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Friday, March 14, 2014


    I attended a forum last night in Anne Arundel County for candidates who are running for governor of the state of Maryland. I am writing strictly for the voter who may not have the time or opportunity to attend a forum where they can meet the candidates. I want to provide not only their answers to the questions, but I also provide some video and personal opinion to give a feel for the candidate and his character.
    The forum was organized by two Republican clubs, two ladies Republican clubs, and the AA County Republican Central Committee. It was very nicely planned and well attended. There were around 20 elected officials present and welcomed from the podium, and I'd estimate about 150 in attendance. The candidates that participated were: Charles Lollar, Ron George, David Craig, and Brian Vaeth. Larry Hogan had declined the invitation.
    I can't say that I personally learned anything new about the candidates as far as where they stand on the issues, with the exception of Vaeth whom I have never before seen or even read anything about his campaign. I did find myself with different or evolving impressions about some of these candidates than what I had previously.  Ron George presents very knowledgeable about the nuts and bolts of all of the major issues, which shouldn't surprise me since he already serves as a state delegate. George seemed to know the story behind the story on every topic. I was aware of David Craig's extensive experience, but I didn't know he had such an easy going personality. When I first saw him many months ago in Hagerstown he seemed rather stodgy and stiff, but last night he was relaxed and confident and even humorous at times. Lollar is consistent in presentation every time that I've seen him speak. He is confident, intelligent, and ready to share his vision. Vaeth is the un-politician, somewhat unpolished and at times inappropriate and provided the audience a lot of comic relief. Larry Hogan had declined the invitation, and I am hearing a lot of chatter about it. People are starting to take offense and think that he may be over confident about his following and their votes.
    The forum began with 1.5 minutes each for an opening statement. I have posted them on YouTube at This was followed by moderated Q&A with each candidate getting equal time to answer. The questions were almost too wordy to understand, so I will do my best to paraphrase and make them more concise. It was no surprise that the candidates' answers seemed all over the board and off topic at times. For instance, the first question was primarily about the minimum wage increase, and was probably the most straightforward of questions, but the candidates were mostly off topic.

Question 1-  What are your thoughts on the minimum wage increase?

George:   He talked about himself as a business owner, why he first became involved in politics, and then stated that he wants to lower income taxes by 10% immediately and retroactively.
Lollar:  He talked about the low quality of life in this state and that increasing the minimum wage will not make it better, but could in fact make it worse because of the loss of jobs. He said that he would start by eradicating the 80 new taxes passed by this current administration. He talked about the bait and switch use of taxpayer money, and that he would eliminate the income tax. He has worked with Arthur Lambert to develop a 5-year phase out plan, and then he finished his answer with a promise for transparency.
Vaeth:  He talked about renewable energy, in particular solar energy, as a solution to the state's economic woes, saying it would create jobs and give people who don't want to go to college usable skills with which to make a living. He then talked about making people pay the taxes that they owe and cracking down on truckers to make them pay for road maintenance.
Craig:  He started out asking, How many of you had a 30% raise this year? I am assuming he was referring to the large increase in the minimum wage, and he did get a few laughs from the audience. He then said that the average person on minimum wage are approximately age 24 or younger and they are working a temporary job not meant to be a career.
Question 2-  What are your thoughts on the Rain Tax?

Lollar:  He would repeal it. He thinks that Marylanders need to be educated on the facts about what is actually polluting the bay.  Just because something sounds right they line up behind it. He claimed that the Susquehanna River is the source of pollution to the bay, and that Maryland does not add to it. Vaeth: He  believes that we need to fight all federal mandates on our state. He is against fracking near the bay, and that we should begin manufacturing hemp products.
Craig:  He would repeal it. He said that he had fought against it since it was first mentioned two years ago. He warned us to watch for a Trash Tax sometime in the next two years.
George:  He fought against it since he first heard about it and before it was even proposed. He said it was passed without even going to committee and that he voted against it on the floor.
Question 3-  What are your thoughts on the business climate in the state, and what would you do to improve it?

Vaeth: He would work with businesses on an case-by-case basis finding their particular challenges. He would have also have an individualized tax plan for each business because one size doesn't fit all. He again reiterated that he would attract businesses through new energy programs.
Craig: He believes that the income tax is the tax that most affects small businesses because small business owners usually file their business taxes with their personal income taxes. He would phase out income tax over 5 years and pay for it by asking every department head in his administration to cut their budgets 3% a year for 3 years.
George:  Referenced a 10-point promise that can be found on his website. He would cut income tax 10% immediately and it would be retroactive. This would give people more discretionary money to spend and it would help the economy.
Lollar: Stated he has travelled all over the state to talk about this issue. He talked to the watermen on the Eastern Shore, talked about opening up fracking to those in Western Maryland, and  learned that Carroll County was most concerned about the minimum wage increase. He intends to offer a "real" Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
Question 4-  What would you do about Obamacare and the delays that have cost the state $30.5M in the first year?

Craig: He would apply the 10th Amendment of the Constitution for states rights. He said Obamacare is unaffordable and inaccessible. He claimed that doctors and hospitals are cutting services because of this law and it will increasingly affect accessibility of healthcare.
George: He believes that contracts for the implementation of Obamacare in this state have been tied to donations and fundraising opportunities. He made a strong statement that he would not listen to the Feds on this or on Common Core.
Lollar:  Obamacare cannot work in the state or in the nation. He will not submit to the mandate and would instead develop private healthcare exchanges like some that have already developed in other states. He said that it is important to be able to balance the budget so that we can stand up to the Feds. When we depend on $9.3B from the Feds in our budget, we can't take a stand. 
Vaeth: Believes that accountability is needed most because he thinks it is a kickback scheme. He said that we need to go after the website developer to get our money back. He believes we need to take care of veteran's healthcare first.

Question 5: What is your view on Common Core, and should AA County switch to an appointed or elected School Board?

George: Stated that there have been five bills on Common Core. The first two were OK, but when they began to try to mandate it I began to fight it. He would restore parental rights, protect privacy, and take the control from the Feds and give it to the local school boards.
Lollar:  He is against Common Core and would provide the alternative of school choice. Parent's tax money would follow the child to whatever school they choose, public or private. The state and the Feds should have no say. He would increase standards by increasing choices.
Vaeth:  Common Core is yet another corporate kickback scheme. He named the Gates Foundation as a participant. He wondered if there were any teachers consulted in developing it. He is against the distribution of tablets to the children, saying that the information on the tablets can be modified without notice, while a book cannot.
Craig: He called upon his 15 years as a teacher and school administrator. He said it is about common sense. Politicians should not be making these decisions, and that only the teachers and the parents should have control of education. He thinks that Common Core is another 10th Amendment issue.
Question 6- Do you think teacher performance should be tied to test scores? 

Lollar: Stated that measuring teacher performance in this way will lead to teaching students to a test and that this should be avoided.
Vaeth: Believes that you can't base teacher performance on a failed curriculum. He also shared that he was a bad student and would not want a teacher to have to pay in some way for his refusal to learn. He thinks that teachers should be assessed by other teachers.
Craig:  It would not be appropriate for teachers or students, and he also believed that it would lead to teaching to a test. He thinks that this should be between the teachers and the school administrators.  George:  Introduced his running mate as a teacher. He said that he homeschooled his children. He believes in school choice. Not sure if he answered the question.
Question 7- Can you name one thing positive that this administration has done in the last 8 years?

Vaeth:  Nope.
Craig: He [Martin O'Malley] plays guitar well.
George: He does not agree with one thing. He said that Brown is an empty suit who still has not presented an economic plan, and that the state has been completely mismanaged.
Lollar: There were some good intentions, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Question 8- What can you do to increase voter confidence? 

Craig: Stated that he has a history of restoring confidence when he served on city council, as mayor, and now as county executive. He has an open door policy, and supports hiring an independent auditor giving them free reign to audit anything.
George:  The problem is that the government doesn't trust you! They don't trust you with the 2nd Amendment or to run your business. He will build trust by trusting the people first.
Lollar:  He will build trust by limiting the size of government without  cutting essential services. He will guarantee a Tax Payer's Bill of Rights. He is profit-minded, so he plans to not only balance the budget but make money and return it to the people. He will avoid partisan politics, and bring Maryland together to find solutions regardless of party.
Vaeth: Vote for Bongino. He said he would get the DOJ to investigate everybody. He would especially look into all of the money for consultants and reports.
Question 9- The day after the primary, how will you reach out to voters in the larger areas [Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince Georges County]?

Lollar:  Stated that his business is in PG County, and that he already has Democrats for Lollar groups in all four [not sure where the 4th is located] major areas.
Vaeth: Take away their pensions. I will tell them that I will protect entitlements and then I won't. I will trick them like they tricked us. They took our pensions.
Craig:  Stated that he has won over Democrats several times in his career when he won elections from long-term Democrats. He lamented that too many Republicans stay home and do not vote.  George:  I either failed to note his response or he was passed over. I am sorry if it was my mistake.
Question 10- If you caught your child with drugs, would you call the police? 

Lollar:  She would wish that I'd call the police! He added that he felt it would be his responsibility to deal with it as her parent.
Vaeth: I don't have children, but I think it should be handled by the parents.
Craig:  Stated that his children are successful adults, but he thinks that it is a matter for the parents.
George: It would be my responsibility as a parent.
    The candidates were given equal time for closing statements. I posted a video on YouTube at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


    Congressman John Delaney appeared and spoke at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues event. It was my first opportunity to see him in person and to hear him speak. I was glad to see that he didn't have horns and he had left his pitchfork at home. I admit he has been somewhat demonized in Republican circles. First, we did not take kindly to having District 6 gerrymandered for the sole purpose of almost ensuring that a Democrat would oust our long-time Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett. It really got our back up when John Delaney, a Democrat, did in fact win that seat in the 2012 election. Since winning that election I have not heard a positive word spoken about the man. I too felt a little sour, but I went to this event feeling more curious than bitter.
    I have to say that I found his style to be quite disarming. I knew that he is a successful award-winning businessman. It was touted all through the election cycle, and we were reminded again in his introduction. I get his newsletters and emails, and clearly he tries to present himself as a moderate Democrat...almost a Republican whisperer, but of course I had my doubts.
    He began by stating that he wanted to talk about our region from an economic perspective as of now and over the next couple of decades. He acknowledged that there has been a lot of debate on economics and how to be able to solve our problems as a country, as a state, and as a region. He does not agree that the answer is about taxes being too high or too low, or government being too large or too small. He said that these issues are important but not central to creating jobs. These are things that are easily calibrated. The budget is very fixable: tax reform policy and entitlement reform would fix it. It's not that hard. He couldn't very well tell Conservative Western Maryland that new taxes are necessary, nor could he say they are not...because he is branding himself as a moderate. It was quite fascinating to watch. He later disarmed the crowd about Obamacare by throwing in a statement that the state of Maryland has the worst access to healthcare in the country. It was almost an afterthought just thrown in while talking about something completely different. You could almost hear the collective sigh in the room..Oh, OK he understands that problem. Then he quickly moves on having sowed the seed.
    Delaney said that the real challenges are getting business and government working together, and the dominant trends in the world, i.e., technology and globalization. Now this is where he begins to shine. He is in his element. Economics is not one of my strengths, but I will attempt to pass on his wisdom, and I say this with all due respect. In a nutshell, I paraphrase:
Today, there are about 7 billion people in the world and about 5 billion of those are participating in the global economy in some way.  Thirty years ago there were 5 billion people and only 1 billion in the global economy. That is 5 times as many in 30 years, and computing power has increased 100 fold. These are the things that have disrupted the world. We need to figure out where this is going and be equipped as a country, a state, and a region. 
I told you he is good! Conservatives don't get upset. Keep reading! He goes on to say, and again I paraphrase:
We have to be competitive because the bar has been raised. Standards are higher. We have to educate our kids and adults too or they will be phased out of the economy.  Government can help us to that end. What the government does well  [could not say as provided in our Constitution] we need it to do more, and what the Government doesn't do so well [could not say sucks at and appear moderate or be true to his Party]we need it to do less. With this global technology-enabled economy some do very well. You have to have skills, an education, and capital. If not, you will be displaced and you will be working unskilled labor and not doing so well. It is not the fault of tax policy or those who have done well. How many of us have capital in this economy? According to him if you don't have an adequate education you better have skills and capital.  
     Bottom line is, according to Delaney, government is the answer. It does not look good for those who do not or cannot meet the new world order criteria. This is a stunning statement, but I see the reality all around me. There are people with degrees who are out of work for years now. There are people who were productive at an  executive level most of their adult lives, with impressive experience and sufficient education, but they have no capital. How about the many, whom I suspect are the majority, who have no education or a minimal college education, no experience, and no capital? I don't disagree with his grim perception on the state of things. Of course, I do not agree that government is the answer. I just want to say, thank you globalists! We are lucky enough to have a president who calls himself a citizen of the world and takes great pleasure in humbling us by redistributing our wealth amongst his new BFFs globally.  Delaney went on to say that this is how we make our country competitive:
1.  Invest in infrastructure. (yawn) This will create jobs right away. Can somebody say shovel ready? Yes transportation, but also communications, energy, and education. Can somebody say Keystone Pipeline? I think I even heard the word stimulus.
2. Research. Cyber security is expected to go from a $60B industry to a $600B industry in 10 years. Everyone should be investing 10% into cyber security.
 3. Immigration reform. (I'd be yawning if I wasn't so aggravated.) This has moral and business dimensions. He offered no specifics. 
4.  National energy policy. We can achieve lower prices and cleaner energy. Keystone Pipeline...just saying. He offered no specifics.
5. International tax policy. This is where he talks about a bill that he introduced called the Partnership to Build America Act (HR 2084). This bill attempts to get people to bring their money back into the U.S. from overseas. This is a problem, and this bill may work. It would require a lot of cooperation from many entities to even get it started because it depends on U.S. corporations putting up $750B to be sold as cheap bonds that will not be  government guaranteed. Every $1 that they "invest" they can bring $4 back tax free. You can read about the bill at
    There was a short time for a few Q&As. The first question was asked by Brian Poffenberger and one that I appreciated. He asked Delaney to, without using common superlatives, please explain specifically how Washington County can participate in the good things that are going on in Maryland. I was not as impressed by his vision for Western Maryland as I was by his knowledge of economics. Delaney's answer had three components:
1. Play a role in the economy of the super-region of Boston to Richmond. He plainly stated that we would never be a hub of any great importance in this region, but that we could build on transportation and logistics. Our role would be distribution and logistics fulfillment. In other words, trucking and warehousing. That left me feeling a little cold.
2. An indirect issue to our region is I-270. I-270 needs to be easier to travel (no way?), and the I-270 bus rapid transportation corridor is the best value for investment over the Red and Purple Lines. He wanted us to note that this was a statement outside of his Party line. Noted, along with the many times the word bipartisan was spoken. He was still building the brand. So, what about I-81? 
 3. Cyber security. Spend 10% on non-government cyber security. He said tax free zones should be considered.
     Another question was asked about his opinion on the regulatory environment. He answered way overloaded and offered an opinion on Dodd Frank. He thinks that Dodd Frank was a good bill that got out of control. He blames it for the failed economy of 2006 when 19 out of 20 top corporations needed government money. However, he does not think it should be repealed. He believes parts of it should be dismantled taking a reasonable approach.
      In summary, this is my first impression. If I didn't already know that he is a Democrat, he may have skillfully been able to sell me on the moderate non-partisan brand, particularly when talking about  economics, which is his forte. He is likable in every way, not offensive or arrogant, and seems completely genuine except for his attempt at branding. That said, I know that his opponent Dan Bongino has graduate degrees in both Business Administration and Psychology, and he is also a business owner. I am sure that he could very aptly talk about economics, and with the mess this country is in I am glad that both candidates share this knowledge. What makes Bongino stand out in a big way over Delaney is his grasp for the entirety of what is plaguing this country and this state. In addition to economics he speaks passionately about protecting our Constitution, about 2nd Amendment issues and issues of privacy. He doesn't measure his words when addressing the largest threat to our economy, which is the failure called Obamacare. He is not worrying about his brand or even his Party when he talks openly about career politicians on both sides of the aisle.  Dan Bongino gets it! Bongino has a vision that includes but is larger than economics. Delaney does not. I am happy to report, however, that he is not a demon and I will no longer be interested in any further opinion in that regard. Issues! Issues! Issues!