Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Tails from the Trail

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Couple updates for you.  While I have been in the field we had only one sign vandalized.  Great news.

Sign vandalism and the such….

In Columbia Merdon poll workers arrived to find that Merdon signs had been altered.  Someone (we don’t know who) placed “Support Bush” signs on and/or next to Merdon’s signs.  The police came and took them away upon request of the Howard County GOP and the Board of Elections.

Additionally, Chris Merdon’s sister-in-law was working at Guilford Elementary when Lou Ulman approached her with a Ken Ulman yard sign in hand and planted it directly in front of her Merdon yard sign.  She promptly placed the sign in the ground next to the Merdon sign.  Lou Ulman began to yell at her saying along the lines of “Now you have too many signs.”  Don’t ask me.  He then began to kick the Merdon sign – get this – in front of a Howard County Police Officer who looked at Mr. Ulman and waived Mr. Ulman over to his car and told him to stop.

Finally, Ken Ulman’s mother complained that Merdon’t 8 foot signs were too tall and as such illegal.  A democratic judge came out to review the situation and told Mrs. Ulman that a call to the board of elections would quickly resolve the matter.  The call did resolve the matter and the signs remain in place.

This just in.  A photograph of Ken Ulman’s mobile billboard within 100 feet of the no campaigning line.  No one is complaining to the board of elections – I am just complaining here.


49 Responses to “Tails from the Trail”

  1. Freemarket said

    Well now we know that Ken gets his arrogance from his old man.

    How is placing a “Support Bush” sign next to a Merdon sign vandalism? I have also seen freestanding signs that say “Support Bush- Vote Republican”. Are those signs some kind of vandalism as well?

  2. Numbersgirl said

    Who are we kidding? BOTH candidates aren’t what we’d call “humble.” Most politicians are arrogant. I think both have behaved quite poorly from time to time in the campaign.

  3. hocomd said

    Merdon has not kicked Ulman signs or tried to intimidate voters. Are you saying differently?

  4. hocomd said

    Bush signs vandalism? No. I put it in the such category. The GOP did not put them up. Who did? Someone trying to intimidate dems that might vote GOP?

  5. Numbersgirl said

    re: “Merdon has not kicked Ulman signs or tried to intimidate voters.”

    Neither has Ulman. You are pinning the sins of his father onto the son.

  6. hocomd said

    No I am not.

  7. Voiceofreason said

    So do you think that your smear campaign against Ulman will work? Do you think that the few readers following your blog will have an effect?

    And if you don’t think that you are guilty of a smear campaign, take an honest look at your posts. Why did you expose Mary Smith for her libelous and defamatory posts, but don’t seem to mind the posts by Observer and Tom Berkhouse?

    This blog has become nothing more than an anti-Ulman smear website. At least relies on voting history and Merdon’s own statements rather than a littany of trumped-up allegations such as whether Ulman’s dad helped him out of a high school infraction.

  8. hocomd said

    I don’t know who they are. I did not know who Mary was and onlyu guesses. So what? I never mentioned Ken’s dad bailing him out and told the reader who did “so what?”.

    Therealchris is all lies and I never lied about Ken.

    And no I don’t think the 300 people who read this will make a diff and protect us from Ken. Blogs are over rated.

  9. Hayduke said

    That “mobile billboard” is actually just a regular sign attached to the top of someone’s car, presumably a voter. (I saw them driving with the sign this morning.)

    Aside from its size, how is the sign any different than a regular bumper sticker, a magnet deceal or a t-shirt?

  10. Hayduke said

    Um, “decal.”

  11. hocomd said

    They are not. None of the above are allowed within 100 feet

  12. Hayduke said

    Really? That makes no sense. I voted today wearing a democratic t-shirt and my car has the names of three (three!) candidates. The whole time I was breaking the law?


  13. Just for the record, that was my car with the Ulman sign on top. I am not a paid worker for Ulman, nor a volunteer per se. I am a former candidate for the Howard County Central Committee (didn’t win) and a volunteer for the Howard County Democrats. The sign was built by me and placed on my car at my own discretion (I did receive the signs gratis when I explained the usage).

    The proximity of the car to the polling place was due to the fact that I was driving seniors to vote. The only reason the car was anywhere near the polling place was because many of the seniors were using walkers and could not trek the long distances to the further reaches of the parking lot at each polling place. In two cases the election judges came out to see what the car was doing so close but I said the magic words “driving seniors” and they had no problems. In every case I removed any t-shirt, hat, button or sticker I had on my clothes because I was prepared to enter building in case they needed any further assistance. Lest you start elevating me to sainthood, it take a good 20 minutes to take down the sign from the car and I was NOT going to do that.

    In the instances where individual callers requested a ride it was a pretty good chance they were democrats. Where the senior homes arranged the rides, we had no idea who would fill up the cars, democrats, republicans or otherwise. It’s monstrous to imagine implementing a policy there you say, “sorry, Democrats only”. and we don’t. From the conversations in the car I drove at least two republicans to vote.

    On the two trips to Northfield Elementary, as the seniors were voting, I hung out with the gaggle of poll workers, republican and democrat and the Merdon and Ehrlich workers each time saw the car parked in front of the polling place, and knowing I was driving seniors, none had voiced a problem with it. Track them down. Ask them.

    It’s sad. I meet a lot of people working the polls. Many republicans and in most cases our conversations are civil and pleasant. I guess the further away from the field you get the more likely you are to ascribe nefarious intentions.

    My name is James Mellicant and I approve this message.

  14. Overburdened HoCo Taxpayer said

    I know it’s the liberal way to ignore laws (laws are for the stupid people who don’t know any better, the elitist liberals can do whatever the hell they want) however…
    If you have any campaign sign, button, bumper sticker, t-shirt, tattoo, supporting a candidate or party within 100 feet of a polling place, YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW!!! It doesn’t matter if you’re driving seniors, helping little old ladies cross the street, etc. YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW. You are not excused if you are a liberal. In the real world, laws apply to everyone.

  15. Steve Fine said

    So now your ashamed of Bush?

  16. hocomd said


    I got to say. You are a class act. Keep kicking.

  17. tomberkhouse said


    Nice arrogant name for yourself. Why not just proclaim yourself the messiah?

    Please don’t compare what I’ve said to what Mary Smith was doing. She called someone a bigot, which is not true of that person. I referred to Hayduke as a hypocrit which IS true based on his double standards. Insinuate that Merdon is doing something when really it is Ulman doing it. And so on. It is clear that you share his penchant for hypocrisy and double standards.

    Keelan never outed Mary, he tricked her into outing herself. She feel for it – her problem.

    Ulman is a classless, liar, as evidenced by his last minute campaign of lies against Merdon. Just like Robey’s campaign against Sandy Schrader and O’Malley’s campaign against Ehlrich. Democrats can’t win on issues and facts, they have to lie. But, I guess if the majority of the poeple are stupid enough to fall for it, then they deserve the officials they elect. Chris ran a positive campaign, unlike Ulman. It’s a sad day for the citizens of Howard County, they just don’t understand what they’ve done. When Columbia turns into Bethesda, jammed with gridlock, then they’ll only have themselves to blame.

  18. I know that this is hard for your little pea brain to accept but the election judge came out to the car and said it was okay for me to be there because I WAS ENGAGED IN LEGITIMATE ALLOWABLE BEHAVIOR. I wasn’t electioneering, I was driving seniors to vote and PARKED IN THE DESIGNATED SPACE FOR SUCH ACTIVITY.

    If you honestly think that having a big assed sign near a polling place for a few minutes on the day of the election is going to sway the voter I have some property in Florida you might be interested in.

    It is just as likely that someone would see the sign and question it’s validity in that space and BE TURNED OFF TO THE CANDIDATE ON THE SIGN.

  19. Hayduke said

    Berkhouse: I’ve bitten my tongue long enough: There’s an “E” at the end of hypocrite.

    That’s all.


    One of the stupid people.

  20. hocomd said


    A noble cause indeed. My apologies.

    I enjoyed working the polls too.

    I spent most of the day driving food around to the polls in District 5. I had enough to share with anyone who wanted food regardless of what candidate they represented (believe it or not the food was courtesy of Fox and Merdon).

    I generally find everyone to be very pleasant at the polls. I ran into a minister I met two years ago and we had a nice time catching up over that time period.

  21. Freemarket said

    David- thanks for your hard work on this blog. I learned a heck of a lot.

  22. hocomd said

    Thanks Freemarket. Kind words.

    I know some people agreed with me sometimes and others didn’t most of the time. I am sure I pissed off a lot off people.

    I am going to sit back and lick my wounds, write a long letter to George Bush, and follow up with a handwritten letter to each of the great people I met over the past two years.

  23. Ann said

    Most polling places I visited were very civil, even jovial between the parties. Sharing refreshments, umbrellas, war stories, etc., I met some nice people.

    Too bad that one bad apple can spoil the entire day.

    I wish Howard County citizens the best.

  24. I agree about most poll workers being civil

    Both poll places I worked were very enjoyable. In the morning, I was the only Republican among four Democrats, but they welcomed me and we had a good enough time where I ended up overstaying my time by a half hour. In the evening, it was two from each side, but we ended up getting along and talking to each other all night until the polls closed.

  25. Nanners said

    I had a run-in with an Ulman worker. I sat in a chair next to a table to eat my lunch. Well she berated me and screamed saying it was a democratic table only, get your republican sign away from it, blah blah blah. I said sorry, didn’t realize blah blah blah. I said well then I’ll take the crackers and lollipops off the table that I bought for everyone here(it was so 8th grade)..A lady working for Mary Kay, Bobo & Casemeyer defended me and confronted the Ulman lady. When she left various dems including Casemeyer’s brother told me to take a seat. When Steve Adler came by we told him and he offered that lady pizza…Besides that, everything was great.

  26. tomberkhouse said


    Were you sign waving at Clarksville Middle School? I was there late, and Merdon was across the street at Pointers Run E.S. Right as the polls were closing, I went over to gather the signs and a short, woman, with Ulman shirt started verbally accosting Merdon and his wife over the smoking ban legislation. Chris politely walked away and she gave him the finger and said “F” you. I have NEVER seen such immature and disreputable behavior from a “grown up”.

    She then walked back across the street to the M.S. to the table where Mary Kay and some other women were packing up. I approached her and voiced my displeasure with her conduct and that it was unbecoming of anybody, especially while wearing a candidate shirt, since it reflects on that candidate. She slung several verbal insults at me as I walked away.

  27. Nanners said

    I was actually at Swansfield so it was a different “grown-up”. The finger? When did that come back in style? A 16ish year old girl gave my husband the finger at Patuxent Middle yesterday while her mom voted. He was working for the judges. The #1 reason I got involved in Merdon’s campaign was due to the smoking ban. it should be a restaurant owner’s decision not the government. a separate venilated area was sufficient enough.

  28. hocomd said

    I don’t get why people behave that way. Selective politeness? We may disagree but we all want the same things in the end.

  29. MBT said


    I was with you when the Ulman volunteer lit into Chris. Thanks for telling the rest of the story. Perhaps she felt outnumbered as she was the only Dem there at the time. We were all courteous and she was quiet up until the time when she approached Chris.

    People get so personlly emotional at election time. More civility would make things more pleasant for everyone.

  30. MBT,

    You were with Berkhouse? Are you going to out him ;=)

  31. MBT said

    Nope – he can out himself if he wishes – his secret is safe with me. I’ll give a hint: Adonis-like physique! Of course, Fran is probably better looking…. that should get Mary Smith going…. 🙂

  32. Fran said

    Thanks, MBT. We took a beating, but I look better today than I did at any other time!

    By the way, I voted in a campaign T-shirt yesterday. Many of you do not realize that the rules have changed and that you can where any t-shirt you like to express your First Ammendment right. You just can not have candidate stickers all over your shirt.

    I was challenged in both the Primary and the General at the polling location. Each time the judge said I was fine.

    I just made sure that I did not talk about the candidate I was supporting. Actually, I made a point not to talk to anyone while within the boundary.

  33. MBT said

    Fran, I covered my candidate’s T-shirt (ie, mine) with my coat – perhaps I am just too nice! 🙂

    I guess I don’t understand the difference between expressing your opinion on a T-shirt or with stickers – you are wearing both!


  34. tomberkhouse said


    Adonis-like physique – I’m blushing:)

  35. MBT said

    Tomberkhouse – you should be! 🙂

  36. Ann said

    MBT – I think you and Tom may need to get a room!

    Another tale from the trail -While I was working the polls several other poll workers with Ulman stickers whispered to me that they voted for Merdon, they had more confidence in him as a leader, and they felt he would be more responsive to the citizens.

    The majority of voters did not understand the local issues well enough, and were very angry at the President – hard to over come that.

  37. MBT said

    Ann – interesting take on the Ulman folks. I heard some of this myself.

    As for me and Tom, we are both happily taken by our spouses!

    I think I described Keelan the same way, or was it Wissing? Maybe they all work out together at the same gym! 😉

  38. numbersgirl said

    A recurring theme I see in comments on this blog and on other is the accusation that “The majority of voters did not understand the local issues well enough.”

    Why is it that if someone does not agree with Merdon, Ehrlich, or any of their supporters, it can only be because they don’t understand the issues? This is the same as saying that everyone who doesn’t agree with you must be stupid.

    Isn’t it possible, perhaps even likely, that the majority of this county understands the issues and just disagrees in the fundamental approach to dealing with such issues?

    To discount what is now a majority of the voting public as stupid is the easy way out of productive discourse on the future.

  39. I think the fact is that national politics trumped local politics. If a voter allowed that to happen (and I think a lot of them did) then they did not understand or appreciate the local issues well enough.

    That doesn’t mean they didn’t agree with Ehrlich etc. It means they cared more about what was happening in DC than in Maryland and Howard County and on balance decided that it was more important to punish ALL republicans not just the ones in DC. You don’t have to believe it but a lot of the pundits do as do I.

  40. Jen said

    How many of your friends asked you how to vote? Very few people know anything about most of the downticket candidates and/or questions. Most people knew a little about the Gov’s race and the CE race, and maybe their council race. But- only what they gleaned from commercials and slick mailings- not exactly an objective measure for judging any candidate. Only a handful followed the forums and the news media- slightly better measures for judging a candidate.

    Saying that the majority of the public didn’t know what they were voting for in no way implies that Democrats didn’t know what they were voting for… it just means that people from both parties were not fully informed about all of the issues. You and I may have been fully informed and we used that information to vote for different candidates- the candidates that aligned best with our beliefs, but there were very very few of us.

  41. Freemarket said

    Jen- are you suggesting that voters are generally uniformed about local issues for most or all elections, or just uninformed about local issues for this particular election? I disagree with either position, I am just unclear about what you are implying.

  42. Jen said

    Ask any 10 random voters what the duties of the Register of Wills is and they could not answer you. Nor could they answer what the difference between a for or against vote meant for Question 1. They could not tell you Cardin’s position on the port of Baltimore security or Steele’s position on stem cell research. They could not tell you which of the three judges had the most experience. They could not tell you how Senator Schrader’s position on same sex marriage varied from Senator Kittleman’s. They could not tell you whether Wallis supported an elected or appointed zoning board. They could not distinquish the difference between Merdon’s slow growth stance and Ulman’s slow growth stance. They do not understand what a vote up or down for Comp Lite meant or what comp lite really was. If they were a Democrat- they could tell you that they supported Ulman because he was slow growth. But they could not tell you why he was slow growth- the same is true for Merdon.

    People voted- for the most part- along party lines because they have been taught to believe that all Democratic or all Republican candidates are equal. That a candidate from their own party will pretty much support their own beliefs on things like reproduction rights, gun control, healthcare, taxes, the war in Iraq, etc. In the beginning most voters naturally favored the candidates from their own party and sought validation for that choice. It is natural human behavior and very difficult to override. We view things through a narrow perspective and spend alot of time convincing ourselves that we are right. It is easier than doing the hard work of evaluating for ourselves what we believe and which candidate most closely matches those beliefs. There is nothing wrong with voting along party lines… most of us do it. But we do it not because the candidate is the best candidate… but because we believe that the candidate is most likely the best candidate- given the party affiliation.

    That premise fails us at the local level where the issues that divide us into separate parties at the national level are not as apparent and where the local issues facing us do not have solutions that fall into neat and tidy party affiliations.

  43. Ann said

    MBT – just kidding, I always get a few chuckles from your posts!


    I am not inferring that people are stupid, it is there is much more coverage on national issues, minute by minute, than local issues. And I think there was so much anger with the war and Bush, that that took precedence over the local issues. Probably 1 in 10 voters could tell you what Comp lite was, but most could tell you they are tired of hearing about our troops being killed, and we need to bring them home.

    There are many educated voters out there, but many people are motivated by one or two issues, be it national or local.

  44. tomberkhouse said

    Many of the voters that were questioned as part of various exit polls indicated that they voted strictly party line. It is aboslutely true that the anit-Bush wave washed out many local candidates. The point is, why would a voter vote against Merdon, Schrader, D’Asto, Ellrich, Thewes, MBT, or even the orphans court judges just because he/she has the same party affiliation as Bush. It would be different, and maybe more understandable, to vote against ALL republican candidates if they ALL had the same PLATFORM/POLICIES as Bush. But, these LOCAL candidates have aboslutely nothing to do with DC politics and certain problem GOP candidates on the national level (Foley, Allen). Freemarket and Numbersgirl – do you understand the difference now?

    I guess I’m viewing the election results a little better now than on Tuesday. If the local victors only got elected because of the “D” after their name, then they may be vulnerable in the next election since they didn’t win based on experience or their platform. That’s my positive spin on the results.

  45. Numbersgirl said

    Again, TOM, it isn’t that I don’t UNDERSTAND the DIFFERENCE, it’s just that I DISAGREE. DO you UNDERSTAND? Considering your INABILITY to CONSIDER other POINTS OF VIEW, I am certain that it IS YOU that is INCAPABLE of understanding ISSUES- both LOCAL and NATIONAL.

  46. Freemarket said

    Tom, I understand that local political leaders have nothing to do with national political decisions. I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the party system. When the local political leaders affiliate with a party, they know they will get some credit for the successes of others in their party (nationally and locally), and they also know they will get some blame for the failures of others in their party (nationally and locally).

    Btw, you shouldn’t be surprised at the results of the Council contests. If you think any of the Republican council members except for Fox had a chance, you are living in a dream world.

    I am surprised and disappointed that Gail Bates did so well. She is a conservative hack, and has a picture of herself with George W. Bush on her website.

  47. Mary Catherine said

    Courtney ran a very tough race in a district that most recently has swung republican. She was 5 points behind a year ago. I think most informed voters took for granted that she would easily win District One. Towards the end, even I believed she’d win it easily. I was wrong. Salazar had a chance, no one saw it, because we let our perspective get in the way of evaluating the numbers. This is probably another example of people- for the most part- voting along party lines instead of voting for the best candidate on local issues. Courtney also ran a squeaky clean campaign. Sometimes trying to rise above the fray backfires, but she stayed with her convictions and I’m really proud of her for it.

    I am not surprised about Bates and Miller. They represent a conservative republican district. Issues like access to birth control, same sex marriage, gun control, etc… are all issues that have play at the State level.

  48. tomberkhouse said


    You kind of validated my point with your last statement about Gail Bates. She’s a “hack” because she has a picture of herslf with George Bush??? If you ahve a problem with her platform for local issues (and I don’t need you to delve into it), then fine, don’t vote for her.

    Numbersgirl – did I do something to piss you off? I thought this was just a good, somewhat friedly dialogue. Most of the republican council candidates WERE running on platforms that were consistent with what residents had been conveying to them (eg: they didn’t like Comp Lite or the Town Center plan, and too much growth). As such, it seemed like most of the races would/should have been very close. It is perfectly possible that your theory is correct.

  49. Freemarket said

    Tom, you are confused. I never said Gail Bates is a hack BECAUSE she has a picture of herself with George W. Bush, as you mistakenly asserted. I said he is a conservative hack AND she has a picture of herself with George W. Bush. Gail Bates’ opinion of George Bush in no way affects my opinion of her. I do have a problem with Gail Bates platform and you can bet your ass I didn’t vote for her or Miller. I don’t think our elected officials should discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation. The fact that more Republicans don’t attack them on that issue should be an embarrassment to the Republican Party.

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