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November 2, 2012

Last Moments

Roy Meachum

Republican readers may be happy to know Tuesday column will have nothing to do with the 2012 presidential election. Closer to home, there are other candidates and issues.


With no children or grandkids going to Frederick County schools, I’ve never followed the Board of Education races. This year was no different. Editor John Ashbury inherited expertise and history from his mother Frances, who was Board of Education chairman for years. Of course, colleague Jill King is campaigning very hard, but not in her columns; she has splendidly maintained the crucial distance.


Some of my friends have been pushing hard for GOP standard bearer Dan Bongino, who retired from the U.S. Secret Service. In the primaries, he won with 68,597 votes. He faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, who drew 204,704 ballots. The turnout brought out 204,208 GOP members against 324,218, which reflects the reality of Maryland politics.


This is a deep Blue state. In the last 20 years, Frederick Sixth Congressional District has been a western exception. Its match was found eastward on Chesapeake Bay; the first district including the Eastern Shore is represented by Republican Andy Harris, who’s a shoo-in in 2012. His fellow GOP member Roscoe Bartlett’s fate is shakier.


The 2010 population survey was used by Maryland’s Democratic leadership to include more Montgomery County Democrats in the western districts. For his 11th term, Roscoe contends with John Delaney, who bested the leadership’s hand-picked favorite, State Sen. Rob Garagiola. Some say the new district was drawn to elect him; he lost nearly 2-1 in the primaries.


One of the referendums on Tuesday’s ballot calls for a rejection of the congressional redistricting map adopted by the General Assembly as required by the Constitution. Considering the Democratic state majority, it will lose.


In any event, Roscoe was in trouble anyway. Increasingly, he had turned matters over to his staff; many warnings fell on deaf ears. When he hesitated before filing for re-election, Alex X. Mooney and Christopher Shanks went so far as authorizing committees to explore the possibilities to succeed him. The unkindest cut of all, his chief of staff, Bud Otis, made a lot of noise. It ended up with the congressman sailing through the primary, but still facing the redrawn Sixth District, with lots more Democrats: 183,847 v. 142,029


Frederick County was literally mangled in the redistricting. Such familiar places as New Market, Emmitsburg and Thurmont were stuck in the “new” Eighth, which is represented by incumbent Chris Van Hollen. His Republican opponent is Ken Timmerman.


Confusingly, people I respect like Del. Kelly Schulz (Frederick’s 4th) are opposed to Question 7, which expands gambling in the state. Approving the referendum would stop some Maryland dollars from going to West Virginia – nearby casinos have opposed it, putting up lots of bucks for advertising. The Baltimore Sun said the principal advantage goes to MGM, the gambling company. But it’s up to the General Assembly to grab most of the revenue for children.


Sandy’s turbulent weather blew my Question 6 poster onto the sidewalk; I put it back up Wednesday. After spending millions to destroy same-sex marriage in California, the Church of the Latter-Day Saints kept itself above the struggle in Maryland. I’m guessing that since Mormon Mitt Romney has a shot at the presidency, the Saints did nothing to damage his chances.


That’s my last word, “chances,” on the 2012 Elections, national and local. Be sure to vote.




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