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.

A victory, if only for awhile

Marriage solely between a man and woman is safe in Maryland, at least for now.

If you believe House Speaker Michael Busch (and the Washington Post), the measure is dead for this term as supporters couldn’t convince 71 Delegates (a majority in the 141-seat body) to say yes to SB116. Two amendments were voted down today before Del. Joseph Vallario, Jr. asked the bill be recommitted to the Judiciary Committee. With all the angst in getting the bill to the point where it was, including sharply divided Senate and House committee votes, spending more time on what would likely be a losing cause apparently seemed pointless to Busch. Vallario likely didn’t want to go through another divisive committee vote, either.

The Baltimore Sun has additional commentary, with impassioned reaction from both sides of their readership – predictable wailing and gnashing of teeth from gay rights advocates and relieved but wary platitudes from those who feel marriage should remain as is.

It’s a tough day for our local leftists today – losing their blog and their cherished gay marriage bill in the span of 24 hours.

But now the General Assembly can get down to a key issue on its plate: fixing the state’s budget.

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.

District 38A hopeful gathers gun endorsements

AFP co-chair Julie Brewington read from remarks she prepared and preposted on her website.

One can’t quite call her Maryland’s answer to Sarah Palin yet, but District 38A hopeful Julie Brewington is holding her own with the boys insofar as getting endorsements from Second Amendment groups goes.

The most recent ones in her bag come from a coalition of groups including Maryland Shall Issue/Citizen’s Defense League of Maryland, and the Maryland State NRA Rifle and Pistol Association.

(continued on my page…)


Now for the remainder of my take on this.

I’m certainly glad that Julie is a defender of Second Amendment rights and I have little doubt about her conservative credentials considering who she supports and the body of her work on her blog Right Coast.

But it doesn’t always work that way among people who vote single-issue. For example, the same group which endorses Julie is also endorsing Delegate Joseph Vallario, Jr. (D – District 27A) and Delegate Rudy Cane (D – District 37A). Vallario chairs the House Judiciary Committee, where bills like Jessica’s Law went to die until a vast outcry finally forced him to relent and bring the bill out. Cane regularly votes with big-spending I-95 corridor liberals on economic issues, which outweigh the limited good he does on Second Amendment-related items. (For my money I think Cane challenger Dustin Mills would likely be as good or better for Second Amendment stalwarts and certainly more friendly to our local business interests.)

However, I did notice that the coalition specifically states:

Our vote recommendations are based upon 2nd Amendment positions only. When both candidates would benefit the 2nd Amendment community, we suggest that each voter consider other criteria in the Primary Election. These critia (sic) would include the voter’s personal knowledge of the candidate, candidate’s experience, past performance, and especially the candidate’s “electability” in the November General Election.

I would hope that this coalition comes to its senses regarding other issues once November’s endorsements roll around, and perhaps in cases where there is no primary they simply omit the candidate in question until then.