Mills gives thanks

For a guy who was a first-time candidate against a 12-year incumbent, Dustin Mills ran a good race. He thanked his supporters yesterday.

Having taken the time to reflect upon the election, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support.  Although the election did not go quite as I would have liked, I am pleased with the effort put forth and I know that we worked hard.  However, nothing I did would have been possible without the support of many people.  They are too many to name, but they know who they are.  Without my team, and those who supported me, I would never have come close to getting as many votes as I did.  I also wanted to thank everyone who voted for me.  I know you believe in what I had to say and I only wish we could have done more.  Even though I did not win, I look forward to continuing the fight for what is right in Maryland.  I will continue to work hard to make Maryland better and I hope everyone will work with me.  I am humbled by your confidence in me and thank you for voting for me.  Let us continue to work hard and we will make Maryland a better place!

Dustin should get around 3,800 votes when all is said and done, and that’s not bad considering he was outraised this cycle by about a 4 to 1 ratio (not to mention Cane had about $50k to play with from before) and received no PAC money, unlike his opponent who got money from the SEIU ($1,000),  trial lawyers association ($500), and SEIU again ($1,000) among other groups which normally back incumbents regardless of party.

And he’s the kind of good, young conservative candidate the GOP will need in the coming years so it doesn’t seem like the loss is too discouraging to him – although I would have liked to see him break 40 percent as he did in Wicomico County where both live…it was the 25% in Dorchester that let him down.

We can only guess what redistricting may do to this district, but given the statement by Cane that this will be his last term Dustin is well-positioned to try it again in four years assuming he remains in the district once the Democrats are finished with it. (If Rudy is done, it will be interesting to see what he does with the $50k he has left.)

So I don’t see this as a goodbye, but just a breather. We didn’t pick Dustin as the top young Republican in Maryland 2 years ago to see him lie down.

Goodbye to flip-flop Frank!!

So far the key news of the night is that all is right with the Eastern Shore as far as Congress is concerned.

Once again, our area of the state will have a CONSERVATIVE voice as part of the NEW MAJORITY in Congress. Just a few minutes ago (thanks to the Harris win in Wicomico County) the race was called for Andy!

And all those people who thought Matt Maciarello was too inexperienced to be State’s Attorney; well, guess what? He has four years to grow on the job as your new State’s Attorney as he spanked W. Seth Mitchell.

I’m also going to depart from normal protocol to reveal that the new head of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee is Dave Parker. Joe Collins is the new Vice-Chair, Bob Laun remains as Treasurer and this writer is the new Secretary.

Since Frank is doing his concession speech I’ll break for now.


Update 12:30 a.m.

It looks like Rasmussen wins again – currently there’s a 10-point margin between Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley, 54-44. So we appear to be stuck with O’Smelley for another four years. Maybe Brian Murphy was right? I knew it was over when I saw early voting totals with Bob Ehrlich in the 50’s – 56% of the vote in Wicomico ain’t gonna make it.

It’s no surprise Barb Mikulski got 60% of the vote in the Senate race, but props have to go to Green Party candidate Kenniss Henry – she got 1.14% of the vote and as I recall getting 1% on any statewide race ensures ballot space for the next cycle. So Henry keeps the Green Party on the map and wins the third-party derby. Sounds like a good legacy to honor one’s daughter with.

I guess the Democrats pushing the Libertarian really worked, huh? Hey, Richard Davis got almost 4% of the vote – too bad that seemed to come out of Kratovil’s total since he lost by 13 points. Can you say bitchslapped?

Turning to local races, it’s not unexpected that Rich Colburn won re-election by a comfy 20 points. Can we shift some of those to Michael James? He only needs 214 votes to pass Jim Mathias and there are still 2 precincts out. That will certainly come down to absentees and you hate to see James lose two nailbiters in a row, particularly since it looks like the Democrats may gain three State Senate seats.

In the House of Delegates, all the incumbents won (which sucks in the case of Norm Conway and Rudy Cane, two miserable excuses for representatives who should’ve been ousted) but boy did Charles Otto lay the wood to Mike McCready! And I hope Marty Pusey tries again in four years, when Mike McDermott will be able to carry her over the finish line. Norm Conway, you may as well retire. Conversely to the Senate, it looks like the GOP will pick up perhaps five House seats – including McDermott, who’s the first Republican to represent Worcester County in, well, ever?

Looking at Wicomico results, it looks like Eric Wargotz could at least carry this county – he’s just 19 votes down pending absentees. But I suspect that margin will widen a bit.

I don’t think Rick Pollitt will lose a 571-vote margin with absentees, but boy he may wish he lost after he sees his County Council. If Bob Caldwell hangs on to a 45-vote lead, the County Council will be 6-1 Republican and essentially they will run the county. Now they can pass anything they want and even if Pollitt vetoes the measure they can easily override the veto. This is huge. The new blood of Bob Culver and Matt Holloway will hopefully be more conservative than the two men they replaced, Democrat Bill McCain and Republican John Cannon.

So this is just about how it ends, although I hold out hope Michael James prevails. Always I want more, but I think our fair county is in pretty good hands now because Rick Pollitt is effectively neutered.

And we can celebrate now that Andy Harris will be representing us in Congress!

The forgotten commercial

You have to wonder how many potential votes were lost when the television station “forgot” to air this. Perhaps all the Delaware and regional bloggers can pick up the slack.

We the People of the First State from Friends of Christine O’Donnell on Vimeo.

As a reminder, I’ll not be moderating comments until late tonight at the earliest since I have a House of Delegates race to help win.

It’s all about turnout!

Those of you who know me know I like to play with numbers. And in a day that’s all about numbers, it’s important to know that working the numbers up one side or down the other makes a big difference.

Let’s use this recent Maryland Poll and election data for an example. It’s the poll which had Bob Ehrlich down 5 points based on a particular turnout model. But what if turnout projections are way off?

Over the last two state elections (2002 and 2006), this was the actual turnout statewide.

2006: Republican 62.75%, Democrats 59.3%, Green 47.65%, Libertarian 46.69%, Constitution 47.61%, Populist 29.91%, unaffiliated 41.83%

2002: Republican 67.44%, Democrats 62.94%, Green 55.19%, Libertarian 46.08%, Constitution 45.82%, Reform 41.15%, unaffiliated 45.25%

For the sake of this argument, though, I’m just going to lump the minor parties with the unaffiliated as these polls do.

Finally, here are the latest monthly voter registration figures from the state Board of Elections.

  • Republicans – 920,181
  • Democrats – 1,948,008
  • Green – 8.349
  • Libertarian – 8,828
  • Constitution – 571
  • unaffiliated/other – 562,670

Taking these numbers and using the 2006 turnout model (poor for the GOP) this would be the voting universe.

  • Republicans – 577,414
  • Democrats – 1,155,169
  • unaffiliated/other – 242,789

With the 2002 turnout model (a little better for everyone) this would be the voting universe.

  • Republicans – 620,570
  • Democrats – 1,226,076
  • unaffiliated/other – 262,639

The next set of numbers is based on the Maryland Poll. Assume for every 100 voters that the following proportions vote for Ehrlich or O’Malley – it’s a number based on the percentages given plus proportionally dividing the undecided and refused among the groups:

  • Republicans – 90 Ehrlich, 10 O’Malley
  • Democrats – 19 Ehrlich, 81 O’Malley
  • unaffiliated/other – 54 Ehrlich, 46 O’Malley

So, based on the two above turnout models this is what the numbers would be:

A 2006 turnout gives Ehrlich 870,261 votes and O’Malley 1,105,111 votes.

A 2002 turnout gives Ehrlich 933,692 votes and O’Malley 1,175,993 votes.

Based on either of the last two turnout models Ehrlich is a loser and won’t have much in the way of coattails for other local canddiates.

But let’s make up another turnout example. How about a turnout (using the BoE numbers) of 80 percent GOP, 60 percent Democrat, and 50 percent unaffiliated/other? If the TEA Party is really out there this is easily doable.

Here, then, is the new voting universe:

  • Republicans – 736,145
  • Democrats – 1,168,805
  • unaffiliated/other – 281,335

Since the other parties all have a gubernatorial candidate we’ll assume they vote straight party line and not factor them into the count.

Using this voting total model and the Maryland Poll results we get a much closer result; Ehrlich gets 1,036,524 votes and O’Malley 1,149,761. It’s then up to the Ehrlich camp to get to a better result of 25% of Democrats and 60% of independents because with those proportions and 80% GOP turnout he wins – and probably picks up the General Assembly seats he needs to have a vetoproof minority. (Bob could win with near 100% GOP turnout as well if all other numbers stayed the same.)

Now let’s take this more local, looking at the four Lower Shore counties. All of these counties have Republicans at a numeric disadvantage as far as voter registration, so let’s say the Democrats turn out 60 percent of their voters. This would be the GOP turnout needed to negate the advantage (if voters voted straight party line, of course):

  • Dorchester: 89.44%
  • Somerset: 99.22%
  • Wicomico: 76.84%
  • Worcester: 68.08%

The only counties where it’s statistically impossible to overcome 60% Democratic turnout are Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Charles, Montgomery, and Prince George’s. (Needless to say, it’s likely O’Malley will carry those counties but as you can deduce that can be overcome statewide with disciplined and heavy GOP turnout.)

So it is important for Republicans to be just as excited to vote (or get their friends who are GOP, conservative independents, or thoughtful Democrats to vote if they’ve voted early) as they were when this campaign started. Don’t let the bastards in the press get you down because we can win.

On a different note, I’ll probably not post here tomorrow since I’ll be working a poll for a great candidate in Marty Pusey, then kicking off the next election cycle as part of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee – we’ll be sworn in tomorrow night at the GOP Victory Center. Look instead to Pajamas Media, where I’ll be part of the national coverage team and deliver updates as needed.

Maryland: the land that TEA forgot?

I actually sent this in to PJM early this but they decided not to run it for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a little bit off-message, or perhaps we are a true backwater of conservative politics. 

Last year in Virginia and New Jersey, the first successes of the TEA Party movement swept unabashed fiscal conservatives Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie into office.

Similarly in Pennsylvania, the latest polls show Republicans with wide leads in statewide races for governor and U.S. Senate. Next door in West Virginia, a Republican has a good chance of taking over the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat stalwart Robert Byrd.

Even where the polls aren’t as friendly, such as Delaware, they garnered national attention when a TEA Party-backed upstart in Christine O’Donnell upended longtime moderate Republican Congressman Mike Castle in the September 14 primary. O’Donnell made her final push to victory after getting financial backing from the TEA Party Express and the endorsement of Sarah Palin.

Yet as all that political turmoil roils states which border Maryland, TEA Party activists there bemoan the fact that they’ve been bypassed by the excitement.

Sarah Palin’s endorsement of TEA Party favorite Brian Murphy did little to help his campaign for governor as he was spanked by a nearly 50 point margin in the September 14 primary. While Delaware voters turned their political world upside down by going against the state’s establishment Republicans and selecting O’Donnell, Maryland’s state GOP apparatus placed their support behind former governor Bob Ehrlich almost immediately after he formally announced he would seek the office again. The move angered conservative activists but more mainline Republicans bought the argument that only Ehrlich could unseat current Governor Martin O’Malley – who defeated Ehrlich in 2006.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, Ehrlich trails in the latest Rasmussen Poll by 8 points, which is larger than his 2006 margin of defeat. A similar (and more recent) poll by Gonzales Research has Ehrlich down 5.

Of course there are bright spots for conservative activists in some portions of the state. Andy Harris is a TEA Party favorite who is giving freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil all he can handle in a spirited First District race that’s also a rematch, from 2008. Even more popular is the man challenging Steny Hoyer in the Fifth District, Charles Lollar. He’s a dynamic speaker who has excited crowds anywhere from a small campaign event to the 9-12 rally in Washington, D.C.

But for two TEA Party believers I spoke to, the lack of good choices on the Maryland ballot is disheartening.

Chris Lewis helped to organize the first TEA Party in the small Eastern Shore city of Salisbury back in April 2009. This involvement eventually led to an unsuccessful run for a Wicomico County Council seat earlier this year but he still attends a number of TEA Party events and leads the occasional local protest.

While he has no bitterness about losing in his primary – Chris ran as a Republican this time after a bid as an unaffiliated candidate 12 years ago – he’s “not too happy” with the remainder of the choices Republicans selected.

“Voting for the lesser of two evils is becoming very frustrating,” said Chris. “Maryland has always been blue, but the Maryland GOP has done a horrible job of putting up serious and constitutionally conservative candidates against these very weak, liberal, anti-constitutional and anti-business Democrat candidates.”

Fellow conservative activist Julie Brewington agrees. Like Lewis, she was active in the local TEA Party movement practically from its inception and ran for office this year, losing in a GOP primary for a House of Delegates seat.

Julie ran down a list of Republican nominees at the state and local level, describing many as “blah” or milquetoast. “I will reluctantly pull the lever for Ehrlich,” she said, if only for the sake of having a better say in redistricting. “I have finally come around to the fact that if Ehrlich is not voted in we will have no voice at all, as conservatives in this state.”

Still, she’s frustrated at what’s happened to the movement she helped create. “I feel the TEA party here in Maryland has been hijacked to a degree successfully by establishment Republicans,” said Julie. “It’s because of this we have less than exciting candidates to pick from.”

In fact, Julie was most thrilled about crossing over to Delaware to attend a campaign rally for U.S. Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell. “She’s the closest thing to a true blue TEA Party candidate we have locally (and) I can relate to Christine on many levels. This would include personal attacks I endured during my candidacy for the House of Delegates.”

“She is me, and I am you.”

Lewis and Brewington express a thought that many conservatives trapped in the (not so) Free State have been thinking for years. Emboldened to speak out by other events nationally, they’re afraid that they’re being abandoned by state and national Republicans and don’t have the numbers to make a difference. This is odd because the same Rasmussen Poll that had Ehrlich 8 points down also showed that seventeen percent of Maryland voters consider themselves members of the TEA Party movement, a number slightly higher than the national average.

Yet as Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Eric Wargotz noted when I asked him about the TEA Party, “I absolutely agree with the two main tenets (of fiscal responsibility and limited government)…but Maryland is a Democratic state.” He’s had to walk a bit of a tightrope in his campaign, although it’s clear that Wargotz has embraced the TEA Party more than Bob Ehrlich has in the other major statewide race – Ehrlich completely dismissed the Palin endorsement of his opponent and hasn’t made any attempt to make up with movement conservatives in the state.

Perhaps in a cycle or two Maryland may catch on, but by all indications there’s not going to be a lot of TEA Party victories in the Free State next week. It’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s one the Maryland Republican Party may have brought upon itself due to the conscious decision to not listen to its newly-energized TEA Party base and instead choose the establishment side in the primary.

Fire Pelosi tour comes to Salisbury

This morning there was a big red bus out front of the Salisbury GOP Victory Center.

Eventually we saw there were a number of special guests on the bus, and our small city will get a little love from Fox News as well. Bret Baier sat in our headquarters taping an interview with Michael Steele for later broadcast.

Apparently Bret’s aboard the bus for today. But people were excited even if they’re not on the bus, and passers-by were greeted by about a dozen sign wavers – that’s the first picture below.

Overall well over 100 people crammed into our South Salisbury Boulevard headquarters, including practically every local candidate and state party Chair Audrey Scott. As you’ll see in the second picture below, that guy running for governor is also a popular fella to be pictured with. Bob referred to the group as “the James Gang”, playing off the rock band of yore. Bob made sure to point out that “I don’t support Jim Mathias, despite what he may say.”

It was also an excuse for GOP candidates to see and be seen. Marty Pusey was out making her rounds.

Mike McDermott, her fellow District 38B House candidate, was also there but had this high-visibility item nearby as well.

So after the bus made a show of re-arriving, leading to the quip of the day – Michael Steele joked as he was departing that, “I tell my Democratic friends the bus is a little understated, but it gets the job done” – we all crammed into the headquarters building itself to hear what they had to say. When I say crammed, it was pretty crowded.

State chair Audrey Scott, who you may see in the middle of the above picture, served as the emcee.

As I write this, I’m uploading the videos from today’s remarks for a special edition of FNV. But Michael Steele didn’t get right back on the bus after his remarks were through. He also gave a pep talk to the volunteers who jumped on the phones to make the calls we need for victory.

He also had time to tape a quick interview with local radio host Bill Reddish and talk to other reporters.

Michael noted the 2010 campaign, “is unreal…a tidal wave that’s brewing.”

We will find out on Tuesday, but the group here sounded pretty confident of victory.

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, 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.

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 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.

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.

No debating a reclusive strategy

Over the last couple weeks, we’ve had some interesting give-and-take between various Maryland candidates – Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley sparred twice, First District Congressional candidates had some heated discussion in Queen Anne’s County, and what was said afterward was fodder in a Fifth District debate between Steny Hoyer and Charles Lollar.

But missing among the roster of debates is one between longtime incumbent Senator Barbara Mikulski and Republican challenger Eric Wargotz.

(continued on my page…)