By now, you have probably heard about the charge involving Brian Bailey’s connection with an amateurish website that attacked Rebecca Dongarra.
Understanding that there is a much larger world beyond running for, or holding, public office…and having witnessed a fair amount of campaign-related foolishness over the years…I was still shocked and saddened when I read this article:
While I was aware of the existence of bad blood between Bailey and Dongarra, I chalked that up to the emotions that churn up from a hard fought campaign…raw bitterness from the internecine struggles in SW Baltimore County, specifically County Council District One (where they ran against each other in 2010).
In 2013, I met with both of them for the first time, separately of course, as I was trying to sort out which candidate(s) I would support in Maryland’s HD 12. At that point, I knew (all things being equal and in the interest of geographic balance) that I wanted to endorse at least one candidate who resides in Baltimore County… perhaps two, depending on how the field shaped up.
I met with Brian first. I would like to believe that I have a fairly well developed bullshit detector and he came across as sincerely civic-minded and focused on working for the public good.
I recall that I told Rebecca during our introductory coffee/rap session that I decided to support Brian. I reasoned that transparency trumped whatever awkwardness ensued…and even then it was only a minor conversational speed-bump in what was otherwise a pleasant discussion that was focused on various public policy matters and her vision of governance.
While I found Rebecca to be intelligent and personable, I thought Brian’s progressive outlook, in addition to his blue-collar background, history of community activism, relevant public policy experience, and ability to overcome some serious health issues made for a more compelling candidacy.
Combine that with my support for Dr. Terri Hill and Dr. Clarence Lam (both of whom I endorsed after Bailey) and I thought, “That would be one heck of a slate.”
Fast forward to Monday.
While I don’t know all of the facts, it doesn’t look good for Mr. Bailey. If the statement from the news article is accurate, it appears as though Brian has taken responsibility for a violation of some sort.
This blog has taken a firm stand against the ridiculous candidacy of disbarred attorney Michael Gisriel, and he deserves it. The legal proceedings that culminated in the disbarment of Mr. Gisriel are a matter of public record. That case has long been settled whereas the controversy involving Mr. Bailey seems to be fluid, ongoing. That is a distinction based on the legal realities of both matters. In terms of ethics, there appear to be similarities at least as far as carelessness and/or bad judgment are concerned. Perhaps a staffer did something monumentally stupid and Brian took the hit? I don't know.
Meanwhile, the political consequences cannot be ignored. Bearing in mind all likely voter turnout models…and using the admittedly more amorphous, short-hand measure of relative placement in the two counties as opposed to the more meaningful diagnostic of actual vote projections…Brian’s candidacy depends on a strong showing in Baltimore County (first place or an extremely close second) and probably third place in Howard County…or a virtual tie for third where any deficits against Nick Stewart, Eric Ebersole and/or Dongarra would be covered by a positive margin in his home county.
This might have been a long-shot anyway, given the fundraising advantages enjoyed by the other candidates, but I believed there was a path for Mr. Bailey…perhaps slim and broken in places, but a path nonetheless to third place and a nomination. I marked up my sample ballot with a big X next to Brian’s name just a couple of days ago.
But here we stand. I believe that Lam and Hill are well-positioned to finish in the top three. What follows next is a rather evenly divided field...with Stewart’s healthy coffers and the backing of Delegate Malone, with Ebersole running an energetic campaign with the support of many respected progressive organizations, and with Dongarra having a decent amount of resources and a fairly well-defined constituency.
I am increasingly concerned that the self-funded, TV-ad running Gisriel will somehow slip into third place.
I think Brian is a talented individual who has a bright career ahead of him. I hope he continues to be an active community leader. Based on what I know as of this writing, I can’t see myself voting for him in the Primary Election in 2014. This blog is about decisions, and this was a tough one…but in light of this new information, and Brian’s apparent acknowledgement of responsibility in this matter, I don’t see how I could act otherwise.
I haven’t decided about the third slot yet. It is too soon. Perhaps I will cast a ballot for Sachs. Maybe I will just vote for Hill and Lam.
However, given the importance of ensuring that Gisriel finishes no higher than fourth and knowing that one vote could make the difference, that means a third vote for one of the remaining viable alternatives…in no particular order…either Stewart, Ebersole or Dongarra. At least there is some time to work out that question.
I am guessing Brian had rough day, but hope arrives anew with each sunrise. He will come out of this wiser.
Stay tuned, as more will follow.