It was awful tempting to jump on into that water, but several thousand people managed to sweat their way through another hot Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. While Republicans tend to have a little more presence in the area, some of the Tawes regulars were absent because the event coincided this year with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
That convention minted the GOP Presidential nominee, who seemed to be pretty popular.
That group of signs dwindled little by little, as Trump adorned a number of tents. On the other hand, there were far fewer Hillary signs – but the Democrats also had their crowded space.
Sarah Meyers (in the blue shirt) is a friend of mine, and she was tearing her hair out as the coordinator there because they overbooked the space. (You may see her at the Democratic Convention next week, as she will be there as a page.) By the same token, the Somerset Republicans only went with one tent as well and it was packed, too. So both parties had close quarters.
Yet the businesses seemed to have ample space. I didn’t peek into every tent, but many of them (as well as businesses lining State Route 413 into Crisfield) had a simple message: welcome Governor Hogan.
Even lobbyist Bruce Bereano, who always has the largest space, got into that act.
Yet among those businesses I did pick out I found an odd juxtaposition there, particularly under the auspices of the local economic development commission.
In order, these businesses are Cleanbay Renewables, which is a chicken waste recycling firm, Pinnacle Engineering, which services NASA, the Somers Cove Marina Commission, and Great Bay Solar I. The last is interesting because this project was originally supposed to be wind turbines, but objections to the siting of the turbine towers from the Navy forced the company to go solar, making lemonade out of lemons. With the exception of Pinnacle, the state has sort of forced the market for the other two businesses.
Yet on the other side was a law firm that objects to the approach the state is using to clean Chesapeake Bay through its Clean Chesapeake Coalition. They believe much of the problem comes from the sediment that leaches out from behind Conowingo Dam in severe storms.
I happen to think the CCC has a pretty good case.
Speaking of business, the food business did pretty well there. Almost too well.
According to my cell phone camera, which took all my photos today, I took that picture at 12:01 as I walked over to get in line for food. Here is the end result, 46 minutes and four lines later.
I actually asked for the onion rings as I inched closer to the front of the French fry line. And I certainly don’t fault the crew because they worked hard, even toward the end when I snapped this.
I think the issue is the increasing use of “runners” who get multiple orders of food and slow down the lines. It seemed like every third person in line was one, which meant those who just wanted to fend for themselves had to wait.
The guy who didn’t have to wait in line was Governor Larry Hogan, because I don’t think he ate a bite.
This is a second segment of time lapse. I took this photo above in the area where the food lines were at 1:57 p.m. Now, let me ask you: where’s Hogan?
He’s barely visible in the center of the photo, obscured by Delegate Charles Otto in the pinkish shirt. In 35 minutes he had advanced maybe 80 yards thanks to the crush of well-wishers who wanted to shake his hand, have a photo with him (although he suggested it in a number of cases) and perhaps say their piece. I was in the latter group as I wanted to thank him for his stance on the Presidential election. Larry commented that he had noticed the reception I’ve received on social media a couple times as it echoed a lot of what he had seen on his.
Stay strong, Governor.
The two major-party candidates for U.S. Senator were also there. Now I missed Democrat Chris Van Hollen – perhaps because I didn’t recognize him walking around – but I did get a glimpse of Kathy Szeliga from the GOP.
Of the people I saw and photographed, she was one of the few I didn’t speak to at least a little bit. I don’t blame her – our paths just didn’t cross but once.
Of course, a few locals managed to be in front of my camera, such as Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, who brought her family and a batch of others from Worcester County.
She was speaking to Duane Keenan from Red Maryland.
The other half of Worcester County must have come with Senator Jim Mathias, who had a number of folks with a matching shirt to his. He was a little peaked by the time I took the moment to thank him for his assistance with the school board election bill.
Yet while we had hot and cold running politicians there, we also had a lot of media asking questions. I noted Duane Keenan above, but here’s Ovetta Wiggins of the Washington Post (right) speaking to Jackie Wellfonder. Jackie made the cut in Ovetta’s story.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Mike Bradley, who hosts WGMD’s morning show out of Lewes, Delaware. Since his station covers a fair amount of the lower Shore in its signal, he was interviewing some of the local players. It’s a very good show that I catch once I cross into Delaware on my way to work.
And it could be that the Tawes event is becoming one for the greater Delmarva area. A delegation of elected officials from the First State included Representative Tim Dukes, who covers the Laurel and Delmar areas in his 40th District.
The reason I’m in the photo on the right: it was taken by Dukes’ fellow representative (and Minority Leader in the Delaware House) Danny Short of Seaford. Since we’re neighbors with Delaware it was nice to see some of their elected officials, too.
In that respect, this coverage was a little lacking because I did a lot of walking and talking to a number of nice folks from around the state. I want to say I overheard Jackie Wellfonder say this, but Tawes really is “like a big ‘ol family reunion.” We don’t often see a lot of politicians travel across the bridge but for attending Tawes, so you have to say hello and speak your piece when you can.
Back in July of last year I attended the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield, and among those I met that day was one of the first to announce he was seeking the U.S. Senate seat in Maryland, Chrys Kefalas. Fast-forward nine months later and we have thirteen others on the ballot joining Kefalas in seeking the Republican nomination, and his diligence on the trail seems to be paying off – Chrys is within the margin of error from leading the race, according to a recent Washington Post/University of Maryland poll. (However, a subsequent WRC-TV/Marist poll has Delegate Kathy Szeliga leading Richard Douglas 20-13, with 9 percent backing Kefalas. No other candidates were mentioned by name.)
While both polls suggested it was a wide-open race, as nearly half had not decided on a candidate, you can easily take the fourteen who started and boil them down to perhaps a half-dozen with a real chance. Many of the aspirants are running campaigns on a shoestring, with a website and no resources otherwise to campaign around the state. Only five have achieved enough standing to participate in one of the televised debates: Douglas, Joe Hooe, Kefalas, Szeliga, and Dave Wallace; except for Hooe each of these have also visited the local area to participate in a statewide campaign. (If Hooe has come to Salisbury, I am not aware of it.) With the other four I have seen all but Szeliga personally, but Cathy Keim covered the Szeliga kickoff visit so that counts, too.
Over the last few weeks, my initial impressions of the candidates (and that extension of remarks) have not changed significantly in most cases. But there is at least one disqualifier that I have to report.
This is from Joe Hooe‘s campaign Facebook page.
Question: So, where do you stand as far as Trump is concerned?
Hooe: I support him, I’ve made phone calls for him and I liked the Christmas card that he sent to me and my family. I like his plan to secure the border, I like that he is a business person like me and I think that our plans can work together. I also believe that no matter what we need a Republican in the Whitehouse.
I realize that the one key issue Hooe is bringing to the table is his scheme to tax illegal immigrants $1,000 a year for permission to work here but on its face one has to question just how workable such a proposal is if people are already here illegally. Enforcement is already not our strong suit, and I can just see some bleeding-heart liberal saying, “oh, that’s a lot of money for these poor immigrants to come up with – how about we give them a tax credit so it’s not such a hardship for them?”
But to me being a Trump supporter shows a lack of judgment when it comes to conservatism. So Hooe is out.
Next, you have Kathy Szeliga. She has been on TV for several days with her motorcycle ad, and it has pushed her numbers upward from 15% to 20%. But it’s still difficult to pin her down on a lot of issues because she’s mastered the art of political-speak. She’s gotten a little better over the last couple weeks, but Szeliga and Chrys Kefalas keep trying to out-Larry Hogan each other. Maybe it’s a good electoral strategy, but one of my concerns is having a good conservatism strategy and I don’t necessarily get that vibe from Kathy like I should given her General Assembly voting record. She would definitely be only what I call an 80 percenter in Congress, one who I agree with maybe 80 percent but who may not push as hard against the status quo as I wish she would.
Regarding Chrys Kefalas, here’s a good guy who seems to have a following among the Millennial “let’s not discuss social values” crowd – in fact, he may get extra points with them for some of his choices. (Let’s just say he definitely worked against me in 2012 on Question 6 and leave it at that.) Yet to me that’s a leg of the three-legged conservative stool that you can’t just saw off and I don’t understand how one can be “principled” without addressing this. (Since Hogan didn’t address this either in his 2014 campaign, in that respect Chrys really is a “Larry Hogan Republican.”) I will grant that these are not the most important of issues, but despite his advocacy for manufacturing I don’t completely agree with Chrys that this is just a “jobs and economy” election. He came down on the wrong side of the Apple controversy, so I also wonder if Kefalas would respect and work for either our civil or religious liberties if elected.
Bear in mind that if either of these two emerge victorious, though. I can easily support them despite their flaws. I just won’t be able to expect that I have a Senator working for me in Washington.
After I began to study the field and issues, it became clear for me that the choice is between Richard Douglas and Dave Wallace. I have had the opportunity to speak with both and heard both Douglas and Wallace at some length; not only that, they were willing to answer many of my questions. So I have a pretty good idea where both of them stand, and I think either would be outstanding Senators for the state of Maryland for different reasons.
But there are two things which tip the scale for my endorsee.
First is the experience and leadership he has shown – even when it wasn’t an issue that was intended to make headlines, defending the very presence of the Bladensburg Peace Cross in the wake of a secular humanist attempt to have it removed as a so-called establishment of religion as opposed to a simple and longstanding memorial to the war casualties from Prince George’s County shows conscience and respect for tradition, as well as a willingness to fight for our values.
Second is a combination of backbone and knowledge of the system. As we have seen with the Donald Trump campaign, there is more to gaining the Republican nomination than getting a plurality of the votes. The knowledge and understanding of the process that Ted Cruz is exhibiting is enabling him to outperform expectations. Similarly, understanding the rules of the Senate is a key to taking advantage and getting things done, and I don’t want a shrinking violet up there.
Of all the years to have a tagline of “make Maryland great again,” this is not the year given its immediate connotation. To make Maryland great is to balance ably representing the economic interests of those of us who do not work for the federal government with the national security, foreign policy, and oversight tasks entrusted to the Senate. In a time of crisis experience matters to me almost as much as principle, so I am endorsing and casting my vote for Richard Douglas for the U.S. Senate.
In each of the polls I have seen Richard Douglas is within striking distance of the lead, so it’s up to us to put him over the top and select a man who can make mincemeat of the Democratic nominee in a debate. Maryland definitely needs “new blood” in the Senate, so let’s make it happen.
Bereano’s Corner was in roughly the same location, but there was a lot of strangeness about this year’s event.
Our tent was in a new location. Some liked the idea of being along the marina, but the traffic walking by wasn’t as brisk as we had when we were in the middle, next to Bereano.
It did have a great space for signage that many took advantage of.
Being on the grass, we also had our share of bloodsucking biting flies. Speaking of bloodsuckers, the Democrats were less than thrilled with their location as well. Normally they have been the corner tent in this line.
But they did have the keg, not that I had anything from it. They also had an interesting table within.
While I am part of working America I’m not a member of this AFL-CIO affiliated organization, so it’s no surprise to find them in the Democrats’ tent. There were a handful of folks walking around with their red shirts on, but Big Labor didn’t have the presence here they did during the O’Malley years. Maybe they are laying low until next year.
There were quite a few businesses there, although it was a different mix than I recall from previous years.
Some enterprising youth took the occasion to be their own business people. Those in orange were “runners” and on their shirts it read they were working for tips.
Hopefully they made more money than those who annually charge $10 or $20 for parking in their yard. I don’t think business was as brisk for them because attendance seemed off from last year.
Government and public entities were well-represented, too. Interesting how the environmentalists are cozy with the economic development group.
I think the University of Maryland – Eastern Shore was next to the Democrats, but Salisbury University was really trying to make a splash.
While there were a lot of differences in this year’s rendition of Tawes, some things never change. Lobbyist Bruce Bereano always has the biggest tent.
Another constant is a ton of good food, particularly of the fried variety. This was my spread.
Not a salad in sight – in my dietary defense, I skipped breakfast. But it was all very good, aside from a little lack of fileting on one of the sandwiches. It was a trifle bony.
(No, I don’t like crabs – so don’t ask.)
This event also draws media like the food on the ground draws seagulls. Here’s Delegate Carl Anderton being interviewed by local television.
Both local Salisbury stations were there doing live shots and interviews.
And while the faces may change, the political aspect never does. You have the newcomers trying to make a good first impression, like U.S. Senate hopeful Chrys Kefalas and his millennial posse.
By the way, I had to look up that Kefalas is 35 because he appears a decade younger.
You have old hands looking for new positions, like Congressional candidate Mike Smigiel (in the center). He had a batch of “I Like Mike” buttons.
County Councilman Larry Dodd is on the right, and I apologize for not recalling the gentleman on the left’s name.
And then there were established officeholders like my 2015 monoblogue Accountability Project Legislator of the Year, State Senator Justin Ready. He’s talking to Jackie Wellfonder, who probably has some sort of social media record for photos with the most officeholders and general friends of hers.
I think I’ve already seen her picture with our Lieutenant Governor, Boyd Rutherford. He’s the distinguished-looking guy in the center.
One final difference was the weather. While it was relatively comfortable, with a gentle breeze, the clouds rolled in toward the end.
I left about 20 minutes before the scheduled 4:00 close, and by the time I got to my car about 1/2 mile away it was raining lightly. Before I got out of Crisfield it let loose and poured, so those who stayed to the bitter end either got under a tent or looked like drowned rats (or both.)
It was a fitting end to an event which was good, but perhaps a little off kilter. In fact, I was discussing the future of this gathering with someone who compared it to the Salisbury Festival – a venerable event that didn’t change and eventually withered away. Since the cost went up this year (to $45 a ticket) we’ll see how it affects the plans for next year.
As for me, I’d like the center location back.
As it turned out we didn’t have a speaker for tonight’s meeting so the agenda was on the light side. Still, there was plenty of discussion at our gathering.
We did the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance as we always do, but in between we had a silent moment of prayer for Governor Hogan. I had not heard the news about his cancer diagnosis, so I was quite shocked. It was definitely a somber way to begin the meeting.
With no speaker, we jumped to Julie Brewington’s Central Committee report. She recounted our appointments to the Board of Elections and Board of Education and revealed we were in the process of working on a fundraising event. We were also seeking a mayoral candidate for Salisbury as the filing deadline approaches in August.
Representing Somerset County’s GOP was Matthew Adams, who came up to sell tickets to the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. Readers of mine know all about this annual event, which this year has increased its ticket price to $45. Between the state party and our two counties, we have half of one of the large tents for a total of 120 tickets. Adams expressed his interest in having Andy Harris make an appearance, but we were at the mercy of the House voting schedule for that one. Harris may be able to do a morning event, though. (I would assume that Harris’s primary opponent, Michael Smigiel, already has Tawes on his calendar just as Harris was able to do when Frank Kratovil held the seat.)
We also got the pleasure of meeting Patty Miller, who is the incoming president of the Salisbury University College Republicans. Their big task this year, said Miller, was to recruit new members. When asked about the atmosphere on campus Miller admitted that it was hard to overcome the liberal bias of the faculty, but it helped that many students came from rural areas. Adams noted that a good percentage of SU students come from Somerset County and was hoping to use them to gain inroads into UMES.
Some good news came from Muir Boda, who announced the beer license for the Crab Feast on September 12 should be secured this week. The issue was our non-profit status, which was resolved by (of all people) the IRS. Boda was working with Josh Hastings of the Democratic Club, who have the same issue with their event, so there is bpiartisan cooperation around here. He also announced he had filed for City Council last week.
Another upcoming event is the Wicomico County Fair in August, and we were in the process of getting our space there. Dave Snyder asked about voter registration and we encouraged him to do so.
Our most recent appointees to the Board of Education were then asked to speak, as their first meetinnd wg will occur tomorrow morning. And while the reaction to John Palmer’s appointment was “righteously fearful,” according to Julie Brewington, Joe Ollinger struck a more optimistic tone – although he admitted “public education is a tough job.” But it’s not a money issue, he added.
Some of his ideas for change were efforts to instill more discipline in the schools while encouraging more respect for the public school teachers. But he also wished to move as much responsibility as possible to the local board, hoping the state would cede some power.
One other item on the club’s agenda is a new officer. Since Joe Collins took a position on the Board of Elections, he can’t serve as an officer for the WCRC. Dave Snyder volunteered to be nominated but we would like to have other candidates step up, too.
Marc Kilmer filled us in on the public hearing process for an elected school board. Five hearings will be held beginning in September – wonder where they got that idea? It was also suggested that we hold a straw poll at the Wicomico County Fair to gauge support.
Marc also was lauded by Joe Ollinger for how he explained how he came u with his votes, and it was incumbent upon us to demand that same forthrightness from the others on County Council.
Shawn Jester passed along word from Delegate Carl Anderton that his district office was now open. We also learned from Cathy Keim that we would be using the optical scanner machines beginning in 2016. Of course, that brings a headache because the machines and paper ballots have to be kept in a conditioned space the county doesn’t have yet, so they will have to lease or build one.
Next month we will have two speakers. It’s no surprise that our old friend Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is coming to address us, but having Jake Day speak is definitely different. He sought us out, though, and we’ll give him the forum on July 27.
Once again, thousands came to Crisfield and heeded this advice.
Somers Cove Marina was set up a little differently this year, but the real difference was that the attendees didn’t soak through their clothes this year – instead, the day was cloudy but relatively comfortable, with only a small touch of humidity. Most years this setup – by a local engineering firm, naturally – would be oh so handy. But not so much this year.
One key difference in the arrangement this year was the prominence of this tent.
Annapolis lobbyist Bruce Bereano always has a crowded party, and it’s a bipartisan affair.
The GOP tent this time was set up behind Bruce’s, and it was a hub of activity for the Republican side. A lot of local and state hopefuls were there at some point.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan decided to have his own space, which ended up by the side entrance.
On the other side of the Republican tent and just around the corner, the Democrats were set up close to their usual rear location along the waterfront. Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton was holding court there. (He’s in the white at the center, in shades.)
By and large, though, most of those in attendance were interested in one thing. See the light blue lean-to to the left of the Sysco trailers in the photo below? That’s where the crabs were being served, and the line indeed stretched that far back 15 minutes before the announced noon opening – they really start serving about 11:30 or so.
I think the longest wait I had was about 10 minutes for the Boardwalk fries. As it turns out, I’m not a crab eater – but I like the fried clams and the fish sandwiches. Oh, and there’s a few politicians there too, but I’ll get to that in due course because I can find the political in a lot of things – except perhaps this.
The hosts of a locally-produced show called “Outdoors Delmarva” always seem to find time to tape a segment here.
Another local business I always find at Tawes made a very classy, and apolitical, gesture this year.
But I do find the irony in some things. For example, those of you familiar with the Hudson case may appreciate some here.
It seems to me the UM law school was on the other side of the fence before, as opposed to this group, part of the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, which tends to take agriculture’s side as well as that of local government.
One other thing worth pointing out is the media frenzy this event creates. Here’s Delegate (and Senate candidate) Mike McDermott being interviewed. Wonder how much they actually used?
Most of the excitement occurs when the top members of the respective tickets arrive. Hogan had the tent but didn’t come until the event was well underway. His entrance was rather modest.
Oh, did I tell you pretty much everyone in the tent was waiting for him?
Naturally, everyone wanted to get their quote from him – perhaps even the tracker from the Brown campaign. I’m told Hogan has one.
While I’ve been critical of the Hogan campaign throughout, the way their team handled today was outstanding. This was the first stop I noticed him making after all the interviews were through.
In case you can’t read the sign above, it’s the tent of the Somerset County Economic Development Commission. To me, that was the perfect place to be seen.
They took a little time to meet and greet; they being both Hogan and running mate Boyd Rutherford. But the point was that I didn’t see them walking around much – instead they were engaging voters.
As I noted earlier, there were a number of other politicos there, but the statewide Democrats were not well-represented. I did see their AG nominee Brian Frosh. He’s the small guy in the center, violating the Don Murphy rule about not wearing white.
Notably absent, though, was the top of their ticket, Anthony Brown. It’s odd because he’s been here a few times.
One guy who wouldn’t dare miss this is local Delegate Charles Otto (center.) His Democratic opponent is the just-replaced former mayor of Crisfield, which certainly made for interesting retail politics for them.
A guy who lost his primary, Muir Boda (left) was out supporting those who won – and yes, Johnny Mautz was in the house. Muir’s with Democratic Wicomico County Council candidate Josh Hastings (right.)
All told, there were a lot of people there. I took this panoramic shot about quarter to three, which is just before those who had their fill begin to trickle out.
One other difference was not seeing all the Red Maryland crew there, although I did speak to Duane Keenan, who does a radio show on their network. Another media guy trying to drum up business was Phil Tran, who you couldn’t help but notice.
The other new media people I saw there were Jackie Wellfonder – although she hasn’t blogged about her experiences yet, she did burn up Twitter – and Jonathan Taylor of Lower Eastern Shore News, who has his own photo spread.
But as the event came to an end, we know that by week’s end Somers Cove will be back to normal.
In 2015 the Tawes event should be good for sizing up the lone statewide race in 2016. While Barbara Mikulski has given no indication on whether she will retire, the soon-to-be 78-year-old senior Maryland Senator may not like being in the minority come next year and could decide to call it a career. We should know by next July.
Crisfield is the southernmost town in Maryland, but one day per summer it becomes the state’s political capital. Anyone familiar with Maryland politics knows that a summer tradition is standing around on the blacktop at Somers Cove Marina waiting for crabs and watching politicians try to create a show of support. But this year’s affair promises to be somewhat different than ones in years past, perhaps getting the feel of one held the year after the previous gubernatorial election.
This is because, for the first time, we already know for sure who the nominees will be. In years past we had a primary just weeks away but that’s no more. So Anthony Brown will be there, presumably with a cadre of blue-shirted volunteers who will head straight to the AFSCME tent. Larry Hogan’s posse will arrive at some point and the question will be how much smaller will his be, as it always seems Republican groups are smaller.
If things hold as they have over the past few years, there will be a steady stream of traffic going by the GOP tent, if only because Bruce Bereano’s bipartisan party is generally right across the walkway; meanwhile, the Democrats will hole up in the opposite corner by the cove, near a place I generally go to get some shade as I walk around. The only difference is that shade may not be such a requirement – the forecast for Crisfield tomorrow is for temperatures only in the upper 70s but a chance of rain throughout the afternoon after a stormy early morning. It could affect the business portion of the event, as a number of local businesses use this as a party for their employees and clients. (It’s not just politicians having a good time – I have some beer pong photos from a few years back. I was not a participant.)
I have no insight as to how ticket sales are doing, aside from knowing we sold most of our allotment. I do know this will be the ninth straight one I’ve gone to (beginning in 2006) and a lot of things have stayed pretty constant. Something worth noting from 2006 is that then-Governor Ehrlich skipped the event – and lost. Martin O’Malley didn’t skip the event in 2006 and 2010, and won.
But instead of blast-furnace hot as is usual, we may be drowned rat wet. Fortunately, there are tents but those cardboard box halves may come in handy as makeshift umbrellas. (Pro tip: don’t forget the box half, although occasionally campaigns will be one step ahead and bring a bunch. It’s a good place to use old bumper stickers.)
In any event, be looking for me. I got my ticket last week and will be there with my little camera taking pictures as I have for most of the last several years. I have a lot of good memories of Tawes and met some fine people, so there’s no reason to stop going now.
It was a whirlwind week for me in terms of radio appearances. First I was invited to do a segment on “Watchdog Wire Radio” which aired on Friday night regarding my recent release of the monoblogue Accountability Project. I was thrilled to give my baby a little more exposure, as I think it should be required reading for all Marylanders considering going to the polls.
So on Tuesday morning I was invited to record my segment, which we finally got to do Thursday night. (“Watchdog Wire Radio” is apparently one of at least two shows taped beforehand for later broadcast.)
Oddly enough, by that point I had already done an interview with Brian Griffiths, who conducted a number of interviews at the Tawes event. Mine was one of a number that happened to air on the Red Maryland Network’s Saturday “Election Focus” hour, joining the likes of gubernatorial candidates David Craig and Ron George, among others. I believe mine was the first one Brian did, since he was using me to check his levels and such. No biggie, someone has to do it.
So allow me to discuss the actual shows, “Watchdog Wire” first. The thing which sticks out at me about doing “Watchdog Wire Radio” is that I need to either sit closer to my computer or play around with the recording volume a little bit. Mark does his interviews via Skype, and while I’ve worked with it before I’d always done it on my desktop computer. It’s a little different on my laptop, which has a built-in camera and microphone (although I didn’t need the camera.) So maybe I need to lean into it.
As for the content, I was pretty pleased with how it went initially, although I think I bogged down a little bit talking about the accolades and admonishments. It shocked me, though, that I had the entire first half of the 50-minute show. Obviously host Mark Newgent came prepared with a lot of questions for me, but I didn’t think I had that lengthy of a segment. This is particularly true when I was one of four pieces.
There were a couple of things I could have kicked myself for. One is that I didn’t explain the point system and the reason 25 votes is easy math – each correct vote is four points. I also have deductions of 1 to 6 points for absences, not voting while present, and changing a vote to incorrect (which is possible in the House, as is the half-credit I give for switching to the correct side.)
The second is not being able to navigate through it as quickly as I should have. I knew exactly the bill I was referring to for Delegate Norman, but couldn’t locate the title. Obviously there’s much more to the mAP than just the votes and accolades, as I try to give a reason why I would or wouldn’t support a bill. We also didn’t get into the committee votes, which I suppose is just as well because you should always leave an audience wanting more.
Well, they got more on Saturday night, right off the bat. The first ten minutes or so of “Election Focus” was my interview at Tawes. This made sense because, as I noted above, I was first out of the chute. Given the roster of guests I don’t mind being an opening act.
Once I got used to Brian Griffiths’ rapid-fire delivery and got into the flow of things, I think I did all right (except for not recalling Laura Neuman’s name.) Listening to the rest of the interviews, I noticed Brian is that way with most of them. On the other hand, you can tell I’m from the Midwest because I speak more slowly.
And because I was sort of the “home team” for this effort – and they knew I’d done several recaps of Tawes – I enjoyed giving the lowdown on the local scene around the lower Eastern Shore. Perhaps I was a little tongue-tied speaking about the second bananas on the Republican ticket, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on around here.
Overall, “Election Focus” seems to be an interesting show for Marylanders to get to hear from a number of candidates from top to bottom on the ballot. (It will be better when it’s not “300 degrees,” apparently.) With about 48 weeks or so until the primary, there’s a lot of airtime to fill. I was happy to do my little part.
Last week, in another story sort of buried in the runup to the Tawes event, the fine folks at Change Maryland hit the 50,000 “like” mark on Facebook. (Today it appears they have surpassed 51,000.) It bears recalling that in the spring of 2012 they were just at 12,000 – although I noted at the time their cake was much more optimistic. Perhaps by the spring convention of 2014 that extra zero will come in handy.
It seems the rule of thumb is that their membership grew in year two at a rate twice as fast as it did in Change Maryland’s first year – if this continues they would be in the 115,000 range by this time next year. But is that too optimistic of a goal?
The bread and butter of Change Maryland has been its strident opposition of Martin O’Malley’s numerous tax hikes and pointing out his incompetence at job creation, especially when compared to peer states. But having covered many of those revenue enhancements now – and knowing 2014 is an election year for his anointed successor, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown – the process of raising taxes may come to a halt. Bear in mind as well that most of O’Malley’s increases are now occurring automatically like clockwork; for example, the sales tax charged on gasoline increases in July during both 2014 and 2015.
A second item affecting Hogan’s organization is a change in personnel. Jim Pettit, who worked with Change Maryland during its run to 50,000, recently joined the campaign of gubernatorial candidate David Craig. Perhaps this is a good time for a transition, knowing that much of the issue advocacy occurs during and immediately after the General Assembly session, but I don’t discount the experience Pettit brought to the table. He’s been replaced by Matt Proud, who has plenty of political experience for a youngster and may bring some youthful enthusiasm to the effort, but will still need a little time to transition into the task.
But what does having 50,000 Facebook followers really mean? Change Maryland explains:
(Change Maryland) has built a dominating presence on social media with more people engaged online than the Maryland Democratic Party, the Maryland Republican Party and all of the potential statewide candidates of either party, added together. Change Maryland’s Facebook page has a total weekly reach of over 341,153 people. No other citizen group in the state has ever accomplished what Change Maryland has, in just over two years.
So they are influencing over 300,000 people of all political stripes with a fiscally conservative message. But will founder Larry Hogan upset the apple cart by making his own bid for Governor? Hogan was coy at Tawes, being quoted in an AP story as noting:
I just think it’s very, very early to be here in the hot, dog days of July the year before the election to be out campaigning. At some point, we might have to take a serious look at it. I don’t think we would do that for quite some time, though.
The way I interpret that is the question of whether Michael Steele jumps into the race later on. None of the others on the GOP side could reasonably be interpreted as Bob Ehrlich loyalists in the way Hogan or Steele would be.
In some respects Hogan is faced with a similar question Newt Gingrich faced in 2008: fresh off the formation of American Solutions, Newt had to decide whether to jump into the presidential race or continue to grow his group. He eventually decided to take a pass on the 2008 race, choosing to maintain his American Solutions leadership role. Conversely, once Newt decided to enter the 2012 presidential race his group withered on the vine.
If Change Maryland becomes interpreted as a campaign entity for Larry Hogan’s gubernatorial bid, its influence would wane. But if Hogan becomes a kingmaker of sorts, using his organization to promote candidates with a fiscally responsible track record in the same manner Sarah Palin lends her hand to certain conservative hopefuls on a national scale (such as Dan Bongino) he could retain his following and influence the 2014 election up and down the line.
There’s no question Maryland needs a change from the liberal philosophy dragging the state down, and Hogan’s group is succeeding in getting out the message. The next step is motivating these disciples to action, and we won’t know the success of that mission until November of 2014.
As is often the case, it was exceedingly hot, quite humid, and a sprinkle of rain fell on the Somers Cove Marina. But thousands braved all that for crabs, clams, and hot and cold running politicians. This is my story.
On any other summer Wednesday afternoon, one can stand near the Somers Cove Marina and see that sight. But yesterday it looked more like this.
The brand new Craig/Haddaway signs were in evidence, as were a handful of shirts.
However, the pair in question didn’t show up until the event was somewhat underway. Their entrance was rather understated compared to some others, as I’ll show later. I caught them just as they entered the gate.
Fellow GOP contender Delegate Ron George had long been set up by then, with his own tent.
He may have had the best giveaway item as well – ice cold bottles of water stashed in a cooler behind the palm cards and brochures.
Ron proved himself to be a man of many hats. Okay, at least just a woven straw one.
A more modest presence was shown by draft candidate Charles Lollar, who brought his wife Rosha along. Here they pose with Wicomico County Republican Club president Jackie Wellfonder.
Later I caught Charles chatting with host Delegate Charles Otto (left, in hat), who represents Somerset County in the House of Delegates.
Another would-be Delegate making her Tawes debut as a candidate was Mary Beth Carozza, who’s seeking the District 38C seat. She had a few assistants in tow as well as an attractive sign.
She was one of many local Republicans and activists who were well-represented in their tent.
We even had the infamous “pin the tax” sign. Too bad we didn’t have it out where more could see it, but it would have been soaked by the misters thoughtfully added by the Somerset County folks. Did I say it was hot?
Observing all this was state Republican Party Chair Diana Waterman, who indeed was carrying a bottle of water.
Also making a presence was Larry Hogan (right), whose Change Maryland group now boasts a 50,000-strong Facebook following. He was making no indication of a possible political run today, but it’s intriguing that he took the time and came down to Tawes.
Hogan has made the point that his group is not restricted to Republicans; a significant portion are independents and Democrats. And the latter group was well-represented at Tawes, too.
Front-runner and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown was also casually late, but had a gaggle of young supporters trailing him. He’s sort of obscured in the center of the photo.
Brown’s first stop upon entering the gate?
There were more modest presences from Attorney General (and gubernatorial hopeful) Doug Gansler and Comptroller Peter Franchot, who considered the race for the top spot but opted to seek re-election. (My photo of Gansler didn’t come out well.)
One other Democratic gubernatorial hopeful whose presence surprised me was Heather Mizeur, pictured here with Salisbury City Councilwoman Laura Mitchell.
Her formal announcement must have been a brief affair, as she and a small band of supporters made the trek down to Crisfield. Mizeur told me it was about her tenth time attending – obviously first as a statewide hopeful.
Also carrying the Democratic banner was the State Senator from District 38, Jim Mathias. He had a decent-sized group of supporters who must have been busy putting up a half-dozen 4×8 signs along Maryland Route 413 leading into Crisfield.
Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton (right) was sporting a “‘bury” sticker to represent his town.
I found Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt enjoying his lunch early on.
Pollitt explained that it’s easier to eat on the pavilion side because he would be greeted by more people in the party’s tent. Makes sense to me – same reason I eat a little at a time.
In fact, a large percentage of those enjoying the food were well away from the political. They were being entertained by the DJs on the left of the photo.
A number of other businesses were represented at Tawes as well, although to me the number seemed down from previous years.
Still, lobbyist Bruce Bereano had his corner. Bruce Bereano ALWAYS has his corner, and it’s always full of Annapolis politicians from both sides of the aisle.
It also always has this nice touch and tribute to the late Somerset County Delegate Page Elmore.
And of course, there was the media. Tawes was crawling with them.
In WBOC’s case, not only did they have the remote truck and the flyover by Chopper 16, the ‘Outdoors Delmarva’ crew was there too. Also covering the event was competitor WMDT-TV channel 47, WBAL radio, and reporters from the Salisbury Daily Times and Baltimore Sun, among others I probably missed.
That doesn’t count the alternative media. The Red Maryland crew was interviewing a number of Republicans – here it was Ron George’s head fundraiser Hillary Pennington of Stratgic Victory Consulting.
Brian was also kind enough to query me, so we’ll see if mine made the cut this evening.
Eventually the crowd began to trickle out and another year’s Tawes event was in the books. There was actually a light shower as I was leaving, which didn’t bother me in the least. A lot of fellowship and fun was had by all.
The vibe of the event promises to be different next year. An earlier primary now means that the Tawes event will occur once the major party nominees are known, so it’s uncertain how much time and expense they will invest in the gathering.
One other note of interest: while I did see Blaine Young there this year, the presence he had was minimal. This leads me to believe he may be stepping aside from the gubernatorial race to concentrate on a local run; otherwise he would have had a tent space as he did last year.
Speculation aside, the Crisfield Chamber of Commerce put on another wonderful event – kudos to the volunteers who make the event one the late Governor can indeed be proud of.
The original intent of this post was to discuss onetime educator and current candidate for governor David Craig’s thoughts on Common Core, which were the subject of an op-ed in the Washington Times yesterday. We had touched on the subject of education in an interview I did with Craig when he announced his campaign last month, and Common Core has become a whipping boy for those concerned about government intrusion on our children’s lives. Craig points out this phenomenon of an expanding federal role:
It used to be a teacher’s primary goal was to “reach” a student. That will never happen as long as politicians and education bureaucrats in Washington insert themselves between teachers and students. Common Core is a backdoor way of nationalizing education, one based on a notion that children are to be churned out of schools on conveyor belts and into the workforce. It will never work.
I agree with David’s sentiment insofar as it goes, and he brought up much of this in our discussion. It’s also worth pointing out that education is the lead issue on Craig’s issue page on his gubernatorial website.
Unfortunately this passion he shows in his op-ed and interview doesn’t seem to come through there. After explaining his career choice, initiatives in magnet schools, and new school construction, the curriculum receives short shrift:
As Governor, David will leverage his experience in public education to ensure that, at all levels schools are centered on one priority: to prepare children for careers of their choice. Too often, kids are coming out of college and advanced degree programs saddled with debt. The debt burden is so high, that parents and students are questioning whether the programs are worth the price. There must be tighter coordination between the academic community and the job market.
Craig states the problem well enough, but “tighter coordination” is really a platitude. Instead, what’s really needed is tighter competition between public schools, private schools, and homeschooling by allowing money to follow the child.
As it turns out, though, this run-of-the-mill op-ed comes on the heels of an unforced error on the part of the Craig campaign, something for which I will share a little bit of inside information. It’s nothing earthshaking to be sure, but necessary for context.
Let me freely admit up front: I’ve never run a political campaign, so a lot of what I’m saying comes from being a simple observer of how some political operations seem to run like well-oiled machines while others stumble their way to the election – generally those are the losing ones, but there have been a few which managed to overcome missteps.
But I was made aware (and sent a copy) of the op-ed a day in advance, most likely in the hopes of posting and discussion on my website. Among the active campaigns, I probably have the best professional relationship with David Craig’s because I know some of the players from many months back while others made an effort to introduce themselves to me. A little respect goes a long way.
And while Friday is already a little bit of a handicap for news coverage, the fact that David had an op-ed placed in the Washington Times is still good, basic free media for the campaign despite the fact that nowhere in the piece is it stated that Craig is running for governor or would have more to do with the Maryland educational system should he prevail. But those Maryland residents who read the Times probably know he’s in the race to be the state’s next chief executive.
In a perfect world, this op-ed would have been discussed on the social media and maybe drawn more coverage on background. (One could argue, though, that the campaign should have held off on it until August when school is more on people’s minds. We’ll see if the back-to-school sales start this weekend, in which case the timing isn’t so bad.) It would provide a lead-in to a more major series of events slated for Tuesday that most in the Craig campaign were building up anticipation for.
Instead, though, I may be the only person in Maryland paying attention to this op-ed from David because it was absolutely blown out of the news cycle by the announcement that Jeannie Haddway-Riccio would be Craig’s running mate. That, my friends, was supposed to be Tuesday’s big news, which would have given him additional attention coming into the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake down in Crisfield that’s generally the state’s most-covered summer political event.
And when I later found out some of the circumstances of the running mate discussion, my thoughts about a leak? Well, they may not have been officially confirmed but I would bet a stack of money as to how the news got to John Wagner and I am not a betting man.
What you have here is a classic example of giving a heads-up vs. a potentially damaging leak. No, in the long-term scheme of things it’s not a big surprise that Craig named Haddaway-Riccio – she’s an attractive young female candidate who’s worked her way into qualification for such an office. As a local party official I’m glad Craig did it early so we can see how other dominoes fall locally now that the seat has likely opened up. But losing control of the narrative can be a larger problem later on, depending on what comes out of an undisciplined staffer’s mouth. It’s hard enough to find good help in this state, as other candidates have painfully learned.
The Tuesday events will thus be somewhat anticlimactic because there aren’t all that many who pine to hear from the second banana on the ticket, particularly now that the surprise is gone. And who knows? Perhaps that will be a day for one of the competing candidates to make a major announcement of his own, truly burying Craig in the news cycle.
I may not be a campaign veteran, but it seems to me that controlling the narrative and not trying to be the big man on campus would serve the boss best. It’s a lesson I’ve learned in eight years of doing this job, and it serves me well to remember it.
I originally thought about placing this item as one of my “odds and ends” snippets but that well has run a little dry of late and it got me to thinking about our local situation.
First I’ll do the required part: the whos, whats, wheres, and whys, if you will:
Join other Eastern Shore Republicans for a fun-filled bus ride to the 2012 “Rally for Victory” Bull Roast on Saturday, September 22. Bus will leave from the Wicomico Republican Headquarters (800 S. Salisbury Blvd – Salisbury… former Blockbuster Video Store) at 10:30 a.m. and return by 5:30 p.m. Cost for the bus is just $5.00 per person. Reservations are being taken by Bonnie Luna at 410-749-1633 or email email@example.com or stop by the Republican Headquarters to make your reservation for both the Bull Roast and the bus. This is the Eastern Shore’s premier election event. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to enjoy a day that will be fun, relaxing, entertaining and inspirational. (Bus limited to 51 reservations.)
Part of the event’s description is as follows:
More than any other election year, I think we can all agree that America’s future hangs in the balance. We can no longer sustain out of control federal spending, stifling regulations on small businesses, and unemployment so high that, “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” (Paul Ryan)
This is why I’m inviting you to attend this year’s Bull Roast Saturday, September 22, in Queenstown, Maryland, from 12 noon until 3:00 pm. I cannot stress enough how important the Bull Roast’s “Rally for Victory” will be. The cost of the event has been kept low ($35 per person) to encourage a great response. The price includes great speakers, a fabulous lunch, and entertainment by the Country Gentlemen.
Attached is the invitation which you can download. FEC rules require the invitation accompany your check for the Bull Roast.
You may also pay by credit card by going to www.andyharris.com, and then look for the Bull Roast link in the upper right hand corner of Andy’s web page.
Okay, I’ve gotten that out of the way. Now allow me to continue with my thoughts.
I don’t know the entire history of the Bull Roast, but apparently this was a key fundraiser for Wayne Gilchrest when he was in Congress. It sort of faded away for a couple years during the Frank Kratovil term because there really was no Eastern Shore Republican leader to take it over, but now it has returned as a fundraising vehicle for Andy Harris. I also recall that for the first several years I was here in Maryland, the date of the Bull Roast was always the same as the date for the Wicomico County Republican Club Crab Feast – so I’ve never gone to one. Unfortunately, that perfect streak will continue despite the event’s reasonable price since someone special is getting married the following day.
Now that I’ve given you that thumbnail sketch, it leads me into pondering something else. Obviously every July politicians get together in Crisfield for the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake; later in August Worcester County becomes the center of Maryland’s political universe for a couple days during the MACO convention. In recent years, national Democrats have retreated to Cambridge in the early part of the calendar year to plot legislative strategy. But what is Wicomico County known for?
I have a couple ideas to that end, but at this point I would rather discuss them internally. Yet this website reaches a number of people in other areas who have had success at raising money and awareness of their local party; sure, our Lincoln Day Dinner is a modest success but we need to have our own memorable event people would come from miles around to attend.
So – any suggestions from the peanut gallery? I’d like a few to mull over in addition to mine.
There is rarely a dull moment when Delegate Mike McDermott is around, and tonight’s Wicomico County Republican Club meeting was no different.
Once we got through the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, my usual reading of the minutes, and the treasurer’s report, we also received a nice note from WCRC scholarship winner Jonathan Hurst that we shared with the membership.
But the folks were there to hear Mike McDermott speak, and that he did. After noting that he wanted to hear our concerns, he made sure to thank those who ran for office – I’m “thankful for the roads you paved,” said Mike. Both Wicomico and Worcester counties have been successful in advancing GOP candidates, with two exceptions: Delegate Norm Conway and Senator Jim Mathias. In 2010, “we had opportunity that was there,” said McDermott. And while we came up a little short, “we have a great foundation,” McDermott said.
Still, Mike contended that we needed to do a little better at “painting the picture,” reminding people that the GOP is “about people being allowed to be all they can be.” On the other hand, Democrats in Annapolis were overly restrictive and created “punitive” policies: case in point, restrictions which added up to $25,000 to the cost of building a home in certain areas of the state. It echoed a theme he brought up at the end of the regular General Assembly session. “Don’t you make a mistake,” said Mike, “that (regulating development) is their goal.”
Michael also spoke briefly on the possible upcoming Special Session for expanding gambling, predicting they’ll be “back up in Annapolis in the next two weeks.” But he did assess that Democrats are “standing in the way of their own voters” with their entrenched positions on many issues. Yet Republicans had “core values (which) need to be untouchable” in order to represent the best interests of their constituents, McDermott concluded.
In the absence of Dave Parker, Ann Suthowski gave an abbreviated Central Committee report. She spoke about our upcoming August meeting and having a presence at the upcoming Wicomico Farm and Home Show.
Shawn Jester also gave a short Lower Shore Young Republican report, saying the group had gone dormant over the last few months but the state YRs had promised them assistance over the next few months to kickstart the group once again.
Bonnie Luna was multitasking this evening, handling reports for the Andy Harris and Mitt Romney campaigns as well as updating us on the new party headquarters, which I’ll get to momentarily. She first thanked the WCRC and the Central Committee for all their support and praised McDermott for his “exciting and encouraging message.”
The 2012 headquarters will be at 800 South Salisbury Boulevard, which is a former Blockbuster video store. It will have a “soft opening” on August 1st, with the grand opening set for Saturday, August 18. Another event likely to be held at headquarters will be a Romney watch party on August 30, once he accepts the GOP nomination.
Jackie Wellfonder chimed in for Dan Bongino’s campaign, saying she has campaign materials but looking for 4×8 sign location.
Woody Willing spoke about getting the 9,000 or so unaffiliated voters to our side, but more formally revealed that election judge training will happen “soon.”
Representing Election Integrity Maryland, Cathy Keim mentioned the total number of registration challenges levied by the group passed the 9,000 mark because voter rolls aren’t being kept up to date. These challenges are only from Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties. She also mentioned that the EIM poll watcher training will soon be available in webinar format on July 31-August 1 and August 14-15. But even after that training, Keim cautioned that poll watchers need authorization from a candidate or Central Committee to operate.
I gave a very quick assessment of the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake (much shorter than this) and pointed out there was a signup sheet for the Farm and Home Show – we will have a presence there.
One other announcement: tickets are also on sale for the club’s Crab Feast.
County Council member Gail Bartkovich then took the floor, updating us on progress from both the county’s Redistricting Committee and Charter Review Committee, both of which are proposing “drastic changes.” One interesting Charter provision is term limits for the County Executive, something which we were told was in the original proposal which created the position a decade ago but excised by the then-Democrat controlled County Council.
The plan is for public hearings to be scheduled, with the final decision made in mid-August. I will have more on the subject as the time draws closer.