LG hopeful Kane campaigns in Wicomico

If you drive by the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, you might think there’s an election going on.

Since this is the case, we were graced by a visit from Mary Kane, who’s running on the ticket with Bob Ehrlich. Naturally she’s a popular lady.

The gentleman on the left with Mrs. Kane is Mark McIver, the campaign coordinator for Bob Ehrlich here in Wicomico County.

But Kane wasn’t the only Republican out looking for votes this afternoon. Here she stands amidst Bob Culver, who’s running for Wicomico County Council at-large and Matt Maciarello, the GOP choice for State’s Attorney.

Worth noting is that Democrat Peter Evans was out looking for votes as well. I just didn’t get a picture of him.

There’s also a number of volunteers, and to show the proper role of a GOP candidate who lost in the primary A. Kaye Kenney was working on the behalf of several candidates including Stevie Prettyman of Council District 2 and Charles Otto, running for Delegate in District 38A. Here she is with Matt Maciarello.

It’s probable that close to 4,000 Wicomico voters will take advantage of early voting based on the results of days 1-5 and what I project will happen today (I think this will be the biggest day from the numbers I heard when I was there.)While that seems like a lot, bear in mind this will only be about 7% of the total eligible voters…yet if the final results are a factor of 10 as they were in early voting for the primary, turnout might be heavy.

And while Democrats are slightly leading in turnout percentage statewide, on the Eastern Shore the GOP leads in all but Queen Anne’s County (where the two parties are in a virtual tie.) So we are indeed ready and raring to go.

By the way, the top of the GOP ticket will be here in Salisbury tomorrow morning at 9:30 for the “Fire Pelosi” tour. RSVP to Patrick Hefflinger [phefflinger (at) mdgop.org] or call (443) 736-8042. I plan on covering that event as well.

Taking advantage of the third party

Richard Davis only wishes he had this kind of exposure, but it comes from an unconventional source.

Alert reader Jackie Gregory of the Cecil County Patriots, a well-established TEA Party group, sent me a note about a full-color mailing she’d received.

On the front it reads, “Richard Davis may be an outsider, but his ideas for big cuts to government spending fit right in with the Tea Party.”

The back continues in a similar message, concluding with the question, “Richard Davis: Is he too conservative?” (Both .pdf files courtesy of Jackie Gregory.)

In fact, Richard Davis is the Libertarian candidate for the First District seat, and it can be argued that it was his presence on the ballot in 2008 that may have tipped the scale to Frank Kratovil – Davis took 8,873 votes in a contest where Kratovil prevailed by only 2,852. We’ll never know if most of them would have voted for Harris had Davis not been on the ballot, but chances are good Andy may have won. As you may recall Andy didn’t officially concede until the absentee count showed he was too far behind.

So who is the new-found benefactor of the local Libertarian? None other than Chris Van Hollen and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They paid for this mailing and perhaps another – as Gregory points out:

The purpose of these ads is to confuse voters who are sympathetic to the TEA party, thereby boosting Kratovil’s chances at re-election.

Just look at how cleverly worded this example is. The mailer isn’t going to appeal to someone close to the middle of the political spectrum, but Democrats know as well as the rest of us that there’s a percentage of us who would look at this mailer and perhaps agree that Davis isn’t too conservative without knowing the entirety of his platform. All Kratovil needs to do is peel that small percentage of the vote away to win again.

However, the Maryland Libertarian Party rightfully called Kratovil and his inside-the-Beltway handlers out too:

Recently, a targeted mailing was sent out with a comparison between Dr. (Richard) Davis and one of his opponents, Dr. Andy Harris the Republican Candidate for Congress in the First District. The flyer does not endorse or call for one to vote either way, it just states the positions of the two candidates on a few issues.

However, neither the Maryland Libertarian Party nor Dr. Davis’ campaign had any involvement or prior knowledge of this mailing and both entities do not support, encourage or endorse this type of activity.

The only items that Dr. Davis has incurred for his campaign have come out of his own “pocket” for gas and a few brochures. He has accepted two in-kind contributions, one for the purchase of the domain for his website, www.davis4congress.com and another for video production for the internet on some key issues, both from Muir Boda.

The only expenditure that The Libertarian Party of Maryland has put towards his campaign is that of a radio ad that has included all 7 Libertarian Congressional Candidates in Maryland. This was paid out our FEC account, approved by the Executive Board and the Central Committee of the Maryland Libertarian Party and has the proper authority line in the message.

The Maryland Libertarian Party is proud of the campaign that Dr. Davis has run in this election and we will not stand idly by when his integrity is questioned.

To answer the question, Muir Boda handles media for the MLP.

Jackie also adds anecdotal evidence why this tactic may be employed by Kratovil and his special interest buddies:

This is being done all across the country in an attempt to take votes away from conservative candidates who are in close competition with their Democratic counterparts.  Recently, a poll in our district was conducted which showed high favorability ratings of the TEA party among likely voters.  When I was doorknocking a couple of weeks ago, one thing that struck me was the overwhelmingly positive response I received when we mentioned the TEA party.  For every one of us that actually stays directly involved or connected to the TEA party, there are several others who sympathize with the movement and watch from a distance.  This mailer is directed at those people and it’s goal is to siphon votes away from Andy Harris and give them to the Libertarian candidate; if successful, we will end up with 2 more years of Frank Kratovil. 

Obviously there are a certain number of people who agree with what Richard Davis has to say, and others may have voted for him last time around as a protest to the supposedly abrasive campaign Andy Harris ran in the 2008 primary. 

This is an example of the conundrum which has faced TEA Party activists across the country when the idea of a third party is discussed – in this case a legitimate third party spoiler could help keep a liberal in Congress. Elsewhere Democrats have run shadow candidates under the TEA Party banner in hopes of eroding support of true conservative candidates and maintaining their hold on power. Even a liberal bastion like the New York Times admits this.

But a vote for Davis is a vote for Kratovil. I have all the respect in the world for the Libertarian Party and agree with them on a number of issues; however, that is the political reality we live with here.

I’m sure the statist status quo in Washington sent this out to the Shore figuring us uneducated hicks in the sticks would fall for the ruse. In fact, I found the wording of the piece rather condescending and at best a backhanded complement to the candidate it’s supposed to help.

Frank Kratovil fooled us once in 2008 by protraying himself as an “independent”, shame on him. If he fools us again in 2010, it’s shame on us.

54-40…so fight!

Yes, I reach back into the realm of long-forgotten campaign slogans (embellishing one used by President James K. Polk in 1844) because it’s the result of a so-called poll out from the Washington Post. According to their poll, Bob Ehrlich trails Martin O’Malley by that very 54-40 margin. It reflects a similarly flawed Baltimore Sun poll which has the former governor down 52-38.

I don’t believe these polls for a second, and this political observer explains why.

But despite the fact we conservatives have a less than inspiring choice for governor, don’t let these papers fool you into staying home for this election. It’s an age-old attempt to disillusion the conservative voters, and even some so-called conservative pundits like Michael Gerson try to convince us “the wave has crested.” It’s only crested if we believe it is so.

Yet there are signs this frustration has taken hold on a statewide level. Republicans were supposed to be flocking to the polls and couldn’t wait for November 2. But as of this morning 3.09% of Democrats have participated in early voting compared to 2.82% of Republicans and just 1.42% of unaffiliated voters. (On the bright side, the Constitution Party leads with 3.63% participation – too bad they only have 606 voters registered as such statewide.)

But locally the news is better. In seven of the nine Eastern Shore counties the GOP is indeed ahead in early voting, and Queen Anne’s County there’s virtually a tie. (Caroline County is the lone holdout, although the margin in the Democrats’ favor is fairly small.) Maybe it’s because we’re mostly outside the orbit of the Baltimore-Washington media axis, but there seems to be more of that trademark GOP excitement here.

And that’s important because we have local races which need to be won. With strong candidates across the board, we have the opportunity to make the Eastern Shore delegation to the General Assembly entirely Republican – in fact, I recommend it. Why vote for candidates who talk like they’re conservative and pro-business every four years when you can have the 24/7/365 real thing?

If Martin O’Malley wins, we need people in the General Assembly who will tell him to go pound sand with his sure-to-come tax increases, kowtowing to the Obama agenda, and embrace of illegal immigrants as “new Americans.”

Since we’re going to be stuck with Obama for the next two years, we need Congressmen and Senators to place his statist ambitions in check by defunding those things he held dear like Obamacare and the remaining slush fund stimulus while paring away the bureaucratic red tape.

It’s all within reach, and we can make a difference. Let the overconfident I-95 corridor Democrats stay home – we need to fight for what is right in Maryland.

WCRC meeting – October 2010

For the Wicomico County Republican Club, the 2007-2010 election cycle came to an end tonight; it was the final scheduled meeting before the all-important local and state elections.

As always we led off with the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. It was then announced that two of our three featured speakers could not attend due to a conflict of one sort or another – among the two at-large County Council hopefuls Bob Culver was booked for another event and for Matt Holloway his farming had to take precedence. This left our candidate for County Executive Joe Ollinger as the lone scheduled speaker.

So we heard our treasurer’s report, which brought up a few questions about the club’s expenditures – you may have heard some of them if you listen to local radio. Much of the rest went to various candidates.

Once we reviewed the minutes from September’s meeting it was time to hear from Joe.

After joking that he really didn’t need to speak because he had the votes in the room sewn up, Joe wanted to make sure everyone checked out his video. He even had cards made which simply repeated the website his video could be found at. But rather than pass out a number of cards, I’ll just go a step further.

So far Joe’s had “great feedback” on the video and he’s been out campaigning “where the most people are.” Dustin Mills noted later that he sees Joe everywhere he goes on the campaign trail here in Wicomico County. Another video Joe pointed to was one done by the Daily Times, a 30-minute show where he answered a number of questions from the editorial staff.

However, aside from the “very positive” feedback he gets, Joe isn’t sure how the campaign is going. Ollinger mentioned the point-counterpoint featured in Sunday’s Daily Times, and blasted opponent Rick Pollitt for “lack(ing) any vision whatsoever…(he) can’t see the possibilities.” Yet Joe’s radio advertisements are quite positive, encouraging everyone to get out and vote. Joe also related that a debate between him and Pollitt is all but ruled out.

Some of the questions Joe answered regarded changes in procedure at the county’s landfill. The questioner wanted to know about converting the large amount of cellulose brought there into alcohol and allowing people to claim usable items tossed out via a licensing system of some sort. Ollinger said they sounded like good ideas which could merit further study.

He also answered a question about the county’s public information officer – “Jim Fineran won’t be there” in January should Joe win. In addition, Ollinger is considering searching for a new county administrator once the FY2012 budgetary process is complete.

Other observations Joe made were that the campaign was a “very enjoyable experience,” and that he’s “become a far bigger fan of the firemen” since he’s spoken with so many in the county and learned about their jobs. He also opined that County Council could learn a lot from some of the smaller municipalities.

Turning back to club business and reports, it was announced that the “Fire Pelosi” bus tour would be in Salisbury Friday morning at 9:30 at the Victory Center (the former Hollywood Video adjacent to SU.) Not only will it feature RNC Chair Michael Steele but also Bob Ehrlich and Andy Harris as well.

Dustin Mills gave the Lower Shore Young Republican report, which was simple: phone banking each Wednesday night and “doing everything we can” for candidates.

A poll watching report was given by Greg Belcher, who reported “a couple mild successes” in keeping poll workers in line. Mainly they get in the habit of asking leading questions when they’re not supposed to. “The Democrats are pretty desperate,” he added.

Giving his final Central Committee report, the outgoing Chair John Bartkovich thanked the WCRC for the support they’ve given over his 12 year tenure. He predicted the campaigns will get dirtier, and candidates should respond immediately.

Bartkovich also announced the Central Committee would be airing radio ads this week, and chided Jim Mathias in particular for his ads – “he sounds more conservative than I am.” (Just look at the record and you’ll see the real truth.) He also advised us to vote for the county issues and against the state ones, and concluded, “we’ve had a good cycle (and) good candidates who work hard.”

“I’m going out on top,” said John.

Speaking on his campaign, Dustin Mills also thanked those in attendance and said as well that “it’s been a fantastic ride.” Hinting that Rudy Cane would be a lame duck if he wins because he’s considering this his last term, Dustin said of the incumbent “he’s not good enough” for the district. (I say we should retire Cane now – why wait?)

Gail Bartkovich thanked us for our support as well, and noted the comprehensive plan and zoning were two key upcoming issues.

Bill Smith of the Orphan’s Court again plugged his two Democratic cohorts, they “deserve to be reelected.” (He can do that as the lone Republican standing for the three spots.)

We also received thanks via letter from Matt Holloway, Addie Eckardt, Andy Harris, Bob Caldwell, and Rich Colburn for the club’s contribution to their efforts.

Some final reports came from Daryl Ann Dunigan, who reminded the group about phone banking and door-to-door efforts from headquarters; Dave Parker regarding Wednesday’s AFP meeting, and Woody Willing, who wondered why more GOP candidates weren’t campaigning at the early voting site.

Finally, the next meeting will be November 22. Most likely it will be a fairly short meeting to help plan the Christmas Party and analyze how the election went. It will also feature a new presenter of the Central Committee report.

Pusey receives key business group endorsement

One of several local candidates to score 100 percent on the Maryland Business for Responsive Government questionnaire, Marty Pusey was proud to announce her endorsement from the group. As they wrote, “your election to the state legislature will provide a much needed commitment to improving Maryland’s business climate.” Their criteria of having both a good score on the questionnaire and a solid business background placed Pusey in the position to garner the group’s support. 

(continued on my Examiner.com page…)

Obviously I think this is a big deal but in looking at the questions I would have only scored 92 percent. I disagree with their position on eminent domain for economic development purposes because as I interpreted it they’re okay with taking private property from one or more landowners who aren’t adding much to the tax base (for example, a neighborhood of modest single-family homes) just to seize it for the benefit of another favored private interest who will add more to the tax base. This was the basis of the 2005 Kelo v. New London Supreme Court decision.

It’s now or never, Maryland

That was the message put forth today by a number of speakers at the Salisbury stop of the “Now or Never Maryland” bus tour.

Well, I use the term ‘bus’ loosely. This looked more like an extended straight truck.

The person posing with the bus is former Senate candidate Jim Rutledge. In part he was responsible for bringing this crowd, but more on him later.

A total of eight speakers orated at the hour-long event, with AFP Maryland head Dave Schwartz acting as master of ceremonies. In his opening remarks, he reminded us that AFP has 26,000 members in Maryland among 17 chapters and stated his reason for doing this as “I want to protect the American Dream.”

Dave rattled off a laundry list of offenses by government, saying that the federal government overreached on doing the stimulus bill and bailing out Wall Street while the state government enacted the largest tax increase and worst deficits in our state’s history, not to mention creating a poor business climate.

As AFP supporters we needed to get involved – two suggestions Schwartz had were to enlist in the group’s “Freedom Phone” project or to walk your neighborhoods with door hangers (provided by AFP) and engage neighbors in political discussion.

Tim Phillips is the head of the national AFP, and here’s what he had to say.

And you thought I skipped Friday Night Videos? Nope, I just cleverly made them the story!

Local AFP head Joe Collins also said his piece, telling us that as a budding activist “I chose AFP for the voters” and that this election was time to “rebalance the scales.”

I stole Andrew Langer’s joke as he came up since there wasn’t a chicken suit in sight. (Maybe they went to the wrong location – I was a bit confused at first too.) He recalled the town hall meeting where Frank Kratovil gave his reasoning for voting for cap-and-trade as keeping the EPA from regulating it. When it was pointed out that Frank was a Congressman and could pass a law, Langer quoted him as asking, “I can do that?”

The head of the Institute for Liberty warned us to be vigilant of what the executive branch will try to do over the next two years as they face the prospect of an unfriendly Congress.

Also speaking to an AFP rally here for the second time in a month was WGMD-FM host Duke Brooks, who remarked that his liberal callers claimed they didn’t hate this country, but…there was always a “but.” They “think the country is flawed.”

It was only up to the government to provide equality of opportunity, continued Brooks, but not equality of outcome. He quoted Tony Blair’s line that the measure of a nation is how many want to get in vs. how many want to leave, and part of the reason for our success was that we had no elite ruling class.

Of the three candidates for the First District Congressional seat who were invited to speak, it’s not surprising only one showed. This is what Andy Harris had to say.

But the person I wanted to hear from came next. I actually recorded this because his biggest fan (Kim) wasn’t there to enjoy it, but it turned out so good I decided to share. Here’s Jim Rutledge.

And you wonder why there’s a push by some to write him in for the Attorney General slot thoughtlessly left unfilled by the Maryland GOP. He’s got my vote.

One elected official who spoke was Joey Gardner, who was elected earlier this year as one of Princess Anne’s Town Commissioners.

His message was simple – when he saw a need “I got involved.” We shouldn’t put any limitations on our involvement when it comes to helping the community.

While Gardner was the last speaker he wasn’t the only candidate for office people could get face time with. The entire statewide ticket of Maryland’s Constitution Party was there.

Gubernatorial candidate Eric Knowles is in the dark suit, with his running mate Michael Hargadon giving me the thumbs up next to him and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Shawver in the blue coat on the right.

Also looking on was Republican District 38A hopeful Charles Otto.

The Libertarian candidate for District 2 County Council was there as well. If you don’t know who he is, read the sign.

So it was at least a tri-partisan event, with a touch of good old-fashioned capitalism thrown in.

Something tells me this rig was at all the stops, but it didn’t look like he did a lot of business.

Believe it or not, there is yet another bus rally scheduled that I found out about last night. The RNC’s Fire Pelosi Bus Tour will stop at the Salisbury Victory Center (the old Hollywood Video at 1016 South Salisbury Boulevard) at 9:30 a.m. next Friday – featured speaker is some guy who used to be our Lieutenant Governor, Michael Steele. To RSVP, contact Patrick at (443) 736-8042 or via phefflinger (at) mdgop.org.

LORA meet and greet in pictures and text

The sun is setting on this election cycle, but last night a few dozen candidates or their surrogates were out for eleventh-hour campaigning at Black Diamond in Fruitland. The parking lot certainly indicated the location, as did the entrance.

Obviously the local Republicans were ready for this – good job guys!

Yet unlike a number of other forum-style events I’d been at where candidates nearly outnumber members of the general public, this one had respectable attendance. The first picture was taken as I walked in the door, the second perhaps an hour later from the opposite side of the room.

And besides the usual cadre of bloggers covering the event, there was the television and print media as well. I spied Michael James preparing for a WMDT-TV interview and Mike McDermott talking to the Daily Times.

I know the cameraman was standing behind me as I was speaking to Marty Pusey so if you see the back of a big guy in a brown shirt, that was me. Speaking of Marty, she’s part of the best team for District 38B.

Of course, perhaps the better draw was the food. Naturally since LORA (the Local Owners Restaurant Association) sponsored the event, there had to be food!

They also had a cause as LORA was collecting money for their scholarship fund.

While the event was interesting and productive overall, the sentiment I heard was that it should have occurred about two or three weeks ago, not on the eve of early voting. Still, the setup was outstanding as you had as long as you wanted to discuss whatever you wished with the candidates.

One in particular fascinated me so I’ll close with the best (by far) sidebar story among one of the participants.

This woman is Kenniss Henry, and she’s the Green Party’s candidate for U.S. Senate. A month ago she was helping to manage the campaign of the woman originally selected to run for the post, Natasha Pettigrew.

But in September, Pettigrew died from injuries suffered in a bicycle accident and Henry stepped in to replace her; it was a natural progression since Henry is Natasha’s mother. Obviously she’s still grieving over the accident but decided to carry out her daughter’s campaign to its conclusion.

Kenniss is interesting in her own right, though, as we discussed her picking up of the torch and previous interaction with TEA Party members at Washington, D.C. rallies. She noted there’s a lot of common ground between what would be on the surface two passionately differing groups and that she felt at home in their midst, not threatened at all.

Obviously I renewed acquaintance with a number of candidates and met some for the first time. But to me this was by far the best story to tell.

It’s time to go all in

To put it mildly November 7, 2006 was a dark day for Maryland Republicans.

They lost the governor’s seat that it had taken them nearly 34 years of trying to get back after Spiro Agnew resigned to become Vice-President in 1969. While they managed to hold their meager 14 seats in the Maryland Senate, they lost 6 seats in the Maryland House of Delegates, putting the Democrats back to a 100-plus seat majority.

Most said it was a bad year for Republicans, who were dragged down by an unpopular war abroad and scandal at home. Nancy Pelosi and crew promised to drain the swamp and enough Americans believed her to give the Democrats a House majority for the first time in 12 years.

But four years can make a big difference, and the political landscape has changed. It’s time to put the GOP – the adults – back in charge.

Here I’m going to lay out the case for electing Republicans up and down the ballot. Yes, I happen to be on the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee so it’s natural that I would support the ticket. But the difference this time around is that we don’t have a candidate just filling up ballot space – admittedly at times we have.

I’m going to start at the top and work to the bottom.

Governor – Bob Ehrlich

Truth be told, I was a Brian Murphy supporter in the primary because I saw him as the conservative choice for Governor. While Ehrlich isn’t exactly going to be a Chris Christie or Bob McDonnell, he has the right idea about lowering our tax burden by reducing the sales tax – that helps us on the Eastern Shore. And given the sometimes-partisan nature of redistricting I’d like to make sure the GOP has a voice since last time the Democrats rammed a proposal through which cost the GOP two Congressional seats in the 2002 election.

Comptroller – William H. Campbell

Campbell is the one candidate I haven’t met yet but he’s scheduled to appear at the LORA candidate meet and greet this evening at Black Diamond Catering in Fruitland. Yet his resume is impressive – he’s spent time as CFO of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Coast Guard, and Amtrak. Granted, these are all federal government agencies but it’s certainly better than what Peter Franchot brought to the table four years ago as a 20-year member of the House of Delegates. Since Bill would serve on the Board of Public Works if elected, we can put a no-nonsense fiscal watchdog in that prime position. He earned my primary vote and deserves yours too.

Unfortunately, due to a massive unforced error by the state Republican Party we have no one to take on ‘I’ll recognize gay marriages in other states even though it’s against Maryland law’ Doug Gansler, so let’s move on to the last statewide race.

(Note: one good suggestion I’ve seen is to write in Jim Rutledge for the position. Of course, the votes will only count under the “other write-ins” category but if there’s enough it sends a message to both the party and to Rutledge, who was once rumored to be switching to the race.)

U.S. Senate – Eric Wargotz

I have to admit that Wargotz wasn’t my primary choice simply because I saw Jim Rutledge as a few steps more conservative. Yet when the choice is presented as a nearly 40-year career politician who has lost touch with the public (but not the special interest donors) against a physician who’s served ably on the local level I think it’s time to take some chances. Eric would bring a fresh perspective and more conservative values to the Senate, and might even deem to visit the little people on the Shore once in awhile. Those of you who were so insistent on having ‘Eastern Shore values’ when you voted for ‘flip-flop’ Frank Kratovil have no excuse to vote for Barbara Mikulski now.

U.S. Congress – Andy Harris

Speaking of ‘Eastern Shore values’, how are those stimulus, cap-and-trade, and Nancy Pelosi votes working out for you? Why should we have a Congressman who needs reminding of how his district feels about these big-government issues when we could have a reliably conservative voice in Congress – particularly, as it’s beginning to appear, one who will be in the majority party? Don’t be misled by those commercials about a sales tax or quoting Lowell Stoltzfus out of context – they’re a sign that something much larger than Frank Kratovil has a vested interest in keeping him in Congress. I say it’s time for the people to take control once again, and Andy Harris will be a voice for the people.

Senate District 37 – Rich Colburn

Here in Wicomico we don’t get a lot of say in the process since it’s a four-county Senate district, but Rich Colburn has made his mark by voting and working in the district’s interest. While some may argue he’s been there too long and he drew a primary opponent, there’s no compelling case for turning the district over to a lawyer who will simply be a yes-man for the other Democratic lawyers in Annapolis. Chris Robinson’s talk about the need to have jobs that earn a ‘living wage’ or returning the Bay to ‘pristine quality’ is codespeak for more government intrusion and higher taxes to pay for it.

House District 37A – Dustin Mills

This is the contest which highlights stark differences – the race of the competitors and 50-year difference in age are just the most obvious. Rudy Cane, when he’s there to vote, is a liberal Delegate who’s grown farther out of step with the conservatism of his district. Dustin Mills would bring youth, vitality, energy, and a far more business-friendly attitude to the General Assembly. He’s working hard to get votes in a district which might not be favorable as far as party makeup goes but thoughtful Democrats have good reason to cross the aisle to vote for him – it’s the economy, stupid.

House District 37B – Addie Eckardt and Jeannie Haddaway

Good. solid representation that has no reason to be left on the sidelines. Addie’s opponent is endorsed by Big Teacher, Big Green, and Big Labor – do they have our best interests of local control at heart? Certainly I don’t agree with every vote these two have taken but I’d rather have the people I agree with 70 to 80 percent of the time than the lady I believe will sell out to those special interests who have endorsed her.

Senate District 38 – Michael James

With Lowell Stoltzfus retiring, the Democrats smelled an opportunity for a pickup and met the ambition of Jim Mathias. Ask yourself – would Mathias have gone against Lowell? I doubt it. I trust Michael James to have good values and a conservative voting record, not stick up his finger and see which way the wind is blowing. As one example, Mathias voted for a tax increase before voting against it (HB2/SB2 in the 2007 Special Session.) There’s a reason we’re being bombarded with mailings about portions of Jim’s record – he wants us to forget the rest. You can vote for conservative-lite with Mathias or get the real thing with Michael James.

House District 38A – Charles Otto

Admittedly, I was shocked that Otto won the primary but pleased nonetheless. Mike McCready is a formidable candidate and, since we knew there would be an opponent from Somerset County, I thought we needed a Somerset candidate on our side to win the seat. Again, it comes down to a guy who I would likely agree with 80 to 90 percent of the time in Otto against a guy who will have to bend to Democratic leadership from across the Bay and check some of his values at the door. Working at a county level is a lot different than this ballgame, and Charles has been there to protect the interests of agriculture on numerous occasions.

House District 38B – Mike McDermott and Marty Pusey

If fate dictates that Republicans only pick up three new seats in the General Assembly, these are two that I want (along with the Cane seat.) This is my district and I feel I’m not being well-served by Norm Conway nor would I be by Gee Williams. One would think the streets would be paved in gold since Norm is chair of the Appropriations Committee, but they are not. And Gee Williams is a guy who will only “reject extremes” until they tell him how Annapolis actually works. Instead, why not bring a mayor who has grown jobs in his city by chucking the anti-business attitude it once held and a longtime public servant who (perhaps kiddingly, but it’s a great idea) spoke of repealing two laws for each passed. That’s the kind of representation I’d be proud to send to Annapolis and you should be too.

Now it’s time for county races.

County Executive – Joe Ollinger

For the better part of four years we have had a County Executive who complained he didn’t have enough money. I’ll grant he eased up on the tax increase he could’ve had this year, but that move smacked of election-year posturing. Certainly I don’t agree with every part of Joe’s agenda (particularly the appointed school board) but I believe that he would be a far better watchdog and steward of our tax dollars than Rick Pollitt, plain and simple. If Pollitt likes the job that much, he can try again for the open seat in four years – no lifetime political aspirations for Joe.

County Council (at large) – Bob Culver, Matt Holloway

It’s a pair of small businessmen who know the value of a dollar against two administrators who would prefer the revenue cap be removed. Given the myriad ways this election could turn out, these two seats could make the difference between an executive branch run amok or held in check. Making the wrong choice may cost us all in the end. The combination is a refreshing one of youthful energy and sage experience. I think the community is better served as a whole by leaving David Cowall at Coastal Hospice, Ed Taylor to write books, and the two Republicans holding these at-large seats.

County Council District 1 – David Goslee, Jr.

It’s hard to vote against Sheree Sample-Hughes because she does a reasonably good job for her district, and the community involvement she encourages is a torch that should be picked up by Goslee. But I’ve always had the sense that Sheree sees this as just a stepping-stone to a bigger position – perhaps a successor to Rudy Cane or eventually something statewide. How long will she be interested in serving this small district? As someone with real-world experience, David brings another business-friendly voice to the conversation and, above all, that’s what we need in this county.

County Council District 2 – Stevie Prettyman

Actually, you pretty much can’t lose in this election as far as fiscal conservatism goes. There are a lot of good points to both Stevie and Mike Calpino on that front, but the point Stevie brings up (and it’s a valid one) is that her experience with the issues is valuable. Stevie caught a lot of flak from certain quarters about the night meeting controversy and it was deserved – with a new term, she will have the opportunity to have the consistency in meeting times she desires. Yet I’d like to see Mike Calpino remain involved in the process (and the county adopt some of his ideas) – perhaps in four years’ time my mind could be changed.

County Council District 3 – Gail Bartkovich

She’s unopposed in the General Election so this is a no-brainer.

County Council District 4 – Bob Caldwell

If they were more cantankerous, this race could be construed as the ‘Grumpy Old Men’ race – let’s just say that Bob and David MacLeod have a lot of time in between them. But perhaps Bob’s best manner of closing the deal is emphasizing the basic tenets of common sense and fundamental fairness he espouses while thinking in a proactive way. Having the experiences Bob has had in his life it’s small wonder his worldview reflects this philosophy. Moreso than MacLeod, Bob would be an asset on County Council – let David MacLeod wait four years to try and get his seat back.

County Council District 5 – Joe Holloway

The fiscal conservatism and sheer doggedness of Joe is so respected that no one stepped up to oppose him. That says something.

State’s Attorney – Matt Maciarello

Do we want a guy who’s stood around in a courtroom a lot or do we want a leader? Bear in mind that Davis Ruark was younger than Matt when he was appointed to the State’s Attorney post in 1987. I get the fact that Matt hasn’t had the most trial experience, but the job of the State’s Attorney is also one of running an office and delegating appropriate tasks to those he best believes will get the job done – case in point, keeping Ruark on for his expertise in the case already built against Thomas Leggs. I don’t see a plan out of Seth Mitchell on the front of leading the office; instead the race has come down almost solely to the handling of the Sarah Foxwell case – which I agree is important but should take up only a fraction of the four-year term.

Judge of the Orphan’s Court – William J. Smith

In a recent Wicomico County Republican Club meeting, Bill opined that if it were up to him we’d ‘keep the three we have’ on the Orphan’s Court. The other two are Norma Lee Barkley and Melissa Pollitt Bright; Smith is the sole Republican running. I’ll be voting for two, with one being Smith. My guess is this will be a much more contentious race in 2014 since at least one and possibly two of the three judges will be retiring.

All of the other races are walkovers because they are unopposed. With the exception of Mike Lewis, our Sheriff, one goal the next crop of Republicans on the Central Committee will have is to find qualified people to give these incumbents a challenge next time – some have been there for twenty years or more and perhaps it’s time for new ideas and fresh Republican faces in these posts.

Honestly, I know not all of these GOP hopefuls will win but the more that are elected the better off our county and state will be. While they sometimes stray off the reservation upon taking office, Republicans following their principles are the best leaders a society could have, simply because we have principles and they’re closest to those embodied by our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Now let’s get out there and vote!!

Words to the wise

Just a little something before bed, from Dick Morris:

The danger, here, is not overconfidence, but under-confidence, and that Democratic incumbents who could be defeated will skate to victories. Despite a massive victory in the offing for Republicans, there could be great gnashing of teeth when they see how narrowly some of the icons of the Democratic Party are reelected.

I take this to a local level as well, because I tell people I’m greedy: I want the Eastern Shore of Maryland red from the Susquehanna to the beaches of Assateague. That means we keep the General Assembly seats we have and wave goodbye to Rudy Cane, Jim Mathias, and Norm Conway – men who talk conservative when they are here but vote like good, docile little liberals once they’re back up Route 50 about 100 miles. Democrats should be an endangered species here because what have they done for us?

And before you answer that question, consider what genuflections they’ve had to do to the rest of the state to get our crumbs.

I moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004 convinced it could be a boom area; a place where the rural character could be maintained but the enjoyment of a resort area was easily within reach. We have most of the tools we need to succeed, with the possible exception of a highway or rail system more conducive for moving goods to the markets of the Northeast.

Yet in the time I’ve been here it seems we have gone backwards, and for that I blame the state’s leadership. The concept of ‘One Maryland’ seems to be that of coddling the I-95 corridor at the expense of our more rural areas. Sure, we are a fairly small percentage of the state’s population and probably always will be unless we strike gold under this peninsula we call home. Still, we seem to be stuck in what I call ‘flythrough country’ – the Baltimore and DC slickers fly through on their way to their beachfront condos.

I believe in walking the conservative, limited-government walk as well as talking the talk, and most Democrats I know (there are exceptions, but none of them are running for these offices) can’t do both.

So let me return to that quote. In Dustin Mills, Charles Otto, Marty Pusey, Mike McDermott, and Michael James we have a great team who would stand up for our part of Maryland. It’s sort of amazing that all of them have the potential to learn and grow as state legislators simultaneously under the tutelage of our area stalwarts Rich Colburn, Addie Eckardt, and Jeannie Haddaway, leaving us the potential of a decade or two of solid representation.

Beginning Friday, those of us who claim to be conservative can’t be lured by the siren song of ‘oh, Jim Mathias is such a nice guy’ or ‘Norm Conway is head of the Appropriations Committee.’ As I see it, that and five bucks will get you a sub at Subway. (If those two raised it, chances are it was raised at a big-bucks fundraiser coordinated by someone across the bay anyway.) It’s time for our representation to reflect who we really are, and we are not so easily seduced by the power games being played in Annapolis. Instead, we stand up for principles like limiting government, creating jobs, and allowing us to give each other a helping hand without the nanny state stepping in.

People have had enough, and I want to see the Eastern Shore come home to its conservative roots. It’s time to finish the job Rich Colburn said he began about three decades ago and paint the Eastern Shore all red. We can do better, and given the chance, we will.

Will 2011 be another 2007?

With Martin O’Malley as governor, I’m afraid the answer is yes.

Brian Griffiths at Red Maryland questioned why the Maryland Business Tax Reform Commission, which was created as part of the 2007 Special Session, suddenly decided to begin meeting and taking public testimony in the wake of the election – where were they over the last several months, he asks.

In part this is thanks to a bill introduced last year which changed the original law and decreed the MBTRC has to complete its work by the end of this year, so the accelerated pace may be a natural outgrowth of that prospect.

But Griffiths naturally assumes that Martin O’Malley is going to use whatever they say as a pretense to club Maryland businesses with a tax increase. After all, if O’Malley wins he’s a lame duck who’s going to spend the latter half of his second term attempting to position himself as a contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, whether as successor to Barack Obama or challenger to a Republican president.

Of course, one selling point for him will be the shape Maryland is in when he leaves office and he’s extremely fortunate to have the job creation machine of the seat of federal government right next door. Is is any wonder the battleground of this election is MoCo and PG County? What happens to the the areas of Maryland outside the I-95 corridor will be barely noted and not long remembered by the MOM spin machine. We don’t need those icky chicken farms in our state anyway.

But as long as the federal government is hiring, it places businesses in a position where they have to grin and bear whatever tax increases are created just as long as they can access a relatively affluent market in MoCo and PG. It’s the rest of the state, particularly the areas close by state borders, where employers will be effectively told to pound sand.

Of course, there won’t be a need for a Special Session this time around because O’Malley won’t have the surplus he was handed in 2007 to cushion his first budget. They’ll get right to work in January attempting to chisel more revenue out of the state’s producers and redistribute it to the illegals and so-called working families. (That term only seems to apply if the worker toils in a union shop – all others need not apply.)

I’m not going to say that things will be easy if Bob Ehrlich wins – that is unless we have an unprecendented shift in the General Assembly which would see the GOP gain 34 House seats and 10 Senate seats to place themselves in the majority for the first time in, well, ever. But at least Maryland businesses would have a fighting chance.

Autumn Wine Festival 2010 in pictures and text

Call it the invasion of the politicians. However, it was a well-attended event thanks to the good weather.

I took this photo about 2:30 on Saturday – despite the cooler, windier conditions there were more people who came on Saturday. The first picture below came from in front of the stage around 3:30 Saturday, the next one down was from 5:30 Saturday, and the last 3:15 Sunday.

As you can see, the AWF was a well-attended event. Of course, being an election year that means a lot of politicians were there too. I’m going to start with the Democrats, who were well-represented Saturday because part of their statewide ticket was present.

Along with Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (center in above photo with blue shirt), Congressman Frank Kratovil was also here to shore up his support. Here he’s pictured with Wicomico County Councilman Sheree Sample-Hughes.

While the lady next to him was much more camera-shy, County Executive Rick Pollitt was also gladhanding Saturday morning.

He was standing next to the Democrats’ tent, which served as their home base for the event. Much like a walkaround in Crisfield, the Democrats did a brief tour around the Wine Festival.

You really can’t miss those nearly day-glo green O’Malley shirts, much as you might like to. But they had their table full of info as well.

Needless to say, there were other Democrats who made time over the weekend to do some campaigning and perhaps drink a little wine. Among that group was County Council hopeful David Cowall (left-center in picture below) along with Orphan’s Court Judge candidate Peter Evans, who was a fixture at the festival.

District 38B Delegate candidate Gee Williams came over from Berlin on Sunday to shake some hands as well.

I didn’t get a picture of her, but also looking for votes was Patrice Stanley of District 37B. And lest you think the GOP didn’t get into the game, here are the two current ladies who represent that district, Addie Eckardt and Jeannie Haddaway. They’re joined by one of my volunteers, Woody Willing.

The other District 37 Republicans were present, too. Here’s Rich Colburn talking to County Councilwoman Gail Bartkovich.

Rounding out the District 37 slate was Dustin Mills (left) with his campaign manager Mark Biehl.

Two other state candidates from District 38 were in the house as well – in the first picture, Mike McDermott made sure to keep a sign with him. Below that, fellow District 38B hopeful Marty Pusey (left) was campaigning with a friend Sunday.

Of course, county GOP hopefuls were represented too. County Council at-large candidate Bob Culver stopped by our tent to say hello. Stevie Prettyman did too, but I didn’t get her picture.

Perhaps topping everyone, though, was this guy, Matt Maciarello.

He didn’t use our tent as a base since he had his own, cleverly bringing to the crowd’s attention some key endorsements.

Our tent was a little more low-key, with part of the reason being the heavy wind – less stuff to chase!

Bob McCarroll and Leonard Jett (pictured) are two of my helpers who I need to thank for their efforts. I also owe a shout of over the last two weekends to Mark McIver (for the tent), Ann Suthowski, Greg Belcher, Woody Willing, Ryan Hohman, Bob Miller, Bob Laun, and the Jesters (Jim, Cindy, and Shawn) for their assistance.

I also had fun with some of the photographic opportunities and wanted to give some free advertising to the people who make GREAT ice cream!

I just liked the way the banners looked from these two. It’s worth noting that the Cygnus tent had a minor collapse with Saturday’s winds; fortunately, no one was injured.

Bottle shots make a nice and colorful still life – these are from Far Eastern Shore Winery.

This one appealed to me because of the round shadow created by the large tent behind me and the perfect sun angle.

Finally, a sun-dappled reminder of the whole point of the event.

Given the attendees present, I think a growing number did and will.

An experiment

This is a unique opportunity, and as someone who likes to have more content that’s easier for me to create, I think it’s worth a try.

The website liberty.com and TEA Party HD have teamed up to stream TEA Party events live from the venue du jour. This afternoon at 1 the TEA Party Express 4 kicks off in Reno, Nevada.

The screen will either be in one of two places: in the main body of text as part of this post, or, if I can get it to work without blowing my formatting to smithereens, at the top of the sidebar. So you may see some oddities over the next few minutes.

Update: as you can see I got it to work!