The Strange Odyssey of Mark Fisher

Commentary by Ron Miller

Ron MillerBefore I begin, let me share with you my appearance on Fox and Friends last Friday. It was pretty cool!

As a long-time student and observer of politics, there's not a lot that happens during campaign season that surprises me. I have to admit, however, that I don't know many people who've had as strange a journey as Mark Fisher, Republican candidate for the Maryland District 27B delegate seat in Calvert County.

I've known Mark and his family since we moved here back in 2001, and Mark has always been passionate about the community and its leadership. He gives generously of his time to charitable causes, most notably the Gray's Field Foundation which, under his direction as founder and executive director, restored and renovated for community use the old baseball field used from the 1930's to 1997 by the Owings Eagles, a semi-pro minor league club in the then African-American baseball league. He was an avid soccer player, and he has a high-energy, expressive and animated personality - he always seems to be smiling or laughing. Keep that in mind for later.

As a man who rose from modest but solid stock in Baltimore to become a successful businessman, Mark has always been concerned about the business climate in Maryland, understanding that it is businesses, not government, that create jobs, wealth and growth in our communities and for our families.

Needless to say, the one-party monopoly in Annapolis and their long-standing antipathy toward free enterprise drove him to distraction. For years, he hoped that someone with first-hand experience as an entrepreneur in an anti-business state would seek to run for delegate in his home district. When he finally realized he was that person, he decided to make his first run for elected office. That's when the fun started.

As with everything he does, Mark dove into campaigning with his boundless energy and enthusiasm. Mark told me he had renewed respect for me as a former candidate because he never realized how hard it was.

What is particularly neat is how his family, his wife Deena and their three children, jumped right in with him. They have put in a lot of time together going to meetings, sign waving and knocking on doors, and they seem to enjoy it.

That changed the night of June 9th - I remember the date because it was the day my daughter, Briana, graduated from Huntingtown High School. Mark and the family left the grounds outside the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro after a vigorous day of sign-waving to graduates and their families, and went to the Greene Turtle bar and grill in Prince Frederick for a meeting of the southern Maryland chapter of the Young Republicans, a group of 18-40 year old activists. Also there that night was one of the two Republican challengers for the delegate seat Mark is seeking, Bob Schaefer (the other is Mike Blasey).

Everything I know about the events of that night comes from news reports and conversations with numerous people, including attendees at the meeting and Mark himself. Bob was there representing himself as a candidate, while Mark was to give a multimedia presentation on the impact of cap and trade legislation, since his business has expanded into the renewable energy market. He's given this presentation to several Republican clubs throughout the county and it's always been very well received.

As Bob was wrapping up his remarks, Mark and his crew began setting up their projection equipment for his presentation, a routine they've practiced many times before. Presumably, they began their setup before Bob had finished so they could move right into his presentation without delay. Some said they didn't notice him setting up, but it apparently made Bob quite angry. After Mark completed his presentation, Bob rose and expressed his frustration at Mark's apparent rudeness in setting up while he was still speaking.

As the meeting broke up, Mark went up to Bob to shake hands. Knowing Mark, he must have had that big smile and animated face as he approached Bob, and Bob assumed Mark was laughing at him. That set him off and, as Mark held out his hand, Bob grabbed Mark with one hand and sucker-punched him in the stomach with the other.

Those who saw it were aghast. His oldest child, 19-year old daughter, Sonia, burst into tears. I noted later to friends that it was a good thing Deena wasn't there - she is one tough lady. There would have been blood! To date, Mark has refused to press assault charges in the episode and, by his account, after a few days of soreness, he's fine.

To Bob's misfortune, however, one of the witnesses was Brian Griffiths, one of the writers for Red Maryland, the most prominent conservative blog in the state. His article was up the following morning and went viral, embarrassing Bob and giving the district's sitting delegate, Democrat Sue Kullen, an opportunity for a few quick quips ("I said my job was worth fighting for, but I did not mean it literally!").

Despite pressure from local party officials to step down, Bob is continuing his campaign. By the way, Brian's article has as one of its tags, "Duh Moments" - couldn't have said it better myself.

That little episode should have been enough weirdness for one campaign. Not so fast, my friends! In mid-July, Mark and Sonia were door-knocking in the oppressive heat. Sonia went up to one house with children's toys strewn about the driveway and knocked on the door.

An elderly man answered, but he was clearly in distress, with blood on his face and clothes, and a disheveled appearance. Sonia had the presence of mind to ask if he needed help, but he refused. She met her father, who had been knocking on doors not far from her, and told him what she'd seen. They heard what sounded like a moan coming from the house, and Mark called the police.

As recounted in the newspaper article, they found five marijuana plants and an ounce of cured marijuana. It's not clear if the elderly man was there under duress or of his own volition, and he was taken to the hospital for medical attention. There were no small children to be found.

Aside from the fact this find was in a Huntingtown neighborhood not far from several schools, a reminder that even idyllic Calvert County isn't immune to drug problems, I have to tip my hat to Sonia. She didn't panic at the elderly man's appearance, and she had the presence of mind to ask him if he needed help. Mark is a proud father, and for good reason.

She's having a whale of a summer for a 19-year old working her first campaign, isn't she? She couldn't have foreseen her father being sucker-punched by his opponent, or her confronting a possible victim of a drug operation, yet she's still out there working for him. Let's hope for her, her dad and the rest of the family that the remainder of the campaign is boringly normal.

Ron Miller is a conservative writer and commentator, author of the book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom’s Porch, and the president of Regular Folks United, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of individual liberty, free markets and our nation's founding principles. The nine-year plus veteran of the U.S. Air Force and married father of three writes columns for several online sites and print publications, and his own website, Join him on Facebook and Twitter.

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