Friday, December 21, 2007

Pipkin talks about choice

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.


buffalo bull said...

Q. How do you justify Pipkin's vote with the dems for the 1.5 billion $ excess O'mallay budget. Then during the special session vote with the republicans against the tax increase to pay for it?

A. Back in the spring he wasn't running for office and now he is.

Anonymous said...

The first district is a republican district. That is the way the democrats made it. Whoever wins the republican primary on Febuary 12, wins the seat. period.
The more EJ Pipkin says otherwise the more credibility Pipkin losses.

The Waterman said...

Michael, I appreciate you posting this and your counterarguments. However I feel that you are a little bit flawed in your analysis.

Your first point. It's a bit flawed to compare a House congressional race to a Presidential one, if for no reason other than scale and the fact a reasonably local candidate is not a guarantee. But even so, the rules still hold much the same.

Senator Pipkin's message isn't an appeal to what should be, it's an appeal to the realities of election politics. Ideally everyone would vote issues; in reality though they often vote region. Think about, just using your presidential example. How often is it brought up that Northerners will have extreme difficulty winning Southern states for no reason but geography or vice versa. How much more likely would the average voter be to vote for a candidate from his own state versus another? It's an understood rule that a candidate should be guaranteed at least his home state. The same holds true in this election, but even more so.

The Eastern Shore is an intensely regionalist place, you live here so you should know that. Your average Eastern Shore resident has an intense dislike for and distrust of the Western Shore, Baltimore in particular. Most of them, even likely voters, have a very limited conception of active political issues; faced with this vacuum they'll vote what they know, and what they know is name recognition and regional identity.

As for your second argument, the issue of timing and Andy's personal polling data, I think it would be worth it to point out whatever data he used at the time most likely didn't also incorporate the presence of an extremely popular State Senator from the area that primarily comprises the district. Also there's the simple fact of how the race dynamics have shifted from the initial point at which Andy jumped in and where they were when Pipkin entered the race, such that they boded much better for him at that point rather than the earlier one.

Finally, your third point and Anonymous's point as well. I think Kratovil is a much stronger candidate than you're giving him credit for. He's well-liked in the area, he's also the only real candidate for the Dems, meaning all the true Dems are going to flock to him. And there are more and more of them in the district every year as they move to the Eastern Shore from elsewhere.

On the other hand, a great many of the registered Democrats in the district are old school Democrats, the kind who vote Republican in presidential elections but just never changed their registered affiliation when the Democrats left them. They're often the kind of person I described earlier, they only have an issue or two at most that they care about. They are much more concerned with who they know and who's from around there. If faced with a friendly, good-looking local that they know the name of versus a Baltimore politician they've never heard of until this year then I would hardly be surprised if name-recognition and regionalism end up trumping the gerrymandering of the district.

I just wanted to put an alternative perspective out there. I think you're analysis isn't bad Michael, but it is a bit skewed, through no fault of your own. I've read enough to know you're very politically aware and astute, but the majority of the Eastern Shore isn't. Plus, the game is a bit different in Talbot County compared to the rest of the Shore. Having lived in QAC my whole life but gone to school in Talbot from kindergarten through 12th grade I feel comfortable asserting that it is somewhat more cosmopolitan than most of the rest of the Shore, a fact always worth keeping in mind when analyzing the entire Eastern Shore.

Anonymous said...

Interesting talking points waterman. It's so interesting that your views are very similar to those of Mr. Caliguiri, Gilchrest's chief staff. What do you guys compare notes or something??

Anonymous said...

Credibility? What was the last thing Harris did for the shore? He truly is just a dishonest Baltimore politician.

Pipkin has introduced hundreds of millions of tax cuts in the last several years. He's consistently worked for the voters on the Eastern Shore which is a great deal more than I can say for Harris.

Gilchrest? You MUST be kidding! He's done nothing but vote against the military and WITH the Dem's. Somewhere along the line he's forgotten that he's supposed to be voting to represent the people of CD 1

I say its time to elect someone who has a history of working for the district. Pipkin has and continues to do so.

Anonymous said...

let's see, He voted for the O malley budget and then voted against the tax increase to fund it.

Here on the Eastern Shore we call that "Double Speak"

Anonymous said...

Umm, it would only be double speak if hadn't also introduced over a billion dollars in spending cuts during the special session. Yeah, he voted for the budget, but he also supported a conservative way to fund it rather than the liberal tax increase approach.

Anonymous said...

yell, Here on the Eastern Shore we say "don't bring a knife to a gun fight"
Sounds like your boy Pipkin voted for the O'malley budget and then got in over his head. Not to smart!!

Dawn said...

If Andy Harris was doing better in the race, EJ Pipkin would have no shot!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dawn, Who said EJ Pipkin has a chance. Besides you can't shoot without a gun:)

Anonymous said...

This race is a dead heat right know, with E.J. Pipkin on the rise, and Harris and Gilchrest is a free fall.
If you want to talk about honesty as it pertains to Harris, on one of his last mailers he attacked Pipkin for voting for needle exchange programs, because he voted for the 2008 budget. The fact that Harris voted for the '04 '05 and '06 budget, which also included funding for Needle Exchange programs, must have slipped his mind.
Oh, but wait, those budgets were under the Ehrlich administration, so he must have voted for those budgets because his Governor, and now campiagn supporter, Bob Ehrlich controled them.
Nothing like standing on his principles, and voting his conscience!

Anonymous said...

Pipkin is the only member of the Senate representing his district. Harris has the luxury of a large, mostly democrat delegation who will vote for OM's budget. For Pipkin, voting against a budget, any budget, is a vote against money for his district for schools, public safety, etc. Several other republicans voted for the '07 OM budget, some of whom are supporting/endorsing Harris.