Commentary by Ron Miller
If the Maryland election season were a football game, the commencement of early voting marked the two-minute warning, and all the candidates are running their hurry-up offenses to try and punch the ball across the goal line before halftime. I voted early myself and, while I don't know if it will accomplish its intended purpose of increasing voter turnout, it was pretty convenient to be able to vote on my schedule.
The only thing that's missing is a "kill" switch that, once your ballot is cast, turns off the robocalls, emails and direct mail pieces delivered to your home until after the primary. Now that would spur folks to vote early!
I have some random thoughts and observations as we approach halftime, and the beginning of a very short second half.
Whose idea was it to have a primary on September 14th, anyway? I smell another incumbent protection scheme at work.
Speaking of incumbents, would you believe that several Maryland Democrats are supporting an incumbent Republican state senator in his bid to beat back a challenge from a hard-charging opponent? Senator Donald F. Munson, a 36-year incumbent, is in the fight of his political life in the GOP primary, with Delegate Chris Shank, the former House minority whip, itching to put a whipping on Munson for his decided tilt to the left in recent years.
If you're running in a conservative district (Washington County) against a conservative opponent with a voting record to match, and you've only voted with the GOP caucus about 50% of the time in recent years, prudence would suggest you not dig yourself a deeper hole.
Senator Munson, however, is getting a lot of love from the Democrats. Senator Ulysses Currie, recently indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of bribery, mail fraud and other criminal offenses, wrote
a letter praising Senator Munson's support of the O'Malley budget and said, "If I can help in your campaign, please don't hesitate to call me."
Democrat John Donoghue, a delegate, has endorsed Munson, and a campaign staffer for our own Senator Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, the Senate president, contributed to Munson's campaign. These aren't incidental gestures of support. If Munson were a dedicated member of the loyal opposition, Mike Miller wouldn't be sniffing anywhere near his campaign.
If I'm a Republican voting in Washington County, I'd be wondering where the Republican for whom I've been voting for the past three-plus decades went. Perhaps there's some truth to the notion that the old warbirds eventually flock together, regardless of party, and principles go flying out the window. Chris Shank has been in the business a while himself, but he's never wavered in his dedication to conservative principles, and he's not just a Republican In Name Only (RINO) - the kiss of death in the year of the Tea Party movement.
The Republicans are already preparing for the aftermath of the September 14th primary with unity rallies taking place at a number of locations, including the Maryland GOP headquarters in Annapolis. The burning question everyone is asking is: "Will Brian Murphy and Bob Ehrlich kiss and make up?"
The GOP gubernatorial primary went from a foregone conclusion to a pretty significant irritant for the former governor with Sarah Palin's endorsement of Murphy, a young conservative businessman making his first run for public office. His supporters are passionate and quite dissatisfied with the Maryland GOP practically freezing Murphy out and openly supporting Ehrlich.
Whoever wins the primary is going to get my vote - I don't think Maryland can bear much more of Martin "The Artful Dodger" O'Malley. Can Murphy's supporters come to the table of unity if Ehrlich wins the primary? Will Murphy himself stand with Ehrlich to bring the party together? The rhetoric has gotten pretty harsh in recent days - we'll see.
The local newspapers have their endorsements in their editorial sections, and the candidates will be bombarding the airwaves, your computer and your mailbox. Please pay attention, and vote your conscience, but by all means vote on substance. Between our national and state chief executives, the consequences of voting based on style should be readily apparent to us all. We'll examine the results of the primary next week!
Ron Miller is a conservative writer and commentator, author of the book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Toms 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, TeamRonMiller.com. Join him on Facebook and Twitter.