It’s not really the season for a political calendar quite yet, but there are two upcoming events I thought important enough to devote a little space to.
For all the caterwauling about MDGOP Executive Director David Ferguson’s March trip to South Carolina – part of which was intended as a conduit to secure speakers for Lincoln Day dinners and the like – well, he may have struck gold with an upcoming event at Bowie State University, or it may have been sheer coincidence. Regardless of the reason, Bowie State’s Students for Liberty president Eugene Craig III excitedly let me know that:
(We have) secured U.S. Senator Tim Scott as our major keynote speaker for this semester… The event will start at 6:30 p.m. (on Tuesday, May 7th), and will be in the Martin Luther King Building Auditorium.
I think this is a prime opportunity for our party to make major inroads in the African American community. We have a unique situation where for the first time in at least a decade an elected Republican is addressing the university, and it just so happens that he is a Black American addressing the old HBCU in Maryland.
It seems pretty sad that it has been a decade since an elected Republican has addressed these students, and I would really love to know how many Democrats have been there in the interim. Nevertheless, this is quite a coup for the group, as I’m sure many groups would love to hear Senator Scott relate his compelling story of growing up poor and building his life for himself. For a few weeks Scott was in the unique position of being the only black Senator until Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick countered by selecting Mo Cowan as a caretaker Senator until the conclusion of the special election for John Kerry’s unexpired term, as Cowan declined to participate in that balloting.
Closer to home, another member of Congress will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser in Ocean City on Monday, May 13. Rep. Andy Harris gets the benefit of the $100 per person event, but the reason I found this noteworthy was that one of the event sponsors is Dr. Mark Edney – coincidentally the featured speaker at the Wicomico County Republican Club June meeting. Of course, Andy could use a good show of support from local movers and shakers willing to continue backing our Congressman.
After missing the event last year because I was out of town, I got to return to the Salisbury Festival this year for one occurrence. (Unless the date of the MDGOP convention is changed for next year I’ll miss the SF again in 2014.)
I had to be there early to help set up our space, so I happened onto the annual firemen’s awards. It’s always neat to see Old Glory raised up this way.
Once the firemen were finished, the color guard paraded to the intersection by which I was standing.
Having helped to set up our place (after the mixup we had was resolved) I first wandered the Plaza looking around.
A staple of the Salisbury Festival is its emphasis on artistic forms of all sorts. A number of craftsmen and artisans had set up shop hoping to make a little money from their efforts. But it was slow going on the far end.
This is the same locale where just a week and a day before Third Friday had set up shop outdoors for the first time this year.
Art of all sorts was on display, with an emphasis on the youngest attendees.
Many of them were hard at work chalking the Plaza at its entrance.
There were also performers on the Plaza, trying to instill us with culture.
Talented as they were, for me they were no match to the appeal of Detroit iron.
For those of you under around the age of 35 – notice something missing in this picture?
Look in the trunk.
Yes, the Corvair was a rear-engine vehicle which was rather popular back in the day until Ralph Nader killed it. It certainly wasn’t all that expensive.
It’s also fun to see what restorers go through. This was an unusual display for a car show.
But from this shell may come something which looks a lot like this.
For all I know, these cars could have been on the line at the same time – both are 1968 Pontiac Firebirds.
Yet I’m now of an age when the cars of my childhood are joined as “classics” by the cars of my formative years. Believe it or not, this car is nearly 30 years old – but I drove a similar model in my drivers’ ed class.
And I wasn’t the only one walking down Memory Lane, er, Main Street.
Now something I skipped in my little narrative was the block or so between the Plaza and the car show. That was fraught with fun and frivolity as well.
I talked about this group awhile back, and the local chapter of Move to Amend was out adding to the minor amount of political goings-on.
I had an interesting discussion with the guy, but obviously our end goals are different: he wants to erode the power of corporations in government by stifling their rights to contribute money (which, to me equates with their right to free speech.) I’d rather just limit corporations’ power and influence by limiting the size and scope of government. Of course, this guy made the classic mistake of assuming I wanted no government.
Speaking of people who make classic mistakes, the Democrats were mixed in with a group of private interests. I thought they should have been next to Move to Amend.
One piece of advice I gave to my Democratic friends: Tootsie Rolls and warm, sunny days do not go well together.
But they were right across from one of the two City of Salisbury setups, where my Council member Laura Mitchell was sitting. I should have asked if she was going to sit on the other side of the street, too.
But I was getting hungry and decided to check out the food court. I was also wondering where my fiance was.
You know, it really helps to turn your phone off silent when you are done with the event you turned it off at. Turns out she (and her daughter and friend) were down by the river, where I took this shot.
It was empty at the time, but this lot on the other side from downtown is where the Salisbury Festival hosts many of its evening activities. Later on Saturday there would be an international beer festival.
I almost took a photo of the rockfish I had for lunch, but I decided not to share.
Now when you have kids in tow your priorities change a little bit. Normally I would pretty much ignore the carnival portion of the SF, but that doesn’t happen with two teenagers.
A few rides, a basketball and couple (live, in a plastic bag) goldfish later, they were happy and Kim and I went our separate ways as I relieved a relieved Jackie. The Plaza was abuzz with activity by then.
Meanwhile, we soldiered on in our modest little space. The biggest problem, as it turned out, was having our tent banner paired up with a small table. We made it work.
The final photo is of two presidents: Ellen Bethel of Republican Women of Wicomico and Jackie Wellfonder of the Wicomico County Republican Club.
It was nice to see our downtown alive and vibrant for a day, at least. Come Monday after 5 it will be back to its sleepy self, save for a couple pockets of activity.
With new leadership in Jackie Wellfonder, the Wicomico County Republican Club re-established its routine – for one month, since we normally skip a May meeting due to its usual coincidence with Memorial Day as its fourth Monday – and had a very full agenda for its return from a March meeting truncated by an outside event.
But before the meeting began we embarked on something new, as several members and one local politician gathered down the street at Roadie Joe’s for a pre-event happy hour. This was an idea discussed by the club’s newly-installed executive committee at a meeting we had before being sworn in, and we hope to make it a tradition. While it was a modest success, it also gave me a chance to go over the agenda with our new president. Having to defer a meeting made for more business which needed to be conducted.
Leading off the meeting with Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, we soon learned we had a surprise guest who was in town. After I had read the minutes of the last two meetings, I suggested we amend the agenda to defer the Treasurer’s Report, but Congressman Andy Harris interjected, “no, hopefully your treasury is doing better than ours.” So we indeed heard the report before allowing Andy to speak.
It was “a good month to be a Republican,” Andy argued. We now had a distinct advantage on two separate issues: individual rights, as expressed with the loss of the gun bill in the Senate, and fiscal responsibility based on competing budgetary plans.
To Andy, the failure of the gun bill may be “where the President begins to lose his second term.” He couldn’t even keep his Democrats on board, Harris added, and the tactic of creating a 60-vote threshold (in order to prohibit popular pro-gun amendments from consideration) obviously backfired. Meanwhile, Obama “puts the brakes on the economy,” making him more unpopular.
And on the fiscal side, Harris pointed out that neither the President’s nor the Senate’s budget proposals ever balance. While it takes a decade for the House plan to reach equilibrium, Harris voted in favor of an alternative which would have accelerated the timetable to four years, a plan which failed. Yet Andy warned, “until we get true reform on entitlements, we won’t balance.”
Moreover, the cuts would have to come from the spending side. “There is no way a tax increase comes through the House,” said Harris.
Andy also touched on a number of other subjects during his unscheduled remarks, alluding to what should be revealed as an interesting exchange between him and Eric Holder during an Appropriations Committee hearing, talking about what could be a common-sense incremental change to ethanol regulations, and assessing Hillary Clinton’s chances at the 2016 Democratic nomination.
We also found out a little bit more on the ammunition situation, to which manufacturers labor under contracts with the government specifying they must supply indefinite quantities to the government at indefinite times, up to a certain amount, with the federal government dictating the terms. Yet there are millions of rounds of ammunition stockpiled by the government already, and Harris is looking into a way of curtailing the stockpiles in order to make more available to the general public.
Further, Harris deemed the situation in Boston as a “setback” for both the anti-Second Amendment crowd and immigration reform.
Upon the conclusion of Andy’s remarks, it was time to hear from our original scheduled speaker, Delegate Charles Otto.
Charles didn’t have a lot of good news in his brief remarks on the recently-completed Maryland General Assembly session, noting that we passed a $37 billion budget with $1.1 billion more in state debt in addition to a lot of other ill-considered legislation.
But the subsequent discussion brought out a number of questions, such as why the governor hadn’t signed the gun bill yet? Otto noted that the governor has signing ceremonies for bills, generally in May, and the bill will be signed then.
We also found out that a $900,000 earmark for the relocation of Delmarva Public Radio mysteriously appeared in the final budget, despite the fact no bill was introduced for it during the session.
Joe Holloway chimed in about a bill which passed allowing the county to decouple its personal property tax rate from its real property tax rate. (Normally the personal property tax rate had been set at 2 1/2 times the real property tax rate.) Holloway described this bill as a possible end run around the county’s revenue cap. It should be pointed out, though, that last year’s Senate Bill 848 effectively ended Wicomico’s 2 percent limit on property tax increases.
Dave Parker gave a Central Committee report which noted that our Pathfinders seminar “apparently went well,” however, it was plagued by a somewhat small turnout. He also briefly recapped the election of Diana Waterman as Chair, noting our county was evenly split between supporters of Waterman and Collins Bailey, with a vote for Greg Kline thrown in. Two great candidates ended up as officers, though, said Parker.
He also alerted those present that the foes of this year’s Senate Bill 281 are eschewing the referendum process to fight the bill in court, determining their belief that Constitutional rights should be left to a ballot. If it does pass muster in the courts, though, he is working with other counties to propose a nullification resolution.
Our next Central Committee meeting will be May 6, Parker concluded.
In other WCRC business, we also learned we would present our annual scholarship to the winners at our June meeting.
Jackie Wellfonder briefly went over some of her ideas for her term, which actually began at the March meeting cut short by the gun bill townhall meeting. With the happy hour being one proposal, she outlined desires for an additional fundraiser to supplement our Crab Feast and making upgrades to our website and social media presence.
Ann Suthowski took a moment to update us on voter registration efforts, including a Super Saturday we will hold in September – for which she’s looking for nearly 40 volunteers – and speak on behalf on gubernatorial candidate David Craig, for whom she is the “county point person.” He will be doing a three-day tour of the state in June, with our stop being June 4.
I took a few minutes to speak on candidate recruitment and its importance, passing out a list of all the offices contested next year and those who are incumbents. But we also need volunteers to help run these campaigns and to act as treasurers, I added. Next to the candidate himself, the treasurer is the most important person because of our state’s campaign finance laws.
My message was simple: I wanted to make sure every space on that paper had at least one Republican candidate. No longer can we concede offices to the other side because they’ve been there so long, because those are the Democrats who can help their fellows get elected.
While it wasn’t in my remarks last night, I should point out that most of those who have already filed for office at this early stage are Democrats. On the eastern edge of Wicomico County there is a new state legislative district, District 38C, and there’s already a Democrat in the running for what should probably be a reasonably Republican seat. Norm “Five Dollar” Conway no longer has the late Bennett Bozman to help him get votes in Worcester County, so they gave him a much more urban District 38B which mainly covers Delmar, most of Salisbury except the northwest part of the city, and Fruitland. It’s worth noting his district now includes most of the Salisbury University community, which explains the tremendous amount of pork suddenly delivered their way from the state. Amazing how libraries so quickly become a priority item.
That turned out to be the extent of our business, so we adjourned until June 24. Our next meeting will feature a few words from our scholarship winners, with the featured speaker being Dr. Mark Edney, a local surgeon who will be discussing Obamacare.
Certainly it wasn’t quite a full house, but after a series of false starts with our list of speakers, the 2013 Wicomico County Lincoln Day Dinner still drew around 80 people last night.
Billed as an event focusing on the Second Amendment, it was that and more. For one, it was an opportunity for all three aspirants for the state party Chair race to meet the most active Republicans in Wicomico County. While I have Greg Kilne (right) in the photo below with fellow Red Maryland writer Brian Griffiths (left) flanking Andy Harris’ local liaison Bill Reddish (in the center), Collins Bailey and current interim Chair Diana Waterman were present as well.
It’s worthy of noting that Kline and Bailey were there well before the event began, while Waterman arrived closer to time. Perhaps she wasn’t thrilled about being questioned right out of the gate, but I don’t believed she stayed long after the event to mingle, while Bailey was among the last to leave.
While one of the two featured speakers, Charles Lollar, is being mentioned as a possible candidate for governor – more on that in due course – another prospective candidate for Maryland’s top job was making his rounds as well.
Craig was being introduced around the room by local supporter Ann Suthowski. He also stopped to greet Lollar and his lovely wife Rosha.
But the bulk of the time was taken up by our featured speakers, including the President in question himself.
Art North has made somewhat of a cottage industry out of his admiration for our 16th President, since he now regularly appears at other local Lincoln Day dinners. For ours, he had two re-enactors posing as Civil War troops and his photographer, Matthew Brady.
Hopefully none of these men consider a run for Congress, because re-enactors tend to attract unwanted attention.
But Lincoln’s message was one more tailored for the modern day. He made the point that to give up on the fact man can make himself in a free society like ours would be to give up on prosperity. “In your era,” he continued, Saul Alinsky camouflaged his intent with deception “foisted upon the general population.”
In his day, though, the tendency for class warfare was kept in check by the knowledge that hard work, diligent study, and striving for success were possible in America. A shoemaker’s son didn’t have to follow in his father’s footsteps, said Lincoln.
Honest Abe also decried the evolution of our educational system from the dictate of the Northwest Ordinance, which led to the introduction of state control of schooling in the affected states (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) to the modern “massive federal control of our education system.”
Who knew Lincoln was such a political animal?
Bill Reddish was called to the microphone to make an announcement about the townhall meeting called by Sheriff Mike Lewis and attended by Congressman Andy Harris tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.
He commented that a similar event in Worcester County split about 80-20 toward a pro-Second Amendment crowd. Originally they expected 75, but 250 attended that event so one would expect the WYCC to be similarly crowded.
(As an aside, we will hold a very brief, almost pro forma Wicomico County Republican Club meeting tomorrow so those attendees can get to the townhall meeting and speak if they desire.)
Because Charles Lollar needed to return to the Washington area to do his job, we allowed him to speak first.
It was a long day for Lollar, who had spoken to a men’s conference early in the morning in Baltimore, at the New Antioch Baptist Church; an event at which he was “well received.” They “embraced” his strong Second Amendment stand, Charles added.
“I am convinced our greatest days are in front of us,” he noted, but pointed out we are at a “pivotal crossroads” in our history. Referring to the state of Maryland, Charles warned “we can’t afford our lifestyle,” claiming that $9.2 billion of a $35 billion state budget comes from various federal grants and stimulus money. We bring in only $26 billion of a $35 billion expense tab, said Lollar.
And he made the case that “sequestration is taking its toll, one step at a time” because Congress isn’t doing its job.
He laid out a stark choice for our nation: either a “national revival of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence” or the “beginning of the end of a great nation.” He was heartened, though, by the 5,000 Marylanders who showed up at the pro-Second Amendment rallies, and when it was mentioned by one observer that he didn’t know there were 5,000 Republicans in Maryland Lollar pointed out “these aren’t just Republicans.”
“The biggest fight is for our dollars and our amendments,” said Charles, who believed as well that “losing our freedoms” wasn’t just a Maryland problem, but a national malady. Working for a dollar and only getting fifty cents from it thanks to taxes was “a form of slavery,” opined Lollar.
But it wasn’t just financial issues for Lollar. There’s a danger “when you start messing with the base of the stool” that our nation was built on: morality, ethics, and God. Charles pointed out that, over our nation’s history, it’s been responsible for more evangelicals than all other nations combined.
It’s that moral foundation which makes it necessary to defend freedom “by any means possible,” and the Second Amendment “is the lifeline of your freedom.”
Charles also reacted to the concept that he takes things so seriously. He grew up in a home which stressed taking responsibility for his actions, he explained, which led him to plead that we “stop playing (political) games with each other in 2013.” “Take some things seriously,” he continued. “My concern is for my country and my concern is for my state.”
Lollar went on. “There are nations salivating for our demise.” He urged us to be like the signers of the Declaration of Independence and “put your name on the document.”
Charles was even serious enough to remark on the standing ovation he received at the end of his remarks, “I haven’t earned that yet.”
Lollar has always had a gift for public speaking, though, and while he hasn’t yet tasted electoral success he’s been in the trenches with his New Day MD PAC and past leadership of AFP Maryland.
I also spoke with Karen Winterling, who’s been pushing the “Draft Lollar” movement. I learned that, due to the Hatch Act, Charles couldn’t make an official announcement on the 2014 governor’s race until June. But Winterling already had an army of 250 volunteers around the state and was hoping for “another 30 tonight.”
Someone else who could get thirty volunteers in a heartbeat was the evening’s final formal speaker.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis has emerged as a leader in opposing Governor Martin O’Malley’s draconian gun law proposals.
“I don’t work for Martin O’Malley,” explained Sheriff Lewis. “I work for the 100,000 people of Wicomico County.” He clearly stated that the county sheriff is the “first and last line of defense against tyranny,” and pointed out a number of his counterparts from around the state will be present for Monday night’s townhall meeting here in Wicomico County.
He also made the case for the right to bear arms. “Who am I to tell a citizen they can’t defend themselves?” Lewis asked. He also expressed his admiration for America’s most famous sheriff, promising that “Sheriff Joe (Arpaio) will be here when I run for re-election in 2014.”
And not only did Lewis take a lead role in the fight to preserve the Second Amendment, he stood in opposition to doing away with the death penalty as well. There’s a framed picture of Sarah Foxwell in his office to remind his deputies of why they do their job.
But Lewis saved most of his remarks for his defense of the Second Amendment. “We’re going to fight hard” against the gun bill, said Lewis, but if it passes “I will not allow any deputies to go into any law-abiding citizens’ houses (to confiscate guns),” Lewis promised.
This legislation will “do nothing” to stem crime in Maryland, Mike continued. It’s our “right, duty, and responsibility” to protect ourselves. Lewis also warned that the Obama administration is “trying to disarm Americans,” and vowed on Monday “we will show everyone the real Obama administration.”
After Delegate Addie Eckardt closed us out with a rendition of “God Bless America,” the formal portion of the event concluded and people had the chance to speak one-on-one with various attendees. I took some additional time to speak with my tablemates from Strategic Victory Consulting, who had come down for the day, and also further renewed acquaintances with my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen of Prince George’s County. (The below photo was taken by Dwight Patel.)
So the Maryland YRs were well-represented, too. It seemed like we had as many or more people from outside Wicomico County as we did locals.
Still, it was interesting to have the attention of the state party on our little corner of Maryland for a day. We may only make up 1/60 of the state in terms of population, but I daresay we make more than our share of political headlines and intrigue. Must be that thriving blogosphere.
On Monday night the Wicomico County Republican Club held its monthly meeting with gubernatorial candidate Blaine Young as the guest. Young spoke for about a half-hour on a number of topics, mainly relating to events in Frederick and surrounding Frederick County, a place where rapid growth over the last several years has come from those he jokingly described as “refugees from Montgomery County.”
Blaine outlined his position as President of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, although that position will soon be abolished as Frederick County will join a number of other Maryland counties which have adopted a County Executive form of government. In fact, just like Wicomico County, Frederick will have a similarly-comprised seven-member County Council as well beginning in 2014.
In speaking to those gathered, though, Young made it clear his biggest influence after completing a brief previous political career as an alderman in the city of Frederick was that of becoming a small business owner. “It woke me up and opened my eyes,” he said. Blaine is also a radio host, a daily enterprise he claimed the local papers and liberals hate. But his overall stable of business support between 120 and 140 people, stated Young.
But Blaine made the case that he took the appointment to the Commission in 2010 and subsequently decided to run for a full term because his predecessors “liked to spend money.” Instead, the slate he led into office is “a very property-rights oriented commission” which “started slashing away” at a $48 million deficit and turned it into a $29 million surplus. They did so by cooperating with the local Chamber of Commerce to adopt over 200 of their suggestions, eliminating taxes and rescinding “frivolous” fees. The number of county employees had also declined by 400 during his tenure, Young added.
(continued at the Watchdog Wire…)
My coverage this month is going to depart from the norm because our guest speaker was someone of statewide importance. And just as we rearranged our agenda to allow him to speak after the welcoming and introductory remarks from club President Larry Dodd, I’m going to submit the highlights of what Blaine Young had to say to an expanded audience through Watchdog Wire later this week. It’s not often that we can make news in this corner of the state so I want to take advantage.
Still, we had a lot go on in this month’s meeting from more regular participants, including some surprising changes in club leadership occurring next month. Once Blaine finished with his remarks, passed out some literature and cards, and embarked on his return to Frederick, I went through the January minutes and we received the Treasurer’s Report from Deb Okerblom, who volunteered for the task in Tom Hughes’s absence.
Dave Parker gave the Central Committee report, noting that the House gun bill (HB294) will have its hearing this Friday. He told us to ignore the pro-gun control rally in Lawyer’s Mall (which, in my opinion, will get 1/5 the participation as the pro-Second Amendment rally held earlier this month but five times the media coverage) and sign up to testify – “this is serious stuff,” he warned. “Without the Second Amendment, we have no other rights.”
Other egregious bills being heard this week were ones on Election Day voter registration – “talk about voter fraud,” Parker opined.
In other news, Dave talked up the Dorchester County Lincoln Day Dinner this Saturday and hinted that our version may or may not occur March 23 because we have the opportunity to secure a prime speaker. “You better get your tickets fast” if this speaker indeed comes, said Dave. (And no, I honestly don’t know who it is. Trust me: I want that scoop!)
Dave also shared that Alex Mooney had resigned, for those in the room who didn’t know, and that Diana Waterman was both acting as interim Chair and running for the position herself. Parker also revealed that the other two Vice-Chairs would retain their positions, meaning that there would be no more than two elections at the convention, for Chair and for First Vice-Chair should Waterman prevail. (As for that race, Red Maryland has a statement dated Monday from Andrew Langer announcing his intention not to run, but advocating support for Anne Arundel County attorney Greg Kline instead.)
Once again, Shawn Jester and Bill Reddish tag-teamed on the Andy Harris report, noting he had been named to the Appropriations Committee and that we were “very fortunate” to have him there. They also called the recent Second Amendment town hall meeting “very successful,” although one allegedly foul-mouthed participant begged to differ.
Ann Suthowski interjected to praise a letter to the Daily Times penned by Joe Ollinger. I wholeheartedly agree.
Woody Willing noted in his Board of Elections report that the number of unaffiliated voters continues to increase at the expense of Republicans and (moreso) Democrats.
The main event – besides Young’s remarks – was nigh, as we finally got around to nominating a slate of officers for 2013. Due to assorted mishaps and misfortunes, we could not do our usual process of choosing leadership so this year’s crop was nominated from the floor. Since only one person was nominated for each post, the election was conducted shortly thereafter by voice vote. Here are your 2013 WCRC officers:
- President: Jackie Wellfonder
- First Vice-President: Marc Kilmer*
- Second Vice-President: Larry Dodd
- Third Vice-President: Sean Fahey
- Fourth Vice-President: Cathy Keim
- Secretary: Michael Swartz*
- Treasurer: Deb Okerblom
(*denotes a holdover in the position. Also, Dodd was President in 2012, Okerblom was Fourth Vice-President.)
It was much less momentous, but we also resolved as a group to participate in the Salisbury Festival once again.
Finally, County Council member John Hall spoke briefly about the Tier Map hearing, the situation at the Wicomico County Airport with the upcoming sequestration – “we’ll do what we have to do,” but won’t lose flight service – and announced that FY2013 revenues for the county came in $7 million better than projected thanks to additional income tax collections, which will hopefully soften the blow from a loss in assessed property base.
But the meeting couldn’t have been bad – I won the 50-50 drawing.
The next chapter in WCRC history will begin to be written March 25. Be there or be square.
In a letter set to Central Committee members, Maryland GOP Chair Alex Mooney announced his resignation effective March 1 to “pursue other ventures.”
Mooney outlined a number of accomplishments in his tenure:
First, the MDGOP is in a strong financial position. According to Treasurer Chris Rosenthal’s report distributed today at the executive committee meeting, the MDGOP raised $1.1 million in 2012, far exceeding our budgeted plan.
Second, we have experienced staff focused on grassroots, party building and supporting candidates. Your executive board team remains in place… Therefore, the party will be in good hands.
Finally, grassroots activism is at an all-time high. Over 300,000 people signed a petition to stop three of liberal Martin O’Malley’s agenda items. While the vote was not successful on Election Day, we must not overlook the fact we conservatives working together have the power to put the final vote to the people. MDGOP was a partner in this effort with MdPetitions.com, the church community and other activists.
Our new office offers a convenient downtown Annapolis location walking distance from the Capitol for legislators and Republican clubs to use. And we cut rent expenses in more than half compared to our previous location.
With the resignation of Mooney, it will automatically elevate First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman to the leadership post on an interim basis until the next state convention April 20. Waterman drew fire from conservative activists after comments last month at a Wicomico County Republican Club meeting, so it is unclear whether she would want the post on a more permanent basis.
Naturally the talk around the MDGOP will be who takes over for Mooney, and this places yet another opportunity for rising star Dan Bongino to cast his footprint on state politics – assuming he doesn’t instead secure the newly-created vacancy in the Anne Arundel County Executive post. Conversely, appointing Bongino would also either eliminate him from seeking an office in the 2014 cycle, or create another Chair vacancy in the spring of 2014, once the filing deadline for the 2014 election arrives. (Party rules stipulate a Chair cannot be a filed candidate for an elected post.)
Yet the decision will also be fraught with peril as yet another tug-of-war between the “establishment” and TEA Party activists – one obvious choice for the former group would be a second go-round as Chair for Audrey Scott, who took over the state party in 2009 after Jim Pelura’s resignation and, more recently, lost a bitterly-contested battle for National Committeewoman to Nicolee Ambrose.
The Mooney departure comes at an interesting time for the state party, which is fighting tooth-and-nail against a number of measures in the General Assembly like expanded gun control and an additional sales tax on gasoline. It will put Waterman in charge during a time when many of these bills come to a vote, meaning grassroots activists and groups may have to take more of a lead than usual.
It also leads to speculation on what Mooney is planning for 2014, whether it’s another run for Congress as he began to in the 2012 campaign before withdrawing just before the filing deadline, or a bid to retake his seat in the Maryland Senate. It’s not likely he will try for statewide office with an already-crowded field in the governor’s race and lack of qualifications for any other statewide contest (Attorney General or Comptroller.) Barring an unexpected vacancy, there will be no U.S. Senate election in Maryland in 2014.
And while Mooney leaves with a number of accomplishments under his belt, it’s worth noting that his grandiose plans for financial help for the state party failed to pan out. Yes, the state party has made a number of moves in the name of efficiency, but monetary numbers are still insufficient for the party to offer much in the way of help to 2014 candidates. Mooney’s successor will have a lot on his or her plate and a short time to put the pieces together before the 2014 campaign really gets underway.
After a long hiatus caused by Hurricane Sandy and the holiday season, members of the Wicomico County Republican Club gathered for the first time in nearly two months and in their first formal meeting since late October, before the 2012 elections. No business was transacted at the club’s last get-together, which was their annual Christmas party in early December.
While the 2012 election was touched upon, the upcoming balloting was the topic that featured speaker and State Party First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman would refer to regularly in her remarks. “Lord knows 2014 has got to be better than 2012,” Waterman commented.
Instead, she and the MDGOP wanted to use the election of 2010, where downticket Republicans were successful, as a springboard for the 2014 election. The six House of Delegates members our side picked up made a “humongous impact” by keeping bad legislation from passing, especially at the committee level, because one GOP member was added to each of the House of Delegates’ six committees. “I firmly believe in two-party government,” said Diana.
She spent a large part of her time discussing the MDGOP’s new Pathfinders initiative, which is loosely based on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program. It was meant to provide more and greater access to tools which could be provided by the state party as a candidate, committee, or group advanced on certain goals. As Diana reminded us, “doing the job is one thing, (but) getting elected is a whole new ballgame.” Municipal elections like the one in Salisbury are a “fabulous opportunity” to work on campaigns because of their smaller scale, Diana exclaimed.
But her final message was one of unity. “We have to stop (figuratively) shooting each other,” she said. “Put aside our differences.”
We also heard from a number of other observers, with the first report coming from Wicomico County GOP Chair Dave Parker.
Parker announced the Lincoln Day Dinner will be held March 23, a date which just happens to coincide with the Pathfinders training coming to Wicomico County. (The two are unrelated.) He also expounded on the recent efforts at gun control, pointing out he will have an editorial in next Sunday’s Daily Times. Dave also praised Delegate Mike McDermott for introducing some common-sense school security bills in the General Assembly.
Bonnie Luna, who helped run the Wicomico County GOP headquarters last fall, called her experience “amazing” and was pleased to present checks to both the Republican Club and the Central Committee out of the donations made at the facility. All told, thanks to the reimbursements made possible by the donations, the total expenditure to the WCRC was just under $800.
Luna also made sure to praise both Diana Waterman and former MDGOP Chair Audrey Scott, who accompanied Waterman to the meeting, as a source of inspiration (and supplies.) Scott remarked that she had never seen a headquarters repay its local sponsors, telling those in attendance that it was a “miracle” and “that miracle’s name is Bonnie Luna.”
Woody Willing provided turnout records for the 2012 election – as usual, GOP turnout outpaced Democratic efforts by six percentage points.
Finally, Salisbury City Council candidate Jack Heath was introduced to the audience and expressed his vision for the city, which was to enhance the quality of life by providing jobs and education, a vibrant downtown, and government adopting the best ideas regardless of their source. He pledged to work with whoever is elected mayor and City Councilman from District 1.
Two other announcements were made at the gathering: Joe Ollinger told us the Republican Club Crab Feast will be held September 7, and County Councilman Bob Culver revealed a hearing on the septic bill tier maps (last year’s SB236) will be held February 20 at 6 p.m. in the Midway Room of the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.
As for the Republican Club, their next meeting will be February 25, with a guest speaker to be determined.
Update: Jackie Wellfonder, who also attended the meeting, has her thoughts on what Waterman said on her site.
Update 2: In turn, more reaction to Wellfonder’s thoughts at Global Rhetoric, Joseph Steffen’s site.
Welcome to the debut of my newest feature, Ten Question Tuesday. This interview segment may or may not feature exactly ten questions, but the intent is to learn a little more about those personalities who help shape local and national politics.
Today’s guest needs no introduction to Maryland Republicans. Dan Bongino survived a ten-man Republican primary to easily win the U.S. Senate nomination last April and ran a spirited race against incumbent U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. The entry of independent candidate Rob Sobhani altered the race and blunted Bongino’s momentum; still, as we discuss here there were a lot of lessons to learn and useful information to be gathered for future GOP efforts in Maryland.
monoblogue: The first thing I want to know is: have you even rested since the election?
Bongino: (laughs) For about four hours or so. The day after the election there’s always that feeling of, ah, you lost. There are no silver medals in politics – although there are different degrees of success and failure, of course – there is only one Senate seat and only one person sitting in it. It wasn’t me, and I felt like we worked really hard. But I didn’t take any time off…I had a workout the next day, which was something I wasn’t able to do on a regular schedule during the campaign which kind of cleared my head. My wife begged me at that point to take some time (yet) I don’t think there’s any time to take. This isn’t the time for pity, this is the time to find out what went wrong and fix it. So I haven’t taken any time – I’ve got a number of different things I’m working on right now; it’s a pretty extensive list.
monoblogue: I noticed you have a consulting business; in fact, when I arranged the interview I went through Karla (Graham) and she’s one of your (consulting firm’s) employees.
Bongino: Yeah, I think the consulting business…it was obviously slow, intentionally, during the campaign, because I just didn’t have any time to take it on. So there were things I could do and things I couldn’t do; I immersed myself completely in the campaign. That’s now picked up pretty well for me, we jumped right back in on that.
But we have a PAC we’re starting. Contrary to some rumors spread by some within the party who I think are more aligned with political positioning rather than political philosophy, my campaign didn’t finish anywhere close to in the red. We were actually cash-positive by a significant margin – well over $60,000 and it’s coming in more by the day. You don’t want to finish a campaign cash-positive – or cash-negative – but with us, we were relying on donations. I wasn’t Rob Sobhani, who funded it with my own money, or Ben Cardin, who had a steady stream of donations due to 45 years in politics. I had to rely on the money as it came in, and toward the end, the last four months we were out-raising Sobhani and Cardin combined by really heavy margins. We did not want to run a fiscally irresponsible campaign like our government, so we budgeted our money to be responsible – to ensure we had enough to pay our salaries at the end, to pay off the printing company, the internet management company…it’s like running a business. It came in so heavy in the last week that I think we would up with roughly $70,000 left over, which we’re going to use to fund Republican causes. It’s one of those initiatives now as well.
monoblogue: So basically you’ve become the Bongino PAC.
Bongino: Yeah, you can call it the pro-growth alliance, because it’s going to be a very targeted PAC. Everybody understands I’m a conservative – I don’t think that’s a mystery to anyone – but I want the PAC to focus exclusively on job growth and the economy. I’ve said all along the Republican Party, in my opinion, we don’t have a messaging problem – we have a marketing problem. I could not be clearer on that.
Our message, when you think about it, the President of the United States ran on our message. “I want to cut the deficit and control spending…I’m only going to raise taxes on people who won’t get hurt by it.” These are all messages that the Republican Party uses, that the President stole. Of course, he was disingenuous about it, but it just accentuates my point further that our message won a long time ago. We have a very serious marketing problem, and we have what I perceive in Maryland to be a lack of a short- and long-term plan politically.
When you ask some in the party “what’s the plan going forward?” like you would ask in a business “how will you launch this new product line?”…a business runs on three simple principles: how do you find new products for your markets, new markets for your products, and how do you shut down inefficiencies in your business. You can apply those principles to any business on the planet, including politics. Now we have to find out how we get our message to new markets, because we’re not reaching black voters, we’re not reaching Hispanic voters…I would debate we’re not reaching Montgomery County or Baltimore City voters at all, and we have to do that.
monoblogue: Well, here’s the one thing that I’ve noticed, and this has been true of almost any race statewide since I moved here, and I’ve been here since 2004. We seem to have a barrier of 40% we just can’t break, and the question is: if you have a message that sells, how come we can’t break the 40% barrier? What is the deal where you can’t swing the extra 10 percent plus one over to our side?
Bongino: I see it strategically, there’s a number of problems…it’s a big question. I’ll be talking about this at the MDCAN as well. There is no plan…let me give you an example because it’s easy to say that… Here’s some things we’ve been doing wrong with the swing voters.
The Democratic Party, despite literally a decade with Governor O’Malley – we’re closing in on the end of his term (and) ten years of really consistent monopolized Democratic rule – and I would debate even in the Ehrlich administration as well, and that’s not a knock on Ehrlich; I’ll explain that in a second – that’s nothing to do with him. (Despite the) monopolistic Democratic rule, the Democratic Party in Maryland has managed to out-register voters in contrast to the Republican Party, 400,000 to 100,000. How is that? How is that with BRAC, people moving into the state, frustration with the bag tax in Montgomery County, frustration with the income tax just about all over the state, frustration with the bottle tax in Baltimore City, that we as a Republican Party have had no consolidated effort to register voters at all?
And if you dispute that, I ask you where you saw the plan? Where did you read the blueprint on how to register voters? Now, there are counties out there that are doing a fantastic job, but there is no statewide…St. Mary’s County as an example. Carroll County registered five times as many Republicans than the Democrats have registered Democrats. Harford County, three times. I use St. Mary’s as the blueprint; they doubled the number of registrations compared to Democrats because it was a very consolidated, targeted, guided effort by the Central Committee and the clubs to get a mission done, which they accomplished. So that’s problem number one, registration.
The second problem: we’ve absolutely forfeited the black and Hispanic vote. I’ll give you an example from my campaign: I had actual donors – very few, but some donors – they asked me to not attempt to spend a lot of time in those places, deeming it a “lost cause.” Now they’d been beaten up there before with candidates who’ve gone down there to communities we should be in, and the results just haven’t been there. But that’s not an excuse to give up; because we haven’t found the right formula doesn’t mean we stop searching for the potion. Forfeiting the black and Hispanic vote is political suicide.
monoblogue: I completely agree. And that’s one thing that I know, we’ve paid lip service to that for years and I’ve been in the Republican Party here since 2006. Now there’s one other aspect I wanted to get into, and maybe it kind of goes in with your role as an outsider, but I want to back my readers up to the first time you and I met.
We first met when you came to our Republican club meeting down here in Wicomico County in the summer of 2011, and you brought (2010 gubernatorial candidate) Brian Murphy with you, which immediately piqued my interest because I was a Brian Murphy supporter in that primary.
monoblogue: So given that as a starting point, the other portion of the question is: did that help you…how did it help you raise a national profile? I know Sarah Palin came into Brian Murphy’s campaign at a late date and endorsed him and that probably at least put him on the map – and I noticed she did the same thing with you. There seems to be a linkage between you and Palin because I just happened to hear a little podcast you did on a very Palin-friendly website. Obviously you’ve used Sarah Palin and people like that to build more of a national profile than any other Republican candidate in Maryland…I would say that even Bob Ehrlich doesn’t have nearly the national profile that you do. So how do we leverage that?
Bongino: Money, media, and volunteers are a campaign, so the question is how do you leverage a national profile, which is really just name recognition nationally. How do you leverage that to getting media, to getting extra money into the campaign, into getting volunteers? I think we did that quite well. A lot of…some insiders on both sides took shots at us afterward…saying we’d lost by a good and healthy margin. But I don’t think anybody took into account was the successful operation we’d put together considering we were only funded, really for the last four months, to finish second out of three candidates despite being outspent by a factor of almost 20:1.
Now we did that by using the national profile, and what I think is important and is an operation that has largely been lost on some of us – quite a few Republicans in the state – is a mastery of the media message. I think what our campaign did – and this isn’t me trumpeting my campaign on any kind of pedestal, I’m just speaking to the fact we got a lot of national media – we were very careful to manage the message. We understood the ideas that had punch, and Karla and I had what we called the “hook” – what was an angle to put Maryland on the map, to put this Senate race on the map? In some cases it was my Secret Service experience as a federal agent commenting on “Fast and Furious.” There were other cases, there were scandals, and unfortunately those scandals, I thought, took on a life of their own – Colombia scandal of course – but there was an opportunity there to defend an agency that I loved being a part of. I thought they were getting a bum rap – there were a few bad eggs and I didn’t appreciate that, so we took an opportunity there to defend the Service, that certainly helped.
Here’s a thing a lot of folks forget as well, and it’s one of the most important points here; the most salient that I can take out of this – when you get an opportunity to get in front of a national audience, whether it’s on Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity multiple times – you have to be interesting. Not sensational, not scandalous – interesting. You have to say things that give people a reason to listen, or else you’re just another voice coming out of their car radio. And I was very careful to come in there very prepared about what I wanted to say and what I wanted to speak, so that then led to more media. Media begats more media, it is a virtuous cycle. When we did Hannity, then we went to Beck. When we did Beck, we went to Levin. When we did Levin, we would get on Fox.
monoblogue: It established credibility.
Bongino: Yes, and you get into a cycle, and then the contacts start to see you as a reliable, exciting guest that brings energy to the show and I think we did twelve or thirteen different appearances on Hannity. If you’re interesting, not only does that begat more media but that begats donors. Those donors…the way I would leverage that is if you donated $25 after I did an appearance on Hannity, I’d call you. Sometimes I’d spent half an hour on the phone with people, talking about issues that mattered to them – they weren’t even Maryland citizens. But those $25 donors became $250 donors, who became $1,000 donors, who despite the poll numbers continued to support me. Someone sent me an e-mail, as a matter of fact – I don’t think he wants me to give up his name, but he’s an out-of-state donor – who started very small and wound up donating a substantial amount of money to my campaign. He said, “I’m not investing in the Maryland Senate race, I’m investing in you.” And that’s how we built a database of over 20,000 donors. That’s a substantial list, a very credible list – nationally speaking, not just in Maryland.
And finally, volunteers. When you’re on television and radio it’s an obvious force multiplier. In the case of the Hannity show during drive time you’re speaking to 14 million people. I would always get out the website and we would get people on the mailing list, which grew into 10,000-plus names and 3,000 volunteers. And I would make sure with the volunteers – and I encourage other candidates to do this as well – your volunteers don’t work for you, they work with you. That’s not a soundbite; you have to act that way and portray that on your campaign.
When I would ask volunteers to show up for a sign wave, which a lot of people didn’t like the approach, they have no idea what went on in the back end. We would sign wave, and I had consultants who had never won anything telling me, yeah, that’s a waste of time. What they didn’t understand was, on the back end of our website I could analyze how many people went to our website after we’d go to a neighborhood and sign wave with twenty or thirty people – the exponential growth in volume in donors, volunteers, and traffic to our website was usually singularly located to that area I was the day before sign waving. But the genius consultants didn’t know any of that. I’m glad they don’t because they recommend other people don’t do it.
…I would show up with the volunteers, this was a really hot summer. We had something like a month straight of 90-degree weather; I’d show up there in my suit and I would stand out there an hour and a half, breathing in smog in Montgomery County, waving at cars as they came by with the volunteers who understood that it wasn’t just talk. I would talk, I would ask them about their families and how things were going, and it became a family atmosphere where it wasn’t just banter…that’s how we did that, leverage that whole model into something I think very special.
monoblogue: I think you would be a very good speaker on just getting media attention, and how to be interesting in front of the media. That’s something a lot of our candidates could use because we’re trying to get elected here. We have a message, but we need – that is the missing link. It’s hard to be interesting to people sometimes – it’s not always my strong point either.
Bongino: I’ve been watching a lot of our locals; some are very good and some of them I’ve watched, I think there’s a tendency to speak to a canned soundbite with the fear that, if you get off this script, you’re going to say something you don’t want to say. I would say if that’s the case you shouldn’t do media – you shouldn’t. You can win without it, you can do print interviews, but – not to knock him now – Rob Sobhani was the perfect example. I mean, Rob Sobhani essentially stopped doing serious live interviews at the end because every time he got on the air he would say something ridiculous – you know, the famous “I hit the jackpot” quote…the DREAM Act, he would say four or five different things, sometimes not realizing that obviously these interviews were going to be broadcast and cataloged and people would catch him on it – you have to go out there and be confident you’ve done your homework and you’re ready to go.
monoblogue: Here’s one thing… I’m curious about this, and I know I’ve seen media about this since the election. (Regarding) 2014, and I know – I’ve been in politics long enough to know you don’t want to rule anything out or commit to anything at this point. But is there something that you would not necessarily rule out, but you would favor as far as an office to run for?
Bongino: I’ve got a list together that a couple of trusted confidantes on the campaign and I are going through – best options, worst options, me being a business mind and a rational maximizer like any good economist would be – do a cost/benefit on each and a cost/benefit’s not just for me, but it’s for the party. I’ve said over and over that I don’t want to run for something that I think would be good for me but bad for the party; I think that would be hypocritical. But, yeah, there’s a number of things I’m looking at – I mean, I don’t think it’s any secret that the Governor’s race, the (Anne Arundel) County Executive race, there’s some other options out there as well that I’ve been considering. And there’s also the option of not doing anything electorally but staying involved in the process through the PAC. I’m writing now for Watchdog Wire, and I do pieces on RedState that are getting some really good traction, so there’s that possibility as well.
I really don’t know, but I’m going through the numbers and at the presentation at MDCAN I’m doing I’m going to be very deliberate, too, about what needs to get done numbers-wise because I don’t know if some of the candidates running now for some of these positions understand how difficult a statewide race is going to be. Not unwinnable – I ain’t never believed in that, and I believe in fighting the fight – but a statewide race in Maryland right now is going to be very, very tough, and it’s going to require a lot of money, a significant media profile that can bypass our local media, and a number of volunteers that is just going to be absolutely unprecedented.
monoblogue: Well, that makes sense because there is not a big, broad base of experience in the Maryland Republican Party on how to win a statewide race. The only person that’s done it in the last 40 years is Bob Ehrlich, and he lost two of them after he won one. So he’s not exactly got a great track record, either.
Bongino: Right. And one of the more disturbing aspects – and I’m not talking to the candidates we have now for governor, I’m talking about some others…you look at the Rumsfeld book, the “known knowns,” “known unknowns,” and “unknown unknowns” – the unknown unknowns are always the most dangerous thing because you don’t even know what you don’t know. I was very aware of that when I ran, I had no political resume and was very careful to start slowly. That’s why I got in so early, because I knew there were intra-county dynamics, there were party dynamics, and I wanted to be careful to avoid any significant controversies that would derail a campaign.
I’ve spoken to some who just don’t seem to understand that there are things going on in the state that they’re just completely not aware of…I’ll give you an example: I was at an event, one of them, it was in Montgomery County, and a woman walked in who was a very prominent, active Montgomery County Republican – donor, hosts events, is a terrific person – and he looked at me and said, “who’s that?” And I thought to myself, “wow, that’s not a good sign.” (laughs) It was one person, and I’m certainly not going to extrapolate too much from it, but that’s not the first time that happened.
I’ll bring up some specific county dynamics – the compressor in Myersville, that was a big deal. Water contamination on the Eastern Shore; I didn’t know about that, (it’s a) big deal. SB236 hurting the farmers: (another) big deal. The fact (some candidates aren’t aware) that there are farms in southern Maryland: a big deal…The fact in Calvert County, we have some struggles getting votes in Waldorf. These are things that a statewide candidate – you’re not going to have time anymore to learn this. I mean, I was two years out and I didn’t have a primary. These are things I’m more than happy – even if I decide to run, it’s not in my interest for any of my primary opponents to do poorly at all. I would be more than happy to share this information, and I mean that. I’m looking to do what’s best…if I did decide to run I know I can win on my merits and I don’t need to win by hoarding information. There’s just so much going on around the state and it’s not like Oklahoma (where) there’s just really a breadbasket of issues and that’s about it. Maryland is not like that; there are very regional problems; natural gas in western Maryland. These are all very important things and they need to know it all.
monoblogue: It’s not exactly “one Maryland” like our governor likes to claim.
Bongino: No, it’s not.
monoblogue: That’s a good place to wrap this up. I appreciate the time!
Honestly, I could have spent another hour on the phone and there were other items I didn’t check off my list. But this lengthy read will have to do for now. Perhaps when Dan makes up his mind about 2014, I can arrange a return visit.
Next week’s guest will be Jonathan Bydlak, who heads the Coalition to Reduce Spending. It’s a recent addition to the advocacy groups which inhabit Washington, but professes a more unique angle and focus on their pet issue. Look for it next Tuesday.
And you expected another political post? I have plenty to do this week so I’ll focus on something fun for tonight.
Yes, our fair county held its tenth Autumn Wine Festival. Because it was the tenth edition, there were a few extras. Check out this cake.
Here’s a closer look at the center.
I didn’t get a slice, but from what I recall being told it had several different flavors of cake within, including red velvet. There was also a card to sign, but not a whole lot of takers.
The ribbon cutting was hosted by County Executive Rick Pollitt, who make a few brief remarks and compared our county to the “land of pleasant living.”
But the scissors were wielded by now-retired Director of Tourism Sandy Fulton.
With a little assist from Pollitt, the festival got underway. Sandy stayed around to cut the cake.
While I really like to sample the local and national beers at the Good Beer Festival, I am not a wine drinker. So I don’t have the need to go from tent to tent to taste, but I do like the artistic possibilities presented to me at the AWF. You’ll see this in the next few photos, from the colorful Bordeleau sign…
…to the cheerful row of signs for St. Michaels Winery (where the wind had to cooperate for the perfect shot) as well as the fruit-filled Solomons sign…
…to the interplay of light and shadow in the classic still life pictures of flowers, bottles, and a wine rack. Fiore, Linganore, and Far Eastern Shore wineries were the subjects.
I would have liked the latter photos better if not for a truck, a too-busy tablecloth, and five minutes’ worth of sun angle too much, but you get the point. I don’t have the patience to be a professional photographer.
The guy who had a lot of patience worked on this sand sculpture Saturday.
The finished product turned out pretty nice; unfortunately it will likely be back as part of the beach by week’s end.
I got to have a little fun with the next photo, though. Joe is the spokesboard for Layton’s Chance, and I promise he will be back in this post.
Joe wasn’t a whole lot more stiff than some of the politicians there, but I’ll get to that in a minute. On the other hand, this guy and his friend had to be loose Saturday to walk around like this.
They were back on Sunday, too.
Okay, there were some political goings-on as well. As you may have figured out, we had a Republican booth at the event.
This week the Democrats did as well.
Among their supporters was First District Congressional candidate John LaFerla, who was at the opening ceremony and walked the grounds for a time afterward.
Unlike the opponent who bested him by 57 votes in the primary, John and I had a nice brief conversation without once bringing up the Koch Brothers. I told him I agreed with Andy Harris about 90% of the time and he was fine with that.
Actually, on a local level we have a friendly rivalry with the Democrats. Here my fellow blogger Jackie Wellfonder, who was representing the Dan Bongino campaign, posed with Sarah Meyer of the Wicomico Democratic Club.
Today we were honored to have Dan Bongino stopping by for a couple hours. In tow were his wife Paula and their infant daughter.
Of all the local campaigns, Dan’s has the most avid supporters and they are very good about helping me out as well. So I want to thank (from left to right) Shawn Jester, Jackie Wellfonder, and Ryan Thompson for all their assistance this weekend.
It really is about “jobs not taxes.”
By the way, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention there will be a meet-and-greet with Dan Bongino this coming Thursday evening, October 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at our GOP headquarters (800 S. Salisbury Boulevard.) Bringing the checkbook or credit card is encouraged. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t thank Phil, Ann, the Greenhawks, Woody, Tom, Bob, Leonard, Karen and Jane, Greg, and Tyler for their help as well. I had no shortage of volunteers who made things run smoothly.
But candidates weren’t the only ones campaigning, as many wore their respective candidates’ lapel stickers or just carted around a yard sign. Doesn’t this look a touch uncomfortable?
This young lady’s arms were probably tired, too. But she at least has the right sign.
But in the end many were just there to party, and old flattop Joe was leading the way.
And like any good bottle of wine, the time came when it was all spent.
The Pemberton preserve grounds will be cleaned up over the next few days and then return to the more tranquil state in which it exists 11 months out of the year. Meanwhile, it will be far from quiet on the political front and aside from a Weekend of local rock post on the AWF I’ll be pretty much wall-to-wall politics until the election.
Don’t miss a thing.
It was a more crowded room than usual this month, telling me the excitement is palpable for this November’s election. The additional crowd was treated to a pretty thorough presentation on the county’s redistricting process by Redistricting Committee Chair Joe Collins, with additional insight provided by County Council member Gail Bartkovich.
Of course, we did the usual preliminaries: the Lord’s Prayer, reading of the minutes, and introduction of distringuished guests as well as a quite involved Treasurer’s Report thanks to expenditures for the Crab Feast.
But when Collins introduced his subject, he noted that his previous outsider’s perspective was changed by becoming part of the process and trying to “herd cats.” The cats in question were the seven members of the Redistricting Committee, each recommended by an individual County Council member. It’s worthy of noting that, as Bartkovich explained, two Republicans selected Democratic members – one to make sure a member of their Central Committee was on the panel and another who selected a Democratic woman at the eleventh hour so there would be a female representative. (Presumably the one minority member was picked by the lone minority member of County Council, their only Democrat.) So what could have by rights been a 6-1 GOP majority was voluntarily made more bipartisan. (Hear that, Martin O’Malley?)
Collins pointed out the state’s process had “plenty of bad ideas” so the county’s goals were simple: districts which were compact and contiguous, with roughly equal population and minimizing movement from one district to another.
But the “compact” proved difficult to achieve with the mandate of having a minority district, Joe said. The goals of contiguous and equal in population were done quite well, with the deviations running at less than 100 people off the desired number for any district – compare that to the allowable of 5 percent, which in Wicomico County equals about 1,000 people more or less than an even five-way split. They were “just about as equal as we could get them,” said Joe. But it was hard not to shuffle people around between districts because, as Joe explained, the minority population had migrated somewhat and what was a majority-minority district when drawn in 2000 was no longer so. This map makes District 1 almost 60% minority.
(It’s also worth noting that the 2000 map drawn by a Democratic County Council had the two most Democratic districts as the smallest two and the most pronounced Republican district as the largest. This map is much more even-handed.)
Bartkovich filled us in a little bit on the process, telling those assembled that maps were sent to each municipality and each firehouse for public inspection. There were “very few comments,” she said, which in my opinion means the committee did a good job. (I wholeheartedly endorse this map.)
The one big complaint about this map came from the Board of Elections, which saw the number of precincts rise from 38 to 52. In part, though, the state is also at fault because of how they gerrymandered the county with its legislative districts. In contrast, the county’s redistricting committee tried to use natural and significant man-made boundaries to the fullest extent possible – case in point: the eastern half of the county is almost perfectly divided into two districts by U.S. 50.
Bartkovich announced it was likely the County Council would preserve this map, but with a “little tweaking.” Most of the changes sought were in the minority district, but others were more procedural: there are precincts with fewer than ten voters under this plan, so small portions may change for that sake. “Your committee did an excellent job,” Bartkovich told Collins. (I’m holding them to that, by the way.)
Turning to the Central Committee, Dave Parker related a number of upcoming events: a convention watch party at GOP headquarters on August 30 (to watch Mitt Romney accept his nomination), sign waving on August 31, the Addie Eckardt fundraiser I briefly detailed yesterday on September 9, Andy Harris’s Bull Roast on September 22, the state party’s Oktoberfest on October 19, and of course the Good Beer Festival and Autumn Wine Festival, where we will have a presence.
Cynthia Williams made the not-so-shocking announcement that the GOP headquarters was out of most Romney items except a lone t-shirt and some buttons. The same is true for Dan Bongino items, which Shawn Jester said they “can’t keep on the shelves.” (One reason for this I’ll share in an upcoming post.)
We received some good news from Woody Willing, who told us the local Board of Elections had done its job and purged unqualified voters from the voter rolls – most had come back as not living at the listed address. Over 900 voters were
taken off from the most recent purge moved from active to the inactive list – now if other counties would do their job, Election Integrity Maryland wouldn’t have to nag them about it. Woody also had a minor victory to report on the scholarship front, as the WCRC scholarship will be listed by the Board of Education for this coming school year.
Speaking of EIM, Cathy Keim restated the group has online poll watcher training available and also announced that certain counties are crying out for Republican election judges – for example, Prince George’s County needs over 400. Locally, though, Keim announced “I have the utmost confidence in our election board.”
I duly noted (and was backed up by many others) that attendance at the Farm and Home Show was poor. Unfortunately, I also found out the awards were well-attended – but we had already pulled up stakes. That was my fault; I took the blame.
Bob Miller assessed that we “got through (the Crab Feast) okay” but he was ready to hand it over to a younger man. We indeed found someone who will take up the reins for next year.
Cynthia Williams, who is helping out with the Lower Shore headquarters, noted the hours of operation (10 to 8 weekdays, 10 to 4 Saturday) and added there are “lots of spaces on the signup boards.”
The annual Christmas Party will be December 2 at 5 p.m., announced Ann Suthowski. One change, though, will be the location as we move to Mister Paul’s Legacy for the event.
And while it wasn’t part of the agenda, there was a lot of talk about the “2016: Obama’s America” movie, which one observer called “a very unsettling movie…I can’t find fault with it.” Several in the crowd had already seen it, but it was recommended that the others make tracks to check it out.
Our next meeting is going to be unique as we leave the familiar confines of the Chamber of Commerce building to hold it at our Lower Shore headquarters on South Salisbury Boulevard. It will still be on the fourth Monday (September 24) at the same time.
Never let it be said that Republicans are a fair-weather party.
A rainy day certainly dampened the area surrounding Schumaker Park as the Wicomico County Republican Club held its annual Crab Feast yesterday, but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. The picture below was taken at one of those rare points where the rain died down to a light shower, rather than the torrential downpour which plagued the event.
We still had our usual solid crowd of about 250, who I am convinced would come out in a hurricane for crabs and camaraderie. If you added a little wind I think we would have had a nice tropical storm like this same weekend in 2011 because there was a point it rained to beat the band.
One casualty of the weather was the silent auction, which for many items had to become a live auction because the tally sheets got all wet under the tent. Some items stayed out of the rain, though.
And the weather played havoc with the roster of speakers as well. I think this was the result of having to do a live auction, but in most years several elected officials will make remarks. This time the bulk of the talking was done by Congressman Andy Harris.
Harris only made brief, somewhat boilerplate remarks about his race and the need to change the regime in Washington beginning with the removal of Barack Obama but continuing with the urgency of putting Dan Bongino in the United States Senate. (Unfortunately, Bongino couldn’t represent himself at the event; his county coordinator Shawn Jester filled in.) “Party today, but work for the next 73 days” to the election, Harris admonished us.
We also heard quite briefly from Delegate Addie Eckardt, who reprised her message delivered at the GOP headquarters opening last week about the need to “turn this ship around.” Also expressing his thanks for continued support was Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello.
So it wasn’t like the event in other years where a number of candidates seeking election locally or statewide were there to speak and press the flesh – while most made their rounds, they chose to be acknowledged but not make remarks. I don’t know if Matt Holloway
or John Hall came, but I saw the remaining four GOP members of County Council there (Stevie Prettyman, Gail Bartkovich, Joe Holloway, and Bob Culver) along with the other three local Republican officials – Maciarello, Sheriff Mike Lewis, and Orphans Court Judge Bill Smith. We also had Delegate Charles Otto come up from Somerset County to join us. (Update: WCRC officer Marc Kilmer assured me that John Hall was there. Maybe I didn’t hear him being introduced.)
In that respect, look for next year’s event to be chock full of would-be aspirants for office because the 2014 event will be after the state election primary for the first time in several years unless they make it a spring event. (Once a late-September gathering, the Crab Feast migrated forward about a month beginning in 2010 to a late-August date – last year was an exception thanks to Hurricane Irene.)
I can say that I made the Republican Club a few dollars myself since I donated two copies of my book to the auction, and they sold for above face value. Then again, my contribution paled in comparison to how these buttons did, as well as the 50-50 drawing.
So after two years in a row of a late-August downpour (at least this year the hurricane was down in Cuba) chances are next year should be a beautiful afternoon like we’ve had in the past. In the meantime, the beer was cold and by many accounts the crabs delicious, so what’s a little rain?