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The Tentacle


September 24, 2010

Election Kibitzing

Norman M. Covert

Today is gorgeous and all is well. We have no looming environmental disaster; our president broke bread with the Episcopals Sunday; and our “femailman” brought an invite to a fund raiser in Hagerstown for Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Ehrlich.

 

I get a quiver at the notion of plunking down $1,000 for a “photo op” with the former governor. No sudden surges course down my leg, and you need not look closely to see my hand rush to protect my wallet. I’m a non-donor advocate for Citizen Ehrlich, given the choice of re-electing Gov. Martin O’Malley.

 

Political gamesmanship means creative fund raising, so I look over the mailer before giving it the “Kai-bosh,” dropping it in the rubbish bin.

 

Money, I’m assured, is the gateway to political success. It is one of the only growth industries in Obama’s America today. The One deserves credit for his influence on this season’s political jobs saved or created.

 

County commissioner candidate Paul Smith reports a meager election fund dwarfed by his competitors’ spending cash. If money were the only criterion for election, he would not see his name on the November 2 ballot – but there it was! Mr. Smith was elected Frederick alderman in 1996 with only a handful of signs.

 

The other side of the coin is Sen. Alex Mooney (R, Frederick/Washington) and his sidekick Michael Hough. Their combined war chests are formidable. Whether these dollars came from out of state, out of county or from local constituents doesn’t matter. Senator Mooney is loaded and if money truly is the “open sesame,” he is a shoo-in.

 

I’m told many District Three voters confess to half-hearted support for the Mooney “ticket.” They point out his reputation as a bonafide pea under the mattress for Democrat majority leaders in Annapolis. However, the question arises whether this irritation translates into much more for our hometown?

 

Senator Mooney is anti-abortion. He may be a stronger Second Amendment advocate than we perceive. He is behind the information curve – either by choice or opportunity – on the wisdom of having a waste-to-energy facility in Frederick County. He still rails against higher taxes and professes belief in smaller government – all the right things, it would seem.

 

What can we expect of Mr. Mooney beyond the election? Might his actions back up the rhetoric and rebuild our trust? Remember his opponent is the formidable former Frederick Mayor Ron Young, who deserves a serious look considering his statewide credentials.

 

I listened to Mr. Hough, Senator Mooney’s alter-ego, repeating his mantra about a litmus test for conservative candidates and made it a point to read his printed comments and literature. He professes the same conservative credentials as his mentor, but without the velvet stroke. We fear he may be too far on the right and a couple Dale Carnegie™ sessions wouldn’t hurt!

 

Mr. Hough’s history with the Frederick Republic Central Committee is one the pundits continue to masticate, especially his actions related to the selection of Del. Rick Weldon’s successor last year.

 

County Commissioner Charles Jenkins accepted the appointment as District 3-B delegate despite Mr. Hough’s apparent backroom shenanigans. Most agree Delegate Jenkins acquitted himself well in Annapolis as a rookie legislator. His summer election campaign never took flight and he suffered a huge thumping in the Republican primary.

 

Compounding the stunning loss, Delegate Jenkins was wearing his feelings on his sleeve that fateful night. He told local reporters at the post-election gathering that he was the victim of lies and distortions from the Hough camp. He, therefore, rejected any notion of supporting Hough’s candidacy in the general election.

 

Mr. Jenkins’ advisors should have urged him to simply thank the voters who supported him and go home with dignity. We often wish in hindsight we could have remained silent on occasions when a geyser of words revealed our innermost feelings.

 

By way of some defense for Delegate Jenkins’ words, Mr. Hough did send out a rash of mailers that cleverly misrepresented his opponent’s votes while serving on the Frederick Board of County Commissioners. Obviously the charges were not countered to the public’s satisfaction, allowing Mr. Hough to set the campaign agenda.

 

At least Delegate Jenkins didn’t parrot former President Richard Nixon’s famous line in 1962 that the media wouldn’t have him “to kick around” anymore.

 

It seems in reality that this is not a good year for incumbents. Consider that it appears Del. Paul Stull (R., Frederick) has lost to newcomers Kathy Afzali and Kelly Schulz. At this writing, the distinguished Mr. Stull has been silent and we fully expect him to congratulate the ladies and even support their candidacy. There has been no stronger agri-business voice than his.

 

In a final note, consider that campaign literature is produced so quickly it often isn’t vetted properly. A former Department of Maryland Commander of The American Legion found himself pictured in an O’Malley/Brown handout the other day that implies he supports their re-election campaign.

 

He decried the use of his picture through a Facebook™ notice that should be seen by the O’Malley/Brown team. Not bad for an old guy who has picked up on the new social communication medium.

 

“I don’t support any candidates for political office,” my compatriot wrote to me and all his Facebook friends. The picture is an obligatory photo-op taken for the historical record of the annual convention in Ocean City in July.

 

It’s a “shame-on-you” O’Malley/Brown for co-opting a picture they thought might attract some of the 400,000 plus military veterans in the state. Perhaps all isn’t “fair in … politics!”

 

My buddy is awaiting word from the governor’s office, but he isn’t holding his breath. I doubt the Guv and his team barely note this as a blip on the radar.

 



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