Newt to push for Delaware votes

Those of you across the border may be interested to know Newt Gingrich has several Delaware events planned this week, well in advance of their April 24 primary. He also has two stops later today in Frederick, Maryland.

Newt will be at a local auto dealership and Hood College in Frederick in a last-ditch effort to improve his Maryland standing, which places him in the low teens, according to recent polls. But tomorrow evening wife Callista comes to the First State for a speaking date at the Sussex and Kent County Republican Women’s Dinner in Milford.

Thursday will be a whirlwind day of stops in Delaware, with plans for Callista to read to children at a Christian academy in Dover, Newt to visit the Delaware Electric Cooperative office in Greenwood, then both holding late afternoon and evening rallies in Magnolia and Millsboro, at their respective fire halls. (I suppose one could call that a whistle stop tour.)

It’s obvious Newt is making his appeal to the conservative side of the Delaware GOP as his initial itinerary steers him away from the more centrist Wilmington area, where the bulk of Delaware voters live. On the other hand, the rural portion of Delaware he’s visiting is well off the beaten path for Presidential politics in most years – but 2012 will be an exception.

And it’s likely that these events will have a markedly different feel than Newt’s Salisbury stop, because they’ll likely be populated with local officeseekers gladhanding and the actual trappings of a political rally as opposed to Newt’s low-key college presence – conveniently, Newt has a fire hall rally in both Kent (Magnolia) and Sussex (Millsboro) counties. This is important because Delaware has a number of local elections including a Republican nomination to oppose current Governor Jack Markell.

So Newt fans who couldn’t get a seat at Salisbury University because the event was only open to campus attendees can see the Gingriches live and in person on Thursday if they want to take the drive up Delaware Route 24 to Millsboro. It’s a nice, sleepy little town that will be far more awake come Thursday evening.

The Maryland campaign begins

Now that Mitt Romney has won the Illinois primary – it was called for him barely a half-hour after the polls closed – one of the next “big” states on the docket is Maryland. (Louisiana comes first, on Saturday.) But Romney is the first major candidate to make a late push in the state, scheduling an event in Arbutus (3:30 at the American Legion Post 109, to be exact) later today. Something tells me Bob Ehrlich is going to show up at this event in his hometown.

One other piece of news worth mentioning is that Romney got another late endorsement from Harford County Executive (and 2014 candidate for something) David Craig, who said in part:

America is yearning for leadership. We are yearning for someone who can improve our course, who can inspire  ingenuity, and who can get our economy churning. That man is Mitt Romney.

As Governor, Mitt Romney inherited large deficits that he turned into record surpluses, through focusing on the economy by signing job-creating incentives into law and by slashing the red tape that hinders small business growth.

In 1999, the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics had been bogged down in a bid-rigging scandal, sponsors were fleeing, and the budget was bleeding red ink. When Mitt Romney came on board, he revamped the organization’s leadership, trimmed the budget, and restored public confidence.

He is a leader with executive experience and a proven track record of fixing what is broken, and America is broken.

I would tend to disagree with parts of that statement, but all the endorsement proves is that Craig is like a number of other politicians who seem to be banking on Romney being the “electable” Republican.

But the reason I really wanted to bring this up was to do some lobbying.

If a Republican candidate is to win in November, he is going to have to gather some crossover Democrats and conservative independents who respond to his message. And what better place is there to test drive such a message than an area where Democrats have the voter registration advantage but Republicans hold the offices? Yes, I think Salisbury would be an ideal stop for a Presidential candidate.

Most of the campaigns are spending time in Louisiana this week, which makes sense. But the only candidate who is planning on spending significant time in Maryland next week insofar as I can tell is minor candidate Fred Karger, and my gut feeling is he’d come nowhere near the Eastern Shore because, to put it charitably, he’s not exactly conservative.

I realize that presidential campaign schedules are made on the fly, but I’m sure we would be happy to welcome Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, or even Mitt Romney around these parts. Special added bonus: Delaware votes April 24.

So there is your offer. Take advantage of our hospitality while you can.

Odd and ends number 45

Thanks to Dan Bongino, who I spoke to the other night at our Lincoln Day Dinner. As he reminded me, I am now on number 45 in this occasional series of short items I grace with a paragraph or three.

So how about I start with an item involving him?

You probably don’t know the name Mia Love, but perhaps you should. The Utah Congressional candidate endorsed Dan with this statement:

“I first learned about Dan when he was being covered for a segment on Fox News.  I was amazed by his story and the passion he has for the state of Maryland,” said Mia Love.  “If we are going to change the way Washington operates, we need to start by electing folks like Dan Bongino.”

So I’m sure you’re thinking, well, that’s nice. But take a look at her website and read this piece of her life she shares therein:

On the day of Mia’s college orientation, her father said something to her that would become the ethos for her life:

“Mia, your mother and I never took a handout. You will not be a burden to society. You will give back.”

Consider that she’s born of Haitian parents and is a minority conservative Republican with a sound track record in her home state, and the strategy of this endorsement makes much more sense.

But there’s other endorsement news out there as well. This particular one shakes up the Sixth District race a bit, as former Senatorial hopeful Jim Rutledge eschewed endorsing one of the better-known candidates in the race and instead backs the underdog Robert Coblentz, calling him “a concrete conservative who understands the core principles and values that make America great.”

Perhaps that’s not a complete surprise, though, as Coblentz was the coordinator of Jim’s campaign in Washington County in 2010. Still, it gives him a little bit of gravitas in his uphill battle against more well-known candidates, and politicians have to start somewhere.

Returning to the Senate race, candidate Rich Douglas has been scoring media points with a couple appearances over in western Maryland. He called out Ben Cardin for not taking a stance on the gas tax during Alex Mooney’s WFMD-AM radio show Sunday evening, saying “I haven’t heard a peep from Ben Cardin (on the gas tax). There’s one simple way he can make his position known – go to a microphone and say what it is.” It also gave Mooney a free shot at Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola, who’s changed his stance on the issue since he decided to run for Congress in the Sixth District. “These politicians all look out for each other,” added Douglas.

Rich was also featured in a Cumberland Times-News story by Matthew Bieniek on Friday where he echoed some of his job creation arguments presented Saturday at our Lincoln Day Dinner:

Job growth is Douglas’ priority and he doesn’t think the current administration in Washington, and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, are doing enough to bring new jobs to Maryland and the nation.

“The unfavorable business climate is a major factor. … Congress has a duty to remove obstacles to success,” Douglas said. A senator should be out there promoting Maryland as a business destination, he said.

A strategic, comprehensive vision for the nation’s economic future is needed, he said. The current “salami slice approach” isn’t working, Douglas said.

Obviously Douglas is covering the state quite well, and the strategy of using local media may pay off come April.

Continue reading “Odd and ends number 45”

Not enough to tax?

After raising the cigarette tax in 2008 and the alcohol tax last year, a public health advocate (read: lover of big government and the nanny state) wants to jack up taxes on cigars from their current 15 percent rate, according to a recent Washington Times story by David Hill. Vincent DeMarco also spearheaded the unnecessary alcohol tax increase which took effect earlier this year.

I find it interesting that the angle DeMarco uses to justify yet another sin tax is teen smoking. Apparently cigarettes are now too expensive for teens to purchase – thanks to the additional taxes – so they are embracing cigars instead. DeMarco is quoted in the Times, “Anything that is going to stop young people from smoking is a good thing.” Well, sir, I have news for you – raising taxes on cigars and other tobacco products won’t work for that intended purpose. But you’ll certainly extract more money out of those adults who choose to smoke.

Continue reading “Not enough to tax?”

Making customers pay – twice – for a mandate

According to an AP story which came across the WBOC wires, Delmarva Power is looking to extract $39 million from its Delaware-based customers to cover the cost of installing so-called smart meters around the state. In their state Public Service Commission filing the utility claims that they spent $72 million on replacement, with much of it offset by savings but $26 million lost in depreciation value.

PHI, the holding company that owns and operates Delmarva Power, notes in their 2010 Annual Environmental Sustainability Report that “development of (advanced metering infrastructure) is nearing completion in Delaware…In total, PHI is installing about 1.2 million smart meters across its jurisdictions.” In that same report, they boast about receiving a $168 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to “support the rollout of our smart grid initiatives.” In other words, they used our tax dollars to get this ball rolling and now expect ratepayers to make up the difference. Now that’s chutzpah.

Continue reading “Making customers pay – twice – for a mandate”

The federal land grab

Over the past few weeks there’s been a push to place more of the land below our feet under federal control.

Using the lure of potential tourism dollars, Democratic members of Congress from both Maryland and Delaware have submitted bills to set aside land for a national historical park – Maryland’s would honor Harriet Tubman while Delaware’s would encompass a number of the state’s historical sites. In particular, the Delaware lament is that they are the one state without a national park. (Hey, they’re also one of just five states where their state capital isn’t served by an interstate highway either, but I’m not seeing a clamor for something more important like that.)

Certainly there can be a case made that some historical areas are worth seeing and rank among the nation’s top tourist attractions. But the argument can and should be made that, if an area were worth preserving, it would have already been done by now. And, as fellow bloggers in both states point out, what other restrictions will be placed on those who live in areas surrounding the parks? In particular, Ann Corcoran speaks from experience, and as she notes:

I’m not saying economic development is bad.  It’s just that when governments and developers team up to cheat or trick landowners that’s where I object.  Our Founding Fathers would, I am positive, agree with me.

By the way, the strategy is always the same—they dupe those true historic preservation-minded citizens with this “preserving our heritage” mumbo jumbo into being shills for the plan.   What about our heritage of private property rights and limited government?

And a side note: remember awhile back when there was a development planned for a tiny sliver of the Blackwater area? Well, those 3200 homes and the golf course will be a distant memory now that the state has its clutches of the land, but perhaps the even more onerous taskmaster would be the federal government. They’ll allow the state its $8 million boondoggle that’s already in the works, but that’s about it. Isn’t it nice to have a park suitable for maybe a three-hour day trip but nowhere to stay or play nearby because the natural beauty of farmland must be preserved?

It’s worth pointing out too that the federal government already controls about a third of the land mass in the country, although the vast bulk of the area is west of the Mississippi. Yet they can’t maintain what they have, nor are they eager to allow mineral, coal, or fossil fuel exploration under their land (which could help defray part of their upkeep costs.) Although it’s doubtful we have that particular concern under the Delmarva Peninsula, the counties affected will have to deal with the projected vast increase in tourism without the help of the property taxes they may have collected from the government-owned land.

Sometimes the powers that be just do something because they can. The state already has its mitts on the most important part of the Tubman area and presumably the same situation applies in Delaware for its historical sites. To me, that’s plenty enough protection – we don’t need Fedzilla telling us what to do as well.

If anything, let’s start returning land to taxpaying status and encourage upgrading our infrastructure to accommodate more commercial and industrial development to go along with the bid for more tourism. While it wouldn’t be appropriate to render these historical sites worthless by crowding them with development, we don’t need them to exist in isolation either.

New Delaware links

Apparently it was a hot time in Sussex County last night – and we thought the battle for Chair here in Maryland between the establishment and TEA Party was intense. But given the venom which still exists after the entire Christine O’Donnell and Mike Castle primary last September (five months ago!), I’m doubtful we here in Maryland have anything on the First State.

Obviously I’m looking at this as an outside observer, but thanks to Chris Slavens (who I already link to) I found a few other link-worthy sites across the Transpeninsular Line – check out DelawarePolitics.net and their extensive coverage along with Blue Hen Conservative and Sussex County Angel

In many ways, Delaware is the image of Maryland – a state dominated by an urban region where conservative rural residents are forgotten or just plain abused by the state government. They have a story worth telling as well, and while I don’t focus much on their state it’s worth linking to those in the know.

The forgotten commercial

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

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

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

New polling raises question on O’Donnell’s viability

Late last month I posted about the endorsement given to upstart Republican Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware U.S. Senate race. But perhaps the bloom is fading from the rose, or establishment Republicans in the First State have planted enough seeds of doubt in the minds of GOP stalwarts to push them away from the conservative challenger.

The most recent Rasmussen Poll in Delaware has Rep. Mike Castle handily defeating likely Democratic nominee Chris Coons by a 49-37 margin, with 9 percent undecided. While the margin has shrunk somewhat from earlier Rasmussen surveys, the pollster feels confident enough to state that the Senate seat now “leans Republican.”

On the other hand, O’Donnell, who trailed Coons within the margin of error last time around, now finds herself 10 points behind in a 46-36 race. Whether this is a result of Tea Party involvement or not is purely speculative, but one passage in Rasmussen’s report on the race raises some big questions:

If Castle is the nominee, the GOP makes serious inroads into the Democratic vote. Castle gets 81% of the Republican vote, while Coons carries just 56% of Democrats. But if O’Donnell is in the race, her GOP support is 66%, and 75% of Democrats support Coons. Voters not affiliated with either major party break close to even no matter which Republican is in the race.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of all voters in Delaware regard Castle as a conservative, while 61% feel this way about O’Donnell.  Fifty-seven percent (57%) consider Coons a liberal.

My first question is what the 54% in Delaware are smoking to consider Castle a conservative, that is, unless Rasmussen is polling a group who thinks Ho Chi Minh was a moderate. (Given that Delaware has a Communist Party that just may be the case.) And where are the 34% of Republicans who wouldn’t support O’Donnell going to go if she gets the nod? Would they vote for the guy most Delaware voters think is a liberal just to spite the mostly downstate conservatives who are O’Donnell’s base of support?

Let’s just let this observer speak:

“She has debts she hasn’t paid from the last race. She sold her house that was in foreclosure so she could run for Senate. She has a long history of not paying bills. She sued a conservative think tank that dismissed her. She’s a candidate who runs for office that unfortunately lives off the proceeds. You just don’t have a candidate in Christine O’Donnell that is considered credible. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a candidate with such a paper trail.”

When you come to find out this statement comes from Tom Ross, Delaware’s State Republican Party chair, perhaps it speaks volumes about the Delaware GOP. Apparently they would rather have a closet Democrat or the real thing. Yes, this is a state which sent Joe Biden to the U.S. Senate way too many times but you have to figure the lesson would sink in sometime.

Perhaps Christine O’Donnell isn’t the best representative of a conservative candidate, but that statement from the party chair demonstrates the Delaware GOP is in severe need of a housecleaning. No wonder O’Donnell is tanking in the polls.

Delaware challenger receives a key boost

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to Delaware politics lately because Maryland is so busy right now.

But when a leading national Tea Party organization takes notice of a particular candidate, that is pretty big news. So it was yesterday when I got this notice from the TEA Party Express endorsing GOP Senate challenger Christine O’Donnell.

The Tea Party Express is pleased to announce its endorsement of Christine O’Donnell for U.S. Senate in Delaware.

O’Donnell is battling liberal Republican Congressman Mike Castle for the GOP nomination.

“Christine O’Donnell has established a reputation as a strong voice for conservative constitutionalist principles consistent with the ideals of the tea party movement,” said Amy Kremer, Chairman of the Tea Party Express and one of the founding activists of the modern tea party movement.

In contrast, Mike Castle has proven himself to be one of the most liberal establishment Republicans who has repeatedly turned against conservatives and those in the tea party movement.

“We’re so excited to see the strength behind Christine O’Donnell’s campaign,” said Joe Wierzbicki, Coordinator for the Tea Party Express.

“We long ago announced our intention to hold Mike Castle accountable for his failed record in Congress, and now we have an excellent shot to make sure he is defeated by a solid conservative candidate,” Wierzbicki said.

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll shows O’Donnell polling ahead of Democrat candidate, Chris Coons by a 41%-39% margin.

During the Tea Party Express’ first national bus tour, Wierzbicki declared to CNN and other media outlets that Castle was one of the worst-offenders who needed to be defeated by the tea party movement. 

One specialty of the TEA Party Express is raising money. They count among their successes Nevada Senate challenger Sharron Angle, for whom they spent $550,000 on her behalf, and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, where the TEA Party Express spent $350,000. Other candidates they claim as political scalps include Utah Senator Bob Bennett, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and West Virginia Congressman Allan Mollohan. They also brag about scaring Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak out of a re-election bid with their threat to raise $250,000 against him.

But the TEA Party Express support is derived from that recent Rasmussen Poll cited, which had O’Donnell leading Coons and putting the lie to establishment First State Republicans who claim only Castle can win the “Biden seat.”

Considering the vast difference in resources between the two GOP hopefuls (Castle has $2.6 million on hand compared to just a shade under $70,000 for O’Donnell) it’s clear that Christine has a big hill to climb. Luckily, Delaware is a small state and the media dynamics are unique because Delaware shares television markets with adjacent states which are also busy with spirited electoral races. This makes retail campaigning a bit more effective. (It’s also worth pointing out that Democrat Chris Coons has about $950,000 on hand, which in terms of funding means he’s an easier target than Castle.) Putting national resources behind her may make O’Donnell enough of a candidate to turn that seat over to a conservative Republican – only time will tell.

And if we can get a close-by TEA Party Express 4 stop out of it I’ll be a happy man.

Dropping Delaware

It was a tough decision, but today I decided for space reasons to drop the links to Delaware political races.

Not counting party offices, in Wicomico County we are affected by four statewide races (governor, comptroller, attorney general, and U.S. Senator), two State Senate races, four races for Delegate, and contests for seven County Council seats, County Executive, Sheriff, State’s Attorney, Register of Wills, Clerk of the Courts, and three Orphan’s Court posts. It’s over 20 races for which to post candidates and links so something had to give.

Perhaps a blogger across the line like Chris Slavens or Elbert Collins can take up my slack and try to keep my Delaware readers informed. (Lord knows Salisbury blogger Joe Albero – who actually lives in Delaware – won’t do so.) Similarly, there should be a blogger or two in each county who aggregates the links for their home county and tries to keep readers informed about the political races. It could even be a job for the local hometown newspaper given the power of the internet and their presence there.

I don’t know how many local politicians read my site (my guess is most GOP officeholders do – Democrats, not so much) but if you have an event for my upcoming Political Calendar I’d appreciate a shout out – e-mail me or leave a message on my Facebook page. The better my calendar is the more readers, and the more readers there are the more people know about the event. And I won’t bury it among press releases, old jokes, and stories which are disproved by Snopes.com. Hey, I’ll even take advertising from the right people.

So again, I apologize for disappointing my First State readers for needing to be more Maryland-centric but this is the year to change Maryland’s policies. Your chance comes in two years.

A tale of two celebrations

It was a memorable Memorial Day weekend, and the many methods of celebration provided a contrast in styles.

Yesterday I found myself at an American Legion post outside Millsboro, Delaware for the Concert for a Random Soldier.

Just as the sign says, this is the Concert for a Random Soldier. A total of nine bands participated, with some players also doing some solo work.

From the reports given, this concert gets more participation and attendance each year.

It was a pretty full house under the pavilion at American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro, Delaware.

Some people got up and danced the day away. Later this week I’ll do a separate Weekend of Local Rock post, but here’s the reaction to one of the bands, 8 Track Flashback.

This couple enjoyed the oldies played by one of the participating bands, 8 Track Flashback.

It was a pretty day and venue.

Looking at the venue from the parking lot. The pavilion is about three years old and proved to be a fine venue on a sunny day.

Yet there was more to do than just listen to music. They had plenty of food for sale as well.

How about some bratwurst? This was just one of the things you could eat at the Concert for a Random Soldier.

Or you could take in the car show; this one was my personal favorite.

Aaaaah, the era before OPEC raised its ugly head. This is a sharp Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 convertible from 1972.

How about buying a shirt? Actually, this is what I wore today to the following subject of my post.

For a donation, you could buy an event shirt. The nice thing is having the band list to see who helped out.

The beneficiary foundation was named after a local soldier who was killed in action.

The foundation gets the money, but the proceeds from this event were going to a group called Guitars for Vets.

His mother, Terri Clifton, spearheaded the event after Chad was killed in 2005. From humble beginnings it’s grown over the last 4 years.

Event organizer and Gold Star Mother Terri Clifton.

In truth there were actually nine bands since one dropped at the last minute, but it made for a full day of music. Nor is this the only event the Chad Clifton Foundation holds.

A 5-K run in July might not be the first thing on my to-do list, but for those in military shape it should be a piece of cake.

The final picture in my Concert for a Random Soldier story is just because.

I just liked the picture of the tank and flag, that's all.

Perhaps it leads me into my description of this morning’s events at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. Unlike the growth and change in the Concert for a Random Soldier over the last four years, Wicomico County’s commemoration ceremony changes little from year to year, even to the point of many participants being longtime veterans of the event itself. One example: Tony Sarbanes as master of ceremonies.

As has been the case each year, former County Councilman Tony Sarbanes served as master of ceremonies.

The Junior ROTC provides the manpower to lower the flags to half-staff.

JROTC cadets stand at attention after lowering the flags at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

Unfortunately, the oppressive heat claimed one of their numbers as a casualty, but she was relieved quickly and the ceremony carried on without her. Seemingly the event is always held on a warm, muggy morning.

Those who are various members of the military are recognized, along with elected officials. We also get representatives from the offices of Maryland’s Senators and Congressman Frank Kratovil.

County Executive Richard Pollitt (center) looks on during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

A group of county elected officials look on during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony. From left is County Councilman David MacLeod, a man I cannot identify, County Councilwoman Gail Bartkovich, County Councilman John Cannon, Sheriff Mike Lewis, and County Councilwoman Stevie Prettyman. County Councilman Joe Holloway, State's Attorney Davis Ruark, and Delegates Norm Conway and Jim Mathias were also present.

After prayers to represent each branch of the military, we moved on to the tolling of the Red Knights Memorial Bell and reading of the names of Wicomico County’s fallen. These tasks have always been done by John Lynch and Ed Tattersall, respectively.

John Lynch always doubts he'll see the next year's ceremony but he hasn't been right on that yet. He tolled the Red Knights Memorial Bell at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

Ed Tattersall recites the names of nearly 190 Wicomico County citizens killed in war since World War I at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

While Matthew Wallace plays ‘Amazing Grace’ a wreath is brought forth to a place of honor.

Matthew Wallace plays 'Amazing Grace' on his bagpipes during the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

The wreath used at Wicomico County's Memorial Day ceremony.

The Wicomico County Sheriff Department has a detail which handles the volley of arms.

The volley of arms is performed by a trio from the Wicomico County Sheriff's Department.

One change comes in the duo playing “Taps.” This year it’s Isaiah Oakley and John Jochum doing the honors.

The mournful sound of 'Taps' being performed at the Wicomico County Memorial Day ceremony, May 31, 2010.

With that, we hear the benediction (as always, performed by the Reverend J. Harvey Dixon) and we move on.

Most linger a little while to catch up with old friends; sadly, in more and more cases each year’s ceremony is the last for a certain number of World War II and Korean War veterans, with Vietnam veterans not that far behind in getting older and grayer. Soon it will be up to those who have survived the wars of my generation fought in the Middle East to carry on the tradition – including those contemporaries of Chad Clifton.

They will inherit a tradition left in good hands by those who fought decades or even a half-century ago. But even they simply carried on a line of honor unbroken since the aftermath of the War Between the States and I’m faithful in my belief that the torch will passed on to yet another Greatest Generation. While a concert may break from a solemn tradition, it is one way to remember the fallen and a reminder that there’s no “right way” to honor those who served.