Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Is this Heather Mizeur's Primary to Lose?

I bet that title got your attention, but I do in all seriousness believe that Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur might very well be in the driver's seat in the Democratic Primary.
The conventional wisdom for the last three years is that one of the two presumed front-runners, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler, would be the Democratic nominee for Governor. Brown had all the trappings and benefits of incumbency, while Gansler had the $5 million war chest he was able to keep after the Maryland GOP's bad idea of giving him a free pass in his 2010 re-election campaign.
But it's starting to look like the conventional wisdom is all wrong.
There are two very distinct and very important things that have become apparent about the two front-runners:
  • Anthony Brown is No Leader: One of the knocks against Anthony Brown in this race has been his inability to point to any successes or accomplishments in public office. It isn't exactly like his reputation has been changed in a positive manner in that regard over the health care issue, as the Obamacare Exchange situation keeps rolling from one disaster to another. Between the hundreds of millions of dollars and his extraordinary efforts to avoid scrutiny on his failure to lead, and it is becoming apparent that Anthony Brown isn't up to the task of being Governor. And don't forget this nugget from last summer, when I wrote about Brown and said that he was on the verge becoming KKT 2.0 with his inability to articulate his thoughts about issues.
  • Doug Gansler is Out of Control: Doug Gansler is trying to run simultaneously against the O'Malley tax and spend record and on his left-leaning bona fides. That's all well and good and a smart strategy. Sure his had a misstep when he came out in favor of reducing barriers to corruption, but that's not where Gansler has his problems. He is completely out of control when it comes to everything that isn't related to policy. Reckless Driving? Teenage booze parties at the ocean? And the latest own goal by the Gansler campaign, where Gansler himself implied that Lt. Governor Brown's service in Iraq wasn't a "real job." Gansler's worst enemy right now is himself, and with so little time between now and the primary his inability to avoid traps laid for him is going to hurt.
Let's not forget that Brown and Gansler have been in an arms race for years getting ready to go after each other. The Brown campaign was prepared to play hardball, and you bet Gansler is too. But what makes this race so interesting is the reactions the Gansler and Brown campaigns have had to recent events. Gansler's team seemed to be ecstatic about polling numbers that showed a decrease in Brown's numbers with little increase in his own. At the same time Jeff Quinton has reported that the Brown campaign is in panic mode right now. And calm campaigns don't troll Craigslist for paid volunteers as Jackie Wellfonder reported on this afternoon.

And all of this makes me wonder if this is Heather Mizeur's race to lose. Like her and her ideas or not, her and her campaign have stayed above the fray when it comes to the negative campaigning and her focus has solely been on drawing attention to her campaign and drawing attention to her issues. Those issues put her very much in line with the hardcore Democratic base, the voters who are most likely to show up on June 24th. She has been performing ably at the various debates and forums and, by taking the public financing option, she'll at least be able to raise enough money to do some mass media ads closer to the election, at probably the exact time that Democratic primary voters will have had enough of the Brown and Gansler pissing contest and will be looking at something new.

Some of you are probably thinking it is far-fetched to think of Mizeur as something of a front-runner, but is it? This gubernatorial primary is shaping up a lot like the 2006 Democratic Comptroller primary was. Recall that the race, at the time, was between incumbent Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens. And the Schaefer-Owens fight kept getting nastier and nastier as we got closer to the primary. Everybody assumed (wrongly) that one of those two were going to survive the primary. However it was the third candidate, the far-left candidate from Takoma Park, that won with only 36.5% of the vote. And that's how Peter Franchot became Comptroller.

The similarity between the two elections are very real, and so far it seems like Mizeur's campaign has been following that playbook.

Mizeur as the potential Democratic nominee is a real thing. It could really happen. And it would be a great thing for Republicans, as Heather Mizeur is radically out of the mainstream on pretty much every issue imaginable, from taxes to energy policy to her unconscionable support of abortion on demand and assisted suicide. But whatever you do, don't act surprised to wake up to it on June 25th.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Conservative Refuge Tonight 4/21

Current Politics Conservative Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with redmaryland on BlogTalkRadio

Another jam-packed episode of the Red Maryland Network's new hit show, the Conservative Refuge.

On this installment

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Red Maryland April 2014 Poll Results

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MDGOP Bylaws Committee Rejects Waterman Amendment

Earlier this week I discussed Kevin Waterman's reasonable and practical amendments to the Maryland Republican Party bylaws he was proposing be adopted at next weekend's State Party Convention. Well, it seems like the proposal has hit a bit of a snag.

One of the requirements for the introduction of a bylaw amendment is that it be considered by the Maryland Republican Party Bylaws Committee. The Committee has considered and rejected Waterman's proposed amendment.

This is not the end of the Amendment process; the full convention can reconsider, debate, and discuss the amendment notwithstanding the objections of the Bylaws Committee.

Below is the text of an email that Waterman sent to fellow Central Committee members. I would urge you to consider contacting your County Central Committee members and voice your opinion on this practical change that we can make to ensure that our party is run more effectively and closer to the people.

From: Kevin Waterman
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2014 12:09 PM
Subject: Proposed Bylaws Amendment for the Upcoming MDGOP Convention

Dear Central Committee Member, 
My name is Kevin Waterman, I'm a member of the Queen Anne's County Republican Central Committee. I am writing to you concerning a proposed change to the MDGOP Bylaws that I have offered. 
You should be familiar with this proposal as I emailed both an earlier draft of the proposal and several possible changes to it to your County Chairman and asked them to send it on to all their committee members for review and discussion.

Unfortunately, the MDGOP Bylaws Committee has decided not to give their approval for the measure to be presented for a vote at the upcoming convention. However, this does not mean we cannot discuss and consider the proposal at convention, it simply means we, as a body, must vote both to consider the amendment (3/5 approval) and then on whether or not to approve it (2/3 approval).
 Since I think this is an issue of great importance to the State Party and have received a lot of interest from many parties, I believe we should take the step of voting for such a consideration. To that end, I am including the full amendment (you can find the text below my signature). I would ask that you please review the proposal and contact me with your thoughts on it. 
Additionally, based on some of the feedback from the Bylaws Committee, if approval for consideration is given I am considering making a motion to divide the question, separating out the issue of regional chairs and regional conventions (and making a minor amendment to the elections process as well so we don't have an issue if one half were approved and the other rejected). In other words, first we would debate and vote on changing from a 1st Vice Chair plus two additional chairs to a 1st vice chair plus four regional chairs. Then we would debate and vote on changing to one Statewide convention and one regional convention in odd numbered years.

While I believe that both pieces will help us in our goal to elect more Republicans by promoting cooperation between counties in a region and promote unity across the State, some feel that we should make these changes incrementally.

Please also let me know if you think this proposed amendment is a good idea or not. And if you would support it in its entirety, or one part or the other. 
I look forward to seeing you at convention!

Sincerely, Kevin Waterman

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Red Maryland Radio Tonight 8pm

Special guest Dennis McIver aka @Dennisthecynic from The City That Breeds joins Mark Newgent tonight for a jam packed show.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gansler Takes Aim at Corruption Firewall

Attorney General Doug Gansler sure did find a curious way to come out in favor of government efficiency:

As part of his plan to spend less money and make government more efficient, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on Tuesday proposed eliminating the agency that investigates corruption among public officials. 
Gansler, a Democratic candidate for governor, called the Office of the State Prosecutor "a holdover from the Watergate era" that overlaps with other law enforcement offices. 
"If a need arises for a special prosecutor, for instance to avoid conflict of interest, one can be temporarily appointed, as Congress does now," Gansler said in a detailed 16-page plan on how to streamline state spending if he were elected governor. 
The State Prosecutor, established by a constitutional amendment in 1976, in recent years investigated the theft scandal involving former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, the misconduct case against former Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, and campaign finance infractions by state lawmakers. 
Gansler argued that state prosecutors share jurisdiction over corruption and voter fraud cases with the attorney general's office, the U.S. Attorney's office and state's attorneys. Eliminating it, he said, would save taxpayers as much as $1.2 million. 
The idea is one small part of a detailed fiscal plan for the state Gansler released Tuesday in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor in the June 24 primary.
Gansler's full plan, which contains a lot of other details which can be reject later, describes it in similar terms.

As conservatives we are fully in favor of government efficiency, but the idea of eliminating the State Prosecutor's office is probably one of the craziest idea I have seen in some time. By coming out in support of its elimination, Gansler has decided to cast his lot with the corrupt and the wicked.

It's important to note why we have a State Prosecutor to start with. Gansler is correct in saying that it does come from the Watergate era, but it was passed not in regards because of that scandal, but due to the never-ending parade of Maryland Elected Officials who were convicted of corruption during the 1970's. Corruption was so prevalent in the 1970's that the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary's College of Maryland produced a 24-page paper entitled "Spiro Agnew and the Golden Age of Corruption in Maryland." Here's an excerpt from the paper, quoting a November 11, 2005 speech by  Washington Post columnist and former Maryland Political Reporter Richard Cohen:
In my days covering Maryland, the Governor [Marvin Mandel] was convicted of corruption – later overturned on appeal – and the former Governor, Spiro Agnew, then the Vice-President  of the United States pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion. Also convicted [on a variety  of charges] were the County Executives of Anne Arundel County [Joseph W. Alton] and  Baltimore County [Dale Anderson], the Baltimore County State’s Attorney [Samuel Green  Jr.], the Congressman from the first district [William O. Mills], a Baltimore State Senator [Clarence Mitchell III], the Speaker of the House [A. Gordon Boone], a U.S. Senator  [Daniel B. Brewster], and a member of the House of Delegates [James A. “Turk” Scott] who was flushed out of the State House by U.S. Marshals because he was wanted on drug charges…
So this Culture of Corruption in Maryland was the genesis of the State Prosecutor's Office.

According to Prosecutor's website:
The Office of State Prosecutor was established by Constitutional amendment and legislation in 1976 (Chapter 612, Acts of 1976, ratified Nov. 1976). The State Prosecutor’s Office began operation January, 1977.
The State Prosecutor may investigate on his own initiative, or at the request of the Governor, the Attorney General, the General Assembly, the State Ethics Commission, or a State’s Attorney, certain criminal offenses. These include: 1) State election law violations; 2) State public ethics law violations; 3) State bribery law violations involving public officials or employees; 4) misconduct in office by public officials or employees; and 5) extortion, perjury, or obstruction of justice related to any of the above.
A clear reaction and link to the corruption scandals of the prior years.

The key point about the State Prosecutor is not that idea that somebody can request that the State Prosecutor begin an investigation. It's the fact that the Prosecutor can began an investigation on their own initiative. The post of State Prosecutor, once confirmed by the State Senate, is basically an independent entity beyond the reach of the Executive and Legislative Branches:
The State Prosecutor is nominated by the State Prosecutor Selection and Disabilities Commission and appointed by the Governor for a term of six years and until his successor is appointed and qualifies. He may be removed only for misconduct in office, persistent failure to perform the duties of the office, or conduct prejudicial to the proper administration of justice.
And that is a very important firewall against corruption in State Government. There is no political component to the execution of the office of State Prosecutor. The term of the Prosecutor extends beyond the term of an individual governor or an individual General Assembly term. And that's the point. The entire purpose of the State Prosecutor is to not be subject to the political whims of the Governor and of the General Assembly. They do not risk being fired by the Governor or removed by the General Assembly for making logical decisions to investigate or prosecute public officials for their behavior. They have the discretion to do what is best and what is necessary to protect the public trust. Public officials who have found themselves being investigate by the office in recent years include former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, both of whom resigned in disgrace after their prosecutions.

So why does Doug Gansler not believe that such a position has value? Gansler notes that the office of the Special Prosecutor shares jurisdiction with the Attorney General, the State's Attorney's, and the U.S. Attorneys. But so what? U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President and the U.S. Attorney General and are inherently political positions, often filled by politically connected or politically active attorneys. The Attorney General and the 24 various State's Attorneys are elected officials themselves, individuals who are inherently partisan and wear their partisanship on their sleeves.

Given the political nature of his tenure as Attorney General, does anybody truly think that Doug Gansler would have prosecuted corruption in an independent and fair manner?

Gansler's idea to seek elimination of the State Prosecutor seems to have little to do with efficiency in government and everything to do with covering the backside of Democrats in Annapolis. Gansler has never been the type to go along to get along with the Democratic establishment, but this certainly seems like a way to inoculate himself with those folks in a way that allows everybody to have their backsides protected. Nobody can realistically argue that there aren't better ways to save $1.2 million than by eliminating the one office in State Government that is dedicated to rooting out the corruption that has run rampant in State Government.

I look forward to hearing Doug Gansler's explanation as to why he wants to make life easier for those in offices of public trust who want to engage in corruption in our state.

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Conservative Refuge #4

Find Additional Politics Conservative Podcasts with redmaryland on BlogTalkRadio

Another jam-packed episode of the Red Maryland Network's new hit show, the Conservative Refuge.

On this installment

  • Follow up and analysis of Thursday's GOP Candidate Debate and the state of the race for Governor
  • Some high profile endorsements this week in key primaries. I break them down.
  • I offer a "Pep Talk" to GOP candidates as they head toward the June 24th primary.
  • Shocker, there are problems already with the new marijuana decriminalization law.  
  • And as spring has sprung, folks are taking to public trails and impeding vehicular traffic.  I invite them to "Get Off My Lawn"
Send us your feedback to redmaryland@gmail.com , facebook.com/redmaryland or @redmaryland

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Maryland Continues to Lag In Economic Competitiveness

Maryland continues to lag in key indicators of economic competitiveness. 

According to the 2014 edition of the American Legislative Exchange’s Rich States Poor States, Maryland ranks 31st in the nation for economic performance and 34th for economic outlook, and jumped up one spot from 35th to 34th for Economic Outlook.  Economists Art Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams compiled the report’s data.

Maryland’s Economic Performance was determined by three performance variables: state gross domestic product (18th), absolute domestic migration, (42nd) and non-farm payroll employment (22nd).

Maryland’s low ranking for absolute domestic migration is due to the 123,674 residents, who left the state between 2003-2012.  The migration peaked in the year 2007 and saw a decline until 2010 and 2011, when the trend reversed.  However, the out-migration from Maryland began to increase. 

Laffer, Moore and Williams used 15 metrics to determine the Economic Outlook ranking, which includes, among others: Top Personal Income Tax Rate, Top Marginal Corporate Income Tax Rate, Minimum Wage, Estate Tax. 

The report was compiled before the General Assembly approved a phased increase in the minimum wage and a phased recoupling the estate tax to the federal rates. 

Comparing the nine states with the highest and lowest marginal personal income tax rates, the report found that states with lower personal income tax rates had higher rates of gross state product, population growth, tax receipt growth, and job growth.

Maryland joined Ohio, Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Hawaii, and New York as the nine states with the highest marginal personal income tax rates. 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

A Welcome Change

The Maryland Republican Party Spring Convention will be next weekend in Bethesda, and one of the key agenda items will be an amendment to the State Party bylaws proposed by Queen Anne's County Central Committee member and candidate for Register of Wills Kevin Waterman.

The proposal has several key components:

  • Eliminate the positions of 2nd Vice-Chairman and 3rd Vice-Chairman, and replaces them with four regional Vice-Chairmen;
  • Establish yearly regional conventions for the four newly created regions;
  • Reduces the number of State Party Conventions from two to one in odd number years.
These proposals are a much needed change for state party organization. If you have ever attended a State Party Convention, you will know that little gets accomplished during the actual business meetings of the State Party. Often, convention business will get whittled down to reports by the officers (some of which may take as many as 15 minutes a piece depending on who is giving them), debate on some pro-forma resolutions, and that's pretty much it. The rest of the time during convention weekend is dedicated to an Executive Committee meeting, hospitality suites, and training sessions.

All in all, having two statewide conventions every year is not a valuable use of resources, particularly the time of those Central Committee who have to participate in them. The only reason to have two conventions in a year is that RNC bylaws require the State Party to have a convention to elect Convention Delegates and the National Committeeman and Committeewoman between the Presidential Primary and the National Convention during Presidential Election years.

Going the regional convention route is a much better way to go about things for any number of reasons, but there are two in particular that I think are important:
  • Resources: Many Central Committee members have to use their time and often times financial resources in order to attend two conventions a year. Regional conventions will likely cut back on the amount of time and money spent by most Central Committee members. Regions will be able to conduct convention business in one day and folks will be able to attend the convention as a day trip instead of over an entire weekend.
  • Localization: We as Republicans believe that the government that governs best is government that is closest to the people. So why not make sure that our party governs that way too? Regional conventions will reduce the cost and time burden on Republican activists and local citizens who wish to attend party events. The party will have the opportunity to have the same speakers and offer the same training closer to home. In addition, regional conventions will offer the opportunity for like-minded conservatives in these particular regions to forge new working relationships across the region to help with the cross-promotion of events and candidates, and allow innovative new ways of attracting new Republicans to our midst.
Creating four new regional Vice-Chairmen to replace the 2nd- and 3rd Vice-Chairmen is also a way to further localize our party. This way, we will be sure that all regions of the Party are represented on the Executive Board of the State Party and that no one region will be able to dominate party leadership. All regions will make sure that their voice is heard.

Kevin Waterman's proposal is one worthy of supporting, and I would encourage you to contact your Central Committee member to let them know your opinion on it. Feel free to read the entire proposal (without some recent minor edits), below.

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