Aggressive ‘No on 7’ campaign continues with pair of ads

Pounding home the main point that there’s no guarantee local jobs will be created or the money will go to education, the advocacy group against Question 7 released a pair of advertisements late last week. The first is dubbed ‘Not Really’ and the second ‘Blatantly.’

It will be interesting to find out where the money to finance these ads is coming from (the Sun story used in the latter commercial points to Penn National, which owns the Hollywood Casino in Perryville) as my presumption would be that both the education and construction unions are bankrolling the pro-Question 7 effort with an assist from MGM, the gambling concern who would build the new National Harbor casino.

The Sun op-ed also notes:

In reality, Question 7 is a massive giveaway to the casino owners at the public expense. It guarantees steep tax cuts for most of the state’s casinos and allows the possibility for even greater reductions in the future. The Department of Legislative Services estimates that the casino owners stand to reap a $525 million windfall if Question 7 passes.

I know, it’s hard to believe that Democrats voted for a tax cut but that change in direction is tempered by the fact Democrats don’t necessarily mind using the tax code to regulate behavior. If Question 7 is approved, you could actually give more to the state’s education fund by playing (and losing) at certain casinos rather than others, and give less to the state by losing at table games – which would have a 20 percent tax rate – than video slots. (See page 51 of the bill.)

In all honesty, my opposition to Question 7 isn’t based on a prudish desire to eliminate gambling, but that the Maryland General Assembly be forced to do its job and not punt the specifics of the issue to voters. As I’ve said before, all they really had to do was amend the Constitution (more specifically Article III, Section 36) to allow casino-style gambling in addition to lotteries. Just repeal Article XIX and substitute appropriate language in Article III, and let the General Assembly have at it. They would likely pull all the same tricks anyway, but they themselves would be accountable to voters for this and all their other actions; meanwhile, they could be more adept at changing rules for a fast-moving industry.

The Ryan pick

Well, Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential candidate was probably a safer choice than Sarah Palin was in 2008 and those of us who are Miami University graduates are thrilled to have a fellow alum with a chance at the second-highest office in the land. (He graduated six years after me, so we weren’t on campus at the same time.) But there are some who are fretting that Paul Ryan’s not conservative enough or too much of an establishment choice. Personally, I thought Lt. Col. Allen West would have been an interesting selection.

Yet you can’t deny that Paul Ryan knows his stuff about budgeting, and even though I was disappointed that his budget blueprint took decades to work the federal budget into balance it was at least acknowledging the largest domestic problem we face. Hopefully we elect a number of good conservatives to the House and Senate to pick up Ryan’s pace of motion toward fiscal sanity.

And Democrats naturally tried to seize the narrative. This e-mail blast came from David Axelrod:

In Ryan, Romney has selected a running mate best known for designing the extreme GOP budget that would end Medicare as we know it, and — just like Romney’s plan — actually raise taxes on middle-class Americans to pay for an additional $250,000 tax break for millionaires and billionaires. As a leader of the House Republicans and a Tea Party favorite, Congressman Ryan has led the relentless, intensely ideological battle for these kinds of budget-busting policies that punish seniors and the middle class.

Today, Romney doubled down on those policies.

But most Americans don’t know Paul Ryan. In the coming days, the other side will spend a lot of time trying to define Romney’s choice and what it says about his candidacy — so we put together a brand-new website on Romney-Ryan with everything you need to know. (Emphasis in original.)

But I love this howler in Axelrod’s screed:

Ryan talks tough on balancing the budget, but his own plan would fail to do that for a generation. The burden of balancing any Ryan budget falls squarely on the backs of seniors and middle-class families — while no one at the top is asked to pay even a dollar more.

And Obama has made progress on balancing the budget when? Please inform me of this, Mr. Axelrod.

To Obama, a budget deficit is a small price to pay for maintaining the levers of power and “spreading the wealth around.” That argument of “no one at the top is asked to pay even a dollar more” conveniently forgets that the wealthiest taxpayers already pay more than their fair share and, even if they were taxed at 100 percent and all their assets seized, wouldn’t come close to solving the total indebtedness (including unfunded liabilities) of our nation. That’s what happens when the national debt exceeds annual GDP.

And it’s sort of funny that the Obama crew has dubbed Romney/Ryan the “Go Back Team.” I wouldn’t mind going back to unemployment under 5 percent and a shrinking annual budget deficit – how about you? America has two choices: it can fall for the class envy propagated by a current regime desperate to avoid discussion of its real record, or it can vote for a chance at a way out of our mess.

If Obama wins, it’s likely we will never see unemployment below 5 percent again unless they change the way the numbers are calculated to make “President Choom” look better. Nor will we come anywhere close to a balanced budget because that’s not what this administration wants – I’ve become convinced they’re looking to hook as many people on the narcotic of government handouts as possible, and even if taxes are raised on the wealthiest taxpayers (and they would be) what little benefit is accrued will be far less than the new spending desired.

It’s the sign of a campaign which can’t rely on the exhausted mantras of hope and change anymore that they immediately go on the attack. Quite simply, Obama and Biden have nothing good to say about themselves or a positive record to defend. It’s going to be a long 2 1/2 months to Election Day.

Wicomico County could be going through changes

I mentioned the other day that there were proposed changes in the Wicomico County charter, and now I’ve had an opportunity to digest these a little bit. Many are perfunctory, but there are also some which may be controversial as well.

There are a number of changes being proposed to the charter, but some of the more provocative ones are:

  • Establishing special elections for long-term vacancies within County Council or the County Executive. This was probably a reaction to the untimely death of the late District 4 Council member Bob Caldwell, who died less than a year into his term. An appointee approved by our Central Committee and selected by County Council, John Hall, will serve the last three years.
  • Establishing a two-term limit on the County Executive. Notably, that prohibition would not extend to County Council. From what I’ve been told, this two-term limit on the county’s leader was considered as part of the original Charter change that created the County Executive position a decade ago but the Democratic County Council majority at the time balked at the inclusion of that language. It’s worthy of note that none of those four Democrats chose to run again in 2006, the election where the first County Executive was selected and the Council was stripped of its executive powers over Wicomico County.
  • Changing the number of referendum signatures required from 15% of the total number of registered voters in the county to 15% of county voters who cast ballots in the previous Presidential election. Using the active voters from October, 2008 and local results from that year’s Presidential election as a base it would reduce the number of signatures required from 7,934 to 6,278 – still a significant number. Similarly, a public-inspired change to the Charter goes from needing signatures from 20% of all registered voters (or 10,000, whichever is fewer) to 20% of participating voters, with a maximum requirement of 10,000. The 20% of participating threshold would reduce the number of signatures required to 8,371 based on 2008 numbers.
  • Giving the County Council a say on the removal of the County Attorney via a 2/3 vote (which in Wicomico County would be a 5-2 vote assuming all seven members are present.) This was probably inspired by the controversy in the city of Salisbury over their city attorney.

In discussing this with Marc Kilmer, a member of the committee who gave me the heads-up on the situation, it’s not clear just how these items would be presented should they pass muster with County Council.

But given the fact that state voters will already be facing six (and perhaps seven) ballot issues this fall, the number of local questions should probably be kept to a minimum. If they were to pass the first three issues I spell out and write the questions in such a way that these subjects be put together, with special elections for County positions as one question, term limits on the County Executive – and I would be inclined to suggest the same for County Council – as a second question, and the referendum changes as a third, I think we could call it a day.

Sure, there are other changes which probably should be made but many of them are more technical and there’s no reason we can’t come back in 2014 to make those corrections. There’s no restriction on when items supported by the Charter Review Committee can be placed before voters because, with five affirmative votes, County Council can bring those up at any time. I might even be convinced that putting off the term limits question to 2014, when we can add County Council to the roster of offices under term limits and vote in politicians who would be subject thereto, would be the way to go.

Of course we have no way of knowing what the 2014 ballot will look like at a state referendum level because there are almost always state amendments placed before voters, and if the Democratic majority in Annapolis doesn’t learn the lesson they are hopefully taught this time we may see a half-dozen or more statewide questions once again. But knowing that there are already a number of weighty issues before the voters in Wicomico County, it may be smart to parcel out changes among several election cycles and address the most important ones now. To me, making sure vacancies are filled by the people and easing referendum requirements are top priorities, while term limits can go on the back burner.

But the Charter Review Committee has done its job, and now it’s up to the people to speak. The next chance comes Tuesday evening at the County Council meeting, but there’s also e-mail and voice communications as well. This post is my take on what should be done but I’m sure readers have theirs, too.

Democrats: Maryland is in the bag for Obama

They don’t say it in so many words, but I found this e-mail I received from the President’s campaign intriguing:

Next weekend, we’ll be 100 days away from Election Day.

We’ve got a lot of voters to get registered and ready for this election — and that’s part of why First Lady Michelle Obama just launched a new effort called It Takes One.

The idea behind it is pretty simple: One person reaching out to others, bringing in one person at a time, is what will make all the difference. She’s challenging us all to bring one new person along every time we take action for this campaign — whether that’s chipping in a few dollars, registering to vote, or showing up at the It Takes One weekend of action in Virginia and Pennsylvania on Saturday, July 28th, and Sunday, July 29th.

Folks from Maryland will be traveling to Pennsylvania and Virginia for the weekend of action, to register voters and reach out to folks there to talk about President Obama’s accomplishments — alongside that one new person they asked to join them for the day.

If you skip the first paragraphs of community organization garbage – although we have a lot of voters to get registered and ready for this election, too – you’ll notice that Jeremy Bird of Obama For Against America wants to use Maryland people to work in Virginia and Pennsylvania, figuring those states are more important to work in. It’s sending the message that they consider Maryland as their territory. But I’m stubborn and agree with Dan Bongino and other thoughtful Republicans: we cede no ground.

This e-mail also gave me an important piece of electoral information, as I now know the local Democrats will have a headquarters in the old Mail Movers building (the one which used to be a bank before that) on Old Ocean City Road. They must not want a whole lot of visibility – although that location is conveniently close by the teachers’ union headquarters. I happen to know the local Republicans will have a headquarters as well, with an official announcement coming soon. (It will be nearby to the locations we used in 2008 and 2010, along that stretch of South Salisbury Boulevard.)

Now it’s time for a little fun. You know, since the Obama forces created an #ItTakesOne Twitter hashtag, I have some suggestions for its usage:

  • #ItTakesOne entrepreneur to create a job – and one President to take all the credit for doing so.
  • #ItTakesOne more high-dollar fundraiser among the 1% for Obama to extend his class warfare rhetoric and pander to the rest of us.
  • #ItTakesOne call to Harry Reid to move job-creating legislation from the House. Obama won’t because he wants to “spread the wealth” via gov’t.
  • #ItTakesOne speech to show President Obama doesn’t get it when it comes to job creation. “You didn’t build that”? Yes we did.

Maybe I’ll toss those on Twitter this afternoon as I’m working. I’m sure my readers can come up with many more and show the real truth about our current regime. I look forward to reading them – feel free to share in the comment section.

It’s time for a change

One of the reasons I was a Herman Cain backer early on in the 2012 campaign was his wisdom on tax policy. On Monday he wrote a piece reminding us that a number of patchwork, temporary “fixes” to our income tax rates expire at the end of 2012, and could doom what little recovery we might be enjoying if nothing is done.

Of course, there is no foolproof solution, even with Cain’s 9-9-9 plan – soon enough it could be 12-12-12 or even 15-7-21. Pick three divergent numbers and you might be a winner in this Russian roulette-style lottery involving both personal and federal finances. But the same is true for a flat tax as well, and it’s still based on income rather than consumption.

But even when a consumption tax is enacted, the other key is spending the money wisely. Back in 2008 the state of Maryland raised its sales tax from 5% to 6%, ensuring the state another $500 million or so in revenue. The problem was that the money was spent even before it was collected, as a governor who’s never met a government program he didn’t like (or wish he’d dreamed of himself) blew every dime of that (and then some) on new programs.

Given our experience with sales taxes from around the country, I don’t see how the argument that we can’t predict revenue from a consumption tax can be posed. And even so, it’s not like we don’t make adjustments to a budget (that is, when we actually have one) based on the events which occur between the time of passage and the moment that last dime is spent at the stroke of midnight on September 30.

It’s relatively simple to figure out how to get out of these messes we find ourselves in. On a state level, each year the GOP works out a budget that addresses the structural deficit without raising taxes; meanwhile, it’s worthy of note that if we retreated our federal spending to the level of the last Bush budget (FY2009, excluding the stimulus added by President Obama) of $3.1 trillion, a large part of our deficit would be addressed. Yes a deficit $500 billion or so is still absurdly high but it’s better than the $1.4 trillion we’ll likely run in the hole when the fiscal year ends September 30.

Beyond the numbers, though, is the concept of why a consumption-based tax scares those in government: it returns control to the people. The amount of money sent to Washington isn’t necessarily as important as the behavior influence our current labyrinthine tax code provides these faceless, unelected bureaucrats. Examples of carrots include buying a home or certain types of consumer goods deemed better for the environment, while sticks are things like holding stocks for too short of a time or making income outside normal channels (to trigger the alternative minimum tax.) There’s no doubt that H&R Block and others in the tax preparation field are deathly afraid of what a consumption-based tax would do to their business as well.

Moreover, the government isn’t paid first with a consumption-based tax because backup withholding is eliminated. Backup withholding was supposed to be a temporary program, enacted in a time of national crisis. But just like any other “temporary” tax, we’ve been saddled with this enforced deduction ever since, even in peacetime. It’s a little more fair for the self-employed who pay in quarterly installments; still, these numbers are based on a previous tax year and not present income. Some have been led to pay far more than they owe because of income fluctuations, but under a consumption-based tax they can adjust accordingly.

Over my lifetime they have made a sport out of tinkering with the tax code – rates go up, rates come down, and cherished deductions are created and then rescinded. For example, credit card interest could once be deducted, but that was changed. Dare to tinker with the home mortgage interest deduction, though, and you’ll have a lobby full of realtors calling for your head. It’s hard to buck the system that too many have become cozy with inside the Beltway.

And it’s because of that system that we may face taxmageddon in 2013. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like much will change in the next four years, barring the unlikely event of FairTax proponent Gary Johnson becoming president. Any change will have to be led by Congress and demanded by a tireless, irate minority who are willing to give up some of those deductions they annually take advantage of to restore broader control to themselves. Only then can we begin to take the yoke off our necks and begin to enjoy more economic freedom.

Republicans respond to Obama Maryland visit

President Obama came to Maryland to attend three of the six fundraisers he had slated yesterday. But before Obama laid the blame for “this mess” that we “haven’t seen since the 30s” on George W. Bush and his administration, state Republicans held a conference call for interested bloggers and mainstream press to state their case and tie together the failures of both President Obama and Governor Martin O’Malley.

(continued at…)

On a personal note, I’d like to thank David Ferguson and the Maryland GOP for thinking of me. I would have preferred a little better handling of the call logistics, but the information given was just fine.

It’s official: Same-sex marriage to be on Maryland ballot

As expected, opponents of the same-sex marriage bill passed last February in close votes by the Maryland General Assembly gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on November’s ballot. With 55,736 valid names required, the Maryland Board of Elections announced yesterday 70,039 names have been validated so far, with thousands remaining to be checked.

Obviously the coalition which has pushed for Maryland to accept same-sex marriage isn’t taking the contest lying down. Since they’ve expected the referendum to become a reality, they have opened campaign offices and hired staff for their efforts.

Yet while they complain about the National Organization for Marriage bankrolling the petition drive to place the referendum on the ballot, they are more reticent to discuss their financial backing, perhaps because union dues may be heavily involved.

(continued at…)

Election watchdog taking hard look at voter registration

Americans too often take for granted that our elections are conducted freely and fairly. But are they?

Undoubtedly opinions on that subject differ, depending on which side of the political fence one sits on. Those who would like to require a photo identification to be presented in order to vote are shouted down as wishing to suppress minority turnout, even when the cards are available for free. The same group who paints Diebold, a manufacturer of voting equipment, as part of some dark conspiracy to steal elections may also believe Project Vote and similar voter registration mills are doing yeoman’s work.

(continued at…)

The real life of ‘Julia’

In a blatant pitch to woo female voters – presumably the base of the Democratic machine – the Obama re-election campaign came up with the “Life of Julia” concept. Poor Julia is seen suffering through a life of government dependence from age 3 when she’s enrolled in Head Start (I suppose by Julia’s unseen parents) to age 67, when she “retires comfortably” on Social Security.

Of course, this little slideshow has been unmercifully (and rightfully) parodied by Lee Stranahan into the Life of Rover, given a conservative rebuttal by the Heritage Foundation, put under a libertarian remix, and become fodder for endless Twitter shots using the #Julia hashtag, some of which are featured at the tail end of this article by Meredith Jessup in The Blaze. It seems like every time Obama tries to go viral with a hashtag, conservatives have a ton of fun with it.

My question, though, is why Obama’s so worried about the female vote. One thing the President has going for him is a fair amount of personal likability, as the First Family has been carefully scripted to appeal to women as a happy nuclear family. Granted, the Obama children are far younger than President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, but it seemed like every time one of the Bush twins misbehaved it was made into news – on the other hand, a recent Mexican trip for Obama’s older daughter Malia had its accounts scrubbed and sanitized after word got out about the 13 year old’s journey south of the border.

But women have been hard hit by the poor economy, and oftentimes the female handles the bills in the family. Whether they’re a single mom or part of the rapidly disappearing nuclear family of Mom, Dad, and two kids, women have found that over the last three years it’s been getting harder to make ends meet.

And there’s also intention behind making ‘Julia’ a single mom – you may notice that there’s no husband in the picture when she has ‘Zachary.’ (Does that sound like a focus-grouped name or what?) Of all the women who voted in 2008, it was single women who came in most heavily for Obama – a 70-29 margin. If he loses even 10 percentage points on that total, Barack Obama has to know that his re-election bid is toast. But single women haven’t been exempt from the stagnant economy, either.

In reviewing the ‘Julia’ slides, there’s also no question that the Obama campaign is playing the class envy card to the hilt, even in this example. At 17 Julia could lose her public education funding to “pay for tax cuts to millionaires,” for example. And Julia’s life is doomed if we even cut one penny from these bloated federal programs or dispense of Obamacare, as several slides warn.

But would it? What if Julia’s parents didn’t send her to Head Start but took the time to read to the child – or better yet, made the investment of time and effort to homeschool her – even as they sacrifice the tax burden of helping to support the public education they aren’t using? Chances are Julia would still be able to enroll in that college. (I’m also curious: if Julia’s going into web design, is a four-year degree even required? It seems like she could acquire those skills in a two-year associate program at a community college.)

And perhaps her parents, if they raised her right, would instill in Julia the work ethic to get her to avoid taking out thousands of dollars of student loans because she would have learned to be responsible for the results of her own education while working her way through college, along with the moral compass to wait until the right stage of life to marry Zachary’s father before they have the little rugrat. Until that point she would pay for her own contraception, thank you. (Needless to say, abstinence is free.)

That work ethic would come in handy when Julia opens her own business because she will have to work twice as hard to overcome the roadblocks in her way – not because she is a woman, but because of all the red tape an overbearing bunch of pencil pushers throw in her path. She would also have the pride to not accept work simply from the set-asides given to a female-owned business, but because she does a damn good job of it. It’s the only way she would know.

And Julia would retire comfortably because she lived a reasonable but frugal lifestyle, investing wisely in her future despite government’s best efforts to confiscate every dollar she made. Julia and her husband of over 40 years would enjoy the sunset of their lives despite never receiving a Social Security check from a bankrupt system.

But perhaps my favorite parody of Julia came from the Facebook site AttackWatch:

The Gaps of Julia

At 1 year old: Under President Obama, Julia’s posts “I hate Obama!” on her Facebook page. She is investigated by the Secret Service for threats against the President. (That’s one precocious child!)

At 16 years old: Under President Obama, Julia goes goth and changes her religious affiliation to “Wicca.”

At 18: Under President Obama, Julia realizes she’s learned more on her own than she ever has at public school and registers as a Republican voter.

At 19: Under President Obama, she realizes her Pell grants don’t cover anything but a small tuition, so she takes out student loans to supplement her income.

At 23: Under President Obama, Julia begins her career as a web designer. Despite what Obama said all those years ago, she’s still paying hundreds a month on her student loans. She makes her payments on time, but rising taxes have made it difficult to eat much more than rice, beans, and ramen. She’s happy to know she can sue for wage discrimination, except that she’s making more than her male coworker who regularly attends Occupy Wall Street meetings. Since he’s known to go into work stoned, she’s inclined to believe the pay difference is because of her performance.

At 25: Under President Obama, Julia has worked as a web designer for the past four years. She’s chosen to be responsible with her health and family planning, and doesn’t want to drain the system by using other peoples’ money for her sex life.

At 31: Under President Obama, Julia and her husband decide they’re financally secure enough to have a child. Julia wishes she could be a stay-at-home mom, but she can’t because men’s wages have been stagnant for 50 years now and they can’t live solely on her husband’s income. She slips and lets the tax payers pick up the tab for her maternity leave. Both her and her husband’s taxes go up the following year. They consider selling their house to move into a condo half the size.

At 37: Under President Obama, Julia’s son Zachary starts kindergarten. She’s there to see him off at the bus stop because she quit her job, deciding the slight bit of extra pay wasn’t worth it since taxes and highly-regulated child care costs were so high. She and her husband fight more than they’d like, but remain close. Zachary eats better than they do, they make sure of that.

At 42: Under President Obama, Julia decides to start her own at-home business to try and bring in at least a meager extra income. She finds that Obama’s tax cuts for small businesses help, but his extra excise taxes on manufacturers and healthcare and income do not. It’s not a zero-sum game; she’s losing money. She wants to help people, so she hires another worker, but has to lay him off after a year because she can’t afford the healthcare costs.

At 65: Under President Obama, Julia submits an application for Medicare. She’s eagerly granted acceptance.

At 66: Under President Obama, Julia develops a brain tumor. She submits an application to Medicare, which is denied. “Due to age,” and “See Quality of Life (QoL) Regulations” stick out through her watered eyes. She chokes and sobs. She hugs her 70 year old husband when he returns from work. They cry together, in bed, just holding each other. “We tried,” Julia whispers to her husband.

At 67: Under President Obama, Julia passes in her husband’s arms. Full of anger that his ailing wife was denied care from the Obamacare Government because of costs, he takes his wrath to Facebook. He writes, “President Obama, I can’t stand everything you’ve done!”

At 71: Under President Obama, Julia’s husband is investigated by the Secret Service for threats against the President.

President Obama has now been president for at least 67 years.

You might laugh, but the sad fact is that millions of gullible voters will lap up the Obama Kool-Aid and believe he’s only trying to help the middle class. He’s helping them, all right – helping them become poor and dependent on government handouts of some sort.

Last race standing

About 35,000 votes were cast, and as of tonight’s results there were just 82 votes separating the two front-runners. But this evening John LaFerla conceded the Democratic nomination in the First District Congressional race to Wendy Rosen. In a statement on his Facebook site LaFerla wrote:

Now that most of the absentee and provisional ballots have been counted, it is clear that the result of the Democratic Primary in the 1st Congressional District will not change and I will not be nominee of our party.

I would like to congratulate Wendy Rosen for winning the nomination of our party and I wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy and urge all my supporters to get behind her so we can defeat Andy Harris this November.

I want to thank everyone who supported our campaign to bring common sense to Congress. While we came up short, the issues we talked about remain vital to the future of our District and our Nation. While I won’t be in Congress, I hope to continue working with all of you in other ways to build a brighter future for everyone in our community.

So for the first time in recent memory no one from the Eastern Shore will be among the two major-party contenders for the Congressional seat, after a streak of Eastern Shore representatives for the First District – which for the decade between 2000 and 2010 was roughly a 50-50 voter split between Eastern and Western shores – came to an end with the election of Andy Harris. Both Wayne Gilchrest and Frank Kratovil lived on the Eastern Shore; while Harris owns a condominium on the Eastern Shore his principal residence is in Baltimore County, as is opponent Wendy Rosen’s.

Yet while the First District was perhaps made even more Republican, there is peril in Andy’s re-election bid. There’s no doubt that the public perception of Harris as stiff and uncaring will be made even more apparent as he faces a female opponent for the first time as a Congressional candidate. Certainly the Sun and other media outlets will do their best to soften Rosen’s image over the summer. (Harris defeated female Democratic opponents in both his State Senate re-election runs in 2002 and 2006, however.)

In an interview on Rosen describes herself as a “recovering Republican” who left the party for because she perceived it as unfriendly to small business:

Her frustration has grown to disenchantment with the Republican Party, which she says only supports big business and eventually led to her decision to run for Congress as a Democrat.

“I always thought the Republican Party supported small business and included small business in that definition (of being pro-business),” she says. “I think the Democratic Party is more receptive to creative ideas needed to revitalize our smallest businesses. The Republican Party represents the defense industry and the insurance industry. They talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.”

I have to chuckle on that one because she’s about 180 degrees out of phase, at least when it comes to the current occupant of the Oval Office and titular head of the Democrat Party. If there’s anyone who is selling government to the highest bidder who can afford the largest group of lobbyists it’s those in Rosen’s current political home.

And if you look at Rosen’s key issues, it’s clear she’s trying to portray herself as a friend to small business. But what I see from her is more micromanagement and government picking winners and losers. I’m not seeing the big ideas which will level the playing field and allow all companies a fair shake like a reduction in regulations and a more sound tax policy which would put more money in their pockets, allowing them to hire more workers and create more jobs. That’s how you “fill those vacant shops and give small business owners the tools and support necessary for them to succeed” – you get out of their way.

Wendy rails about how too many items come from other countries and aren’t American made, but has she considered why the products are made overseas? Well, there is a cost of labor advantage, but by the time you add shipping costs that is practically negated. Yet taxing business at the industrialized world’s highest rate (as of April 1 Japan lowered its corporate tax rate below that of the United States) and writing reams of regulations (a study for the Small Business Administration in 2010 pegged the annual regulatory cost at $1.75 trillion – yes, that’s trillion with a “tr”) isn’t going to create American jobs. Nor will it win many friends in the business world – that is, unless you have the lobbyists and clout to write the rules in such a way to stifle competition. She’s suspiciously silent on those aspects of the issue. And what about the energy industry and gasoline prices?

I’m pleased Wendy seems to have found a way to succeed in her chosen field, although when she talks about walking the halls of Congress for over 10 years she begins to sound like the lobbyists she detests. But I think we have tried things her way for a number of years and those methods don’t work anymore. Back off the entrepreneurs of America, give them breathing room from excessive burdens, and watch them grow.

A fork we stick in Rick

So it ends, not with a bang but more of a whimper.

The news that Rick Santorum has opted to suspend his campaign just two weeks before a multistate primary where opponent Mitt Romney would be expected to do well in all the states – except possibly Santorum’s home state of  Pennsylvania – coupled with the withdrawal in all but name by Newt Gingrich over the weekend (“he had more things to hit with than I did”), means that Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee come September. Sure, Ron Paul is still in the race but he hasn’t won a primary yet.

Obviously that’s frustrating news to Santorum backers (like The Other McCain) as well as residents of the five states (including Delaware) who were expectantly awaiting their turn in the national spotlight, but it also brings up a couple interesting questions.

  1. Who will be the second banana on the ticket? We saw a rejuvenated Republican Party for a brief time in 2008 when Sarah Palin was selected, so one would hope Romney assuages conservatives with a strong pick.
  2. Will the electorate in the remaining states which have not conducted primary elections embrace Mitt as the nominee?

I don’t know what the rules are for ballot withdrawal in the remaining states, but it’s quite likely that the last four standing (Romney, Paul, Gingrich, and Santorum) are on the ballot in 17 of the 19 remaining states (Nebraska and Montana are caucus states.) And we can look back at Virginia for a case study in just how much anti-Romney sentiment was out there – in a contest limited to Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, Romney couldn’t even carry 60 percent of the vote. Had it been Santorum or Gingrich on the ballot straight up against Romney, Rick or Newt may have carried the state.

It would be quite surprising now if Romney didn’t get a clear majority of the votes, but the depth of anti-Romney sentiment may be most expressed in states where Santorum or Gingrich were thought to be strongest (most likely Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Indiana, and South Dakota among remaining primary states.) But this ceding of the Presidential field could also have a detrimental effect on conservatives in downticket races as well – one example being the U.S. Senate primary in Indiana where moderate Senator Richard Lugar faces a primary opponent in Richard Mourdock.

But all the talk of a possible brokered convention and a white knight coming in to save the GOP will now be replaced by emotions from anger at the establishment to outright despair from the Right that Romney can’t win and we’re doomed to another four long years of Barack Obama. Yet if every conservative in the country came out and voted, we would win because Democratic turnout tends to lag behind Republican regardless of whatever tricks the Democrats try to pull. It’s simple math – around 40 percent of the country self-identifies as conservative while only 20 percent or so self-identify as liberal. Even if the squishy middle splits evenly, we win.

And it’s not like the incumbent has much of a record to run on, unless you define record deficits, record number of adults out of the work force, and record high gas prices as records to brag about. Obama has those.

So here we are: Obama vs. Romney. It wasn’t my personal choice (since I voted for Santorum after all my other good choices split the scene) but that’s the way it’s going to be.

And now for something (almost) completely different:

I have it on very good authority that someone familiar to local voters is going to jump into the First District Congressional race. That’s all I’m going to say for now, but watch this space for more details.

Where I went wrong (and right)

Okay, the results have come in and I got some sleep and a day at my outside job to consider them, so let’s go back to my prediction post and see how I did.

I was actually correct in the order of presentation on the top four Presidential candidates statewide, but Mitt Romney exceeded even the pollsters’ expectations when he won just under half the vote. I suppose that inevitability factor may have affected the results because it appears our turnout in 2012 will end up about 20 percent less than it was in 2008, when the race was effectively over by the time we voted. Because few people like to admit they’re backing a loser, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of voters changed from Gingrich to Romney at the end while other Newt backers stayed home. It also proves Ron Paul has support a mile deep but an inch wide since both well underperformed what I thought they might. I actually missed Santorum by less than a point, although it surprised me that Rick only won two counties (Garrett and Somerset.) I would have thought Rick would carry 4 to 6 of the more rural counties, including Wicomico. But once Romney outperformed it was over.

And you may wonder why I had Fred Karger at 2 percent. I thought he would do better because, as a gay Republican candidate in a state which was bound to be a Romney state anyway, voting for him may serve as a message about the gay marriage referendum likely to appear in November. Instead, he got only less than 1/10 of my predicted total and finished dead last. I also managed to garble up the exact order of the also-rans, but with such a small sample who knew?

That same statewide trend seemed to affect my Wicomico result too because Romney outperformed and Gingrich/Paul suffered for it.

And while I didn’t predict it, I find it quite fascinating that 12 percent of the Democratic primary voters selected “none of the above” rather than Barack Obama. However, that statewide average varies wildly from under 3% in Prince George’s County, about 5% in Baltimore City, and just over 7% in Montgomery County to fully 1/3 of Democrats in Allegany County and a staggering 34.7% in Cecil County. In the last comparable election with a Democratic incumbent (1996) President Clinton only received 84% of the vote (onetime perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche got 4%) but no county came close to getting 1/3 or more of the ballots against the President.

I didn’t miss the “barnburner” aspect of the Senate race by much as it wasn’t called until nearly midnight. But Dan Bongino carried 34% of the vote and won by 6 points over Richard Douglas. (I called it for two points, but I underestimated the impact of the little eight.) I think Joseph Alexander gets the advantage of being first of the ballot, and that accounts for his second straight third-place finish. The rest? Well, the order wasn’t all that correct but they were mostly only off by a percent or two and I got last place right. And to prove it was a close race, both Bongino and Douglas carried 12 counties apiece.

What mystifies me the most isn’t that Rich Douglas carried Wicomico rather easily, but how much support the other eight received – they collectively picked up almost 100 more votes than Douglas did! I would love to know the mindset of the people who voted for most of these minor candidates. I can see a case for Robert Broadus based on the Protect Marriage Maryland group, but what did the others really do to promote their campaigns? At least I know Douglas had radio spots and reasonably good online coverage.

But I did peg Ben Cardin to within 4 points statewide.

On some of the Congressional races: despite the fact I screwed up the percentages, at least I correctly called the Sixth District winners as Roscoe Bartlett and John Delaney. Both did far better than I expected, and I think part of the reason was that both their key challengers’ campaigns imploded in the last week or two. A week ago we may have had something closer to the numbers I predicted. Think Rob Garagiola and David Brinkley may commiserate anytime soon?

The ‘relative ease’ I suspected for Nancy Jacobs was even easier than I thought. I guess Larry Smith didn’t have nearly the campaign as I believed because he came up short on my prediction about as much as Nancy Jacobs was over – I wasn’t all that far off on Rick Impallaria.

While there is a slim chance I may have the First District Democratic race correct, I was surprised that Eastern Shore voters didn’t get all parochial and support the one Eastern Shore candidate, John LaFerla, over two from across the Bay. He only won Worcester, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties, and I would chalk most of that up to Wayne Gilchrest’s endorsement. Kim Letke was about 6 points better than I thought and LaFerla was six points worse because he way underperformed on the Eastern Shore. I suspect no small part of that underperformance by LaFerla was his extreme pro-choice stance, as getting the NARAL endorsement doesn’t play well among local Democrats. There is a 136 vote margin out of about 23,500 cast.

Out of the rest, the only one I got wrong was the Eighth District, and I think that was a case of better name recognition than I expected for Ken Timmerman and less of a vote split among the three candidates from Montgomery County.

As for the Democratic incumbents, I could have wrote “over 85%” and still been right, with the minor exception of Steny Hoyer getting 84.8%.

So this is how the races for November will line up. Sometime this evening I will update my sidebar to reflect this:

  • U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino (R) vs. Ben Cardin (D – incumbent)
  • District 1: Andy Harris (R – incumbent) vs. Wendy Rosen (D – pending absentees and possible recount)
  • District 2: Nancy Jacobs (R) vs. Dutch Ruppersberger (D – incumbent)
  • District 3: Eric Knowles (R) vs. John Sarbanes (D – incumbent)
  • District 4: Faith Loudon (R) vs. Donna Edwards (D – incumbent)
  • District 5: Tony O’Donnell (R) vs. Steny Hoyer (D – incumbent)
  • District 6: Roscoe Bartlett (R – incumbent) vs. John Delaney (D)
  • District 7: Frank Mirabile (R) vs. Elijah Cummings (D – incumbent)
  • District 8: Ken Timmerman (R) vs. Chris Van Hollen (D – incumbent)

So out of 19 contested races I predicted 15 correctly, and I stuck my neck out on percentages a few times as well. I missed Romney by 8 points statewide and 9 points here in Wicomico County. I think the “inevitable” mantle made the difference.

But with Dan Bongino I was only 2 points off statewide. Probably my worst guess, though, was being 19 points off with him in Wicomico County. It’s worth noting that the Douglas late-game media strategy seemed to pay off on the Eastern Shore since he carried six of the nine counties and would have carried the nine-county Shore if he hadn’t been blown out in Cecil County by 1,250 votes. Bongino carried five counties with over 40 percent of the vote (Cecil was one along with Anne Arundel, Frederick, Queen Anne’s, and Montgomery) while Douglas could only claim two such counties (Dorchester and Talbot.)

I saw this possibly ending up as a rerun of the 2010 race where Eric Wargotz had more money while Jim Rutledge had more grassroots (read: TEA Party) support. Obviously media reaches a LOT more people quickly than grassroots efforts do in a statewide race, and the money to buy media is a key element of a successful campaign. That’s where Eric Wargotz succeeded, because Jim Rutledge didn’t raise a lot of money and Eric had a sizable bank account to tap into.

But as it turned out the Douglas bankroll wasn’t all that large, and an abbreviated campaign with a spring primary didn’t give Rich quite enough time to build a support base of his own. Those three or four extra months Dan worked on his campaign (at a time, remember, when better-known prospective opponents like Wargotz and Delegate Pat McDonough were considering the race) turned Bongino from an also-ran into a nominee. By succeeding enough to nationalize the campaign Dan made himself into a formidable opponent to Ben Cardin. Had this been a September primary, though, the result may have been different.

Now we have just under seven months until the general election, a chance for the campaigns to take a quick breather and begin to plot the strategy for November victory. For Democrats, it will be a hope that Obama can fool people into believing he’s an effective President and having long enough coattails. On the other hand, Republicans need to point out the Obama record while spelling out their own solutions – that’s where we’ve been lacking in some respects. We need to give people a reason to vote FOR us rather than AGAINST the other SOB.

So start working on those platforms, ladies and gentlemen. If we are to win, we need to not be a pastel Democrat-lite but present bold colors to Maryland and the nation.