Today is officially halftime in the contest to see who will represent us after November 2nd, and it's a very short intermission, indeed. Yesterday's primary winners don't have the luxury of resting on their laurels; the real battle now begins.
My column this morning isn't an official tally of results; there are plenty of places where you can go to find out who won and what the numbers were, and even those numbers aren't official yet. I sat in a hotel conference room last night with hundreds of other Republican and conservative political junkies in Calvert County, banging away on my netbook to check incoming results and certifying my nerd credentials (grin)! In the process of doing that, I made the following observations:
- Charles Lollar and Collins Bailey like each other - they really like each other! The tandem speeches last night by 5th Congressional District GOP primary winner Charles Lollar and his erstwhile challenger, Collins Bailey, were easily the most gracious and genuine I've heard in my years of observing politics. Regardless of what their supporters said or did during the campaign, these two men kept things on the high road from beginning to end. Theirs is a friendship that transcends politics and bodes well for much-needed unanimity going into a difficult race against 30-year incumbent House Majority Leader and political potentate Steny Hoyer. Maryland House of Delegates Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell introduced the two men and stood by beaming like a proud father as he watched these two men demonstrate that class in politics isn't dead yet.
- If last night's results hold, this will be the last term for longtime Calvert County commissioner Linda Kelley. When I became active in the Calvert County Republican Party in 2006, Linda and her husband, Tom, were among the first two high-profile Republicans that befriended me, and I've always been grateful to them for the kindness they showed this novice, even when I mistakenly told a pig joke in my first major speech announcing my run for Congress! For the uninitiated, Linda has five pot-bellied pigs as beloved pets. Linda and Tom do not suffer fools gladly, and I'm sure there were many who didn't like that about them. I appreciated their candor and passion for good stewardship of the people's money, but most of all their friendship. It is hard to imagine a Tuesday county commissioners meeting without Linda behind the dais.
- As the pundits predicted, former Governor Bob Ehrlich defeated newcomer Brian Murphy in the GOP primary for governor. Twenty-five percent is a respectable showing for a young man in his first political outing, however, and I emphasize "young" because I hope he hangs around. The Maryland GOP can't keep calling Ehrlich or Steele's name every time we have to put someone in the game. Brian built a strong base of support and ran a spirited campaign. More importantly, he conceded gracefully and is publicly throwing his support behind Ehrlich this morning. Good for him; I hope to see his name on a ballot in 2014, if not sooner. In the meantime, get ready for the slime to flow. Current Governor Martin O'Malley has already unleashed a barrage of false and unseemly ads trying to paint Ehrlich as a pawn of Big Oil, a lobbyist, or worse. Since he's destroying this state in much the same way as he destroyed Baltimore, he knows he has to go on the attack. The fact he's in a dead heat with Ehrlich, a known commodity to Maryland voters, in a "blue" state speaks volumes about his failed leadership and the public's lack of trust in him.
- There are many reasons why we need new leadership in the Maryland General Assembly, but one of them has to be to influence the redistricting process in 2011. As I watched Jim Proctor and Joe Vallario steamroll to yet another primary night win, and Mike Miller coast without opposition, I became frustrated with the difficulties Prince George's County voters seem to have in bucking the status quo unless they have no choice (i.e., term-limited offices like county executive and county council). I don't know if it's apathy or resignation, but with the corruption, crime, struggling schools and lack of upscale economic development and job creation in that county, why they don't just throw out the whole lot of them and start over is perplexing to me. More bothersome, however, is the fact that Calvert County's fate is tied to these three men and the decisions of voters in Prince George's County. It's not fair to Calvert County, whose issues are different than those facing our neighbor to the north, and it's not fair to the voters of Prince George's County, who must sort through candidates from another county as well as their own Mike Miller, Jim Proctor and Joe Vallario will act and vote according to where the votes are, and they couldn't care less about the majority of voters in Calvert County.