Saturday, July 30, 2016

Initial Numbers: Code-Breaking 101

First, it is important to reiterate that this author is not a journalist.  I am not restricted by the SPJ’s Code of Ethics, although I tend to abide by most of its provisions, sometimes deliberately.  Bear this in mind.

Second, I assume some of the names will decide to not seek public office in 2018.  If someone passed along a solid tip or a random musing, I gave each equal weight for the purposes of this exercise.  So, don’t get freaked out.  Or do.

So, here are the first six races of note.   

1. CE: R (2), D (9).  Multiple if/then statements on the D side.

2. CC1: R (2 ½ ) , D (1 ½ ).  Only CC race with an incumbent.
3. CC2: R (1), D (5).  I think the Conventional Wisdom in this race misses the mark.
4. CC3: R (5), D (5).  Might end up being the most interesting race in the County in ’18.
5. CC4: R (?), D (8). My home district.  I will be very active here. Very.
6. CC5: R (3), D (3). I don’t see the flip yet, but ’18 will be more competitive.

Beyond the above, I also heard another four names for CC, but not attached to any specific district.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

So Here’s the Deal: A Preview, a Review, and an Update


First, I would like to thank everyone who submitted names for consideration for local 2018 races.  I deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm of those who offered up some possible candidates.

The good news:  dozens of names rolled in and while I believe the information largely aligns with what passes for common knowledge, there are some intriguing individuals and scenarios being floated.  Informed wisdom or wild speculation? You decide…eventually.

The bad news:  this post will have to wait.  I don’t want to run the risk of my 2018 post being a distraction, even in the slightest, from the important 2016 election.  Game 1 of the double-header is well underway, I don’t want to start thinking too much about Game 2 now.

What I can do is, at some point, and most likely in August, list the number of candidates who are connected with a particular race, perhaps even including their party affiliation (for the non-BoE races).  No names or other identifying information will be provided…yet.  The full post, with all of the tantalizing details (and initial analysis?), will be posted in mid-November.


So I ordered my copy of Adam Gordon Sachs’ book, “Don’t Knock, He’s Dead: a Longshot Candidate Gets Schooled in the Unseemly Underbelly of American Campaign Politics” off of Amazon a few days ago.  As you may know, he ran for Delegate in Maryland’s 12th House District in 2014.  

It is three parts campaign dairy, one part policy tract, one part biography, and one part of musings on politics as it is practiced, nationally and in Maryland, in the modern era. 

As a big fan of the political campaign journal genre, I quite enjoyed Sachs’ tome.  There are so many candidates for state legislature, yet one rarely has the opportunity to hear their stories. 

Clocking in at around 340 pages, it is a surprisingly quick read.  The chapters are largely short and story-driven, this is a good beach book.

There are, unsurprisingly, a number of familiar names in his narrative, including this author.  If you like reading about local personalities and issues, then I highly recommend “Don’t Knock, He’s Dead.”

There was one editorial decision I found curious; he chose to provide sobriquets for candidates.  It isn’t challenging to decipher who is who, if you followed the race.  Some nicknames are complimentary, others less so.

I suppose I should disclose that I voted for Sachs, along with two others, in the vote-for-no-more-than-three lively multi-candidate Democratic primary election.  And I wrote about his campaign, as did other bloggers who are also mentioned in Sachs’ work.

Overall, this is the kind of book that makes me think Mr. Sachs is unlikely to seek elective office in the future.  His observations and anecdotes will amuse some and infuriate others.  It reads like an honest account of his perspective on health care, campaign finance, and politics…so, in my opinion, it’s worth picking up.


Between 1999 and 2015, I held two jobs.  Over the past 20 months, I shifted from a decade of self-employment as a pollster and strategic communications counselor to an SVP role with a global market research agency back to heading up my own communications and research firm (along with a very, very brief stint in the non-profit world).  Beginning on August 1, I will be assuming the role of Managing Director, North America of a media analysis company (details to follow).   I do not yet know what this means in terms of this blog.  I imagine my posting frequency might be somewhat less than it is now; and I may focus more on HoCo as opposed to national issues which, based on my page view counts, is probably fine by my readers.  Do I still plan on covering Election ’18? Absolutely.  Will I be talking about local issues? Of course.  Will some articles focus on Slats?  I can’t imagine otherwise.  

As long as I can locate the proper balance between serving some form of public good, while having a creative outlet for personal expression, I believe this blog will continue to exist, in one form or another, for some time.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Interaction and the Great Mentioner

Yes, I have a 2016 presidential campaign update kicking around.  But the center point is not yet fully formed, so that angry piece will have to wait.   Fun is in scarce supply these days, so let’s go in that direction instead.

I was planning on posting something on the ’18 cycle in November or December of this year, but with some folks already, “exploring” 2018 options locally, why wait?

So here are the rules. If you know someone, or think you know someone, who might seek elective office in 2018, in a district that includes in whole, or in part, Howard County, email me a) their name, b) the office they might seek, c) the district where they might run, and d) their party affiliation (if appropriate).  I will not disclose the names of the individuals who provide me with this information, so you will enjoy anonymity.  Want to float someone else’s name?  Great.  Your own name? Fine.  At this point, I want to aggregate the potential candidates for the many local races that will occur in 2018.

Eventually, meaning when I am darn good and ready, I will post an early look at the races of greatest interest, where I will list all, some, or none of the names I have received.  Perhaps I will offer up some initial thoughts & analysis on the potential candidates and the districts/campaigns in which they might be involved. 

So feel free to email me some prospective candidates, works best.   Come on you HoCo political junkies, time to send up those trial balloons.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.



Friday, July 8, 2016

Black Lives Matter and America

Anyone who doesn’t recognize that Black people, in America, have been disproportionally impacted by violence (in many forms)…and suffered violence and its effects because of their race…is simply not paying attention to 400 years of history.  This is why there is a need for a Black Lives Matter movement.  No one is asking for anything other than the ability to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence, to enjoy “certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”  There is nothing at all controversial about wanting these things.  Yet, there seems to be controversy, why?

The sad, cold reality is that there are those, out of fear, hate, and/or ignorance, who choose to commit acts of harm against Black men, women, and children.  Their motivations may vary but the end result is the same.  The frustration is that there are those who refuse to accept the fact that this has occurred throughout our nation’s history, and that it continues to the present day.
The hypocrisy is one of the more troubling elements.  Let’s employ a simple version of philosopher John Rawls and his moral constructs.  If rational people, placed behind a “veil of ignorance” and put into an “original position” where they would not know their race or other characteristics, were compelled to design a society, they would probably not formulate one where slavery or race-based discrimination existed, knowing that they could be part of an ethnic minority facing such treatment. 

So why then, for example, is it acceptable in the United States, for Black male teens to be 21 times more likely to be killed by police compared to white male teens? These are recent statistics, compiled by ProPublica from 2010 – 2012.  What mindset says that these numbers don’t represent a continuation of a horrific human tragedy?  Aren’t we, as a society, supposed to be better than this?  Where are those “patriots” who fail to man the ramparts against what should be considered un-American behavior?  They seem to stand silent, frozen atop feet of clay.  
We live in a heterogeneous Republic, “color-blindness” is a failure to recognize our nation as it is. This is why there is, and needs to be, a Black Lives Matter movement.  With true equality in America far more of an aspiration than a grounded actuality, there needs to be voices clamoring not for “special treatment,” but for fundamental justice, fair treatment, and the freedom to live in peace with one’s neighbors.   

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Friday, July 1, 2016

On Roads, Marriage, and Housing

Drove in to Columbia’s City Core from the leafy ‘burbs of Wilde Lake this morning.  Took the Twin Rivers Expressway from the Faulkner Ridge Exit.  Not much traffic, unless you count the squirrels.

This post might not have a cohesive narrative thread.  So it may be more like an old Larry King article…or a flashback scene from the Family Guy.  Either way, let’s begin.

I read a tweet from Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary last night regarding her sponsorship of a bill that would raise the marriage age in Maryland.  It was one of those, my-God-how-is-this-not-the-law-already? moments that occasionally arises when an out-of-sight/out-of-mind issue slides back into the public consciousness.    Helpful background information can be found here:

This is a fundamental human rights issue. Delegate Atterbeary’s bill deserves serious consideration, passage through the General Assembly, and to become law.

While this author prefers to focus on Federal and state issues, I strongly encourage my readers to take a close look at the Downtown Development/Housing Plans being advanced by the Administration and by Councilwoman Jen Terrasa. A helpful compare/contrast document can be found on Ms. Terrasa’s County Council website:

Others can dissect the granular elements of both plans.  And others will.  On an admittedly visceral level, Councilwoman Terrasa’s plan seems more dedicated to basic concepts such as equity, neighborhood diversity, and community control over its own destiny compared to the Administration’s proposal.  Her plan represents a vision of Columbia which seems more aligned with the values and priorities of our residents.  That is why I support the Terrasa Proposal.

Over 250 words and not one obscure reference, that, of course, is what made Pericles’ Funeral Oration a nifty little speech.  But this is the written word, and my readers expect more!      

But my cup requires replenishment before I head back out onto the mean streets of the Downtown District…there might be a pigeon jackknifed on Little Patuxent and I have appointments to keep.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.