An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

When Not Being Endorsed is Good News

You may have read about the Post's recent endorsement of Bobby haircut for governor, and of a number of odd birds for local office. Well an an anonymous reader sent an interesting piece our way.

The campaign of Marc Elrich breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when it learned that the Washington Post had NOT endorsed Elrich for Montgomery County Council. “It looks like we’ve dodged a bullet,” said Dale Tibbitts, Elrich’s campaign manager, adding that, by escaping the endorsement, Elrich’s reputation for independent thinking and working on behalf of citizens’ interests would remain intact.

The campaign received a similar boost during the Democratic primary when neither the Post nor the Gazette endorsed Elrich, who later placed second in the primary contest for one of the four at-large seats on the Council. An unlucky candidate who wasn’t able to avoid the Post’s “approval” lost the primary race, perhaps as a consequence of the newspaper’s robust backing: “A no-show at too many council meetings, his caustic temper has alienated colleagues and constituents alike. We endorse him….”

Ouch! And there's more:

Some political observers suggest that national newspapers like the Post have a quota on the number of progressive candidates they will support lest they be labeled as part of the “liberal media establishment.” Others say that newspapers have an important obligation to their advertising base. According to Keith Berner, a campaign consultant, you “can’t blame the Post for endorsing developers’ minions when you consider the size of the Saturday Real Estate section.”

In the upcoming general election for at-large candidates, the Post has thrown its weight behind all of the nominated Democrats except Marc Elrich, choosing instead to support Republican Steve Abrams, a candidate not elected in the primary but who wangled onto the ticket by pressuring another Republican nominee (the only African-American) to step aside. No one was more surprised than Abrams’ own supporters. “Its baffling,” said a source close to the Abrams campaign. “Steve is for assault weapons, supports the Ficker amendment (to cap taxes) and approves of using county police to round up immigrants, all issues the Post editorial board has taken a stand against. He’s even lukewarm to the Purple Line!” Nevertheless, the editorial board selected Abrams as among those it believes will provide Montgomery County with outstanding leadership in the coming years, adding that “His manner is often off-putting, as is his constant quest for public office. Mr. Abrams flits from one candidacy to another and is running for council now only because his bid for state comptroller failed.”

Given that kind of verbal backing for Abrams, the Elrich campaign expressed optimism for their candidate’s prospects on November 7. “The fact that the Post does not seem to be aware of Marc’s existence seems to be working in his favor,” said supporters Marcie Stickle and George French. Added campaign worker Mary Reardon, “It’s remarkable how relevant a newspaper can be in a kind of irrelevant way.”

When contacted about the non-endorsement of Elrich, a member of the Post editorial Board, who chose to remain anonymous, explained its decision simply. “Because we had endorsed Ehrlich for Governor,” said the source, “we didn’t think we should also endorse one of his relatives for the County Council.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Ds and Rs

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her
altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse
me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago,
but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air
balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 346 feet
above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and
100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Democrat."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is
technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're
going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot
air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me
to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in
before we met, but, somehow, now it's my fault."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From the Shore

Dr. Jim Corwin is running for Congress in Maryland’s first congressional district as a hard working physician with a background in public service willing to take on the problems Marylanders face and to point out the incumbent’s (Rep. Wayne Gilchrest) failures. Corwin says “This Congress is so bogged down with its own self-interest, corruption and secrecy that it is unable to provide balance and oversight to this president, not come up with effective solutions to our nation's challenges.” And continues “The incumbent, despite his 16 years of incumbency and 12 of those with the majority party, is still a small cog in the Republican Congressional machine. If we elect him to another term, he'll continue to be ineffective at doing anything about the rampant mismanagement of our national government.”

That’s a strong statement, but maybe what’s necessary to get people to get past what Corwin concedes is the nice guy/moderate image of Gilchrest to hold him accountable for what he hasn’t done while serving in Congress.

Corwin offers a different kind of leadership: “I have served thousands of Marylanders over the years as a physician. My patients pour out to me their hopes and fears, their dreams and aspirations, always knowing that I'll be open, direct and honest with them, and always do right for them. As a member of Congress, the voters can expect the same level of service - that I will listen to THEIR needs and advocate for THEIR best interests.”

Corwin talks about serving in the National Health Service Corps and being “involved in Public Health Service funded community health centers for 20 years.” As a doctor who sees how health care financing impacts Marylanders, he’d probably focus on fixing the system (details of the plan at CorwinForCongress.com). Corwin cites cost from private bureaucracies as a problem for individuals, businesses, and governments, and proposes something different: “My plan simplifies the payment system, puts purchasing power back in the hands of consumers, and brings transparency to pricing. The reduction in waste, inefficiency, fraud and abuse will lower costs and permit access to quality care for all Americans.”

He’s got other priorities, you know jobs, security, good education, the Bay, and energy self-sufficiency (again, go to his web site to get the details. But in contrast to the incumbent, what Corwin is really offering is that he’s “…a leader and not a follower. In my professional career have built coalitions between very diverse groups to get health care to over one hundred thousand Marylanders that would otherwise have no access. In most cases, the incumbent waits for the leadership in his party to tell him what to do. For example, getting him to vote for the so-called GAS act and oil drilling in Alaska when he said he would not. Or, more recently, when he said he would wait for the others in his party before deciding on whether to call for Speaker Hastert's resignation over his brushing off of the Foley abuses.”

Despite the anti-incumbent sentiment around the country, Corwin faces a tough challenge in this race, of course: Gilchrest has won reelection with strong numbers (77%, 79%, 64%, 69%, 62%) and President Bush won this district by significant margins (beating Kerry by 26% and Gore by 17%). Corwin shrugs off these statistics, saying: "Past performance is not guarantee of future results. The mood of the district has changed dramatically in the past two years. There is a strong anti-incumbent sentiment. The voters disapprove overwhelmingly of the job Congress is doing. Mr. Gilchrest is one of those members not adequately serving the voters. The Star Democrat reported that Mr. Gilchrest wants to be re-elected so he can "continue working" on cleaning up the Bay, making housing more affordable and health care more accessible. I say, during his tenure, less people can afford to buy a home, more people are locked out of health care, and last year the Bay got it's worst report ever! How many times does the incumbent want us to send him back to "continue working" on whatever he's working on that just isn't working?!”

So yeah, Dr. Jim Corwin is a long shot in Maryland’s 1st congressional district, but you never know with credentials, support and an effective message: “Under the current administration, and with the consent of this Congress and my opponent, America has lost her stature and standing in the world. The world is a more dangerous place than it has been in decades. We cannot choose a new president this election, but we can send a message. We can send a representative to stand up for openness and honesty, with the courage to advance new ideas and follow them through to completion.”

Friday, October 13, 2006

Just do it

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Let's Talk About Polls

Do we have an expert on polling or at least interpreting polls in the audience?

I ask because the SurveyUSA poll of Maryland voters on the senatorial and gubernatorial race is making me scratch my head. Maybe you can help.

So, it's not a big surprise that whites favor Ehrlich but maybe a bit that they tilt toward Steele at the same rate. And Steele does significantly bettter among African Americans. The numbers that threw me were that among Hispanics Ehrlich beats O'Malley 50 to 17%, and Steele bests Cardin 61 to 37%. This isn't what most of us expected. What's the deal? Anyone want to take a look at the methodology to take a crack at whether these numbers make sense?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cardin Ad

Monday, October 09, 2006

Go West Young One

So, in the wake of the Lamont upset, the near-victory of Donna Edwards against supposedly unbeatable Al Wynn, the sudden hope given to long-shot Democratic challengers in Florida, New York, and elsewhere by the House Republicans’ bumbling of the Foley situation, and so many other races that have gone the direction the conventional wisdom told us they wouldn’t, let's look together past the obvious.

We know that all of the House incumbents in Maryland are going to win reelection, right? So there’s no reason to focus on anything but O’Malley and the Senate race, right? Nah, let’s talk about the less noticed challengers in tough races to see what they’ve got to offer.

First up is Andrew Duck, the former military man who is going up against long-term curmudgeon, conservative Roscoe Bartlett in western Maryland’s 6th congressional district. Now, we know he's got an uphill battle in this final month, since Bartlett has won by wide margins (over 65% in each of the last two general elections) and Pres. Bush won the 6th CD by more than 60% in the 6th in both 2000 and 2004. But Duck says he hears from a lot of folks in western Maryland that they want change, that “…this year, incumbency is not much of an advantage. People are disappointed with Congress and they want a change.” Last week we interviewed Andrew Duck to get you the details – here’s the short version.

Duck talks about stuff like it being time for a change, cutting the deficit, intrusive government, and our foreign policy weaknesses, proclaiming “As an Iraq War veteran, I know that we have got to have people in Washington who are more focused on accomplishing the mission than making money for their friends.” He talks about ensuring health care coverage for every American by getting back to preventive care instead of all too often taking it to the emergency room. On education, Duck says that No Child Left Behind must be scrapped because it doesn’t work for our kids and creates undue burdens on teachers: “A one size fits all, standardized test is not an effective measure of education. We know that a child that studies music does better in math, one that studies art will do better in english, etc. And any program that says a school that is labeled as "failing" should have their funding cut is not interested in fixing the problem. We need solutions.”

As a former serviceman, Duck has particular credibility when he talks about the fiasco in Iraq: “I also served on the ground in Iraq, and I saw example after example of interference by politicians in Washington because they were more interested in making money than accomplishing the mission. I could not do my job, so I retired and am focused on fixing the problem.”

Duck also says:

"We are losing soldiers and marines every day because of the failed policies. We must change course and change course now."

"We need to transition from traditional combat to peace enforcement and counter-insurgency operations."

"We need to stop torturing people, and hold accountable all of those responsible for torture."

"We need to actually want to bring democracy to Iraq. That means they get to pick their leaders, not us. That is what democracy is all about."

"We need to build security from the local level up, not impose it from the national level down. Right now they are training security forces, and moving the Sunnis to Shia areas and vice versa. We need to build security block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, allow people to protect their home areas."

"And most importantly, we need to have policies that are focused on accomplishing the mission, not on making money for favored companies. Right now the politicians in Washington are more focused on the money than getting the job done, and it is costing the lives of our soldiers and marines."

Clearly Duck isn’t enamored with Bartlett
, saying: “He claims to be a conservative, focused on balancing the budget, and working for a smaller government. But he has voted for the three biggest deficits in the history of the country and voted to increase the size of government 30% over the last 6 years. We now have the largest government in our history, and it is not able to accomplish the most basic missions, as seen in the response to Katrina last year. He does not listen to the people, and has not been addressing the needs of western Maryland. It is time for a change.”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rap Political

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Internal Poll Suggests Hastert Could Devastate GOP

From Fox, today:

House Republican candidates will suffer massive losses if House Speaker Dennis Hastert remains speaker until Election Day, according to internal polling data from a prominent GOP pollster, FOX News has learned.

"The data suggests Americans have bailed on the speaker," a Republican source briefed on the polling data told FOX News. "And the difference could be between a 20-seat loss and 50-seat loss."

Most GOP lawmakers have stood by Hastert, pending a full airing of the facts in his handling of the Mark Foley affair, in which the former Florida representative was caught exchanging salacious messages with teen pages in Congress. The new polling data, however, suggests that many voters already have made up their minds.

The GOP source told FOX News that the internal data had not been widely shared among Republican leaders, but as awareness of it spreads calculations about Hastert's tenure may change. The source described the pollster who did the survey as "authoritative," and said once the numbers are presented, it "could change the focus" on whether the speaker remains in power.

While internal GOP polls show trouble for Republicans, the newest AP/Ipsos poll also showed that half of likely voters say the Foley scandal will be "very or extremely important" when it comes time to vote on Nov. 7. By nearly a 2-1 ratio, voters say Democrats are better at combating corruption.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Had Enough?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mud, mud, everywhere

Jousting for Justice brings up recent attempts by Gov. Ehrlich "trailing his challenger in every poll" to throw mud at Mayor O'Malley.
But Ehrlich's most recent campaign mailer instead accuses O'Malley of being investigated by the FBI. In a glossy, full-page mailer, the back of which is made to appear as if Mayor O'Malley has been fingerprinted, a banner reads, "The FBI is investigating Martin O'Malley's Leadership of the Police Department."

But a Department of Justice official said there is no active investigation into O'Malley's activities. Federal agents were bewildered by the accusation and the police department was furious. Deputy Police Commissioner Marcus Brown stated angrily that the "FBI currently does not have an open investigation in relation to the leadership of the Police Department or Martin O'Malley's leadership of the Police Department."

O'Malley's folks call this a desperate move, and Jousting for justice says this is the real start of the mudslinging.