Thursday, March 15, 2012

CD6 STATUS: Pundits Weigh In On the Epic Democratic Battle // Plus, Participate In Our Dem & GOP Reader Polls: VOTE NOW

UPDATE: Maryland Juice should've been more clear up-front -- I have no preference in the CD6 race. With such a tantalizing opportunity for a NATIONAL Democratic pick-up, I am interested in moving issues and seeing how progressives can leverage this opportunity. People keep trying to brainwash me into thinking that the Democrat who emerges from this race needs to be a centrist that can win in a swing district. Duh. But that doesn't change the fact that the party base still needs to know that the CD6 victor knows how to evolve rapidly on issues -- if and when the opportunity to move the dialogue emerges.

Right now, the candidates are all proving that they are not going to be addressing the issues that I think are most ignored and that need the most work in Congress. They seem to prefer the safety of generic issue bullets and check-list style platforms aimed at core Dem issues. But let's be honest -- ANY Democrat from CD6 will be pro-environment, schools, jobs and more. Is that really how low Democrats set the bar these days? This is a national race, and the winner will be your voice on national and international issues -- maybe for many years!

I am done with the scorched earth campaigning we've been watching, but that has little to do with whether a campaign is negative or not. Can't we at least have heated disagreements on issues instead of innuendo? Where are Garagiola and Delaney on: 
  1. Congress' Role in Ending Hunger/Raising the Poverty Line/School Nutrition Standards
  2. The Patriot Act, Torture/Guantanamo, NDAA & the Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens
  3. Federal Death Penalty Repeal, Police Abuse, Disproportionately High Incarceration of Minorities
  4. Medical Marijuana/Decriminalization and the Obama Crackdown
  5. Immigrant Justice, Secure Communities, Money Spent on Walling the Border
  6. Foreign Policy - ie: Iran, Israel/Palestine, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, etc
  7. Federal Transit/Transportation Funding & Smart Growth vs. Sprawl
  8. Internet Freedom, Open Government, Transparency, etc
These are just a few issues that I think have popular support on the left, but few heroes in Congress willing to do anything. I don't want to spoil a Democrats' re-election chances in a swing District, but I want to know that if they win re-election several times, the District trends blue, and they are looking safe in the future, that they will use the power of incumbency to further the movement rather than keep things the same. Nobody has been talking turkey yet, and it shows.

MIKE MILLER - EPIC FAIL: Maryland Juice has noticed that the news commentary and analysis of the 6th Congressional District is finally beginning to take form: Houston, we have an epic problem. The Democrats have a real race on their hands -- and any way you slice it, the loser here is Senate President Mike Miller. The Washington Post today noted:
With Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) playing a key role in its drafting, the reshaped district just so happens to include Garagiola’s Germantown home while excluding those of some other prominent Montgomery County Democrats who might have wanted to run.
Indeed, Mike Miller artificially reduced the number of viable candidates in the new 6th Congressional District, which made it possible for a self-financing businessman to create a head-to-head race. Moreover, Miller left the Party with few contingency options in the event of a meltdown. In short, he replaced the judgment of the Democratic Primary voters with his own. Pro-Democracy: EPIC FAIL.

FUNDRAISING DISPARITY? - Granted, State Senator Rob Garagiola may indeed win the Democratic nomination, but it appears (at least atmospherically) as if we are in a toss-up situation. We haven't seen any new polls numbers in a while, and certainly not since Garagiola's chief competitor, John Delaney, received the endorsement of Bill Clinton and The Washington Post. The Post, by the way, provided some clues about the potential spending we are likely to see in CD6:
“I think it’s fair to say Garagiola started with an advantage in this race, but the question is whether Delaney’s spending can close the gap,” said David Wasserman, House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report....

Delaney’s campaign will report soon to the Federal Election Commission that it has raised more than $700,000 since the beginning of January, and that does not include what Delaney — who is worth upward of $50 million — has put into the race. He has said he is willing to spend more than $1 million of his own money to win the primary.

Garagiola, whose campaign would not provide its latest fundraising totals, has not run any ads in the race, focusing on direct mail and grass-roots support instead.

“The Garagiola campaign has been implementing its strategic plan for months, building the support of member-driven Democratic and progressive groups that are absolutely critical to win a Democratic primary,” said Garagiola campaign manager Sean Rankin, adding: “So let Delaney buy his TV ads and waste his money. Even my little boys, 6 and 8, know you can’t buy real friends; you have to earn them.”

Garagiola has a clear advantage in winning support from elected officials in Maryland, boasting the endorsements of more than two dozen members of the General Assembly, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer. (Democratic insiders said Garagiola’s allies have urged Reps. Chris Van Hollen and John P. Sarbanes to join Hoyer in endorsing Garagiola, but they chose to stay neutral.)
The rest of the Maryland pundit-class is beginning to draw some conclusions. Below we sample a few opinions (pulled from recent media reports), and we launch our first-ever poll of readers! After all, we want to hear your opinion as much as the so-called experts.

PUNDIT PREDICTS DELANEY UPSET: In yesterday's Maryland Reporter, one political science professor predicted a Delaney upset:
One political analyst said this race is not about issues, though. Rather, it’s about the candidates themselves and an anti-incumbent spirit running rampant throughout the country.

“There aren’t a great deal of differences between the candidates on policy. The parties have pretty much aligned themselves ideologically,” said Todd Eberly, assistant professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “Instead you find matters of character and personality, and who might be a better fit....”

Eberly said it is fair to categorize the primary now as a two-man race, and he thinks Delaney, running as an outsider, can capture that spirit. He also believes Garagiola’s failure to disclose five years of lobbying work on state financial disclosure forms will hurt him....

Eberly believes Garagiola will have more appeal in Montgomery County, but says Delaney, who lives in Potomac, doesn’t need the county to win. He believes Delaney will go after “old line” conservative Democrats in western Maryland that have traditionally voted for Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, but would vote for him in the primary....

“My gut right now is that Delaney ends up pulling this out,” Ebberly said. “I think it’s going to be an upset and it will point to what will be a very interesting 2012 for political insiders and a very strange year where conventional wisdom doesn’t quite hold.”
REPUBLICANS SUPPORTING DELANEY? - In today's Gazette, Katherine Heerbrandt has a worthwhile rundown of some strange dynamics in the CD6 race. The Republicans seem to agree with Mr. Eberly on Delaney's momentum, but are now praising his campaign. Take their comments with a pound of salt, because they have every reason to try and create conflict for Democrats. Our candidates have scorched the earth, and I'm sure the Republicans are looking to convert that into an advantage. Frederick Tea Party leader Blaine Young commented:
“No one should underestimate John Delaney, not only the Democrats, but the Republicans,” said Blaine R. Young (R), Frederick County Commissioners’ president and co-chairman of incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett’s campaign for re-election. “As a Republican, I’d much rather run against Rob Garagiola than John Delaney. ... Delaney is a business person who can self-finance his campaign, while Garagiola has a work record of being a lobbyist.”
The Gazette article also includes suspicious praise about John Delaney from Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's former Chief of Staff Bud Otis. Notably, Mr. Otis was fired after publicly announcing he was seeking support for his boss' CD6 seat --- but before his boss had made a decision about whether or not to run for re-election. See Otis' remarks below:
The Delaney campaign seems to have inspired some Republicans, despite the fact they don’t want to compete with him in the general election. 
“Delaney has the most compelling record,” said Bud Otis, former chief of staff for Bartlett. “He’s been very successful in business, and we need more candidates like that. Garagiola has no real world experience. He’s been a state senator and worked at a lobbying firm in Washington.”
REPUBLICANS STILL CAN'T WIN - The same Gazette article notes that at least one area pundit thinks the Maryland GOP is engaging in wishful thinking in the CD6 race:
But another Local pundit and publisher/editor of, George Wenschhof, said it is doubtful Bartlett will emerge the winner in November. 
“In light of redistricting, Maryland 6th District Republican voters who say they favor facing one Democratic candidate over another are exercising wishful thinking,” Wenschhof said. “[They are] hoping for a result similar to what took place in the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial election ... [that] resulted in Republican Robert Ehrlich defeating Democratic candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, in spite of dominant Democratic voter registration in the state.”
The Hagerstown Herald-Mail's Andrew Schotz notes the overwhelming Democratic registration advantage in the new CD6:
Before the 2010 election, the 6th District had 445,679 registered voters. Of those, 208,024, or 47 percent, were Republicans, and 159,715, or 36 percent, were Democrats.
In the new district, as of February, there were 413,163 registered voters. Of those, 182,934, or 44 percent, were Democrats, and 140,816, or 34 percent, were Republicans.
Schotz's article also includes a listing of both Republican and Democratic candidate debates coming up in the 6th Congressional District. In the meantime, please participate in our reader poll below. This is obviously unscientific, but this is one non-arbitrary measure of the potential intensity of volunteer support:

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