Maryland Juice is launching our inaugural Marylander of the Year project. In the spirit of TIME Magazine's annual "Person of the Year" article, we will be asking various Marylanders for their thoughts on who has been most influential or impactful in the amazing Free State/Old Line State. Contact Maryland Juice to share your own thoughts (either anonymously or publicly).
Below, we print our first three nominations. They come from 6th District Congressional candidate Robin Ficker, former State Delegate Saqib Ali and Potomac Tea Party Report editor Ann Corcoran:
- Robin Ficker: "Marylander of the Year: The Citizen Activist"
- Saqib Ali: "Tom Perez. He's doing great work to protect minority rights throughout the country."
- Ann Corcoran: "It's easy...Del. Neil Parrott for showing that conservatives can organize grassroots and have an impact with his leadership on the petition for a referendum on in-state tuition for illegal aliens."
Robin Ficker is a perennial political candidate, but he is equally active as a libertarian-right issue activist. That's why Mr. Ficker's nomination of the Citizen-Activist is in some ways a self-nomination. Since my childhood (and probably even before then), Ficker has been fighting speed humps, speed cameras, property taxes, government spending and more. New blogger Steven Lebron also notes Mr. Ficker's role as "The Heckler." For those of you who are new to the area, you may be unaware of Mr. Ficker's true source of fame with the Washington Bullets: "Robin Ficker was a Washington Bullets fan, but better known as the legendary heckler who held season tickets behind the visiting team’s bench." Full Disclosure: I managed MoCo Councilmember Nancy Navarro's successful 2009 race against Mr. Ficker. I also remember running into Mr. Ficker outside of Redskins stadium when he was campaigning for the U.S. Senate and we were camping out for playoff tickets. Maryland Juice has warned readers not to count out Mr. Ficker in the CD6 GOP primary. There are a lot of MoCo Republican voters in the new District!
Saqib Ali is a former Maryland State legislator from Montgomery County. His nominee is former Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Perez. Mr. Perez now pushes voting rights for the Obama administration at the Department of Justice. That makes him the frequent target of Tea Party and conservative activists (see top right). It is no surprise Mr. Ali should choose such a nominee. In recent months, Mr. Ali has been active in organizing protests against anti-Muslim activities from rightwing political activists. While in Annapolis, Ali was seen as a maverick lawmaker, which sometimes led to controversy with leadership and some colleagues. He challenged State Senator Nancy King in the 2010 Democratic Primary and narrowly lost in a bitterly contested race.
Ann Corcoran writes the Potomac Tea Party Report, one of the most active Tea Party blogs in Maryland. Maryland Juice reads their blog to keep a finger on the pulse of rightwing activism in Maryland. Though I despise the politics of the Tea Party, I respect their right to free speech and empathize with their desire to push populist politics. But I think they're going about this all wrong, and they need to take the angry, fearful activist out of the driver's seat.