No, not the choice you may be thinking. This e-mail I received from E.J. Pipkin's campaign is entitled, "Primary Voters Deserve Quality Choices."
A good amount of discussion has been going on regarding my decision to run for the United States Congress representing the 1st District. Much of this has surrounded two keys (sic) points. The first surrounds the concept of who has the right to run for public office. The second involves my ability to win.
The "right" to put oneself forward for office, to be judged by voters, and to represent your friends and neighbors is a basic fundamental component of our representative government. This system relies upon individuals being willing to discuss their ideas, their backgrounds, their strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and their vision for how to improve the lives of those they wish to represent.
This is not the first time I have offered the voters my vision and energy in the political arena. Nor is it the first time I have shown the voters that I am willing to fight for them.
In 2002, I won a Maryland State Senate seat on the Upper Eastern Shore against a 24 year Democrat Committee Chairman who was referred to as the fourth most powerful person in Maryland. I worked full time for over a year to win. During that contest, I knocked on over 10,000 doors, went to hundreds of events, sign waved off the back of my truck in the heat, cold, and rain, and committed my own assets to succeed. Despite a dirty tricks campaign and hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Democrat slate, I prevailed with over 60% of the vote. Our efforts helped lead a Republican sweep of all three House of Delegate seats for the first time in District history.
In 2004, I rose to the call of Republican Bob Ehrlich to challenge the Democrat monopoly in the State of Maryland. After a successful nine way primary, I took on the entrenched Democrat U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski. I dedicated another year of my life to this tough task.
We built a statewide Republican organization, constructed a grassroots operation, and supported Republican candidates across the state. I backed up this endeavor by investing over $2,000,000 of my personal funds. To this day, as a businessman this was not an easy decision, but I was investing in our Republican message and building a party that benefits all the people.
While not achieving a ballot box victory, I received what was at the time the second highest number of votes statewide for a Republican.
My efforts also helped the Republican Party nationally. While Democrat Mikulski was spending $6,000,000 against me in Maryland, she was not able export the huge amounts of cash to other Democrats around the country. We made her keep her Democrat money here in Maryland. This was a team effort and I played my part.
In 2006, when Democrat U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes retired, a rare open Maryland U.S. Senate seat was created. I felt that given my efforts, investment of time, and election results, that I would be the best person to run for that seat. However, the Republican Party leadership decided that Lt. Governor Michael Steele should be the candidate. I supported their decision and did not challenge Michael in a Republican primary and I supported his effort to win and advance the Republican team.
Also in that year, I led the team on the Upper Eastern Shore that posted a number of impressive victories. Despite the difficult environment for Republicans, I won reelection to the Maryland State Senate with again over 60% of the vote. We also returned the entire Republican House delegation to Annapolis. Both Governor Ehrlich and Lt. Governor Steele posted outstanding numbers in my State Senate District.
In 2007, I worked for six months against the O'Malley tax increases. I tried to block every move to call the Special Session. Once it occurred, I proposed over a billion dollars in spending cuts, and opposed every tax increase proposed by the O'Malley administration. I worked hard to make it clear that the government had a spending problem not a revenue problem.
It was during this Special Session that it became apparent that the incumbent Congressman for the 1st District Wayne Gilchrest was out of favor with Republican primary voters. The Republican base has judged him to be too liberal, out of touch, and part of the DC elite that they do not like.
As I watched the campaign unfold, I saw what I considered to be problems for the Republican Party. Problems that I did not think should be ignored.
Andy Harris is from the furthest geographic extreme of the District in Baltimore County. The expected Democrat challenger Frank Kratovil will exploit Harris's lack of 1st District experience, Harris's votes against the Eastern Shore, and Harris's dismal environmental record, in a general election. A Harris victory hands the 1st Congressional seat to a Democrat.
A Gilchrest nomination would leave the district represented by someone that has decided he would rather stand with Nancy Pelosi over President George Bush. While I am sure that no one is happy we are at war, the fact is we are, and our troops deserve to have the full support of Congress without restrictions and timetables.
My instincts told me that it was time to get involved. It was time to give the Republicans a choice that could not only win the nomination, but also had a record that would retain the seat in November. I choose (sic) to get a second opinion. I had a poll conducted that supports that both Harris and Gilchrest have high negatives, that the district is not happy, and that the people of the 1st District know about the hard work I have put into fighting for them. So, I made the decision to run.
While the Constitution gives me the right to run, it is my hard work for the Republican Party that matters locally. After all the time, effort, and personal investment I have made to build a solid Republican team, I offer the best credentials to keep the 1st Congressional District in Republican hands. The voters know that for the past nine years, in my private and public life, I have tirelessly been an advocate for the people of the 1st.
I believe that 1st District Voters want me, an Eastern Shore Conservative who will fight for Maryland taxpayers, in Washington. I believe they want me to fight for lower taxes, end wasteful spending, stop illegal immigration, protect our 2nd amendment rights, clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and fully support our troops and win the war on terror.
And while only time will tell if I am correct, I am running to represent the people of the 1st District and I will earn every vote that it takes to win.
I appreciate Senator Pipkin answering this question I and many others had directly and honestly. I have three counter-arguments though.
At the moment, we have a Congressman who lives roughly in the center of the district, as does E.J. Pipkin. But where a representative lives in a particular district is of much less importance than how he or she represents me. If my sole criteria on representation was distance from my house, I'd vote for Chris Robinson since he lives just up the road in Talbot County. But obviously I disagree with Robinson on a wide variety of issues. Further, would people on the other side of the bay be so parochial on their choice? They do have about half the district's population but much less geography. In short, Pipkin's argument is a little like disdaining Ronald Reagan because he lived on the extreme west coast of the country when he ran for President.
My other argument has to do with timing. Personally, I've been frustrated with Wayne Gilchrest on various issues since I got involved in politics here, and that was two years ago. When I bought my house last year and could place political signs in my yard, there were two top-ticket Republicans missing and he was one of them. Wayne was definitely a "lesser of two evils" vote for me and I'm of the opinion that many others in the GOP felt the same way. The reason Andy Harris jumped into the race was because of this frustration, as I photographed last spring.
So something tells me that ambitious politicians with some experience would be testing the waters before they jumped into a race. I'm sure that Andy Harris got the same sentiment from whichever polling outfit he hired to evaluate his chances too.
My last argument is based on Pipkin's contention that Frank Kratovil could win in this district. Let's do a mini-Kevin Bacon moment here, shall we? I only need three degrees.
If you look right on top of Kratovil's website, sooner or later a quote of endorsement from Martin O'Malley will come up. (There's four from various Maryland Democrats that cycle through.) This is the same O'Malley who's endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. It's also the same guy who orchestrated all of our upcoming tax increases, endorsing the same woman who wanted to nationalize health care so we can wait months for routine procedures like Canadians do. It's a simple algebraic equation:
Kratovil = O'Malley = Clinton
Now those politics might play a little bit on the other side of the bay, but in this half of the district any of those three will be fortunate to get 40 percent.
However, I do have to give Pipkin credit for addressing this issue. In the next couple weeks I'll subject his views to the same scrutiny I have the other candidates where they were readily available in order to evaluate him for my readers.
Crossposted on monoblogue.