The state of Maryland continues to take leave of its senses when it comes to its politics. Citizens decry the high cost of living, high taxes, unemployment rate, government corruption and lack of transparency, and anti-business policies originating from Annapolis, yet reelect the same people who created the mess in the first place.
Thank God for Calvert County.
This past election saw the resounding reelection of House minority leader Tony O'Donnell, and the election of Mark Fisher, a small businessman and fiscal conservative who defeated his liberal opponent, current Delegate Sue Kullen.
All five county commissioners, the sheriff, the state's attorney, the treasurer, one of the judges of the orphan's court - Republicans and conservatives all.
Calvert is a deep shade of red, and the only reason people like Mike Miller, Jim Proctor and Joe Vallario even represent Calvert County in the General Assembly is because they don't really represent Calvert County as much as they do Prince George's County.
By gerrymandering the district to include a county whose politics and issues are not remotely the same, they have placed themselves on the incumbency protection plan, and cheated Calvert County of the representation it deserves.
That is why I had to chuckle a little bit at the complaining reported in the local papers from Mike Miller and Sue Kullen about the "negative" campaigning Mark Fisher supposedly waged against Sue, while they stayed on the high road.
There are few people in the world more likable than Sue Kullen, and I happen to like her very much. That said, she is clearly an anomaly, an Obama delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention whose constituents voted against Obama resoundingly in 2008 and pounded liberals again at the ballot box in 2010.
She has always been a fish out of water, but she benefited from her tireless grass-roots campaigning, no full-time work commitments, no family obligations other than a husband who was subsumed into the campaign, an opponent with a full-time business and a young family who couldn't outwork her, and an electoral tsunami in 2006 that swept Democrats into office nationwide.
Because one of the members of my household is registered as unaffiliated, I get to see just about all the direct mail candidates send out. Right up until the last couple of weeks of the campaign, both Sue and Mark focused primarily on their achievements or their plans for representing the people of Calvert County.
Mark often alluded to the tax and regulatory burden that was stifling small businesses and hindering economic growth and job creation, the implication being that Sue was part of the problem even though he didn't mention her by name.
That was about the extent of the "negative campaigning" I witnessed, and Mike is making stuff up about Mark characterizing Sue as "evil". He said she was wrong and he disagreed with her, but he certainly never characterized her as evil. That's Mike trying to spin things again to fit his desired narrative.
And then gift cards became, as we used to say, a federal case (in this case, that's a figure of speech).
As I reported in the past, Sue was one of the co-sponsors of 2009 House Bill 126, which addressed the disposition of gift cards purchased by consumers and unused by the recipients after a certain period of time.
Mark zeroed in on the provision that would, in the words of the legislation synopsis, require "each issuer of gift certificates sold in the State to report to the Comptroller specified information regarding gift certificate transactions in the State and to remit to the Comptroller 70% of the remaining balances on specified gift certificates on or before March 1 of each year."
The idea that any of the proceeds of unused gift cards would go into the state treasury is yet another illustration of how government thinks like a three-year old:
If I like it, it's mine.Mark argued that the proceeds belonged to either the consumer who originally purchased the card or recipient, but not the state government. Mike Miller said "he told untruths about the bill", but he either didn't read it or presumes we can't read. I'd hate to call him a liar, so let's go with one of those two explanations, and I offer this excerpt from the bill for his benefit:
If it's in my hand, it's mine.
If I can take it from you, it's mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
If it's mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in anyway.
If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
If I saw it first, it's mine.
If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
If it's broken, it's yours.
ON OR BEFORE MARCH 1 OF EACH YEAR, EACH ISSUER OF GIFT CERTIFICATES SOLD IN THE STATE SHALL:You can't handle the truth, Mike. Don't insult our intelligence.
(I) REPORT TO THE COMPTROLLER REGARDING GIFT CERTIFICATE TRANSACTIONS IN THE STATE FOR THE PREVIOUS CALENDAR YEAR, INCLUDING THE AGGREGATE NUMBER AND VALUE OF GIFT CERTIFICATES SOLD IN THE STATE, THE AMOUNT OF THE BALANCE REMAINING ON EACH GIFT CERTIFICATE SOLD IN THE STATE THAT WAS PRESUMED TO BE ABANDONED UNDER PARAGRAPH (1) OF THIS SUBSECTION, AND ANY OTHER INFORMATION THAT THE COMPTROLLER REQUIRES BY REGULATION; AND
(II) REMIT TO THE COMPTROLLER 70% OF THE BALANCE REMAINING ON EACH GIFT CERTIFICATE THAT WAS PRESUMED TO BE ABANDONED UNDER PARAGRAPH (1) OF THIS SUBSECTION DURING THE PREVIOUS CALENDAR YEAR.
(3) ON OR BEFORE APRIL 1 OF EACH YEAR, THE COMPTROLLER SHALL DISTRIBUTE ALL REVENUES RECEIVED UNDER PARAGRAPH (2) OF THIS SUBSECTION TO THE GENERAL FUND OF THE STATE.
Here's the bottom line. Sue has a record in the General Assembly that she presumably believes is worthy.
Every challenger that's ever run for political office not only has to persuade the voters that they are the best person for the job, they also have to highlight the incumbent's record so the voters can compare and contrast the challenger's promises with the incumbent's actual decisions.
Is it negative to highlight her record to voters so they can decide whether or not they share her views?
Did she vote for the 2007 tax increase, the largest in Maryland history? Yes.
Has she voted for every one of Governor O'Malley's budgets despite the billion dollar plus annual deficits they created in each subsequent year? Yes.
Did she vote for a bill that would take 70 percent of the proceeds of "abandoned" gift cards and deposit them into the state's general fund? Yes.
If you don't believe the tax increase has helped our county and our state, if you think government spends too much, and if you think the government shouldn't take money that isn't theirs just because they can, is it negative to disagree with her record and express that disagreement at the polls? No.
Sue didn't lose because of a negative campaign. Sue lost because, ultimately, her liberal voting record was exposed to Calvert County voters, and they wanted none of it.
In four years, perhaps she can challenge Mark on all the votes he casts for businesses and entrepreneurs who do evil things like create jobs, generate wealth that stays in their communities, and bring dignity to people like me who just want to work so we can take care of our families.
Until then, she should advise her leader and mentor to put the cork back in the blue "whine" bottle. As of November 2nd, red is on the menu in Calvert County.
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.