For Laurel Schools 2022

I tried this last year and came close to success for a second time so why not try again?

After a three-year hiatus in the late teens, we in the Laurel School District are now on our third straight year of a contested election for school board. (I guess they wanted me to move into the district first?) Two years ago I voted for Jana Pugh, who won handily over the then-incumbent Brent Nichols only to see Nichols return in 2021 to win an open seat back by seven votes, outlasting Joey Deiter, who I supported.

If I thought Nichols seeking a third term was bad, guess what I get this year? Incumbent Linda Hitchens, the board president, is seeking a third term of her own and as I noted the other day she has signs all around her end of the district. I’d love to know who donated the money for the signage (or if they’re out of her pocket) but there are no financial reports yet for school board candidate committees insofar as I can tell.

One thing I noticed about Hitchens and her platform was an insinuation in an interview with the Laurel Star newspaper that she wanted to “help to rebuild what we had prior to the pandemic.” I’ll grant that some things were lost because the state closed schools (unnecessarily) but shouldn’t most of that rebuilding already be done? We’re through a full year of in-person classes now. (Those who went to private schools were back even sooner, and it appears from my limited experience with our church school and teachers therein that those students are pretty much caught up.) Add that to my experience in Maryland where school board members we appointed were term-limited to two five-year terms, which assured that new ideas would be tried, and to me our election would come down to either staying home or voting for her opponent, who got off to a slow start with me.

So I’m not the most enthusiastic backer of Joe Kelley, who’s obviously isn’t a politician based on how he’s run his campaign. However, the one claim to fame he has is a system that’s been tried for awhile in Arizona (and probably a few other areas) called Move On When Ready. As I read it, kids aren’t necessarily assigned to grade but work toward subject mastery, as in this example from an Arizona school system. I don’t think this is the be-all and end-all, but putting Kelley on the board brings a new perspective and idea to what seems to be a moribund school district.

One thing Kelley did get was the Patriots for Delaware endorsement; however, I don’t know if they liked his answers to their survey questions or if he was the only one of the two to respond. Unlike last year, the Democratic Socialists have something better to do than “recommend” school board candidates, nor could I find an endorsement list from the teachers’ union. (The Democrats will be doing a GOTV effort this weekend, but they’re close to the vest on who they’ll back.) But I did find a list of candidates from the Republican Party – not necessarily endorsed, but presumably registered Republican. (Among them is Linda Hitchens.)

What’s interesting to me is that the GOP and Patriots for Delaware are at odds on not just the Laurel race, but also in Delmar where Dawn Adkins Litchford is the P4D choice but Lauren Hudson is the Republican, and Woodbridge where the Republican is Rita Hovermale but the P4D backs Corey Grammer. They both agree in Seaford on George Del Farno, though. Out of 11 selected by Patriots for Delaware, only five are listed as Republicans, and one has been outed as a Libertarian.

But if you’re in the Laurel School District, don’t be afraid to vote like I will for Joe Kelley. While I think Linda Hitchens for her decade of service, it’s time for some fresh ideas.

Shorebird Player and Pitcher of the Month: April 2022

Back for another season, and I’m kicking it off with a very familiar face as my first Shorebird position player of the month.

My first Shorebird position player of the month for 2022 is carrying over his success from last season, when he was named the Shorebird of the Year. Here’s Darell Hernaiz during the opening weekend against Fredericksburg.

In fact, Darell Hernaiz is one of just a few Shorebirds of the Year to begin the next season with Delmarva. But unlike the others, who won simply as being the standardbearer on a well below-average team, Darell is stuck behind a whole host of more highly-regarded prospects on the left side of the infield, several of whom he shared time with here last season.

So while Darell’s still here, he’s spent his April crushing the competition to a point where Hernaiz is the unquestioned best offensive player on the team, slashing .322/5/16/1.009 OPS – all numbers which led the Shorebirds’ attack.

While Darell was highly placed as a 5th round draft pick in 2019 out of a Texas high school, the Puerto Rican native still languishes behind guys like Gunnar Henderson (drafted ahead of him in 2019), 2020’s Jordan Westburg and Coby Mayo, and Cesar Prieto, a Cuban shortstop signed this offseason and assigned to Aberdeen. Even though Prieto was hurt recently, the Orioles opted to move Greg Cullen’s rehab to Aberdeen rather than finally promote Hernaiz. Perhaps it’s the seven errors Hernaiz committed that keeps him here, but one has to wonder if Darell will be one of those guys who leaves as a six-year free agent and makes it with someone else. Meanwhile, he’ll hopefully just keep raking and contend for a back-to-back honor no one has done before.

I reached back to the tail end of 2021 to snag this photo of Daniel Lloyd, who was literally the last Shorebird pitcher fans at Perdue Stadium saw in 2021. Here he closed out the 4-3 win over Fredericksburg last September 12, receiving his lone decision from last season. That’s why I keep all my old photos!

We also have a somewhat familiar face as the Shorebird Pitcher of the Month, as Daniel Lloyd came up with the wave of 2021 draft picks at the tail end of last season. But while Daniel struggled a bit as a Shorebird in 2021 (1-0 but with a 6.17 ERA and 1.971 WHIP in nine appearances covering 11 2/3 innings) he’s done what many players have in their return to Delmarva: put up markedly improved numbers. In eight innings in April Dan allowed but one earned run and only five hits (and walks) while striking out 11. He only allowed a run in one of his five appearances in April and kept the streak going to begin May, running his ERA down to 0.90.

A South Carolinian born and bred, I’m sure Dan is enjoying the Shorebirds’ current week in Columbia, where he pitched for the University of South Carolina after starring at Summerville High School in the Charleston area. He was selected by the Orioles in the 14th round last season, and opened his career with one inning in the Complex League before reporting to Delmarva last August. Dan is one of a handful of pitchers who the Shorebirds retained this spring after many of them got our home cooking for the first time last season now that Delmarva no longer has a buffer team in Aberdeen for rookies out of the former Gulf Coast League.

Since Dan is only 21, he’s certainly at an appropriate level for his advancement and will probably see a lot of late-inning situations for the Shorebirds as the season goes on. At this time, Lloyd has not been in a save situation but the guys who get holds eventually get that chance, so we will see.

Unlike the position player competition, which Hernaiz dominated, the pitching came down to several guys as the month ended, with bad outings doing in a couple competitors. A very reasonable argument, though, could have been made for Juan De Los Santos to have grabbed the brass ring, and it was a close contest where Lloyd barely prevailed.

The trouble with populism

Anyone who has read here over the last 16 years or so can guess that, most of the time, I vote for the Republican candidate in a electoral race. But there have been exceptions over the years, especially when I have a Libertarian or Constitution Party candidate I like better, and 2020 was one of them.

When I endorsed for Delaware’s U.S. Senate race 18 months ago, I noted:

(Lauren Witzke) would be an almost automatic choice except for two places I vehemently disagree with her: one being the idea of incentivizing marriage and family through government policy (as opposed to that of merely not penalizing it) and the other being her stance against right-to-work as some sort of appeal to Big Labor voters – never mind that jobs tend to accrue to right-to-work states when all other conditions are substantially equal. Those are two big strikes against her, and her reaction to RBG’s death was very nearly strike three – somehow she managed to foul it off and stay alive.

“For Delaware 2020,” monoblogue, October 25, 2020.

Thanks to the Libertarians running a right-leaning candidate I voted for Nadine Frost instead, and it turned out I didn’t cost Lauren the race by doing so; in fact, she trailed all four other GOP statewide candidates and I don’t think it was because Chris Coons is all that popular.

The allusion to RBG upon her passing was really controversial, but in looking that gem up I found this quote from Witzke:

“Well the truth of the matter is that the Delaware GOP keeps losing and they think they can beat the liberals by becoming more liberal and that’s not gonna be the case, this is war.”

Roman Battaglia, Delaware Public Media, “GOP Senate candidate retains party backing, despite condemnation of social media posts,” September 21, 2020. Quoting Lauren Witzke.

Perhaps it’s a good thing Witzke hasn’t thrown her hat into the House race (since there’s no Senate race this year) because then how do you explain “becoming more liberal” with this social media complaint?

In full support of Student Loan Forgiveness:

Having crippling student loan debt makes it as difficult as possible for young people to buy a home, get married, and have children. An entire generation has become a slave to debt, signing their lives away at 18-not knowing that the US Government would import the third world to compete with them and push wages down in the workforce.

If the GOP was really the “party of the working-class” they would get behind this and get this done, in addition to seizing college endowments to prevent it from happening again.

Lauren Witzke, Social media post, April 28, 2022.

Never mind she got slaughtered in the comments, I have to say my piece too.

There’s a difference between conservatism and populism. One big worry I had about a Trump presidency early on was that the GOP would be pushed in a more populist direction, but he generally managed to straddle the line well and didn’t let his populist side out too much.

But in Trump’s term, he made two moves toward canceling student loans: in September 2019, before the CCP virus struck us, he signed an executive order that canceled student loan debt for permanently disabled veterans, which he estimated would save veterans “hundreds of millions” of dollars. And of course, during the pandemic Trump began the process of pausing student loan payments and interest that Joe Biden has continued, saving an estimated $90 billion for borrowers.

A pause of payments and interest, though, is a lot different than wiping out their student loan debt. And it wouldn’t necessarily help the working class, according to House minority leader Kevin McCarthy. Bear in mind that graduate degree holders – who don’t tend to be working-class – hold 56% of the outstanding student loan debt, so they would benefit the most from forgiveness.

It was a long, long time ago but I was one of those who took out student loans to go to college and I remember handing Sallie Mae about $120 or so a month beginning six months after graduation. I’m not going to say it was easy or that I always paid them on time, because student loans are a little like medical bills: hard to collect because you’re not taking away the ER visit for the flu, the knee replacement, or the bachelor’s degree if the payments are late like you can for a car or a house. But, over the span of fifteen years and a couple forbearances and refinances, I got my student loans paid off. Even as liberal as we considered Bill Clinton to be back in that era of my student loans, the idea of forgiving them for the masses was not seriously considered.

Aside from the giant issue with seizing college endowments – don’t you love it when government confiscates private property? – there are three huge problems with what Witzke and much of the other regressive community is backing.

First off, I’m still looking for the place where it says our federal government should have a role in education like this. One thing that disappointed me in the otherwise relatively stellar Reagan legacy is that he couldn’t convince the public to warn Congress that the Department of Education was really unnecessary, and maybe they need to think about defunding it if they wanted to stay in Congress. Reagan was a “Great Communicator,” but not so much a lobbyist for creating a public outcry for ridding us of an unnecessary Cabinet post. More recently I was hoping Betsy DeVos would help that process along, but, alas, Donald Trump couldn’t compete with the votes purchased with Zuckbucks and…well, you know what happened. Then again, you read what Trump did with student loans in the grafs above so I don’t believe he was really down with the struggle, either.

Secondly, it further erodes the idea of commitment. We already have issues with the concept when it comes to marriage and relationships in a culture where celebrities seem to be having a contest as to who can have the highest number of marriages and divorces and the most kids out of wedlock, with our society either cheering them on (as in “you do you”) or just turning a blind eye. This is how our culture has devolved since the era of our grandparents; an era which Witzke seems to want to restore – she uses the policies of the nation of Hungary as an example* – but this time through generous government subsidies that our ancestors didn’t need and, out of pride, would have likely refused anyway. Having the government step in and say, “yeah, we’ll pay off the student loans you took out for your womyn’s studies degree” just feeds the entitlement society we’ve become. Student loans, then, go from a hand up to just another handout.

Finally, on the college front, the biggest part of the reason those ivory towers have become so fat and happy financially these days – with those endowments that Witzke covets for government seizure in the millions or even billions of dollars – is that they have raised tuition and fees with impunity knowing that the government makes student loans widely available for any warm body they accept. Students don’t even have to get a degree, but the college gets paid for spouting off whatever the woke flavor of the day is and now the taxpayers will be footing the bill. If it were the colleges having to come up with the coin for the failures of their students, you better believe they would be more prudent and careful with who they let in and what is taught, don’cha think? It may make ditchdiggers out of all those “diversity, equity, and inclusion” department hires but the world needs honest labor, too.

There’s been a political cartoon turned meme making the rounds for awhile that makes the point more succinctly than I did, but I’ll go with a paraphrase: You took out a student loan, pay it back. I didn’t say it was easy or without sacrifice, but honor a commitment for once.

(*) I will give Lauren credit in that she writes well in an Ann Coulter vein. But I still disagree with her on this student loan thing.

A lawyer mom for Auditor?

As we slowly advance on the 2022 election, we’ve had a little bit of movement in a statewide race that merits attention.

I found out the other day that a lady by the name of Janice Lorrah had tossed her hat into the state Auditor of Accounts ring. In looking her up, I found that she’s an attorney turned stay-at-home mom whose claim to fame was being the impetus behind getting rid of the state’s mask mandate, stating:

“I went toe-to-toe with the most powerful man in the state — and his army of lawyers — telling him he didn’t have the authority to do what he was doing to Delaware’s children and the State’s response was to give me everything I asked for, less one day.”

Website, “Lorrah for Delaware.” Accessed April 26, 2022.

Perhaps that background may seem unusual for an Auditor position, but it’s worth noting that our current auditor’s educational background was based in biology and pharmacy, which she used to purchase a pharmacy until she sold it to become a real estate agent. Kathy McGuiness also served for several years on the Rehoboth Beach town council, but she’s more famous now for having felony and misdemeanor charges levied against her regarding her conduct in office.

It’s also not well-known that, despite the fact that Delaware is considered a “blue” state, the auditor’s office was in Republican hands for 30 years and seven elections. Tom Wagner only opted not to seek another term in 2018 due to health issues, which left the Auditor’s race to a novice candidate. Perhaps it’s figured that a Republican is best suited to be an auditor as a check and balance to an overly Democrat government.

So far, though, there’s not been much said about Lorrah’s entrance into the race as the first candidate to file for the office. (The embattled McGuiness has yet to file, let alone any Democrat challengers.) Between Facebook and Twitter, she has but 15 followers as of when I wrote this and I am two of them. (Compare to the 5,880 Julianne Murray has, although she’s on her second campaign in two years.) You may or may not like the approach, but since these offices only tend to get one Republican challenger Janice may be the one standing against the Democrat machine in November. Yet it sounds like she’s used to it.

Running for office: knowing the office

This is the second of two parts; the first part is here.

Once you know you’re ready to seek office and have the family’s blessing, the next step is knowing what you’re getting into insofar as the duties of the office you seek are concerned.

Qualifications

As I briefly alluded to in the previous post, there are certain offices which require a specialization that limits the available pool of people who are qualified. For example, a county attorney would have to be a member in good standing of the state’s legal bar or a county engineer would have to be a registered engineer in the state. In a small county or other locality that could limit the potential pool of those who can seek the office to a few dozen or fewer. By that same token, party offices which are on the ballot would require the aspirant to be a member of that political party.

Most offices, though, have relatively few qualifications aside from age or legal standing, and in those cases where cities or counties have home rule and qualifications aren’t included in state law, those are usually found within the locality’s charter or constitution. However, these basic qualifications don’t include a list of duties which are also required (or requested) for participation: everything from regular public meetings and work sessions of a local council to the office hours required for someone like a clerk of courts. In the case of specialized positions, a careful reading of the law is good but having a friendly supporter who knows the office (perhaps having served there or in a similar position) is an even better asset.

To be or not to be in a party?

Once that question is answered, the next regards party affiliation. There are some offices (mainly municipal) which have elections deemed to be non-partisan, while county, state, and federal offices are almost always sought via partisan primaries. While there is no ironclad requirement to have a party affiliation to run for those offices, the rules – unfair as they may be – make it much simpler to run as a member of either the Republican or Democratic parties. There are myriad regulations which will apply in different states, so this general guidance comes with the caveat emptor that there are always exceptions to the rule.

As I noted above, more often than not municipal elections are non-partisan; thus your voter registration will not come into play insofar as appearing on the ballot. (In some cases, though, parties will send out a list of their endorsed candidates to registered voters as well as hand them out at the polling place.) But it’s a funny thing about municipal elections: there are many, many cases where they are begging for candidates to the point where the remaining legislative body might be required to appoint a town councilman because no one ran for the post in an election. If you’re lucky enough to be the sole applicant for such a position, congratulations and enjoy your term in office.

In the more likely case there will be a contested election, local rules will dictate the requirements for a primary, which (if necessary) is normally held several weeks before the general election and winnows the field down as required. There are also filing deadlines and campaign finance rules to be aware of, which will be more generally outlined a little later.

Learning the ropes

But since most of those who are interested in public office seek a legislative position such as a school board or county council seat, or to become a member of a larger body such as a state House or Senate, one of the best things to do in preparation for the task ahead is to learn the position. At a basic level, this is fairly simple: for example, many local city council meetings are broadcast online or via their public access channel so you can see how the meetings are conducted. (The agenda should be made available as well.) In addition, a good guide to that sort of parliamentary procedure is a book called Robert’s Rules of Order, which is widely available. Most legislative bodies use that as a basic procedural manual, adapting to local customs as necessary. Work sessions and other non-public meetings, though, may be conducted in a less formal manner to permit greater discussion and presentation.

However, the more difficult task may be learning about the legal liabilities and exemptions public officials in a particular state or locality are entitled to. There are laws against malfeasance and misfeasance in office that are put there to guard against people using the public trust to enrich themselves or to conspire with others for those ends; however, there are also exemptions from certain types of liability based on being a public official.

One of the best ways to find out about all these things is to ask those who have been in office about them. Of course, there is some circumspection required in that your political opponent who is already in the office won’t be readily volunteering information about the job, but there are others who would be on your side to ask, too. Having served in the office, they would know the ins and outs of the task as well as how to dot the i’s and cross the t’s to keep things legal.

Asking of experts and knowing the laws are even more important if the position you seek is an executive one – not just being a mayor or governor, but also for positions like clerk of the court or a commissioner of agriculture. In these cases, there are oftentimes staffing issues to be dealt with, especially if you’re faced with a decision whether to maintain the employees who may have been part of the problem with how your opponent ran things or be the new broom that sweeps clean and perhaps has to reinvent the wheel until they’re up to speed. Sometimes the office full of political loyalists is the obstacle that needs to be eliminated to better serve the public.

The platform

For executive positions, it helps to have a platform you want to implement, something which should be simple in principle (perhaps three to four main points) but have ideas and talking points to back them up. Let’s say you wanted to run for mayor because you feel city services are lacking for the taxes you’re paying. (And who doesn’t?) In that case your platform may be one of providing more efficient city services while holding the line on taxes, and that’s a start. The next logical step would be to determine what you would do with the surplus: perhaps you would rebate taxpayers through lower taxes, increase the frequency of trash pickup, or you may want to acquire land for a new park. In other words, a good platform should have a short-term item or two as well as a vision for the longer term. Bear in mind, however, that your executive vision can only go as far as the legislative branch will allow because, in most cases, they approve the budget. This is where the selling of your platform to voters comes in handy because the legislative branch has the most important votes in terms of running in office as opposed to for office.

If you are a government skeptic like me, you generally believe that there’s healthy pruning to be made among all its branches. Unfortunately, not everyone is of that same mindset and indeed there are many worthy tasks a local or state government should take upon themselves to do. It’s why the slash-and-burn approach to government isn’t popular or proper, and why there’s always a spoonful of sugar required for people to take the required medicine.

And just as there’s a role for government to play, there’s a role for knowing the legal rules around running a campaign. This is why you need some helpers.

Depending on the office, the first volunteer you may need is a campaign treasurer. That person tracks the money going in and going out, which is a vital part of the process. In small campaigns like those where a treasurer is needed, that person could be your spouse or significant other, a co-worker, or a trusted friend, but in more major campaigns it’s most helpful to have an experienced hand at your side because there are significant legal and financial ramifications for that person selected as campaign treasurer if deadlines are missed or improper reporting or foul play is discovered. You’ll find that having a good treasurer is like gold, and oftentimes the same person is used by a candidate as long as he or she is in office because then there’s no need to reinvent the wheel of learning the ins and outs of campaign finance.

In my opinion, after a treasurer says yes there are two other volunteer positions that need to be filled right away. The first is the person for coordinating the scheduling, which is extremely important: even in local races there’s a need for having someone who tracks the places the candidate needs to be to gather support such as forums, festivals, and fairs, leads organization of door-to-door and/or phone bank efforts on the candidate’s behalf, and can be the contact person and gatekeeper for the campaign.

A close second, particularly in this day and age, is the social media and website coordinator. (On a local level it may be possible for one person to wear both hats, but once you get beyond the municipal level it’s really two tasks.) Again, in my humble opinion, early on that person needs to impress upon the campaign treasurer that money should be spent on a good-quality, professionally-produced website and not something that looks like an off-the-shelf DIY job. If the funds aren’t there, the next best thing would be a well-run, frequently-updated social media site (in fact, the candidate can secure the domain name that redirects there until a more formal website can be secured) – on the other hand, good social media may be all that’s necessary for small local races and it’s still vital for any race, whether local, state, or national.

There is one other piece of advice I want to give before I move on, and this is an important one in larger campaigns: be prepared to “smile and dial.” As I said in part one, something I never liked to do was ask people for anything and money is at the bottom of the list of things I would like to ask for. Unless you have the means to self-fund your campaign, though, it requires you to ask for money and in-kind donations, such as a venue to conduct your fundraiser.

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This is about as far as I got with the subject, and aside from just writing the last five paragraphs about the volunteers it was the start of what I thought could be a nice pamphlet-sized e-book guide with more expert advice.

So I need two things: input on whether this is something viable for me to pursue, and, if so, more help from experts in the world of organizing campaigns. Most of those folks are a bit busy right now, but there will be a slack time sometime we may be able to talk.

I just get so frustrated when people who I think would be excellent candidates fail because they have no idea what they are getting into – maybe they found out too late that the economics weren’t viable or the family really wasn’t that supportive once the other side began giving out grief.

But there are still ways for them to help the cause: just look at me. Yes, I’ve been on the ballot before and won – and I have lost, too. Losing hurt, and I took it personally. However, in my case, the way I had served in the previous time made me indispensible to the cause so they found a way to keep me onboard until a vacancy occurred and I could be reappointed. And a few of them still miss me as I’m no longer around, but I’m in the next phase of life now.

If I had asked myself these questions earlier on, would I have become involved? Probably. But the learning experience about the process (and my individual abilities and talents) also led me to know that I have my place in the fight as a journalist, advocate, and observer, not as an elected official. Perhaps someone who reads this, though, may have the aptitude needed to advance the cause of Constitutional government as an educator and public official, and that’s why I wrote this brief series and put it out there as a possibility for revised and extended remarks. Let’s hope I can find some of those folks.

Running for office: what you should know

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series I spoke about Saturday: the beginnings of a tome about how to run for office. Let me know what you think about the progress so far.

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Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

We may think elections are corrupt, particularly in the wake of the controversial 2020 balloting. Yet on the day after that fateful election, thousands of people woke up determined to change things, and the way they decided to make the corrections was to run for office.

There’s only one big problem with that: while running for office seems relatively easy – hey, I just fill out a little paperwork and get my name on the ballot, right? – the hard truth is that there is a process involved. This guide was intended to make the complex understandable and break the daunting task of electoral success down into easier steps, with the goal of winning elective office so you can more easily work to make needed changes.

It should be noted up front, however, that I’m writing this from the perspective of a conservative Christian who is most interested in getting like-minded people into local and state offices. While this guide could, in theory, be used as a how-to book for running for President, be advised that there were over 1,100 people who ran for that office in 2020 and you heard about only two or three of them who had national party backing, tons of press coverage, and millions upon millions of dollars to work with. If you already have all these qualifications I don’t believe you will need anything costing less than what your high-dollar consultant would charge for a nanosecond of his time.

As for the rest of you who wish to be service-minded citizen legislators and have no desire to make politics your sole purpose in life, read on, but bear this in mind: your desire to be a public servant doesn’t necessarily need to be only on the elective front. The world also needs volunteers to serve on the various boards, agencies, and other entities which affect people’s lives in the community. Oftentimes those who secure these unpaid positions, such as members of the zoning committee, library board, or other community service posts, parlay their experiences there into elective office by making those connections and friendships that ease the transition into elective politics. That’s a little bit of free advice for you (and also a good start to knowing yourself and knowing how to campaign, as you will find out.)

Another option is to make yourself indispensable to someone seeking office themselves. As you will eventually read, campaigns need volunteers. Sometimes those volunteers become paid staff and, every so often, become the successor candidate in his or her own right once the officeholder moves up or moves on. It’s certainly a good way to learn the ropes and can be a lot of fun if you’re working with the right candidate and the right people.

Since there’s so much to know about the process, I broke it into five “knows,” some of which I’ll delve into in this post and the next one, with others that may come as future writings of mine:

  • Know yourself. This is the necessary first step before anything else can be accomplished.
  • Know the office. Not just the procedures for being elected to it, but the duties and powers that are implicit in the position for which you are running.
  • Know the rules. Most of this will have to do with party politics and campaign finance, but there are other coordination issues which can trip up first-time candidates as well.
  • Know how to campaign – time and money. A successful campaign requires good time management skills since you can only be in one place at a time. It also requires enough funding to make building name recognition more successful in the places where you can’t be.
  • Know how to win. When you are successful, do so with grace and humility. Be a leader and an example for others to follow.

Remember first that you don’t have to do this all by yourself; in fact, in most places you can’t go it alone because you need assistants just to be legally able to run.

My goal in writing this is to help create a crop of citizens who will devote a period of time in their life to bettering their community through the public service of political office.

Know yourself: Are you up for the challenge?

Since it’s most likely you’ve made the effort in reading this with the goal of running for and winning office, the first thing you should consider is what you want to accomplish by being there. You should really have a clear set of goals or governmental philosophy in mind, particularly if you’re running for an executive office. There you will certainly run into those whose desires are the opposite of yours: for example, you may be all in favor of reasonable growth and development in your area but others you’ll be working with may want all new development to come to a screeching halt – so it helps to be an eloquent spokesperson for your point of view. It’s also a good time to decide whether you will run under a party banner or not, although generally municipal races are non-partisan. (In most states, though, anyone who has access to voter registration records can likely find out your affiliation and voting pattern.) Regarding those party procedures, we’ll get to that a little bit later.

The next thing to weigh on that balance is your personality type. If you’re an introvert who doesn’t like to deal with people, this would not be the career (or even term or two in office) for you. Obviously you’ll have to put yourself out before the public on the campaign trail in order to earn their trust and their vote, and that’s not an easy thing to do for a person who likes to keep their private lives to themselves – and that’s even if you don’t have skeletons in your closet, a point I will get to shortly. Temperament is also key: voters don’t tend to look kindly on people who are known for flying off the handle and being verbally abusive. As you read on, you’ll find that secrets are hard to keep when you seek to become a public official.

Moreover, once you get into office the main thing constituents will expect for you is some sort of service and to remain active in the community. As their representative in an elected body or head of government, your personal “to-do” list becomes subordinate to the needs and desires of those who won’t necessarily choose those times convenient to you to express their opinions and requests. Elective office is certainly different than a 9-to-5, 40 hour per week job.

And speaking of job, another factor on your personal scale would be your financial situation. While we often hear of politicians who get fabulously wealthy after attaining high office, I’m hoping those of you reading this are in it for the right reasons and not as a get-rich-eventually scheme.

However, it’s a fact that most people who work for a living would probably have to take a pay cut to take a job as an elected official – oftentimes, it’s a full-time job that pays like a part-time one. For example, the job of County Executive of a county near my home – a county of 100,000 people which has a city of 35,000 as its seat and is a regional hub for a metro area twice that size – will have an annual salary of $107,000, beginning with the next term. (As a private-sector comparison, that salary is about what the average construction manager would expect to make.) In the brief history of the position, the county has elected two executives, one being a longtime government employee and the other a self-employed businessman. Someone with the type of experience required may see the salary as insufficient for their needs, and the same holds true for representative positions. On the other hand, offices where this may be less of a problem are more specialized positions such as county attorney, sheriff, engineer, or insurance commissioner. Those positions may pay more commensurate to the required education and experience.

Rehashing your past

Next on the consideration list is a sad fact of life: the advent of social media and easily accessible public records means it’s more likely any misstatements or mistakes in your past will be dredged up. Any off-color joke you passed along because you thought it was funny, fight you had with a neighbor where the police were called, nasty divorce, or history of drug use (as in “I did not inhale”) will surely find its way into a campaign, sooner or later. Whether it’s a disqualifying factor really depends on the offense, the voter, and the position being sought.

In 2020, there were two Republican candidates in my state of Delaware who ran for federal office despite serious mistakes they had made in their lives that landed them in prison. While Matthew Morris could not overcome this and other factors in losing his U.S. House primary, U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke made opioid addiction a key part of her platform. Once incarcerated as an addict and convicted drug runner, Lauren got herself clean, served her sentence, and later ran a religious-based organization focusing on teens who were disadvantaged. More importantly for this narrative, she was up front about the issues she had, choosing not to try and hide them. While she was unsuccessful running against an incumbent in a heavily Democrat state, she brought issues to the forefront which may have been ignored with a more conventional candidate.

As I see it, to be a public servant honesty is the best policy. There are always people who envy you, covet what you have, and don’t want you to succeed. Like crabs pulling the one which is managing to escape back into the cage, their job seems to be that of preventing others to be successful.

Getting buy-in

Once you have convinced yourself that you’re emotionally able to run for and succeed in office, and you verify your financial situation is such that you can handle the job with or without sacrifices, the next important step is securing the blessing of your family. Without them in your corner, you may gain office but lose everything you love – and that’s no way to live.

It’s obviously easier for a single person to run for office, but many of those who have the most desirable traits for officeholders are also the ones who have settled down in life and begun a family. If that’s your situation, then getting the buy-in from the wife and kids is the logical next step. They have to be made aware of the proverbial anal exam your life will undergo and prepare themselves for it – even the most popular person in town has a few enemies with an axe to grind and those in the political opposition who don’t mind playing dirty to keep the other side down. This is particularly an issue when a candidate has school-age children; truthfully family concerns are the biggest hurdle against “normal” people running for office. It may not be the main thing for an aspirant for a local position, but once you get into the realm of state legislator and higher office, security of loved ones becomes a little bit of a concern.

Finally – and this is somewhat related to the personality aspects I began this post with – one running for office needs to ask whether he or she can complete the sale to a voter. In the end, elections are about you convincing the majority of the electorate that you are the proper person to address their concerns, provide constituent service when required, and remain a vital part of the community despite having other duties. No candidate is going to get 100 percent of the vote in a contested election, but the idea is to have the most votes of anyone running in cases where there’s no Electoral College to contend with.

In the next part, we’ll look at knowing the office.

The problem with being just opposition

Over the last few days I’ve gotten very frustrated with the system, so rather than get mad I think I’m going to not let good writing go to waste. More on that in a few paragraphs, but allow me the license to tell you a few reasons why I’m in such a way these days.

Here in my Laurel School District, we have an election for the one seat available on the school board this year. The two candidates are a lady who’s seeking her third term on the board and a gentleman who I’m guessing is a political newcomer, and very possibly may have ideas that can shake up the status quo his opponent would presumably maintain considering she’s the president of the board and seeking yet another five years running our public schools.

The interesting thing, though, is that Linda Hitchens, the lady in question, has run unopposed her first two times through in 2012 and 2017; thus, there was no actual election those years. So one would think that she would be easier to contend with because she’s never run a real campaign to keep her seat – once the filing deadline in her previous two tries passed with no opponent, the seat was hers by acclamation. However, she’s amassed the campaign money to pepper the district with signs in front of houses on the east end of the district near where she lives (and by the dentist office I went to Friday – no cavities!) There’s not much on my more rural end of the district, though.

So it’s very frustrating to me that, as a first-time candidate who has no name recognition in the district, that Joe Kelley – insofar as a search of the dreadfully inefficient Delaware state campaign finance website has shown – doesn’t even have a campaign finance account set up.

(As an aside, I can’t figure out why Delaware’s campaign finance system is so difficult while Maryland’s is very straightforward, when they use the same platform.)

Even more so, when Joe has the free opportunity to expound on his platform thanks to the Delaware Independent website, he doesn’t respond. Is he going to do the same to the Laurel Star newspaper if they come calling? I may not like the status quo – and you can’t get much more status quo than the board president – but if I’m not presented with a good alternative why should I even bother to vote? At that point, just having the votes of the people with signs is massive overkill for Hitchens, since I bet I saw 5o of them in driving around.

And then we have the case of one Christopher Hill, who is supposedly running for Congress as a Republican in the same primary as perennial candidate Lee Murphy. The only reason I knew this, though, was because I stumbled across Hill’s FEC filing on their website doing research for my election sidebar, which led me to find his own campaign website that I link to. But even the state Republican Party refers to him as “Chris Hall.” (Maybe they’ll change it after they read this.)

This came to mind because of a bizarre incident. A couple weeks back I received a text that went like this: “Hi Mike, Christopher Hill here. If you have a chance, give me a call about the race. (phone number.)”

This came on a late Sunday afternoon; in fact, I was at a Shorebirds game. So I couldn’t get back to him that evening; as it turned out it took a few days. But once I got back to Christopher via text I realized it was probably a case of mistaken identity since he said, “all I need is Smith’s cell number,” which I don’t know. So he apologized. (Then again, I should ask how he got my cell number.)

But if you look at Hill’s efforts thus far, you find a off-the-shelf Wix website he occasionally updates but no social media. If he thinks he’s going to beat Lee Murphy (let alone knock off LBR in November) with a campaign run from a website, well, life doesn’t work that way. Perhaps Hill believes he can make the rounds of various festivals and fairs this summer, such as the Delaware State Fair, but the groundwork should have been laid several months ago.

Now I don’t want to sound overly critical, but I believe there are a number of people who get into politics rashly. For example, right now at the top of Hill’s website in something like 72-point font is “Day 1: Drafting an article of impeachment against Biden for allowing the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to be invaded by illegal aliens.” A lot of people may agree – and, let me tell you, it’s more than those three states thanks to Joe Biden’s overnight air shuttle service – but that accounts for one day. And did he have to make this into a rant at the front of your campaign website? Is this a blog or a campaign he’s running?

In the case of Joe Kelley and our local school board, he filed for the job first but had to know that Linda would be running again. Did he plan for that likely occurrence?

Obviously, there are cases where circumstances get in the way of a campaign but there are too many times where I see people with good ideas about government crushed down by a system stacked against them. But then again, there are rules out there that all sides have to contend with so the playing field becomes more level. Somewhere in the past, all those people in the system were once neophyte candidates themselves but they figured out how to get into the clique. And that leads me to the idea of good writing not going to waste.

This was sort of a rash decision somewhat in the vein of running for office, but then again I’ve been there and done that several times in Ohio and Maryland. And if I cared to right here, I could tell you in several paragraphs about the exhaustive differences between those two situations which led me to essentially the same party office, but on a varying scale.

Long story short: after the 2020 election I hatched an idea that for awhile was going to be another book, and could yet end up being so after all once I blow the dust off of it.

I had set up five “how-to” main points, and had written out in draft form an introduction and lead-ins to a couple of these chapters. The reason I stopped was because I was in a quardry whether to write it straight up, or make it sort of a narrative that followed Joe Sixpack on his race to become mayor of his town – or did that sound too hokey? But the burning passion faded as other things took precedence so I haven’t worked on this project since the tail end of 2020.

Honestly I don’t know if this project will ever become a book, but in seeing how some of these nascent local campaigns are going I think it’s time to share what little expertise and observation I have and put up some of these ideas as blog posts. If I get enough of a positive reaction and more expert input – which was also part of the plan, but I hate asking for anything – maybe I can go forward with the project after all. (It’s not just 5:00 somewhere, there’s also an election somewhere.) Perhaps you can think of the next two to three blog posts as a lengthy book proposal, but over the next few days I’ll do some editing and drop these on you as a series of posts and see what reaction I get.

There was a reason I started writing all that back at the end of 2020, and I have to remember that everything occurs in the Lord’s time, doesn’t it?

Update 4/24: I did find a questionnaire Kelley filled out, from the League of Women Voters, so now I have a little bit of an idea where he stands. Most of my point still remains, though.

Odds and ends number 111

Here you are…more of those nuggets of bloggy goodness that take up anywhere from a couple sentences to a few paragraphs. They’re things that weren’t enough to merit a full post but plenty worth writing about anyway. It’s one of my longest ongoing series for a reason. So read on…

The election in question

If it was worth my writing about, it’s worth giving the results. On Saturday the city of Seaford agreed with me that the incumbents were worth retaining in an overwhelming fashion: Mayor David Genshaw won by a margin of 412 votes to 189 for challenger Pat A. Jones and City Council member Matt MacCoy won with an even 400 votes against challenger Stacie Spicer’s 199. In terms of percentages, Genshaw had 68.55% and MacCoy had 66.78%, which to me seem like a hearty mandate to keep on the trajectory they’ve established. Congratulations to both and hopefully this is the start of a year of victories for common sense in Delaware.

A little runaway

Another cause I’ve championed recently is the idea of an Article V convention, more popularly known as a convention of states. But I briefly had a pause when I read this paragraph in a story about federal involvement in Alabama’s state affairs:

That is, unless We the People join with the states to call a Convention of States. A Convention of States is called under Article V of the Constitution and has the power to propose constitutional amendments that limit the power, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government. 

What does this mean in plain English? Basically, amendments can be written that get the feds out of virtually every area of state policy. Healthcare, education, energy, the environment, and agriculture would be among the host of issues that could be left to exclusively state control.

“Article V Patriot,” “White House says they’re going to start targeting state lawmakers working to protect children from transgender surgeries, radical sexual ideology,” Convention of States Action, April 8, 2022. Emphasis in original.

Perhaps the biggest fear that opponents of an Article V convention have is the idea of a “runaway convention” where the people who ostensibly meet to write amendments that “limit the power, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government” instead decide to do away with the Bill of Rights. While amendments can be written to get the federal government off the backs of the states, it follows that their role could be abolished, too.

I suppose the fact that 38 states have to ratify any amendment gives us a little bit of protection in that regard, as there would probably be 13 states that hold on to restraints on federal power. Unfortunately, there are probably as many that would oppose any conservative amendments out of spite and that’s the other area where work is needed.

I just didn’t think that particular analogy is a good “sell” for the CoS.

Thirty-eight with an asterisk*

Speaking of Constitutional amendments I got an e-mail from my old liberal pal Rick Weiland, who has branched out from his lack of success in South Dakota to a similar lack of grifting aptitude on a nationwide basis. A few weeks back he claimed it was time to enact the Equal Rights Amendment because it had passed in 38 states.

In 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and also the last state needed to meet all constitutional requirements to allow it to finally become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The ERA will add protections to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens, regardless of gender, nationwide.

We’re 4 months into 2022 and the ERA has not been published by the Archivist. The Archivist has an administrative duty to publish the amendment and thus officially add it to the Constitution, but refuses to overrule a Trump administration roadblock to do it.

Rick Weiland, “It’s time for the Equal Rights Amendment,” April 7, 2022. Emphasis in original.

That “Trump administration roadblock” is the logical result of five states since rescinding their ratification, either by outright legislation or by its not being ratified prior to a Congressionally-imposed deadline in 1982. Meanwhile, ERA advocates claim they have the numbers but need Congress to render inoperative both the deadline and the recissions, pointing to the length of time it took to pass the 27th Amendment – first proposed as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791, it wasn’t ratified until 1992. (However, Congress put no time limit on that one.) Their roadblock is the Republicans in the Senate, who have threatened to filibuster the Senate resolution (the House passed its version with a narrow majority.)

As I’ve stated from almost the beginning of this website, instead of an ERA this would be a better amendment:

Congress shall make no law that codifies discrimination for or against any person based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This Amendment shall also be construed to include a prohibition on Congress enacting additional criminal code or punishment solely based on these factors.

Pretty cut and dried, isn’t it? No mealy-mouthed “The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” It’s “Congress shall make no law.” Let’s get that equal rights amendment done.

Creating more informed voters

Four years ago I was a Maryland panelist for iVoter Guide, which was a fun experience and pretty natural for me because I liked doing the research.

Well, they’ve been on the hunt for more volunteers and I reckon that their time to deal with Delaware and Maryland is coming, now that we’ve finally reached the oft-delayed filing deadline in Maryland. (Delaware’s filing deadline isn’t until July but they only have one federal race, for Congress. So they’re probably not in need of much help.)

Now, it’s possible you might be needed in another state, but it’s still an interesting process that anyone from concerned citizens to political junkies can find a part in. So why not do your part? (I think I will, hopefully in Delaware but I may be interested in other states like Ohio and Michigan, since that’s the area in and around the 419 I grew up in.) It’s much easier than creating a website from scratch.

A holiday from a boondoggle

As I wrote this over the weekend, Maryland drivers were swarming gas pumps in the state to beat the end of a gas tax holiday that expired at the stroke of midnight on Easter Sunday. But David T. Stevenson of the Caesar Rodney Institute proposes an even better holiday: the state of Delaware enacting a “tax-free carbon holiday.”

As Stevenson explains, the state of Delaware – like several other liberal-run hellholes in the Northeast – joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in 2009. Some state have rescinded their memberships since, but the remainder soak their local utilities by demanding a fee for each ton of carbon produced, with the state deciding what to do with the proceeds.

In Delaware’s case, 65% of the RGGI proceeds go to a non-profit that’s supposed to divvy out grants for energy efficiency projects, but instead has been hoarding cash to the tune of an estimated $16 to $17 million last year, bring its total up to nearly $100 million, according to Stevenson. The other 35% is designated for the state’s Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC), which administers programs assisting low-income consumers with the energy bills and weatherizing their dwellings. (In other words, wealth transfer.) Stevenson claims DNREC is sitting on its own cash surplus of $20 to $25 million.

We just saw the passage of a bill that uses a portion of the federally-fueled state surplus to give a $300 check to any Delaware resident who paid taxes in 2020. (That still doesn’t make up for what Uncle Sam raped us for, but regardless…) Perhaps the state can allow for an appropriate credit to any electric ratepayer in the state to soak up this surplus, which is basically money they paid as part of their utility bills anyway. Stevenson concludes that, “We note that New Hampshire returns RGGI revenue to electric customers, and Connecticut sends all RGGI revenue to its General Fund.” I like that first idea, and it can be the prelude to winding down our participation in this long-standing mistake.

The perpetual emergency

While AND Magazine has put up a lot of great content since I last produced odds and ends – including a look at upcoming election fraud, the issue with transgender men demanding to be placed in women’s prisons, and the situation on the ground in Afghanistan now that the Taliban is in full control – I’m choosing just one to discuss, the perpetual emergency.

The CCP virus caused a lot of disruption in our lives, but none greater than the loss of our liberty. As author Sam Faddis notes in his opening:

At the heart of the debate over COVID-19 restrictions is the distinction between rights and privileges. For most of human history some supreme authority, – a king, a sultan, a class of aristocrats – has presumed to grant to the common people certain privileges. By definition, as privileges, they can be granted, and they can be taken away.

The American concept of liberty is built on something fundamentally different. We do not enjoy privileges. We have rights. They are enshrined in the Constitution, but they are given to us by our Creator. We do not have the right to free speech, because some ‘body of humans’ granted it to us. We were born with it, and it cannot be taken away.

For two years now powerful interests in this country have attempted to change this. They have used all the power at their discretion to convert our rights into privileges that can be taken away whenever the powers that be decide some “emergency” requires it.

The real danger therein is obvious. Once you have enshrined the principle that an “emergency” justifies the revocation of God-given rights, it requires only the declaration of an “emergency” to do it again. And again.

Sam Faddis, “There Will Always Be An Emergency – The Assault On Our Liberties Has Just Begun,” AND Magazine, March 20, 2022.

In this case, Faddis continues on to talk about how rising fuel prices are the new “emergency.” Instead of the state cutting us a check, though, he details some of the ideas the International Energy Agency – a NGO with no ties to our government – would have enforced on our nation: reduced speed limits, mandatory work from home three days a week, car-free Sundays, cutting prices on mass transit, alternate-day car access to big cities…and the list goes on.

You’ll notice two things about this: one, our government is already thinking about ways to mandate this somehow, and two, they’re not discussing the most obvious solution, which would be to increase the supply of fuel to meet demand. In an effort to save face, the Biden regime restarted oil leases on federal lands, but at a greatly reduced and limited clip compared to the previous administration, where $2 a gallon gas was not uncommon.

But liberty lost is not easily regained, even if you elect the right people. Speaking of that:

An opponent to Liz Cheney

Rep. Liz Cheney may be the most hated politician in Wyoming (and perhaps much of the rest of the nation.) Polling is as sparse as people in America’s least-populated state, but a story from last summer in The Federalist suggested she has very little support in the state anymore.

Yet there may be a problem here, and I’m sure there are a few in the Cheney camp (which is essentially the national GOP establishment) who aren’t helping to create it by encouraging additional stalking horses to water down and spread out opposition in the Republican primary August 16. It’s possible Liz Cheney could win a huge primary with just 30% of the vote, so where would those 70% of Republicans and conservative independents turn?

Well, it turns out that the Constitution Party has a ballot spot in Wyoming and they have already selected their candidate, an erstwhile Republican by the name of Marissa Selvig. “I am beyond excited that it is official, and I am even more excited for the voters of Wyoming to have a real, constitutional choice in this race,” Selvig said in a party release. “It is long past time our elected officials honor their Oath to ‘uphold and defend’ the Constitution with integrity and honesty. That is exactly what I intend to do when I am elected in November.”

Now I’m not going to claim I know what’s best for Wyoming, but on a broad scale her platform is both well-written and common-sense. If it comes down to a four-way race between a Democrat, Libertarian, Cheney, and Selvig (those four parties were on the 2020 ballot) it will be interesting to see how Marissa does. Even if Cheney loses the primary, though, it’s possible the sheen has come off the GOP in The Equality State.

And yes, just to answer any naysayers about my Seaford endorsements, Marissa is a woman I would vote for.

A better offer

We all know that Elon Musk has offered to purchase Twitter and take it private, but given the “poison pill” resistance put up by Twitter’s current major stockholders perhaps there’s another way to introduce Musk to the world of social media – and it would cost Musk far less.

Andrew Torba, CEO of Gab, wrote this as part of an open offer to Musk:

We built our own servers, our own email services, our own payment processor, and so much more not because we wanted to, but because we had no choice if we were going to continue to exist.

What we are missing at the moment is an ISP. I fear that the next big leap of censorship is at the ISP level, with ISP’s blocking access to Gab.com. You solve that problem with Starlink. Together we can build infrastructure for a free speech internet.

I am willing to offer you a Board seat along with equity in the company in exchange for you selling your Twitter position and investing $2B into Gab. My offer is my best and final offer.

Andrew Torba, “Gab.com’s Offer To Elon Musk,” April 14, 2022.

For that matter, I could have the same issue with my ISP. Even though I’ve had the same server company for the sixteen-plus years I’ve had monoblogue, they are on at least the third owner I’m aware of and who knows how tolerant they will remain. Obviously I don’t have the coin for my own infrastructure, and I suppose that since this a hobby/obsession for me that’s the way it will stay.

But a few grand would be nice for my own server…heck, I’ll even do Starlink even though the state is finally contracting to bring me more reliable broadband.

The Delaware Way, explained once again

I could almost put this in the category of “duh” but since Rep. Bryan Shupe is one of those who tries not to let partisanship cloud his worldview, I’ll refrain.

But he brings up something that does belong in the category of elections matter: if you are a Republican in the Delaware General Assembly, your bill has a less than 50-50 chance of even getting a hearing in committee.

In the House Administration Committee during the 150th General Assembly, 67% of the bill submitted to this committed were heard. Of the bills submitted by the majority party, 86% of them were heard by the committee. Of the bills submitted by the minority party, only 38% of them were heard by the committee. In other words, 62% of bills submitted by the minority party were never heard in committee.

During the 151st Committee, which will end on June (30th), 2022, 66% of the bill submitted to the committee so far has been heard. Of the bills submitted by the majority party, so far 78% of them have been heard by the committee. Of the bills submitted by the minority party, so far only 42% of them have been heard by the committee. In other words, 58% of bills submitted by the minority party have not been heard in committee so far.

There seems to be a correlation between what party submits the bill and if the bill will be heard in this committee. 

Rep. Bryan Shupe, “Politics overriding House rules,” March 31, 2022.

There would be a bit of research involved, but it’s worth noting that the online records of the Delaware General Assembly date back to the 140th session (1998-2000.) The accusation here is damning enough, but the compare and contrast would be even better – back then the parties were more congenial with one another, with part of the reason being that the House was Republican-controlled through 2008 while the State Senate has been controlled by Democrats for at least 30 years, per Ballotpedia. It would be eye-opening to see how prior performance, particular in the era of GOP control of the House, compares to that of today.

Programming note

It’s that time of year again: the Shorebird of the Month will return for another year.

I’ve traditionally done it the first Thursday of the month, but on months where Thursday falls on the 1st or 2nd I wait until the next one. So gazing at my calendar, and bearing in mind how the best-laid plans go, these are the projected SotM dates: May 5, June 9, July 7, August 4, and September 15. The September date is so late because we have ten games currently scheduled in September – if they don’t play at least ten I will combine August and September numbers and only pick one set for the month-plus, but I won’t know that until the regular season ends September 11. Shorebird of the Year will follow a week later and picks and pans the week after that.

Aside from that, I’ll start collecting items that interest me now for the next edition of odds and ends.

Will Seaford vote for change?

If you live in my little corner of Sussex County, you know that Seaford is a vital part of the community. It’s the largest Sussex town on the U.S. 13 corridor, and it’s now home to a local Amazon processing facility servicing southern Delaware and the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland that’s providing dozens of new jobs in a long-shuttered factory.

On Saturday, the city will have an election that, in my opinion, will determine whether the town continues to make a comeback from its long period of doldrums or falls back into the same old, same old. I don’t live in the town, but since it’s an important part of life in this part of the county I think this election deserves some additional perspective – moreso than the boilerplate look provided by Delaware Online. (A much better overview was provided by the Delaware Independent website.)

In Saturday’s election, two seats are up for grabs: Mayor David Genshaw, who has been mayor since being appointed in 2013, is running for another two-year term while Council member Matt MacCoy is running for re-election to his second three-year term. Respectively, they are being challenged by Pat A. Jones and Stacie Spicer.

In reading the media coverage of this election, it’s clear that Seaford’s election wouldn’t attract much notice except for one issue: the fetal remains ordinance they narrowly passed late last year in response to a new Planned Parenthood office opening in Seaford a few months earlier. With the news of possible “waste-to-energy” incineration of remains from aborted babies, Seaford may have been ahead of its time on that one; regardless, enforcement of the law remains on hold due to claims the ordinance is illegal and that state law already covers the subject.

But the city under Genshaw has proven itself to be unafraid of being a bastion of sanity in a state dominated by Democrats in various shades of blue. In 2018 the city attracted notice by passing a right-to-work law after Sussex County bailed out of their own effort to become a right-to-work county. A proposal like that made sense for a city with a plethora of available industrial space thanks to Dupont winding down its operations over several decades. But getting Amazon in that complex is certainly a feather in the cap of the incumbents: while Genshaw is more low-key, I see MacCoy regularly on social media outlining his efforts to attract new business to the city, and the results. And he’s honest: Seaford isn’t a fit for every business because of its size and relative income level compared to towns on the beach side of Sussex County. Through the decline of the last few decades, though, there are opportunities for new businesses to start up and perhaps it’s a subject which can worked on in the next term regardless of who wins.

The re-election of Genshaw and MacCoy isn’t a shoo-in, though. And it’s not just because of the fetal remains law controversy, but also because a change in state law expanded the universe of Seaford voters: instead of separate registrations for city and county/state/federal elections, Seaford now allows all voters who are registered in the city to vote, which grows the possible number of voters over threefold. (There are also a small number of non-residents who own property in the city who can vote, too. That number wasn’t a great percentage of the original voter universe, but it’s tiny now.) It’s probable mayoral challenger Pat A. Jones is banking on that larger possible turnout, particularly since a significant number are minority voters. (Jones is the only black person running for office in Seaford this time around.)

Jones ran for mayor unsuccessfully a decade ago, after a lengthy stint on Seaford City Council. What bothers me most about her candidacy is something she said in the Delaware Independent interview:

Talking to constituents and hearing some of the concerns that are going on now, that’s one of the main reasons I decided to come back to the table. Not to mention that we need women on Council. Because when I served on Council, there were three women on Council and (now) there are none. And the men are making decisions that concern women, and not every woman is happy with some of the decisions that are made because we don’t even have a voice at the table.

Andrew Sharp, “Meet the candidates in Seaford’s upcoming election”, Delaware Independent, March 21, 2022.

I can’t speak to who has run for office in Seaford, but it seems to me that women have had plenty of opportunities to make their bids. We have a representative in Congress who has that same sort of attitude, deserving election simply because she’s a black woman. Unfortunately, Jones was on Seaford City Council during a period when the city was indeed declining. And while she has a legitimate point about the lack of representation among residents on the east side of Seaford, that issue can be rectified by creating a hybrid system of perhaps three districts and two at-large seats, in order to insure property owners who may have holdings in different districts get a vote. It’s an issue she can work toward as an activist.

As for the motivations of Stacie Spicer, a quote I found in the Delaware Public Media coverage of the fetal remains debate explained a lot:

Stacy (sic) Spicer came to the city council meeting with her mother and daughter, all residents of Seaford.

Spicer says the timing of this ordinance can’t be a coincidence, with Planned Parenthood of Delaware opening a new clinic in the city recently, offering abortions alongside many other reproductive health services.

“If you know anything about Seaford we definitely need a Planned Parenthood,” says Spicer, “Just our demographic, we have a lot of lower socioeconomic individuals here and I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

Spicer says an ordinance like this is going to hinder those low income folks from being able to access abortion services.

Roman Battaglia, “Seaford passes fetal remains measure, now faces legal challenge,” Delaware Public Media, December 14, 2021.

She also added in the Delaware Independent:

First, the State of Delaware already has code in place that indicates how remains are handled. For those who are concerned about law and order understand that city law cannot supersede state law. Furthermore, this ordinance also places a disproportionate financial as well as emotional burden on families.

Sharp, Ibid.

First of all, Seaford doesn’t need a Planned Parenthood. It’s interesting that their previous office was in Rehoboth, where more of the Sussex population resides. However, this side of the county is where more of the minority residents reside. Take from that what you will.

City law cannot supersede state law but it can supplement it. In many cases, state law is a floor that a municipality can choose to exceed if it desires: think of a 35 mph zone set by the state. The city can choose to make it 25 mph if they desire, but they can’t make it a 45 mph zone. Seaford was adding restrictions that Attorney General Kathy Jennings didn’t like because she’s a far-left Democrat, not because they violate state law.

Basically we have found out why the two women ran for office. (It’s also apparent from the headline of the Delaware Online story that led with “2 women will challenge the mayor and councilman.”)

In one capacity or another, I have been represented or led by elected women for most of my adult life. In the last state election I voted for women in the top two positions of the ballot, plus for U.S. Senate – give me the right woman for the office and I’ll vote for her. (One example: Julianne Murray for Delaware Attorney General.)

But when the campaign comes down to “vote for me because of my gender” and the motivation for the candidates to run involves overturning a common-sense law improperly being challenged by the state, I say no.

On Saturday, Seaford is encouraged to vote to keep David Genshaw as Seaford mayor and Matt MacCoy on Seaford City Council.

Can things really be changed with a Convention of States?

It’s a funny thing: when I last broached this subject I noted that the momentum toward a Convention of States had stalled out as no state had passed a call for an Article V Constitutional convention in nearly three years. Apparently, though, getting past the CCP virus has popped the cork on the movement because in the nearly three months since I last wrote on the subject the CoS effort has gained the support of Wisconsin, Nebraska, West Virginia, and most recently South Carolina, bringing the total to 19. They’ve also come closer to melting away opposition in Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota and there was even testimony on a CoS bill in Maryland – yes, Maryland.

Granted, the Maryland bill didn’t get beyond the hearing stage – and it will probably never get beyond that unless there is a sea change in their General Assembly beginning this fall – but the fact that nearly half of their Republican delegation co-sponsored the measure is encouraging, especially since the 2021 version only had a sole sponsor. (What is not encouraging is the lack of interest from the lower Eastern Shore delegation, from which only Delegates Johnny Mautz and Charles Otto were co-sponsors. That leaves Delegates Chris Adams, Carl Anderton, and Wayne Hartman along with both lower Shore Senators, Addie Eckardt and Mary Beth Carozza out of the picture. It goes without saying that Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes wouldn’t be a backer; after all, she just voted for allowing easier access to baby murder.) On the other hand, a Democrat-sponsored Article V resolution to protect “voting rights” was not introduced this session after failing to advance in a two-year run in the MGA from 2020 to 2021.

Shamefully, Delaware is one of those states where a CoS resolution hasn’t been introduced in recent years (more on that in a bit.)

One thing the CoS has been circulating of late is an endorsement of sorts from radio host Glenn Beck, who basically told his audience that, “a convention of states is the best thing we can do” to rein in government. Beck explained that the process would not be open to making other changes in the Constitution besides those which are spelled out, which is why the Democrats in Maryland had to create their own proposal rather than just jumping on board the Republican Article V resolution figuring they could take it over.

I noted back in January why I’ve begun to feel this is the better solution to our longstanding issues with government, but let me give you another analogy: if you are related to an alcoholic, do you just let them continue down their self-destructive path or do you get together with caring friends and family to do an intervention? Government will not fix itself because there are too many in it for themselves and their little fiefdoms of power, so someone else has to come along to starve that beast.

I’ve been in politics long enough to see what normally happens with “reformers” when they are first elected to office. They promise the moon but once they get there the excuses begin and the reform becomes going along to get along. The people the TEA Party sent to Congress in 2010 first said they couldn’t do anything because they only had half of Congress. In 2014, once they got a Senate majority, they bemoaned the fact that Obama was still in office, and promised action once a Republican was elected President.

In 2016, we got the ultimate reformer in Donald Trump and what did Congress do? Well, maybe it’s better to to say what they didn’t do: after six years of promising to repeal Obamacare, when they had the opportunity they didn’t do a thing – not even the damned “repeal and replace.” We got a temporary tax cut that the Democrats are already trying to dismantle, and government is bigger than ever because, as fast as President Trump was undoing regulation, the Biden regime is working triple-time to replace it, and then some. For having the barest of Congressional majorities, the Democrats are doing more to pursue their regressive agenda than those who promised the TEA Party the swamp would be drained ever did.

We could elect 60 new conservative House members this fall and somehow get to a filibuster-proof Republican majority in the Senate, while overcoming the Democrats’ best effort to swipe the election in 2024 with Trump, DeSantis, or whoever but there would still be excuses. Perhaps an external intervention is in order here?

Obviously there is risk in “imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limiting the terms for office for its officials and members of Congress.” Balancing the budget may mean significant new taxes, the Swamp can figure out workarounds on limits to power and jurisdiction, and term limits don’t apply to entrenched bureaucrats that are much of the problem. But if we can get the momentum in putting together a Constitutional convention, perhaps we can work at the problem in a new manner. If the regressives are against it, claiming, “The constitutional convention idea is a special interest-funded, anti-democratic endeavor that will almost certainly strip power from the American people, while leaving our cherished constitutional rights up for grabs,” then maybe it’s not such a bad idea. That’s pretty much how they play, isn’t it?

In looking up the author of that op-ed, Claire Snyder-Hall, I found out she is the executive director for Common Cause Delaware, a self-described “nonpartisan citizens lobby, dedicated to fostering open, honest and accountable government at every level.” You would think they would be for a more limited government because there’s less incentive to be secretive, dishonest, and unaccountable when the honey pot is smaller, but no. One of their “accomplishments” is that they:

…was also the primary organization responsible for stopping the dangerous legislation to call for a Constitutional Convention in 2016.

(…)

Recent Activities

May 2016

Vote on House Concurrent Resolution 60 – Rescinding the Article V Call for a Constitutional Convention. 

Delaware rescinded all calls for a Constitutional Convention. House and Senate leaders joined with Common Cause Delaware to pass HCR 60 and stopped Delaware from going down a dangerous path. Common Cause made a difference by educating and opposing the convening of a Constitutional Convention.

Common Cause website, “About Us” and “Our History.” Accessed April 12, 2022.

If you recall from January, that HCR60 vote was one featured on that year’s monoblogue Accountability Project. A vote against HCR60 was a proper vote. But the first part of that blockquote was why I changed the paragraph above: it turns out there was legislation introduced in 2015 to join the call for convention, which unfortunately was stricken in 2016. I’d love to have any of the Senators involved (Dave Lawson, who was the sponsor, Gerald Hocker, or Colin Bonini) explain why it was stricken. (I presume it means the same as withdrawn, which is a term I’m more familiar with because Maryland uses it.) I wish there was some sort of voting record on it as there was with HCR60, but maybe we can get some insight from the trio.

So there is precedent in this state, and maybe this idea is something we can keep in our back pocket for this fall’s campaign. It’s time to get the First State to be on this list with nineteen or more of its brethren. What do we have to lose?

A quick leg up for Palin

It didn’t even take a day for the Congressional candidacy of Alaska’s “mama grizzly” Sarah Palin to gain a key backer: our 45th President.

Wonderful patriot Sarah Palin of Alaska just announced that she is running for Congress, and that means there will be a true America First fighter on the ballot to replace the late and legendary Congressman Don Young. Sarah shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016, and we won big. Now, it’s my turn! Sarah has been a champion for Alaska values, Alaska energy, Alaska jobs, and the great people of Alaska. She was one of the most popular Governors because she stood up to corruption in both State Government and the Fake News Media. Sarah lifted the McCain presidential campaign out of the dumps despite the fact that she had to endure some very evil, stupid, and jealous people within the campaign itself. They were out to destroy her, but she didn’t let that happen. Sarah Palin is tough and smart and will never back down, and I am proud to give her my Complete and Total Endorsement, and encourage all Republicans to unite behind this wonderful person and her campaign to put America First!

Donald Trump, “Endorsement of Sarah Palin,” April 3, 2022.

It’s a campaign that brings back my own memories of a time when the TEA Party was looking for a leader but found out that the media was going to absolutely hound anyone who promoted a conservative platform. While much of the enthusiasm and support of the 2008 McCain campaign was because of Palin, she indeed had to put up with “very evil, stupid, and jealous” people inside and outside her campaign. (The selection of Palin was once described as a “Hail Mary” but McCain was also rumored to be considering Democrat Joe Lieberman as his running mate. That would have been throwing from the tailgate party outside the stadium.)

There are something like 40 or 50 candidates already lined up to try and win the seat, which is interesting in that it will be a very short gig for the winner. I presume most of these candidates are also trying to be placed on the November ballot to run for the position on a longer basis. (The late Rep. Don Young, who was the lone Alaska representative, served for nearly a half-century and was ironically first elected in a special election himself: Mark Begich won the 1972 Congressional race over Young despite dying in a plane crash a few weeks before the election, but Young won the special election to succeed him.)

Given her name ID in Alaska, it’s likely Palin will vault to the front of the field. But Alaska has ranked-choice voting, meaning Palin could get the largest plurality of the votes yet lose to someone who had more second-choice votes.

One of the biggest “what ifs” in modern politics is what would have happened with Palin had she not been hounded out of office by lawfare after her loss as part of the McCain ticket. Should Palin have completed her term in office and been re-elected in 2010, as the most recent vice-Presidential pick she would have been the GOP favorite to oppose Barack Obama in 2012, and she would have done so with massive TEA Party support. The Beltway liberals couldn’t have had that – it may have been a Donald Trump-style win for Palin as the working-class voters came from out of the woodwork to shock Obama and the Democrats.

Palin’s no spring chicken anymore – I know because her and I are just a few months apart in age – but if you go by Don Young standards she still has three decades to serve. Even if she wins, though, I don’t see Presidential aspirations in her immediate future: it’s exceedingly difficult to get much traction in that kind of race from a House seat where you are one in 535, even if you were Speaker like Newt Gingrich was. On the other hand, Alaska’s next Senate race after this year isn’t until 2026, and it’s easier to be nominated for the White House from the Senate – plus she would have had four years in the House to learn the ropes in Washington. Would Palin 2028 or Palin 2032 be a possibility? She would still only be in her sixties, much younger than a Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Perhaps we’ll see if the Mama Grizzly still has a little bit of mojo – but she has to win this election first.

More revised and extended remarks

I’ve said this before, although it’s been awhile: I don’t like wasting my good writing. Like odds and ends I collect in my e-mail box that I save for later comment, I need to get better at the habit of sharing what I say on someone’s social media to this audience because the Venn diagram of their readership and my readership doesn’t always intersect.

This is set up by a post that simply said “The Empire strikes back.” What the writer meant was that current Maryland governor Larry Hogan formerly endorsed the recently-resigned Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz as his successor – essentially in response to a now months-old endorsement of Delegate Daniel Cox for the same job by Donald Trump. Along with my belief that Hogan’s endorsement was already “baked into the cake” in this race based on Trump’s backing, it was a race I commented on the other day. But I wanted to expand on my thoughts after a post in response by longtime Maryland politico Carmen Amedori:

Lots of luck with that. 95% of MD GOP voted for Trump. Meaning 95% will not vote for an anti Trump endorsement. In a fair election Dan wins.

Carmen Amedori, former Maryland Delegate and (briefly) candidate for Lieutenant Governor in 2010.

Once that post went up, another longtime Republican, Scott Shaffer, responded:

You’re quoting a “news” site written by the LG candidate? Lol. Not to mention that a small group of Lincoln Day Dinner attendees is much different from primary voters as a whole.

Scott Shaffer, longtime Republican Party leader.

I think the website is written by the LG candidate’s husband but anyway, Scott’s a good guy – although we’ve been on opposite sides at times over the years. His claim to fame here was his unsuccessful bid to oust Louis Pope as Maryland’s National Committeeman in 2012.

So I felt I needed to add a couple pennies to this interesting race – better than much of anything going on in Delaware, that’s for sure.

Of the MDGOP who showed up to vote in 2016 and 2020, Carmen is probably pretty close when she says 95%. (I think the polling average was in the low 90s.) But that only counts the ones who weren’t discouraged enough by the candidates to stay home. The tell would be turnout % among Rs and Ds, but that doesn’t seem to be a number easily chased down for 2020 thanks to the unique nature of the election.

On the other hand, consider the poll Carmen cites was a DGA poll, so they’re trying to bump up support for the viable candidate they believe is easiest for them to beat. Unfortunately, in Maryland a lot of “independent” voters believe all the lies and half-truths told about Donald Trump, which is why the D’s try to tie all R candidates to him. (It also obfuscates their woeful record.)

The ones who were believers in the Trump “America First” agenda will most likely vote for Dan. Whether it will be enough to win a primary is an open question; however, the constantly changing primary date may prove to Dan’s advantage because I believe he has the more passionate voters.

“Not to mention that a small group of Lincoln Day Dinner attendees is much different from primary voters as a whole.”

You are aware these are the influencers in the local GOP, right? Obviously if Kelly won a straw poll at the AA Lincoln Day Dinner it would be presented as proof she’s the better candidate, despite the fact it’s still a miniscule number of voters.

I’d love to see a reputable poll of the race, but no one has really polled it according to RCP. This would document the amount of Hogan fatigue in the MDGOP.

My social media response.

Scott contended that Cox would be “Brian Murphy 2.0” because he doesn’t have a ton of name recognition and it’s possible he may be right. But I don’t think either of the two have a ton of name ID and the Maryland media is going to be vacuumed up by all the Democrats fighting for airtime prior to the primary. To me, it’s a race that’s Kelly’s to lose but if Larry Hogan keeps playing the RINO the association with Larry may hurt her.