The money race

Apparently the monetary race for the Republican nomination for governor in Maryland has a surprise leader.

Most people would have repeated the conventional wisdom that Harford County Executive David Craig would have raised the most money by now – after all, he’s been running his 2014 campaign since 2011. While he attracted notice because of what his campaign termed “technical problems” with the software, the bottom-line numbers for 2012 showed Craig raised $231,103 in 2012 and had a cash balance going forward of $200,736. Those figures aren’t too bad for a race two years hence.

However, Craig was outgunned – to the consternation of some – by a lightly regarded contender. Blaine Young has worked hard in raising sufficient funds to wage a serious campaign, and in his 2013 report the Frederick County Commission President asserted that he raised $446,951 and had $349,277 on hand, despite holding a number of fairly costly events to advance his profile.

The spin coming out of the Craig campaign was that:

Until now, we have been running a light operation realizing that the party’s full efforts and finances needed to be invested in the recent national election. I am confident that the work we accomplished this past year, both in terms of fundraising and relationship development will position me as a contender for whichever office I choose to seek.

Interesting that he’s being coy about his choice, since he’s term-limited out of his present job and had all but announced a gubernatorial run last year.

Of course, Young was ecstatic about his returns:

I am proud of the work my campaign put in to accomplishing my fundraising goals to get us to this important step. This early show of support from donors across Maryland lays the groundwork to continue my campaign to be the Republican nominee for Governor in 2014. I am both thrilled and humbled by the report we submitted.

Two other Republicans who have made overtures toward the Governor’s race lag far behind in fundraising. The campaign to draft former Congressional candidate Charles Lollar filed an affidavit that it had neither raised nor spent over $1,000 in the race while onetime Delegate candidate Meyer Marks has no active account on file (but has a website announcing his intention.)

Unfortunately, the Democrats have been hard at work raising money as well, as the following figures show:

  • Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown: $1,247,811 raised ($93,500 from PACs), $1,641,547 on hand.
  • Attorney General Doug Gansler: $1,236,284 raised ($51,620 from PACs), $5,203,796 on hand.
  • Howard County Executive Ken Ulman: $1,139,945 raised ($29,530 from PACs), $2,132,761 on hand.
  • Delegate Heather Mizeur: $244,089 raised ($6,750 from PACs), $349,882 on hand.

So money is likely going to be a GOP disadvantage in this campaign, which means the Republican winner is going to need a tremendous ground game to negate the monetary advantage the Democrat is almost certain to enjoy unless a primarily self-funding millionaire – think Rob Sobhani – gets into the race.

One might ask about the possible entry of Larry Hogan into the fray, but something I didn’t realize about the Change Maryland chairman is that he incurred $325,000 in loan debt to himself during his abortive 2010 race for governor. (His 2012 report, the latest available, was filed in July, 2011.) So he would start from less than zero, which suggests to me we may have just a three-person race if Lollar decides to run.

But it’s always seemed that the Republicans compete with a monetary disadvantage. I could have stayed up all night looking up some of the businesses and special interests which seem to contribute solely to the Democrats in this pay-for-play atmosphere if I felt like going through over 100 pages of contributions to each campaign but Delegate Mizeur’s. Surely the same is true for downticket races, too.

So it looks like we’ll have to work harder and smarter, which I have no doubt we’re capable of. At least with a June primary we’ll know who our standardbearers are and have more time to point out the obvious deficiencies in the record of the Democratic nominee.

After all the shouting

We’re just about through the last weekend of the 2012 campaign, and hopefully by late Tuesday night we will have a good idea of where the country will be heading over the next four years (or perhaps four decades, should the incumbent win.) Of course that’s assuming we have no protracted recounts such as we endured 12 years ago – the prospect of two such occurrences in a lifetime boggles the mind.

Yet regardless of what happens Tuesday life will go on, and the sun will come up Wednesday. I’ll still have my work to do as will most of the rest of us who don’t toil for candidates.

I’ve always been about thinking two to three steps ahead where possible, which is why I’m writing this postmortem of sorts on the Sunday before the election. (It’s also why I wrote my book and eschewed the normal publishing process to get it to market prior to the campaign season hitting high gear. Did it cost me some sales? Perhaps, but readers can remedy that situation easily enough as I link to the sales sites from monoblogue.)

Just in the next three months there are a lot of political stories still to be written, from the local to the national. Here in my adopted hometown of Salisbury, the mayoral race will take center stage. No one has formally declared for the office yet, but it’s highly likely we’ll have at least two (and possibly three) candidates: incumbent Mayor Jim Ireton will go for a second term, realtor Adam Roop made it known almost a year ago he was seeking some unspecified office – his two choices are a City Council district seat or mayor – and recent transplant and blogger Joe Albero has made his own overtures. At least he’s invested in the shirts:

That will probably begin to play out in the next couple weeks.

After that we begin the holiday season, which may be politicized to a certain extent as well. My thought is that if Barack Obama wins, the early predictions of a modest year-over-year growth will hold true or end up slightly lower than imagined. I seem to recall last year started out like gangbusters on Black Friday but tailed off once those big sales came to an end. On the other hand, a Mitt Romney win may open up the purse strings and result in an increase twice of what was predicted. I think seeing him win with a GOP Congress will boost consumer confidence overnight as they figure the long national nightmare is over.

Once the holidays are over, it’s then time for both the 113th Congress to get started and, more importantly for local matters, the “90 days of terror” better known as the Maryland General Assembly session to begin. In the next few weeks I will finally wrap up my annual monoblogue Accountability Project for 2012 in order to hold our General Assembly members accountable for all the good and bad votes they made in the three 2012 sessions. With so much written about in 2012 on my part, I had to put that project on the back burner for most of the fall.

At the same time, state races for 2014 will begin to take shape. Unlike the last three gubernatorial elections we do not have the prospect of a candidate named Ehrlich in the race, which leaves the field wide open. While the three who have made overtures toward running on the GOP side have already made their presence known, only one (Blaine Young) has formally announced and the conventional wisdom (such that there is for Maryland GOP politics) labels him as the longest shot of the three most-rumored candidates, the other two being early 2010 candidate Larry Hogan and outgoing Harford County Executive David Craig.

But there are also down-ticket statewide races to consider as well, and there’s a decent chance that both Attorney General and Comptroller may become open seats as Doug Gansler and Peter Franchot, respectively, consider a race for Governor. (While there are three hopefuls so far for governor on the GOP side, there may be at least five on the Democratic side: Gansler, Franchot, current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and Delegate Heather Mizeur.)

The GOP bench is a little shorter for the downticket positions at this time, but I believe William Campbell is willing to reprise his 2010 Comptroller run and wouldn’t be surprised if Jim Shalleck doesn’t make sure he’s on the ballot this time for Attorney General. Another intriguing name for the AG position would be 2010 U.S. Senate candidate (and attorney) Jim Rutledge, who obviously has the advantage of having already run statewide. On the other side, I’m hearing that State Senator Brian Frosh (who generally serves as a dictatorial Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee) is one name in the mix for AG, but another intriguing one is former First District Congressman Frank Kratovil, who is now a judge in Queen Anne’s County.

So the beat will go on after this year’s election is over. It’s not surprising to me that I’ve had some great readership numbers over the last few weeks, but the last couple weeks in particular have blown me away. The trick, though, will be maintaining the audience through a period where fewer discuss politics and more concentrate on friends and family during the holiday season. I won’t be so presumptuous to believe that my humble little site should be uppermost on everyone’s mind, but I hope to roll into year number 8 of monoblogue in grand style.

Where’s the beef?

During a political campaign of any sort, the candidate and his or her handlers will spin any information they can control in order to make himself or herself look completely golden. Massaging the image is the name of the game, so getting a peek behind the curtain can be a real eye-opener if you know where to look.

The other day I had forwarded to me an interesting e-mail from a member of a particular Central Committee which National Committeewoman candidate (and former MDGOP Chair) Audrey Scott had visited – it was not ours, since as of this writing Mrs. Scott has not visited Wicomico County as part of her bid. (Rumor has it she will come to our quad-county meeting later this week.) Aside from thanking them for their consideration and asking for their support, one of the key quotes from the note was this evidence of her financial savvy:

As State Party Chair, I retired a $250,000 debt in the first 5 months of my term and raised over $1.5M, in addition to obtaining another $1M from the RNC for the Victory Campaign.

To me, that seemed quite odd. Continue reading “Where’s the beef?”

The Maryland Republican Party as a career ladder?

You know, I think this was a reason some were concerned about Alex Mooney becoming chair.

But late on Tuesday the Maryland Republican Party Chair announced he was forming an exploratory committee for the Sixth District seat now held by Roscoe Bartlett, who is beginning to look more and more like a lame duck candidate – case in point, the strong suspicion that his (now former) chief of staff, Bud Otis, may be making a bid for the GOP nomination. Bear in mind there were already several candidates in the race for the Sixth District before all this intrigue began, making the statewide Senate race look cut-and-dried by comparison.

Continue reading “The Maryland Republican Party as a career ladder?”

In Maryland, fourteen becomes two

And everyone thought the Maryland Senate would be the tougher hurdle for gay marriage.

But yesterday, a Maryland House of Delegates committee vote on the matter was stymied by the absence of two Delegates who had originally expressed their support but now had second thoughts; this according to a story by Julie Bykowicz in the Baltimore Sun. Delegate Jill Carter of Baltimore City was holding out for the restoration of $15 million in school funding cuts to Baltimore City schools and a vote on a pet bill of hers presuming joint custody of children for divorcing couples; meanwhile, Delegate Tiffany Alston wanted time to pray over her vote.

Their absences were key because the 22-person committee appears to be split 12-10 in favor of the bill and losing the two ‘yes’ votes would kill the bill on a 10-10 tie. Instead of holding the vote as promised, Judiciary Committee Chair Joseph Vallario, Jr. opted not to send the gay marriage bill on to defeat, choosing to postpone the vote until all 22 members (or at least 11 supporters) were present.

Obviously Delegate Alston could become key – while Carter will likely be mollified by a promise to look at a funding solution more suitable to her needs, Alston may be having second thoughts based on the perception of her Prince George’s County district toward gay marriage. (As an example of this, it was minority votes that doomed California’s gay marriage bill to failure in 2008 via the Proposition 8 ballot issue.) Opponents of same-sex marriage are already plotting to gather signatures to put the bill to referendum next year should it pass the General Assembly, but that won’t be necessary if Alston or another House Judiciary Committee supporter switches sides, leaving 11 for and 11 against.

Yet, while this is a case where the outcome would benefit the conservative side, there should still be some criticism shown to Delegates Alston and Carter for ducking this vote. If they are having second thoughts about the measure, they should just show up and say no. Believe it or not, gay marriage is NOT the most important issue facing Maryland – even Delegate Carter noted, “there’s no need to act quickly on gay marriage because the 90-day session is only about half over and lawmakers are in their first year of a four-year term.” So what is the rush to pass a bill this year? Don’t they have a budget deficit to address?

It is sort of a bitter irony – and a sad commentary on our society today – that social conservatives and pro-life advocates can’t even get the time of day in the General Assembly, but if a small minority in the population wants to be able to call themselves “married” our representatives in Annapolis are supposed to drop everything and hurry to pass what they desire, especially when civil unions achieve many of the same goals.

In the end, though, I think the two Delegates will fold. Carter will be promised what she wants and Alston, who is a freshman legislator, will find out that what the Democratic Party wants in Annapolis, the Democratic Party gets – principles otherwise be damned.

But I’m hoping Alston proves me wrong and changes her mind in order to thwart the militant gay lobby. It may not be the most logical thinking I exhibit because I can’t cite a foolproof explanation for it other than tradition, but I believe marriage is only meant to be between a man and a woman. Maryland doesn’t need to be yet another laboratory for social experimentation, and the law should stay as is on the subject regardless of what Doug Gansler chooses to think.

Murphy speaks out

It’s about four minutes of commentary, but former gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy had the chance to discuss the recent election with Shari Elliker on WBAL Radio Friday.

There’s no doubt that Murphy paid as much attention to the election results as the rest of us did, and it’s not clear from the conversation that his campaign rhetoric about Bob Ehrlich being beatable wasn’t quite the “I told you so” in retrospect. Critics noted that Bob Ehrlich’s message was a little muddy in their postmortems.

But now is the time to look forward to what is and will be. Martin O’Malley has one more term to serve as governor, and it’s conceivable a number of state Democrats are playing the game of being coy about their 2014 plans while laying the groundwork for a run of their own for Government House. Anthony Brown, Peter Franchot, and Doug Gansler are naturally front and center in that conversation since they have ran and won statewide.

Meanwhile, the GOP side has its own contenders with Brian Murphy probably among them. (He was coy about this in his conversation with Elliker, but one has to believe he’s considering the prospect of seeking an open seat. We’ll see based on how much interaction he has with Republican and TEA Party groups in the coming months.)

But we can’t forget a couple other names.

The old guard establishment may well be represented by Larry Hogan, who began something of a placeholder run for Governor this year until Bob Ehrlich got in.

We also need to consider Charles Lollar, who was the beneficiary of a draft movement last year but was tripped up by residency requirements this time around based on when he first registered to vote in Maryland he was just a few months short of the five years required. Undaunted, he ran for Congress. Unless Democrats decide to push through a ten-year requirement to foil him again, he may well decide to run again IF he doesn’t win a Congressional seat first.

It’s going to be about message, though. With the strong probability of another set of tax increases or expansions for Maryland one has to wonder just how long it will be before the unaffiliated voters and thoughtful suburban Democrats realize that continually funneling more money to the state for fewer and poorer core services needs to come to a screeching halt and eventually be turned around. Given the slow pace of economic recovery, the prospect of a strong economy come 2014 can only be described as a crapshoot at best – people my age may recall that the Reagan recovery didn’t begin until his third year in office and if a Republican takes the White House in 2012 it may take that long to undo the Obama damage (even with a GOP House over his last two years.)

But I’m glad to see Brian Murphy hasn’t gone away. Maybe we should be hanging onto those yard signs.

Impeachment bid spurs full-fledged protest

While the impeachment of state Attorney General Doug Gansler by Delegate Don Dwyer of Anne Arundel County is widely expected to be considered out of order by House leadership, this effort has sparked a protest which will occur tomorrow morning in Lawyers Mall.

Billed as a “Constitutional Freedom Rally,” supporters urge that a message be sent to Maryland elected officials that the public will not tolerate lawlessness nor will Constitutional violations be unchallenged. Organizers expect hundreds of people to rally beginning tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

(continued on my page…)

The Maryland marriage controversy

When Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler opined that Maryland should recognize the same-sex marriages of couples wed in the District of Columbia, he overturned precedent set in 2004 by former AG Joseph Curran and ignored a 1973 state law recognizing marriage solely between one man and one woman. Delegate Don Dwyer quickly denounced Gansler’s ruling and announced a bid to impeach the Attorney General.

While Dwyer is no stranger to impeachment proceedings over same-sex marriage, attempting to remove Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock for her ruling declaring the state law unconstitutional, he’s noncommittal thus far on whether he’ll include Governor O’Malley in his impeachment crusade as O’Malley publicly backed Gansler Wednesday.

(More on my page…)

An impeachable offense?

The argument over same-sex marriage continues, but has drawn a companion sidebar regarding Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler’s interpretation of his job vs. existing laws. Cue House of Delegates member and same-sex marriage foe Don Dwyer:

On March 31, I will be bringing Articles of Impeachment against Maryland’s Attorney General Doug Gansler at approximately 10am on the Floor of the House of Delegates. Please read further as to why I feel that I must take this action.

If you support me, please consider coming to Annapolis in a public show of support for upholding the Constitution.


Maryland recently recognized same sex marriages for the purpose of marital benefits. The recognition of same sex marriages performed in other states was not enacted by the Maryland legislature nor was it mandated by Maryland courts; rather it was the independent decision of Maryland’s Attorney General Douglas Gansler, released on February 24, 2010.

Because this was a blatant attack on Maryland’s current law that states: “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state” and because this action is clearly a violation of the separation of powers related to the three branches of government, the Attorney General was put on public notice that impeachment charges were being drafted.

As if the Attorney General was not in enough hot water, on March 1, 2010 HE DECLARED HIMSELF UNIMPEACHABLE in an attempt to thwart any attempt by the legislature to hold him accountable for usurping their authority. Unbelievably, the Attorney General went to a subordinate member of his staff, Mr. Dan Friedman to write the letter addressed to Maryland’s Speaker of the House, stating that the Attorney General could not be removed by impeachment.

Mr. Gansler’s actions have put Maryland in a constitutional crisis. The highest law officer in the state who is an elected member of the executive branch of government has violated his Oath of Office and has revealed his incompetence, and his willful neglect of duty. As a constitutional officer, he must ensure that the provisions of the State and U.S. Constitutions are upheld in all cases, including a constitutional charge against him.

Attorney General Gansler testified in his official capacity two years ago in support of a gay marriage bill. He said that iit (sic) would be hard to not try to correct an injustice in the law. His testimony publicly revealed his partial and prejudiced position on the subject of same sex marriage. Mr. Gansler violated his oath of office in which he swore to perform his duties in an impartial and unprejudiced manner.

After revealing his bias on the issue, he was asked by a member of the Senate to advise on the legality of Maryland recognizing same sex marriage contracted in other states. Despite the fact that the Office of the Attorney General addressed that very same question in 2004, and despite the fact that no court ruling, or legislation has overturned that 2004 opinion, Mr. Gansler released a “new” opinion in which he “interprets” the law as supporting the legality of recognizing out of state same sex marriages.

In short, the Attorney General decided that a standing Maryland law is an “injustice” and subsequently misused the authority of his office to effectively change the law without having gone through the legislative process defined in the Maryland constitution.

If this goes unchallenged, the next Attorney General is likely to follow this precedent and usurp the authority of the legislature based on his personal bias. As result, citizens will no longer have the representation that is provided them under the Constitution.

The stage is now set in Maryland for a Constitutional show down. On March 31st a charge of impeachment will be brought before the Maryland House of Delegates at roughly 10:05 am. The House Speaker has publicly stated that he will rule the charge out of order citing the opinion that the Attorney General cannot be impeached as the authority for the out of order ruling.

Regardless of your personal view on same sex marriage, the recent activities of the Maryland Attorney General should give us reason to pause. Again, the Maryland Attorney General has taken for himself; the powers vested in the legislature and declared himself unimpeachable and unaccountable to the citizens of Maryland?

In case you’re wondering, I am pondering making this into an Examiner story closer to time but want to do a little bit of research and ask questions first. But in the meantime, I believe Dwyer has a case – at the current time Maryland law indeed states that marriage is between one man and one woman (and has said so since the early 1970’s.) If the General Assembly wants to have that fight, that’s one thing (and this may be considered after the safety of re-election next year) but for the moment that prospect is a no-go.

On the other hand, while Dwyer has a case, the actual prospects of getting Gansler out of office reside between slim and none, with slim having just vacated the premises. It would be a much better move to find a strong Republican candidate to oppose Gansler and perhaps make this election a referendum by proxy on the subject at hand. If Gansler isn’t Attorney General he’s free to make all the erroneous judgments of law he wishes, since it will no longer be as a representative of the state of Maryland.

Perhaps correct but symbolic

This comes from Delegate Don Dwyer, who represents Anne Arundel County in the General Assembly. He’s seeking to impeach current Attorney General Doug Gansler for a recent decision of his:

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010, the Attorney General released an official opinion allowing out of state same sex marriages be recognized under Maryland law. This action circumvents and usurps the authority of the Maryland General Assembly.

In 2007, after months of discussion and debate, Maryland’s High Court determined that the issue of same sex marriage was up to the General Assembly to decide.

By his actions today, the Attorney General has clearly violated his oath of office and has usurped the authority of the General Assembly.

Delegate Dwyer said, “Attorney General Gansler has violated the public trust by his actions and he will be held accountable.”

It goes without saying that this won’t go far as Republicans don’t have the necessary votes to bring the impeachment matter through. But it also brings out the differences of opinion regarding marriage and perhaps is a legitimate question about the separation of powers.

At its root, this is a case where the public sentiment may not be reflective of the sentiment of the General Assembly. Only its most liberal members would truly want to be on record supporting the concept, while Democrats from more conservative areas like the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland would be squeamish at best to support their fellows along the I-95 corridor should a bill legalizing same-sex marriage come to the General Assembly floor. This is why we haven’t seen that push, particularly in an election year.

So Gansler, in effect, is taking the bullet for his fellow Democrats since his odds of being re-elected in a statewide ballot are significantly higher than those of individual Democrats in conservative-leaning districts. At the moment, there’s no Republican running against Gansler. He also knows that the impeachment demanded by Dwyer won’t stand a chance in the highly partisan General Assembly so the decision was made knowing that he won’t be held accountable for it.