A thin case of semantics

I haven’t weighed in much on the Senate District 4 primary race between incumbent David Brinkley and challenger Delegate Michael Hough except to point out that Hough’s score on the monoblogue Accountability Project has been significantly better over the last four years as part of my summary within.

But the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance is reaching back 18 years to reinforce its belief that David Brinkley is pro-abortion, as they dredged out a procedural vote on a 1996 bill which would have banned partial-birth abortion in the state. It was a bill which failed in committee, so its sponsor tried to bring it back as a substitute bill and Brinkley voted against consideration, as did a handful of other Republicans whose names I recognize from that long-ago session.

I also noticed another name among the opponents, and that was Addie Eckardt. I don’t think she’s pro-choice in the least, but it’s interesting that the Senate version of that 1996 bill was co-sponsored by Richard Colburn.

Now I can better understand the logic of equating a vote for a budget which happens to have abortion funding as a tiny proportion of the whole, or not advocating more for the advancement of the PCUCPA bill – which didn’t even get a committee vote – than using this particular vote to paint a candidate with that broad of a brush. I know my opinions on some subjects are different now than they were in 1996, in particular the so-called War on Drugs and term limits, so this is an overreach in criticism as I see it. What Brinkley didn’t vote for in 1996 isn’t as relevant as what no one got to vote for in 2014.

Something that was voted on in 2014, in both the Senate and the House, was an amendment to remove taxpayer funding for elective abortions. Needless to say, neither version passed as the House amendment from Delegate Susan Aumann failed 84-48 and the Senate version lost 29-16. The sponsor of the Senate version? David Brinkley. This is based on information from Maryland Right to Life, which did a three-vote scorecard covering both the Brinkley and Aumann amendments as well as an amendment from Delegate Tony O’Donnell to limit taxpayer funding of third-trimester abortions. Delegate Hough went 2-for-2, as did most other Republicans in the House (Delegate Robert Costa didn’t vote on the O’Donnell amendment and Delegate Bill Frank missed both votes), while all but one Republican voted for the Brinkley amendment – Senator Allan Kittleman was the lone no vote. (If only the GOP were as united on several other issues, but I digress.) They also pointed out the failure of PCUCPA to get a vote.

This is what I mean by seriously reaching. It’s pretty likely that a Republican will be pro-life to one extent or another; on the other hand pro-life Democrats are few and far between. Of course, the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance could pick almost any of those standard-issue Democrats as the “Pro-Abort Legislator of the Year;” my choices would be the committee chairs who wouldn’t even give PCUCPA a vote.

Some may say I’m the pot calling the kettle black given my criticism of certain Republicans in various races. My beef is generally in one of two categories: issue obfuscation or pandering to a particular audience. Thus I have a preference for candidates who spell out a platform which is bold. Say what you will about Heather Mizeur’s views on the issues, but at least she makes no bones about being way out on the last strands of that left-wing feather and clearly states her reasoning.

But there is a point where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. The pro-life movement could do far worse than have David Brinkley re-elected, so maybe the MPLA should train its fire where it will do more good. Check out the pro-abortion votes from Norm Conway and Jim Mathias, for example – wins there from Carl Anderton, Jr. and Mike McDermott, respectively, will do far more good for the pro-life community than this internecine squabble.

Pipkin bids farewell to Maryland Senate

It wasn’t how you’d expect the political career of a man who served as Minority Leader of the Maryland State Senate – and who was brash enough to seek statewide office just two scant years after upsetting a longtime incumbent to enter the Senate in the first place – to end. But no one ever said E.J. Pipkin did the expected as a politician.

In a letter written on Maryland Senate stationery but addressed as a “Letter to the Editor”, I found this in my e-mailbox tonight:

Dear Sir,

First, I want to thank the citizens of the Upper Shore and the State of Maryland for giving me the honor of representing them in the Maryland Senate. My eleven years in the General Assembly has been a time of challenge as a Republican, a time of accomplishment as a State Senator and a time when I have learned much about people and what can be achieved when people are determined.

One’s responsibilities to family and oneself often change the direction of life. So, it is with regret that I am resigning as Senator from District 36. My last day will be Monday, August 12, 2013. I will carry with me both the bitter and the sweet memories of the past eleven years. My family will be moving to Texas, where I will pursue studies at Southern Methodist University for a Masters of Science in Sport Management.

I chose to resign now, rather than serve out my term, which ends in January 2015, in order to give the Republican who fills the 36th District Senate seat the advantage of serving the people until he or she runs for re-election.

Again, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity and honor to serve as your representative.


E.J. Pipkin

I’d actually first heard this at our Central Committee meeting this evening. But while the multimillionaire Pipkin follows his dream of higher education, those in his district have to consider a successor and, for the rest of us, the battle to become new Minority Leader among the other eleven Republican Senators is on.

I’ll look at the successor first. The obvious choice would be to elevate one of the three sitting Delegates from the district – who are all Republicans – to serve as the new Senator. In terms of seniority in the House, there is no contest because Delegate Michael Smigiel was elected in the same 2002 election which saw Pipkin win office. The other two Delegates, Steve Hershey and Jay Jacobs, were first elected in 2010. Smigiel also has the advantage of greater name recognition as he’s taken a lead role in the fight to uphold our Second Amendment rights.

Moreover, elevating Smigiel could allow the Central Committees within District 36 to correct a grievous wrong which has affected Caroline County for several years – it is the only county in Maryland without a representative in Annapolis, basically owing  to its small population and unfortunate geographical position of always being part of large, multi-county districts. While District 36 covers all or part of four counties, the Cecil County portion is also in two other House districts, with District 35A being exclusive to the county.

On the other hand, the race for Minority Leader boils down to just a few possibilities. Starting with the eleven remaining Senators, we can probably throw out three who are leaving the Senate next year: Nancy Jacobs is retiring, while Allan Kittleman and Barry Glassman are seeking County Executive posts in their native counties.

Senator David Brinkley, though, served as Minority Leader for two years (2007-08) and more recently was Minority Whip (2010-11). His counterpart George Edwards was the House Minority Leader from 2003 to 2007 under Governor Ehrlich, though.

The only other members with leadership experience in the General Assembly: Senator Joseph Getty was a Deputy Minority Whip in the House from 1999-2002, and he was succeeded by fellow Senators Christopher Shank from 2002-03 and J.B. Jennings from 2003-06. Shank was Assistant Minority Leader from 2003-06, though.

Since it’s probably going to be more or less of a caretaker role I wouldn’t be surprised if Brinkley doesn’t get another turn, although the newer members may want a fresh start with a new face. With only 11 votes (or 12 if a new Senator from District 36 is selected before the leadership change) the winner only has to convince five or six others.

Such is the sad state of affairs for Maryland Republicans when a former statewide candidate decides a gig in a master’s program is better than politics. I must say, though, it’s a good exercise in citizen legislation since Pipkin wasn’t a lifer and went on to something new after 11 years. I wish him the best of luck in Texas, and suspect he’ll like it there.

Romney gains Maryland support (and Pawlenty’s, too)

This news didn’t come to me directly, but it is legitimate: I found it on Mitt Romney’s website too.

Mitt Romney today won the support from leaders in Maryland.

“It is an honor to have the support of so many in Maryland,” said Mitt Romney. “They share my goals in this campaign to reverse President Obama’s failed policies and get our economy moving again. I look forward to working with them as I bring this message to Maryland and the American people.”

Announcing his support, State Senator Richard Colburn said, “Mitt Romney has a proven record of creating jobs and cutting spending. President Obama has failed on these points and it has hurt the American economy. Mitt Romney has the much-needed experience to lead our country toward an economic recovery.”

Maryland Leaders Endorsing Mitt Romney:

  • State Senator Richard Colburn
  • State Senator Joe Getty
  • State Senator Allan Kittleman
  • Delegate Kathryn Afzali
  • Delegate John Cluster
  • Delegate Addie Eckardt
  • Delegate Donald Elliott
  • Delegate Michael Hough
  • Delegate Nic Kipke
  • Delegate Steven Schuh
  • Former United States Ambassador to New Zealand Robert Goodwin
  • National Committeeman Louis Pope
  • National Committeewoman Joyce Terhes
  • 2010 Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor and Former Secretary of State Mary Kane
  • Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane
  • Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman Audrey Scott
  • Former Maryland Republican Party First Vice Chair Chris Cavey
  • Former Maryland Republican Party First Vice Chair Chuck Gast
  • Maryland Republican Party Treasurer Christopher Rosenthal
  • Garrett County Republican Party Chairman Brenda Butcsher
  • Howard County Republican Party Chairman Loretta Shields
  • Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Mark Uncapher
  • Frederick County Councilman Paul Smith
  • Howard County Councilman Greg Fox
  • State Central Committee Member – St. Mary’s County Mary Russell

Well, you won’t find my name on that list – it’s pretty safe to say that Mitt isn’t among my top picks. I see him as 2012’s answer to John McCain. Obviously, these 25 feel differently and that’s fine. Aside from Senator Colburn’s brief statement sure to draw a primary challenger in 2014, I don’t know what led the others to support him so I can’t really pass judgement on their intentions.

Continue reading “Romney gains Maryland support (and Pawlenty’s, too)”

Kittleman leaves state leadership post

For those critics who believe there is a schism in Maryland between social conservatives and the Maryland GOP; well, this news may prove that the two are joined at the hip.

Earlier this week State Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman of Howard County announced he was stepping aside, effective tomorrow. His reason? According to a story by Sarah Breitenbach in the Gazette, Kittleman is leaving his leadership post because:

I could just sense that the majority would feel more comfortable having someone who is more socially conservative, and that’s just not who I am.

This stems from a bill Kittleman plans to introduce in the General Assembly which would legalize civil unions for same-sex couples in Maryland. It’s a position which puts him at odds with many Republicans outside the Log Cabin segment.

State GOP Chair Alex Mooney, a former colleague of Kittleman’s, also weighed in on the situation and prodded Allan to reconsider:

Senator Kittleman is an excellent Senate minority leader and I encourage him to reconsider his decision to step aside this Friday.  In the past election Senator Kittleman was the only Republican Senator to give away most of his campaign funds to help elect other candidates.  Senator Kittleman also traveled the state of Maryland tirelessly to offer grassroots campaign support to candidates without requiring any litmus test on issues.

While Republicans in elected office and Republican voters at the grassroots level will not agree on every issue, Senator Kittleman’s strong record on issues such as the right to keep and bear arms, tax relief, parental rights in education and less government spending fit well within the values of the Republican Party

In addition, Senator Kittleman is a man of the utmost ethical and moral character.  He is a strong family man from a distinguished family of loyal Republicans.  I urge my former Republican colleagues in the state Senate and Republicans at the grassroots level to publicly show their support for Senator Kittleman to continue as minority leader.  I have already called Senator Kittleman today and asked him to reconsider.

I think the die has already been cast, and it will be interesting to see who emerges as the new Senate GOP leader.

To me, this is a no-win situation for the GOP. If the measure has enough votes to pass they would surely come from the strong Democratic majority, who would likely squeeze Kittleman out of any credit for introducing the bill. (Don’t put it past Democrats to write nearly identical legislation under their auspices and pass it, either.) If it doesn’t pass, of course Republicans will be blamed for hanging their leader out to dry over the issue.

There are some who argue that marriage shouldn’t be a government issue at all; that it’s an issue between the couple and their church or deity. Some states still allow common-law marriages, for example (but Maryland is not one of them.) However, the state does recognize common-law marriages originating in jurisdictions where they are allowed – for the most part they would come out of the District of Columbia.

In the Republican Party though there is considerably more sentiment for the idea of marriage being between one man and one woman than for muddying up the waters with civil unions or gay “marriage.” Perhaps that’s because the tried and true method for maintaining society depended on men marrying women, and children brought up under such arrangements tended to succeed on a more regular basis. Exceptions to the rule cut both ways, but I happen to think the inclusion of same-sex couples in this institution for the sake of “tolerance” is the wrong move.

I also believe that this hill is far from the best one for Allan Kittleman to die on. As Mooney points out, Kittleman isn’t too unconventional of a Republican in most other ways. Then again, if leadership is using the power of conviction to bring others to your cause Allan isn’t being much of a leader in this regard. Instead, he’s a follower who seems to believe that being politically correct will pay off in the end – it rarely does for conservatives.

In a time when Republicans need to do whatever they can to stop the unceasing march of Maryland toward becoming a statist’s paradise, we need strength at the top. Perhaps it is time for new blood in Senate leadership.

Update: Richard Cross wonders if this is a harbinger of a possible Kittleman run for state office.

Intriguing panel discussion highlights GOP gathering

This is the separate article I promised yesterday, but I wrote it for my Examiner page.

While the main plot of last weekend’s Republican state convention in Ocean City seemed to be the celebration of all things Ehrlich, an interesting sidebar turned out to be a panel discussion by four members of the General Assembly moderated by state party Chair Audrey Scott. The discussion featured three Senators: David Brinkley (District 4), Minority Whip Nancy Jacobs (District 34), and Minority Leader Allan Kittleman (District 9) along with Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (District 37B).

(continued on my Examiner.com page…)

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