Battle Heats Up in Dyson-McKay Race for Senate - Southern Maryland Headline News

Battle Heats Up in Dyson-McKay Race for Senate

By David Noss. Dee Jay Gude contributed to this story.

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller must have had a crystal ball when back in June he said, “This is going to be one the biggest elections in Maryland.” With a week to go until the General Election on November 7, things are heating up in the race between long-time incumbent Roy Dyson and current St. Mary’s County Commission President Thomas McKay in their quest for the Senate seat in District 29.

Legislative District 29 includes all of St. Mary's County, eastern Charles County, and southern Calvert County. The district is highly coveted because of the very large amount of dollars that the Navy, based in St. Mary’s County, brings into the local economy. The district also contains much pristine, undeveloped land, including highly valued waterfront properties.

The latest episode in the battle started last Wednesday when the St. Mary’s Today newspaper ran a story in their on-line edition implying that McKay intentionally falsified his biography to indicate that he had a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland. The inaccurate claim to a degree appeared on the St. Mary’s County website, the candidate’s campaign website, and on the candidate’s profile that appeared on the Washington Post on-line.

McKay responded that it was a clerical error that was perpetuated by copying and pasting the mistake that appeared on the County’s website to his own website and the submission to the Post. McKay’s campaign noted that the error did not appear in 2002 campaign literature or in the resume that was submitted to the County Government at the beginning of his term.

Last Friday, two days after the story on McKay, two 8.5x11-inch color glossy mailers that disparage Dyson’s voting record were received by some voters. The target audience of the mailers is not known. Political campaigns will typically send mailers to a specific demographic audience that is most likely to favorably receive the political message.

The first mailer charges Dyson with “putting himself before our children” because he allegedly voted for a $25.2 million state office building rather than new schools in his district.

The second mailer criticizes Dyson for his record on voting to allow certain illegal immigrants to receive the lower in-state tuition and references 2003 HB252 and 2003 SB520. House Delegate John Bohanan recently came under fire from the Republican House Slate Committee for the same reason. Both mailers targeting Dyson were paid for by the Maryland Republican Party.

Sean Powell, Chairman for McKay for Southern Maryland, stated that McKay’s campaign did not prepare either mailer. He did acknowledge that they were informed in advance that the mailers would be sent out.

Powell’s first comment about the mailers was that they were not negative. He said that Mckay’s campaign is in complete agreement with what is stated in both pieces. “What was negative regarding the mailers were the votes taken by the opposition [Dyson] to allow in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants and voting for a $25 million dollar Senate office building in place of educational needs,” said Powell in a response by email.

Powell said that mailers like this were necessary because of the poor press coverage given to what happens in the Maryland General Assembly. “Bringing the light of day to the actual voting record of members of the General Assembly is not negative, but a necessary task in light of the poor local press coverage of the 90 day General Assembly,” said Powell. “There should be a weekly voting record placed in local papers in order to hold those we send to Annapolis accountable for their actions.”

Dyson went to great length to justify his record in fighting illegal immigration noting that his “record is solid.” He remarked that his record goes back to the 1980’s when, during his term in the U.S. Congress, he helped pass the Immigration and Reform Control Act (Simpson-Mazzoli) of 1986.

This bill, signed by President Reagan attempted to control the immigration problem in the United States by imposing sanctions on businesses that hired illegal immigrants. “Since that time, it has not been enforced by the federal government and our states have since been flooded with illegal immigrants,” said Dyson in an email response. “One of the problems that has occurred because businesses have continued to hire illegal immigrants against the law, is that a lot of their children are in our schools and many of these children have been born in America and are therefore American citizens although their parents might not be legal residents.”

In regards to the in-State tuition issue, Dyson explained that in Maryland, the Board of Regents—which is appointed by the Governor—has the authority to set tuition rates, and to adopt policies to determine whether a student qualifies for State-subsidized, in-State tuition status. “The General Assembly and the Governor do not have the authority to make these decisions and determinations, unlike in some other States, said Dyson in his statement. “Board policy makes it impossible for undocumented immigrants to receive in-State tuition benefits, which is consistent with current federal immigration law.” 

Dyson also disputes that the new Senate Office Building had any impact on building new schools in St. Mary’s County. “The county—led by the Commissioners’ President [McKay], has not built a new school during his four-year tenure,” said Dyson in his emailed response. “Therefore, according to the state board of education, St. Mary’s County has 116 trailers, 34 of which are state owned, 82 of which are owned by the county.”

Dyson expressed the opinion that he has been running a clean campaign. “First of all, I have am proud of the positive campaign I have run,” said Dyson. “When this election got underway, my opponent and I agreed that we would not run a negative campaign. I have not. I have discussed the issues and my record of which I am very proud in a factual and truthful matter.”

Powell disputes Dyson’s claim pointing to a negative mailing that Powell says accused McKay of taking campaign cash from developers to sell green space for development. Powell describes the mailer as having a picture of “McKay’s head imposed on a body that is clearly not his with a hand full of money.”

The mailer was sent under the authority of the Democratic Senatorial Slate Committee. A spokesman for the Dyson campaign stated that the campaign had no part in preparing the mailer. “This mailer is clearly linked to the opposition because his picture appears in it as well,” said Powell.

Campaign financial reports do show that McKay’s campaign has accepted contributions from known developers. However, Powell disputes the assertion of impropriety. “There is clearly no evidence that the campaign accepted money from any developer in an effort to facilitate the selling of green space,” said Powell. “It [the assertion] is in fact fraud and a misrepresentation of the truth.”


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