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New Positions For Maryland Republicans

Posted by Ed C on Saturday, January 27, 2007

First at the National Level we have Michael Steele replacing J.C. Watts as Chairman of GOPAC

WASHINGTON, D.C. GOPAC today announced former Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr. will be stepping down after serving nearly four years as Chairman. Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele will be named as GOPAC’s seventh Chairman.

GOPAC was founded by Delaware Governor Pete du Pont in 1978 in an effort to build a farm team of Republican officeholders who could then run for congress or higher state offices later. Other past Chairmen of GOPAC were: former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, California Congressman David Dreier, Arizona Congressman John Shadegg and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

We also have Fulton resident Louis M. Pope elected as RNC Vice Chair

As RNC Vice Chair, Pope will help steer the Party and provide oversight to the various RNC committees. He will also ratify any decisions of RNC Chairman Mike Duncan. Pope has pledged to work closely on issues such as candidate recruitment, fundraising and voter registration and hold a regional conference for all Republicans in the next year.

On the minus side, newly elected Republican Central Committee member Trent Kittleman as reported in the Baltimore Sun will be leaving the Maryland Transportation Authority.

The one agency head who is definitely out is Trent Kittleman, a staunch Republican who resigned as executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority this week. She had earlier said she hoped to stay on.

In a second article, Trent Kittleman is quoted saying:

Kittleman said yesterday that her departure was the result of “a mutual meeting of the minds” after a conversation with Porcari. Though she had previously stated a willingness to stay on as head of the toll agency, she said the meeting was “very professional” and “very nice.”

Gov. Ehrlich dismissed 340 at will employees and the Democratic delegates and senators launched a year long investigation. (From the Washington Post)

“This legislative committee was pulled together to see if anyone was fired” illegally, Del. Jean B. Cryor (R-Montgomery) said afterwards. “But after months of testimony, the simple fact is that no one was fired because of their political party.”

Anyone keeping track of Gov. O’Malley’s numbers? Any sign that Del. Cryor is carefully monitoring this? Just asking.

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Posted in Ed C, Maryland, Republicans | 1 Comment »

The Ostrich – Official Symbol of Dems. In Annapolis?

Posted by Ed C on Wednesday, January 24, 2007

From the Examiner Miller warns budget crunch could force special session next year

What seems to be a theme here – Management by crisis or putting of today what will be a bigger problem tomorrow. Well, today we have Senate President Mike Miller warning that lawmakers may need a special session to deal with projected budget deficits; a special session that will be held in the summer of 2008. Yes, 2008, roughly 18 months from now.

I’ll just skip over the “fiscally responsible” budget proposed by Gov O’Malley. The budget that uses $967,000,000.00 from the state piggy bank called the rainy day fund. Never mind low unemployment of 3.9% in Dec 2006, 18th in the Nation, record tax revenues – it’s raining cats and dogs out there.

The Democrats like to throw around the state’s “structural deficit.” and talk about the looming crisis that they all see coming. The problem is that they could cut (or maybe just freeze) spending or they can raise taxes. Either option will be “unpopular” so, why solve the problem today? Kick the can down the road some more. No reason to do anything this session. Probably can’t get it in next session. No, we’ll wait for 18 months and then call an emergency session. That way we can wring our hands and rush those unpopular proposals through and claim we were forced into it, we had no choice.

Note: For the sake of accuracy I was going to suggest that they adopt the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal as a mascot instead of perpetuating the ostrich myth, but I could not find a good picture of one (Thank you Douglas Adams)

Posted in Ed C, Maryland | 2 Comments »

Grandpa, College, and Tuition

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, December 26, 2006

 

Some of you might be aware of the College Savings Plans of Maryland which consist of the Pre-paid College Trust and the College Investment Plan.

The Trust requires a fixed payment per month up to and including the child’s senior year in high school.  The later you start the program the higher the fixed monthly payment.

The College Investment plan allows you to contribute into a variety of investment vehicles, and to contribute almost any amount one wants over what ever term one wants.  It is a much more flexible plan.

Both offer tax benefits (one can subtract the total amount of your annual contribution to the plans up to $2,500 from your income for Maryland tax purposes), and both accrue interest tax free as long as the funds are used for qualifying educational purposes.  There is much more to know about the plans and to start getting that information check out the plan web site at www.collegesavingsmd.org

I have been wondering about a point regarding these plans. 

If my children’s grandparents (aunts and uncles for that matter) contribute to the fund  set up for my kids they can not subtract that contribution from their income.  In order to take advantage of the tax benefits they would have to open up their own account.  This seems a little nuts to me.  Why have multiple accounts for the same kid?  If your are uber wealthy ok I can understand wanting to take multiple $2,500 deductions for your income.  If you are me and my family one account does it.  Even if I put $10,000 in all at once I can spread that out over 10 years ($1,000 per year for 10 years or $2,000 per year for 5 years, etc).

Would my children’s grandparents contribute more to my children’s education fund if they could deduct the contributions more easily?  I don’t know.  Actually, I don’t think so.  Does it make sense that if they wanted a tax deduction they have to open up their own account with my children as the beneficiary?  I don’t think so.

Why have multiple accounts for the same children?  I think having as few accounts as possible would save money for everyone.  The adminstrators of the plan would have less accounts to manage and support thus reducing their back office support structure, they would also find dispersing funds from fewer accounts would reduce back office expenses.  I would have a better handle on the tuition picture for my children and be in a better position to manage the portfolio.  Grandparents wouldn’t have another financial portfolio to manage, and if they die before the kids go to college we don’t have to worry about transfering the portfolio.  I am sure other benefits exist.  Feel free to list them.

Don’t ge me wrong.  This is no skin off my back.  I am happy to keep things the way that they are.  My parents and in-laws will continue to contribute to my kids college education regardless of the tax deduction.  I just think they should be able to contribute to the account I set up and take advantage of the tax benefit rather than being forced to open their own account.

Perhaps someone knows of a good reason why this should not change.  For example, are the adminstrators compensated by the number of accounts in the plan?  I would be interested in hearing your opinion on this.  Otherwise I would be interested in legislation that would allow any immediate relative to contribute to a child’s single Maryland College Savings Plan and take advantage of the tax benefit if they want to.

Posted in David Keelan, General Assembly, Maryland | 6 Comments »

Taxpayer Protection Caucus Chairman

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Howard County’s own Delegate Warren Miller (R-Woodbine) will become the next chairman of this caucus succeeding outgoing State Delegate Herb McMillan (R-Annapolis).

The caucus is comprised of 24 members of the House of Delegates.

“Taxpayers in Maryland can be relieved that the fiscal leadership demonstrated by Delegate Herb McMillan on their behalf will be continued with Warren Miller chairing the house taxpayer protection caucus.” said Grover Norquist, president of ATR. “Under Delegate Warren Miller’s leadership, the caucus will continue to work and fight for Maryland families and businesses who deserve to keep more of their hard earned money.”

Warren Miller is a very good choice for this position in that his views are well aligned with the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) with whom the caucus works very closely with. 

While opposing additional tax increases is important some tax increases are warranted and I expect that Warren will exercise appropriate judgement in this position and will lead these 24 delegates as an effective voting block in order to protect taxpayers of all stripes.

The Press Release can be found here.

Posted in General Assembly, Howard County, Maryland | 2 Comments »

MD Voting Reform Likely to Include Paper Trail

Posted by Ed C on Monday, December 11, 2006

On Friday,Dec 8th Computerword reported that Maryland Senate President Mike Miller plans to support a bill that will require a paper trail of electronic votes.

Miller said he had opposed legislation filed earlier this year to require a paper trail of electronic votes because the bill was filed too close to last month’s general election.

The senator said he had feared that local officials wouldn’t have enough time to meet the requirements of the bill. With the next major election two years away, those officials should have plenty of time to ensure that e-voting machines provide a paper trail if such a law were enacted next year, he said.

“A law requiring a paper record of every vote cast would ensure the integrity of the election process, Miller said. “We want to make sure that every vote is counted and secure and that “there is a paper trail,” he added.

The article also quotes Lillie Coney, coordinator for the National Committee for Voting Integrity, a project of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

[Coney], called voter-verifiable paper trails “the most secure way to audit an election and the most secure way to recover from [voting machine] failures.”

“Maryland has been trying since 2002 to get it right with their voting systems,” Coney said. “This is good news because that’s where we are with the technology.”

This is a good step in the right direction. If this law passes and is implemented correctly, Maryland voters (living, dead and proxy) should be able to have confidence that their votes can be verified and can re-counted if there are questions or suspicions of voting problems. The other part of the equation will be to require a strong form of identification to ensure that each voter matches the voter’s name on the voting registration role.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ed C, General, Maryland | 1 Comment »

Weathering the Perfect Storm

Posted by Jim Walsh on Tuesday, November 28, 2006

With a little bit of time to sort out the results of Black Tuesday, I’m gradually returning to my normal optimistic self, who believes that maybe Maryland can be at least a 1-1/2, if not a full 2, party state. Please bear with me as I briefly touch upon several issues along this line.

Despite my earlier comment in evaluating Gov. Ehrlich’s loss that a Republican needs a perfect storm to win statewide in Maryland, I think that I might have actually got it backwards – O’Malley beat Ehrlich only because the Democrats had a perfect storm in their favor. Nationwide, voters were fed up with Republicans in general and they took out their anger against Republicans at all levels. Voter turnout was higher among Democrats and lower among Republicans. In any “normal” year, even in Maryland, Ehrlich would likely have won re-election.

Despite the Ehrlich ads to the contrary, anyone who has been in downtown Baltimore or waterfront neighborhoods can’t help but be impressed with the massive redevelopment and rehabilitation that is going on in the City during the time of (but not necessarily due to) O’Malley’s tenure as mayor. In an earlier post, I mentioned that I thought Ehrlich ran a good, near-perfect campaign. IMHO, the imperfection was the TV ads that could be seen as bashing Baltimore City. Despite the debacle that is the Baltimore City Schools, those ads ran counter to what most people saw when they visited Baltimore. As governor of all of Maryland, I think Ehrlich could legitimately have stepped in and taken some of the credit for the Baltimore City renaissance. Sure, he would have been denounced by O’Malley and the Sun for political opportunism, but wasn’t he being denounced by them for other things already? If you’re taking heat anyway, you might as well enjoy some of the sunshine.

Other thoughts from looking back at Black Tuesday:

Three big jurisdictions – Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince George’s – are Democratic locks. Baltimore and Howard Counties are swing jurisdictions, and just about everywhere else goes Republican. Howard County, though, is the true bellweather jurisdiction in Maryland. This year O’Malley barely won in Howard County (Ehrlich narrowly carried Baltimore County); Ehrlich carried Howard in 2002. Glendening won Howard County in 1998; I believe that Sauerbrey carried it in 1994. (I think the 1994 results do not disprove my theory of Howard County as bellweather, but rather speak to what really happened in 1994.)

The most visible elected Republican official in Maryland right now is new Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold. Here I’ll insert another plug for Ehrlich to run for Baltimore County Executive in 2010.

Two of the larger Republican leaning jurisdictions in Maryland – Carroll and Frederick Counties – do not live up to their potential in influence in statewide politics. I believe that in no small part that is because both of those counties have county commissioner forms of government, so that political influence is diluted among several commissioners rather than a single, highly visible county executive. I realize that these are hot button issues in both counties, but the Maryland Republican Party would likely benefit from charter-county executive styles of government in those two counties, which would likely produce two Republican county executives.

Posted in Jim Walsh, Maryland, Republicans | Leave a Comment »

Free Advice?

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, November 20, 2006

Senator Allan Kittleman brought this The Baltimore Sun opinion piece to my attention.

Picking up the pieces

With the loss of the governor’s office and a handful of seats in a General Assembly that was already overwhelmingly Democratic, it’s understandable that Maryland Republicans are feeling blue since the election. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s defeat is a particularly disappointing moment for party loyalists, many of whom labored a generation or more before finally witnessing a GOP governor in Annapolis. But while the setback is significant, it needn’t be long-term.

It reminds me of a post written at brain-terminal “Earnest Advice from the Opposition“.  In which the New York Times encourages the New York State Republican Party to be more like Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A pragmatist like Mayor Michael Bloomberg could serve as the vanguard of a new New York Republican Party. He won twice in a heavily Democratic city by adding probity and managerial expertise to Mr. Pataki’s issues list. Some upstaters regard Mr. Bloomberg as too independent — their term is RINO, or Republican in Name Only. That’s a self-destructive attitude for a party on the ropes. New York’s G.O.P. should embrace the city’s dynamic mayor as its guiding star.

What the Baltimore Sun is asking of Republicans is that they be more like Democrats.  The New York Times is making the same case.

Don’t get me wrong – Bloomberg is a fine Mayor, but so was Guilliani.  Pataki was a fine Governor.  Bloomberg is the Connie Morella of New York politics.  Gulliani a moderate Republican and Pataki a conservative (for the most part) Republican.  Republicans are not in the same position in New York as they are in Maryland.  Maryland is tough.  However, their is much more to being the loyal opposition than accepting minority status.

Maryland isn’t voting on social issues as much as they are national and pocket book issues.  Republican in State wide races are not running on social issues – though many of their opponents try to make it an issue.  Local candidates do no run on social issues either.

Let me ask, how many Republican candidates for Governor or President has the Baltimore Sun endorsed?  Very few in the past 50 years.  To paraphrase: Would Peter Angelos take advise from George Steinbrenner on how to beat the New York Yankees?

If we have accepted one party rule in Maryland then this is sound advice.  However, encouraging the Republican Party to be more like Democrats will leave little room for debate on the issues.  We will be a State devoid of not a loyal opposition but of new ideas.

Is that good for Democracy?  I don’t think so.

Posted in Maryland, Media, Republicans | 1 Comment »

Bob Ehrlich’s 2010 Comeback

Posted by Jim Walsh on Monday, November 13, 2006

Bob Ehrlich’s initial comments to WBAL after the election seems to indicate that he may have written off his chances for any political comeback in Maryland, but I have not. Governor Ehrlich is only 49, and has plenty of time to revive his career. I have identified four races that Ehrlich might consider in 2010. At least two of these races could be influenced by whether or not Barbara Mikulski decides to seek re-election.

GOVERNOR – Right now this seems foolhardy, but a lot of things can happen in 4 years (as we well know). If, as I suspect, taxes and spending skyrocket, and/or if O’Malley stops construction of the ICC, enough voters might be persuaded that two-party government is a pretty good idea after all. In addition, maybe O’Malley doesn’t run for re-election.

COMPTROLLER – William Donald Schaefer showed how this office can be a bully pulpit and gives the office holder a powerful voice in State government. Presumably, Ehrlich would be facing incumbent Peter Franchot. Again, the viability of such a campaign could depend on Maryland’s fiscal situation in 2010.

U.S. SENATE – Barbara Mikulski will be 74 years old in 2010. Although that’s fairly elderly for a lot of people, it’s still middle-aged among Senators. Her decision on whether or not to run again will affect the governor’s race as well. If Mikulski decides not to run, O’Malley might be tempted to go for this race instead of seeking re-election as governor. Open Senate seats occur too rarely in Maryland, only every 20 years or so, and O’Malley might see Mikulski’s retirement as his prime opportunity for the U.S. Senate. In addition, there might be a lot of pressure on O’Malley to run for Senate to clear the way for Lt. Gov. Brown to run for governor. Lt. Gov. Brown might also be interested in the Senate seat himself, as might Lt. Gov. Steele.

BALTIMORE COUNTY EXECUTIVE – Jim Smith will be term-limited and so this would be an open seat in 2010. It remains to be seen whether Ehrlich would be willing to run for a local office, which would be seen as a demotion, but it could be the easiest way of reviving his political career. Of the four offices, this is probably the most winnable for Ehrlich in 2010. Assuming that he was elected in 2010, he could run for Senate in 2012 (against, presumably, Ben Cardin running for re-election) without risking his seat. If he was re-elected in 2014, he could take a shot at Senate in 2016 (for an open seat or against 80-year old Barbara Mikulski). Again, Michael Steele could also factor in any of Ehrlich’s future Senate plans.

Posted in Ehrlich, Jim Walsh, Maryland | 2 Comments »

Steele for RNC Chairmanship?

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, November 10, 2006

Following up on David Wissings post

The Washington Times reports on Michael Steele:

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, whose party just lost both chambers of Congress, will leave his position in January, and the post as party chief has been offered to Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

In addition The Washington Times also reports that Maryland GOP Chairman John Kane will keep his committment to only serve four years in his current position.

Among the potential candidates to be the new MDGOP leader is Louis Pope.  Louis served as the Howard County GOP Chairman for a number of years and is now Maryland’s representative to the RNC.

Mr. Kane had said he would serve a single four-year term when he took the job in 2003. Results from the election Tuesday likely reinforce his decision to leave.

Party insiders have mentioned as successors Republican National Committee member Louis M. Pope, a Howard County real estate agent, and state Republican Party counsel Dirk Haire, an Anne Arundel County lawyer.

I don’t know Dirk Haire, but I do know Louis Pope.  I think Louis would be an ideal choice.

Posted in Howard County, Maryland, Republicans | Leave a Comment »

That Lady is Tough

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, October 26, 2006

…and she should be.  She is Senator Sandy Schrader who has had it up to her ears with Jim Robey and his campaign style.  To know her is to love her, unlike some people and others.

See the related Examiner article

He also was quoted as saying he didn’t know who the committee is, but later said he was consumed with another event at the time and didn’t realize the committee was one with which he was connected.

“I did not connect that name with the group I slated my campaign with earlier in the year to help pay for campaign expenses,” he said in a statement.

Should we give him the benefit of the doubt?

Robey continues to stand by the accuracy of his distortions.  Wow, anything to stay on the public dole.

I don’t blame her.  I hate attack ads (take it easy Mona  Mary).  Especially ones that distort an opponents record such as this.  If Robey is ahead in this race why did he give his committee the blessing to go forward?

It is Halloween and I guess people on both sides of the aisle are just trying to scare the hell out of us.

Well Jim Robey denied any knowledge of the attack ads that the Maryland Senatorial Democratic Committee put out.  The Baltimore Examiner on October 24, 2006 quoted Mr. Robey as saying he “didn’t know anything about it.”

Really, well Mr. Robey I think Sandy has the goods on you.

Please find attached the official documants signed by Jim Robey, documenting that he joined the Maryland Senatorial Democratic Committee, last month and received his offical notifcation that he is a member of the Maryland Democratic Senatorial Slate, on October 12, 2006. The Maryland Senatorial Democratic Committee was responsible for the distrubution of the mailings that deliberatly distorted Senator Schrader’s record and unduly alarmed the women of Howard County by claiming birth control was banned in Howard County.

Here they are:

https://hocomd.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=459

https://hocomd.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=458

Posted in General Assembly, Maryland | 22 Comments »