Truing the vote: Maryland bills of interest

February 16, 2015 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Maryland Politics, Politics · 1 Comment 

By Cathy Keim.

I received a mass email from Delegate Neil Parrott a couple of days ago and he mentioned a Voter ID bill that he was introducing this session. I decided to check out what voter integrity bills were listed so far. There were three that were particularly interesting to me.

The first one concerns Voter ID (HB1017) and is sponsored by Delegate Neil Parrott. Among the co-sponsors are our own local delegates, Mary Beth Carozza and Charles Otto. Its summary reads:

Requiring an election judge to establish a voter’s identity and verify the voter’s address if the voter seeks to vote a regular ballot; requiring an election judge to qualify a voter by requesting the voter to present a current government-issued photo identification; requiring an election judge to authorize an individual to vote a regular ballot; allowing a voter who is unable to present a specified form of identification to vote by provisional ballot under specified circumstances; etc.

It is just common sense that we should know that the person voting is who he says he is. While this is less of a problem in Wicomico County where the election judges are likely to know you by name, it still encourages the citizens’ confidence in the system when they know that IDs are checked. The bill includes a provision for the citizen that forgets their ID to still vote provisionally. They can provide the ID after the election.

HB1076 concerns proof of citizenship to vote and is also sponsored by Delegate Parrott. The summary reads:

Requiring individuals who apply to register to vote after June 30, 2015, to submit proof of United States citizenship; providing that individuals who are not citizens of the United States are not qualified to be registered voters; requiring an applicant for voter registration to submit specified documents or information to prove United States citizenship; etc.

Currently, when a person registers to vote in Maryland, the Voter Registration Form has a two-part question:

Are you at least 16 years old?  Yes No
Are you a U.S. citizen?  Yes No

IF you answer NO to either question, do not complete this form.

It clearly states in bold letters to not proceed if you are not old enough or are not a citizen. That is the only thing that keeps a non-citizen from registering. The local board of elections cannot check an applicant for citizenship and now the Washington Times reports:

President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty will make it easier for illegal immigrants to improperly register and vote in elections, state elections officials testified to Congress on Thursday, saying that the driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers they will be granted create a major voting loophole.

But don’t worry:

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, said he doubted illegal immigrants would risk running afoul of the law — which could get them deported — just to be an insignificant part of an election. (Emphasis mine.)

Never mind that we have an elected public official denigrating the responsibility of each citizen to vote. How can he be sure that it is an insignificant number? It could certainly be enough to swing close elections, especially on the local level. Every illegal vote cancels out a legitimate vote.

The final bill of interest is HB253, sponsored by Delegate Pat McDonough. The summary reads:

Requiring the State Board of Elections to execute a memorandum of agreement to participate in the Interstate Crosscheck Program for purposes of identifying possible duplicate voter registration records and instances of individuals who voted more than once in the same election; requiring the State Board to utilize the data obtained through the Interstate Crosscheck Program for specified purposes; etc.

This bill makes great sense. We have our own local evidence that some citizens break the voter laws. Wendy Rosen was the Democrat candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District in 2012. She had to withdraw when it was discovered that she had voted in both Florida and Maryland in the 2006 and 2010 elections. She pleaded guilty and reached a plea agreement for five years of probation and a $5,000 fine for her illegal voting. It is unlikely that this would have been discovered had she not been a high profile candidate.

No matter how valid the concerns of the citizens of Maryland that their elections are not being protected by reasonable precautions, the Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee are likely to agree with another Democrat quoted in the same Washington Times news article:

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting member of Congress, accused Republicans of an effort at voter suppression.

“The president’s executive order gives immigrants the right to stay — immigrants who have been here for years, immigrants who have been working hard and whose labor we have needed,” Ms. Norton said. “The Republicans may want to go down in history as the party who tried once again 100 years later to nullify the right to vote. Well, I am here to say they shall not succeed.”

This is the usual method that is used to avoid addressing the real concerns of voter integrity. First, Ms. Norton says that the immigrants have been here for years and that they have been working hard – neither of which are necessarily true, then tops those with the winning claim about needing their labor. We have millions of Americans out of work and yet we need illegal immigrants to do those jobs? Then she switches gears to decry the Republicans as the party who wants to nullify the right to vote. Excuse me, but wasn’t it the Democrats that were in charge when black citizens were being excluded from voting by Jim Crow laws?

Since the voter fraud deniers cannot come up with valid reasons not to secure our voter integrity, they just lie about our history.

It is unlikely that these voter integrity bills will pass because there are too many people in power that are committed to blocking any and all reasonable measures.  That alone should make you wonder why?

Bridging the gap

Sitting here and catching up from what was an extremely busy week (with next week promising more of the same) I had something of an “aha!” moment – not to be confused with the ’80s pop band by the way – where two seemingly disparate pieces of information just clicked together.

Let’s examine piece number one, shall we? For days (or is it months, or years? I sense a continuing theme here) Maryland Republicans have been divided into a number of camps, tribes which rarely come together except on a small handful of issues. In the last year, I think resistance to Martin O’Malley’s draconian Second Amendment upheaval (legally and laughingly officially known as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013) was about the only issue drawing universal resistance from Republicans, and even then they parted on how best to fight its enactment, whether through the court system of via referendum. In the end, the court system won out but, as it stands, in a month the law will take effect.

In the meantime, we couldn’t even get the GOP to vote as a group against Martin O’Malley’s bloated budget – yet we call ourselves the party of fiscal responsibility? I understand our alternative budget is DOA in the General Assembly, but at least put up a united front against O’Malley’s principles.

The long introduction I just completed leads me into an Examiner post by J. Doug Gill, where he takes a long look at how the party has been divided since the Ehrlich era of 2003-07.  This “bare knuckle brawl for irrelevancy” makes a number of valid points, although I don’t agree with its somewhat pessimistic outlook for the future. As Gill notes:

Any citizen of Maryland who has had it up to their well-spelunked pockets wants a strong, vibrant and relevant opposition party – and there are untold numbers who don’t care if it’s the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Tupperware Party.

The sooner some entity – any entity – sorts itself out and provides a credible opposition to the Democrats the better for all of us – including our friends on the left whose bank accounts are just as empty as ours – well, save for the union leaders and cronies and appointees, and, well, you get the picture…

But right now, and in its current incarnation, the only thing the Maryland Republican Party has learned from history is that they never learn anything from history.

Yet it’s not just about credible opposition – it’s also about creating a choice. This is something the majority party won’t do.

There was something about this Ballotpedia report which caught my eye. See if you can spot it, too – I’ll give you a moment and even put in a page break for the fun of it.

Read more

Taking another shot

No, this post isn’t about Dan Bongino, whose non-announcement announcement was much less interesting than the fake press release from yesterday announcing the ersatz Bongino/Alan Keyes gubernatorial ticket.

Instead, we learned yesterday that in 2014 we have the potential for yet another rematch in Congressional District 1.

After losing the 2012 primary by a scant 57 votes only to watch the Democratic nominee, Wendy Rosen, withdraw in disgrace after allegations of voting fraud, John LaFerla announced he would file Wednesday to try again in 2014. LaFerla waged an eleventh-hour write-in campaign last fall but only received about 4% of the overall vote – Rosen picked up 27.5% despite dropping out in September, which leads me to believe that most of the people who voted Democrat just reflexively looked for the (D) behind the name on the ballot and did no other homework – the prototypical “low-information voter.”

While LaFerla hasn’t established his own issue page on his reborn Congressional campaign website, he has posted a letter in which the writer claims Andy Harris is from the “Timothy McVeigh” wing of the Republican party. It appears that he will reprise his oh-so-successful portrayal of Harris as “Doctor No”; unfortunately for him most voters in this district are looking for someone to say that exact two-letter word.

But it looks like the mainstream Democrats are lining up behind John, given that Kim Kratovil (Frank’s wife) is listed as the person in charge of “special event planning”, former state candidates Chris Robinson and Arthur Hock are in charge of signage, and former GOP Congressman Wayne Gilchrest is listed as the “Republicans for LaFerla” head. (Which means they’re still looking for a Republican.) While the renewed Gilchrest endorsement isn’t a surprise considering how far left the ex-Congressman has gone in his personal jihad against all things Andy Harris, it’s worth remembering that last time around LaFerla was also endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. If you’re into killing babies, I guess John is your guy. (Ironically enough, Andy Harris’s wife Cookie is Director of Special Events for Maryland Right to Life, so the choice there is crystal clear.)

Locally, the LaFerla effort will be spearheaded by the feisty Ron Pagano, who stated recently that Andy Harris “endorsed the violent overthrow of the government.” There’s a mainstream, thoughtful Democrat for you.

So the battle line would seem to be drawn, as a far-left wing partisan who promises (like they all do) to put “people above politics” will do the opposite in a bid to get elected. The First District is a conservative district, so it may be time for a real conservative Democrat (and I know we have a lot around here) to try and get on the ballot in the race. There may as well be a choice for local Democrats – hopefully their winner only remembered to vote once this time.

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.

Harris withdraws from 1st CD debates

September 15, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delaware politics, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Radical Green, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Harris withdraws from 1st CD debates 

While Andy Harris was given the hugest of electoral breaks by the withdrawal of Democrat challenger Wendy Rosen – who, unless Maryland Democrats can pull a Robert Torricelli via the courts, will remain on the ballot despite dropping out – I believe he shouldn’t have pulled out of the various candidate debates.

My view is shared by Libertarian Muir Boda, who probably stood the most to gain by having yet another empty chair on the Democratic side. In a release, Boda noted:

After observing the withdrawal of Democrat Wendy Rosen from the race amid voter fraud allegations, I had not anticipated another action of disrespect to the voters in the 1st District. Congressman Harris’ actions are simply arrogant cowardice as he is obviously afraid to debate me.

Congressman Harris’ pulling out of all forums is a complete slap in the face to all the voters and the organizations that are taking their time to organize the forums by securing a place to have the forum, organizing resources to record the forums and to the those who desired to attend and to participate in the discussion of the future of country.

Congressman Harris has many questions to answer. For instance, we need an explanation on why, as a so called fiscal conservative he would support adding another $1 Trillion to our national debt. Or where does he really stand on the TSA, the Patriot Act and the NDAA.

I truly don’t think it’s fear of debating Muir on Andy’s part, but answering some of these questions Boda brings up would be helpful to me in understanding why Harris acted in a less conservative manner than normal – particularly on the continuing resolution vote.

Alan Girard of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which was a lead sponsor of the September 24 debate, had this to say as well:

We are disappointed voters won’t hear the views of candidates for Congress on “Farming and Protecting the Environment,” the topic of a scheduled debate we had planned with the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Salisbury University. Mr. Harris had agreed to participate in the Sept. 24 debate, but this week told us he is withdrawing from this and all other scheduled debates.

Without Mr. Harris’ participation, and uncertainty about other candidates’ participation, staging a debate seems unproductive, and we are announcing the cancellation of the debate which was to be held at Salisbury University. We apologize to voters who planned to attend.

We are pleased, however, that Mr. Harris has agreed to announce a schedule of public town meetings around the 1st District at which citizens can pose questions to the Congressman.

Let’s face it, though: I don’t think the CBF was going to do anything but sandbag Andy because they vehemently disagree with his balanced approach to environmental issues. If it were up to the most radical members of the CBF we’d all be forcably moved into tiny enclaves far away from the pristine waters at the mouth of the Susquehanna. Moreover, I couldn’t be there anyway to make sure people knew what really happened.

While I’m happy to see that Harris isn’t abandoning the public debate entirely, I believe he’s making a big mistake by canceling his participation in these debates and forums, unfriendly as the territory may be. Fairly or not, Andy has received a reputation of being callous and aloof (lifesaving traffic stops notwithstanding) and dropping out of these head-to-head contests only enhances the perception. Certainly Harris does his share of townhall-style events around the district during periods when Congress is out of session, but a compare-and-contrast was something he shouldn’t be afraid of in a district essentially drawn for him.

On the other hand, I learned via Duke Brooks that Delaware voters will be treated to not one, not two, but ten (!) debates between U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Republican challenger Kevin Wade. (Note to Ben Cardin: the ante has been upped.) Of course, the devil is in the details but Delaware voters will certainly have ample opportunity to get a picture of where the two hopefuls (and whatever minor party candidates are invited to participate) stand on issues near and dear to Delaware voters. It may not be Lincoln v. Douglas but they will be better served by the opportunity to attend in person.

Rosen out of 1st CD race – or is she?

Once she was caught voting in two different states – and I’d love to know who picked up on that, because Andy Harris owes him or her a steak dinner – you had to know that Wendy Rosen’s days as a Congressional candidate were numbered.

Here’s what the Maryland Democrat Party had to say:

Today, the Maryland Democratic Party took immediate and decisive action and demanded the withdrawal of Wendy Rosen as nominee for US Representative in the 1st Congressional District after allegations of electoral law violations were brought to our attention.

In addition, at my direction, the Maryland Democratic Party submitted a letter to the Attorney General and State Prosecutor outlining all information regarding the alleged violations.

Any effort to corrupt or misuse the electoral process is reprehensible, wrong and must not be tolerated.

They added:

Per Maryland law, the Maryland Democratic Party will designate an alternate nominee to the State Board of Elections following a vote by the local Democratic Central Committees in the 1st Congressional District. The Party remains committed to ensuring that the voices of all Marylanders are represented and we maintain the highest commitment to the law and the Democratic process.

Not so fast, says the Maryland Board of Elections: according to state law, Rosen has to remain on the ballot as the Democrats’ standard-bearer because she didn’t withdraw by an August 28 deadline. According to reports, the state party conceded it would have to allow local Central Committees to select a candidate to run a write-in campaign.

As an aside, I find it interesting how our local paper, which rarely has anything good to say about Andy Harris, bends over backwards to say Maryland Democrats “allegedly” found evidence against Rosen.

But they also make the same assumption I would by figuring the write-in choice would be John LaFerla, who Rosen defeated by just a handful of votes (and who was endorsed by people and groups as disparate as former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest and pro-abortion advocates NARAL.) Even the third candidate in the primary race, Kim Letke, wrote on a LaFerla Facebook page: “You are up…get your bat and let’s get to work.”

Still, there are a number of people upset about the Rosen scandal, with one dejected supporter writing, “I can’t believe you could be so stupid: you have just given the GOP evidence for their otherwise baseless concerns about voter fraud!” (Baseless, my foot.)

Obviously there’s a difference in scale here – particularly since Rosen ended her race – but one has to wonder how much media play this will receive when compared to the Todd Akin story. All Akin did was make a somewhat foolish statement, for which he was roundly condemned. Yet Rosen is the latest in a series of Democratic officeholders (or would-be officeholders, in her case) to consider themselves unencumbered by the law – until they get caught, that is.

As for Harris, his campaign manager Kathy Szeliga released a statement regarding the Rosen affair:

Andy Harris will continue to work hard throughout the district offering solutions to restore our economy and our nation. This development must not delay our troops serving oversees (sic) from getting their ballots and exercising their right to vote in such an important Presidential Election.

More interesting were the comments from Libertarian Muir Boda:

I do wish to commend the Democratic Party of Maryland for taking proactive steps in this matter. The integrity of our elections is paramount in the democratic process and it is unfortunate that this was not discovered sooner. It is even more unfortunate that anyone would seek office at any level (of) government and have violated election laws in such a manner, if in fact the allegations are true.

Though not the way I was hoping to be able to provide an alternative to the two major parties, this does provide us with an opportunity. We will now be directly competing with incumbent Congressman Andy Harris for the votes of moderate Democrats, Libertarian Republicans and Independents. Though we may not agree with Democrats on some issues, I believe we can sway votes by focusing on ending the wars, defending civil liberties and educating many on the advantages of free markets in addressing many of the issues that government has failed at regulating.

First and foremost we must be focused on reducing the $16 Trillion National Debt and the $1 Trillion budget deficit. This is the greatest threat to our National Security and we must come together and address this issue head on. Serious progress must be made on reforming Social Security and Medicare. We must work to reduce spending across the board to prevent a financial meltdown of the Federal Government.

There are two other observations to be made here. Let’s say John LaFerla is a write-in candidate and placed in candidate debates – does this mean the other current write-in aspirant, Mike Calpino, is included too? That would be only fair, wouldn’t it?

The second is whether the Maryland Democrats are putting on this show of being on the side of fair elections in order to bolster their legal case for replacing Rosen on the ballot despite the passage of the legal deadline, sort of like Democrats in New Jersey did in ousting scandal-plagued Sen. Robert Torricelli from the ballot a decade ago. I wouldn’t put it past them, although they may decide the long odds of removing Harris make that a hill they don’t wish to die on.

Obviously the significant number of write-in votes which will be cast will make it a longer Election Night for the counties which make up the First Congressional District. Still, in the end Andy Harris is expected to prevail anyway.

Odds and ends number 57

A lot of little (and big) stuff to talk about in this edition of odds and ends. I want to start local as a follow-up to something I wrote last weekend about the Wicomico Board of Education. Wicomico GOP Chair Dave Parker believes the headline originally placed in this Daily Times story was “misleading,” and it was indeed changed online to that which you see in the story.

The original, however, was “Wicomico County GOP committee protests Board of Education nominee.” Yes, the Daily Times got that one wrong – the protester was me, speaking on my own behalf. Maybe Jennifer Shutt is familiar with my work and I suppose I have my share of influence, but I don’t speak for the committee as a whole.

Now that I have that cleared up, I can add a note sent to me by the “pretty in pink” Delegate Addie Eckardt, whose Crab Feast & Sausages fundraiser is rapidly approaching – Sunday, September 9 is the date. It’s going to be held at J.M. Clayton’s in Cambridge from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and the cost is $50 per person.

But if you’re a local Republican and don’t have the $50 lying around, you can still help. Our erstwhile headquarters coordinators Cynthia Williams and Bonnie Luna are looking for a few good men (and women, too) to staff our party headquarters from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. (We’re not opening on Sundays.) You can stop by the headquarters at 800 S. Salisbury Boulevard or call (410) 742-0308. We’re not picky in that respect.

Libertarian Muir Boda was kind enough to pass along a note regarding candidate forums he’s been invited to. One in particular is local:

“The Eastern Shore Farm and Environment Candidate Forum”  presented by the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. September 24, 2012 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Salisbury University’s Great Hall at Holloway Hall. PAC-14 will be recording the forum.

Unfortunately, I’m sure I can’t be there to tell you what really happened because that’s also the night the Republican Club meets. (I wonder if the CBF knew that when the date was selected.) But it will be interesting to see what softballs they lob up there for Democrat Wendy Rosen to answer – from what some non-biased observers have told me, that’s about all she can handle. After all, anyone who brings up the eeeeeevil Koch brothers in conversation may be worth the price of admission in entertainment value, but the scary thing is: some people believe her.

Hopefully more believe this:

This shirt is available for 15 dollars from the Worcester County Republicans.

This comes from Worcester County and I have one of these shirts. And yes, I get good comments from it. You can do the same for a $15 donation to the Worcester Republican Women’s club – contact Joan Gentile: joanierags (at) verizon (dot) net.

More local reaction comes from the Wicomico Society of Patriots, which sent me a sampling of opinions on the movie “2016: Obama’s America” that’s now playing locally:

  • I…went to today’s 1:05 show, and although (as a TEA Partier) I consider myself  ‘informed’, it was well worth the ride from Ocean Pines.  The production was excellent, entertaining, factual, and to some was probably shocking.  I’m glad to say that it was a big crowd for a matinee.  Even if your mind is made up, you should attend if only to show your support for the efforts of the conservatives who made this movie possible.
  • I was there also… sitting on the point of my chair and asking, “how was that possible?”
  • Bring your friends, especiallly if they are a kind of democrat, or don’t know what (way) to vote !!!
  • Thank you Cathy for the update.  I had a friend go see it at 3:00 this afternoon, and she said it was very unsettling.  She also said the attendance was good, but very few young people.  The time of day may have had something to with that.  We will definitely be going to see it.
  • We went with two other couples tonight and all of us were motivated to keep up the fight, and even for those who “pay attention” we all learned some new things.
  •  Saw the 5:30 show…packed…I’ve put out the word too…we are going to have to work, but good will prevail over evil!

I have not seen the movie yet, but probably will before it goes away next weekend. Whatever the attendance is – even if they’re selling out theaters around the country – you can bet your bottom dollar that pressure is being brought to bear to get that movie out of there by next week.

Speaking of upcoming events but looking at a state level, while Maryland and Virginia have had a family feud of sorts through their respective governors, a guy who knows something about family feuds is doing a fundraiser for Maryland businesses.

I’ll let Jim Pettit pick it up from here – he’s good at this sort of thing:

Legendary comedian Louie Anderson will headline Maryland Business Leadership Political Action Committee’s second annual fundraiser at the Baltimore Comedy Factory Wednesday, October 17th, for one show only.

“We don’t think politics and business in Maryland is a laughing matter,” said MBLPAC Chair Cal Ewing, “but we do think it is important for business to come together and support a shared goal – a better business climate in Maryland to create jobs.”

The PAC is an offshoot of the Maryland Business for Responsive Government group which is frequently cited on this site. Eventually they’d like to raise $250,000 for the 2014 election and Anderson’s appearance will help them get there $100 at a time.

Finally, I thought it was worth pointing out that Democrats seem to make up rules as they go along. I know that’s not news to many of you, but Senator E. J. Pipkin and Delegate Michael Smigiel believe the recently-passed gambling bill violates the Maryland Constitution on two fronts:

  • the Maryland Senate adjourned for more than three days and without the consent of the House, violating Article III, Section 25 of the Maryland Constitution, and, more importantly…
  • “The (gambling) bill combined revenues, tax rates, and gambling expansion into one piece of legislation.  Allowing for the referendum in November violates Article XVI, Section 2,” said Pipkin.  Smigiel added, “In the past, we have sought to allow voters take to referendum fiscal matters like tax increases and spending by removing Article XVI, Section 2 from the Constitution.  Every time Assembly leadership has rejected these efforts. Now, the General Assembly has passed a bill that in addition to expanding gambling, puts tax matters and appropriations up for a vote.”

Of course, since the Attorney General is a Democrat that complaint, however valid, will get nowhere fast. It’s another reason to vote AGAINST the gambling amendment, Question 7. Let’s make that an unlucky number for a General Assembly majority disinterested in proper process of law.

Somehow I made it through without mentioning Dan Bongino or Andy Harris. Oops, I guess I just did, didn’t I? That’s quite all right, both are worth mentioning.

Oh, one more thing as I toot my own horn. Tomorrow afternoon in the 4:00 hour (around 4:15 is what I’m told) I will be a guest on Blaine Young’s WFMD radio show. We’ll be discussing my book So We May Breathe Free. I asked about the possibility when he was here and we made it happen.

A liberty forum for two

This was probably a pretty short forum if just two candidates were featured, but if you didn’t have the opportunity to find out what two of the First District Congressional candidates had to say at a recent forum sponsored by the Free State Patriots. Featured were Libertarian candidate Muir Boda and write-in aspirant Michael Calpino. First up will be Boda, who has twice ran unsuccessfully for Salisbury City Council.

This is Mike Calpino, who ran in 2010 as a Libertarian here in Wicomico County for a County Council seat.

I’m glad to give these guys a little bit of exposure, but the obvious question remains: where were Andy Harris and Wendy Rosen? Were they invited? Since the forum occurred in June (the videos were released earlier this week) I’m led to assume neither showed up.

The sponsoring Free State Patriots group has this as their aim:

Free State Patriots is a non-partisan, citizen organization in Maryland, committed to the principles of liberty and limited, constitutional government. Our specific purpose is to compare and evaluate candidates with respect to these principles, and lend support to those patriot candidates who will most likely uphold these principles in elected office.

I’ve not heard of any upcoming debates or other chances to hear First District candidates speak, especially the lesser-known ones like Boda or Calpino that may not be in a formal debate. (Boda may well be included, though, but Calpino likely not since he’s a write-in.) Since Muir is a regular reader, he may have more insight on this.

So here’s a chance to meet these two candidates and see if they’ll steal support from Andy Harris or Wendy Rosen, the two odds-on favorites in the First District race.

Nationalizing a campaign

July 29, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on Nationalizing a campaign 

It’s only baby steps, but Libertarian Congressional hopeful Muir Boda is hoping for a little bit of exposure tomorrow evening when he appears on the internet’s Freedom Broadcasting Network. The online broadcaster will slot Boda on the “Ground Wars” program at 7 p.m.

Of course, it’s not likely to entice nearly as many viewers as the typical 30-second commercial during the local newscast – the typical weapon of an average Congressional campaign – but it’s doubtful that Muir, who has just $150 cash on hand for his low-budget campaign, will come anywhere close to being able to afford a campaign commercial. He’ll be hard-pressed to get much radio time at this pace. On the other hand, Democratic challenger Wendy Rosen had just over $30,000 cash on hand (and over $80,000 in debt) during the same reporting period while Andy Harris is sitting on a war chest of over $700,000 on hand. Harris definitely has economy of scale on his side.

Yet the prospect of exposure in any form – particularly if it’s free – is the lifeblood of any low-budget campaign. And Boda needs to increase his visibility if he wants any chance to represent his viewpoint in a formal debate; however, at this stage I’m not aware of any debate plans for the First Congressional District. Hopefully Andy Harris will agree to a series of several throughout the district.

But any show which has a host billing himself as “The Minister of Truth” might be interesting to check out. So if you want to find out more about the Salisbury resident who’s running for Congress, you should check the program either live or via FBN’s YouTube channel after the fact.

36th Annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in pictures and text

I know a lot of people have been waiting with bated breath for this, so let me tell you that if a picture is a thousand words this will be a post upwards of 32,000 words. And I didn’t think I took all that many pictures.

Nor did it seem like this year’s edition had the crowds that previous recent Tawes gatherings did. Perhaps this falls in the category of anecdotal evidence, but I climbed up to the top of the bleachers and took this panoramic photo just before 1 p.m. – a time you would think there would be huge, long lines.

And it also seemed like fewer businesses were there this year, too. Of course, you had the regulars:

Both of these entities are there every year, with Eddie Heath providing the tent “fencing” for another longtime client, the Hebron Savings Bank. And it goes without saying that this event is an important part of Somerset County’s economic development.

But I spied a couple new entities I was unfamiliar with, too.

The Great Bay Wind Energy Center is being pushed by Somerset’s economic development team, as they seek a 65-turbine complex. Despite its name, the wind farm is planned for an inland site near Marion Station.

The second could be an exciting development on the entertainment front.

The first concert at The Amphitheater at Heron Ponds will be a free show featuring local ’80’s bands on August 24; a shakedown cruise if you will for its first major event featuring country singer Kellie Pickler on August 25.

They also win the creativity award for keeping the beer cold.

If you’re scratching your head as to why I found it humorous, here’s a wider view.

But the reputation of the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake was built on the perception that it was the place for Maryland politicians to see and be seen. Despite the smaller crowds, this year was no different.

Of course, you had the two party tents. I’m biased, so the GOP goes first.

The Democrats had a smaller rendition, but I think part of the reason is, as I found out, there’s only two counties represented there. (The Republicans generally pool Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester into theirs.)

One advantage the Democrats had was a little grassy area for easy sign placement.

They had the usual fare: Obama, Cardin, Rosen, Conway. Norm Conway? He’s not up this year, is he?

Nor is Blaine Young of Frederick County. But he is planning a 2014 run for Governor on the GOP side so he secured his own tent.

But the granddaddy of all political tents didn’t belong to a party or a candidate. Instead, it belonged to a lobbyist.

It even had fans stationed along one side of the perimeter.

Unfortunately, you cannot read the cards, but various politicians had reserved tables inside the tent. These two were saved for Delegate Cheryl Glenn and State Senator Joan Carter Conway. They weren’t the only ones.

However, I must say that Bereano is bipartisan – a goodly number of the pictures below were shot in front of his tent, which was conveniently across from the GOP tent.

And as I said above, those who wanted to see and be seen were in Crisfield, the southernmost city in Maryland. (Bet you non-locals didn’t know that.) I have a lot of these photos, so I suppose I’ll begin with statewide races and work my way to local ones.

Since I already revealed Blaine Young had a tent for his 2014 gubernatorial bid, I’ll start with him enjoying his lunch within.

To be honest, this was the biggest splash his nascent campaign has made, as he has a little catching up to do with two of his fellow presumptive GOP contenders. Larry Hogan (right in photo below) was in the house, sporting his Change Maryland logo with Red Maryland blogger and state YR head Brian Griffiths.

Griffiths is apparently an equal opportunity gladhander, since he’s also here with Harford County Executive David Craig, the unofficial-official candidate for Governor in 2014.

On the other side, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman is thought to be considering a run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He’s on the right, Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt (who introduced me) is to the left. I’m also told Peter Franchot, who may run in 2014, was there as well but I didn’t see him.

There was one other statewide candidate there, at least that I’m aware of.

Let’s just put it this way. I arrived at 11:00, and Dan Bongino was there 15 minutes later (note that the event officially started at noon.) The photo below was the second one I took. He stayed and sweated it out (literally) until almost the bitter end.

And while I show him by the GOP tent in this picture, he was all over the Somers Cove complex getting votes.

And they didn’t forget to get more volunteers, as the Bongino signup sheet was prominent on this table.

An advantage Bongino and other challengers had was the fact the incumbents were working today in Washington. So Ben Cardin couldn’t walk the grounds gathering votes, and nor could Andy Harris in the local First District race. But Harris had a good volunteer turnout.

Opponent Wendy Rosen had her own small posse of backers, too.

I had never met Rosen before today, so I wanted to put a face to a name. She’s a nice enough lady, but when she remarked something along the lines of Republicans selling their souls to the Koch Brothers, well, let’s just say the class envy card isn’t accepted here.

The Second District could have much better representation with this lady, who obviously approves this message.

It was nice to see her get some airtime, although the local TV station isn’t in her district.

I wish I had gotten a better photo of Third District hopeful Eric Knowles (on the right) but this will have to suffice.

While most state and local politicians aren’t on the ballot for awhile, there is one exception. Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton is up for re-election in early 2013. Here he’s on the left (which seems to be the norm) but being bipartisan is Delegate Charles Otto, on the right.

General Assembly members from near and far came to participate. Delegate Mike McDermott was rolling up his sign as the day wound down.

State Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin had one of his supporters in tow.

Here’s that Brian Griffiths guy again, in front of the Bereano tent with Delegates Kathy Szeliga and Justin Ready. Truly, though, it’s better Griffiths be in front of the camera and me behind it than the other way around.

And maybe politics is in the future of these two lovely young ladies – after all, they’ve won one contest already. The outgoing Miss Crustacean and Little Miss Crustacean will turn over their crowns at the Hard Crab Derby in September, but Hannah Adkins (left) and Jessica Wilson (right) seem to be having fun with their titles for now.

They definitely have winning smiles.

And by next week those who normally frequent the Somers Cove Marina can have their facility back.

So with that another Tawes Crab and Clam Bake is in the books. Next year should be a little more active since the 2014 campaign will be in full swing.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of my local blogging cohorts there. Since Jackie Wellfonder was busy coordinating Dan Bongino’s effort she may not put anything up on her Raging Against the Rhetoric site, but Julie Brewington of Right Coast Conservative was snapping a number of shots for herself while Jonathan Taylor of Lower Eastern Shore News has his observations as well.

Last race standing

About 35,000 votes were cast, and as of tonight’s results there were just 82 votes separating the two front-runners. But this evening John LaFerla conceded the Democratic nomination in the First District Congressional race to Wendy Rosen. In a statement on his Facebook site LaFerla wrote:

Now that most of the absentee and provisional ballots have been counted, it is clear that the result of the Democratic Primary in the 1st Congressional District will not change and I will not be nominee of our party.

I would like to congratulate Wendy Rosen for winning the nomination of our party and I wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy and urge all my supporters to get behind her so we can defeat Andy Harris this November.

I want to thank everyone who supported our campaign to bring common sense to Congress. While we came up short, the issues we talked about remain vital to the future of our District and our Nation. While I won’t be in Congress, I hope to continue working with all of you in other ways to build a brighter future for everyone in our community.

So for the first time in recent memory no one from the Eastern Shore will be among the two major-party contenders for the Congressional seat, after a streak of Eastern Shore representatives for the First District – which for the decade between 2000 and 2010 was roughly a 50-50 voter split between Eastern and Western shores – came to an end with the election of Andy Harris. Both Wayne Gilchrest and Frank Kratovil lived on the Eastern Shore; while Harris owns a condominium on the Eastern Shore his principal residence is in Baltimore County, as is opponent Wendy Rosen’s.

Yet while the First District was perhaps made even more Republican, there is peril in Andy’s re-election bid. There’s no doubt that the public perception of Harris as stiff and uncaring will be made even more apparent as he faces a female opponent for the first time as a Congressional candidate. Certainly the Sun and other media outlets will do their best to soften Rosen’s image over the summer. (Harris defeated female Democratic opponents in both his State Senate re-election runs in 2002 and 2006, however.)

In an interview on Forbes.com Rosen describes herself as a “recovering Republican” who left the party for because she perceived it as unfriendly to small business:

Her frustration has grown to disenchantment with the Republican Party, which she says only supports big business and eventually led to her decision to run for Congress as a Democrat.

“I always thought the Republican Party supported small business and included small business in that definition (of being pro-business),” she says. “I think the Democratic Party is more receptive to creative ideas needed to revitalize our smallest businesses. The Republican Party represents the defense industry and the insurance industry. They talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.”

I have to chuckle on that one because she’s about 180 degrees out of phase, at least when it comes to the current occupant of the Oval Office and titular head of the Democrat Party. If there’s anyone who is selling government to the highest bidder who can afford the largest group of lobbyists it’s those in Rosen’s current political home.

And if you look at Rosen’s key issues, it’s clear she’s trying to portray herself as a friend to small business. But what I see from her is more micromanagement and government picking winners and losers. I’m not seeing the big ideas which will level the playing field and allow all companies a fair shake like a reduction in regulations and a more sound tax policy which would put more money in their pockets, allowing them to hire more workers and create more jobs. That’s how you “fill those vacant shops and give small business owners the tools and support necessary for them to succeed” – you get out of their way.

Wendy rails about how too many items come from other countries and aren’t American made, but has she considered why the products are made overseas? Well, there is a cost of labor advantage, but by the time you add shipping costs that is practically negated. Yet taxing business at the industrialized world’s highest rate (as of April 1 Japan lowered its corporate tax rate below that of the United States) and writing reams of regulations (a study for the Small Business Administration in 2010 pegged the annual regulatory cost at $1.75 trillion – yes, that’s trillion with a “tr”) isn’t going to create American jobs. Nor will it win many friends in the business world – that is, unless you have the lobbyists and clout to write the rules in such a way to stifle competition. She’s suspiciously silent on those aspects of the issue. And what about the energy industry and gasoline prices?

I’m pleased Wendy seems to have found a way to succeed in her chosen field, although when she talks about walking the halls of Congress for over 10 years she begins to sound like the lobbyists she detests. But I think we have tried things her way for a number of years and those methods don’t work anymore. Back off the entrepreneurs of America, give them breathing room from excessive burdens, and watch them grow.

The next step

April 8, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2013 - Salisbury, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The next step 

Now that the primary is behind us and the Maryland General Assembly session will come to a screeching halt by midnight Monday evening, there’s an obvious focus on the three races we will have at our local level: the Republican nominee (most likely Mitt Romney) for President vs. Barack Hussein Obama, the U.S. Senate race featuring Dan Bongino against political lifer Ben Cardin, and the Congressional race which will pit Andy Harris against the most likely Democrat winner, Wendy Rosen (who, by the way, was once a Republican.)

But we also need to keep a couple things in the back of our mind. One is that the citizens here in our fair city are less than a year away from electing a new mayor. (I say new because, quite frankly, what has Jim Ireton done to deserve re-election? Then again, what did he do to deserve election in the first place?) We will also have the City Council seats currently held by Shanie Shields in District 1 and Debbie Campbell in District 2 to vote upon. (For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume the new district boundaries will mostly reflect the old ones – Lord knows the three-person Camden crew on City Council won’t select a model which makes sense and redivide the city into five Council districts because at least one of them would be out of a job.)

It’s my understanding that Shields will not seek re-election in her majority-minority district, and while it would be a tough sell for a Republican to win there it wouldn’t be a stretch to have a conservative win the seat – the city election is non-partisan and has been for some time now.

And while Campbell has faced opposition in both her initial election bid (Mike Dunn in 2005) and subsequent re-election try (Muir Boda in 2009) it seems like prospective candidates are easier to find when the district elects three seats as they did in 2011 than the one-seat race we have in the other cycle coming up next year. But there’s no reason to leave Campbell unopposed should she decide to run again, particularly since she’s part of the Camden crew.

So far only one person has gone public with his intention to run for city office, but there’s been no fleshing out of his platform up until now and the campaign is still in its earliest stages. Unlike federal or state office, there’s really no need to begin a campaign until this fall considering it covers a city of just 30,000 people.

But those conservatives who are interested should be making the push over the summer in attracting grassroots support and financing for their run. Truth be told, the city seems to have fallen prey to a power struggle between the Camden crew and the mayor as to who’s really in charge, and in my estimation both are fighting over a sinking ship as things currently stand. I’ll grant that a lot of dead weight is being placed onboard by the state and federal governments, which will leave a new chief executive boxed in to some extent, but these aren’t times when the city can be placed on a glide path like it could a decade ago.

Nor is it too early to consider what we can achieve for a number of county offices which haven’t had turnover in decades. While the bulk of county Republicans only came into office in 2006 or 2010 (exceptions are County Council members Gail Bartkovich and Stevie Prettyman), most of the Democrats have been there for well over a decade and their offices may not be getting the fresh leadership they deserve. It’s time to make them earn their office rather than let them cruise in for another four years. A good goal for local Republicans would be to fill up the 2014 ballot – actively seeking a person to run for State’s Attorney, even after the filing deadline, paid dividends in 2010.

Focus on 2012, but don’t forget 2013 or 2014.

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