$4 million could do a lot more good

It’s not often that our little slice of Maryland makes national news, but Crisfield attorney John Phoebus struck a chord by promoting the latest White House petition. The petition, titled “Cancel the President’s vacation and send the $4 million it will cost to Somerset County, Maryland for disaster relief” reads as follows:

On December 3, 2012, President Obama denied the request of Governor O’Malley and the entire Maryland congressional delegation to award Individual Assistance to Somerset County, Maryland to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Somerset County is Maryland’s poorest county. The towns of Crisfield, Fairmount, and Deal Island were devastated by the hurricane, with flood waters causing widespread damage. These poor, working waterfront communities were already fragile from the decline of the seafood industry. Super Storm Sandy left them with no where to turn except FEMA for assistance.

For the $4 million it will cost taxpayers for the President to vacation in Hawaii, we could rebuild Somerset County. The President should stay home and send our tax money to Somerset County to rebuild.

Okay, insofar as the main compare and contrast point I agree wholeheartedly; in fact, by making national news Phoebus is bringing attention to a part of the country arguably devastated as much as those areas around the New York City metroplex where news outlets like the Weather Channel camped out and breathlessly followed the story of devastation. Somerset County is much farther off the beaten track and not a lot of people live there, so no one cared. Even when a grocery store which had operated 64 years was shut down as a result of the storm, it attracted little notice.

But the question is also one of assuming it’s the federal government’s job to step in and bail us out. In all honesty, if someone handed a $4 million check to the residents of Crisfield, how would they divvy the money out? Furthermore, how quickly do you think the complaints would come that so-and-so was getting benefits while we weren’t? Or that the money wasn’t being spent properly – remember those debit cards handed out after Katrina? I suspect the government learned an expensive lesson.

Needless to say, in the great scheme of government spending $4 million is a rounding error. If you figure the number of people affected it would likely only be about $1,000 each, if that. That’s why I have to question Phoebus’s assertion that it would be enough to “rebuild Somerset County.”  He correctly points out that the damage has long since been done since the seafood industry left, and $4 million won’t fix that either. Obviously it’s a completely symbolic gesture.

So far 3,440 have signed the petition, with a threshold of 25,000 to become eligible for a White House response. It’s likely that getting to 25,000 will take longer than the time remaining before Barack Obama steps onto Air Force One and jets off to Hawaii for the holidays, so the question may become moot.

I suspect what may happen this year is that certain one-time tax provisions will be made for victims of Sandy and millions will be doled out throughout the affected area to help particular victims. Somerset County won’t get rich from that, but I think that’s about the best they’ll be able to expect.

AFP meeting features seven candidates

It was a crowded agenda and pair of banquet areas at Brew River last night. Over 100 people jammed in to hear District 38 Senate hopeful Michael James, House of Delegates District 37A challenger Dustin Mills, and the five candidates who are seeking to take over the Elmore seat in the House of Delegates (District 38A.)

There were a few items of local club business to take care of first, though, and chair Joe Collins bemoaned the loss of his former cohort Julie Brewington, saying  “I lost my right arm.” (Brewington was present, though, as a candidate for Delegate in District 38A.) Missing was the usual PowerPoint presentation club members were treated to as Collins said, “learning time is over.” It was time to put what we’d learned in about a year into action.

Barry Oehl of the Worcester County AFP filled us in on a proposed television commercial, which would be produced for free – donations were being solicited to secure airtime locally. T-shirts were also available, with proceeds going toward the effort. (The Eastern Shore TEA Party Patriots also have shirts for sale.)

Dave Schwartz of the state AFP opined that early voting is “really going to be helpful for the conservative cause.” (I beg to differ, but…) He stated his case by asking how many of us would vote in the next hour if the option were there – most raised their hands, including me. Dave continued by pointing out that early voting allows conservatives to get the word out, frees up campaigns to reach out to other voters, and would reveal in rough numbers how turnout was going – for example, it would be big news if Republicans and Democrats had similar total turnout given the GOP’s 2:1 registration disadvantage.

Daryl Ann Dunigan introduced herself as a representative of Conservatives for Maryland and will be working with college students and other youth in the region.

While a large number of candidates were in attendance (for example, all four GOP candidates from House of Delegates District 38B and County Executive hopeful Joe Ollinger were there along with a sprinkling of other local hopefuls) the bulk of the time was spent listening to District 38 Senate candidate Michael James.

To James, the “race really is about experience,” but his experiences were different than his opponent’s. Key issues for him were to reduce our state’s debt, cut spending and taxes, and create jobs. He blasted the millionaire’s tax as “a complete failure” and suggested that “incumbents tend to be reactive.” As examples he used the fight to get Jessica’s Law passed and the lack of effort toward job creation in 2006 through 2009. Once this election year rolled around these and other items suddenly became priorities.

Since the meeting was billed as a “job interview” there were plenty of questions.

Michael took a question on deregulation of utilities and turned it into a treatise on overregulation itself, which he claimed “is trying to drive out jobs.”

But on a Second Amendment question, he stumbled slightly when he claimed he was for the right to carry with the proper license but the questioner followed with the point that any such restriction could be construed as an infringement. Michael conceded that was a valid point.

More palatable to the gathering was his answer on an immigration question – James does not support amnesty and believes Arizona Governor Jan Brewer “has done a great job” fighting for SB1070. “Maryland needs a similar…or tougher law,” said Michael.

Other questions dealt with bread and butter economic issues like taxation (“I will work my butt off to lower tax rates,”) free market principles, and government waste (there is “tons of room for consolidation” in the state budget.)

In short, he stated, “My campaign is about making Maryland more friendly to business (and we need to) elect people who have actually created jobs.” Under his leadership, the Carousel Hotel in Ocean City has gone from receivership and 8 employees to a thriving enterprise with over 300 workers.

A shorter session was held for Dustin Mills, who told those attending that “I’ve had enough…sick of being taken for granted.”

Among his key points was having a state government which was too laden with state employees; the large number of unfunded positions in the budget is a slush fund that’s “criminal” and “wrong.” Our sales tax was “killing” the Eastern Shore because of the large differential between Maryland and sales tax-free Delaware. And the state was taking too much from local government for their own needs – 95% of the gas tax which was supposed to revert to county government was instead confiscated by the state and a funding mechanism from fire insurance policies to local volunteer fire departments was almost all taken to help the balance the budget.

Since he currently works in the education field, Mills had sharp criticism for the school system – “what’s going on is outright criminal.” Mills would work to establish more local control and eliminate maintenance of effort requirements. Dustin also equated agriculture with small business, and questioned the amount of impact environmental regulations on Maryland farmers would have when just 15% of the Chesapeake watershed lay in Maryland.

“My faith lies in you” and not government, Dustin concluded.

I had the first question out of the chute, asking Dustin what issues were resonating with the large minority community in his district. He cited education and taxation as the two key issues, as minority-owned small businesses are also affected by the poor business climate. Also, Dustin is a “strong supporter” of the Second Amendment with “limited licensure.”

But the best question came from a constituent who asked how he’d be better than incumbent Delegate Rudy Cane? Mills cited his bad voting record and no dialogue with the voters in the district as areas Dustin would improve upon.

The five candidates from District 38A took the spotlight next. But since the hour was growing late, the format was limited to an opening statement and one question on how the candidates would work with being part of a minority. (Most likely, this wouldn’t apply to Mike McCready, but he is portraying himself as a conservative Democrat so would presumably vote often with Republicans.)

Julie Brewington got into the race at the last minute because, “what I saw wasn’t anything I could vote for.” As the former AFP co-chair, she called the group “my inspiration” and played up her outsider status by noting the House of Delegates was, “supposed to be for the common working person.” We could “take back our government,” said Brewington, and there are “too many ‘go along to get along’ people” in Annapolis. As for working in the minority, Julie believed “in my heart we are sitting on an abyss of change” and asked citizens to “work with me.”

Touting his experience, John Cannon was concerned “this (Eastern Shore) livelihood will be threatened” and called Annapolis leadership “cavalier” as they continued “ripping the guts out of local government.” To him, we were dealing with an issue of “taxation without compensation.” Among his attributes, he called himself conservative, pragmatic, and results-oriented – “I am a representative.”

Answering the question about working with the majority, Cannon suggested he had “no problem working across party lines” but wouldn’t compromise on principles. He would think out of the box and take initiatives where needed, and model his approach on the successes of the Eastern Shore delegation already there.

A born-again Christian and NRA member, Mike McCready also spoke about his experience in agriculture as a member of Delmarva Poultry Industry and operator of eight chicken houses. He’s also served two terms on the Somerset County Commission and touted that body’s financial success – in eight years the property tax rate had declined from $1.01 per $100 to 88.3 cents. “That is fiscal responsibility,” said Mike. Part of the belt-tightening was instituting a hiring freeze; on the other hand, they didn’t need a maintenance of effort waiver for county schools.

But he didn’t forget from where he came, stating “farmers are the backbone of the Eastern Shore,” and that “we cannot afford to put the watermen out of business.” McCready thought the best way to work with his fellow Democrats on certain issues was to “have a proposal in your own mind, too” and seek out allies to a rural point of view.

Charles Otto is also a farmer; in fact he has served as the president of the Somerset and Wicomico Farm Bureaus. That experience working on the outside of the political process to “create things we can live with” fueled his desire to get on the inside and become an advocate for land use issues and respecting private property rights. Otto answered the question about being in the minority by citing the need for finding allies in the General Assembly which hail from rural areas. But “the biggest issue we’ll face is monetary,” concluded Otto.

John Phoebus is “very happy AFP is playing a role in politics.” He “never imagined” he’d run for the House of Delegates but the loss of Delegate Page Elmore “left a huge void.”

Yet John also said he was “fed up” with what he saw coming from Annapolis, describing it as a “wholesale assault on Eastern Shore values.” The General Assembly is “out of touch,” Phoebus said, and 2010 was a “great opportunity to make a change.” Referring to the 2005 Fair Share bill that affected Walmart and may have cost Somerset County a distribution center, that “red-headed Eskimo” measure was proof we “need people who believe government isn’t the answer” in the General Assembly. Since it’s “not likely the GOP will take over” in the General Assembly, we need to work with like-minded members from other rural areas. (Otto cited Phoebus’s previous answer in his own, as the panelists answered in reverse alphabetical order.)

Michael James and Dustin Mills were also allowed to answer the question posed to District 38A hopefuls, with James stating the need to be proactive and “intelligently bring people to our side,” while Mills echoed Brewington’s earlier statement to not “go along to get along.” Instead, he would be a vocal advocate even if it means being a minority of one.

Needless to say, it was a lengthy meeting, taking over two hours to wrap. But those who stayed became much more informed about their alternatives in this election.

WCRC meeting – July 2010

Yes, you get pictures with this one!

First of all, can you tell it’s election season?

Supporters of John Cannon and John Phoebus made sure to have their hopeful's signage up before the event. Phoebus was a speaker while Cannon did not attend the meeting because he was at another event.

District 37A challenger Dustin Mills also was ready for the event.

After the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, minutes, and treasurer’s report was read it was time for the main attraction of the evening – candidate for Governor Brian Murphy. It was before a packed house.

It was a crowded room for Brian Murphy, probably the best turnout since we did a Presidential straw poll back in late 2007.

Candidate for Governor Brian Murphy speaks before the July 2010 meeting of the Wicomico County Republican Club.

Murphy described a childhood spent being both rich and poor, with a public school education and much of the time spent on the Eastern Shore (in fact, Brian graduated from Easton High School.) After going to the University of Maryland in College Park and spending one summer working in the World Trade Center as an intern, Brian went to work for Constellation Energy.

“I love talking about deregulation,” he said. But noting that the system was set up by lawyers and politicians, he asked, “why am I the only one surprised when it failed?”

After his stint at Constellation, Brian went into business for himself and started the Smith Island Cake Company. Now boasting 21 employees, Murphy claimed, “we created jobs where there were no jobs,” and made the point that, “no government can create a job.” (Sadly, he did not bring samples.) Right now, we don’t compete with Delaware, Brian continued, and there are “no answers” coming from either Annapolis or Washington, D.C.

Turning to a criticism of the budget, Brian recounted that his GOP opponent, Bob Ehrlich, raised the budget 28 percent during his term while Martin O’Malley tried the opposite tactic of raising taxes. “Our budget is broken,” said Brian, “We can’t afford more taxes.” Yet, “no one thought (the budget) was important enough to fix,” Murphy noted. And why is government “invincible?”

And while Ehrlich, “didn’t keep a lot of promises to the base,” Brian said that we can and should easily be able to compete with other states. Being Governor of Maryland “is like cheating…the deck is stacked in our favor” because of the natural and cultural advantages we enjoy.

Brian called running mate Mike Ryman “Kojak without a lollipop” and touted Mike’s experiences as a Marine officer and for the FBI as an asset in rooting out waste.

I also didn’t know that Brian was once a Democrat but like many others “I got evicted” when the party turned radically leftward.

He concluded his remarks by saying, “I’m not here for a career. I’m here for my kids.”

Brian Murphy answers a question at the Wicomico County Republican Club meeting as club members Dave Parker and Tom Hughes take notes.

Murphy was kind enough to take questions. Asked about the Arizona SB1070 law, Brian stated his support for the law and touted his endorsement from Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins, but also warned, “I will not tolerate racism.”

I asked him how he could work around the vast amount of our budget tied up in various funds. “Democrats don’t control the purse (if I’m elected),” Brian fired back, and “unfunded mandates are an excuse.” True, Maryland has an executive budget and we’ve already seen a, “duct tape and baling wire” budget as Murphy termed it. One thing I didn’t know is that Maryland has the largest Gross State Product in the country.

On stopping frivolous lawsuits, Brian conceded that, “I can’t make bills” but would promise to use his veto pen on bad ones. (Actually, bills can be introduced on the Governor’s behalf.)

The final question he took was on eliminating the state’s Department of Education. Brian stopped short of advocating its elimination but also opined, “money is not the problem, so money isn’t the solution.” Under his administration, “bad programs don’t get dollars.” He finished by taking a swipe at his two opponents, saying that because they’re lawyers, “I wouldn’t trust those two to run my bakery.”

Before he left, though, he stopped for a quick picture with District 38A hopeful Julie Brewington.

Brian Murphy, Republican candidate for Governor, poses with Julie Brewington, Republican candidate for District 38A. Whether this is an endorsement or not remains to be seen.

Ironically enough, our next speaker was a lawyer and will have Kendel Ehrlich speak at an upcoming fundraiser. John Phoebus took pains to proclaim he was a “Republican lawyer” who made sure to study the local small businesses he represented. His experience as a small-town attorney would “carry over well in Annapolis.”

While he was excited to be in the District 38A race, he was sorry that it was under the circumstances of Page Elmore’s illness and eventual death. Phoebus called Elmore a “great example” and a “strong voice” for Somerset County.

In some respects, though, Phoebus echoed the statements of Murphy, claiming Maryland was in a “bad position” to compete due to our tax structure. John would work to repeal the O’Malley sales tax increase and eliminate both the corporate tax and “millionaire’s tax.” “(The) anti-business climate needs to change” in Maryland, said Phoebus.

He concluded by touting his, “true conservative values…(that) government should be limited.”

Like Murphy, John answered a few questions.

But the first one, which asked about term limits, may have betrayed those conservative values. Speaking of the need to establish seniority, Phoebus said term limits could be enforced at the ballot box so they were not needed.

He did better on the issue of tort reform, where he thought laws should be set up to encourage mediation and perhaps a modified form of “loser pays” based on Canadian legal rules.

But when asked about a state exclusion from Obamacare, John said “I don’t know enough” about the proposal for a yes or no answer.

A question about the assessment process revealed John’s thought that the assessment process was “out of touch” with the real estate market, with rates, “going up like a rocket but down like a feather.” He thought he could support a cap on assessments but not a revenue cap.

Naturally, the follow-up question was posed about a revenue cap repeal, to which Phoebus responded would be best left up to local voters and not dictated from Annapolis.

Even after two somewhat lengthy speakers, we weren’t done yet. District 38A Delegate Carolyn Elmore, Page’s widow, rose to thank us for the outpouring of well wishes and support. She also proclaimed that, “maybe I’m a lame duck (since she’s not running for a full term) but I can quack loudly.”

Woody Willing repeated his call for silent auction items for the August 28 Crab Feast.

Mark Biehl gave the Lower Shore Young Republican report. The state candidate forum held earlier this month was plagued by low attendance but they would try again anyway August 11 with county candidates. They also have a hog roast coming up September 11 at Leonard Mill Park.

In his Central Committee report, John Bartkovich talked about all the “great candidates” the local GOP has and exhorted us all to help them. He was “most excited” about District 37A hopeful Dustin Mills, who was one of a dozen or more local officeseekers in attendance.

Marc Kilmer related that we will need volunteer assistance in cleaning out the former Hollywood Video location, which will become our local headquarters early next month. The lease was signed yesterday.

Mark McIver gave the report for Bob Ehrlich’s campaign, which will be hosting a fundraiser on August 1st at Palmer Gillis’s Ocean City home.

Ed Nelson, speaking on behalf of Andy Harris, introduced his youth coordinator Daryl Ann Dunigan. She will be working with Eastern Shore college students.

Joe Collins reminded those gathered the local AFP chapter will meet on July 28. Featured speaker will be District 38 Senate candidate Michael James.

Joe Ollinger asked us to put a fundraiser on the calendar, to be held September 22.

Finally, good news from longtime Republican Blan Harcum, who is on the mend and “will see us soon” after a stint in the hospital and subsequent rehabilitation.

The next meeting will be August 23rd and feature the remaining candidates from District 38A: Julie Brewington, John Cannon, and Charles Otto. We may also have the four hopefuls from District 38B.

Cannon fires up campaign for General Assembly seat

According to a published report, Wicomico County at-large councilman John Cannon will enter the race for Delegate for District 38A, becoming the second Republican to seek the seat held by the late Delegate Page Elmore. He’ll face Crisfield attorney John Phoebus for the GOP primary nod. With just a few days to go before the filing deadline only one Democrat, Somerset County Commission President Mike McCready, has filed for his party’s nomination.

Cannon’s entry into the House of Delegates race also means that neither at-large County Council member will return for another term, as Democrat Bill McCain announced previously he would not run again. It also leaves the GOP without a candidate to fill either of the two at-large slots on the ballot as Ryan Hohman announced his withdrawal from the race last month. Two Democrats, former councilman Ed Taylor and political activist Mike Brewington, are already set for the ballot.

(continued on my Examiner.com page…but come back for the enhanced article.)

As I noted in my Facebook posting of the original article, I’m not sure I agree with the move in a tactical sense.

First of all, love him or hate him, there wasn’t much doubt that John Cannon would’ve kept his County Council seat had he ran again. In fact, a best-case scenario among those in the running may have maintained or enhanced the GOP’s 4-3 advantage but with even more fiscal hawks placed on County Council – for example, even though he’s a Democrat, Mike Brewington would likely be much more fiscally conservative than Bill McCain.

Yet now the possibility exists of a Democratic takeover of County Council, with the spendthrift likes of Ed Taylor being returned to County Council. Combine that with another term of Rick Pollitt and you better hold on to your wallets.

On the flip side, it’s obvious the Democrats would like to get the District 38A seat to make up for a possible loss in neighboring District 38B. They have a relatively strong Somerset-based candidate in Mike McCready and it’s my belief that a Somerset-based Republican is the better choice to counter McCready’s effect. As I pointed out in the Examiner piece, while Wicomico Republicans made up a majority of the GOP vote, Somerset voters have a majority in the district. And if you think the Republican voter registration numbers are bad here, the situation for the GOP is much worse in Somerset County. (It’s another classic case of the “Daddy was a Democrat so I’m one” syndrome common on the Eastern Shore.)

I don’t mind the contested primary, but I think in a strategical sense things would have been better if Cannon had decided to stay put. I think Page tried to put the bravest face possible on his condition hoping that it would work out best for the party, but word spreads just as quickly here as anywhere else and I think Democrats smelled an opportunity this time around.

Frankly, I was less than pleased with Page Elmore’s voting record on a number of key issues but it’s not very likely a Democrat will do any better. Hopefully Cannon’s move won’t end up losing Republicans a much-needed seat in Annapolis.

WCRC meeting – June 2010

Things were once again a little different at tonight’s meeting due to recent events. Of course we did the Lord’s Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance to start, but after those recitations we heard from John Phoebus.

While Phoebus is in the running for the late Page Elmore’s District 38A Delegate seat, he’s suspended his campaign for a few days due to Elmore’s death. So he came to us not as a candidate looking for votes but a man paying tribute to a former client and man of stature in Somerset County.

John praised Elmore’s work ethic, which he described as one of picking out small bills and using their cumulative effect to bring about change. A “selfless” man and member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House, Elmore fretted about leaving the House post to pursue a Senate seat once Lowell Stoltzfus announced his retirement because of his House seniority and ability to get things done there. And there wasn’t a waterman Page didn’t know; they were a group who could count on Elmore to advocate for them in Annapolis.

Elmore was described by club president Marc Kilmer as having a manner which wasn’t the manner of a typical politician. After we observed a moment of silence for Page, the May meeting minutes were read and we heard another solid financial report.

Even Dustin Mills, tonight’s featured speaker, noted that “words can’t describe what (Page Elmore) meant to the Shore.”

Dustin Mills is running for Delegate in District 37A. Photo: Mills campaign.

Mills, who’s jumped into the race for Delegate for District 37A, called the incumbent the “quietest, most liberal” member of the General Assembly. While I could argue that point based on voting record, Dustin’s criticism of Rudy Cane avoiding tough votes bears out to be correct more often than not. Out of 96 votes I’ve detailed on the monoblogue Accountability Project from 2007 to 2009, Cane missed 16 votes – including 9 in the 2007 Special Session.

While Mills isn’t a native of the Eastern Shore, he graduated from Salisbury University and didn’t follow many of his classmates off the Eastern Shore – “I intend to stay here and do what I can.” Among his key issues are the wasteful spending in Annapolis, for which he cited an “out of control” state government. There are $140 million worth of unfilled positions in the state budget, continued Dustin, which served as a “slush fund” to move or cut as needed. And why is the state running (and losing money on) two golf courses?

Instead of doing away with unnecessary spending, Democrats in Annapolis may want a tax increase next year – “the wrong approach,” stated Dustin. In the meantime, they raid county coffers to assist the state’s budget crunch. Mills contended the counties are smarter stewards of money than the state and county money should be county money.

On the other hand, Mills would emphasize a more business-friendly approach than his opponent, whose party’s leadership has declined Maryland’s standing in the business community to the third worst in the country by “overregulating and overburdening small business.” His solutions would be to repeal the 2008 sales tax increase, lower corporate taxes, and reduce the unemployment coverage rolls to only include people who are actually unemployed. This, Mills argued, would make the state more business-friendly and (presumably) make up the shortfall a static analysis would assume happens when taxes are decreased. In the real world, lowering taxes leads to greater economic activity.

In addition, Dustin also advocated an automatic “maintenance of effort” waiver for education spending if a county’s unemployment rate was above a certain percentage.

Another effect of the anti-business attitude exhibited by Annapolis was a “brain drain” of college graduates who can’t find work on the Eastern Shore or in Maryland proper. In short, Mills argued that “this (anti-business) attitude has got to stop.”

Turning to another local industry, agriculture, Mills criticized the “ludicrous” treatment of farmers by Annapolis, wondering why Eastern Shore farmers are blamed for the condition of the Bay when a large percentage of the water off Maryland’s shores comes from Pennsylvania.

To conclude his initial remarks, Mills compared his faith in the individual to his opponent’s faith in government. Rudy Cane was “out of touch” with his district, concluded Dustin.

Perhaps the most interesting questions asked of Mills had to do with the immigrant advocacy group CASA de Maryland – a group which Mills remarked “needs to go.” To that end, Dustin would cut its funding and work to disallow “sanctuary cities.” (Good luck with that in Takoma Park – luckily it’s not part of the district.)

But Dustin also told us we “need to aggressively seek out employers” in response to a question on job creation and stop the overaggressive enforcement some truck drivers endure regarding another’s query.

According to Mark Biehl of the Lower Shore Young Republicans, the recent state YR convention “turned out really well.” Their chapter was picked as the state’s best for the second time in three years and the aforementioned Dustin Mills was given a lifetime achievement award for his work so far. (Good thing he doesn’t rest on his laurels.)

Their next meeting, July 14th at the Chamber of Commerce Building (where the WCRC meets) will be a political roundtable and the public is invited.

A simple Central Committee report from John Bartkovich stressed there were still open positions on the GOP primary ballot and we would need volunteers for the Farm and Home Show on August 19-21.

Woody Willing added that we should get silent auction items for the Crab Feast on August 28th “quickly.” He didn’t want a crush of items August 27th.

Brief candidate updates came from Joe Holloway (County Council District 5), Gail Bartkovich (County Council District 3), William Smith (Orphans’ Court Judge), and Ryan Hohman, who hasn’t had the opportunity to withdraw yet because of a demanding work schedule.

Ed Nelson of Andy Harris’s campaign pointed out that Andy had been visible locally, attending two AFP meetings, the Young Republican convention, and a farmer’s breakfast over the last few weeks. Harris also had an “extremely successful” local fundraiser a couple weeks back.

Comparable fundraising success was related by Sean Jester, who’s assisting with Mike McDermott’s campaign for Delegate in District 38B.

M.J. Caldwell wanted to say a few words about the late Sam Vincent, who was “one of the most honorable men you’d ever meet.” In order to give all local voters a say in the State’s Attorney race, the longtime Democrat had recently switched parties; then again, Caldwell called Vincent, “a Republican who never switched.” M.J. also commended Vincent’s “deep loyalty” to the office, speculating there must be unresolved issues there which convinced Vincent to run against his boss.

The question was asked about our club donating to the charities of choice of Elmore and Vincent, which will be a matter for the club’s executive board to solve at a meeting soon – basically it’s a question of how much we feel is appropriate.

Our next meeting is slated for July 26, when candidate for Governor Brian Murphy is slated to speak and attempt to win converts to his side.

GOP fortunes change in tragic week

It goes without saying the deaths of Delegate Page Elmore and Deputy State’s Attormey Sam Vincent just hours apart have rocked the close-knit Wicomico community, but it also sets into motion the replacement process for the local GOP and could assure a Democrat safe passage for his re-election.

The death of Elmore, who had announced earlier this month he would not seek a third term to the House of Delegates, means that local Republicans face a process similar to one their Democratic counterparts went through in 2006 upon the passing of longtime District 38B Delegate Bennett Bozman.

(continued on my Examiner.com page…)

Phoebus takes over for Elmore in 38A race

In a whirlwind set of developments which actually seems quite seamless, Crisfield attorney John Phoebus announced earlier today that he would seek the GOP nomination for the District 38A seat now being vacated by Delegate Page Elmore. Earlier, Elmore made it official that his health issues would prevent him from seeking re-election.

In a release this evening, the 38-year-old Phoebus claimed his bid was encouraged by leaders and residents of both Somerset and Wicomico counties.

(continued on my Examiner.com page…)