When three should be one

Last month I wrote about the controversy some Central Committees around the state faced when it came to filling vacancies for Senator and Delegate positions. It boiled down to the preference of Governor Hogan to have a selection of names to choose from when it came to these positions clashing with both the desire of local Central Committees to make the choice and the language of Section 13 of the Maryland Constitution.

If you look at those who have been appointed so far to the various positions, there is a level of familiarity involved: Barrie Ciliberti is a former Delegate returning to the House of Delegates, while Andrew Serafini and Justin Ready have moved up from the House to the Senate to fill vacancies there. The seats formerly held by Ready and Serafini are among the three current vacancies in the House of Delegates, with the other being the seat formerly belonging to Delegate Cathy Vitale, who was tapped by the outgoing O’Malley administration to fill an Anne Arundel County judgeship.

In the cases of Ciliberti, Ready, and now Vitale, there has been no shortage of controversy in filling the seats. Supporters of Wendi Peters, who finished fourth in the District 4 primary for Delegate, fumed that a member of the slate also consisting of Delegates Kathy Afzali and David Vogt and Senator Michael Hough leapfrogged Peters in the selection process – Barrie Ciliberti was fifth in that primary, but a Frederick County Republican Central Committee consisting of Hough supporters made the decision with Carroll County’s body tabbing Ciliberti as one of their three finalists as well.

Carroll County’s Republican Central Committee has its own stain, replacing its original choice of Robin Bartlett Frazier for District 5 Senate at the behest of the Hogan Administration, which insisted that they amend the process to permit the elevation of then-Delegate Justin Ready to the Senate.

With Anne Arundel County now under the gun to replace Vitale, the three vs. one controversy is back. According to an article in the Capital Gazette by Chase Cook and Sarah Haynesworth, Anne Arundel County’s Central Committee is planning to send just one name to Governor Hogan – at least until there’s a formal request to do otherwise. Apparently such a request is on its way.

If it were my Central Committee, though, that formal request would be crumpled up and thrown into the circular file. The Gazette piece quotes current Delegate Tony McConkey at length, noting that he’s advising the AARCC to send just one name.

As I stated in January, the selection of a state officer should be done closest to the district involved, meaning it would be the Central Committee’s task to select the recipient and not the Governor’s. It’s a similar argument to the one we as a Central Committee have made regarding the wisdom of an elected Board of Education for Wicomico County as opposed to the current system of appointees from the governor’s office in Annapolis. Assuming we get the school board as currently envisioned, even the appointees for the hybrid portion of the board and for any vacancies would be done locally.

Yet there’s now another element being thrown into the mix. On her way out the door Delegate Vitale introduced HB1070, which would change the Maryland Constitution to allow for a special election in Presidential years once a vacancy is created. As an example, if the law were in effect today those who were recently appointed would face re-election in 2016 to a two-year term rather than serving all the way until 2018. In its description of the proposal the Gazette is incorrect because the earliest we could see such an election would be 2020 – even if passed this year it would be on the 2016 statewide ballot as a question (most likely Question 1.)

In some respects this is a good idea, but I think this would be very confusing to voters. In certain time frames, it could also be difficult to get a person to serve unless it was understood they would be a caretaker member until the election was over – sort of like the situation we faced in replacing Page Elmore in 2010 during the midst of a primary campaign for his successor. The consensus we reached with Somerset County was to put his widow in the seat until the new Delegate was elected (which turned out to be Charles Otto.)

Nor should we forget that, when the shoe was on the other foot and a Democrat was appointing for a Democratic seat, only one name was turned in by the local party organizations.

If appointments are going to be done in Annapolis from a list of three names, it begs the question: just what function do Central Committees have, anyway? At that point the Appointments Secretary just might as well handle the whole thing. I hope that’s not the overall intent of the Hogan administration, but right now they seem to want to cut the locals out of the process where they can and it’s disappointing.

Anderton among Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC endorsees

Yesterday the Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC announced seven endorsements for the 2014 campaign. All seven of these candidates are Republicans and they are seeking office in most corners of the state, so I will cover them in district order. As a hint to what they are up against, I’m featuring the lifetime monoblogue Accountability Project (mAP) score for incumbents.

  • Robin Grammer, District 6. This Baltimore County district elected three Democrats in 2010 but only Michael Weir, Jr. (mAP = 28), who is seeking his fourth term, decided to run again. (John Olszewski, Jr. decided to run for the Senate seat of retiring Senator Norman Stone and Joseph “Sonny” Minnick opted to retire.) So two of the seats are open in a district which has elected moderate Democrats and just might be amenable to the GOP alternative.
  • Gordon Bull, District 12. Sliced between Baltimore and Howard counties, this used to be a 2/1 split district. But all three incumbent Democrats, who had a combined 52 years in office, decided to get out so the opening is there. Not the easiest territory but hopefully the district’s conservative voters can unite and sneak Bull into the top three.
  • Michael Ostroff, District 14. Ostroff certainly has a tough race. All three incumbents are running again: Anne Kaiser (mAP = 3), Eric Luedtke (mAP = 2), and Craig Zucker (mAP = 3) are in the race. But for Luedtke and Zucker, this is their first bid for re-election so the jury could be out on them – Ostroff provides a conservative alternative for MoCo voters.
  • Philip Parenti, District 27B. Some could write this race off because it’s in Prince George’s County, but a significant part of the 27B district lies in Calvert County, much friendlier to Republicans. It’s the eastern half of the old two-member District 27A, but shifted even a little more eastward into Calvert. Moreover, Parenti is up against a newcomer rather than an incumbent – James Proctor, Jr. is running in adjacent District 27A while Joseph Vallario, Jr. was redistricted himself to District 23B. So this is a winnable race as well.
  • Deb Rey, District 29B. St. Mary’s County has been trending more Republican over the last four years and the opponent is 15-year veteran John Bohanon, Jr. (mAP = 6). True, her section of the 29th district at the southern tip of St. Mary’s County has a Democratic voter advantage – but so does Wicomico County and we see how Republicans do there. This is a case where the Delegate may be a mismatch for the district in terms of voting record.
  • Sid Saab, District 33. Saab is in the catbird seat among these contenders. Two of the three incumbents in the newly-restored District 33 (it was a split district) are Republicans who have represented Anne Arundel County well – Tony McConkey (mAP = 82) and Cathy Vitale (mAP = 80) decided to stay on, while Robert Costa (mAP = 44) opted to leave after three terms. It created the opening for Saab, who should hopefully score about as well as McConkey and Vitale, if not better.
  • Carl Anderton, Jr., District 38B. Most of my readers should be familiar with Anderton, who’s running against a 28-year incumbent in Norm Conway (mAP = 6.) State Democrats tried to assist Conway by excising most of the geography of his old district, removing Republican-heavy Worcester County entirely and centering it in the Salisbury metro area. Voter registration would suggest it’s a leaning-Democratic district but in terms of registered voters it’s also the third-smallest in the state – so the candidate who can motivate best has an advantage and Carl is working extremely hard.

While this PAC isn’t wealthy by any means, they can throw a few hundred dollars into the coffers of each of these candidates should they so choose. But it’s more important to spread the word about these worthy conservative alternatives – imagine what the General Assembly would be like if all six won and pushed the GOP numbers tantalizingly close to 50. Even getting to 47 would be a victory as they could get around the committee process if all stick together.

So those who bought raffle tickets from the group should be pleased with the results.

Expected: McDermott Tier Map repeal dies in committee vote

Update 2-21-13: Surprisingly, the Senate companion bill (SB391) received a vote in their Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. It failed 7-4, with the committee’s three Republican Senators (Jennings, Reilly, Simonaire) being joined by Democrat Roy Dyson – that part was no shocker.

I knew this would primarily be a symbolic bill because Democrats in Annapolis weren’t going to cede back any sort of planning control to the counties upon gaining it in 2012. But I was disappointed in the vote on Delegate Mike McDermott’s House Bill 106 for two reasons: the lopsided 19-5 margin and the abandonment of common sense by two Republicans: Delegates Cathy Vitale and Herb McMillan, both of Anne Arundel County.

It’s also worth pointing out on a local level that Delegate Rudy Cane, who is the Chair of the Agriculture, Agriculture Preservation, and Open Space Subcommittee within the Environmental Matters Committee, voted to retain a bill which won’t do a thing to preserve agriculture – although it may increase the amount of “open space” as farms go bankrupt and become overgrown.

While there is a companion Senate bill, Senate Bill 391, the common procedure once a crossfiled bill is killed in one chamber is for the measure to either be withdrawn or simply not get a committee vote since the other chamber rejected it. We’ll see if Senator E.J. Pipkin, who sponsored the bill, presses for a vote anyway to put people on the record.

Since the repeal bill was defeated in committee, it will be up to counties to now either defy the state’s edict or go along with it. There is another bill pending – House Bill 1385, also sponsored by Delegate McDermott – to extend the deadline to July 1, but any artificial deadline defeats the purpose of localizing zoning decisions. Wicomico County residents will have their say on the issue Wednesday evening at 6 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center; also worth mentioning for my Cecil County audience is they’ll have a similar hearing on the Tier Map they already passed tomorrow night at 7:00 at the Cecil County Administrative Building, apparently because the state overlords don’t care for it.

Finally, it’s very likely that this HB106 vote will be one of the three Environmental Matters Committee votes I use for the 2013 monoblogue Accountability Project. So it looks like Delegates Hogan, Jacobs, Norman, O’Donnell, and Otto have an early lead on getting Legislator of the Year honors. I’d like to publicly thank them for voting for the people (and agricultural industry) of Maryland, even if it was in vain.

Doomsday rally quotables from notables

Some of what was said Monday evening in Annapolis:

Delegate Michael Smigiel:

“Did anybody here vote for somebody to create a quarter-billion dollar slush fund for you?” – reaction to a provision in the BRFA called the “Budget Stabilization Fund.”

“They’re telling us to move forward into a tax bayonet, pointed right at the heart of the middle class.”

“We’re going to be one Maryland united against these tax increases that they’re trying to put on us.”

“Only in ‘entitlement math’ is the fact that you’ve got a $700 million increase (but it becomes) a half a billion dollar cut.”

“A triple A bond rating means one thing: you’re willing to tax anybody, any amount, anytime. I would much rather have my freedom, I would much rather our counties have their sovereignty, then to have the burden of having to pay that $35 billion (in teacher pension liability) coming due.”

Introducing Delegate Mike McDermott: “Our next speaker has changed the way things are done in the legislature as far as speaking goes. They had to repaint the walls after Mike spoke the first session because he peeled a little of the paint off.”

U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino:

“Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about how Republicans – we’re this anti-government, anti-tax crowd. Folks, that’s nonsense. You know it and I know it. I will proudly give you my last dollar to fund our fighting men and women overseas…I will proudly fund our police, our fire, our teachers, our court system. But folks, I will be damned if I pay one more dollar to fund a cowboy poetry festival in Nevada.”

“We have all the gifts in the world (in Maryland.) Why are people leaving? It’s not us, it’s them…it’s him (Martin O’Malley.)”

“They like to classify people into ‘us’ and ‘them’, because if they don’t have victims they don’t have anything.”

State Senator E.J. Pipkin:

“(As of Wednesday, when the revenue bills pass) Martin O’Malley is officially the $2 billion governor.”

“One thing (Democrats) can never, ever stop: that’s the idea that we can have better ideas than what’s on the table, and we have the right to put them forward, and eventually our better ideas will win out.”

AFP Maryland head Charles Lollar:

“We have the arrogance of an administration that wants to take more money from you and I…it doesn’t work, you’re wasting more of our money.”

“It’s an issue about taking money from those who create opportunity and trying to give it to those who simply don’t want to create opportunity.”

“Whether it’s five people, 15,000 people, or 500 people – this is our state, this is our country, and you’re not going to take it without a fight on your hands.”

“We created the greatest economy on God’s green earth with sweat equity, an American spirit, and a belief in God that was greater than our own. And now my fear is…my daughters are going to inherit a state that does not understand the American spirit.”

“You cannot pursue happiness sitting on your rear end.”

To Governor O’Malley: “On our watch, you will not be able to continue to raise taxes and sleep peaceably because we’ll stand right outside your window…until you understand this is our state.”

David Craig, Harford County Executive and 2014 candidate for Governor:

“This is actually a doomsday session, not a doomsday budget. I could live with the budget that was proposed.”

“If you look at our history, we were called the Free State. Now we’re the Fee State. I’m surprised they didn’t charge you a fee to come here and stand and listen to this.”

“Please don’t die, because it’s going to cost you twice as much to get your death certificate.”

“We don’t have Democrats in this state – I get along with Democrats. We have ‘monocrats’ in this state. They just want a one-party state so they can run things.”

Delegate Mike McDermott:

“We have a governor that is increasingly putting the burden on our children’s children. Nonstop. It is the kids – today we were inside, and all the kids are taking the tour, and they’re walking around looking at history, and I’m thinking ‘you know what, every one of you poor kids is getting tagged for this.'”

“We’ve got the best schools that debt can buy.”

“When the governor moves you forward, just remember you’re walking a plank. That’s where we’re moving forward on, we’re moving on a plank.”

“Governor, if you’re not going to change your ways – if you’re not going to cut our taxes, if you’re not going to control our spending – then the next time you bring a budget in here, and we strike it, you strike the colors of the state of Maryland and you run up the Jolly Roger! Because this is nothing but a pirate ship! The only thing missing from the Governor and his staff is a patch over one eye and a parrot on his shoulder.”

Delegate Neil Parrott:

“Washington County, I look across the border – I see West Virginia. I see Virginia. I see Pennsylvania. And I see businesses, unfortunately, relocating or locating to those other counties instead of coming to Washington County.”

“We’ve got to stop this tax and spend attitude. It’s out of control. We also need to stop the one-party system in Maryland; it’s not working.”

“One other way – besides just winning elections – that we can change our state is something we haven’t used very much, but we just used it last year for the first time. They wanted to raise our taxes to give it to illegal aliens – that’s what they wanted to do and they still want to do it. Thanks to you all, last year we stopped that.”

“This year, I came to session thinking ‘you know, we’re (in a) $1.2 billion structural deficit,’ which just means this: we came to session thinking we’re spending $1.2 billion more than we’re taking in. That must be Governor O’Malley’s top priority…instead, he spent over half the session pushing through a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland.”

“This (Congressional districting) map is an example of politicians choosing their voters. We don’t want politicians choosing their voters, we the voters want to choose our politicians.”

Senator Nancy Jacobs, a 2012 Congressional candidate:

“Governor O’Malley does not live in reality. When was the last time this man bought a gallon of gas? Before he was here – on our taxpayer dime – he was in the City of Baltimore and they paid for his gas. When was the last time he bought a loaf of bread, or a gallon of milk? We should put him on one of those game shows and see if he knows the price of any of these things, because I don’t think he does.”

“I always thought that when (O’Malley) said we’ve got to move the state forward, that’s code for here comes another tax.”

“(O’Malley) has higher aspirations and they are costing the citizens of Maryland so he can go to Washington.”

Delegate Cathy Vitale:

“We didn’t pick the cuts. We didn’t select what was going to happen. The doomsday budget was carefully selected to cause you to come back here to fix the problem. Anybody figure out there’s a problem?”

“Decisions were made, it’s time to live with them. Go home.”

Delegate Gail Bates:

“Our beautiful State House dome is made of wood…do you know they don’t have a single nail in that? It was all put together with wooden pegs. Do you know why? There was a tax on nails, and they refused to pay it.”


As far as actual results go, the protest didn’t do much. We’ll get the income tax on those who make a middle-class living, the tax on certain tobacco products, and other “revenue enhancements” we don’t need. But now we have them on record again, and you can bet votes from this Special Session will find their way to the monoblogue Accountability Project.