WCRC meeting – May 2010

As the campaign season begins to hit its stride, we’re finding a larger and larger share of our attendance comes from those having something to do with a campaign, and this was the case tonight at the WCRC meeting.

Of course, we kicked things off in the usual way with the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, reading of the April minutes, and treasurer’s report. That went by rather quickly so we could hear from our featured speaker.

Originally we had arranged to hear from former U.S. Senate and Lieutenant Governor hopeful Carmen Amedori, but she graciously bowed out of her speaking engagement when she exited the race. Fortunately, the speaker we wanted for April was available and Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio gave us the rundown of this year’s General Assembly session.

Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio gave us a report on the 2010 General Assembly session.

It’s somewhat depressing to know that over 2,700 bills were introduced in a short 90-day span of time, but that’s how many they had. Obviously the most important ones had to do with the state’s budget, and given the state’s budgetary rules having the House Appropriations Committee cut $11.7 million out of it was a surprise (as was the $9.3 million cut by their Senate counterparts.) Not so shocking was the $12 million supplemental budget taken from federal stimulus funds which actually increased Governor O’Malley’s original budget.

Haddaway-Riccio told us that voted against that whole mess while stating “a reduction in increase is not a cut.” She also warned that a bloated capital budget “almost guarantees an increase in property taxes” because we’re close to our borrowing limits.

Yet the Republicans were not “the party of no” as they proposed alternatives. Some examples of cuts were eliminating Medicaid fraud and abuse (saving $195 million), reducing executive branch salaries to $1 below Governor O’Malley’s ($2.3 million) and eliminating out-of-state travel expenses ($1.9 million.)

But the news wasn’t completely bad. She had helped pass a job creation tax credit (albeit with several strings attached) and also had helped with enhancing Jessica’s Law, working with business interests to grandfather in projects already in progress from onerous (“way overreaching”) stormwater regulations, and expanded the services nurse providers could provide – something which helps areas with a shortage of doctors such as the Lower Shore.

Needless to say, Jeannie did believe the business climate could be improved – otherwise “we’re chasing our tax base out of the state.

As for the future, Haddaway-Riccio thought it was important not just to put a Republican in the governor’s chair but also to increase their numbers in the General Assembly. Having just 1/3 of the seats (47 in the House, 16 in the Senate) would allow GOP legislation to be brought to the floor and not locked in a committee chair’s desk drawer. It also helps at the committee and subcommittee levels where we can best effect necessary changes.

To Jeannie, the next steps for the state would be to put our fiscal house in order, address the poor business climate, and better balance the economy and environment, a balancing act she believed could be achieved.

While many of the questions were clarifications of items she’d gone over before, a couple stuck out. Jeannie brought up the attempt to impeach AG Doug Gansler by Delegate Dwyer as an example of the need for better accountability and more transparency. She also revealed that a clone of Arizona’s SB1070 would be introduced next term by Delegate Pat McDonough.

Mark Biehl gave the Lower Shore Young Republican report – their food drive netted over $100 cash and 200 food items, which is a start. Next year they would challenge other stores to get involved. Also, the Maryland YR convention will be in Salisbury June 18-19 with other states participating in the gathering too. Featured speakers will include Bob Ehrlich, Audrey Scott, and Andy Harris, along with RNC staffers.

As for the Central Committee, John Bartkovich showed off our hardware (the Aris T. Allen Award we received at the state convention) and asked we keep up the momentum of candidate recruitment. Several future events are in the works (Farm and Home Show, Autumn Wine Fest), we need good sign locations, and our newest associate member is a familiar face – Cynthia Williams agreed to come back into the fold (she was a predecessor of mine on the WCRCC.)

We then launched into a series of campaign updates.

Newly minted candidate for Wicomico County Executive Joe Ollinger.

Joe Ollinger began by giving us a brief rundown of his biography as a retired businessman who came here nearly thirty years ago to begin his own company. This gave him the perspective of “an outsider looking in” to the county’s government as opposed to the incumbent’s view from the inside looking out. It was a contrast of having the background in government operations which Rick Pollitt has compared to the leadership Joe pledged to exhibit.

As of now, Ollinger has no events set but the campaign is working on both that and literature to hand out. He will attend the Americans for Prosperity meeting on Wednesday night, though, and his website is up and running.

Mark McIver was “humbled and excited” about being recommended to run Bob Ehrlich’s local campaign; that is, until he was told he needed to win the county with 70% of the vote and help bring more House and Senate candidates in. Yet this was a doable goal, particularly when he’s teaming up with Worcester and Somerset counties and other candidates to help out.

District 37A candidate Bob McCarroll.

One of those candidates surely will be Andy Harris. Ed Nelson represents the Harris forces locally and announced Andy will be the featured speaker at Wednesday’s AFP meeting. Key items for him were a local fundraiser June 16, a meet the candidate breakfat later that month, and getting sign placements along U.S. 50 – Wicomico has its share but Ed would like more before Memorial Day.

The one thing holding back Bob McCarroll’s campaign is the lack of a treasurer since his original choice had to back out, but once he has that locked up he’s going to hit the ground running. The District 37A hopeful can still get to events and press the flesh so I anticipate he’ll be spreading the word using some good old-fashioned shoe leather for the moment.

As for Michael James, State Senate candidate in District 38, “things are going great” according to Dustin Mills. Voters who were longtime Democrats seem to be swinging Michael’s way, and James has been very visible at several recent events.

For firsttime candidate Ryan Hohman, this may have been his initial campaign event.

Ryan Hohman is another first-time candidate getting things started, although he does have the advantage of a campaign treasurer. Ryan is running for one of the two Wicomico County Council at-large seats, presumably to replace departing Councilman Bill McCain, who chose not to seek re-election. He’s ready to start knocking on doors and getting his campaign in full swing.

Speaking on behalf of District 38B Delegate aspirant Mike McDermott, Sean Jester noted that his campaign needs volunteers (naturally, since Sean is the volunteer coordinator.) He also pointed out a curious fact – Worcester County has not been represented by a Republican in the House of Delegates since 1874. Time for a 136 year streak to end!

Don Coffin gave a report on the Jim Rutledge fundraiser last Saturday. There were a few Democrats there who were willing to switch parties just to vote for Jim, and moneywise it was quite a success. Coffin noted that Saturday was his first fundraiser and now he know “the dos and don’ts” of hosting an event. Don also volunteered a number of area sign locations to candidates meeting his standards.

Gail Bartkovich is running for re-election to Wicomico County's Council District 3.

Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio gained back the floor briefly to mention a fundraiser for Bob Ehrlich which will be held June 13 at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge.

Finally, Gail Bartkovich announced that she’d filed to run for re-election and she was ready to campaign. The County Council president represents District 3, which encompasses the eastern and southeastern sections of Wicomico County.

While he’s not a candidate, Woody Willing mentioned that the club’s Crab Feast is coming sooner than we might think – August 28 is the date. He also noted for the benefit of the candidates there that not all polling places allow signs on their property.

With that, the meeting came to an end although most of the candidates stayed around to pick up supporters and volunteers. The next meeting will be June 28 with social time at 6:30 and meeting at 7:00 – speaker is to be determined but we have invited a statewide candidate.

WCRC meeting – April 2010

After some of the craziness of March’s meeting, things returned to a fairly normal pace and routine this month.

We did the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, then the minutes of both February and March were read. Following that, it was revealed that our efforts at the Salisbury Festival only netted a meager profit thanks to the “small crowd,” with the lack of steamed corn on the cob also making an impact.

A series of reports followed, beginning with the Lower Shore Young Republicans presented by Dustin Mills. Several of their members braved the poor weather to help at the Salisbury Festival and they were putting the “final touches” on the state convention, where they expected somewhere between 125 and 150 to attend.

The LSYR food drive will occur May 8th at three of the four Salisbury area Food Lion stores – confirmed are the Nanticoke Road and Snow Hill Road locations, with the other being either Tilghman Road or Fruitland.

Dustin and I split the Central Committee report; he remarked on the upcoming GOP Spring Convention in Ocean City and I on the success of the Lincoln Day Dinner with Bob Ehrlich.

We then had a number of campaign updates.

Ed Nelson commented on the Salisbury stop on Andy’s bus tour on Friday. While 30 people showed up on an early Friday morning, Nelson said the candidate was “satisfied” with the press coverage as his campaign is “gelling together.”

Dustin Mills (again) referenced the Michael James campaign for State Senate, telling us Michael was “extremely active” compared to his 2006 effort and lauding the “positive reception” Michael received at the Salisbury Festival.

Don Coffin spoke up and announced he was holding a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Jim Rutledge on Saturday, May 22 at his farm. A recent fundraiser for Rutledge in Salisbury raised about $3,000 so there’s support here on the Eastern Shore for the candidate.

Bonnie Luna spoke on behalf of Bob Ehrlich’s campaign, recounting his kick off tour which stopped in Parsonsburg and Ocean City.

Bob McCarroll also gave us an update on his bid for office.

In other news, Dustin Mills pointed out some of the numbers behind the recent Rasmussen Poll on Maryland’s race for governor. We know that Ehrlich trails O’Malley 44-47 in his race, but Maryland is a state which gives President Obama more support than the average state and is more supportive of Obamacare. Yet Martin O’Malley has a 22 strongly approve/29 strongly disapprove, or a factor of (-7) compared to a national average for President Obama running in the negative teens. But tellingly, about half of Free Staters have a “throw the bums out” mentality when it comes to their own delegate.

We also learned that the AFP meeting Wednesday may have Delegate candidate Mike McDermott as a speaker but Michael James had to drop out – he’ll have a surrogate for the meeting.

The bulk of the meeting’s discussion centered on the club’s financial plan for the upcoming election, which eventually passed without objection. Once we finalize the slate of candidates come September the WCRC can be a huge help to local Republican candidates.

Our next meeting is May 24 and still on the docket despite her change in office sought is Carmen Amedori.

Toppling an incumbent

A few weeks back I spoke about District 37A, positing that Rudy Cane can be beaten. This stemmed from a Wicomico County Republican Club meeting where we were introduced to GOP hopeful Bob McCarroll.

While this district is a crazy-quilt district (check out this example of gerrymandering) set up originally to protect the most liberal Eastern Shore Democrat as a majority-minority district, recent development has changed the demographics and made this a prime chance for pickup. So if you live in the area between Cambridge and Salisbury (also encompassing Hurlock, East New Market, Vienna, Sharptown, and Hebron) you can help get your area better representation in Annapolis.

To that end, Bob McCarroll, who is running for Delegate in 37a, would like to hold an organization meeting for his campaign either this week or next. If any one would like to help get this campaign off the ground please e-mail him at b_a_mccarroll@yahoo.com. He is shooting for Saturday, April 17, but is flexible if other dates work for those interested.

While it’s not a “perfect” conservative to liberal spectrum, just knowing that Rudy Cane ranks just outside the bottom 10 in the monoblogue Accountability Project shows he votes far to the left of what an Eastern Shore legislator should. Too often he votes in lockstep with delegates from Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties – and we see how well those areas are run.

So the question for District 37A voters: have you had enough yet? If so, help yourself get some real representation in Annapolis!

How beatable is Rudy Cane?

As an adjunct to my last post, I wanted to share some information I looked up on the Maryland Board of Elections website.

While we tend to think Democrats are invincible, particularly in a majority-minority district like District 37A was drawn out to be, here are the facts.

In 2006 Rudy Cane ran unopposed in the general election. More’s the pity because he only won his primary with 68.7% of the vote.

And in 2002 Cane only won with 56.5% of the vote. Granted, this was the year Bob Ehrlich won election and a point when President Bush was riding high in the approval polls. For Cane, this was a decline from when he won the district with 63% of the vote in 1998.

Before that, Cane was beaten in a three-way race in 1994, the last time Republicans held the seat. In that election, Don Hughes won with 41% of the vote, beating Cane’s 40 percent. The difference was an independent candidate by the name of Lemuel Chester, who garnered 19% of the vote and carried the Dorchester County portion handily. Cane lost by 20 votes out of nearly 7,000 cast! (Oddly enough, Hughes only served that one term and chose not to run again – a true citizen legislator.)

The demographics aren’t as bad as one might think, since development has placed the district into a situation where it may not be a “majority-minority” district anymore. So with the right message and hard work, Bob McCarroll can win.

Democrats talked boastfully last year about making Maryland a “10-0” state, with Democrats occupying all the Congressional and Senate seats in Washington. Methinks this is the year we can make it a solid Republican Eastern Shore by ending the political careers of Rudy Cane (12 years), Norm Conway (24 years), and Jim Mathias (4 years but ambitious enough to run for the Maryland Senate to replace Lowell Stoltzfus.) It can be done, let’s do it!

WCRC meeting – March 2010

Despite the fact there was no flag in the room and our secretary was away on personal business (among other oddities) the Wicomico County Republican Club persevered and gathered once again to celebrate our party – and perhaps lick a few wounds from the health care fight. We did give our customary recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and pledged in the general direction of the courthouse, where certainly a flag would be handy.

Perhaps the recently completed health care fight still left a little bit of acrimony in the crowd, and it began with the treasurer’s report. There was some discussion about changing banks after the group received word of a couple fees we found objectionable, but we will allow the bank to present its case before moving our money.

The contentiousness died down so that our guest speaker could begin his campaign pitch.

Bob McCarroll told us one reason he was running because “no one has stepped up” in District 37A over the last eight years; indeed Delegate Rudy Cane was unopposed by a Republican in 2006. (He did dispatch his Democratic primary opponent with 68.7% of the vote but didn’t carry the small part of the district in Dorchester County.) However, the key reason he was running was his four year old daughter – he was “worried about her future in this area and county.” Areas of particular concern were deficit spending and education, where McCarroll spoke in favor of vouchers (so money could follow the child and allow parental choice) as well as the state “get(ting) off teacher’s backs” and cutting a “top-heavy” administrative system.

In fact, a main theme of Bob’s presentation was the concept of government getting off our backs. For business, that took the form of cutting onerous taxation, including the “millionaire’s tax.” For farmers, it was slicing the amount of environmental regulations, as McCarroll opined that farmers could be better stewards of the land than some Annapolis bureaucrat. The same goes for those making their living on the waterways, like fisherman and watermen. In all, noted Bob, “Maryland has more restrictions than New York,” where he grew up.

On the Obamacare “debacle” McCarroll thought it best that Maryland make an attempt to opt out of the mandates as much as possible.

One question about vouchers asked about the input the state would have in private schools if vouchers were made available, and Bob said that we’d have to trust the legislators – he’d propose a “hands-off” policy. In that same vein, another questioner asked why we couldn’t have a 50-50 split between funding vouchers and public schools, where half the parents’ tax burden would stay with the public schools. But then schools wouldn’t “step up their game.” McCarroll also favors an elected school board.

Another questioner asked about the “minority component” of the district and what would be most appealing to them. Bob saw taxes and educational restructuring as the key issues which would bring in black voters.

On another query, McCarroll saw a line-item veto as “a good idea.”

But perhaps his best answer was on how he could appeal to small businesses. Besides cutting taxes, Bob related his contemplation of starting a small business of his own, but backing off when he “couldn’t get a straight answer” from the state. It was time to “streamline regulations” and exempt Maryland from some of the more onerous federal restrictions.

After McCarroll concluded, we got the Lower Shore Young Republican report from Dustin Mills. The state convention was still in planning stages, but they were looking forward to being hosts. However, the food drive planned for later this month was being pushed back to a date in May. That and the convention also affected planning for another hog roast and fundraiser similar to that they held last year.

But in better news Dustin informed us there would be a meeting in Worcester County for the first time as the LSYR club wished to expand its geographic reach.

Bob Miller again appealed for Salisbury Festival volunteers to both man the WCRC booth and make brownies. The Salisbury Festival is held April 23 and 24 in downtown Salisbury.

Dr. John Bartkovich was pleased that Bob McCarroll was running and commented, “we need more people to step up.” Exciting upcoming events for Wicomico Republicans were the Lincoln Day Dinner April 3rd featuring Bob and Kendal Ehrlich, a town hall meeting with state Chair Audrey Scott on April 5th, and the Spring Republican Convention April 30 and May 1 in Ocean City at the Princess Royale. We also drafted a letter endorsing the idea of an elected school board and asked County Council to consider the idea.

After dealing with a financial question which involved some discussion, we made one other key decision: henceforth our meetings will begin a half-hour earlier, with social time at 6:30 and gavel at 7:00.

This means our first 7 p.m. meeting will be April 26. At this time, we haven’t secured a speaker. Our May meeting has U.S. Senate candidate Carmen Amedori slated, with probably a host of local candidates getting their turn over the summer.