recorded differing priorities for the party in front of a audience of about 30 in the room and untold others online as the event was streamed over the internet. Questions for the trio dealt with a number of issues: Second Amendment, fundraising experience, the role of Central Committee and Executive Committee members, maintaining principles in the face of bad legislation, the independent blogger issue which came up yesterday, Tampa rules changes, gay marriage and the LGBT vote, and whether to compromise principles for unity.
I want to begin with the opening statements. I found it interesting that Greg Kline read most of his from a prepared statement, but departed on one key point: mentioning that the Red Maryland blog came because “good conservative folks…didn’t know what was going on.” Otherwise Kline stuck fiercely to his thoughts that “part of (our) resistance needs to be a functional Maryland Republican Party” but now it has a “leadership culture (which) has become far too insular.”
Diana Waterman, on the other hand, seemed relieved that this was almost over – running this race has been “exhausting.” Her single goal was to “bring balance to the state of Maryland” and “begin to approach a two-party system.” While she had “two worthy opponents,” her key points were the experience she brings and the fact much of her plan is already in place.
Collins Bailey seemed to chafe at the word “opponent.” “We’ll pick a captain on Saturday,” said Bailey. Describing the 2014 election as a “window of opportunity” Collins tried to look at the bright side of what we’ve done in the last two years but found himself wanting. Registering just 39,000 new Republicans out of a quarter-million voters isn’t success, nor is leaving over fifty General Assembly seats uncontested as we did in 2010. We need “measurable, meaningful, and doable” goals for 2014, with the object being to “make it freer and fairer for every Marylander.”
Since no one disagreed that the idea of restricting automatic weapons – a stance held by former RNC Chair Michael Steele – was a bad one, I’m going to skip to the question about fundraising experience.
Greg Kline liked it to having a product to sell, with specific electoral goals he promised to create within 60 days of his election.
Diana Waterman, though, decided to take us back in time and note that she’s fundraised all the way back to when she was a Girl Scout selling cookies, continuing through the parochial school her children attended and up to the United Way. In the here and now, she wanted to get back with former donors.
Fundraising was “a team effort,” said Collins Bailey, and he would approach the problem by finding our party’s most gifted fundraisers and letting them take to the goal of expanding our donor base tenfold. He also made an interesting claim that 80% of what is donated to the MDGOP goes to “overhead.” I suppose that means salaries, rent, and the like – it’s worth making the point on my end that this would automatically go down as a percentage with increased donations.
“If you want a dictator for Chair, don’t vote for me,” explained Collins in his answer to the question on the role of Central Committee and Executive Committee members. Above the others, Bailey saw his role as Chair as a “facilitator.” He would canvass the membership in order to establish a platform and goals for the next election.
Diana Waterman seemed to agree. “There is no successful 2014 without Central Committee members,” she said, hastening to add that, “communications works in both directions.” She wanted to begin a monthly conference call for Executive Committee members to supplement their quarterly meetings, although it might be difficult to schedule.
Greg Kline advocated for an “interactivity leadership,” featuring regular communication between both sides. He also repeated his call for an informal group of advisers, a body he’s previously called a “kitchen cabinet.”
I had written a question regarding the idea of reining in bad legislation as well as keeping our legislators in line with party principles, but the idea was sort of lost in translation in the way it was asked.
So after Collins Bailey answered that “I don’t think that’s an either-or proposition,” Diana Waterman agreed and added that “the state party doesn’t set policy.” (Why not?) Waterman also advocated for a good working relationship with the General Assembly.
Kline took the question to make a point that we should “show our value” to legislators and voters as well as take advantage of the new media.
Just so you know, I think the party should have more in a hand in policy and should use its influence to keep wayward legislators in line.
That answer by Kline, though, seemed to foreshadow the next question, which dealt with the latest MDGOP misplay. I was hoping someone would bring up the fact CPAC screens bloggers for their media credentials, and Greg Kline did when the question was presented to him.
But first we had to listen to Diana Waterman stumble her way through a defense of the decision, which she conceded left “a lot of room for improvement.” She didn’t want to have a subjective judgement or make anyone feel left out, so they decided on the “harsh” standard. In the future she promised to work with the blogging community for improvements.
Collins Bailey didn’t support the decision, but took the question in a different direction. He envisioned conventions being much larger, with up to 10,000 people. He wanted to open conventions up, which would create a “ripple effect” of excitement.
It seems to me from my recollection Virginia has these mass gatherings, and if you have the right speakers it could happen.
Obviously the question seemed tailor-made for Kline, and he didn’t miss the softball. Chiding the “open hostility” of a state party which doesn’t work with new media, Kline pointed out that CPAC and the RNC national convention welcome bloggers and it’s “an embarrassment we haven’t.” His response drew perhaps the largest applause of any of the evening’s answers from those in the room.
The next question was also harshly critical of the interim Chair, for it dealt with the Tampa RNC rules.
Collins Bailey got first crack and assessed that “2012 was a really unfortunate year.” Making the case that under these rules Ronald Reagan would have never been elected, Bailey revealed he felt the election was lost in August once these changes were made over vehement objections. “We’re better than that,” he stated, “Let’s make it right and move on.”
Again, Diana Waterman was thrust into the position of having to defend the unpopular. She launched into a technical explanation of what was changed, mentioning that a couple of the more egregious changes were dispensed with last week in California. These changes, though, were “not taken lightly.”
Waterman also defended Louis Pope, stating she felt his letter didn’t accuse Virginia RNC National Committeeman Morton Blackwell of a “crooked deal” or quid pro quo.
Greg Kline told those gathered they could make up their own minds on Blackwell since he had appeared on Red Maryland Radio. But he also called Tampa “an unprecedented effort to change the rules” and spoke about the Nicolee Ambrose vs. Louis Pope Rules Committee controversy and its role. (Both Kline and Bailey are on record as supporting Nicolee Ambrose for the RNC Rules Committee; Waterman would retain Louis Pope.)
On the question dealing with gay marriage, Waterman leaned on her assessment that the GOP can be an 80/20 party, where people can agree with most ideas and choose to disagree on items like same-sex nuptials. It’s a “polarizing issue,” said Diana. She also bemoaned the fact that resolutions condemning same-sex marriage were included as part of a package at the recent RNC meeting, included with others like the one thanking Ron Paul for his service and supporting other key issues. She also took advantage of the RNC reference to note most of the Ginsburg Tampa rules were defeated.
Greg Kline also stated his support for traditional marriage, but noted “it’s okay to disagree…we have a common purpose.” There’s even a difference of opinion among those at Red Maryland, he continued. Just base our appeals on other issues, he concluded.
Repeating his assessment of the Chair as facilitator, Bailey derided those who would make the party “Democrat-lite.”
“We need to define who we are as people,” added Collins.
Speaking of unity, I thought the last question was excellent. Would you compromise your principles for unity?
None of the Chair candidates took that bait, with Greg Kline opening up by saying “we shouldn’t compromise who we are.” Abandoning our principles won’t help us with voters, Kline argued, and because our principles haven’t been clear, we have a branding problem.
Diana Waterman agreed, adding that we don’t have to bend for unity. We can all still work together.
But the most firm answer came from Collins Bailey. “I don’t believe in compromise,” said Bailey, but he would take incremental success. “Compromise means to give up who you are,” he said. “Are we a social club or a political party?”
Collins asserted the question could be asked in another way: are you willing to destroy who we are for the sake of unity? I know I’m not.
In their closing statements, the trio laid out the final elements of their case.
Greg Kline believed the questions were “really good,” and assessed that “the state party has tremendous opportunities in 2014.” But it also has a lot of problems, he continued, and his goals were to transform the way the party does business and change the leadership culture. He concluded that he saw criticism from places like the new media as opportunities for change, making that case that new media would “spread the message” unlike the Washington Post or Baltimore Sun.
Diana Waterman conceded there’s “definite room for improvement for the party” and that the Tampa rules are “definitely not perfect.” But she agreed with Kline that we have “great opportunities” next year and “fundraising will be the most important thing.”
As he has throughout the campaign, Collins Bailey was complementary to his opponents, saying “I’ve seen growth in all three of us.” The selection, he believed, was a choice in management style and vision.
And since Collins originally thought he only had two minutes, he added a couple anecdotal examples to his remarks about sharing the credit with others but taking the blame for himself. But he also revealed a good friend of his, a Democrat no less, was hoping he’d win. We needed a viable second party, the unnamed Democrat elected official argued, because “the Democrats (in Annapolis) don’t think, they just do what they’re told.”
So until Saturday afternoon, when the candidates make their remarks as their pitch to the convention, this will be the last time the members of the state GOP will get to hear them address questions. Dorchester County Chair Dale Coldren ran a fairly tight ship, which maximized the number of questions heard in a little over two hours.
I leave this for you to judge, but to me it’s worth pointing out that Greg Kline was the first to leave, with Diana Waterman next and Collins Bailey leaving sometime after I did. I happened to come in at the same time Bailey did, so I think he was the first to arrive followed by Kline and Waterman. (Admittedly, that order could be reversed.)
So who do I think won? Well, I would say both Kline and Bailey made the best statements, with each showing strength in various categories. Conversely, Diana Waterman always seemed to be on the defensive and certainly the race and interim Chair job has taken a toll on her. Bailey also mentioned the long hours and time away from family involved.
I’m sure some on the Red Maryland side of things would score this another runaway win for Kline, but I’m inclined to think it’s no better than a draw for him because he got off to a bit of a slow start. But he didn’t hurt his cause, and I think Collins might have helped his own a little bit.
Still, the race would appear to be Waterman’s to lose, and there were some of her supporters crowing yesterday the race was over because Andy Harris endorsed her. But if she can’t otherwise make traction in that district – which includes her home turf – I’m not sure what chance she has if she doesn’t score the first-round knockout.
As I predicted last week given the high probability that Delegate Justin Ready would be unavailable on date number 2, the Wicomico County Pathfinders gathering was rescheduled once again, for Saturday, April 13. It will be held at the original intended location, the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce building (where Wicomico County Republican Club and Republican Central Committee meetings are generally located) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Most importantly, lunch will be provided.
Something we have harped on is finding good candidates who will fill up the ballot in 2014 – no exceptions. Okay, perhaps one exception as Republicans can’t run for the Democratic Central Committee. (But conservatives certainly can, and I encourage those who just can’t shake the concept of abandoning their daddy’s party but nevertheless agree with our pro-liberty principles to give that a shot.)
In Wicomico County there are a total of 22 elected positions available – 15 for the county and 7 for the state, although 6 of those are shared to various extents with other counties. Obviously some of these offices are already held by Republicans so we don’t necessarily need a challenger for those positions, but there are a number of Democrats who have been in their respective offices far too long and need to be replaced with people bringing fresh blood and new, conservative ideas. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Norm “Five Dollar” Conway.)
But with as much bashing of the state GOP as I’ve done over the last months and years, I have to credit them for doing something right. Two copies of this appeared in my mailbox today.
I am sure some are going to make an issue of the second bullet point about redefining marriage, saying it’s an issue we shouldn’t discuss in a city election. Indeed, though, Ireton has publicly expressed his support for same-sex nuptials. Nor would it surprise me to find out that a large proportion of Ireton’s out-of-town contributors – a subset which accounts for more than half of his individual donations – are active in the gay community. A cursory look at two of his more prominent contributors, Victor Shargai and Duane Rollins, led me to believe that a significant backing comes from that political arena. (Rollins is alleged to have a shady political past, too.) Four of Maryland’s complement of openly gay legislators (Delegates Luke Clippinger, Anne Kaiser, and Maggie McIntosh, along with Senator Richard Madaleno) have also chipped in to Ireton’s cause.
One has to ask, then: is their support more about the job Jim’s doing or promoting the rainbow banner he’s holding up? Is Jim Ireton one of the quota of gay mayors we must have to be an “inclusive” society? Personally, I’d rather have someone who does a good job in getting the local economy going again – too bad I don’t have full faith in either candidate to do so.
The party had talked about getting more active in local elections this year, and with the investment of a few hundred dollars have done just that. Kudos to them – and guess what? It spawned some new media involvement, too.
I probably gave Jackie Wellfonder short shrift late last night in updating my post on the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. She did her own take on what was said by MDGOP First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman at the meeting, to which I responded with a lengthy comment I’m going to repost here, along with some other thoughts.
I read your message and mostly agree, particularly as it relates to the 2012 campaign. But my hope is that the MDGOP has learned from its mistakes because we left a LOT of cards on the table: not just Dan’s campaign, but the ballot issues as well.
Woody Willing of the Wicomico Board of Elections said last night we Republicans had 81% turnout and the Democrats had 75%. In rough numbers that means locally we turned out about 16,000 voters but the Democrats turned out 19,000. What we need to figure out by 2014 is how to get that turnout number up to 90% or 95% on our side in order to overcome a numerical disadvantage – statewide we need to get 100% just to be even with 50% of the Democrats. That’s the reality in Maryland in 2013.
I think the ballot issues are going to be key. Let’s look at the potential ballot issues for 2014 just from what’s been introduced in the General Assembly so far: onerous gun control measures and a tightening of the very petition process for starters. If we couch the gun control issue properly and don’t allow the other side the chance to seize the narrative (as they did on the illegal alien issue) we have a chance to turn out a high percentage of voters in an election where turnout is historically lower (I think it’s on the order of 15-20% less for a gubernatorial election than a Presidential.)
But the Republican Party in Maryland needs to be taken over further by those who love liberty. There’s still plenty of deadwood which needs to go.
As for Julie’s comment, I would like to point out that Nicolee Ambrose worked to scrap the terrible rules put in place at the national convention (she couldn’t vote there because she didn’t take office until the close of the proceedings.) I don’t think Audrey Scott would have taken that sort of leadership role since I perceive her as part of the problem. I appreciate the fact Audrey’s done a lot for the MDGOP but I think we made the better choice. If Audrey had been more honest in her campaign, she still may have prevailed.
We knew that change wouldn’t happen overnight, but the more quickly we can push the MDGOP in the RIGHT direction the better.
As it turned out my public school, quick and dirty math was pretty good since I didn’t have the actual totals in front of me – in accessing those numbers I found there were 19,359 Democrats and 16,798 Republicans who voted in Wicomico County (along with 6,291 who are unaffiliated or belong to minor parties.)
Yet there were other numbers of interest to me. Based on that number of Democrats voting:
- Barack Obama received just 276 more votes than the total number of Democrats who voted. Presumably he got some percentage of the unaffiliated vote, so my bet is that at least 10 percent of the Democrats voted for Mitt Romney.
- Ben Cardin’s percentage as relates to Democrats (87.7%) was less than the number of Republicans who voted for Dan Bongino (89.7%) – using my theory of 3/5 of the Sobhani vote being taken from Bongino, a two-person race would been practically a draw here. That’s somewhat disappointing, but name recognition being what it is maybe not a complete shock.
- Combining the total of Wendy Rosen and write-in votes (which were almost exclusively for Democrat John LaFerla) would still leave the Democrats over 3,000 short of matching their voting total. Obviously plenty of Democrats and unaffiliated voters like the conservative Andy Harris, despite the constant barrage of criticism he gets from the Daily Times.
In short, the 2010 and 2012 election results belie the voter registration totals which would suggest that Wicomico County is, if not a Democratic stronghold, at least a place where they should hold a majority of the offices. But they don’t. We have attracted enough Democrats with a message of fiscal conservatism and sound government that either the Republicans win, or Democrats who manage to succeed have to do so by presenting themselves as the second coming of Ronald Reagan. (cough*Jim Mathias*cough) They have to hope people don’t look behind the curtain at their voting records and lists of special interest contributors from across the Bay.
So let’s talk about this “circular firing squad.” We really have three groups of Republicans in the state of Maryland:
- Those who believe that, in order to be “electable,” we have to appeal to soccer moms, metrosexuals, and other centrist or left-of-center groups. They pine for the days of a Connie Morella, Wayne Gilchrest, or “Mac” Mathias – Republicans who reached across the aisle. Well, guess what? These groups are voting Democrat now and that’s not going to change unless we give them a better option. All reaching across the aisle seems to accomplish nowadays is collecting bite marks from the attack dog across the way. Democrats take what little credit there may be for stealing GOP ideas, but when things go wrong – as they always seem to with these schemes – they figure out ways to blame the Republicans.
- There’s a group, perhaps the smallest of the three, which preaches fiscal conservatism but would dearly loves us to quit focusing on social issues. Who cares, they say, about how easy it is to get an abortion or whether two gay people get married. And why have this crackdown on illegal aliens – they have Republican values and just don’t know it. (If that were so, California would be a solidly Republican state. It’s not.)
- Finally, there is the group in which I count myself, one which realizes that fiscal conservatism isn’t truly possible without social conservatism. We would like to see the return to traditional marriage and a reverence for life and the law, free from onerous government interference in our lives. We would like to see counties be restored to their rightful primacy in the role of government rather than become meaningless lines on a map; moreover, that government should respect our inalienable rights, including the right to defend ourselves from threats ranging anywhere from a home intruder to a tyrannical government.
I daresay group #3 are the leaders, and we take the fire from both sides – at least Democrats are facing us, though. The bullets we get in the back are from those groups behind us, the ones who belong to GOP groups #1 and #2.
I’m going to paraphrase something Rush Limbaugh is noted for saying, which goes along the lines of those who the Democrats talk most about are the ones they’re most afraid of. Notice they really didn’t badmouth Mitt Romney too much until he secured the nomination, and they were in love with John McCain almost as much as they were Barack Obama – until Sarah Palin became McCain’s running mate. They’re still hounding Palin one whole election cycle later, in a race she didn’t run or compete in. (They were considerably more kind to Paul Ryan, although we heard a lot about how awful the Ryan budget plan would be. Obviously that was a move in the right direction, though.)
Without conceding the vote entirely, I will say that there’s perhaps 1/3 of the Maryland electorate which is so far left that they would literally vote for Lucifer himself if he had a “D” beside his name and promised to keep the spigot of government goodies intact regardless of cost. (Just raise taxes on the rich, he’ll say.) Perhaps they’re not Left politically, but if they work for Uncle Sam in that cesspool on the Potomac they may as well be. Still, that leaves about 35 percent of Maryland voters in play and we only need to capture half of that group while maximizing our loyalty and turnout.
But going back to my previous paragraph where I alluded to Rush, one has to ask: how often do you hear the Democrats talking about Republicans in this state? I don’t really hear them talking about us too much, which seems to indicate to me they’re not really scared of us.
And when they do talk about us, they generally say that we shouldn’t be as strident on social issues. How often would you take advice from someone who wants to beat your brains in? Sounds to me like they have no answers for the logical arguments we give for these issues, so they’re just going to tell us we shouldn’t bring it up.
Well, I want to start being a topic of conversation among them, and the milquetoast Maryland GOP better start holding their fire until they see the whites of the Democrats’ eyes, not the backs of those who would like to lead them in the RIGHT direction.
He caused a sensation when he appeared the first time, but “Smoking Man” is back.
Actually, the message is one which makes sense given the theme. But my thoughts on this aren’t about the theme, but why the smoker as a messenger is such a big deal. It also relates to another issue I think is important.
Think about it: smokers comprise a minority of the population – about 1 in 5 according to most generally accepted estimates. Yet their behavior is discouraged in nearly all public places and their right to conduct this activity in their own private space is coming more and more into question. Last year, for the second time in two years, Maryland legislators introduced a bill to ban smoking in private automobiles if children are present.
But smokers grin and bear the consequences of their actions as they huddle outside public places to get their fix, put their health at risk from a wide variety of diseases – at least according to medical research – and pay steep taxes of several dollars per pack in order to satisfy their nicotine craving. Moreover, thousands of state tax dollars are spent in an effort to shame smokers into giving up their habit, which is hypocritical at best when the state makes millions of dollars from smokers alone. (No one pays a specific tax on sugary pop, Big Macs or Cheetos – well, at least not yet.)
On the other hand, look at what we are doing to cater to an even tinier minority of the population – studies like this recent one have established this segment as somewhere between 3% and 5%. Among this minority, there are a subset who partake in much riskier behavior which can lead to health problems down the road as well.
Yet many of their activists are claiming this as a civil rights issue comparable to the struggles the black population went through a half-century ago. Of course, it was obvious in most cases who was being discriminated against, just as it is fairly obvious who among us smokes. (Many just have that tobacco smell which hangs on their clothes and belongings.) It’s not always as obvious who’s in this other tiny minority, but they seem to have an oversized voice when it comes to the cultural and political arenas. And while the percentage of smokers long-term is declining, the percentage of those who self-identify as LGBT is increasing as we teach their certain brand of “tolerance” and “acceptance” in schools and media.
Most of us don’t hound the LGBT population back into the closet, and I’m not advocating such an action. But there is something wrong with this overall picture. Just look at the history of smoking bans: first we banned smoking on airplanes, then we segregated smokers into smaller and smaller areas in other public venues (“smoking or non-smoking?”) before eliminating most entirely, and now we’re trying to encroach these prohibitions into private spaces. It’s been a breakdown in the right of someone to enjoy a substance which is still legal.
Similarly, the legalization of same-sex marriage begins a further breakdown of the family unit. Since biologically speaking it takes a male and female to create offspring, there is no way a committed same-sex couple can have children naturally. There either has to be a surrogate mother or a sperm donor involved, and that person shouldn’t forfeit their rights just for the convenience of a same-sex couple.
And then there is the probable next step: plural marriage and polyamory. A Brazilian trio (one man, two women) recently made headlines when their civil union was announced. At this point it remains a civil union but Brazilian law allows for the conversion of a civil union to a marriage with a judge’s approval, according to the Telegraph article. At some point we here in America will further break down the traditional family and remove those guideposts which have served us well for centuries.
As we have seen with the jihad against smokers, the assault against tradition and values may accelerate once the step is taken and voters in some state approve same-sex marriage. When we give an inch, the next mile is placed in jeopardy.
On Sunday I happened to have a conversation with a man who took exception to the Question 6 sign we had in our Republican tent at the Good Beer Festival. He pleaded a case which was somewhat emotionally-based but also pointed out whether the government should be in the business of marriage and asked why we should care what two people do.
Now I normally fall on the libertarian side of things and I really don’t care who sleeps with who. But there’s just this gut instinct of mine that, once we cross that line, within a generation we will be having the same argument over plural marriage and perhaps even marrying children. This gentleman thought I was missing the point and argued that we felt the same way about interracial marriage and that turned out to not harm society. In that he is correct, but as usual gay-rights activists borrow from a struggle which was based on unfairness regarding something one cannot change (the amount of pigment they were given) into trying to reward a particular behavior some still find deviant (a sexual attraction to one of the same gender.)
I really wish I had known about this video before I talked to this man.
Of course “dislikes” are running 2 to 1 over “likes” but the gay lobby is a noisy and tenacious one – most people would get the hint after going 0-for-30 or so at the ballot box but they keep trying. This even extends to the YouTube video; unfortunately comments aren’t allowed there but maybe they think an overly high number of “dislikes” will get YouTube to pull it. I would bet dozens have complained to the Google subsidiary about the video, so far to no avail.
Unfortunately, it’s also my gut feeling that one of the four states considering gay marriage this fall will vote in its favor, sowing the whirlwind we’re sure to reap because of it. Given that a large portion of this young man’s generation has been taught moral relativity in schools where all cultures and cultural activities are considered valid, at some point enough of them will be fooled into believing the idea that gay marriage promotes equality when it will lead to a perverse sort of reverse discrimination against those who believe in a Judeo-Christian worldview.
And once that Pandora’s box is opened, we can never go back. I’d rather keep it locked.
This story has aroused a little bit of interest regionally. From the Washington Post:
The chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University has been placed on paid leave after she signed a petition to put a gay marriage referendum on the ballot in Maryland.
Of course, the LGBT population at the school made an outsized furor compared to their size, as it was a Gallaudet faculty member who noticed Angela McCaskill’s name among the signees of the petition which put Question 6 on the ballot when published in the Washington Blade, a paper catering to the capital’s gay community.
So apparently the idea of free speech and diversity of thought only exists for politically correct causes; ironically diversity doesn’t extend to signing a petition to allow others to express their own set of opinions. Imagine the horror which would be exhibited if a sign supporting traditional marriage was in her yard.
But this is how that side plays their game, and that’s what I’ve been warning about. The revelation of the petition signers is the first step; needless to say once the financial reports are released those who donate to the side opposing Question 6 will likely be subjected to a campaign of shame perpetrated by the squeaky wheels of the LGBT crowd who equate their cause with the civil rights struggle of a half-century ago.
As for McCaskill, I’m sure the options will be presented to her: a public mea culpa or resignation, all for expressing the view (after a church service, no less) that perhaps voters should have their say on the issue. That’s worth repeating. And I don’t care what they claim the same-sex marriage law in Maryland says about protecting religion and so forth, anyone who follows their religious conviction and engages in what’s perceived as discrimination against a same-sex couple will be hounded by the press and forces of political correctness. Count on it.
It’s almost like Dan Bongino wanted to hit the reset button.
No, he hasn’t made any sort of campaign gaffe that I’m aware of (although Rob Sobhani alleges one of Dan’s campaign volunteers did) but the confident challenger to Ben Cardin of a month ago has had his horse shot out from under him via Sobhani’s insurgent, predominantly self-funded campaign. So Dan’s going back to what built his campaign in the first place: another key endorsement and the re-release of a 90-second campaign commercial I felt was one of the best presented in this campaign.
The endorsement comes from former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who also served as President Bush’s first Homeland Security Secretary. In a statement released by Bongino’s campaign, Ridge said:
Dan’s qualifications for a seat in the Senate reach beyond his experience in law enforcement and national security. His personal initiative, diverse education, and impressive achievements in community service as well as private enterprise, will well-serve the people of Maryland.
It would be interesting to see how much further assistance Ridge or any of those others who endorsed Dan will provide now that he’s being attacked from both the left and (mostly) from the left-center. Personal campaigning would be particularly helpful since Dan and Paula can’t be everywhere.
Through the grapevine I have heard a little bit of muted criticism of how Dan is running his campaign, basically from people who either a) are disgruntled because Dan is not addressing their pet issues or b) believed Richard Douglas would have been a better Republican nominee (even though he got into the race later and, like Sobhani, also had primarily self-funded his campaign.) Personally I don’t necessarily agree with every plank of Dan’s platform and I certainly would have been comfortable had Richard won the primary, as he actually did in my home county.
Yet in looking at Rob Sobhani’s key issues I’m left wanting – for example, why isn’t a 15% tax rate good enough for everyone? And level with us about where this $5 billion in “public-private partnership” money is coming from – are we going to socialize risk and privatize profit? We already have a Senator who’s great at spending money; something particularly irksome when his party can’t even be bothered to put together a budget.
Even some of Rob’s not-so-key issues bother me: on his petition, Rob’s nascent campaign expressed that Sobhani was “pro-choice and supports gay rights.” Granted, these aren’t as important as the economy but since I’m pro-life and read the latter as support of Question 6, I can’t support that when I have a much better conservative alternative who would support private investment targeted as those individuals wish because the government would take less of their sweat and toil, not at specific projects which may be helpful in limited instances but would more likely enrich Sobhani’s cronies.
So Dan is working back to square one, resuming the important endorsements which bolstered his campaign before Sobhani even considered getting into the race. He also has something just as important: plenty of grassroots support. Once the air war is joined, which is a given because of Bongino’s solid fundraising quarter, the early advantage Sobhani enjoyed by not having to survive a primary will dissipate.
This isn’t about “hitting the jackpot,” nor is it about putting someone back in office so he can make it a half-century on the public’s dime as an elected official. It’s about serving the people of Maryland.
Remember that on Election Day.
The most recent Maryland Poll by Gonzales Research came out on Wednesday, and the results can only be described as disheartening to Maryland conservatives, who have their work cut out for them in the last month of the campaign. (Hat tip to Maryland Reporter for the link.)
First, the terrible topline numbers here in the state:
- President: Barack Obama (D) 55, Mitt Romney (R) 36
- U.S. Senate: Ben Cardin (D) 50, Dan Bongino (R) 22, Rob Sobhani (I) 21
- Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens): For 58, Against 34
- Question 6 (legalizing gay marriage): For 51, Against 43
- Question 7 (expanding gambling): For 45, Against 46
- President Obama has a 54% favorable rating, with 32% unfavorable
- Vice-President Joe Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 34% unfavorable
- Mitt Romney has a 35% favorable rating, with 50% unfavorable
- Paul Ryan has a 36% favorable rating, with 38% unfavorable
Gonzales did not poll on Question 5 (redistricting) or any of the Congressional races; in the latter case it’s likely because the sample sizes would be too small for reliable results. 813 self-proclaimed likely voters made up this sample.
One thing I have always liked about the Gonzales surveys is their willingness to provide the actual numbers. Instead of massaging the results to a certain turnout model, the Maryland Poll is set up to reflect the electorate based on party registration – so 56% of the respondents were Democrats, 30% Republicans, and the remainder unaffiliated. This closely matches the state’s current voter registration totals.
Because of that, some trends can be determined. For example, as a percentage fewer Democrats are behind Barack Obama (81%) than Republicans backing Romney (86%). This is because there’s always been a percentage of Democrats in Maryland who are simply registered as Democrats but often vote for Republicans. It’s President Obama’s 88% approval rating among black voters (which matches their lockstep 88% support) that saves his bacon in Maryland.
On the other hand, though, Democrats strongly back political lifer Ben Cardin (74%) while Republicans are just 60% behind Dan Bongino, their U.S. Senate nominee. The presence of onetime Republican-turned-independent Rob Sobhani is all but destroying GOP chances of posting an upset in the race, since Cardin is only at 50 percent. This is because Sobhani is taking more votes away from Bongino (22% of Republicans) than Cardin (16% of Democrats.) More troublesome is that these numbers are undermining Bongino’s stated intention of making inroads into the minority community, because just 8% of black voters support him but 15% back Sobhani, who was born in America but is of Iranian origin.
Meanwhile, the political correctness bug seems to be biting some of the squishier members of the GOP. While the state party has come out against these issues in a broad manner by supporting the idea of “repealing O’Malley’s laws” the Maryland Poll finds 29% of Republicans are for in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 17% support gay marriage, and 35% are in favor of expanding gambling. Could this be the Bradley effect manifested in a different manner? There’s no way to tell.
Overall these numbers are quite disappointing, but the silver lining which exists in them is now we know where to focus our efforts. For one thing, we are close enough on some races that enhancing GOP turnout could turn the election, particularly on Questions 6 and 7.
It’s also important to remember that a number of Congressional races could hinge on turnout as well. Simply based on voter registration numbers it’s clear that Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, and Frank Mirabile have the steepest uphill battles but there’s more possibility of an upset from Tony O’Donnell, Nancy Jacobs, or Ken Timmerman. Even Roscoe Bartlett could fall into the “upset” category based on the gerrymandering Democrats did to make his seat endangered for Republicans.
There is one other observation regarding the races I need to make. Given the 19-point advantage Barack Obama enjoys here in the formerly Free State, it’s clear he probably won’t be spending any money in the local Baltimore television market. (Washington, D.C. is a different story because Virginia is in play.) Yet that commercial time is being vacuumed up by the millions of dollars both sides are spending on debating Question 7.
Because of that simple fact, it will be harder for those advocating other ballot issues and downticket candidates to afford television time, and that works against both sides equally. This makes the retail and social media campaigns that much more important because one easy outlet is no longer as readily available.
You may ask why I’m so strident on some of these issues. In my case, there’s a lot of areas where they crossed my line in the sand a long time ago and I’m simply fighting a sort of guerrilla war trying to beat things back where I can. But like Benjamin Netanyahu, we need to pull out our red Sharpie and draw our own line this time around because once that’s passed there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.
Once we allow illegal immigrants in-state tuition, the next thing they’ll want is full amnesty and voting rights – never mind they have broken numerous laws by crossing the border (or overstaying their visa) while thousands who try to do things the correct way are denied or face long delays in receiving what’s due for them. Crime is not supposed to pay.
Once we tell Democrats it’s okay to ignore geography and cynically make up Congressional districts which place people with little in common together for base political interests, there’s no telling what other steps they’ll take to dictate what they determine is fair representation. Obviously political affiliation is a fickle standard, but when only 56% of voters are registered Democrat should they have 88% of the Congressional representation? Obviously it could work out that way even if the state was scrupulously and evenly divided based simply on existing geographic lines, equalizing population, and contiguity, but I suspect it would not.
Once we allow gay marriage to pass, then the question becomes what will be legitimized next: plural marriage, marriage between adults and children, or some other bastardization of the concept? Where does the line get drawn? Despite common misguidance, marriage is NOT a right and despite the best efforts of the gay lobby to promote the idea this quest shouldn’t be equated with the civil rights movement of a half-century ago. As this group points out, there are no “gay only” drinking fountains.
Certainly people of any gender can be in a loving relationship with one of their own gender, but as far as the legal concepts of marriage our state already covers it. What was wrong with civil unions? I could live with that as a compromise which preserves, as much as possible in this day and age, the sanctity of marriage.
I’ve seen elections where people down double-digits in polling have come back to win in the last week, and a month is an eternity in political circles. Just a month ago Wendy Rosen was a game but underfunded challenger to Andy Harris until the startling allegation she voted twice in two consecutive elections, and now Democrats are reduced to pinning their hopes on a write-in candidacy. So anything is possible, good or bad.