Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Eighth Inning...or What's In a Name?

Supposed to attend a Tigers – Orioles game in Baltimore in a few hours.   Client demands might necessitate a change of plans.  If I do not go, the odds of an unassisted triple play occurring at Camden Yards tonight have improved by 75%.

Went to the League of Women Voters State Legislative Candidate Forum yesterday evening.  Could only stick around for Districts 9 and 12.  Will have to catch D13 on television or online. 

At this late stage of the primary campaign, fighting off forum fatigue is a tough challenge.  The mind is looking to express itself in original ways, which is not always the smartest thing to do. 

This manifests itself in a couple of ways.  In this case of this author, the temptation to engage in boredom-alleviating mischief making was strong.  The forum allowed audience members to write and submit questions for possible inclusion in the proceedings…with the moderator and/or other LWV officials deciding what question would make the cut and be asked of the candidates.

During the District 9A Republican panel, I had the question framed in my head.  I knew an obvious set-up wouldn’t get past the gatekeepers…but something disguised might.  So this is what I came up with:

“A transportation question: given Howard County’s proximity to several major airports, do you favor or oppose the appropriation of funds to measure the impact of chemtrails on our local residents and agricultural products?”*

* (If you don’t know what chemtrails are, you clearly aren’t spending enough time watching conspiracy theory videos on YouTube).

But I didn’t want to be accused of making a mockery of the event, so I showed some restraint and didn’t pass the question along. Although it would have been entertaining seeing how far and how fast the assembled Republicans would sprint to the right.  Someone must protect the Patriots from the menace that rains down upon us! My money was on Christopher Eric Bouchat as the one most likely to take that question and run with it, with Frank Mirabile a close second.   Side note: Bouchat wore that black shirt/red tie combo like a champ.
You could tell by looking at the faces of the candidates that most would rather be elsewhere.  Either knocking on doors and talking with voters, reading, wasting their money devising God-awful terrible negative direct mail pieces, bunker prepping, or a host of other activities.  Some seemed to enjoy the experience, while others wore forced grins…if they bothered with smiles at all.

Branding and message disciple are important.  At this point, most of the candidates – to one extent or another – have a well-refined pitch and thoughtful, well-practiced answers to a variety of policy (and other) questions.  Honing and repeating a strong message and building name recognition are important.  But it leads to some unintentionally funny moments.

For example, because the candidates were speaking to the cameras, not knowing if the audience would see their paper nameplate on screen, many of them prefaced or ended their introductions and concluding remarks by stating their name…sometimes more than once.  In several cases, the candidates took the opportunity to repeat their name at the beginning of their responses to each of the questions (for the District 12 candidates, each answered six questions).  Yes Clarence, I am looking at you.

Which is exactly what you are supposed to do.  That said, by the fourth or fifth question, I kept wanting a candidate to mix it up.  Break out with a, “I am Keyser Soze,” or perhaps even an off-hand, “Tyler Durden” before launching into their 30-seconds on fracking.  Of course they would be ripped apart for showing a subversive sense of humor, which is unfortunate.

Big takeaways in the races with contested primaries: 

Tom Coale continues to show why he is the best choice in 9B.  He focuses on tackling serious challenges and working to improve the quality of life in Ellicott City.  Meanwhile his opponent, off-stage, appears to spend his energies launching smears….and I guess he didn’t think it wise to repeat his attacks in-person/on-camera.  Interesting.

As I have noted earlier, I think Ryan Frederic would be a great Senate nominee in District 9, but he needs to win the primary first.  He needs to make it clear that he is the only pro-choice candidate in the field…and I believe the only pro-marriage equality candidate as well.  One could infer his stances on those issues when he rattled off his endorsements, but he needs to be comparative and he needs to make those positions front and center. Now.

The hard-right is well-represented in the GOP primary in 9A.  If the Republicans continue running candidates like that, Democrats are going to make gains in Western Howard County…sooner than later.  The two Democratic candidates: Walter Carson and James Ward Morrow, seem like decent, respectable choices.  Carson’s monologue meandered a bit…I have seen him turn in better speaking performances. 

I have written extensively about the legion running in the 12th House District.  As a group, they are much better communicators than they were just a few short months ago.  Strictly from a professional perspective, it is encouraging to see that kind of maturation as the candidates grow more experienced, more comfortable.

Of course Jay Fred Cohen was a no-show.  In substantive terms, that might have been the case had he occupied a chair on the stage last night… but writing that seems mean-spirited.  I just haven’t seen a legitimate rationale for his candidacy.

There were mostly thoughtful answers provided to a range of questions dealing with transportation, the business-friendliness of Maryland and other priorities and issues.  Only one clear punch was thrown during this part of the forum; it occurred when Rebecca Dongarra referred to the two candidates who are new to the district.  She did not name them, but that information is easy enough to figure out.  More of a sharp elbow I suppose.

But this post is running long and the hour is getting late.  I will talk about the 13th soon enough. 

Stay tuned, as more will follow.


  1. I was there for the whole thing and was the contributor of the non-public school aid question to the LD9 duo (Frederic and Medinger) in hopes of getting them both on the record with regard to it. Both seemed pretty careful not to give away too much, but Medinger (with his past at the Catholic Review) did provide one already existing example of it that he seemed to defend. Like you, I wished that Frederic had seized the opportunity to show the clear difference between him and Medinger on the right to choose re abortion. You could only surmise his stance when he listed NARAL as an endorser. Voters would have to know to Medinger had admitted last year to being "a pro-life Democrat."
    I also agree with you that Cohen wouldn't have been missed at this forum that was mainly for the benefit of the cable TV audience. If he had any chance of winning, it couldn't have been helped when the moderator called attention to his absence by mistakenly introducing him.
    People who care will be able to learn, if they didn't already know, who were the two LD12 candidates who had moved into the district less than a year ago.

  2. Ken, I am glad you posed that question. It was substantive & important...and yes, the responses were quite cautious/measured. From what i recall, their answers revealed just enough to be instructive for the electorate, but i would need to watch a repeat to be certain.

  3. I really appreciate your posts. I hope you get a chance to review D13. It's been forever since we had a primary here.

    1. Thanks! I hope to do a write-up on D13 within the next week or so.