It was our last formal meeting of the year, but it also featured a return to scheduled speakers after last month’s work session. District 37B candidates Christopher Adams and Johnny Mautz, Jr. did the honors. (Incumbent Delegate Addie Eckardt, who is seeking re-election, was also invited but could not attend.)
As always, we began with the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of an expanding roster of distinguished guests. There were probably 40 people in attendance, which has been becoming the norm as the 2014 election draws closer and closer.
One new wrinkle is that I no longer need to read the meeting minutes, which are now posted online at the WCRC website. (I updated the page last night with the 2013 minutes.) We still heard the Treasurer’s Report, though, which had the distinction of no comparison to last year’s totals. (You may recall our November, 2012 meeting was wiped out due to the aftermath of flooding from Hurricane Sandy. The Chamber of Commerce building sustained serious damage from the “superstorm.”)
Neither Adams nor Mautz spoke at any great length, and mainly stuck to the generalities of introducing themselves and explaining why they were running rather than issue advocacy.
For example, Christopher Adams was right up front about it: “I’m a business person, first and foremost.” He added that he was “not necessarily comfortable” in politics, but ran because he was “frustrated with what I see in Annapolis.”
Adams recounted his experience at the state party convention over the weekend, saying it was “very exciting” to be part of the Maryland Republican Party. For him, the highlight was Senator David Brinkley’s remarks where Brinkley relayed the story of Senate President Mike Miller paying a rare visit to the GOP caucus in an effort to provide opposition to his own party’s excesses.
Speaking as a businessman, Christopher noted the state “is starting to tighten down” on businesses like his. Christopher became involved as the leader of his industry organization, as his company (Value Carpet One) was cited by the state for employment law violations which could have severely (and unfairly) impacted his company. His was a “test case” on the law, which has since been changed.
His goal was to be a true “citizen legislator” and eventually return to the business. I asked Christopher if he would term-limit himself and he indeed gave himself a two-term limit, based on the ages of his children who would be completing college by then and may wish to follow in his footsteps with the business.
On the other hand, Johnny Mautz was a little apologetic, saying he hasn’t been in Wicomico County enough. But the Talbot County native – whose “entire life has been invested in the Eastern Shore” – also made the case that his business (Carpenter Street Saloon) is “facing a lot of challenges.” Johnny described himself as a legislative lawyer in Washington by day, and a business manager at night and on the weekends.
Johnny described Maryland as “the leading edge of the progressive movement,” using the proposed phosphorus regulations as an example of our “out of touch” government.
But he also made a very salient point: many of the issues we are discussing now may be resolved by the time he would take office in 2015.
Mautz drew an interesting question from an audience member, who asked if the party was afraid to scuffle and “get its nose bloodied.” But both candidates – as well as District 38C hopeful Mary Beth Carozza, who was in attendance as well – made the case that you “have to be tactical.”
“Annapolis is a dangerous place for a Republican,” Mautz concluded.
After Jackie Wellfonder noted the passing of a longtime member, Dave Parker injected a lot of humor into his Central Committee report. But he turned serious when he called the Iran deal our “Neville Chamberlain moment.”
He also let the group know about some of the outcomes of the state convention, particularly the demise of the open primary which was not going to get a favorable vote from the Executive Committee.
Turning to local events, he reminded us that the next Central Committee meeting will be December 2. He also bemoaned the local employment picture, stating that the number employed in the county has been declining for several months on end. And as always, Dave encouraged people to run, saying the Central Committee needed some “new blood” as some members would be seeking other offices. “It takes a lot of courage” to run for office, said Dave.
John Palmer asked Dave to relate the story of Annapolis mayor-elect Mike Pantelides, who was the beneficiary of a Super Saturday which found a lot of new voters. Mary Beth Carozza chimed in at that topic, pointing out that education was needed about the process – she was getting quite a few registration changes by reminding would-be voters they have to be Republicans to vote for her in the primary election (and having the requisite cards handy.)
We got a number of quick updates from other candidates as well, with Marc Kilmer, Muir Boda, and Carozza making the rounds of constituent meetings and planning fundraisers.
But Delegate Charles Otto is a candidate as well, seeking re-election. (Even though no one in the room will be able to vote for him in 2014 because Wicomico County has been excised from his new district.) Otto gave some of his thoughts about matters being discussed, predicting the phosphorus regulations “would be devastating to us.” And even though there was no real scientific basis for the changes, the state was “just going to do it” so Martin O’Malley could have an environmental feather in his cap. But Otto warned that the “voters of Iowa listen to corn growers” and the incoming president of a national corn growers’ group hails from southern Maryland.
Otto also said that Obamacare “was what we said it was going to be” and told us the state was again facing a structural deficit of about $500-600 million.
Jackie Wellfonder mentioned one other event, a local fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate David Craig on December 1.
We also got an update on what promises to be a great WCRC Christmas Party on December 15. The WCRC will also be represented at the Jaycees Christmas Parade on December 8th, so organizers were looking for volunteers and a vehicle.
One final significant topic of discussion was brought up the owner of a local sign company, who posited that “we took down more signs in this county than we put up.” Simply put, he didn’t feel the county was friendly enough to business and pointed to the recent pullout of a proposed Cracker Barrel restaurant (as well as a TGI Friday’s) as evidence. Another member added that the county was also “very unfriendly” to transportation.
Obviously this was a pretty good time to bring up the topic with three candidates for and one sitting Delegate in attendance as well as a member of County Council and two others openly seeking to join him.
But I thought the subject was one which needed to be publicized, since he owns a business which depends heavily on other businesses to survive. His story needs to be backed up with facts and told in a larger venue than our small meeting.
Said small meeting, however, was the last such one of 2013. The WCRC will next convene (after the Christmas Parade and Christmas Party, of course) on January 27, 2014 – less than a month before the filing deadline.
This meeting had a much different vibe than the previous three simply because there was no guest speaker. Instead, we broomed the speaker’s portion of the agenda in favor of catching up on old business and soliciting ideas for new ways of conserving our funds and raising more. Suffice to say there were plenty, which worked out well given club President Jackie Wellfonder’s request in her report to make suggestions. (One other suggestion was to post minutes rather than read them at the meeting, which took effect this month. Soon minutes of meetings extending back to 2010 will be available for online inspection.)
Now we did get our treasurer’s report, but without the physical reading of the minutes or speaker we moved rather quickly into the Chairman’s Report from Dave Parker. He related that we have a “bunch of candidates” for County Council but none had given the green light to make their plans public. Parker also reminded those attending that the Central Committee would meet one week hence in the same location so we can make plans for our state convention November 22-23 in Annapolis. He also spoke a little about the issues of gun control in the state, pointing out problems with our registration system and remarked that “everything about Obamacare is botched.”
The abbreviated schedule also enabled us to hear from a number of candidates, who updated us on their efforts.
Mary Beth Carozza, running for Delegate in District 38C, let us know she was “staying on her three tracks”: door to door, fundraising, and events. She commented that her reception had been great thus far, and “folks do want to believe” they can make a difference.
Christopher Adams, a Delegate hopeful in District 37B, credited his work over the last three years on behalf of a business group as providing the motivation for him to run. New regulations were “unpalatable” to him. He also recalled the situation where he was to testify on a sick pay bill but was cut off because the gun law had to come to a vote at the behest of the Obama administration.
Turning to local races, Marc Kilmer mentioned his work in his district as well as meeting voters at the Autumn Wine Festival. He contended, though, that “rural Wicomico County has a lot of challenges.”
Meanwhile, Muir Boda was also a fixture at many of the same events Marc had attended, but his focus of late was on local land use issues, as people were showing “a lot of concern about that” as well as about property rights. He was planning on visiting a number of local municipal meetings over the next month or so to familiarize himself with those communities.
Since the tier maps subject had come up, I took a moment to remind people that our lack of an approved map meant we could not subdivide any parcel into more than seven lots.
A less weighty subject was our annual Christmas party, which promises to be quite an event with a buffet dinner, cash bar, live and silent auctions, raffles, and entertainment by Peter’s Voice – all for $20 (or $35 for couples) with advance purchase. It will be held December 15 at Mister Paul’s Legacy from 5 to 8 p.m.
We also had a discussion of whether to enter into the Jaycees Christmas Parade, which was left unfinished until more information was gathered. Much of the conversation was about just how much exposure we would receive.
I gave an update on our candidate recruitment, which Dave Parker remarked was as good as he’d ever seen. I added that interest in the club and its events was quite strong, which led me into a report on the Good Beer and Autumn Wine Festivals. Despite the poor weather, I assessed them as vital to our mission in gathering exposure for candidates – a point echoed by many who were there.
We then batted around ideas for a spring fundraiser, with a number of recently popular events in mind. We just had to work around the Lincoln Day Dinner to be held in March 2014.
Opening up the meeting to comments from the gallery, we were asked about the idea of a “Contract with Wicomico” – an idea some favored while others disagreed.
It was also brought up that the WCRC would soon be able to accept payments online through our website, which will be of great benefit for fundraising.
Since County Council member Gail Bartkovich was in attendance, an onlooker asked what the body was up to. They had taken a short break but were preparing to tackle the aforementioned Tier Map issue in a work session, said Bartkovich.
Woody Willing piped up that 32 precincts and 10 polling places had been approved, with some more work to finish before all is complete. One new wrinkle is a requirement that all polling places allow electioneering, which some had forbidden in the past. Those will no longer be used.
This was a productive meeting – a work horse as opposed to a show horse, if you will – but our next meeting November 25 will feature local 2014 candidates as well as reaction from the state party’s Fall Convention.
I’ll charitably call it a race run on a sloppy track, but let’s just say the weather conditions kept most but the diehards away from this year’s Good Beer Festival – despite the welcoming sign from my favorite brewery.
Once I get to the upcoming Weekend of Local Rock feature you’ll better see what I mean, but for the most part Saturday’s proceedings were endured in a steady light drizzle. It’s unfortunate because there were some neat new features this weekend, like the Local Beer Garden.
Several local breweries secured a small corner for their pouring stations or a place to enjoy the product.
Another corner had a unique feature which many enjoyed and employed.
Me? I was just doing what I was told (for once.)
(Yes, I can be a smartass at times. But if you can’t have a little fun in life, why bother?)
Aside from the chalkboard, I took those shots before the event even began Saturday. Meanwhile, the volunteer pourers were receiving their final instructions.
It was only when I walked over to the ribbon cutting that the sprinkles began, literally minutes before the GBF was opened.
Among those participating were Wicomico Recreation Chairman Allen Brown (holding microphone), who actually wielded the scissors, and fellow Commission member April Jackson to his left. Elected officials flanking Brown in the background from left to right were County Council members Bob Culver, Gail Bartkovich, and Stevie Prettyman, with Delegate Addie Eckradt at the far right. Aside from a brief walkaround, though, I don’t think the elected officials stuck around.
At least I had the little sampling glass they gave out. The slips of paper served two purposes: a sticker for the event you could wear and a ballot for the Taster’s Choice Awards.
It wasn’t a complete surprise that local favorite Evolution Craft Brewing Company was knocked out of its three-time defending Taster’s Choice champion perch by the Tall Tales Brewing Company – after all, Tall Tales was the lead event sponsor. But newcomer Fin City Brewing Company from Ocean City finished third. All this was announced just before closing on Sunday.
So you could tell Saturday’s rain had its effect on the crowd. This shot was taken about 1:30, looking down the food court.
Did I say food? Yes, they had plenty of food to go with the beer, for the most part conveniently lined up along the fence line. I had some good pulled pork sliders, North Carolina style.
Yet a strange thing happened: by 4:30 there were a LOT of hungry folks despite the persistent mist. I wondered where they all came from!
As it turns out – and I was floored by this – they had 1,700 at Saturday’s event. No, it’s nowhere near record territory but for the conditions of the day I was impressed.
The crowd – and a week’s worth of rainy conditions – was already beginning to take a toll on the grassy meadow the GBF is held on.
So when I arrived Sunday morning, and found a nice puddle had collected on the roof of our tent, it was no surprise to find some no-go zones. The tape was removed before the event formally opened.
One thing I’ve noticed about the Sunday crowd (as opposed to the Saturday gathering) is that it’s somewhat smaller and many of them partake in the other amusements scattered about the grounds. Always popular on Sunday is this tent with the big screen televisions.
Others played cornhole, although this group had a different idea of the rules.
Luckily, I think she missed – didn’t need an Orlando Brown incident at the GBF.
Meanwhile, this little game can be maddeningly addictive. I keep coming thisclose to hooking it.
Sunday also brought the home brewers out, with their own contest and enclave.
I don’t recall who won, but it was with a fruit-based home brew. It’s worth pointing out that, in the spirit of the Halloween season, a number of breweries had pumpkin-based beer. There was also one concoction featuring Old Bay I didn’t try and the 16 Mile Killer Tiller Brown Ale, which I did. That stuff BURNED all the way down. I’ll stick with the Blues’ Golden Ale (which, sadly, wasn’t on tap there), thanks.
It’s also a more intimate gathering. My guess is that attendance was about 1,000. You’ll notice in my 1:30 shot that it’s cloudy but the rain held off all day.
I know I’ve discussed the more humorous signage at the Autumn Wine Festival and Pork in the Park, and the brewers are beginning to catch up.
And if you wanted to flaunt your drunken humor I’m sure these guys had the shirt for you.
But perhaps most emblematic of the rollicking, fun-loving spirit of the Good Beer Festival were these young ladies who happened to be next door to us. (No, not the guys in the kilts.)
Where else could you do this?
The Salisbury Roller Girls aren’t a new group and they’re regulars at Third Friday. But I found out that they have Old Bay as one sponsor and they were using the arm wrestling as a fundraiser along with shirt sales and such. It takes money to get the rinks, hire the refs, and travel around the region playing teams like the New Jersey Hellrazors or Black Rose Rotten Cherries.
So why was our humble group of Republicans there? Because the Democrats weren’t!
Among my Sunday volunteers was County Council candidate Muir Boda, who’s in the center between Greg Belcher and Shawn Jester.
Shawn is also in this shot with District 38C hopeful Mary Beth Carozza, who stopped by with the signs and magnets you see in the above picture. And remember that name of Shawn Jester; I think you’ll be reading it in the future here.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my volunteers: not just Shawn, Muir, and Greg, but Phil, Bob, and Bunky as well. It made for an enjoyable weekend – and wasn’t that the point? Giving out literature, meeting Republicans who urged us to keep up the fight, and recruiting new potential Wicomico County Republican Club members is great, but the idea is to be in the community and enjoy being there.
We will see you next weekend at the Autumn Wine Festival, but you’ll be able to relive the bands which played as an installment of Weekend of Local Rock over the weekend.
At the most recent Wicomico County Republican Club meeting last Monday, gubernatorial candidate Ron George briefly mentioned that our state’s debt was cycling from a five-year payback to a fifteen-year payback, thanks to the desire of Martin O’Malley to keep annual debt service down and appear to balance the budget without further vast tax increases. George further expanded on this point in a release Thursday morning:
Delegate Ron George opposes Gov. Martin O’Malley’s increase in the state’s bond limit.
“I agree with Comptroller Franchot that we cannot afford more bond lending,” George remarked. “O’Malley is shifting today’s debt onto our children. He cannot fund the budget with existing revenue so he has backfilled the budget with bond bills.”
Delegate George also noted that it was the O’Malley/Brown administration who extended our debt service from 5 years to 15 years thus creating ever increasing future structural deficits.
The “out of left field request” for $750 million additional bond debt was made last Monday at a hastily-called Capital Debt Affordability Committee meeting, which also ran afoul of public meeting notice requirements – not that anyone else called O’Malley out for this violation, excused with the weak pabulum of “we overlooked that.” (Some seem more interested in $1,600 a particular Republican candidate is fighting over with the state.) Granted, $750 million over 15 years will not break the state’s $37 billion-plus annual budget, but we don’t yet know what they will spend it on.
At least Ron has room to talk: with the exception of Martin O’Malley’s very first budget – which was opposed by just five House GOP members – George has been a steadfast opponent of state spending over the years.
But the more important pieces of the puzzle come in the fact that it’s the piece of our property tax we turn over to the state which pays these bills, and unlike our local government’s revenue cap the state has no barrier to raising property taxes at any rate they wish. Currently, the state rate is 11.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, a rate which has remained constant since fiscal year 2006. Since the state’s property tax was reformed in the 2000 legislative session, the rate has varied: 8.4 cents from FY2002-2003, 13.4 cents from FY2004-2005, and 11.2 cents since. For the owner of a home valued at $200,000, the state’s take is $224 a year – overall, the state derives around $750 million in revenue from property taxes.
By comparison, residents here in Wicomico County endured a county rate increase this year alone of 6.82 cents per $100 valuation, or $136.40 more from their pockets for a $200,000 home. In 2010, the rate was 75.9 cents per $100, now it’s 90.86 cents – in three years, the county’s increase has been higher than the state’s overall rate and is the largest increase from 2009-2013 in Maryland at almost 20 percent, despite the revenue cap. So it’s a sure bet the state can justify a nickel jump by stating it’s less than some counties fluctuate in a year’s time; this despite the fact four counties (Allegany, Baltimore City, Carroll, and GOP opponent David Craig’s Harford) have decreased their rate over the last half-decade while an additional seven have held the line.
So while Martin O’Malley can’t run a deficit in this state, he has the power to bond our children into submission and he appears to be using it to keep today’s bills paid.
Since it was Ron who brought up the subject of property taxes, perhaps a good question to ask is how he will reconcile this promise…
Grow the tax base in Baltimore, allowing other jurisdictions to keep their money home for infrastructure and education needs.
…with the fact that Baltimore City has a property tax rate over double that of any other jurisdiction in the state, even as it’s decreased slightly over the last few years. Indeed, bringing it back to parity with other jurisdictions would be a major achievement but you can bet your bottom dollar Stephanie Rawlings-Blake would scream bloody murder and demand a state handout to make up the difference. But if I’m looking at property in Baltimore proper vs. suburban tracts, the taxes alone would be discouraging for urban development.
Then again, we know what “solution” the Democrats have in mind, and it involves more from our wallets.
For the third month in a row (and fourth overall this year), a gubernatorial candidate came to speak to the Wicomico County Republican Club. This time it was Delegate Ron George who graced us with his presence.
So once we opened the meeting in our usual manner, with the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduction of a growing number of distinguished guests, we turned the meeting over to Ron. He began by making the case that he was making the “sacrifice” of running because “I don’t want to leave the state (as it’s becoming) to my sons.”
And after giving a brief biography covering everything from being far enough down the sibling food chain to have to learn a trade instead of going to college, learning the business of being a goldsmith well enough to make his way to college at Syracuse University, making his way to New York City and briefly acting in a soap opera (“I died…but then I came back later,” he joked) it eventually ended with him meeting his wife and returning to Annapolis to start a family and business.
But it was his time in New York where “I saw a lot of people suffering on the street” that moved him the most. “I’m a man of faith,” continued Ron, and the experience gave him insight into the situation in Baltimore and other impoverished areas. One problem in Maryland was that “we don’t have an economic base in this state.” He pointed out that employment in the public sector in Maryland was up 7% while private-sector employment was stagnant. The budget had increased from $27 billion to $37 billion, and “they’ve squeezed you to death,” said Ron.
It was interesting to me that Ron provided some insight on how he got into politics – in essence, his frequent testimony in Annapolis got him noticed, and he was asked to run in the same district as Speaker of the House Michael Busch. Ron stated that Busch spent $350,000 and turned to negative ads in the campaign’s waning days. At first the mudslinging appeared to work as George was behind on election night by about 50 votes, but absentees sent in before the negative campaigning began pulled Ron over the top by 53 votes when all was counted.
On the other hand, George did such an effective job in the General Assembly that he was the top vote-getter in 2010, finishing 1,636 votes ahead of Speaker Busch. “I never ran to the middle,” Ron reminded us, “I spoke to the middle.”
But the idea behind the 2006 run was also one of keeping Michael Busch from spending his money to help other Democrats. (Hence why I harp on having a full slate of candidates.)
Ron then turned to this campaign, stating the case that his 10-point plan was based on three things: “economics, economics, economics.” It was a message which played well in Democratic areas, alluding to polling he was doing on the subject.
He also revealed why he had the success he’d had in Annapolis. Liberals “like to feel good about themselves,” said Ron, but never thought of how their policies affect the average Marylander. By organizing opposition testimony on various issues, particularly the abortive “tech tax” – where he found dozens willing to testify and put a face to the opposition – Ron got bad laws reversed or changed. “I’m very solution-oriented,” he added.
As Common Core has been in the news, Ron weighed in on how Maryland adopted it. The package of bills was fourfold, he explained, with the first two not being too obnoxious – but once they passed the fix was in for the bad portions. Ron stated he was “very much against” the mandates in Common Core. It’s being forced on the counties, he later said, but was “totally dumbing down” students.
To conclude the initial portion of his remarks, Ron noted he was the Maryland Business for Responsive Government’s legislator of the year, in part for his work in capping the state’s boat excise tax, and promised that, if elected, “I will make sure (rural areas of Maryland) get their fair share.”
While Ron delivered his remarks well enough, though, I sensed he was almost ill at ease making the stump speech portion of the remarks, expressing several times the preference for a question-and-answer session. It wasn’t as somnambulant as David Craig can occasionally be, but wasn’t delivered with the passion of Charles Lollar, either.
As was the case Saturday at the First District Bull Roast, Ron seemed better with the give-and-take of answering questions. When asked about the impact of the banes of rural Maryland – the Maryland Department of Planning, Department of the Environment, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation – Ron launched into an explanation of how he got the state to revisit laws passed in 2008 and misused for two years afterward, noting that several of those overcharged for permits were quietly reimbursed after it was revealed they were interpreting the law too broadly in order to collect additional permitting fees. On that front, Ron also vowed to work toward repealing the “rain tax” and following Virginia’s lead in challenging the EPA.
He was equally as excited about the prospect of auditing state agencies. “I guarantee we’ll find about $5 billion in waste,” promised Ron. The Delegate blasted the current administration for its handling of highway user revenues, pointing out previous shortfalls were paid back, but not with real revenues. Instead, more bonds were issued, and rather than the standard five-year payback these were 15-year bonds.
Finally, Ron made sure to remark the Second Amendment “has my full support,” noting he was the only Delegate to actually testify at the afternoon regulatory hearing in Annapolis. He noted eight different problems with the regulations, where legislation was being written in. (It was also why Ron missed a planned appearance at the club’s happy hour.)
As Lollar did the month before, Ron was courteous enough to stay for the meeting, which meant he sat through my lengthy reading of the August minutes and our treasurer’s report. Deb Okerblom was pleased to report the Crab Feast did better than expected financially.
Jackie Wellfonder, in her President’s report, also thanked those who put together the club’s main fundraising event. She also noted an event to be held in Wicomico County October 20 but benefiting the Dorchester County GOP, which was represented by Billy Lee. She also announced “we have a new website” and asserted our happy hours are “going well.”
Speaking in the Central Committee report, county Chair Dave Parker reminded us of upcoming events like the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting featuring Charles Lollar this Wednesday (as well as his appearance at a business roundtable the previous evening), the Good Beer and Autumn Wine festivals in October, and the state party’s Octoberfest on the 12th. Parker was pleased at the amount of attention we were getting from the gubernatorial hopefuls.
Parker also filled us in on some news, particularly the Common Core meeting fiasco in Towson. (Ron George noted the charges against the speaker have been dropped.) Dave also related a Forbes article claiming families will pay an extra $7,450
annually over a period of nine years for Obamacare. Apparently Maryland has the highest increase in the nation.
But this gave Ron George the opportunity to add that he created the Doctors’ Caucus in the General Assembly and reveal that 60% of doctors were near retirement age. Some are more than willing to hang up the stethoscope thanks to Obamacare.
Blan Harcum chimed in to alert us to a Maryland Farm Bureau campaign seminar in Annapolis October 14 and 15. Then it was my turn as I updated those in attendance on the status of our candidate search.
In club business, we found a chair for our upcoming Christmas Party, I reminded the folks they could sign up to help at the upcoming festivals, and we secured space for equipment one of our members urged us to purchase. These are the mundane things which seem tedious, but can turn out to be important.
The same may be true about our last three meetings with gubernatorial hopefuls. Next month we go back to local races and speakers, although the exact keynoter is to be announced. We will see you October 28.
Next week local Wicomico County readers (or those within driving distance) will have a chance to help “Build A New Maryland” or “Achieve The Dream.”
First up: the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting Monday evening, where Ron George will be the third gubernatorial candidate in as many months to speak before the club. If time allows beforehand, George may drop by the club’s happy hour which will take place this month at the Cellar Door Tavern on Camden Street, just off the Downtown Plaza, from 5 to 6:30. The regular monthly meeting of the WCRC takes place at the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce on East Main Street, beginning at 7:00. Ron will get the opportunity to speak close to the top of the agenda, so be there early.
Then on Wednesday night, fellow candidate Charles Lollar comes to Salisbury to address the Wicomico Society of Patriots meeting at Brew River on West Main Street, beginning at 6:00.
Julie Brewington passed the note along to me:
It has been some time since we have formally met. It seems the state and the country are sinking further into despair. I know it’s very discouraging for liberty minded people. Once again the election cycle is rolling around and we have a chance to get involved and influence it. The good news is that we have some very promising candidates that could alter the direction of this state. I think it’s timely that we would meet again to interview the candidates for the jobs that they are seeking as public servants.
All she asks is that you e-mail her [julie.brewington (at) comcast (dot) net] to let her know you’re coming so she can give Brew River an estimate of the number coming.
It’s exciting to see this much attention paid to the Eastern Shore between the three main contenders for governor, as I’m sure David Craig is planning more visits as well.
It was a day and setting tailor-made for a gathering.
Thus it was that the Wicomico County Republican Club held its annual Crab Feast today, with a crowd close to 300 overflowing the picnic pavilion and seated around the space at Schumaker Pond.
If you were a Republican in Wicomico County, it was the place be seen, particularly if you’re a candidate. Even the statewide campaigns were represented.
The David Craig campaign was represented by his running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, pictured here on the left with Wicomico County Republican Club president Jackie Wellfonder. Thanks to Jackie for sending along the photo, which I actually took but using her cell phone.
On the other hand, Ron George came himself (well, actually with a couple volunteers in tow, as did Haddaway-Riccio) to mingle and speak with a number of those around the pavilion, including Delegate Charles Otto (seated at left) and a pair of attentive Salisbury University College Republicans.
Here’s another one with George and fellow Delegate Addie Eckardt, as always with her pink on.
Another local candidate who found plenty of support after a rough last few days was State Senator Rich Colburn, pictured center speaking with County Chair Dave Parker (on left) and Jackie Wellfonder. Mike McDermott, who’s trying to join Colburn in the State Senate, is in the background in the orange shirt.
Another hopeful candidate rustling up votes was District 38C candidate Mary Beth Carozza, who brought her father Tony for additional support.
But it wasn’t just about the political fellowship. The club uses this as a fundraiser as well, and between the silent auction pictured below and a 50/50 drawing the club raised well over $1,000. They even recouped some of their investment by selling the spare bushels of crabs, which I’m pleased to report met my fiance’s seal of approval.
One big departure from previous years, though, was that elected officials and candidates were recognized but
not given none decided to take the time to speak. (Thanks to Jackie for the reminder/clarification.) It made for a quicker-paced event, but those who may have wanted to hear more from certain hopefuls may have been out of luck.
Then again, who would want to listen to a speech with this view?
So it turned out to be a nice day. Maybe it wasn’t the most newsworthy, but I had the pleasure of speaking at some length with both Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and Ron George during the time I was there.
Hopefully we get the same weather for next year. Certainly we’ll know who the candidates are.
In what turns out to be the second of three consecutive club meetings featuring a gubernatorial candidate, a packed room enjoyed the presentation from Charles Lollar. While Lollar hasn’t formally announced – one item he mentioned was that this area will be part of his bus tour on September 5 – it’s clear he’s intending to run for the GOP nomination.
So, as is our usual custom with visiting dignitaries who travel from afar, once we got through the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and introduced our other distinguished guests we turned the meeting over to Charles, who brought his wife Rosha along.
Lollar started right out by telling those gathered it was “awesome” we began with the Lord’s Prayer. (It’s actually something I believe our late former president George Ossman started. We later paid tribute to George, who passed away last week and was remembered as “a great Republican and club member,” with a moment of silence.) Charles continued on that point, saying that religion was the fabric of our nation, He also contended that the political process of late was one of deciding between whether our rights derived from God or were passed along by mankind, “If you think our rights are from men, don’t vote for me,” said Lollar. “Rights and liberties…come from the Creator of our universe.”
Charles pondered what could happen next year given three items: the new majority of local elected officials statewide who belong to the Republican Party, the impact of fights over state Constitutional amendments such as the one permitting gay marriage, and the influence of conservative Democrats in rural areas upset about the current administration’s efforts to instill draconian gun control measures.
But Lollar urged those attending to gather as much information as they could before making a decision on the gubernatorial race. For his part, Charles claimed “we will represent you well…when you run your campaign from here,” pointing to his heart.
In going over some of his qualifications, LtCol Select Lollar pointed to his service in the Marines as a leader of men as well as the turnaround he worked at Cintas, taking a division lagging in the bottom 15% of the company and transforming it into a top five percent outfit. “I’m a completely boring person (in my personal life)…but I understand money (and) leadership,” Lollar said. He repeated the case later: “I have more leadership experience than all of them.” referring to all those running for the state’s top office.
Regarding social issues, Charles made the point that he would be “elected as governor, not priest.” That’s not to say he’s not a social conservative, but his focus would be on the fiscal side. “We’re in it until the budget is balanced,” promised Lollar.
Charles brought up a fantastic point, stating that a significant portion of the state’s budget came from the federal government and because of that Washington controls much of what our state government does. He gave the example of a western state which enacted an 80 MPH speed limit until they were threatened with the loss of federal highway funds, at which time they reverted back to the standard 65 MPH. (Pity.) The states lose their ability to govern themselves when federal funding becomes a significant part of their budget, he added.
One solution he advocated was a taxpayer’s bill of rights (or TABOR law) like Colorado adopted some years ago. Simply put, a TABOR law means annual spending can only be increased by the sum of percentage of population growth plus the rate of inflation. For example, in FY2012 Maryland’s population grew by 0.8% while inflation was measured in 2012 at 1.7 percent. Thus, the maximum budget increase allowed by law would be 2.5 percent. (In reality, Maryland’s budget grew just over 4 percent. Had the TABOR been in effect, Maryland taxpayers would have saved roughly $650 million this year.)
In answering questions, Charles explained how he could run despite the Hatch Act (he is now a reservist, not on active duty), deferred on a lieutenant governor choice by stating “we are strongly considering and praying” about who the person would be, but wishing to get the campaign off the ground first, and noted his “concern” about cancelling out loyal Republican votes in an open primary.
But one questioner seemed to catch Charles off guard a little bit, if only because he may not be familiar with Mark Levin’s recent book. Once explained briefly, Lollar opined it “sounds like something I would agree with.”
And there was the obvious ask: how do you win in minority areas? Charles noted he didn’t need to win outright, and victory was possible with just 35% in those areas (knowing he’ll roll up sizable majorities in places like Wicomico County.) But he’s been active there, and while there are some who he knows won’t be receptive to his message, he’s going at these communities with the statement that “the best entitlement program is a job.”
Finally, it was noted that with the recent endorsement from Blaine Young, the Frederick County Commission president would be an honorary chairman of Lollar’s campaign.
With that, we returned to the usual order of business, with the minutes being read, treasurer’s report given, and Jackie Wellfonder introducing another former WCRC leader who would promote her event later.
Giving his Central Committee report, county chair Dave Parker conceded, “it’s been a hard week.” Parker pointed out the “assault” on State Senator Rich Colburn by the Daily Times - an article which aroused one supporter to warn “we can’t let them get away with this” and call on the group to burn up the editor’s phone lines starting at 8:30 the next morning – and the circus surrounding the District 36 seat. He said he had personally spoken to Diana Waterman, who denied any allegations of impropriety, but still believed the “state level was doing its best to self-destruct.”
And after bringing up the upcoming events of the WCRC Crab Feast on September 7 (contact me for tickets, by the way – I still have a few left to sell) and our next Central Committee meeting on September 9th, he urged those in attendance to consider joining the Central Committee next year. There will likely be turnover, and “we need some troublemakers” on the Central Committee, said Dave.
The aforementioned WCRC president, E. Dee Monnen (who I referred to last week) was promoting the upcoming First District Bull Roast on September 21 in Queen Anne’s County. Unfortunately, she could not secure a local bus for the event but still urged us to attend and show support for our GOP candidates, including Andy Harris.
Also speaking on behalf of Harris, Shawn Jester added that he was pleased with the Fruitland town hall turnout of over 100 people.
We also heard from District 38C candidate Mary Beth Carozza, who gave kudos to those running the Wicomico Farm and Home Show. (I credited my volunteers; they did most of the hard work. All I did was badger them a few times and bring the big red bin of Central Committee stuff I now need to go through.) She was planning to attend a now-scrubbed legislative hearing on onerous state regulations on the poultry industry as well as visit with the Rural Maryland Council.
And while the Colburn supporter was stating her case against the Daily Times, one observer believed the Senator indeed exhibited “poor judgment” with these expenditures. Personally, I’m hoping they check into the campaign finances of some on the other side of the aisle just as closely.
Our next meeting will be September 23, and as I noted at the top we complete our gubernatorial trifecta with Delegate Ron George introducing himself to the club.
I would like to make one final comment. In many instances, we allow the visiting speakers to speak early figuring they have a long drive back home or to where they are staying. Few stay for the whole meeting, but Charles indeed stuck it out and spoke to several members afterward individually. That sort of gesture is not forgotten.
I’ll get into it in much more detail tomorrow evening, but tonight Charles Lollar came to speak to a crowded room at our Wicomico County Republican Club meeting. Within that room were a number of people who had most recently been at each other’s throats, including a long string of Tweets between two of the parties the other night.
A few counties over we have the spectacle of shifting votes, would-be aspirants dropping out, otherwise reasonably conservative candidates (based on voting record) being called not conservative enough. People are questioning the process, but shouldn’t we be questioning some of the players?
Now I’m not going to sit here and claim to be either the sharpest knife in the drawer or the conservative male answer to Dr. Joyce Brothers – who recently passed away, but was a television staple of my youth as a popular psychologist. (Surely this reference dates me, but I don’t care. Using Oprah as an example didn’t have the connotation I wanted.) But it seems to me, speaking as just a dumb hick from the Black Swamp of northwest Ohio, that there are a number of people who seem to be letting personal political interests get ahead of the conservative movement as a whole. Certainly I have my preferences in such things as the District 36 Senate seat race, but I’m not going to sit here and smear the others – perhaps the closest I come is questioning Audrey Scott’s bonafides for the position based on my observations of her past actions. But would she be better than a Democrat in the seat? Certainly. But I guarantee that someone will question my loyalty because no one is pure enough for them.
I get e-mail from the Campaign for Liberty folks and I follow the Cecil County Patriots online. But you wouldn’t think they agreed on probably half or better of the issues the way they carry on against each other. Listen, I don’t get along personally with all of my Central Committee cohorts in the respect that we hang out together at social gatherings. Some cliques have me on the A list and some have me standing out in the cold. But we all have a common goal, and that’s electing Republicans – mine might be more on the libertarian side than ones some others would prefer, but I’d rather make minimal progress with a moderate than be thrown for a loss by a Democrat.
So the situation I alluded to above may not be resolved for some time. Certainly I’ve always been a fan of Charles Lollar, so that was easy to sit through tonight. Even the David Craig county coordinator was on her best behavior. Because of that, I’m hoping the local Lollar crew will both attend the meeting and extend the same courtesy when Ron George comes next month. I’m sure they will.
It certainly would beat the question I had to answer when I was asked what a certain group of bloggers was thinking when they said whatever was said to offend the questioner. For obvious reasons I’m sensitive to that, although perhaps not as much as the club president who actually works with those guys on a regular basis. Who and what doesn’t matter so much as the question being asked in the first place.
You know, I get that politics is a blood sport for some. There are days I’d love to just sit and talk baseball all day, but I suspect I would move the conversation in a political direction after a while because it’s become my comfort zone. Yet while I don’t always like the hours or the nature of the work, having an outside job to occupy my mind several hours a day has the advantage of keeping me grounded and attuned to the real world. (Doesn’t always help my output here, though.)
So when I saw the gathering of people brought together by an overall cause – and this is not to single out Charles Lollar, because many of the same folks came to see David Craig last month and Dr. Mark Edney the month before, and will extend that courtesy to Ron George – it sort of surprises me that we can go astray over what, to 99% of the people out there, would be considered trivial things. Sometimes we have to take a step back and let life play out.
The official announcement will come in September via a bus tour – much like one conducted by opponent David Craig – but an article by Jeff Newman in yesterday’s SoMd News let the cat out of a bag which had been pretty much ripped open months ago: Charles Lollar will be a gubernatorial candidate.
Because the move is just making formal something political insiders had already figured on, it’s probably not going to change a lot of hearts and minds among insiders and activists. Put another way, a Lollar candidacy has already been priced into the market.
But there is one piece of the puzzle which seems to be escaping the commentators, with the exception of St. Mary’s College political science professor Todd Eberly, who was quoted in the Newman story. Perhaps it’s the evidence of a colorblind society in Maryland or the fact that Michael Steele already blazed this trail with his 2006 statewide U.S. Senate run, but there’s a good chance we could have a black vs. black governor’s race in 2014. So the question is whether blacks will feel more free to vote for a Republican because he would be black, or stay on the Democratic plantation?
I presume that Lollar’s campaign would be, at a minimum, based on the Red Print plan he has at his New Day MD website, to wit:
- Reducing energy costs in an effort to become a net energy producer. Presumably alternative energy sources like wind and solar would be allowed to compete with coal, nuclear, and natural gas but it would be on their merits.
- Borrowing from fellow black conservative Herman Cain, the “5-5-5″ plan: reducing the corporate tax rate to 5%, the sales tax rate to 5%, and the top income tax rate to 5%, all of which are presumed to allow the revenue to be replaced through increased economic activity and job creation.
- What Lollar calls “zero-based regulation,” which as he explains, “will require all departments and agencies to justify their existence and the existence of their management priorities annually.”
Admittedly, I’m a policy wonk of sorts who studies this stuff and it all sounds like an admirable first-term goal to me. But what about the voter Republicans have always wanted to attract but could never persuade: to continue a race-based example, I’ll use the single black mom towing two kids around.
She’s probably not going to care a whole lot about what energy costs because she’s on a subsidy for the payment, and regulation is all Greek to her. That message will go straight over her head.
More importantly, she has been told by her Democratic leaders that taxes should be progressive, and the rich never pay their fair share. It’s going to take a good bit of explaining why two of the three “fives” are important to her, meanwhile, the third five of the sales tax rarely comes into play because she doesn’t spend a lot of money.
Where Charles may need to devote some thought and campaigning is in the realm of educational opportunity. It’s all but guaranteed that Anthony Brown would come around with all his supportive Democratic plantation masters, er, elected officials surrounding him and harp on the statistic that Maryland has the best schools in the nation. That may be true, but schools don’t do much good for dropouts, and therein lies much of the black community’s problem. The schools in affluent areas are masking the real issues their underperforming inner-city peers face, although there’s a cultural divide as well. It also needs to be addressed but that’s not the role of government.
If there are two people whom I would suggest Charles Lollar make use of frequently, they are Dr. Ben Carson (who is already in his corner and would be an intriguing LG choice) and Star Parker, a nationally-known conservative columnist who was once in the shoes of many government-dependent Marylanders. Negating Anthony Brown’s built-in advantage among the minority community is essential for victory in this state.
And I don’t think social issues can be ignored, either. But it’s a matter of targeting the audience for that one.
At any rate, it looks like our August Wicomico County Republican Club meeting will be akin to an exhibition game before the season opener for Lollar, as he’s scheduled to appear here on the 26th. So let’s see what this draft choice can do.
For the first of two consecutive months (at least), a gubernatorial candidate graced our Wicomico County Republican Club’s presence – and he brought his running mate along. It meant the attendance was much better than usual, as over 40 crammed into a Salisbury Chamber of Commerce meeting room to hear both David Craig and running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.
So after a brief opening to recite the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance and introduce a number of distinguished visitors from near and far, David and Jeannie were introduced by campaign manager Paul Ellington. We sort of pressed him into that service, but Paul remarked that this election reminded him of two others he was intimately involved in: 1994 and 2002. He also made the point that “when you get to be governor, it’s nice to have a friendly legislature.”
That idea would return in Craig’s remarks, but he first noted that Maryland “has done good things” for ten generations of his family, dating from the late 17th century. Unfortunately, the state governmental monopoly seems to be all about maintaining itself and not about what David called the “forgotten Marylanders” from rural and suburban areas. For them, the last General Assembly session was “one of the most challenging.”
And while Craig was out to “give people a choice in 2014,” he told those assembled that he wouldn’t refuse $4,000 checks, but he would rather each person out there bring 40 voters apiece. Republican turnout in 2002 when Bob Ehrlich won, said Craig, was great – 68% – but speaking as a teacher, “that would have been a failing grade.”
After telling the group this was his 21st election – because Havre de Grace had balloting every two years – he introduced running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, who as David mentioned was the first Eastern Shore resident on a major statewide ticket in two decades. Of course, she really needed no introduction to us as many of those present were represented by her in the General Assembly.
Jeannie talked about cutting her political teeth as a political science major at Salisbury University and being involved in student government there, also bringing up the fact later that she strives to preach political involvement to area youth groups such as Girls State, which is annually held at SU.
Haddaway-Riccio also spoke about working in the House of Delegates, “fighting until we barely had an ounce of energy left” against some of the bills presented by the present governor and Democratic leadership. The implementation of that “leftist agenda” has led to “degradation,” Jeannie added.
Once both had spoken and David added a quip about needing a couple good Senators – looking at Delegate Mike McDermott, who was in attendance and has been gerrymandered into sharing a single-member House district with another delegate – Craig opened up the floor to questions.
Topmost on the mind of those attending was the idea of an open GOP primary, as the idea has reemerged as a discussion topic over the last few days. Craig was noncommittal on the concept, stating he would be satisfied with letting the state party make its decision this fall. There are “a lot of frustrated Democrats” who may welcome the idea, though, added David.
Craig was then asked what functions he would assign to Haddaway-Riccio. While he chided Democrats for “picking for an election.” David said of Jeannie, “she should be at the table all of the time,” meaning ready to take the reins if needed. He praised Haddaway-Riccio for her practical experience, common sense, and knowledge of rural Maryland.
Asked about business, Craig intended to hold quarterly business roundtables. Because it affected local businesses in advance of consumers, we knew about the recession back in 2008, said Craig, and Harford County made budgetary decisions in a proactive fashion based on that knowledge.
When queried about social issues, particularly being pro-life, Craig related that he didn’t push the issue with his children, but was pleased that they turned out as pro-life as they did. David also pointed out that he voted in a pro-life fashion during his time in the General Assembly. But he would rather have 5 million Marylanders decide than 188 in the General Assembly. Jeannie echoed the overall stance, adding for her part she was “conservative, Christian, pro-life.”
Similarly, when asked about the Second Amendment, David took the conservative line of being “a strong supporter of all amendments.” In fact, he added that the American Revolution wasn’t fought over taxation but the move by the British to disarm the colonists. David also joked that there should be a regulation: red doors for all gun owners and blue ones for those who don’t – “so they know who to rob.”
An interesting question was how he would deal with the federal government. Craig would lean on the Republican Governor’s Association which, as he noted, had grown from 13 states when he was first elected in 1979 to 30 now. But then he asked, “why don’t we have 60 Senators?”
On the other hand, when it comes to local government David vowed to be mindful of county interests. When asked “where will you stick PlanMaryland?” Craig answered back with, “where do you want me to stick it?”
“We created local government for a reason,” continued David, revealing there were now more planning and zoning mandates on his county now than there are public safety ones. That same philosophy guided David on education, where he made the case “money should follow the child” and that teachers should be allowed to teach to something other than a test. David cautioned against expecting sweeping changes right away, though, noting the state Board of Education is appointed in five-year terms.
Lastly, a concern on the mind of one observer was how David would run in traditional Democratic strongholds like Baltimore City and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. “It’s all about reaching out to the people,” said David. He also noted that he’d beaten four Democratic incumbents over the years, but over time a couple became among his strongest supporters because “I didn’t get petty” and advised would-be candidates to “be the person you are.”
After Craig finally finished speaking, we returned to our normal order of business, with one exception: we sang “Happy Birthday” to the man we call “Mr. Republican” locally: Blan Harcum turned 90 years young. In turn, the June meeting minutes were read and approved, treasurer’s report was given, and WCRC president Jackie Wellfonder reminded us of upcoming municipal elections in Annapolis and Frederick which could use our help if interested and the August 1 joint meeting with the Republican Women of Wicomico on Agenda 21, featuring Grant Helvey.
In his Central Committee report, our David – county Chair Dave Parker – stated that “Tawes was fun” but we had business to attend to now: the question of opening the primary would come down to Central Committee members so those interested should express such to these local representatives. “Give us grief” if you don’t like our position, said Parker; however he added, “I remain to be convinced” on the merits.
After decrying the “truly disgusting” media treatment of the Trayvon Martin case, Dave shifted gears and cajoled those attending that we are still looking for candidates for next year. Some incumbents have alerted us to their intentions, but others have not.
Finally, we heard from a number of those attending on various pieces of business: Joe Ollinger reminded us that Crab Feast tickets are now on sale (in fact, I have some to sell if you want one) for the September 7 event.
County Councilman Joe Holloway rose to counter a report made by a local media outlet about fee increases for local restaurants, stating they were included in the County Executive’s budget (see “Health Department” on pages 20- 21 here.) County Council approved them as part of the overall budget. (Seems like $150 shouldn’t make or break a local eatery, though.)
Finally, Delegate Mike McDermott declared that Craig/Haddaway-Riccio was “a great ticket” and hinted at his own announcement in August. “We’ll take that Senate seat from Jim Mathias,” McDermott promised.
Speaking of local eateries, it should also be mentioned that the pre-meeting happy hour – this time at Evo – was our most successful, with several tables of Republicans enjoying the camaraderie. Our next happy hour may or may not be there, but we already have the second in what could become a monthly series of gubernatorial hopefuls joining us during our regular meeting as Charles Lollar drops by on August 26.
As is often the case, it was exceedingly hot, quite humid, and a sprinkle of rain fell on the Somers Cove Marina. But thousands braved all that for crabs, clams, and hot and cold running politicians. This is my story.
On any other summer Wednesday afternoon, one can stand near the Somers Cove Marina and see that sight. But yesterday it looked more like this.
The brand new Craig/Haddaway signs were in evidence, as were a handful of shirts.
However, the pair in question didn’t show up until the event was somewhat underway. Their entrance was rather understated compared to some others, as I’ll show later. I caught them just as they entered the gate.
Fellow GOP contender Delegate Ron George had long been set up by then, with his own tent.
He may have had the best giveaway item as well – ice cold bottles of water stashed in a cooler behind the palm cards and brochures.
Ron proved himself to be a man of many hats. Okay, at least just a woven straw one.
A more modest presence was shown by draft candidate Charles Lollar, who brought his wife Rosha along. Here they pose with Wicomico County Republican Club president Jackie Wellfonder.
Later I caught Charles chatting with host Delegate Charles Otto (left, in hat), who represents Somerset County in the House of Delegates.
Another would-be Delegate making her Tawes debut as a candidate was Mary Beth Carozza, who’s seeking the District 38C seat. She had a few assistants in tow as well as an attractive sign.
She was one of many local Republicans and activists who were well-represented in their tent.
We even had the infamous “pin the tax” sign. Too bad we didn’t have it out where more could see it, but it would have been soaked by the misters thoughtfully added by the Somerset County folks. Did I say it was hot?
Observing all this was state Republican Party Chair Diana Waterman, who indeed was carrying a bottle of water.
Also making a presence was Larry Hogan (right), whose Change Maryland group now boasts a 50,000-strong Facebook following. He was making no indication of a possible political run today, but it’s intriguing that he took the time and came down to Tawes.
Hogan has made the point that his group is not restricted to Republicans; a significant portion are independents and Democrats. And the latter group was well-represented at Tawes, too.
Front-runner and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown was also casually late, but had a gaggle of young supporters trailing him. He’s sort of obscured in the center of the photo.
Brown’s first stop upon entering the gate?
There were more modest presences from Attorney General (and gubernatorial hopeful) Doug Gansler and Comptroller Peter Franchot, who considered the race for the top spot but opted to seek re-election. (My photo of Gansler didn’t come out well.)
One other Democratic gubernatorial hopeful whose presence surprised me was Heather Mizeur, pictured here with Salisbury City Councilwoman Laura Mitchell.
Her formal announcement must have been a brief affair, as she and a small band of supporters made the trek down to Crisfield. Mizeur told me it was about her tenth time attending – obviously first as a statewide hopeful.
Also carrying the Democratic banner was the State Senator from District 38, Jim Mathias. He had a decent-sized group of supporters who must have been busy putting up a half-dozen 4×8 signs along Maryland Route 413 leading into Crisfield.
Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton (right) was sporting a “‘bury” sticker to represent his town.
I found Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt enjoying his lunch early on.
Pollitt explained that it’s easier to eat on the pavilion side because he would be greeted by more people in the party’s tent. Makes sense to me – same reason I eat a little at a time.
In fact, a large percentage of those enjoying the food were well away from the political. They were being entertained by the DJs on the left of the photo.
A number of other businesses were represented at Tawes as well, although to me the number seemed down from previous years.
Still, lobbyist Bruce Bereano had his corner. Bruce Bereano ALWAYS has his corner, and it’s always full of Annapolis politicians from both sides of the aisle.
It also always has this nice touch and tribute to the late Somerset County Delegate Page Elmore.
And of course, there was the media. Tawes was crawling with them.
In WBOC’s case, not only did they have the remote truck and the flyover by Chopper 16, the ‘Outdoors Delmarva’ crew was there too. Also covering the event was competitor WMDT-TV channel 47, WBAL radio, and reporters from the Salisbury Daily Times and Baltimore Sun, among others I probably missed.
That doesn’t count the alternative media. The Red Maryland crew was interviewing a number of Republicans – here it was Ron George’s head fundraiser Hillary Pennington of Stratgic Victory Consulting.
Brian was also kind enough to query me, so we’ll see if mine made the cut this evening.
Eventually the crowd began to trickle out and another year’s Tawes event was in the books. There was actually a light shower as I was leaving, which didn’t bother me in the least. A lot of fellowship and fun was had by all.
The vibe of the event promises to be different next year. An earlier primary now means that the Tawes event will occur once the major party nominees are known, so it’s uncertain how much time and expense they will invest in the gathering.
One other note of interest: while I did see Blaine Young there this year, the presence he had was minimal. This leads me to believe he may be stepping aside from the gubernatorial race to concentrate on a local run; otherwise he would have had a tent space as he did last year.
Speculation aside, the Crisfield Chamber of Commerce put on another wonderful event – kudos to the volunteers who make the event one the late Governor can indeed be proud of.