WCRC meeting – March 2015

Those members who attended last night’s Wicomico County Republican Club meeting got a somewhat different perspective on the Annapolis political arena. Instead of hearing from one of our representatives – who were sort of busy at the moment, seeing that Monday nights are session nights in our state’s capital – we instead gained the perspective of Pat Schrawder, the district representative for Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, who brought “mostly good news from Annapolis.”

She explained that not all members of the General Assembly have a district representative, but given Mary Beth’s “frenetic” schedule as a member of the Appropriations Committee, she thought it was prudent to have someone back home. (Appropriations meets five days a week, according to Pat.) As it turned out, though, the Eastern Shore delegation “is running very well” in Schrawder’s opinion, in part because those on it represent all the key committees, and they have met with “most of” the large groups.

The good news was that the “chicken tax” and a “farmer’s bill of rights” had both been killed, and a “full-court press” was being placed on the Pinsky bill to instill the PMT regulations. (This may be a moot point, as Pinsky placed a hold on his regulations pending acceptance of a deal between stakeholders which would put a revised version in place.) Schrawder pointed out regulations are more flexible than legislation, which was an advantage for the agricultural community.

Pat also relayed that the Hogan budget, which was in balance as submitted, was still a better deal than the O’Malley budgets as most of the structural deficit had been eliminated.

And while Delegate Carozza was “working as hard, if not harder, than anyone else up there,” Pat added that Mary Beth was still interested in hearing from her constituents, and happy to receive the correspondence. Moreover, one goal they had was to have as strong a link to Wicomico County as they had to Worcester County.

Schrawder also announced that a legislative scholarship was available to a student in her district, with the application deadline coming up on April 15.

Turning to Central Committee news, we learned that our Lincoln Day Dinner would be put on hold until this fall as the preferred speaker, some governor named Larry Hogan, wasn’t going to be doing speaking engagements until then. We may need to change the venue because of this. Mark McIver also noted the upcoming state convention in Ocean City, encouraging those at the meeting to attend and see how a convention is run.

I also reminded the group that we had sent the names of prospective Wicomico County Board of Education applicants to the state.

Speaking on behalf of County Council, John Cannon noted that the “Evo bill” had passed the House of Delegates and Senate, although there was a minor difference between the two versions to work out. County Council was also watching the PMT regulations, the original version of which they opposed. Also, they had finished the Capital Improvement Plan and were now working on portions of the budget.

Cannon also commented that MACO (the Maryland Association of Counties) was “staying relatively conservative” with its actions this session.

John also explained some of the process behind the elected school board bill, conceding that “we rushed it through” but noting that the hybrid option was placed to appease the cries for “diversity” and to avoid the prospect of turning over the entire board in one election and eliminating all the institutional knowledge.

However, he believed the struggle to get this through the General Assembly would be “an uphill battle” because opponents wanted more public hearings. I made the case that the bill had the deck stacked against it early on when it received a late hearing date. If there needs to be a re-introduction next year it should be pre-filed as there was no one to do so this session.

At this point, the new officers were sworn in. Incoming president Shawn Jester said that “this club did more to make Wicomico County a Republican county” than anyone else and hoped the good work could continue.

That good work will be celebrated next on April 27, with a speaker to be announced.

The destruction of 2016

Martin O’Malley and Maryland Democrats were attacked on two fronts in recent days. One came from an old foe and thorn in “O’Guvnah’s” side while the other pointed out a nearly decade-old omission Martin O’Malley is trying to take advantage of. Both are related to MOM’s appearances on the Eastern Shore.

In Ocean City O’Malley addressed the Maryland Association of Counties for the seventh time as governor. I’m sure MACo president (and Wicomico County Executive) Rick Pollitt was nodding in agreement, but Larry Hogan and Change Maryland had a different, blistering opinion of O’Malley’s remarks.

(O’Malley) was not just stretching the truth, it’s worse than that. Nearly everything he said in his speech today was blatantly false, much of what he said was actually the complete opposite of the truth.

The governor is entitled to his own opinions but he can’t just make up his own facts and pretend that they are true. You can’t say you are most proud of your success in job creation, and say you recovered 99% of all the jobs lost, when you actually doubled the unemployment rate and lost 110,000 more jobs, more than any governor in history.

You can’t brag about your success in strengthening small businesses, when you have lost 6,500 small businesses. You can’t claim success in economic development when you have lost 10 of the 13 Fortune 500 companies in the state, under your watch.

How can the governor say that he cut more spending – more than anyone in history, when he actually increased spending by $8 billion, an increase of more than 30%, and claim that he lowered taxes when he enacted the largest tax increases in history, 40 consecutive tax hikes that take an additional $3.1 billion a year out of the pockets of struggling Maryland families and small businesses?

What we saw today was a governor spinning magical tales of successes that only exist in his own mind. The people of Maryland deserve to know the truth.

All of this and more was unearthed by Change Maryland over the last two-plus years, as they have done the research and fact-checking seriously lacking from most of Maryland’s mainstream media.

Of course Hogan is still being mentioned as a gubernatorial candidate, so this salvo isn’t completely unexpected. But it’s interesting he’s speaking about the term-limited incumbent rather than the heir apparent Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who was endorsed by the aforementioned Pollitt recently. Maybe that works to the do-nothing narrative some in that race are trying to promote.

On the other hand, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio is already on a ticket, but it didn’t stop her from raining on Martin O’Malley’s Dover Bridge parade.

It’s great that the Eastern Shore is finally getting a new Dover bridge, but this project should have been completed much quicker and for less money. The O’Malley – Brown Administration, in a flailing attempt to justify the gasoline tax increase, is trying to take credit for the Dover bridge that was already funded in the last decade. When this Administration took over, $41 million previously set aside for this project suddenly vanished.

Now, nearly ten years later, the Administration is ready to hold a press conference. As we’ve seen with other transportation projects across the state, the O’Malley – Brown Administration takes the money, spends it on whatever they want, then warns us that roads and bridges are falling apart and raises everyone’s taxes to fix the problems they created.

They are hoping that everyone forgets that tax payers are required to pay twice due to their reckless spending policies.  This is also going to cost $9 million more now that the project has been delayed.

The bridge, which lies in Haddaway-Riccio’s district, has been a sore spot for area residents for decades, and perhaps symbolizes the uncaring Annapolis attitude to those who live in Caroline, Talbot, and Dorchester counties. Moreover, as originally intended, the bridge would have already been completed two years ago if greedy fingers hadn’t allocated the money for who-knows-what.

But while Haddaway-Riccio rightly blasts the current administration and their General Assembly minions for their inaction on the Dover Bridge, we don’t really know yet what the game plan will be for a David Craig administration. Will they have the intestinal fortitude to cut off the Red Line and Purple Line, the former of which will be in the planning process and the latter at the verge of construction by the time Craig takes office? And will they repeal the 2013 gas tax increase, or shrug their shoulders and figure Marylanders are already conditioned to pay it and pocket the extra money for their pet projects, like bond bills?

Certainly the Dover Bridge is a vital link for the area, but what about other potential Eastern Shore projects like a bypass for Easton much like the one encircling Salisbury, or perhaps an interchange at U.S. 50 and Maryland Route 404, where traffic headed for Ocean City and the Delaware beaches go their separate ways in a bottleneck each weekend? (Improvements to Maryland Route 404 were cited in the same announcement as the Dover Bridge.) Longer-term, what about a southern Chesapeake Bay crossing? And I’m certain my friends up the Shore and in the state’s panhandle have their ideas for improving how they get around as well.

It’s nice to be thought of once in a while, but truly creating “one Maryland” will mean not embarking on boondoggles and making the serious investments in infrastructure most useful in every corner of the state.

In his headlong rush to the White House, Martin O’Malley has mastered the photo-ops, but he can’t sweep his record under the rug.

Turning the Tides 2013 in pictures and text (part 1)

Yesterday was a good day at the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis.

Somehow I had managed to miss the first two renditions of Turning the Tides, but when this year’s date was announced I pounced on making my way into the event this year. Part of this was the opportunity to network with over 200 of the state’s finest conservative minds, but part of it was a guest list dotted with nationally recognized speakers.

Unlike the many GOP conventions I had attended in the same building, there were no hospitality suites on Friday night. Turning The Tides was a one-day affair, which started with a breakfast I unfortunately missed. But I was set up on bloggers’ row next to a variety of state and local bloggers (including my “biggest fan” Jackie Wellfonder,) which gave me the opportunity to live-Tweet the event throughout.

The Tweets didn’t take long to build up steam once we dispensed with the preliminaries and heard from our first guest speaker, the exceptionally quotable Pamela Geller. Most people know Geller from her website Atlas Shrugs, which briefly covered TTT here, but she has been a tireless leader in the ongoing battle against radical Islam. (If you follow the link you can also see the extent of the crowd in the conference.)

Pamela praised the conference attendees, who she termed “smeared, defamed, and marginalized for standing in defense of freedom” by the “enemedia.” Her key point was defending the freedom of speech, without which “peaceful men have no alternative but to turn to violence.”

“Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it,” she continued, “Withdraw your sanction.” She also called Delegate Nic Kipke, who ignored a boycott call by the pro-Islamic group CAIR, a “rare bird in today’s environment (because) truth is the new hate speech, and just telling the truth is an extreme act.”

She went on to explain how she purchased ad space on the New York subway in response to anti-Israel ads, but was rebuffed because “the word ‘savage’ was demeaning. So I had to sue…and I won on all points. Freedom of speech protects all ideas.” Ten of her ads were destroyed within an hour, which she termed “a physical manifestation of this war on free speech.”

She also detailed her battle against the Ground Zero mosque, telling us the images of 9-11 have been “embargoed” because they offend Islamic sensitivities. “You defeated that mosque (when) everyone was against you.”

Yet there is a “sea change” occurring in attitude, she said, citing how comments used to be highly stacked against her, but now run strongly in her favor.

“No war has ever been won on defense,” she continued. She begged us to use our “spheres of influence” to fight this fight. “Silence is sanction.” We have to contest acceptance of Shari’a, since Mohammed “ain’t my prophet.”

Geller finished by taking a number of great questions on anti-Shari’a legislation, a nuclear-armed Iran, and the “cultural war” of politics which will include the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera.

The next speaker, author Diana West, touched on the Current TV sale in her opening remarks as well, as well as the foreign ownership of Fox News. But her remarks centered on her choice in foreign policy, of which she remarked “I’m debuting it here” – with one option to follow the “neoconservative” foreign policy based on universal values. “This has been a disaster.” The other side was a more libertarian-style idea: “I subscribe to ‘coming home America,'” said West, but they suffer the same flaw in that negotiations with Islamic nations “worse than fruitless (and) dangerous to our liberty.”

It begins with love of country, said West, and we would keep the allies with the closest philosophical views. But it would require one radical change: “It would…require leaving the United Nations.” (That was perhaps her best applause line, which she said did far better here than the “blank stares” she gets at the Washington Times.)

It would also be designed with the interests of the American people in mind. “We should fight for the American people.” Instead, we’ve begun to negotiate with terrorists, defend Shari’a-based regimes, and tell our military to look askance at “absolute outrages against American beliefs and sensibilities” in Afghanistan and other Islamic nations.

“And why? Why – nobody’s answered this – why did the Obama administration lie for two weeks that lawfully-protected free speech in America caused the Benghazi attacks?,” asked West. “Why didn’t Mitt Romney ask any of these questions?”

The key question, said West, was whether we were fighting abroad to protect liberty at home. “American interests have been blown to smithereens” by leadership, Diana asserted. Our borders are “essentially open” while National Guard troops protect Afghan citizens. Moreover, this is a contradiction to American values because 3/4 of Hispanics want bigger government while just 2/5 of the population at large feels the same.

West outlined a number of changes she would make, from a secretive foreign policy without much Congressional oversight over “a President run amok.”

“I have not seen terrible damage from Wikileaks,” she continued. “I have seen much corruption and lies on the part of our public officials.”

“I don’t believe that’s the way a republic functions. That needs to change,” said Diana. The war of our next generation is not the one we’re fighting, but a war against Shari’a. “Liberty is imperiled right here in our back yard,” said West, who also called the Islamization of Europe “the great uncovered story of our time.”

Our first group discussion panel, moderated by writer and columnist Marta Mossburg, featured a solid bank of speakers: Frederick County Commission president (and 2014 gubernatorial candidate) Blaine Young, writer and author Stanley Kurtz, and Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild.

Young started out in a jovial manner, joking about the Geller controversy and about once being a Democrat: “Well, everybody can be misinformed, ill-advised, and brainwashed.” But he turned more serious about his assigned topic, telling those gathered “I’m a very pro-property rights person, always have been…property rights is where I’m at.”

Stemming from the very first attack on property rights, zoning, which began in the 1920s and has been accepted in most places – Young pointed out Garrett County is an unzoned exception – Blaine turned to the state as it stands and told us “we’ve never seen an attack like this on the state level,” referring to PlanMaryland. “This is a tool, to slow down the rural areas for growth.”

But Young’s most brilliant point was equating things done “for the Bay” with laws passed “for the children.” As I Tweeted:


Indeed, I have mentioned this a number of times over the years – here’s one. Great minds think alike?

Stanley Kurtz quickly asserted that “President Obama is not a fan of the suburbs.” As a community organizer, those who mentored Obama had the main goal was to abolish them because they were drawing away tax money rightfully belonging to the cities. To that end, Obama “has been a huge supporter” of that movement. “Barack Obama wants to redistribute the wealth of America’s suburbs to the cities,” said Stanley. He identified the philosophy as the “regional equity movement.”

But among the federal programs imposed on the state, the Sustainable Communities Initiative is perhaps the one affecting Maryland the most. “Nobody pays attention to the Sustainable Communities Initiative,” despite the fact Baltimore was a “regional planning grant” recipient. It’s a program where the federal government pays for regional planning, such as PlanMaryland but on a smaller scale. The goal, though, is to make the receipt of federal aid contingent on adopting these plans, much like schools which accept federal money do so with stipulations placed on them.

And while everyone has heard of Agenda 21, not so many are familiar with the workings of the Smart Growth movement, concluded Kurtz. “Conservatives are missing where the real threat is coming from,” warned Kurtz, “We haven’t studied the home-grown (regional equity) movements.”

But Rothschild was the most strident speaker. “The question of the War on Rural Maryland begs a bigger question: why does this happen?” Richard went on to postulate that it happens “because we let them.”

“Those people that disrespect the Bible and the Constitution are invariably the ones who know the least about either of them,” said Rothschild. “We (conservatives) are abdicating our responsibilities at all levels of government to do what needs to be done.”

“Being a Constitutionalist requires practice,” opined Richard. Elected officials need to ask themselves not just ‘what would Jesus do,’ but a second question: what would Jefferson do?

Elected officials aren’t trained to uphold their oath of office and the Constitution. “We’re not thinking the right way.” As an example, he stood alone in his county in an effort to nullify SB236. A further test was when he went to the recent Maryland Association of Counties meeting and asked six random county officials about what they would do if an order was passed down to confiscate guns in their county.

“Three of them said they don’t know, and the other three said they would resign from office,” Richard charged. “Not one said they would nullify, interpose, or engage their locally elected sheriff to defend their citizens’ Constitutional rights.” That was the fundamental problem.

Richard even spoke on comments he made regarding the SB236 Tier IV opt-out provision proposed right here in Wicomico County. (The original post is on the Conduit Street blog.) “They do this because we let them…we are tolerating the intolerable.”

“I don’t negotiate one-sided contracts…we shouldn’t even engage,” Richard opined, “Constitutional rights are non-negotiable.” Rothschild vowed to work with the Institute on the Constitution to put together a training course on how to uphold their oath of office.

“(Liberal groups are) going to spend a fortune to try to defeat like Blaine and people like me during the next election because they hate us,” Richard concluded to a raucous standing ovation. And he’s right.

The final session of the morning discussed the “War on Jobs,” with Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton and Delegate Nic Kipke, who was introduced as a member of the Maryland Health Reform Coordinating Council. Fitton focused on illegal immigration while Kipke naturally looked at Obamacare. “Nic knows more about Obamacare than the legislators who voted for it in 2010,” noted moderator Paul Mendez of Help Save Maryland.

Fitton described his work with Help Save Maryland and other legal groups interested in upholding the idea that workplaces should have workers here legally. But that fight began with Montgomery County Community College giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. “They thought they could get away with it,” noted Fitton. A nice thing about Maryland law, he continued, was that it has a provision allowing citizens standing to sue the government to prevent illegal expenditures of funds.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been given to illegal aliens who can’t work, stated Tom, “Maryland is a magnet for illegal immigration, and the impact on jobs is obvious.” Most affected were the construction trades where the majority of contractors, who are law-abiding, are “competing against crooks.”

“It’s a racket” to keep certain politicians in office, Fitton charged. And speaking of Maryland politics specifically, Tom also alleged there was corruption behind the passage of the ballot initiatives. “(O’Malley) was using his office to promote the approval of the referenda,”

Tom also had kudos for Delegate Neil Parrott, who he’d worked with on the ballot issues, calling him an important figure in Maryland democracy. “We’ve been proud to stand with him,” Fitton beamed.

The lesson here, Fitton said, was that the illegal immigration issue is not automatically a turnoff to Hispanics. He cited polling data which said, in the most recent election, 40% of Hispanics “agreed with the idea of an Arizona-style approach to illegal immigration.” It was 13 points more than Romney received among Hispanics at large. “This is a majority issue for us,” Fitton claimed.

“We’re really in a battle for our lives in a lot of ways,” Kipke opened. “It used to be we were in a battle for our rights, but we’re also in a battle for our way of life.”

He went through a couple examples of the “trainwreck” of Obamacare, one being the fact that the age breakdowns – lumping everyone from age 21 to 60 in a group – will create a spike in rates making insurance unaffordable to young people. (One estimate pegs the additional cost as anywhere from $280 to $400 a month.) “It’s almost designed to fail,” said Kipke.

The second problem is that the exchanges will essentially all offer the same programs – health insurance has to be approved by and purchased from the state – generally these are the “richest packages available.” At this time, Maryland is one of just eight states with an exchange in place. “If Obama is successful, health insurance will be purchased through the state, and it will be the state design,” Kipke said.

The Delegate urged us to use him and Delegate Parrott as a conduit to the General Assembly. “If you have access to technology, you should see the stuff that goes on. Bring a camera, we’ll tell you where to stand and we’ll put you up in front of the next Delegate who embraces socialism. We’d love to get that on video.”

That brought us to the lunch break. While most of us grabbed a quick bite to eat, there was a lot going on both inside and outside the lobby.

On the inside, a total of fifteen groups had information tables and other items set up. Here are a few of those:

In order, these were Accuracy in Media, Defend Life, Maryland Republican Network, and Election Integrity Maryland. Other groups in attendance were the Franklin Center (sponsor of Bloggers’ Row), the Red Maryland Network – which did a live broadcast from the lobby – Institute on the Constitution, Americans for Fair Taxation, Montgomery County Republicans, Stop Agenda 21, Help Save Maryland, the Leadership Institute, Maryland Legislative Watch, Constitutional Conservatives for Maryland PAC, and Conservative Victory PAC.

There were also merchants, with event T-shirts and Breitbart design shirts on sale.

We also had a chance to meet some of the speakers and purchase their books.

From left to right, represented were Stanley Kurtz, Diana West,  Pamela Geller (crouched), and Tom Fitton. Dun Scott (husband of organizer Cathy Trauernicht) is standing in the center; thanks to Ann Corcoran for the correction.

As I noted, there was also action outside the building. The CAIR protest of Pamela Geller finally showed up two hours after she finished speaking. (Photo by and courtesy of Jackie Wellfonder.)

Yet the ten protesters got media attention. If it weren’t for them, I doubt the TV stations would have showed up.

So that’s where we stood as lunch concluded. In part 2 I’ll cover the four intriguing seminars which occurred afterward and the closing remarks by Jim Rutledge.

A chance to meet our next governor?

The question mark above is solely based on the fact his election is by no means certain, but I received word last night that Republican gubernatorial candidate Blaine Young will be in Dorchester County tonight (Thursday, January 3) for a dessert and drinks reception at the Hyatt Regency resort in Cambridge. As he did in Ocean City over the summer, Blaine is holding this in conjunction with the Maryland Association of Counties winter meeting there.

Since I’ve already met Blaine on a couple of occasions, I won’t be attending this particular gathering – although I would encourage Republicans local to Cambridge and nearby Talbot County to take the opportunity. I’ve found Blaine to be approachable and friendly, his events tend to be well-run, and if you leave in want of food and drink it’s your own fault. While this is a meet-and-greet event, I doubt he’d refuse a contribution check if you’re inclined to give one.

One other observation I have about the soiree is that Young is shrewdly leveraging his appropriate attendance at MACo, since he’s the head of the Frederick County Commissioners. (The same would be true for fellow candidate David Craig as he’s the Harford County Executive.) Naturally, MACo will draw a number of other state political figures from both parties since most of them are interested in what the counties have to say. (I daresay there’s a cadre in Annapolis who would rather just run roughshod over them, though.)

The convenience for us locally of having Blaine campaign on the Eastern Shore helps to play up the importance of our region of the state for Republicans. While we have just 7.5% of state voters overall, 1 out of 9 Republicans live in the nine counties which make up the Eastern Shore, and in a primary which promises at least four contenders we can’t be totally ignored in favor of larger counties. Collectively the Eastern Shore is close to the size of several individual counties on the GOP side: Anne Arundel, Baltimore County, and Montgomery. We’ve nearly twice as many GOP voters as Young’s home base of Frederick County.

TTT2013For those who would like to hear Blaine speak more at length in a lecture setting, though, there’s still time to get registered for the Turning the Tides 2013 conference on January 12 in Annapolis. Blaine will be a panelist at the day-long event, with his segment of the day’s proceedings focusing on the “War on the Suburbs: Regional Equity.” (He appears with moderator Marta Mossburg, writer and commentator Stanley Kurtz and Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild to address this topic.)

It’s interesting that those who put together TTT2013 chose that as Young’s topic, though, since he could have also spoken on state government from a small business owner’s perspective as well as spoken on media presence as a radio host. In any case, he’s a welcome addition to the cast.

It’s obvious that Blaine is working hard to get his campaign moving at an early date, which could accrue to his benefit later on. While others are putting together draft campaigns or statements rife with poor writing, Young is out connecting with those who can help him down the road.

Shooting the bull

I originally thought about placing this item as one of my “odds and ends” snippets but that well has run a little dry of late and it got me to thinking about our local situation.

First I’ll do the required part: the whos, whats, wheres, and whys, if you will:

Join other Eastern Shore Republicans for a fun-filled bus ride to the 2012 “Rally for Victory” Bull Roast on Saturday, September 22. Bus will leave from the Wicomico Republican Headquarters (800 S. Salisbury Blvd – Salisbury… former Blockbuster Video Store) at 10:30 a.m. and return by 5:30 p.m. Cost for the bus is just $5.00 per person. Reservations are being taken by Bonnie Luna at 410-749-1633 or email bnluna@verizon.net or stop by the Republican Headquarters to make your reservation for both the Bull Roast and the bus. This is the Eastern Shore’s premier election event. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to enjoy a day that will be fun, relaxing, entertaining and inspirational. (Bus limited to 51 reservations.)

Part of the event’s description is as follows:

More than any other election year, I think we can all agree that America’s future hangs in the balance. We can no longer sustain out of control federal spending, stifling regulations on small businesses, and unemployment so high that, “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” (Paul Ryan)

This is why I’m inviting you to attend this year’s Bull Roast Saturday, September 22, in Queenstown, Maryland, from 12 noon until 3:00 pm. I cannot stress enough how important the Bull Roast’s “Rally for Victory” will be. The cost of the event has been kept low ($35 per person) to encourage a great response. The price includes great speakers, a fabulous lunch, and entertainment by the Country Gentlemen.

Attached is the invitation which you can download. FEC rules require the invitation accompany your check for the Bull Roast.

You may also pay by credit card by going to www.andyharris.com, and then look for the Bull Roast link in the upper right hand corner of Andy’s web page.

Okay, I’ve gotten that out of the way. Now allow me to continue with my thoughts.

I don’t know the entire history of the Bull Roast, but apparently this was a key fundraiser for Wayne Gilchrest when he was in Congress. It sort of faded away for a couple years during the Frank Kratovil term because there really was no Eastern Shore Republican leader to take it over, but now it has returned as a fundraising vehicle for Andy Harris. I also recall that for the first several years I was here in Maryland, the date of the Bull Roast was always the same as the date for the Wicomico County Republican Club Crab Feast – so I’ve never gone to one. Unfortunately, that perfect streak will continue despite the event’s reasonable price since someone special is getting married the following day.

Now that I’ve given you that thumbnail sketch, it leads me into pondering something else. Obviously every July politicians get together in Crisfield for the Tawes Crab and Clam Bake; later in August Worcester County becomes the center of Maryland’s political universe for a couple days during the MACO convention. In recent years, national Democrats have retreated to Cambridge in the early part of the calendar year to plot legislative strategy. But what is Wicomico County known for?

I have a couple ideas to that end, but at this point I would rather discuss them internally. Yet this website reaches a number of people in other areas who have had success at raising money and awareness of their local party; sure, our Lincoln Day Dinner is a modest success but we need to have our own memorable event people would come from miles around to attend.

So – any suggestions from the peanut gallery? I’d like a few to mull over in addition to mine.

Low-key event for a rising challenger

Well, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

So perhaps it was a good way to introduce himself to those whom prospective 2014 gubernatorial candidate Blaine Young wanted to influence, as he held a meet-and-greet event in Ocean City earlier tonight. Aside from a couple signs on the wall, this was pretty much the extent of the campaign paraphernalia.

There was a handout I picked up, though – three pages of the “major accomplishments” the Frederick County Commission has achieved since Young came on board. This was likely an attempt to convince backers at the individual county level – which probably explains the timing, given that the annual Maryland Association of Counties summer gathering hit the beachfront resort this week – with the lead item on the first page titled “Budget Impacts.”

While the room was set for perhaps 100, I would say the crowd rarely exceeded half of that at any particular time as guests came and went. As I was told beforehand, this wasn’t a formal event – Young said he “will be talking to people individually as they mingle.” So he held court with an ever-changing group in the front of the room while others conversed in surrounding areas. Perhaps most notable among those circulating around was Harford County Executive David Craig, who’s also (okay, almost certainly also; I’ll leave that 1% proviso) running for governor. Craig and I actually talked a little about the recently-passed gambling legislation, though.

Speaking of gambling, Worcester County Delegate Mike McDermott was also one of the visitors. I told him I wasn’t happy with his vote on the gambling bill, but he pleaded his case as to why he was one of the five Republicans who said yes to O’Malley’s scheme. I’m expecting a more formal missive from him in the next couple days, which I’ll be happy to dissect. I did learn something interesting, though – from what I was told, a number of Delegates changed their votes to be against the bill in the final tally once the result was known. I’ll find out for sure when I do the research since it’s a vote for the monoblogue Accountability Project.

Thus far, though, I have found it interesting just how the three odds-on leaders in the Republican gubernatorial sweepstakes have conducted their campaigns:

  • David Craig has probably had his organization working the longest of the three, even including an overture to state political bloggers like me almost a year ago. As part of that event I got a thumb drive with everything I need to know about David (still have it, as a matter of fact.)
  • Larry Hogan is probably the furthest from making the official announcement that he’s in, but if Larry indeed is in the running he has a ready-made social media setup thanks to Change Maryland.
  • Meanwhile, Young is focusing more on raising both money and his profile – this event and getting 80 volunteers to come to Crisfield two years before the election have done a nice job with the latter, according to at least one veteran political observer (who I’ll leave nameless since we weren’t speaking on the record. But he was on the record here.)

So the meet-and-greet can’t necessarily be judged like other political events. Certainly I’m sure Young would have liked more people to show up, but if those who did got a favorable impression about his campaign then the event achieved its purpose. Later on, when there’s a need for money or manpower, the true measure of the event’s success would be known. And I had a good time catching up with some people I hadn’t seen in awhile while meeting a few nice new folks.

It wasn’t quite what I expected, but any time I can go to Ocean City and relax a little bit I’ll take it. Now I see why MACO does this every year.