In news which wasn’t totally unexpected, the petition drives for both reinstating the death penalty and rescinding the onerous gun laws passed by Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly both fell short of the 18,579 signatures necessary to continue the process through the end of June.
It seems to me that each failed for a different reason.
In the case of the death penalty petition, which was backed by mdpetitions.com – a group that had previously been 3-for-3 in getting statewide petitions on the ballot – it seemed like there was a resigned resistance to their efforts given that all three of their previous referenda lost at the ballot box. Moreover, it wasn’t like we hadn’t already done without the death penalty for nearly eight years before SB276 passed, since the last Maryland execution occurred under Bob Ehrlich in 2005. With just five people remaining on Death Row in Maryland, those who believe in maintaining the ultimate penalty on the books probably figured that they would only delay the inevitable, as a future General Assembly could (and likely would) once again vote to drop the death penalty in a few years’ time.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that this was simply a change of statute and not a Constitutional amendment, so a General Assembly restored to its senses could bring the death penalty back. It’s likely we would have to go through the referendum process in reverse, though, as signatures would surely be gathered for a ballot question on the issue. And since the death penalty is pretty much a 50-50 issue according to the most recent Maryland Poll, legislators who vote to make it a ballot issue – as a Constitutional ban would have to be – could potentially see the initiative on the same docket as their re-election.
In order to kill the death penalty in Maryland once and for all, look for opponents to go the Constitutional route in the 2015 or 2016 session in order to secure more votes for the Democratic nominee for President here in Maryland in 2016. It won’t pass in 2014 because any Constitutional amendment proposed there goes before voters in the same year.
Conversely, mdpetitions.com took a pass on petitioning the SB281 gun bill to referendum, with the stated belief that our rights under the United States Constitution are not subject to a balloting. They opted to join the effort to fight the bill in court. Instead, a new competing entity called freestatepetitions.com took up that banner with just a few weeks to gather the signatures. So the fact they came within a few hundred signatures of the minimum tells me the passion was there, and the petition stood a fair chance of success if started earlier.
And while the idea of a referendum was supported with the thought of buying more time to fight the law in court, the fact the petition drive failed was immediately trumpeted by gun grabbers as proof their bill had overwhelming public support.
Similarly, those who worked to eliminate the only crime control method with a zero percent recidivism rate crowed about both their victory and how the 2012 election set things up. State Senator Jamie Raskin:
Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat who lead his chamber’s floor debate on repeal, said lawmakers were emboldened after voters upheld same-sex marriage and in-state tuition for immigrants who are in this country illegally when those laws were petitioned to referendum on last fall’s ballot. Friday’s announcement that organizers could not find enough votes to send the death penalty question to voters, Raskin said, further proves that Marylanders back the legislature.
“The defenders of the death penalty promised retaliation, but their bark was worse than their bite,” Raskin said. (Emphasis mine.)
The retaliation may yet come in 2014 despite this interim failure. Raskin may not feel the voters’ wrath in his relatively safe district, but those in swing districts may fall victim if they voted to spare convicted murderers capital punishment.
So once October 1 rolls around, those in the Black Guerrilla Family and other gangs who seem to be in control of Maryland’s prisons will have even less to fear because their actions won’t be subjected to the needle. Hopefully we won’t need the senseless murder of corrections personnel to prove that taking away that possibility was a short-sighted action.
In the meantime, though, we are left to wonder about one thing. What if either petition group had the financial muscle to pull a Rob Sobhani and pay people to gather petition signatures? With a financial incentive, to me there’s no doubt enough signatures would be gathered but everything in these failed drives was done in a volunteer fashion.
And since these groups now have a little bit of forced downtime, there’s a project I would love to speak to you about. Since Rick Pollitt wants to see a referendum before moving on an elected school board, and we can’t get help from Annapolis to otherwise make it happen, perhaps getting the signatures required to put it on the Wicomico County ballot next year will get things moving. Why should a board appointed by the Governor control a $180 million chunk of our tax dollars, with nearly $40 million of that directly coming out of local taxpayers’ pockets?
Just let me know; you know how to reach me.
In case you missed it earlier tonight – and to be quite honest, most people who don’t follow social media missed it – those on the left were out to protest Senator Ted Cruz and his appearance at a New York Republican fundraiser by bombarding his Twitter account with admonitions on his positions and a hashtag (for the Twitter-illiterate, that’s the “pound” symbol, #) of #youcruzyoulose. Catchy, but certainly irrelevant.
Of course, as we often do, our side caught wind of this “protest” and came up with the idea of Tweeting our support with our own hashtag, to wit:
— Michael Swartz (@ttownjotes) May 29, 2013
Senator Cruz was pleased:
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) May 29, 2013
And the point was made, as #youcruzyoulose had nowhere near the staying power of #cruztovictory, which was the top-trending hashtag on Twitter for part of the evening.
But the question has to be asked: why Cruz? After all, he’s only 1 of 100, the junior Senator from a state which is pretty much owned by Republicans right now. How is he a threat?
Well, he is conservative, but so are a handful of others. He’s also relatively outspoken, although not to the extent of fellow Senator Rand Paul. Maybe it’s because he’s *gasp” a Latino who’s not down with the
immigration amnesty bill? (Cue the game show bell, “ding ding ding.”) Yes, that and he’s pro-gun as well.
We don’t need 100 Ted Cruz clones in the Senate, but about 50 others will be fine. Let’s have some more fun with the #youcruzyoulose crowd, shall we? Just another #cruztovictory in the realm of social media.
I guess this makes perfect sense, and I’m surprised more conservative politicians don’t use this method. I would think most localities have a range of some sort – in fact, there are eight on the Lower Shore – but this comes from the Maryland Liberty PAC and will be held this weekend. (Sorry, I have no link and the e-mail wasn’t available as a webpage. All emphasis in original, and I decided not to blockquote this since it’s center-justified as the original was.)
Maryland Liberty PAC will be holding a special fundraising event this weekend.
We’d like to see you there! See below for all the details!
Breakfast at the Range
Support 2nd Amendment Rights for All Marylanders
Saturday June 1, 2013 8AM – 11AM
Horst & McCann Inc. (www.HorstGuns.com)
2137 North Fountain Green Road
Bel Air, MD 21015
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
ENJOY A MORNING OUT! Breakfast and baked treats while, some lead down range and chatting with likeminded patriots.
Tickets include: Breakfast, Firearms Safety Class, Firearm Rental, 25 Rounds of Ammunition, Targets, and 30 minutes in the shooting lane. Eye and ear protection will be provided. Range Safety Officers on duty to guarantee safety and provide help and advice when needed.
Range Rentals Available:
.22LR Pistols- Ruger Mk III, Ruger SR22, Ruger Single 10 Revolver, GSG 1911
.22LR Rifles- S&W MP15/22, Ruger 10/22, Henry Golden Boy Lever Action
.38Spcl- S&W 686 Revolver
9mm- XDM-9, Glock 17, Sig Sauer P226
Both range rentals and personal firearms must use provided range ammo.
If you plan on bringing your own firearm you must use range ammo.
Ticket only includes ammo for .22LR, .38spcl, or 9mm calibers. If your personal firearm is not one of these listed calibers then you must purchase ammo out of pocket.
Photo I.D. & waiver required for participation!
Black powder firearms are prohibited.
All State, Local & Federal Laws apply. Range rules must be followed at all times, no exceptions!
Cash and Check accepted.
Make checks payable to Maryland Liberty PAC
For Tickets and Information Call 410-569-4821.
Something tells me there will be a few petition signatures collected there, assuming the threshold for May collections has been met.
To me, this isn’t exactly out-of-the-box thinking as other entities have held gun raffles to raise money, but it is a little unusual to have a fundraiser at a gun range. (Seems like the kind of business I could use as an advertiser, too.) There may only be 20 people who attend but in that event that’s still $1,000 in the MLPAC coffers before expenses.
Perhaps the one question I would have is what people will do with the time they are not in the shooting lane or listening to the safety course. Presumably one will get their chance to shoot for a half-hour (or however long it takes to squeeze off 25 rounds) then change guns if they desire.
Either way, the event seems like a natural fit for celebrating liberty.
They say the party needs to have a farm system; well, the Salisbury University College Republicans certainly are being an active participant in the political process. Next Friday night may be a watershed event for the university.
Aside from the substitution of Charles Lollar for Andy Harris, this could be a rehash of the Mike Lewis townhall meeting held in March. (Another way of looking at it – add Mike McDermott and you have our Wicomico County Lincoln Day dinner lineup, which also focused on the Second Amendment.)
Admittedly, it’s a little unusual to have such an event on Friday night – particularly on the weekend before finals – so it’s obvious this year’s crop of College Republicans wants to go out with a bang, and yes the pun was intended. SU College Republican president Nicholas Pappas added this note:
I am just a college student, and I can only reach out to college students on campus because my resources are very limited. This Town Hall event is important because there are many new laws being pushed through…and everyone on the Eastern Shore should know about the new laws.
He was looking to promote the event, and I’m looking to help the SU College Republicans be part of the next generation of conservative leadership, so it was a good match. I also believe that Lewis and McDermott have spoken previously to the CRs so they’re familiar guests, with the added attraction of a potential nominee for governor.
This is really going to be about two separate items with a common theme, sort of a compact version of my old “odds and ends” series.
In the first case, Patrick McGrady of the Maryland Liberty PAC was excited about getting “one of our own” elected as First Vice-Chair of the Maryland Republican Party.
We told you we were going to rock the Maryland Republican Party back to its roots and this past weekend we did just that!
Not only are we building successful coalitions with Central Committee members but today I am proud to announce to you that the liberty movement is now represented in MDGOP state leadership.
On the convention floor this Saturday, grassroots conservatives and freedom fighters joined forces to elect Collins Bailey as (First) Vice Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
It bears pointing out, however, that the group wasn’t all that far from electing Bailey as the Chair, since Diana Waterman only won on the second ballot with 56% of the vote.
McGrady added, though, that the group had advanced a long way:
Last fall we successfully launched the Maryland Liberty Caucus and now this spring our Liberty forces picked up a top state Party leadership position.
As I pointed out in my look at the state convention buildup from last Friday night, the Maryland Liberty PAC had a very successful hospitality suite in which one of the featured speakers was Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild, a passionate pro-liberty elected official who has toured the state (including this local appearance) promoting a variety of ways to fight encroachments on liberty by Annapolis, Washington, and beyond.
I knew about Richard’s latest effort a few weeks back, but I wanted to hold off on mentioning it until it was finally ready to be formally rolled out. But UpholdMyOath.com was promoted at the convention and its key addition to the political landscape is ready for adoption. The “Draft Resolution of Non-Compliance” is designed for counties whose residents believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution – which, after all, is considered the supreme law of the land – trumps any unconstitutional efforts by the state to infringe upon our right to keep and bear arms.
So these are some of the developments on the pro-liberty front in the state of Maryland, and it just bolsters the case we are advancing, not to mention that I’m driving the loony Left crazy. (At the risk of giving this guy some actual traffic, you really should read that link and get ready to laugh.) If we can bring the pro-liberty movement into the GOP fold, it will give us an impetus to bring the middle our way.
After all, who could be against liberty?
With new leadership in Jackie Wellfonder, the Wicomico County Republican Club re-established its routine – for one month, since we normally skip a May meeting due to its usual coincidence with Memorial Day as its fourth Monday – and had a very full agenda for its return from a March meeting truncated by an outside event.
But before the meeting began we embarked on something new, as several members and one local politician gathered down the street at Roadie Joe’s for a pre-event happy hour. This was an idea discussed by the club’s newly-installed executive committee at a meeting we had before being sworn in, and we hope to make it a tradition. While it was a modest success, it also gave me a chance to go over the agenda with our new president. Having to defer a meeting made for more business which needed to be conducted.
Leading off the meeting with Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, we soon learned we had a surprise guest who was in town. After I had read the minutes of the last two meetings, I suggested we amend the agenda to defer the Treasurer’s Report, but Congressman Andy Harris interjected, “no, hopefully your treasury is doing better than ours.” So we indeed heard the report before allowing Andy to speak.
It was “a good month to be a Republican,” Andy argued. We now had a distinct advantage on two separate issues: individual rights, as expressed with the loss of the gun bill in the Senate, and fiscal responsibility based on competing budgetary plans.
To Andy, the failure of the gun bill may be “where the President begins to lose his second term.” He couldn’t even keep his Democrats on board, Harris added, and the tactic of creating a 60-vote threshold (in order to prohibit popular pro-gun amendments from consideration) obviously backfired. Meanwhile, Obama “puts the brakes on the economy,” making him more unpopular.
And on the fiscal side, Harris pointed out that neither the President’s nor the Senate’s budget proposals ever balance. While it takes a decade for the House plan to reach equilibrium, Harris voted in favor of an alternative which would have accelerated the timetable to four years, a plan which failed. Yet Andy warned, “until we get true reform on entitlements, we won’t balance.”
Moreover, the cuts would have to come from the spending side. “There is no way a tax increase comes through the House,” said Harris.
Andy also touched on a number of other subjects during his unscheduled remarks, alluding to what should be revealed as an interesting exchange between him and Eric Holder during an Appropriations Committee hearing, talking about what could be a common-sense incremental change to ethanol regulations, and assessing Hillary Clinton’s chances at the 2016 Democratic nomination.
We also found out a little bit more on the ammunition situation, to which manufacturers labor under contracts with the government specifying they must supply indefinite quantities to the government at indefinite times, up to a certain amount, with the federal government dictating the terms. Yet there are millions of rounds of ammunition stockpiled by the government already, and Harris is looking into a way of curtailing the stockpiles in order to make more available to the general public.
Further, Harris deemed the situation in Boston as a “setback” for both the anti-Second Amendment crowd and immigration reform.
Upon the conclusion of Andy’s remarks, it was time to hear from our original scheduled speaker, Delegate Charles Otto.
Charles didn’t have a lot of good news in his brief remarks on the recently-completed Maryland General Assembly session, noting that we passed a $37 billion budget with $1.1 billion more in state debt in addition to a lot of other ill-considered legislation.
But the subsequent discussion brought out a number of questions, such as why the governor hadn’t signed the gun bill yet? Otto noted that the governor has signing ceremonies for bills, generally in May, and the bill will be signed then.
We also found out that a $900,000 earmark for the relocation of Delmarva Public Radio mysteriously appeared in the final budget, despite the fact no bill was introduced for it during the session.
Joe Holloway chimed in about a bill which passed allowing the county to decouple its personal property tax rate from its real property tax rate. (Normally the personal property tax rate had been set at 2 1/2 times the real property tax rate.) Holloway described this bill as a possible end run around the county’s revenue cap. It should be pointed out, though, that last year’s Senate Bill 848 effectively ended Wicomico’s 2 percent limit on property tax increases.
Dave Parker gave a Central Committee report which noted that our Pathfinders seminar “apparently went well,” however, it was plagued by a somewhat small turnout. He also briefly recapped the election of Diana Waterman as Chair, noting our county was evenly split between supporters of Waterman and Collins Bailey, with a vote for Greg Kline thrown in. Two great candidates ended up as officers, though, said Parker.
He also alerted those present that the foes of this year’s Senate Bill 281 are eschewing the referendum process to fight the bill in court, determining their belief that Constitutional rights should be left to a ballot. If it does pass muster in the courts, though, he is working with other counties to propose a nullification resolution.
Our next Central Committee meeting will be May 6, Parker concluded.
In other WCRC business, we also learned we would present our annual scholarship to the winners at our June meeting.
Jackie Wellfonder briefly went over some of her ideas for her term, which actually began at the March meeting cut short by the gun bill townhall meeting. With the happy hour being one proposal, she outlined desires for an additional fundraiser to supplement our Crab Feast and making upgrades to our website and social media presence.
Ann Suthowski took a moment to update us on voter registration efforts, including a Super Saturday we will hold in September – for which she’s looking for nearly 40 volunteers – and speak on behalf on gubernatorial candidate David Craig, for whom she is the “county point person.” He will be doing a three-day tour of the state in June, with our stop being June 4.
I took a few minutes to speak on candidate recruitment and its importance, passing out a list of all the offices contested next year and those who are incumbents. But we also need volunteers to help run these campaigns and to act as treasurers, I added. Next to the candidate himself, the treasurer is the most important person because of our state’s campaign finance laws.
My message was simple: I wanted to make sure every space on that paper had at least one Republican candidate. No longer can we concede offices to the other side because they’ve been there so long, because those are the Democrats who can help their fellows get elected.
While it wasn’t in my remarks last night, I should point out that most of those who have already filed for office at this early stage are Democrats. On the eastern edge of Wicomico County there is a new state legislative district, District 38C, and there’s already a Democrat in the running for what should probably be a reasonably Republican seat. Norm “Five Dollar” Conway no longer has the late Bennett Bozman to help him get votes in Worcester County, so they gave him a much more urban District 38B which mainly covers Delmar, most of Salisbury except the northwest part of the city, and Fruitland. It’s worth noting his district now includes most of the Salisbury University community, which explains the tremendous amount of pork suddenly delivered their way from the state. Amazing how libraries so quickly become a priority item.
That turned out to be the extent of our business, so we adjourned until June 24. Our next meeting will feature a few words from our scholarship winners, with the featured speaker being Dr. Mark Edney, a local surgeon who will be discussing Obamacare.
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.
Updated below with a response from Kevin Waterman, who replied on behalf of his mother.
It was President Warren Harding who remarked when asked about the scandal surrounding his tenure, “I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my goddamned friends, they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!” At times I wonder how much sleep Diana Waterman is getting, knowing that her supporters are the ones who seem to be laying the land mines on her path to coronation as elected Maryland Republican Party chair.
Just a few days after Louis Pope fumbled around with his side of the RNC Rules Committee story, another supporter of Diana’s – the venerable two-time gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey – perhaps took a little liberty of her own with her insight on Diana’s work with the state’s Campaign for Liberty effort. Jackie Wellfonder took this and ran with this unforced error yesterday, but there was one important part of the story Jackie did not get to.
In my possession I have a letter from Diana dated March 8 and addressed to me as a Central Committee member. (Actually, the “Central Committee Member” is crossed out and replaced with Michael, a old personalization trick. But I digress.)
In the fifth paragraph of the latter Diana writes:
I am also forming an advisory committee composed of individuals from every corner of the State, many of varied groups within our Party like Campaign for Liberty and the Tea Party groups, and hard-working activists. If we aren’t talking to each other, we can’t work together to realize our goals of getting Republicans elected.
In her campaign appeal, Sauerbrey added:
I share the concern that our party has failed to fully embrace groups like the Tea Party and Campaign for Liberty, that are a source of highly motivated, dedicated, and often young volunteers. Diana has committed to me her intent to establish an Advisory Committee that will welcome and involve the vital energy and ideas of these groups.
So here we are a month later, and Ted Patterson of Campaign for Liberty wrote in his remarks yesterday that:
In an email, it was stated that Waterman is forming a Republican Party advisory committee that will include grassroots organizations such as ours. It is implied that Diana Waterman is welcoming the grassroots and Tea Party groups into the Maryland Republican Party.
No outreach to our groups has been reported to me, and I have received no messages to this effect.
If Ms. Waterman would like to set a future goal of engaging the grassroots that is admirable, but to date no such engagement has occurred.
Okay, I understand that running for Chair – or any other statewide party position, for that matter – is pretty hard work and there are a lot of details involved. But that “interim” tag didn’t stop Waterman from placing Louis Pope on the RNC Rules Committee; moreover, it’s worth pointing out that Diana will be on the Executive Committee regardless of what happens – either as Chair or as First Vice-Chair under Collins Bailey or Greg Kline.
Despite the fact Diana’s continued involvement is all but assured, I’d be willing to bet that this outreach has not yet occurred to any of the many conservative groups out there, whether it be Campaign for Liberty, Conservative Victory PAC, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland. the Maryland Conservative Action Network, various Society of Patriots groups, or any others. (However, I will note that Waterman was in attendance for at least part of the day at Turning the Tides in January, so one could construe that as a little bit of outreach prior to her ascension to Chair.)
My first instinct in writing this piece was to suggest the MDGOP put its money where its mouth is and make a few seats on its Executive Committee available to various groups which apply and can prove sufficient membership and means to show they will be in it for the long haul. (This is in the wake of a proposed bylaws change to give College Republicans and Young Republicans voting status on the Executive Committee.) But I thought better of it because of coordination questions which may come up when the groups spend money on behalf of Republican candidates. So an informal gathering is probably best, along with a sensitive ear to the ground. For example, I haven’t heard in this Chair campaign about overtures we are making to Second Amendment groups – a body of interest to whom insurgent Republicans like Dan Bongino suggested we promote our message heavily.
I think it would have served Diana well to give examples of this outreach rather than just imply it’s going to occur at some unspecified future date in a manner to be named later. The term we tend to give to that is “lip service.” If Maryland Republicans want to motivate their base to victory in 2014, bearing in mind that in gubernatorial years turnout tends to be lower so this effort would be magnified, then we might want to see more outreach done on the state level as opposed to local county efforts.
Update: On behalf of his mother, who is attending the RNC meeting in California, Kevin Waterman “took the liberty” of sharing the following:
Just read your recent blog post about the Campaign for Liberty email.
Just so you know, I’ve actually been working with my mother to connect her to and set up meetings and conversations with organizations and individuals who would be good fits for the proposed advisory committee. Just to cover a few who she’s already reached out to and spoken with there’s been Patrick McGrady as well as Dave Nalle and Dave Kahn (the leaders of the Republican Liberty Caucus at the National and Maryland levels respectively).
She has also reached out to Ted Patterson to clarify and try to rectify the situation. As she noted to him, she had talked to Patrick, who has a lengthy history with C4L and been a leader in it in Harford County, and didn’t mean to imply she’d spoken with all the C4L groups or the national or statewide leader. She also used the opportunity to officially reach out on working together. Ted has responded to that, appreciating the response and the recognition of the group by the state party and that they very much like the idea of working together, they just would have preferred that the statewide leadership have been spoken to before the organization’s name was used in anything.
Just to wanted to clarify that there is work being done on this and it’s not just lip service, real outreach is being done.
Fair enough. Obviously Kevin is well-attuned to state liberty-minded groups given his work with the Gary Johnson campaign (when Johnson was seeking the GOP Presidential nomination.)
The signs were pointing to a contentious night, but most of the anger was directed toward Annapolis and Washington.
I will grant that I arrived a little late because we had a truncated Wicomico County Republican Club meeting – one which literally lasted five minutes, long enough to swear the new officers in – so I did not hear any introductions or opening remarks from event host and Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis, who had a show of support from several other local sheriffs.
When I picked up on the proceedings, Congressman Andy Harris was speaking about the lack of NICS prosecutions at the federal level, with a particularly appalling lack of enforcement in Maryland. “States like Maryland will not enforce the law,” Harris charged. “Maryland is one of the worst states” in reporting mentally ill people to NICS.
“This is not about stopping Newtown,” Harris added. Instead, we should enforce the laws we have before adopting new ones.
While Harris drew a very good response from the audience, it was no match for the reaction to always-outspoken Delegate Mike McDermott.
Senate Bill 281, he said, is “not redeemable…it needs to die on the vine.” McDermott added that “if it needed pulmonary resuscitation, I’d stomp on its chest.”
“This is about feeling like you’re doing something,” McDermott continued.
And while there have been “behind-the-scenes negotiations” on the “most intrusive” parts of the bill, the Delegate believed “this is the week to watch” regarding its fate. We still need a good display of public outrage every day the bill doesn’t advance, until April 8. He also noted the bill was assigned to two different House committees, a tactic occasionally used “to water down votes” of confirmed opponents who sit on a particular committee. Not only is the bill being heard in the Judiciary Committee McDermott serves on but it’s also been placed under the auspices of the Health and Government Operations Committee.
He also believed the bill sends “a mixed message” by creating criminals out of law-abiding citizens, and exhorted us to stand firm and make our voices heard.
Event host Lewis began by repeating his testimony on behalf of the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association on House Bill 294 (the crossfiled companion bill to Senate Bill 281 now being considered in the House.) He also repeated his oath of office, further pledging “we will fight for you to the end on this issue.”
“This is the right thing to do for the right reason,” Lewis added.
A representative from State Senator Jim Mathias’s office spoke on his behalf, saying he “sends his deep regrets” about not being able to attend due to the Senate session. While the statement contained his point about assisting with the abortive Senate filibuster of the gun bill and his hope that it would be defeated in the House, Mathias also swerved off-point a little by his boast about being “able to work across the aisle” on topics like the gas tax and death penalty repeal.
Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello made the case that “armed thugs in Salisbury don’t care about these laws.” He advocated for an armed deputy in each school to keep them from being “soft targets” and asked us to “hit the pause button on emotion.”
“If you want to protect yourself, the government shouldn’t stand in the way,” concluded Matt, who later called the event “a very cathartic night for me.”
While the opening remarks took around an hour, the bulk of the meeting – which lasted well over three hours – was taken by a number of citizens engaging in a question and answer session with the participants.
Right off the bat, questioners were accusatory in tone toward the state and federal government. “We need to cut (Governor O’Malley) short…he is dangerous,” the initial questioner said. On his mind was the most recent ammunition shortage, to which Congressman Harris responded “we’re not getting a good answer” on Congressional inquiries. He was trying to speak with various ammunition manufacturers to see whether the large government orders were curtailing general consumer availability.
Others were adamant about maintaining their rights in other ways. Here’s a selection of quotes from citizens I jotted down.
“Law-abiding citizens don’t want to be outgunned.”
“Anyone who is naive enough to believe registration doesn’t lead to confiscation is out of their minds.”
“The issue has nothing to do with public safety…(it’s) subverting the Constitution.”
“Once the defensive weapons are gone, you can kiss everything else goodbye…the Second Amendment is our final reset button.”
Another questioned why we don’t adopt the Eddie Eagle program in our schools, with many speakers relating their early introduction to guns.
Yet schools held another manifestation of the problem. A thirty-year veteran teacher recalled the days when kids would come to her class prepared for hunting after school, including being armed with hunting knives inside the school and loaded weapons in their vehicles outside. Now, however, convicted felon juveniles given the choice between “school or prison” are in her classroom without her knowledge. Delegate McDermott chimed in to note he had drafted bills addressing this concern, bills which would have allowed armed school guardians (whether with weapons or tasers) and permitted off-duty officers to carry their guns on school property.
McDermott added his own dig at the gas tax as well, quipping we should use the new funds to “pay for the roadways leaving Maryland, because that’s where the congestion will be.”
There was one well-dressed gentleman who disagreed, believing assault weapons should be banned. However, he was “willing to compromise,” in part because “I don’t understand guns.” Lewis was among many who would be happy to make that introduction.
Matt Maciarello may have believed he would get away without some questioning, but I wondered, knowing that Lewis had pledged not to send his deputies on what he later termed a “suicide mission” at our Lincoln Day Dinner, whether Matt would refuse to prosecute anyone charged with violating the law. Obviously I put him on the spot because he couldn’t make such a blanket promise – I can understand the reasoning since all cases are different, and hopefully the question will be moot.
Another asked him about when civil disobedience was appropriate, which brought up another response Matt had to think about.
One final statement I want to relate was one made by Sheriff Lewis in answer to a question, as it’s also answering something I’ve brought up here. Said Lewis, “I don’t aspire to be a Delegate, I don’t aspire to be a Senator. I aspire to be a sheriff.”
Well, Mike, if you plan on continuing to be my first and last line of defense against tyranny and supporting my right to keep and bear arms against the overreaching arm of the state, brother, you’ve got my vote. One less office for the local Republicans to worry about.
One disappointing aspect of the night, though, was how few local politicians attended. However, Salisbury City Council member Debbie Campbell came after the conclusion of the Council meeting and I was told County Councilman John Hall was also there. But that was it, and that’s really disheartening.
Certainly it wasn’t quite a full house, but after a series of false starts with our list of speakers, the 2013 Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner still drew around 80 people last night.
Billed as an event focusing on the Second Amendment, it was that and more. For one, it was an opportunity for all three aspirants for the state party Chair race to meet the most active Republicans in Wicomico County. While I have Greg Kilne (right) in the photo below with fellow Red Maryland writer Brian Griffiths (left) flanking Andy Harris’ local liaison Bill Reddish (in the center), Collins Bailey and current interim Chair Diana Waterman were present as well.
It’s worthy of noting that Kline and Bailey were there well before the event began, while Waterman arrived closer to time. Perhaps she wasn’t thrilled about being questioned right out of the gate, but I don’t believed she stayed long after the event to mingle, while Bailey was among the last to leave.
While one of the two featured speakers, Charles Lollar, is being mentioned as a possible candidate for governor – more on that in due course – another prospective candidate for Maryland’s top job was making his rounds as well.
Craig was being introduced around the room by local supporter Ann Suthowski. He also stopped to greet Lollar and his lovely wife Rosha.
But the bulk of the time was taken up by our featured speakers, including the President in question himself.
Art North has made somewhat of a cottage industry out of his admiration for our 16th President, since he now regularly appears at other local Lincoln Day dinners. For ours, he had two re-enactors posing as Civil War troops and his photographer, Matthew Brady.
Hopefully none of these men consider a run for Congress, because re-enactors tend to attract unwanted attention.
But Lincoln’s message was one more tailored for the modern day. He made the point that to give up on the fact man can make himself in a free society like ours would be to give up on prosperity. “In your era,” he continued, Saul Alinsky camouflaged his intent with deception “foisted upon the general population.”
In his day, though, the tendency for class warfare was kept in check by the knowledge that hard work, diligent study, and striving for success were possible in America. A shoemaker’s son didn’t have to follow in his father’s footsteps, said Lincoln.
Honest Abe also decried the evolution of our educational system from the dictate of the Northwest Ordinance, which led to the introduction of state control of schooling in the affected states (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) to the modern “massive federal control of our education system.”
Who knew Lincoln was such a political animal?
Bill Reddish was called to the microphone to make an announcement about the townhall meeting called by Sheriff Mike Lewis and attended by Congressman Andy Harris tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.
He commented that a similar event in Worcester County split about 80-20 toward a pro-Second Amendment crowd. Originally they expected 75, but 250 attended that event so one would expect the WYCC to be similarly crowded.
(As an aside, we will hold a very brief, almost pro forma Wicomico County Republican Club meeting tomorrow so those attendees can get to the townhall meeting and speak if they desire.)
Because Charles Lollar needed to return to the Washington area to do his job, we allowed him to speak first.
It was a long day for Lollar, who had spoken to a men’s conference early in the morning in Baltimore, at the New Antioch Baptist Church; an event at which he was “well received.” They “embraced” his strong Second Amendment stand, Charles added.
“I am convinced our greatest days are in front of us,” he noted, but pointed out we are at a “pivotal crossroads” in our history. Referring to the state of Maryland, Charles warned “we can’t afford our lifestyle,” claiming that $9.2 billion of a $35 billion state budget comes from various federal grants and stimulus money. We bring in only $26 billion of a $35 billion expense tab, said Lollar.
And he made the case that “sequestration is taking its toll, one step at a time” because Congress isn’t doing its job.
He laid out a stark choice for our nation: either a “national revival of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence” or the “beginning of the end of a great nation.” He was heartened, though, by the 5,000 Marylanders who showed up at the pro-Second Amendment rallies, and when it was mentioned by one observer that he didn’t know there were 5,000 Republicans in Maryland Lollar pointed out “these aren’t just Republicans.”
“The biggest fight is for our dollars and our amendments,” said Charles, who believed as well that “losing our freedoms” wasn’t just a Maryland problem, but a national malady. Working for a dollar and only getting fifty cents from it thanks to taxes was “a form of slavery,” opined Lollar.
But it wasn’t just financial issues for Lollar. There’s a danger “when you start messing with the base of the stool” that our nation was built on: morality, ethics, and God. Charles pointed out that, over our nation’s history, it’s been responsible for more evangelicals than all other nations combined.
It’s that moral foundation which makes it necessary to defend freedom “by any means possible,” and the Second Amendment “is the lifeline of your freedom.”
Charles also reacted to the concept that he takes things so seriously. He grew up in a home which stressed taking responsibility for his actions, he explained, which led him to plead that we “stop playing (political) games with each other in 2013.” “Take some things seriously,” he continued. “My concern is for my country and my concern is for my state.”
Lollar went on. “There are nations salivating for our demise.” He urged us to be like the signers of the Declaration of Independence and “put your name on the document.”
Charles was even serious enough to remark on the standing ovation he received at the end of his remarks, “I haven’t earned that yet.”
Lollar has always had a gift for public speaking, though, and while he hasn’t yet tasted electoral success he’s been in the trenches with his New Day MD PAC and past leadership of AFP Maryland.
I also spoke with Karen Winterling, who’s been pushing the “Draft Lollar” movement. I learned that, due to the Hatch Act, Charles couldn’t make an official announcement on the 2014 governor’s race until June. But Winterling already had an army of 250 volunteers around the state and was hoping for “another 30 tonight.”
Someone else who could get thirty volunteers in a heartbeat was the evening’s final formal speaker.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis has emerged as a leader in opposing Governor Martin O’Malley’s draconian gun law proposals.
“I don’t work for Martin O’Malley,” explained Sheriff Lewis. “I work for the 100,000 people of Wicomico County.” He clearly stated that the county sheriff is the “first and last line of defense against tyranny,” and pointed out a number of his counterparts from around the state will be present for Monday night’s townhall meeting here in Wicomico County.
He also made the case for the right to bear arms. “Who am I to tell a citizen they can’t defend themselves?” Lewis asked. He also expressed his admiration for America’s most famous sheriff, promising that “Sheriff Joe (Arpaio) will be here when I run for re-election in 2014.”
And not only did Lewis take a lead role in the fight to preserve the Second Amendment, he stood in opposition to doing away with the death penalty as well. There’s a framed picture of Sarah Foxwell in his office to remind his deputies of why they do their job.
But Lewis saved most of his remarks for his defense of the Second Amendment. “We’re going to fight hard” against the gun bill, said Lewis, but if it passes “I will not allow any deputies to go into any law-abiding citizens’ houses (to confiscate guns),” Lewis promised.
This legislation will “do nothing” to stem crime in Maryland, Mike continued. It’s our “right, duty, and responsibility” to protect ourselves. Lewis also warned that the Obama administration is “trying to disarm Americans,” and vowed on Monday “we will show everyone the real Obama administration.”
After Delegate Addie Eckardt closed us out with a rendition of “God Bless America,” the formal portion of the event concluded and people had the chance to speak one-on-one with various attendees. I took some additional time to speak with my tablemates from Strategic Victory Consulting, who had come down for the day, and also further renewed acquaintances with my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen of Prince George’s County. (The below photo was taken by Dwight Patel.)
So the Maryland YRs were well-represented, too. It seemed like we had as many or more people from outside Wicomico County as we did locals.
Still, it was interesting to have the attention of the state party on our little corner of Maryland for a day. We may only make up 1/60 of the state in terms of population, but I daresay we make more than our share of political headlines and intrigue. Must be that thriving blogosphere.
The Wicomico County Republican Central Committee and Salisbury University College Republicans are pleased to present their annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday, March 23 (flyer below):
There are a couple changes to the overall program as Matt Maciarello has another commitment and cannot attend, we are recruiting another local speaker to take his place on the panel. We have, however, confirmed Dan Bongino and Mike Lewis will participate in what should be an entertaining and enlightening affair. Mike McDermott is also likely to participate but we haven’t confirmed him as of yet.
You should also note the earlier starting time – past events have began at 7:00 but this year we wanted more time to get through the program yet finish by 9 p.m.
So get your reservations early. We don’t actually print tickets for the event but if your name is on the guest list we can determine just how many seats to set the room up for.
If the local NRA or Gun Owners of America representative were smart he or she would show up with plenty of application forms.
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.