You know, if it hadn’t been for an overzealous overreaction to the Sandy Hook shooting this wouldn’t be an issue. But Maryland went way overboard – despite the hundreds and hundreds who descended upon Annapolis in a vain attempt to convince the majority of lawmakers otherwise – and it’s now on my front burner as a top issue.
I happen to believe my concealed carry permit is the Second Amendment, so let’s see how the GOP candidates compare.
David Craig: I will work to repeal ill-conceived legislation such as Senate Bill 281 passed in 2013 that do nothing but undermine the 2nd amendment. I will protect the rights of responsible firearm owners and hunters. And I will support Maryland becoming a “shall issue” state to enable law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. (campaign website)
Similarly, when asked about the Second Amendment, David took the conservative line of being “a strong supporter of all amendments.” In fact, he added that the American Revolution wasn’t fought over taxation but the move by the British to disarm the colonists. David also joked that there should be a regulation: red doors for all gun owners and blue ones for those who don’t – “so they know who to rob.” (WCRC meeting, July 22, 2013)
Ron George: Ron made sure to remark the Second Amendment “has my full support,” noting he was the only Delegate to actually testify at the afternoon regulatory hearing in Annapolis. He noted eight different problems with the regulations, where legislation was being written in. (WCRC meeting, September 23, 2013)
Charles Lollar: I believe in our Constitution and I believe our government has no right to remove our right to keep and bear arms and/or make it nearly impossible for citizens to carry weapons, if they choose to do so. Law-abiding citizens should most definitely be permitted to conceal carry their weapons. (campaign website)
…the Second Amendment “is the lifeline of your freedom.” (Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner, March 23, 2013)
It’s no shock to me that the Democrats don’t discuss the issue, neither as an “achievement” or something which needs to be addressed.
I somewhat oversimplified my position above, but suffice to say that all three candidates thus far score highly.
The only question I would have about David Craig‘s position is just what he means by “shall issue” because even those states have a wide range of restrictions on who shall be issued to. (This is a good reference to what I mean.) It’s not just repealing SB281 or even becoming “shall issue” – that’s just barely at minimum what should be done. I would rather see us fall into the “unrestricted” category but I’m not sure David would show that much leadership. Still, I believe a solid 8 of 11 points is in order.
The same goes for Ron George, who gets kudos for testifying against the so-called Firearm Safety Act of 2013. He’s also shown a pretty good voting record on the subject, but it’s a little disappointing he doesn’t trumpet this on his website. I think he’s just a shade better than Craig, so I give Ron 8.5 points.
I know Charles Lollar has been out front and outspoken about the Second Amendment issue, moreso than any of the other candidates. The only question I have is how far he would take us in the right direction. But I think he understands the issue enough, and the fact he’s making the case at most of his campaign stops and has adopted this as a primary issue gives him just that much more credence that he should get 10 points out of 11.
I will eventually work my way back to the Obamacare question – as the campaigns slowly work on their answers to the issue, I gather – but my next post will discuss the War on Rural Maryland and what these three plan to do about it.
In the nine years since I’ve moved to Maryland, I’ve attended a handful of political fundraisers and other similar events for which the common denominator seems to be crabs and camaraderie. But that equation seems to be changing as the O’Malley gun bill takes effect.
While I was out at the Autumn Wine Festival on Sunday, a much different event was occurring a few miles away in Mardela Springs. I don’t think WBOC did justice to the gathering, billing it as “a fundraiser against gun control” and making sure to find some poor downtrodden person to counter the argument with feelgood platitudes about “I just think we need to control (guns).” But they raised $6,000 at the event and when you compare that to what we raise at a Lincoln Day dinner, I think we may need to steal the idea. In this neck of the woods people like to shoot guns – it’s as simple as that.
In fact, gun raffles and outings seem to be more popular than ever as a means of raising money, which leads me into the next event.
The Maryland Citizen Action Network (the group which also sponsors the annual Turning the Tides conference) is having their own “Skeet and Eat” fundraiser where participants can fire their weapons. There will also be other family activities as well, but the main point is to keep those skills sharp and the aim true. Certainly the money raised will help them support conservative candidates and also put on another great Turning the Tides conference this coming year.
So if you happen to be in that area, or would like to support the fine work MDCAN does, be sure to sign up now – space is limited! It’s likely I’ll be at another local family-friendly event (see below) but MDCAN is certainly a worthwhile cause in need of support.
If you want to support a candidate or cause, now is the time.
Yesterday the latest Maryland Poll from Gonzales Research came out (h/t Maryland Reporter), and it suggests that we have a long way to go in educating the voters of this state about the real facts at hand. But there are a few encouraging signs, I suppose.
In the nine months since a similar sampling in January, we can now determine that Barack Obama’s job approval has gone down six points in the topline, from 64% to 58%. But the difference between “strongly approve” and “strongly disapprove” has plummeted in that span: it was +19.4 in January but is now just +6.7. A 13-point swing in that demographic suggests the national economic situation of an ongoing sluggish “recovery” is taking its toll.
By the same token, the 54% job approval Martin O’Malley enjoyed in January was a mirage, too. O’Malley now finds himself in a statistical dead heat, with 48% approval and disapproval in the October poll. But that difference between “strongly approve’ and “strongly disapprove” has once again moved more than the six-point decline on the topline, going from a +0.2 in January to a (-15.1) now. That’s an even more pronounced 15-point swing not shown by a 6 point drop in the headlines. Tellingly, nearly 3 of 10 Democrats now disapprove of O’Malley.
But that doesn’t seem to reflect on Anthony Brown, who leads the first non-campaign poll by a fairly similar margin to the Garin-Hart-Yang poll released by Brown’s campaign last month. The Maryland Poll has Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman at 41%, Doug Gansler/Jolene Ivey at 21%, and Heather Mizeur at 5%. (Maybe she can have Wayne Gilchrest as a running mate. As an aside, Mizeur also got the endorsement of Salisbury City Council member Laura Mitchell.)
Unfortunately, the numbers trend the wrong way on some key issues. While 49% of Marylanders polled favored the death penalty and 44% opposed it in January, those numbers are now reversed in that 49% favor the law rescinding it and 44% said no. Then again, its support was rather soft all along because it had a strong approve/strong disapprove ratio of (-3.2) in January while the repeal now has a +5.5 ratio. In part, this is probably because of the state’s reluctance to use the death penalty and the over-sensationalized Kirk Bloodsworth case. However, I would wager that if you put a name and a victim to a case (e.g. Thomas Leggs and Sarah Foxwell) the support for rescinding the death penalty repeal declines drastically. (In that case, Leggs pled guilty to avoid the death penalty, while the family agreed because of the probability of endless appeals.)
Meanwhile, those who responded to the poll must have believed the onerous gun laws passed by Martin O’Malley and Democrats would actually curb crime. When asked in January, support for an assault weapons ban in the immediate wake of Sandy Hook was 58-40 (with a +17.5 intensity of strongly support/strongly oppose), while background checks passed muster by an 88-11 figure overall. But the gun law as passed maintained its 58-40 support (with only a slightly lower +16.7 intensity.) That, my friends, is a sadly bamboozled and gullible public.
Yet when it comes to the pocketbook, people get it. When asked whether a 10 cent per gallon gasoline tax was acceptable in January, just 26% favored in with 73% opposed. The intensity of opposition was just as stiff, with a factor of (-50.8) strong approve/strong disapprove.
So now that the reality of a 21 cent per gallon increase spread out over three years has smacked Free Staters in the pocketbook, they hate it even more. 22 percent approve of the tax hike, while 76 percent oppose it. Intensity remains as strong, at a factor of (-50.7). Most telling to me is that the Democrats don’t tout it as a success.
Knowing that, where do we go from here? It appears to me that the emotional appeals of Democrats have worked on the above non-fiscal issues because those polled are probably not affected – the chances are small that someone knows a person who’s been heinously murdered by someone who would receive the death penalty, and for those who do too many are blaming the tool used for the victim’s demise.
I can sit and stare at a gun with a 30-round magazine all day, but as long as I don’t pick up the weapon and make the physical motion to fire it, the gun is inert and harmless. Thousands of Marylanders have access to a gun, most have never fired it outside the confines of a closed gun range. Those who use the tool of a handgun otherwise are more often than not breaking enough laws already that the so-called Firearm Safety Act of 2013 won’t prevent them from carrying out their mayhem. However, another person with a weapon just might.
Someone out there probably collects the rare news stories of crimes prevented by the presence of a gun, but the narrative of “if it bleeds, it leads” plays into the hands of those who would usurp our Second Amendment rights. Yet if the hapless victim of random violence had his or her own weapon, things may have played out differently. Instead, the state is placing a burden on those who simply wish to defend themselves, and I thought government was supposed to be about empowerment. That’s what liberals tell me, anyway.
Liberals like Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, and Heather Mizeur.
And by the way, where is the Republican poll? I think the Gonzales pollsters have fallen into the same “one-party state” trap Doug Gansler did. I’d like to see something more scientific than a blog poll on that race.
Since I didn’t get a GO Friday feature this week, I added my own two cents as I told you I would. This place doesn’t go dark.
But if you want to be considered for GO Friday next week, just let me know.
On Monday I received two e-mails touting the fact that the group Change Maryland has 60,000 Facebook “likes.” Presumably that means 60,000 people agree with their “primary mission (which) is to bring reform, fiscal responsibility and common sense to Annapolis.” I can’t disagree with that.
So for many months we’ve heard talk about a Hogan campaign for governor, a subject I’ve broached before. Interestingly enough, the Change Maryland newsletter announcing the milestone also has this link to a September article by Michael Dresser in the Baltimore Sun. In it, Hogan is quoted as saying “any decision will come later this year.”
But the fact this piece is included in the newsletter seems to be more evidence that Larry will make a go of it. And why not? Consider that Change Maryland has 60,000 followers and then read the Facebook presence (in followers/”likes”) of these gubernatorial candidates (you’ll be surprised who has the most, by the way):
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 9,585
- Anthony Brown (D) – 4,957
- Doug Gansler (D) – 3,847
- Charles Lollar (R) – 3,477
- David Craig (R) – 2,291
- Ron George (R) – 1,864
Naturally, Facebook likes aren’t placeholders for votes, as a recent Democratic poll (commissioned and released by Brown) had Mizeur at just 5% of the vote. You would need more grains of salt than you’ll find at a pretzel factory to take Facebook likes seriously as a surrogate for support, but the difference is still pretty stark.
And while one political observer told me a January decision by Hogan was in the cards, it seems more logical to me (and falls within the “later this year” time frame) to use this upcoming – and pricey – Change Maryland Fall Harvest Party to make a formal announcement of intentions. (Interestingly enough, this may bring additional people out for others who are doing hospitality suites as well; then again, the party’s convention call issued yesterday shows five suites and two ballrooms are still available. Could Hogan’s event serve to blow the competitors out of the water such that they pass on hospitality suites?)
Even the remarks quoted from Larry in the Change Maryland release sound like those of a candidate:
The only way to bring about real change in Maryland is to find a way to bring Republicans, Independents and fiscally conservative Democrats together. That is what our Change Maryland campaign has been so effective at accomplishing over the past couple of years.
A clear majority of Marylanders are completely fed-up with politics-as-usual in Annapolis and want to see a change in the direction that our state is heading. This isn’t just another fight between Democrats and Republicans, it’s more important than that. This is a fight for Maryland’s future and it’s a fight worth fighting.
Sadly, this administration has a failed record of lost businesses, lost jobs, higher spending, record tax increases and broken promises. The people of Maryland deserve better and that is why we have been working so hard for change.
Yet there is one advantage Larry has at the helm of Change Maryland which instantly disappears the moment he utters those magic words, “I’m running for governor.” Suddenly the campaign becomes about topics other than the poor economy of Maryland and the failure of Martin O’Malley to address it. People who love Hogan’s economic stance could be appalled at his views on the Second Amendment, the War on Rural Maryland, Common Core, or a number of other issues. If he stayed out, Hogan could be the kingmaker, the Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz of Maryland whose word and organization could swing an election toward a favored candidate (although Change Maryland is officially non-partisan.)
But I think after backing out in 2010 Larry’s getting too close to the flame to resist. It’s just a question of when and who is affected most by it.
Over the last couple days, a segment of the Maryland Republican Party is scratching its head over the absence of gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar from several high-profile events: last month’s Andy Harris First District Bull Roast, the Conservative Victory PAC Ken Cuccinelli fundraiser (which was sponsored by several Maryland politicians), the Prince George’s County Lincoln Day Dinner with Lt. Col. Allen West, and most recently the state party’s Oktoberfest gathering in Timonium Saturday night. The conventional wisdom argument is that these were lost opportunities to impress the party brass.
But this may also presuppose Lollar wasn’t out meeting with “regular Joe” voters, and some say a lot of these gatherings would be time better spent knocking on doors or making phone calls. So which is it? I don’t know, but my feeling is that we all need to get back to basics and begin to compare just where each of the three major declared candidates stand on important issues facing the state.
A year and a half before the 2012 Presidential election, I began a process of grading the candidates in the race at the time on a number of issues. I think it’s time to repeat the process, with some different parameters because the issues aren’t always congruent between state and national elections – for example, I don’t have to worry about trade or the Long War but I do have concerns about agricultural issues and necessary changes to the state political system, meanwhile, some issues grow or contract in importance because of recent state developments. But I like the 100-point system so I will adapt it to suit.
So the 2014 monoblogue endorsement will be based on the following formula:
- Election/campaign finance reform (3 points)
- Illegal immigration (5 points)
- Dealing with Obamacare (7 points)
- Energy policy (8 points)
- Education (9 points)
- Second Amendment (11 points)
- War on Rural Maryland (12 points)
- Role of government (13 points)
- Job creation and transportation (14 points)
- Fiscal conservatism/taxation (15 points)
Once I add or subtract three points for various intangibles of my choosing, I’ll come up with the candidate who I think will best serve Maryland. Granted, my endorsement will only be worth the pixels they’re darkening but at least some thought will be put into why this candidate is the best one for Maryland. (Keep in mind that any of these three would be vastly superior to Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, Heather Mizeur, or anyone else Democrats put up.) Otherwise, I come in with no preconceived notions with the exception that the other declared GOP candidates in the race don’t have the campaign or the presence to achieve any more than a tiny percentage of the vote so they’re not included; also, this is subject to update if/when Larry Hogan enters the race.
So now that you have the basic concepts, how about some specifics of what I’m getting at for each point? These are questions I may be able to find answers for within the candidates’ own websites, but it’s more likely I need further guidance. I have had the chance to hear all three declared candidates speak on at least two occasions apiece so I might have a decent idea where they’ll go, but it never hurts to ask. With that, here goes:
- Election/campaign finance reform: Will you aggressively pursue the redistricting revision case in court; if we succeed can we have 141 single-member districts? Where do you stand on current reporting requirements: too tight, too loose, or just right? What about getting after local boards of elections and telling them to clean up their voter rolls?
- Illegal immigration: Will you take the 287 (g) program used in Frederick County statewide? How about rescinding recent changes to drivers’ license laws in Maryland? And what about in-state tuition – do you revisit this issue? What about withholding a portion of state funds from sanctuary cities? Cooperation with the federal E-Verify program? What about policies allowing status checks such as those in Arizona?
- Dealing with Obamacare: Do we eliminate the state exchange? Would you pursue a waiver for the state if one becomes available? Are you in favor of defunding or letting the law go into effect and watching it collapse? What steps would you take to encourage more insurance competition in the state? What about returning Medicaid limits to minimum levels?
- Energy policy: When can we expect fracking to begin in Western Maryland? And what will you do with the renewable portfolio standard? Will you move to re-regulate Maryland’s electrical utilities? Can Martin O’Malley’s offshore wind scheme work? What about offshore oil drilling – is that an option for you? Will you maintain Maryland’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative?
- Education: Will Common Core be the law of the land in Maryland, or will you eschew Race to the Top funding? How about school choice, or money following the child regardless of school? How will you protect homeschooling? Instill more local control? What about promoting elected school boards in those counties still without them? Emphasis on vocational education? How do you message against the certain opposition of the teachers’ unions?
- Second Amendment: Will you work to repeal the so-called Firearms Safety Act? What about concealed carry, and making licenses easier to get? If the federal government gets too onerous, will you fight them? What’s your interpretation of the Second Amendment?
- War on Rural Maryland: Can we count on you to repeal the Septic Bill and tier mapping? Will nitrogen-removal systems still be required? Will the Hudson family be made whole by the state, since it was with the state’s assistance they were legally harassed? How will you assist the poultry industry in the state and keep them here? What about cleaning up behind the Conowingo Dam and fighting the mandated burden on rural counties, as well as the rain tax on urban ones?
- Role of Government: Where do you stand on a regulation moratorium, and would you veto new mandates passed through the General Assembly? Are there any agencies you’d work to abolish? What about divestiture of surplus state land? Is a consolidation of primary state government functions in Annapolis on your agenda? Can we count on you to repeal as many laws as you create? Where do you stand on public-private partnerships? Do you support citizen-based petition to referendum for new laws (as opposed to those passed by the General Assembly)? What about the right to recall elected officials?
- Job creation and transportation: We know you’ll lower the corporate tax rate – what about eliminating it entirely? What about reform of unemployment insurance? What other steps will you take to make it easier to do business in Maryland? As far as infrastructure goes, will you kill the Red Line and Purple Line in favor of more useful means for transporting goods, such as expanding the interstate network in Maryland and surrounding states? Will you hold the line on tolls? What about another Bay crossing – where would you put it? What non-tax code incentives would you offer for rural area job creation? What policies would you adopt from other states?
- Fiscal conservatism/taxation: Can Marylanders expect a flatter income tax system? How about eliminating it entirely as some states have done? Or would you prefer a sales tax decrease or elimination? Would you agree to a TABOR, or at least a budget utilizing those principles? Can we get per-capita spending closer to the national norm? And how will you deal with the outcry of the press, such as the old “tax cuts for the rich” saw?
- Intangibles: Positions on abortion, expansion of gambling and/or return to legislative control (as opposed to Constitutional amendment), protection for religious objections to gay marriage, your perception of the TEA Party and pro-liberty movement, and so forth. Mainly social issues.
Yes, that’s a hell of a lot. But somewhere, someone else is asking some of the same questions and if I’m going to make a decision I want it to be informed. And while I’d like to make these issue posts on about a weekly basis, that’s probably a quite aggressive timetable.
But I’m sure that a) people from the respective campaigns read my website, and b) they will bend over backwards for new media. (At least that’s what I’m counting on.) And it’s likely they haven’t even pondered some of these queries, so I don’t expect miracles – but I’ll take them anyhow.
Yet I’m sure that some high-dollar Beltway Republican consultant will tell their candidate that he’d be nuts to get into specifics this far out because all it would provide is fodder for the Democrats and the press (but I repeat myself) to harp upon as the campaign heats up. News flash: they will do that anyway, even if they have to make stuff up (e.g. “a fee is a tax.”) So get it out now and I’ll take those clowns on myself, even as I point out that it’s not like I don’t have a few allies in this fight.
Just let me know you have the balls to stand for something, okay?
Two judges, one a Clinton appointee and one an Obama appointee, made news with their decisions over the last couple days.
In Baltimore, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake, the aforementioned Clinton appointee, refused to halt Maryland’s new and draconian gun laws, stating she was not convinced the plaintiffs, gun owners and advocacy groups, would suffer irreparable harm if the law took effect. Blake was quoted in a Washington Times story by Meredith Somers as noting, “Potentially the only economic harm could be on behalf of the dealers… There’s a strong public interest in lessening the risk of tragedies.”
So it’s obvious this jurist is an economic expert who ignores the fact that crime is a detriment to the overall economy and places with more (legally-owned) guns on the street tend to have less crime. She also must be a crack shot, because she also stated that “the worry that 10 rounds would not be enough for a homeowner to defend themselves against an intruder ‘appears to be based on a lack of accuracy.’” In my way of thinking it’s better to have more bullets than you need than to run out because you’re limited to ten, but she probably has multiple security personnel so for her there’s more opportunities to incapacitate a would-be attacker.
Yet the overarching question reaches beyond Judge Blake’s decision, which only means the law goes forward to a future court date to be determined. While I think Blake has let her judicial role and political leanings go to her head – as tragedies brought on by armed criminals preying on an unarmed population continue apace – one has to ask whether it was the right move to not back more fully a referendum drive to stop the law in its tracks earlier this year. MDPetitions and those who argued for this method of fighting the law in court certainly rolled snake eyes on this bet, whereas we could have had the law stopped many months ago and perhaps overturned for good next November had the referendum been more strongly backed.
On the other hand, an Obama appointee made a surprising decision in the Eric Holder Fast and Furious case. As my blogging friend Bob McCarty writes:
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Monday against Eric Holder, saying the U.S. attorney general could no longer hide behind executive privilege and refuse to produce a portion of the records called for in a subpoena issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the United States House of Representatives.
In short, this likely means that a fierce battle will take place soon in the Republican-controlled House to get at the truth about the “Fast and Furious” scandal involving supplying criminals and Mexican drug cartel members with guns that were later used to kill Americans along the nation’s southern border.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Obama administration won’t obfuscate, connive, or otherwise try to throw cold water on an investigation which would have probably had a Republican president impeached. (With this chief executive, it’s like take your pick between Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandals, and probably a couple others already forgotten thanks to the next shiny object.)
Nor is this the first time Judge Jackson stymied the Obama regime, as she also ruled against the EPA in a 2012 case involving their withdrawal of a waste disposal permit for a West Virginia coal mining project.
So we see once again the problem of rolling the dice and depending on a court to rule correctly or stop bad law.
Amongst the voluminous fundraising chaff that comes at the end of each quarter from politicians and candidates alike, there sometimes comes valuable information. It’s worth reminding people again that Congressional candidate Dan Bongino knows something about security as a former Secret Service agent, so an item he wrote yesterday which ended up on my Facebook page is, to me, worth repeating:
I do not want to unnecessarily alarm you, nor do I intend this post to be a call for more “police-state” actions but I feel it important to sound the alarm.
The terrorist attack in the mall in Kenya is indicative of two troubling trends. The first is a tendency for previously parochial terror groups to look for international targets to leverage the media coverage of their carnage and the second is a renewed interest by terror groups in “soft-targets”.
If you are the owner or manager of any facility which attracts crowds (i.e. malls, arenas) be aware that your facility may become a target. From my experiences in the Secret Service, there are a number of relatively painless steps you can take to help mitigate the threat.
First, use your relationships with local law enforcement entities to determine what the law enforcement response would be to an “active-shooter” in your facility. Your employees should be intimately familiar with this plan.
Second, make sure law enforcement cooperation includes a blueprint of your facility. It is no coincidence that this is one of the first things an attacker or group of attackers looks for.
Third, rehearse your escape plan. In moments of profound fear and stress, your body will revert to your LOWEST level of training as blood is diverted to major muscle groups and clear thinking becomes nearly impossible. Your escape must be second-nature and require little to no conscious focus.
Sadly, we are in a new era of “sole-proprietor” terror where anyone with an Internet connection and a troubled mind can cause untold carnage. Ignoring this will not make it go away and there is no need to live your lives in fear but there is no good excuse for a failure to plan.
God bless America and all those who defend her.
To me, the key point is the third one because it makes the most sense – it all goes back to the animal instinct of “fight or flight.” Yet there’s a lot I see between the lines as well.
Now I certainly don’t want to encourage any more of a police state than we already have. Unfortunately, though. these are the cards we are dealt when we live in a jurisdiction which is making the personal protection of a firearm harder to come by and the idea of (legally) concealing it nearly impossible. (Many of those commenting on the Facebook page make that same point.) Look at the Navy Yard shooter for example: it’s the latest case where the people who had weapons to stop him weren’t on site and a further example where a “gun-free zone” makes the occupants less safe than they otherwise should be. “Sole-proprietor” terrorists know this.
Unfortunately, since the “fight” option is off the table because one is unarmed, the “flight” option is the more viable. Having worked in the architectural field, I understand the life safety aspect of multiple exits from a space – although their idea of a life-threatening event is a fire – but places like shopping malls don’t always make them obvious because they don’t want their merchandise walking away through the necessary but rarely-used exits; it’s the reason they are normally tied to the fire alarm system (if opened, the alarms go off.) It goes back to the second point Dan makes, because if someone can understand the blueprints and has a team of terrorists they can block off possible egress points and trap occupants inside.
In this case, there was no fundraising appeal in the piece, but it also brings up a question: what can (and will) Dan do if he’s elected? The Second Amendment isn’t among the key issues he highlights on his campaign page (although the palette of issues he speaks about touches on most basic concerns) so I guess the question is just how far would Dan like to go in terms of eliminating the federal restrictions on self-protection through firearms? In Maryland, the only people who can outgun the police are the criminals, and the tendency of state law is to place the common citizen at the mercy of both. There’s also a relevant discussion of the Supremacy Clause and whether Maryland’s new laws – or similar laws enacted by any other state – violate the Second Amendment, but that’s for another venue.
One has to ask in this day and age, though: why shouldn’t people be allowed to defend themselves with a weapon? If only the criminals and the government have them, the word describing the rest of us would be: victims.
For the third month in a row (and fourth overall this year), a gubernatorial candidate came to speak to the Wicomico County Republican Club. This time it was Delegate Ron George who graced us with his presence.
So once we opened the meeting in our usual manner, with the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of a growing number of distinguished guests, we turned the meeting over to Ron. He began by making the case that he was making the “sacrifice” of running because “I don’t want to leave the state (as it’s becoming) to my sons.”
And after giving a brief biography covering everything from being far enough down the sibling food chain to have to learn a trade instead of going to college, learning the business of being a goldsmith well enough to make his way to college at Syracuse University, making his way to New York City and briefly acting in a soap opera (“I died…but then I came back later,” he joked) it eventually ended with him meeting his wife and returning to Annapolis to start a family and business.
But it was his time in New York where “I saw a lot of people suffering on the street” that moved him the most. “I’m a man of faith,” continued Ron, and the experience gave him insight into the situation in Baltimore and other impoverished areas. One problem in Maryland was that “we don’t have an economic base in this state.” He pointed out that employment in the public sector in Maryland was up 7% while private-sector employment was stagnant. The budget had increased from $27 billion to $37 billion, and “they’ve squeezed you to death,” said Ron.
It was interesting to me that Ron provided some insight on how he got into politics – in essence, his frequent testimony in Annapolis got him noticed, and he was asked to run in the same district as Speaker of the House Michael Busch. Ron stated that Busch spent $350,000 and turned to negative ads in the campaign’s waning days. At first the mudslinging appeared to work as George was behind on election night by about 50 votes, but absentees sent in before the negative campaigning began pulled Ron over the top by 53 votes when all was counted.
On the other hand, George did such an effective job in the General Assembly that he was the top vote-getter in 2010, finishing 1,636 votes ahead of Speaker Busch. “I never ran to the middle,” Ron reminded us, “I spoke to the middle.”
But the idea behind the 2006 run was also one of keeping Michael Busch from spending his money to help other Democrats. (Hence why I harp on having a full slate of candidates.)
Ron then turned to this campaign, stating the case that his 10-point plan was based on three things: “economics, economics, economics.” It was a message which played well in Democratic areas, alluding to polling he was doing on the subject.
He also revealed why he had the success he’d had in Annapolis. Liberals “like to feel good about themselves,” said Ron, but never thought of how their policies affect the average Marylander. By organizing opposition testimony on various issues, particularly the abortive “tech tax” – where he found dozens willing to testify and put a face to the opposition – Ron got bad laws reversed or changed. “I’m very solution-oriented,” he added.
As Common Core has been in the news, Ron weighed in on how Maryland adopted it. The package of bills was fourfold, he explained, with the first two not being too obnoxious – but once they passed the fix was in for the bad portions. Ron stated he was “very much against” the mandates in Common Core. It’s being forced on the counties, he later said, but was “totally dumbing down” students.
To conclude the initial portion of his remarks, Ron noted he was the Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s legislator of the year, in part for his work in capping the state’s boat excise tax, and promised that, if elected, “I will make sure (rural areas of Maryland) get their fair share.”
While Ron delivered his remarks well enough, though, I sensed he was almost ill at ease making the stump speech portion of the remarks, expressing several times the preference for a question-and-answer session. It wasn’t as somnambulant as David Craig can occasionally be, but wasn’t delivered with the passion of Charles Lollar, either.
As was the case Saturday at the First District Bull Roast, Ron seemed better with the give-and-take of answering questions. When asked about the impact of the banes of rural Maryland – the Maryland Department of Planning, Department of the Environment, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation – Ron launched into an explanation of how he got the state to revisit laws passed in 2008 and misused for two years afterward, noting that several of those overcharged for permits were quietly reimbursed after it was revealed they were interpreting the law too broadly in order to collect additional permitting fees. On that front, Ron also vowed to work toward repealing the “rain tax” and following Virginia’s lead in challenging the EPA.
He was equally as excited about the prospect of auditing state agencies. “I guarantee we’ll find about $5 billion in waste,” promised Ron. The Delegate blasted the current administration for its handling of highway user revenues, pointing out previous shortfalls were paid back, but not with real revenues. Instead, more bonds were issued, and rather than the standard five-year payback these were 15-year bonds.
Finally, Ron made sure to remark the Second Amendment “has my full support,” noting he was the only Delegate to actually testify at the afternoon regulatory hearing in Annapolis. He noted eight different problems with the regulations, where legislation was being written in. (It was also why Ron missed a planned appearance at the club’s happy hour.)
As Lollar did the month before, Ron was courteous enough to stay for the meeting, which meant he sat through my lengthy reading of the August minutes and our treasurer’s report. Deb Okerblom was pleased to report the Crab Feast did better than expected financially.
Jackie Wellfonder, in her President’s report, also thanked those who put together the club’s main fundraising event. She also noted an event to be held in Wicomico County October 20 but benefiting the Dorchester County GOP, which was represented by Billy Lee. She also announced “we have a new website” and asserted our happy hours are “going well.”
Speaking in the Central Committee report, county Chair Dave Parker reminded us of upcoming events like the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting featuring Charles Lollar this Wednesday (as well as his appearance at a business roundtable the previous evening), the Good Beer and Autumn Wine festivals in October, and the state party’s Octoberfest on the 12th. Parker was pleased at the amount of attention we were getting from the gubernatorial hopefuls.
Parker also filled us in on some news, particularly the Common Core meeting fiasco in Towson. (Ron George noted the charges against the speaker have been dropped.) Dave also related a Forbes article claiming families will pay an extra $7,450
annually over a period of nine years for Obamacare. Apparently Maryland has the highest increase in the nation.
But this gave Ron George the opportunity to add that he created the Doctors’ Caucus in the General Assembly and reveal that 60% of doctors were near retirement age. Some are more than willing to hang up the stethoscope thanks to Obamacare.
Blan Harcum chimed in to alert us to a Maryland Farm Bureau campaign seminar in Annapolis October 14 and 15. Then it was my turn as I updated those in attendance on the status of our candidate search.
In club business, we found a chair for our upcoming Christmas Party, I reminded the folks they could sign up to help at the upcoming festivals, and we secured space for equipment one of our members urged us to purchase. These are the mundane things which seem tedious, but can turn out to be important.
The same may be true about our last three meetings with gubernatorial hopefuls. Next month we go back to local races and speakers, although the exact keynoter is to be announced. We will see you October 28.
Today my op-ed for the Salisbury Daily Times was published as part of their “Point & Counterpoint” series, with the topic: “What’s at stake in Maryland’s 2014 midterm elections?”
This piece is the “as submitted” version, which differs slightly from the actual print run and internet edition available at the paper’s website.
While we are still months away from knowing who the nominees will be for Maryland’s state and local elective offices, one thing which is becoming more and more apparent with each passing day is that the key issue on the ballot will be a stark choice.
With the exception of one term of Bob Ehrlich, the Republican governor who presided over a sound Maryland economy and was defeated for re-election despite positive approval ratings, the Democratic Party has held each of the three statewide elected offices and control of the General Assembly for decades. They’d be the first to tell you that this phenomenon is due to voter satisfaction, but we contend instead that the reason is the perception – reinforced by Democrat-friendly media outlets in the state – that the Republicans have nothing to offer and are a weak, ineffective opposition party.
So what they don’t tell you is that Republicans have, for the last several years, annually put up an alternative budget in the General Assembly – one which holds the line on excessive spending and returns money to the pockets of hard-working Marylanders regardless of their party affiliation.
It’s been a well-kept secret that instead of amassing all state power in Annapolis and making the state itself prostrate to the whims of inside-the-Beltway bureaucrats who tell the state how high to jump, Republicans fought for the interests of counties and of rural Maryland – the state’s breadbasket. But measures to repeal the state’s onerous 2012 septic bill were haughtily dismissed this spring in Democratic-controlled committees; meanwhile, our right to own a handgun was severely curtailed by tone-deaf members of the majority despite the pleas of hundreds from all parties who signed up to testify on behalf of the Second Amendment.
This cavalier Democratic attitude of know-it-all superiority even extends to the voting process, as state law dictates their candidates will be listed first on the ballot.
Just because Republicans haven’t had the opportunity to govern in this state with control of the state’s General Assembly and statewide offices doesn’t mean they won’t be able to do what’s right for the state in key areas such as job creation and education. Instead of the stagnation of the last eight years and legislative rot stretching back decades, Maryland can turn a new page and join other successful states where Republicans have control.
It only takes one vote: yours.
The key difference in the print version was combining the final sentence with the preceding paragraph, which made it lose its punch somewhat. (Mark Bowen, my Democratic opponent, got his concluding sentence to stand by itself.) They also butchered the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph in that version, leaving it hanging a little bit. Hence the need to set the story straight, sort of like the “director’s cut” of a movie.
But it’s interesting how Bowen and I interpreted the question in different ways. When I received the invitation to write this piece, I was told the subject would be Maryland’s 2014 midterm elections, so I looked at it on statewide level. Obviously Bowen chose to approach this from a national perspective as he discussed Obamacare and the prospect of electing “right-wing extremists.” (I happen to think we need about 300 more of them in Congress so maybe we can get a body which will properly assist in running this nation.) He really didn’t address the state situation at all, which leads me to believe they think things are in the bag here. I’m all for shocking the world on that one.
It’s unfortunate, but I didn’t save my original draft. I had to cut it under 400 words so I had to leave a couple subjects on the cutting room floor. I would have liked to point out the 40 tax increases enacted under our current regime but decided the idea of the alternative budget was a better way of looking forward. The key element of my argument was showing how out-of-touch the current administration in Annapolis truly is, yet it only takes one vote to change it.
So what do you think? Did I mop the floor with Mark Bowen? I encourage you to leave the Facebook comments and let the online Daily Times readers know that the state is truly ready for a change.
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.
At the end of each summer, official Washington winds down and Congress beats it out of town for their annual August recess. (I think in the official parlance of Congress, I think this is known as a “District Work Period.”) This is the time when many members schedule town hall meetings, and I think Barack Obama is concerned about being outworked by the TEA Partiers who rightly oppose his big-government schemes.
That’s why I got this message in my mailbox the other day from Organizing
Against America For Action:
There is only so much I can do on my own.
The special interests know it, and they’re counting on you to be silent on gun violence and climate change. They hope you’re not paying attention to creating jobs or fixing our broken immigration system.
And they plan to make the loudest noise when your members of Congress come home for August recess.
I’m counting on you to be just as vocal — to make sure the agenda that Americans voted for last year is front and center.
Say you’ll do at least one thing as part of OFA’s Action August in your community, no matter where you live.
I know it’s easy to get frustrated by the pace of progress.
But it’s not a reason to sit back and do nothing — our system only works if you play your part.
If you don’t let your representatives know where you stand in August, we risk losing an important battle on your home turf.
So I’m asking you to speak up — commit to do at least one thing in your community during Action August:
Isn’t it nice to be on a first-name basis with the President?
So allow me to let my representative (and anyone else reading this) know just where I stand during “Action August”:
- Barack Obama has done plenty of harm on his own. It’s up to Congress to restore sanity; unfortunately only a small portion of those in Congress are willing to do so. So don’t give me this “only so much I can do on my own” crap.
- I’m not silent on gun violence and I certainly don’t support it. But allow all those who wish to be armed the opportunity to carry in a concealed manner and you’ll find there’s less gun violence. Taking away guns only benefits two groups: the government and the predator criminal class. (Actually, that may be one group.)
- Climate change: I wouldn’t mind warmer winters myself. But until we find an on-off switch for the sun, there’s really nothing we can do about the climate, except use it as an excuse for more overbearing, job-killing regulation.
- Here’s my question about “the agenda Americans voted for last year.” Do you think they’re having second thoughts about now? I do. Otherwise you wouldn’t need to contact me with your note.
But the most important line is this one:
…we risk losing an important battle on your home turf.
A loss in the Obama column is a win for America as far as I’m concerned. Richard Falknor has this figured out on Blue Ridge Forum, and it’s a call to action for the side of good:
For this month we will see how effective are Tea Partiers and the conservative base in bringing many GOP members to a much stronger mind when they return to their districts.
I’m not so much concerned about this First Congressional District – aside from those who grouse about Andy Harris’s votes on issues where Constitutional guarantees meet national security concerns, the district is pretty much set up to be reflective of his voting record. Once the man in the chicken suit failed in his task, we were pretty much assured of a decade or so of Andy Harris, because no liberal will beat him fair and square.
But there are seven other Congressional districts in Maryland (as well as the one comprising the entire state of Delaware, for my friends up that way) where the officeholders will only be under pressure for supporting the failed Obama agenda if people speak out against it. Don’t cede the field to those OAA/OFA special interest Astroturfers, make yourself heard!