Catching up

I’m back from our honeymoon, and if you are plugged into social media as a friend of mine you’ve probably seen a few of our wedding photos. It didn’t exactly go as planned, but in the end I got what I wanted so now we can go boldly forward as a couple joined in the eyes of God (and the state.)

I want to again thank Cathy Keim for providing the content while I was away, but I should have let her know she was also free to moderate comments while I was gone. So last night I moderated a number of interesting responses to her post on Friday regarding the hidden perk Democrats are enjoying with regard to the Electoral College. Reader “kohler” wrote a series of posts that made several claims about the National Popular Vote movement, some of which I’ll address as you read on:

  • The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes does not enhance the influence of rural states, because the most rural states are not battleground states, and they are ignored.

This is true to a great extent; however, that in and of itself is no reason to change the system. The Electoral College itself was formed so that smaller, rural states had some influence in the Presidential selection process – even back in Colonial days it was true that the population of states like Delaware, Georgia, and Rhode Island were dwarfed by Virginia and Pennsylvania. There has never been a level playing field, but in the days of favorite son candidates it’s no wonder Virginia had many early Presidents and Delaware has had none.

  • One-sixth of the U.S. population lives in the top 100 cities, and they voted 63% Democratic in 2004. One-sixth lives outside the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas, and rural America voted 60% Republican. The remaining four-sixths live in the suburbs, which divide almost exactly equally.

It’s worth pointing out that a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) extends well beyond the city limits, and MSAs comprise more than the top 100 cities as they include counties of over 100,000 people not included in a larger MSA. (For example, Salisbury is its own MSA which includes not just Wicomico County but Somerset and Worcester counties in Maryland and Sussex County, Delaware.)

So covering the one-sixth that doesn’t live in an MSA is much more difficult from a media standpoint, although having the internet makes it somewhat easier.

Yet being in our little Republican-leaning MSA doesn’t mean we aren’t swamped at the ballot box by those in the I-95 corridor whether inside the Beltway, in Baltimore, or in Wilmington. Moreover, by cherry-picking the 2004 election (where George W. Bush was re-elected with a slim outright majority) they conveniently ignore the much higher Democratic percentages in 2008 and 2012, which would defeat their argument that rural and urban are balanced.

  • Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80%+ of the states, like Maryland, that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

Do you honestly believe this? As stated above, over 80 percent of the nation lives within a MSA. And using the top 100 cities as a population example is deceiving because in many cases those who live within the city limits are a minority within their county. Here in Maryland, Baltimore City is smaller than Baltimore County (not to mention the other surrounding counties) and the District of Columbia is dwarfed by just Montgomery and Prince George’s counties here in Maryland, not to mention Virginia’s contribution to the Capital region.

Instead of battleground states – which in truth tend to be those with fairly equal rural and urban populations, not dominated by one city – under NPV would-be Presidential candidates would focus strictly on the largest population centers. Those in “flyover country” would continue to be ignored.

  • The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

These are the states which have enacted NPV: California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Notice anything in common among these states?

The NPV movement has advanced the furthest among states with the heaviest concentrations of Democrats, with many of these states featuring one or two dominant urban areas which reign at the expense of their rural denizens. These eleven are among 19 states which have gone Democratic in each of the last six Presidential elections, the others being Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

  • An election for President based on the nationwide popular vote would eliminate the Democrat’s advantage arising from the uneven distribution of non-citizens.

Instead it would just ramp up the total number of votes because it’s all but certain at least a few of these non-citizens have been placed on the voting rolls – I’m sure it was all an accident, of course. And why do I suspect the NPV compact would be ignored if we ever had a situation where the Democrat lost the national popular vote but was in a position to win the Electoral College vote based on how these individual states voted? There is NO WAY Maryland would allow a Republican President to win if the Democrat won the vote here, so if you thought the Bush vs. Gore controversy in 2000 was bad just wait for all the court cases that will come up in a situation like that.

It also should be noted that there is a bill in the General Assembly to repeal the state’s participation in the NPV compact (HB53) but don’t expect much from it: every year since 2009, Delegate Tony O’Donnell has introduced it only to see it lose on a strict party-line vote in the Ways and Means Committee. Shamefully, since 2011 he’s had no co-sponsors for the bill, either.

But I think there’s a better idea out there, and we have a young man locally who is making such a proposal. In the coming months I’ll go into the subject with more detail but suffice to say it’s an idea that may make all the states battleground states while maintaining the Electoral College and giving all citizens more of a voice in the Presidential election process. I’ll leave it at that for now but in the meantime I think it’s time to scrap the NPV movement because the last I checked we were still a republic as long as we could keep it.

And keep it we must.

A thin case of semantics

I haven’t weighed in much on the Senate District 4 primary race between incumbent David Brinkley and challenger Delegate Michael Hough except to point out that Hough’s score on the monoblogue Accountability Project has been significantly better over the last four years as part of my summary within.

But the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance is reaching back 18 years to reinforce its belief that David Brinkley is pro-abortion, as they dredged out a procedural vote on a 1996 bill which would have banned partial-birth abortion in the state. It was a bill which failed in committee, so its sponsor tried to bring it back as a substitute bill and Brinkley voted against consideration, as did a handful of other Republicans whose names I recognize from that long-ago session.

I also noticed another name among the opponents, and that was Addie Eckardt. I don’t think she’s pro-choice in the least, but it’s interesting that the Senate version of that 1996 bill was co-sponsored by Richard Colburn.

Now I can better understand the logic of equating a vote for a budget which happens to have abortion funding as a tiny proportion of the whole, or not advocating more for the advancement of the PCUCPA bill – which didn’t even get a committee vote – than using this particular vote to paint a candidate with that broad of a brush. I know my opinions on some subjects are different now than they were in 1996, in particular the so-called War on Drugs and term limits, so this is an overreach in criticism as I see it. What Brinkley didn’t vote for in 1996 isn’t as relevant as what no one got to vote for in 2014.

Something that was voted on in 2014, in both the Senate and the House, was an amendment to remove taxpayer funding for elective abortions. Needless to say, neither version passed as the House amendment from Delegate Susan Aumann failed 84-48 and the Senate version lost 29-16. The sponsor of the Senate version? David Brinkley. This is based on information from Maryland Right to Life, which did a three-vote scorecard covering both the Brinkley and Aumann amendments as well as an amendment from Delegate Tony O’Donnell to limit taxpayer funding of third-trimester abortions. Delegate Hough went 2-for-2, as did most other Republicans in the House (Delegate Robert Costa didn’t vote on the O’Donnell amendment and Delegate Bill Frank missed both votes), while all but one Republican voted for the Brinkley amendment – Senator Allan Kittleman was the lone no vote. (If only the GOP were as united on several other issues, but I digress.) They also pointed out the failure of PCUCPA to get a vote.

This is what I mean by seriously reaching. It’s pretty likely that a Republican will be pro-life to one extent or another; on the other hand pro-life Democrats are few and far between. Of course, the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance could pick almost any of those standard-issue Democrats as the “Pro-Abort Legislator of the Year;” my choices would be the committee chairs who wouldn’t even give PCUCPA a vote.

Some may say I’m the pot calling the kettle black given my criticism of certain Republicans in various races. My beef is generally in one of two categories: issue obfuscation or pandering to a particular audience. Thus I have a preference for candidates who spell out a platform which is bold. Say what you will about Heather Mizeur’s views on the issues, but at least she makes no bones about being way out on the last strands of that left-wing feather and clearly states her reasoning.

But there is a point where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. The pro-life movement could do far worse than have David Brinkley re-elected, so maybe the MPLA should train its fire where it will do more good. Check out the pro-abortion votes from Norm Conway and Jim Mathias, for example – wins there from Carl Anderton, Jr. and Mike McDermott, respectively, will do far more good for the pro-life community than this internecine squabble.

Disingenuous

As you might know, one of the traditional items I do for my readers is compile the monoblogue Accountability Project, with this year’s version likely to come out next month. (I have to do some slight tweaking to the format, which may take a little more time.) But a few days back I received an item from the Maryland Campaign for Liberty regarding speed cameras, from which I excerpt:

We had no illusions that the Statists in Annapolis would seriously consider a pro-liberty proposal like getting rid of speed cameras throughout the state.

Why would we be satisfied with just accomplishing these three goals you might ask?

Because we were able to get politicians on the record.

And boy, did we get them on record.

Between now and the next legislative session we’ll be holding politicians accountable for their votes in committee.

Our job as activists is to connect the legislative season to the electoral season.

The goals they were alluding to were to have the speed camera bill introduced, get a hearing on it, and put it to a vote, which it received in committee. All three were accomplished, but to the surprise of many (including me) neither the House bill nor a Senate companion received a single committee vote – this despite the fact three of the bill’s co-sponsors (Delegates Jay Jacobs, Wayne Norman, and then-Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell) sit on that Environmental Matters Committee. Norman was excused from the vote, but O’Donnell and Jacobs voted in line to kill the bill. The same was true for Senator Nancy Jacobs, who did nothing to back the Senate version she co-sponsored, although that vote was likely a perfunctory formality because the Senate vote document notes the bill is “Dead in House.”

Still, one would think a sponsor would at least vote for his or her bill, so I wonder how that vote came about in committee.

I’ll cheerfully admit I don’t know the ins and outs of how these committees work when they sit down to vote, but I would venture to say I know more about the legislative process than 99% of Maryland residents because I study the votes. It’s sort of sad to consider that not all of the 2700 or so bills introduced in the 90 day session receive a committee vote, although Environmental Matters voted on about 85% of the bills they were assigned this year. Many of those were rejected in a similar manner.

And the Campaign for Liberty people make the same point:

Wouldn’t you think that at least a few Republicans would have voted the right way on such a no-brainer liberty bill?

Think again!

I make it my business to study bills and voting patterns, so I know that not all bills being considered in a committee are voted on in a unanimous manner. Take the three examples I’ll be using for the mAP from that same Environmental Matters Committee: HB44 failed on a 16-7 vote, HB106 (the Septic Bill repeal) failed 19-5, and HB252 (also sponsored by Delegate Smigiel) died in a 17-6 vote. I actually look for split votes, because unanimous votes generally show either broad support, a complete lack of guts, or a bill simply way too far out of the mainstream to even get a motion. HB251, in my opinion, fell into the second category.

So perhaps the Campaign for Liberty is correct in chastising those who didn’t vote to support the speed camera repeal, because there were several other votes where they were unafraid to stand in the minority. Hopefully next year their effort will gain steam, since the other side typical introduces bad bills several years in a row before legislators are cowed into approving them. Maybe the same is needed for good bills, too.

Observations on observations

May 8, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Observations on observations 

Perhaps the pro-liberty crowd is still a little restless in Maryland.

Today I got an e-mail from “the Susquehanna Conservative,” a.k.a. Scott DeLong of Harford County. Let me toss out a couple caveats before I begin with my analysis of his remarks: one, he was a Collins Bailey supporter for Chair as I was,  and two, Scott is part of the Campaign for Liberty group, which probably makes point number one unsurprising since that was Bailey’s base of support. This rather lengthy e-mail mainly speaks to Scott’s thoughts about our recent convention, although he opines on some other topics as well.

Upon his arrival, he noticed the same thing I did: a handful of Waterman signs but many passionate Bailey supporters out sign waving. Of course, he also highlighted the Maryland Liberty PAC hospitality room to a much greater extent than I did, because I went to several others in my travels that evening. I didn’t realize, for example, that Delegate Michael Smigiel spoke to the group and the information Smigiel related about the SB281 gun bill was quite enlightening. I truly appreciated the overview and wonder if anyone recorded all of the speakers there for future reference.

And since I’m sure I have the attention of the pro-liberty crowd – and hopefully the MDGOP leadership as well – I’d like to offer a suggestion. I’ve alluded to this before, but honestly I’m not sure I have done so in this particular forum: why not move the Maryland Liberty PAC suite out of Friday night, when the focus is more on socializing and schmoozing, to Saturday morning? As DeLong explained later, not all of the Saturday morning fare was well-attended, and to me it would be like a miniature MDCAN conference before our convention business began. Perhaps we could integrate a continental breakfast into it, but in either case I bet it would draw more than seven people.

So only a small portion of Scott’s reflections focused on Friday night. The next part, though, I found interesting. To quote Scott, “It was the Establishment versus 2 grassroots candidates,” but by the very next paragraph he darkly alludes that “The Establishment was going to pull out all the stops to make sure their candidate, Waterman, would win” by “Thugging The Vote.”

Personally I found what I heard to be happening reprehensible, then again, this is politics and “politics ain’t beanbag.” While we had a proxy unsure of the direction to go, having heard conflicting information about following the wishes of the person being substituted for versus following their own desire, I was hearing some of the same stories being related by DeLong in his account.

So let me back up the scenario a little bit. In previous discussions, Dave Parker (our county Chair) and I agreed that our county’s vote could easily (and likely would) split three ways. I actually was mildly surprised by the split as one person I thought of as a Waterman supporter picked Bailey and one other did the reverse. In the end, we were about as split as any county was – but our Chair was perfectly fine with that, and allowed us to make up our own mind.

Contrast that to the browbeating some county chairs gave to their charges, particularly those in the Waterman camp. It was disappointing, but frankly not too surprising. They weren’t going to repeat the same mistakes they made when they thought Audrey Scott had the National Committeewoman’s seat in the bag last spring. Granted, the three votes DeLong alludes to would not have changed the end result – unless it was the tip of the iceberg, and we may never really know that.

But after Scott goes through the voting process, he points out some of the goings-on between ballots for the Chair position:

The chain of events after the first round of balloting for Chairman was interesting.

The Kline and Bailey camps appeared to be genuinely cordial to one another.

It was reported that during that pow-wow that when Kline was deciding what to do that Bailey told him that if he thought he should stay in for one more round, he should.

That’s just Collins being Collins.

However, if one of their goals was to get a grassroots chair and get Pope off the RNC Rules Committee, then the Kline team really needed to be able to see the writing on the wall.

The only thing that would be accomplished with Kline remaining in the race would be the election of Diana Waterman as Chairman since she was 11 votes away and it would be virtually impossible for Kline to get enough to get close.

The Bailey team was prepared to endorse Kline had the outcome been reversed.

The supporters of these two groups clearly had more in common with each other than with Waterman and Pope.

Had either become the Chairman the other groups would have certainly had a seat at the table and would have had their ideas and input considered, and if found workable, implemented.

The Kline guys seemed like a decent bunch, but they clearly need to get better at reading the tea leaves.

Now that last statement will probably earn Scott DeLong the everlasting enmity of the Red Maryland crew, for whom I am an erstwhile contributor (as they like to point out.) One result of this particular election, though, is that it may create a change in the bylaws or the adoption in the future of a special rule where the lowest-ranked candidate is automatically evicted from the ballot. Again, we will never know if a Kline withdrawal and endorsement of Bailey would have been enough to push Collins over the top given how close Diana was in the first place, but as things turned out Bailey supporters got the next best result.

From here, Scott implores us in the pro-liberty movement to “unite for common goals” and launches into a discussion about national party affairs. I believe DeLong is correct that National Committeeman Louis Pope will be extremely resistant to change, and given some of his statements regarding the “Liberty Pack” (as he calls it) it doesn’t appear he will be of much use to the purpose of revisiting the RNC rules.

Yet some of the ideas in the “Growth and Opportunity Project” that DeLong doesn’t like are ones I happen to be in favor of. Personally. I would like to see multi-state primaries – but I don’t want the calendar front-loaded because I would prefer the primaries occur in the timeframe of May through early July, with the conventions remaining in September. With such a compressed schedule, there would be plenty of time for a grassroots candidate to gather support beforehand, not to mention “as much debate and discussion as possible.” (By the way, we should tell the cable networks that either we pick the debate moderators or they can pound sand.) On the other hand, the idea of all caucuses intrigues me as well – perhaps we can have a cutoff number of Republicans in a state (say, just for an example, one million) between a state which can caucus and a state which must hold a primary. (And yes, I think the primaries should be closed. Don Murphy hasn’t convinced me yet.)

DeLong returns to the convention narrative to talk about the reports from Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin and now-former House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell as well as the “usual parliamentary chaos.” I have to agree with Scott on that one.

There have been far too many conventions where we simply ran out of time before important business could be concluded, and to me that’s inexcusable. In one case, I had a pending bylaw change on the short end of the time stick; this time, there was the Tari Moore resolution which was tabled last fall. It always seems like we have some sort of high-priced dinner afterward that no one really wants to attend because they’re dragged out from 24 nearly non-stop stressful hours with very little sleep and – for many – a long drive home. (Next spring in Rocky Gap will be a classic example of that for those on my end of the state, just as Ocean City conventions were difficult on those who came from out west.) I understand we weren’t expecting a Chair election when this spring gathering was scheduled, but why put people through this?

Another place where I part ways with DeLong is over the Tari Moore resolution. If you want to be critical of her budget and other decisions she’s made since becoming Cecil County Executive, that’s one thing and I can accept that. But unless and until she files to run for re-election as an unaffiliated candidate, I think she deserves the benefit of the doubt that she will revert back to her Republican registration so I wouldn’t support such a resolution coming off the table.

To me, Scott is beginning to let the perfect be the enemy of the good and not looking at the 80% rule. Certainly I can pore over anyone’s voting record and find at least a few flaws, but until a better alternative comes along the idea is to try and steer them right.

Yet I think we could have had a better alternative than Nic Kipke for Minority Leader; unfortunately none stepped up to the plate. DeLong correctly points out some of the many flaws in Nic’s voting record but also savages Tony O’Donnell for his mistake of supporting Thomas Perez for a federal position several years ago.

I think Scott’s letter is shorter than my analysis, but in the end he does point out that:

I hope that some of the issues I’ve highlighted in this e-mail provide you with a starting point.

So I made it such. It’s better to get this discussion underway now so we can get through it in plenty of time for 2014, since it’s not like the Democrats aren’t dealing with their own problems.

Leadership turnover in Maryland House

Of course, it’s not with the Democrats.

This was supposed to happen several weeks ago during session, but cooler heads prevailed and pushed the vote back to last night. All it did, though, was delay the inevitable and this time Delegate Nic Kipke won. Instead of Delegate Michael Smigiel as second-in-command, though, the new Minority Whip will be Delegate Kathy Szeliga. They replace the old leadership team of Delegates Tony O’Donnell and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, which had held their respective Minority Leader and Minority Whip positions since 2007 and 2011, respectively.

And like Delegate Ron George’s announcement last night, it seems like the center is striking back. With O’Donnell being fairly conservative in philosophy – at least as evidenced by his voting record – Kipke leaves a lot of room for improvement; in fact, for as much grief as I gave Delegate George for his choices, Kipke’s have been even worse every year since I started the mAP in 2007, and for many of the same reasons. Yet when I hear Mike Busch saying “Tony did a good job of providing the loyal opposition,” I wonder if the change wasn’t needed.

On that note, Kipke is pledging to work with center-right groups like Americans for Prosperity, Change Maryland, and the central committees to “coordinate the GOP’s push for support.” We won’t find out if this bears fruit, though, until next January.

At that point Nic may have to be the circus master as Delegates eyeing new districts or higher office add their political calculations to the already volatile mix of session business.

2013 Maryland GOP Spring Convention in pictures and text (part 2)

In case you missed part 1, it covered Friday night’s events. I noted in that post that I didn’t get to bed until after 1 a.m. – this after working, driving nearly three hours, not eating right, and so forth – so I missed the breakfast speaker. Sorry.

I didn’t get downstairs until after 10:00 so my first photo of the day was noticing this addition to the lobby space.

Nice table, but no one sitting there, at least at the time. So as I (and many others) were waiting for lunch, I spied some nourishment with a curious label. Unity cookies?

Now I don’t know who arranged for these, whether it was Collins Bailey’s idea or not, or whether Greg Kline was asked. I didn’t find it out of character for Collins but wasn’t sure why Greg was excluded.

Anyway, we had our lunch, and while the food was rather disappointing, it was exciting to hear our party awards and a guy who turned out to be a fine speaker. Presenting the awards was Diana Waterman.

The formal awards presented for 2013:

  • Aris T. Allen Award (voter registration): St. Mary’s County. Cecil County received an honorable mention.
  • Samuel Chase Award (outstanding county): Montgomery County
  • William Paca Award (outstanding Young Republican): Dave Meyers
  • Belva Lockwood Award (outstanding woman): Mary-Beth Russell
  • Charles Carroll Award (outstanding man): Chris Cavey

As I mentioned above, Anirban Basu turned out to be a surprisingly good speaker – after all, he toils in the dismal science of economics so I wasn’t sure just what to expect.

The head of the Sage Policy Group noted he made many of his remarks just a few weeks ago in front of a seminar put on by Change Maryland. But he noted that the business climate in Maryland “further deteriorated” as a result of the General Assembly session; as a result it would take a crisis which is not here yet to get the state to change direction.

Despite the fact the state ranks 40th in business climate according to CEO Magazine and 41st in the nation in tax structure according to the Tax Foundation, the state gained 4,700 jobs in March – a full 5.3% of nationwide job gain from about 2% of the population, explained Basu.

Yet while both Maryland and Virginia share in the benefit of being adjacent to the seat of federal government, it’s Virginia which has the “lion’s share” of large corporations. Meanwhile, Maryland is “overdependent” on the federal government to drive its economy, and while the “token gesture” of sequestration hasn’t affected the state just yet, the next quarter will be a “real stress test” for Maryland’s economy, one which Basu termed “not diversified.”

Moreover, the state continues to drive businesses and high earners away. “When people are leaving your state for Delaware, you have a problem,” said Basu. Maryland businesses are in “the awkward position of waiting for the bad news to come.”

So what solutions did Anirban have? Our side needs to be constructive, tell the truth about the situation, but not come across as rooting for bad outcomes. Two things he would propose would be to completely eliminate the corporate tax rate – a move which would change corporate behavior and create the narrative that Maryland was finally open for business – and allow “right-to-work zones” to be created at the county level.

He also stated the case that taxes are okay, but it matters how the money is spent – some investment and infrastructure is better than others. “(The O’Malley administration) shows a disrespect for the market,” said Basu, pointing to offshore wind and mass transit as two prime examples. Politically, getting the message out means “you have to win one household at a time.” But he also chided the Maryland GOP, even though he was a registered Republican he noted “this room doesn’t look like Maryland.”

This was the best part of lunch, yet I didn’t take one.

With that excellent address, I didn’t mind the so-so lunch fare so much. It was time for the convention to begin.

(Sorry about the blurry photo. As usual, Wicomico was seated near the back.)

And the fireworks only took about ten minutes to begin, as a motion was made to amend the agenda and push the Chair elections to the front. This would have gone more smoothly if we had a quicker Credentials Committee report, although those of us sitting in the back were befuddled at what was going on because the sound system was absolutely brutal. This had to be pushed off because a voice vote was not clear as to who was in the majority.

So there was a little bit of business transpired on the original agenda before it was determined how many voters were in the room. Once we got to that point, the agenda change passed with a larger than 3/5 majority.

Because of that, the votes were moved ahead of the reports from the Maryland Senate and House leaders as well as Congressman Andy Harris.

As expected, three names were placed into nomination: Collins Bailey, Greg Kline, and Diana Waterman. It’s fair to say that we expected a multiple-ballot situation and it indeed came to pass.

On the first ballot, the weighted totals were Waterman 264, Bailey 207, and Kline 75. In terms of actual bodies, Waterman had 131 votes, Bailey 104, and Kline 33. Diana drew votes from 22 of the 23 counties and Baltimore City, carrying 12 outright and three – Allegany, Caroline, and Howard – unanimously. Bailey drew votes from all but four counties – the three where Diana was unanimous as well as Garrett County – carried seven counties, and took all nine Washington County votes. Kline carried only Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and only received votes in 13 of 24 jurisdictions.

Three counties – Dorchester, Harford, and Wicomico – ended up in a tie between Bailey and Waterman.

It was figured by most that, facing the reality of the situation, Greg Kline would drop out before the second round – but he pressed on. So the second ballot remained the same and the votes were unchanged in 13 of 24 counties, but the ones which did were enough to propel Waterman to victory. In weighted votes it finished Waterman 284, Bailey 225, and Kline 37 – the actual tally in voters was Waterman 139, Bailey 117, and Kline 11.

Would Kline dropping out and endorsing Bailey have helped? We will never know, but those who split away from Kline gave just enough support to Diana for her to win.

In a gesture of unity, the two runners-up were invited to speak a few words.

For his part, Collins Bailey said we should “do everything we can to make sure (Diana) is successful…we are what Maryland needs.”

Because Diana won the Chair position outright, we had to have an election for First Vice-Chair after she took care of the formality of immediately resigning the First Vice-Chair position as well as her spot on the Queen Anne’s County Central Committee.

I was a little surprised Collins threw his hat in the ring for First Vice-Chair, particularly when Dwight Patel had campaigned for the job. Patel was also nominated along with three others: Scott Shaffer, Mary Burke-Russell, and Mary Rolle.

We were beginning to think we’d be there all night, facing the prospect of sorting through five hopefuls for the First Vice-Chair position. Instead, Bailey won the job easily, garnering a majority of the vote in both weighted totals and actual members. That balloting was Bailey 135, Patel 36, Russell 33, Rolle 30, and Shaffer 29. Each of the also-rans managed to carry at least one county – Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, and Caroline for Shaffer, Charles, St. Mary’s, and Talbot for Russell, Frederick and Washington for Rolle, and Montgomery for Patel – but aside from a tie between Bailey and Rolle in Allegany, Collins got the rest.

So the Chair question was finally settled, but there was still more controversy as some wanted to move the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee reports up so those votes could be held. Instead, we heard briefly from Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin and House Minority Leader Delegate Tony O’Donnell. (Andy Harris had already left, so we got no Congressional report.)

Pipkin was succinct: “There is no doubt that the state of Maryland has been hijacked and held hostage by the Democratic Party.” He predicted “the gun bill passed in Annapolis will not save one life” and blasted Martin O’Malley’s offshore wind scheme as “the dumbest idea ever.”

Next, O’Donnell made the case that “we had a tough, tough session…for taxpayers.” But he called on us to not repeat the mistakes of 2010 in 2014 and field a full slate of Delegate candidates instead of spotting Democrats 30 seats. And O’Donnell noted the gas tax lockbox “is really a virtual paper bag.”

As it turned out, the final piece of business accomplished this day was the Bylaws Committee report. The three items which were deemed most non-controversial were disposed of rather quickly in a unanimous voice vote. But another item dealing with what were perceived as simple housekeeping changes endured lengthy debate and a few failed motions for amendment before finally passing. (At least I think they did, as the general hubbub in the back of the room made it difficult to hear.)

Lastly came an amendment to give the College Republicans and Young Republicans a vote on the Executive Committee. What was a fairly non-controversial idea – although I had heard some logical “devil’s advocate” arguments against the proposal – suddenly became a hot-button issue when an amendment was proposed to give the Secretary and Treasurer of the Executive Committee a vote, too.

Of course, another fly in the ointment was having to do a second quorum check because a number of participants had departed. But we still had a quorum, and the amendment to the amendment allowing the Secretary and Treasurer a vote passed narrowly.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, an alarmed Diana Waterman came to the microphone and said we needed to be out of this room three minutes ago. But the College Republicans and Young Republicans went home happy because that amendment passed on a voice vote, probably about 3/4 yes. We had to hurriedly adjourn, thus sparing ourselves the National Committeewoman’s Report, National Committeeman’s Report, College Republicans Report, Young Republicans Report, and Resolutions Report. That could have created another controversy because the Tari Moore resolution may have come off the table.

I realize I’m supposed to be in the spirit of party unity now, but having a convention cut short because of time constraints for the second time in three years is pretty much inexcusable. It was bad enough the hotel seemed ill-prepared for an event such as ours, but this meeting was never really kept under parliamentary control as it should have.

Perhaps the return to the more familiar environment of Annapolis this fall will assist in having a more enjoyable convention, and Lord knows we need one after this bruise-fest.

Expected: McDermott Tier Map repeal dies in committee vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

New House of Delegates GOP leadership could be on tap

A story by John Wagner which ran online at the Washington Post website earlier this week suggested that changes could be in order for Maryland House Republican leadership, with an election held after this year’s session ends in April. In his piece, Wagner suggests the caucus could be leaning toward Delegate Leroy Myers, Jr. (R – Washington) as the new Minority Leader and Delegate Kathy Szeliga (R- Baltimore County) as the Minority Whip. They would replace current Minority Leader Delegate Tony O’Donnell (R – Calvert) and Minority Whip Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R -Talbot). O’Donnell has held the Minority Leader post since 2007, while Haddaway-Riccio took over as Whip in 2011. One Delegate who wished to remain anonymous confided that 22 Delegates are on board: “Enough to do it,” said the Delegate.

Leadership struggles in Maryland’s perpetual minority are not uncommon; most recently, in the summer of 2011, Mark Newgent at Red Maryland reported on an uprising featuring Delegates Nic Kipke (R – Anne Arundel) and Michael Smigiel (R- Cecil). At the time, the disagreements stemmed from a perceived lack of fiscal conservatism, with Kipke being quoted as being encouraged to run by a “contingent of delegates from the Anne Arundel County, the Eastern Shore, and Western Maryland.” It just may be the same restive group wishing for change this time, but just like I pointed out when I criticized Kipke’s anemic record of conservatism, the same can be said about Delegate Myers.

In looking at his overall record, Delegate Myers lags behind a number of other conservatives in the General Assembly. For example, he has often voted for Governor O’Malley’s budgetary plans as well as a number of other steps toward a Radical Green agenda, such as solar energy portfolio standards and overly broad coastal buffer zones. He’s also missed a large number of votes over the years for various reasons, including his son’s 2009 death in a motorcycle accident which occurred as that session was reaching its close.

Nor has Myers been an outspoken advocate for conservative causes, which makes the prospect of support from the body surprising unless that bid is coming from the more moderate members.

On the other hand, conservatives who are unhappy with O’Donnell’s leadership have a number of good, outspoken leadership choices:

  • Delegate Neil Parrott (R – Washington) is best known for his leadership on the petition drives which brought three ballot questions to the voters in 2012. Although none succeeded at the ballot, the petitions motivated tens of thousands of voters to vote in the election; for example, opposition to both Question 4 and Question 6 outstripped the 971,869 votes cast statewide for Mitt Romney.
  • Delegate Michael McDermott (R – Worcester) has developed a reputation as a fiery orator, one who can speak extemporaneously on a number of subjects. Chief among his initiatives this session is a bill to repeal the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Prreservation Act of 2012, better known as the “Septic Bill” or “Tier Map Bill.” McDermott was considered enough of a thorn in the Democrats’ side that his district was redrawn to place both him and Delegate Charles Otto (R – Somerset) in the same single-member district.
  • Since both Parrott and McDermott were elected in 2010, members may want a more veteran presence as leader. If they want one with a lengthy and solid conservative voting record, they could choose Delegate Warren Miller (R – Howard), a member since 2003. In this term he is primary sponsor of both a right-to-work bill and enacting a statewide E-Verify program.

While the current situation suggests there’s “enough to do it,” April 30 is a long way away. A lot can change in that time: deals can be made, Delegates get cold feet, or leadership reads the writing on the wall. Whether any or all of these happens remains to be seen, but it’s probably best that any leadership struggle waits until after the session to occur.

2012 Maryland GOP Fall Convention in pictures and text (part 2)

When I last left you in my narrative, I had just gone to bed after several hours of fun and carousing with many people, some of whom had names and faces I sheepishly admit I couldn’t keep straight. But I think I can get all of these right.

My alarm I’d set for 6:30 never went off so I was a little late for breakfast, and regrettably only caught the end of Ken Timmerman’s remarks. He used a Biblical parable to conclude, saying “we are coming from the desert” and in the process of “picking our Moses for 2014.”

“Organize, organize, organize…never, never, never give up!” exhorted Ken.

He was the lead-in for Delegate Neil Parrott, who’s pictured above. His remarks centered on what’s in the future for MDPetitions.com.

Thanks to the passage of Question 5, Maryland now has the “distinct honor” of having the most gerrymandered Congressional districts in the nation, Neil claimed. But in all of the questions, Neil pointed out in his experience that having someone at the polls influenced the results in our favor to some extent. We could have used more poll workers, said Neil.

We also could have used more money to spend as we were well outspent on each issue, particularly Question 6. Proponents also shrewdly changed the message; for example, Question 4 was made to not be about illegals but about kids. And because the petition was done last summer, the “passion wasn’t there” against Question 4 after a one-year lapse while proponents had the money early on to quietly spread their message.

“What we need to do is reinvent ourselves,” said Parrott, claiming we had winning issues but no campaign. In the future – and there were at least a couple bills which would probably require a petition to attempt to overturn coming out of this year’s session – there had to be a four-pronged strategy for victory: get the petitions out, defend them in court, challenge the biased ballot language (Question 5 was a good example of this, said Neil), and run full-fledged campaigns.

A more full-fledged campaign might be more like those on either side of Question 7, as the campaigns for and against expanding gambling spent twice as much on that issue than Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley combined for in their 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

One other item Delegate Parrott touched on was a privacy bill for petition signers, which he’ll reintroduce this session.

While the groups went off into their individual seminars, I wandered around the Turf Valley facility where I found tables for the aforementioned MDPetitions.com and the similar effort to keep the petition process from being made more difficult.

Right behind the MDPetitions table was a large-scale and signed copy of a “no confidence” resolution sponsored by Baltimore County Chair John Fiastro, Jr.

I also peeked into the convention hall where the action would begin after lunch.

Yep, placed in the back again. But this room was well set up for such an event because it was wide but not deep. Eventually my only complaint would be that we needed a second projection screen for our side of the room because the county signposts would be in our line of sight of the one provided.

Others were also skipping the seminars to work out issues, such as the Maryland Young Republicans. From the snippets I overheard, they were working out details of their own upcoming convention June 1st in Montgomery County.

Before we met for the convention we had to be nourished, so lunch featured speaker and “unusual political consultant” Brent Littlefield.

Littlefield focused mainly on running the campaign of Maine Governor Paul LePage in 2010, noting that a political campaign was “not just tactics, but strategy.” He explained how he microtargeted certain blocs of voters to effectively compete in a seven-person primary where his candidate was outspent 21 to 1.

As for 2012, Brent told us the message was lost, but there was still a reason we’re all here – we believe in certain principles. But we have to expand our circle of influence, not just talk to friends.

Brent also related an amusing Twitter incident he helped to bring about involving Martin O’Malley and his trip to Maine, leading O’Malley to call Maine Gov. Paul LePage a governor who “worship(s) the false idol of tax cuts.” It was great because he took the fight directly to the enemy, infiltrating their own Twitter feed.

It’s worth exploring as well that the Pledge of Allegiance at lunch was led by two-time Congressional hopeful Frank Mirabile. By itself it’s not newsworthy, but Frank took advantage of Alex Mooney’s invitation for further remarks to note the average age in the room was “well above what we need to be” and that we had to break out of our comfort zone. Obviously he had to do so to campaign in portions of his district.

That snippet brings me back to the Maryland Liberty PAC suite and the younger people I saw there. The convention hall could have used some of those younger folks with energy – as one example, I’m 48 and I’m one of the younger members of our Central Committee. Let’s not drive the youth away.

I’ll step off my soapbox now, since this point in the narrative is where the convention fun begins. And like the Executive Committee meeting the previous night, it began with a special guest.

“It’s good to be around friends for once,” said Dan Bongino. But he wanted to take a few minutes to thank us for our support and ask how we can fix this moving forward. “We can win this,” Bongino concluded.

But to win it will probably take a little more money than party Treasurer Chris Rosenthal said we had. And while we had whittled down our line of credit significantly during the fourth quarter of this year, Chris told us “we’re not out of the weeds.” This year will feature a “tight, but conservative” budget for party operations.

Chair Alex Mooney was pleased to see the full workshops, but again cautioned in his report that this meeting could be a long one. We have “things to discuss and air out,” said Alex. He related the story of the bitter RNC meeting he attended where several new officers were elected, a process which took multiple ballots for each. Yet at meeting’s end, there were no “bad sports.”

“If you don’t intend to walk out after this meeting and fight the Democrats, then walk out now,” said Alex. I didn’t see anyone leave so I guess we can turn our guns in the right direction – outward.

As Alex said, there is reason for optimism going forward. And it seemed like he understood that the petition process needs to be followed through on, saying that getting them to the ballot was one success but we need to “take the next step.”

We then had a presentation from party Executive Director David Ferguson on the goals established for this year: financial stability, a modern political infrastructure, successful petitions, and planning for 2014. Something about that presentation I found interesting: of the petition signers for each question, only 59% of those opposing in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 72% of those who opposed the gerrymandered Congressional districts, and 52% who signed the petition against gay marriage were Republicans. Questions 4 and 6 had fairly bipartisan opposition, at least at the petitioning stage. We can build on that.

But now, said Ferguson, “our job is to take out every Democrat in ‘red’ counties.” As I look at that task, it means we work on solidifying the 18 that support us now and start to erode our advantage in the five which most heavily vote against their self-interest as time goes on.

He also announced a new program in the works based on the national “Young Guns” program. It will be tailored not just to candidates, though, but to Republican organizations as well. “Our money should go back to your candidates,” concluded Ferguson.

The legislative reports on the Senate and House, respectively, were given by Senator E.J. Pipkin (above) and Delegate Tony O’Donnell (below).

Pipkin was proud to address the “irate, tireless minority,” and took advantage of our attention to once again call Martin O’Malley the “2 billion dollar man.” That’s how much working Maryland families pay extra each year thanks to the tax increases O’Malley and Democrats in the General Assembly passed over GOP objections. And while Republicans put together a balanced budget each year – one which doesn’t require any tax increases at all – it’s ignored by the majority party. They “won’t stop digging the hole,” said Pipkin. Instead, they want to raise the gas tax – not to fix roads like they might claim, but because $4 billion has been promised to expand the Red Line and Purple Line.

“We provide a different vision for Maryland,” explained Pipkin, one which provides a state where you want to live and not a state you want to leave.

Tony O’Donnell started out his remarks with a movie review – go see “Lincoln.” It made him proud to be a member of the Republican Party. After seeing the infighting end in an effort to pass the Thirteenth Amendment (over Democratic opposition, he slyly added) he realized once again that “Maryland is worth continuing to fight for.”

Tony alluded to his own Congressional campaign, pointing out he had received 95,000 votes and that was the highest vote total for a Fifth District Republican since Larry Hogan in 1992. O’Donnell believed that “we can go to 50 seats (in the House of Delegates) – we can go to 60 seats.” One mistake from 2010 he didn’t want to repeat was having to recruit candidates in the summer before the election. It was a team effort to find 141 House of Delegates hopefuls, but we had to “let no seat go unchallenged.” (In the 2010 election, Democrats got a free pass for 34 seats – almost half of what they needed for the majority.)

Nicolee Ambrose spoke in her first National Committeewoman’s report about the Super Saturday program and lessons we could draw from it. While it had its successes, we needed to rebuild our campaign infrastructure and focus on targeted voter contacts with a eye toward long-term outreach as well.

For 2013 she suggested the Super Saturday concept work more toward voter registration. Other projects on her wish list was IT training for local party leaders (something the RNC is willing to do) and ramping up a grassroots committee which Faith Loudon had volunteered to head up.

Louis Pope was far more blunt and expanded on his “painful” theme from the evening before by revealing some of our losses: Obama won single women by a 67-31 count, Hispanics 71-28, blacks 93-5, and Asians 73-22. He also garnered 60% of the under-30 vote and a majority of those who made under $50,000. Obama “changed some of the issues on us,” said Pope. Instead of the jobs and economy, it became the (so-called) ‘War on Women.’

“We’ve reached a turning point,” said Pope, who believed the one silver lining we had was that we’ve “reached the bottom.”

After all these external political reports were concluded – a process which took nearly two hours – we then turned to several internal committee reports.  For the first time in several conventions, though, we had no prospective bylaw changes so the newly created Bylaws Committee could simply note that fact and alert us at the county level that some possible revisions may come at us next spring.

Similarly, the Nominations Committee had no report. So it was up to the Resolutions Committee to provide the day’s final drama.

Interestingly enough, the order Resolutions Chair Andi Morony presented these in was supposed to be least to most controversial, but the very first resolution presented by Cecil County Chair Chris Zeauskas drew heavy debate. This was a resolution condemning newly elected Cecil County Executive Tari Moore for changing to unaffiliated status; a resolution which contended, among other things, that her election “was obtained through deception and false pretenses.”

And while proponents of the resolution – not just in Cecil County, but in other Republican circles – believed Tari Moore had “sold out” Cecil County Republicans, there were those who noted her principles hadn’t changed but the stalemate which exists between her and some of the four remaining members of the Cecil County Council (all Republicans) could only be broken and her agenda implemented if she was allowed to select her own replacement. Meanwhile, this was described in one media report as a proxy battle between Republicans E.J. Pipkin and Andy Harris, with Pipkin in favor of demanding Moore resign and Harris confident of her return to the GOP fold after her replacement is selected.

Once several had spoken on both sides, a motion was made to table the resolution. With our weighted voting system and the fact I couldn’t tally the vote as it was going, I can’t give you the split in actual bodies but the motion to table passed by a 285-230 voting margin. Thus, the resolution was killed for this convention, although it could theoretically return in the spring.

After careful consideration, I voted to table the resolution; however, our county split 6-3 in favor of tabling. The reason I decided to do so was figuring that she was trying to stand by both conservative principles and trying to better Cecil County. There’s little chance a Democrat or liberal would be put into office, but if she does select one I would be more inclined to support a similar resolution in the spring. Call it a “wait and see” approach for yet another item which could divide the overall party over a county issue.

Resolutions two and three were both very easy to pass and worthwhile to do so. The second introduced condemned the passage of Senate Bill 236 and its resultant attack on property rights, while the third was a Resolution of Commendation for Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild and his battle against the UN’s Agenda 21. Both were introduced by Scott DeLong of Harford County and both passed by unanimous voice vote.

The final resolution was the one I showed the mockup of earlier; authored by Baltimore County Chair John Fiastro Jr., it advised our three Republican National Committee members to oppose the re-election of RNC Chair Reince Priebus.

That also drew a lot of debate on both sides, but in watching those on the “anti” side line up it was apparent that not enough people were willing to rock the boat. The resolution ended up failing by a 223-286 count.

Yet Wicomico County was one which unanimously supported the amendment. While others had their own reasons and I was advised by a few people that there was a hidden agenda at work, my take on this was that I knew it was utterly symbolic at best. Opponents argued that having the Chairman mad at Maryland could hinder the state in getting national funds, but right now we pretty much get along without them anyway. If Reince Priebus doesn’t understand there are legitimate reasons we and others are unhappy with him and can’t put on his big boy pants and deal with them, well, then there’s not much hope he would be a successful Chair come 2014 either.

The dual themes of our convention were a look back at what really happened in the 2012 election and what we can do to improve our lot in 2014. To a significant number of us in the Maryland GOP, that soul-searching has to occur at a national level as well – after all, when Mike Duncan ran again for RNC Chair after the 2008 blowout we suffered there was no shortage of people calling for his head and he withdrew after just a couple ballots. So why the rush to bring back Priebus after failing to defeat the worst incumbent since Jimmy Carter, losing two Senate seats to shrink our minority to 45, and eight House seats including one here in Maryland?

But with the defeat of that resolution, our Fall Convention was over. And it made me realize a few other things are over as well.

The time for playing games is over.

The time for accepting the status quo and “this is how we’ve always done it” is long past over.

It’s time to go to war. If the Democrats think we’ve put on a “war on women,” well, let’s actually give them a war. I call it the “war on voting against one’s self-interest” (yes, a little wordy but it will have to do) and it starts today.

Giving up or (hopefully) expanding the pie?

October 29, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Giving up or (hopefully) expanding the pie? 

I received two e-mails on Thursday that I think activists should know about. Both came under the banner of “Maryland for Romney” but from two different people. The first I excerpt from came from David Ferguson of the state party:

In order to make sure that Mitt Romney becomes the 45th President of the United States, we need to win key swing states like our next-door neighbor, Virginia.

So, please join us for a trip to the Northern Virginia suburb of Sterling. The bus will depart Greenbelt (Century 21 Real Estate, 6401 Golden Triangle) at 8am, travel to Virginia (Sterling Victory Office, 21430 Cedar Drive Sterling, VA 20164) and return that same evening at 7pm.

And the second came from the desk of National Committeeman Louis Pope:

Victory is within site (sic) for the Romney-Ryan team on November 6th, and we all must pitch in to get over the finish line and win this election!

That’s why I’m inviting you to join our team in traveling to Ohio this weekend. Polls today have shown the race there tied at 48%, and putting boots on the group will give us that critical edge to overcome the Obama agenda. Ohio is one of a small number of remaining swing states that will determine if we welcome Mitt Romney as our 45th President or if Barack Obama retains the keys to the White House for another term.

For details on our Friday (October 26th) evening departure from Frederick, plus overnight accommodations in Independence, OH, please RSVP athttp://www.mdgop.org/mitt-romney.

Okay, I get the fact that Maryland is probably not going to be Romney country – although I suspect it won’t be nearly the bloodbath John McCain suffered here. I can see a single-digit margin in the race if all breaks correctly.

But the other thing I see is a number of winnable downticket races perhaps being ignored because we’re sending our best and brightest out of state, including a lot of party regulars. Is that really the way to attract and reward those grassroots supporters who may have come on board because they’re most interested in a local candidate like Nancy Jacobs, Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, Tony O’Donnell, Frank Mirabile, or Ken Timmerman, or even the statewide race of Dan Bongino?

I’ll grant that the Ferguson note concluded with this statement:

If you can’t make it to Virginia, the MDGOP StrikeForce will be holding a Super Saturday in Montgomery County (18540 Office Park Drive in Montgomery Village).

These Super Saturday events have worked to promote a number of candidates in various high-density areas of the state (there were none on the Eastern Shore) but it seems like the top billing has gone to events where Maryland volunteers are sent to Virginia or Pennsylvania. Of course, this begs the question: who remains to change hearts and minds here in the Free State?

Yet if you think of things in a political cycle, as I sometimes tend to do, the Maryland GOP has failed in achieving its key objectives. Obviously we were at a very low point in 2008 when we were trounced due to a subpar candidate at the very top of the ticket whose opponent had enough coattails to drag in an extra Congressman from a district which should vote Republican every day and twice on Sundays.

But in 2010 we gained back that seat and picked up a net win of four seats in the General Assembly (losing two in the Senate but gaining six in the House) almost despite ourselves – many of our biggest victories came at the county or municipal levels. Unfortunately, the state party has done little to cultivate those grassroots supporters who may now want to see a local candidate prevail. Instead, they seem to be pressing hard for helping Mitt Romney win other states and risking defeat in a few winnable races here in Maryland.

Whether Mitt Romney wins or loses, I believe the time has come for new leadership in the state party. We had a promising start on that with the election of Nicolee Ambrose as National Committeewoman, but perhaps the time has come for a new group of executives to push the party in a different direction. We don’t seem to have a lot of discipline as some key people have defected on issues like the U.S. Senate race or the three questions we in the grassroots worked hard to get on the ballot. Candidates – good candidates – which have essentially fallen into our lap have seen their efforts wasted or simply bypassed the state party to attempt to push their efforts forward.

I understand the deck is somewhat stacked against us by a perceived 2:1 registration disadvantage. But we use that as a crutch rather than as a wedge. I believe we can peel 1 out of 5 Democrats away who are really conservative and should be registered Republican; further I also feel that perhaps 2/3 of those unaffiliated are closet Republicans. Instead of a 2-to-1 state (actually 56-29 in registration) by my thinking we are politically a 50-50 state. Just do the math:

  • Begin with 56 D, 29 R, 15 unaffiliated.
  • Take 2/3 of unaffiliated and put them in the R column: 61 D, 39 R.
  • Now peel the 1 in 5 Democrats off: 50 R, 50 D.

That’s how we have won elections in the past; the trick is to get people to register (and vote) the way they feel. It’s a process of education and work, and there are areas where we will lag behind in the process because the voter rolls are much more heavily liberal and Democrat. But in the words of Dan Bongino we “cede no ground.”

There will be lessons to learn from the 2012 election, but I’m just hoping they’re not too bitter for Maryland Republicans who let a couple close state races slip away by not minding the store.

Odds and ends number 60

More dollops of blogworthy goodness, neatly bundled up in short, paragraph-or-three packages. I put them together and you raptly absorb them. It seems to be a good formula.

If you believe it’s time to ditch Dutch, you may want to know your contributions are paying for this. Here’s 30 seconds from State Senator and GOP hopeful Nancy Jacobs:

Now this is a good message, but oh! the cheesy video effects. It sort of reminds me of the Eric Wargotz “Political Insidersaurus” commercial, which had a message muddled by production. Sometimes people try too hard to be funny, but that shot of Dutch peeking around the Capitol dome might have the same effect clowns do on certain people who find them creepy.

A longer form of communication comes from a filmmaker who somehow got in touch with me to promote his upcoming documentary. It may not be “2016: Obama’s America” but Agustin Blazquez is an expert on communism, having left Castro’s Cuba as a young man nearly 50 years ago.

This movie came out October 4.

Perhaps it’s hard to read, but the gist of the film is that it exposes “Obama and his supporting network of organizations that helped him win the Presidency…and the connections with George Soros and the Communist Party U.S.A.”

I’m not going to speak to the merits of the film because I haven’t seen it. But this is a good opportunity to relate something I’ve encountered in my personal experience – the ones who seem to be most concerned about America’s slide leftward are those who have experienced Communist oppression firsthand, risking life and limb in many cases to escape to America. And they have no desire to go back.

One more video in that vein is the most recent web ad from First District Libertarian candidate Muir Boda.

One may debate whether we have a purpose for being in Afghanistan and Iraq, although in both cases we are in the slow process of withdrawing. But Boda goes farther and talks about rescinding foreign aid entirely, and that changes the terms of the debate dramatically. We can also include the idea of withdrawing from the United Nations in there.

It’s unfortunate that Andy Harris has chosen to skip the debates this time around because, in the wake of the Chris Stevens murder in Benghazi (“Obama lied, Chris Stevens died”: new foreign policy slogan) the time has come for a robust debate about how we treat both foreign relations and our dealings with Islamic extremists such as the ones who attacked our compound there.

Meanwhile, we also have to worry about our own border security in the wake of the killing of Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie last week. The Center for Immigration Studies rushed out their assessment of the situation, which bolsters an argument that we need to mind our own borders. They add:

Nicholas Ivie’s name is now added to the large and growing list of individuals killed on both sides of the border as a result of failed and corrupt policies.

We need border security, but perhaps it’s time to be more libertarian and consider the impact of our War on Drugs. I can’t promise it would eliminate the Mexican cartels, and honestly their battles with a corrupt Mexican government may end up as a civil war on our doorstep. But one also has to consider what the crackdown does to American youth as well.

You’ll note I panned Andy Harris for his apparent refusal to debate a couple paragraphs ago. That works for both sides, and especially so in the wake of Barack Obama’s recent debacle.

Fifth District Congressman Steny Hoyer claims people know where he stands, but he’s obviously afraid to defend his views onstage and challenger Tony O’Donnell takes exception to that:

Regardless of where we stand on the issues, this election is not about where we both have been, it is about where we are going.  The citizens of our district reserve the right to witness the passion I encompass when I know our rights are in jeopardy.  Representative Steny Hoyer has lost this spark and is merely a smoldering ember underneath the smokescreen of his 45 years as an elected official in Maryland.  It’s time to blow the smoke away and ignite a new fire.

My campaign has invited Representative Hoyer to debate in front of the citizens in each county and once on television.  In addition, The Chris Plante Show attempted to arrange an on-air debate.  Also, citizens throughout the District have called for a debate.  Yet Representative Hoyer rebuffed all requests.

That’s because Hoyer knows he has some built-in advantages: the power of incumbency along with the franking privilege, a willing and compliant press, and lots of money in the bank to create 30 second commercials. In a debate he can’t control the narrative, and that’s a position of a politician who knows he’s not as popular as he may let on.

I would expect that attitude of arrogance mixed with fear from Steny Hoyer, who’s long past his sell-by date, but I hoped Andy Harris would be better than that.

In Hoyer’s case, this ad from Americans from Prosperity should be beamed into his office. It’s simple but powerful in its message.

Time to try something different indeed. I received a number of reactions to the latest unemployment report, including ones from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Lt. Col. (and Congressman) Allen West which flat-out accused the Obama administration of making it up. That’s okay, the Democrats lie on Medicare too.

Even Andy Harris responded, noting that:

I agree with what Vice President Joe Biden recently said when he stated that the middle class was “buried” over the past four years.

That is why the House voted to stop President Obama’s tax hike proposal on small business owners and the middle class, which would destroy over 700,000 jobs. We need the President and the Senate to work with House Republicans instead of continuing to promote job-destroying policies that the American people can no longer afford.

Even before the unemployment figures came out, though, the Republican Study Committee hammered President Obama and the Democrats for incomes which had fallen faster during this so-called recovery than during the preceding recession, particularly at a time where gasoline prices are skyrocketing.

The jobless recovery even extends to Wicomico County. As local researcher Johnnie Miller writes in an e-mail I obtained:

Wicomico has 132 fewer workers this year as compared to the same period last year – (08/12 vs. 08/11).  Even though the unemployment rate has declined in Wicomico from 8.8% to 8.2% – the real indicator points to the fact that those receiving unemployment checks have now exhausted their benefits and still not found jobs.

More alarmingly, somehow the county lost 1,613 workers from their labor force between July and August. 190 of them simply disappeared off the unemployment rolls as well, allowing the county’s unemployment rate to drop to 8.2%.

If this is recovery, I’d hate to see a depression. I could only imagine what the county’s U-6 unemployment rate would be.

I suppose there’s the possibility that these employment rolls may have been kept up like voter rolls are – perhaps they forgot to remove a few deceased workers. After all, the deceased really can vote in Maryland, according to the watchdog group Election Integrity Maryland:

While just scratching the surface of voter roll research, having looked at 35,000 voter registration records so far in Maryland, EIM has discovered 1,566 names of deceased still on the voter rolls.  Of these names, apparently two voted and three registered to vote after their deaths.

Talk about a serious case of rigor mortis.  But there are about 3.5 million registered voters in Maryland so if you extrapolate the numbers in a statewide race that’s 200 voters who would have been discovered, not the mention the potential for 156,600 zombie voters. It’s long past time to cull the voter rolls AND enact photo voter ID.

But let’s go back to the economy for a little bit, since those dead voters seem to be among those supporting a Governor who seems to be killing Maryland’s prospects for economic recovery in the next decade.

After Governor O’Malley appeared on CNBC yesterday, his nemesis Change Maryland immediately found significant fault with his remarks. Larry Hogan, Chairman of the group, delivered the real story:

We are very familiar with Martin O’Malley putting out falsehoods about his own record when it comes to Maryland’s economic performance. Maryland is a laggard in economic performance in our region, so he compares us to states like Michigan and Nevada.  The difference in those hard-hit states is that there top elected officials are dealing with structural problems in their economies while our Governor enjoys seeing himself on TV and making partisan attacks.

Martin O’Malley does seem to suck up a lot of airtime these days. I’ll bet a debate with him and Larry Hogan would be fun to watch in much the same manner some watch NASCAR rooting for the 14-car pileups. We all know the engineer of that train wreck would be Martin O’Malley, so the trick would be seeing if Larry Hogan could keep a straight face during all that. I’m sure I couldn’t.

What I can do, though, is leave you on that note as my e-mailbox is in much better shape. I do have some Question 7 and SB236/PlanMaryland/Agenda 21 items to discuss, but those merit their own posts. Three score odds and ends are in the books.

Poll results disappointing to MD conservatives

The most recent Maryland Poll by Gonzales Research came out on Wednesday, and the results can only be described as disheartening to Maryland conservatives, who have their work cut out for them in the last month of the campaign. (Hat tip to Maryland Reporter for the link.)

First, the terrible topline numbers here in the state:

  • President: Barack Obama (D) 55, Mitt Romney (R) 36
  • U.S. Senate: Ben Cardin (D) 50, Dan Bongino (R) 22, Rob Sobhani (I) 21
  • Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens): For 58, Against 34
  • Question 6 (legalizing gay marriage): For 51, Against 43
  • Question 7 (expanding gambling): For 45, Against 46
  • President Obama has a 54% favorable rating, with 32% unfavorable
  • Vice-President Joe Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 34% unfavorable
  • Mitt Romney has a 35% favorable rating, with 50% unfavorable
  • Paul Ryan has a 36% favorable rating, with 38% unfavorable

Gonzales did not poll on Question 5 (redistricting) or any of the Congressional races; in the latter case it’s likely because the sample sizes would be too small for reliable results. 813 self-proclaimed likely voters made up this sample.

One thing I have always liked about the Gonzales surveys is their willingness to provide the actual numbers. Instead of massaging the results to a certain turnout model, the Maryland Poll is set up to reflect the electorate based on party registration – so 56% of the respondents were Democrats, 30% Republicans, and the remainder unaffiliated. This closely matches the state’s current voter registration totals.

Because of that, some trends can be determined. For example, as a percentage fewer Democrats are behind Barack Obama (81%) than Republicans backing Romney (86%). This is because there’s always been a percentage of Democrats in Maryland who are simply registered as Democrats but often vote for Republicans. It’s President Obama’s 88% approval rating among black voters (which matches their lockstep 88% support) that saves his bacon in Maryland.

On the other hand, though, Democrats strongly back political lifer Ben Cardin (74%) while Republicans are just 60% behind Dan Bongino, their U.S. Senate nominee. The presence of onetime Republican-turned-independent Rob Sobhani is all but destroying GOP chances of posting an upset in the race, since Cardin is only at 50 percent. This is because Sobhani is taking more votes away from Bongino (22% of Republicans) than Cardin (16% of Democrats.) More troublesome is that these numbers are undermining Bongino’s stated intention of making inroads into the minority community, because just 8% of black voters support him but 15% back Sobhani, who was born in America but is of Iranian origin.

Meanwhile, the political correctness bug seems to be biting some of the squishier members of the GOP. While the state party has come out against these issues in a broad manner by supporting the idea of “repealing O’Malley’s laws” the Maryland Poll finds 29% of Republicans are for in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 17% support gay marriage, and 35% are in favor of expanding gambling. Could this be the Bradley effect manifested in a different manner? There’s no way to tell.

Overall these numbers are quite disappointing, but the silver lining which exists in them is now we know where to focus our efforts. For one thing, we are close enough on some races that enhancing GOP turnout could turn the election, particularly on Questions 6 and 7.

It’s also important to remember that a number of Congressional races could hinge on turnout as well. Simply based on voter registration numbers it’s clear that Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, and Frank Mirabile have the steepest uphill battles but there’s more possibility of an upset from Tony O’Donnell, Nancy Jacobs, or Ken Timmerman. Even Roscoe Bartlett could fall into the “upset” category based on the gerrymandering Democrats did to make his seat endangered for Republicans.

There is one other observation regarding the races I need to make. Given the 19-point advantage Barack Obama enjoys here in the formerly Free State, it’s clear he probably won’t be spending any money in the local Baltimore television market. (Washington, D.C. is a different story because Virginia is in play.) Yet that commercial time is being vacuumed up by the millions of dollars both sides are spending on debating Question 7.

Because of that simple fact, it will be harder for those advocating other ballot issues and downticket candidates to afford television time, and that works against both sides equally. This makes the retail and social media campaigns that much more important because one easy outlet is no longer as readily available.

You may ask why I’m so strident on some of these issues. In my case, there’s a lot of areas where they crossed my line in the sand a long time ago and I’m simply fighting a sort of guerrilla war trying to beat things back where I can. But like Benjamin Netanyahu, we need to pull out our red Sharpie and draw our own line this time around because once that’s passed there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Once we allow illegal immigrants in-state tuition, the next thing they’ll want is full amnesty and voting rights – never mind they have broken numerous laws by crossing the border (or overstaying their visa) while thousands who try to do things the correct way are denied or face long delays in receiving what’s due for them. Crime is not supposed to pay.

Once we tell Democrats it’s okay to ignore geography and cynically make up Congressional districts which place people with little in common together for base political interests, there’s no telling what other steps they’ll take to dictate what they determine is fair representation. Obviously political affiliation is a fickle standard, but when only 56% of voters are registered Democrat should they have 88% of the Congressional representation? Obviously it could work out that way even if the state was scrupulously and evenly divided based simply on existing geographic lines, equalizing population, and contiguity, but I suspect it would not.

Once we allow gay marriage to pass, then the question becomes what will be legitimized next: plural marriage, marriage between adults and children, or some other bastardization of the concept? Where does the line get drawn? Despite common misguidance, marriage is NOT a right and despite the best efforts of the gay lobby to promote the idea this quest shouldn’t be equated with the civil rights movement of a half-century ago. As this group points out, there are no “gay only” drinking fountains.

Certainly people of any gender can be in a loving relationship with one of their own gender, but as far as the legal concepts of marriage our state already covers it. What was wrong with civil unions? I could live with that as a compromise which preserves, as much as possible in this day and age, the sanctity of marriage.

I’ve seen elections where people down double-digits in polling have come back to win in the last week, and a month is an eternity in political circles. Just a month ago Wendy Rosen was a game but underfunded challenger to Andy Harris until the startling allegation she voted twice in two consecutive elections, and now Democrats are reduced to pinning their hopes on a write-in candidacy. So anything is possible, good or bad.

But polls make news, and this poll certainly garnered a lot of attention across the state. The question is whether we can make it a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.

Next Page »

  • I haven't. Have you?
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Link to Maryland Democratic Party

    In the interest of being fair and balanced, I provide this service to readers. But before you click on the picture below, just remember their message:

  • Part of the Politics in Stereo network.