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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A SKEPTIC'S OPINION: HOGAN NAILED IT!

     I just watched the Hogan-Brown Gubernatorial Debate sponsored by Baltimore news station WJZ-TV and the Baltimore Sun newspaper. To be honest, I thought that Hogan may choke, being in the bowels of O'Malley-Brown territory. I have not been a fan of Hogan's because I simply did not think he was electable. I didn't think that he could possibly win the voters of Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County, which everyone knows are key to winning this race. Larry Hogan convinced me tonight that he can win this race! 
   Larry Hogan's presentation was flawless. He appeared calm, honest, prepared, confident, and ready to rumble, while never coming off as aggressive or arrogant. He answered all accusations emphatically and without hesitation. He was not phased at all by being in "enemy territory." He is not one of those guys who only feels comfortable talking to a crowd of supporters. 
    While I was impressed with how he presented himself, I was even more impressed with what he had to say and not just how he said it. He answered each question without avoiding any topic, only going off topic once briefly to defend himself against a Brown accusation that was not allowed a rebuttal. 

OPENING STATEMENTS

     It began with Anthony Brown's opening statement where he immediately talked about he and O'Malley's accomplishments ("we've accomplished"). He did not shy away from his connection to the governor and the policies of that administration, mentioning specifically that Maryland is leading the nation in Education and also the states' AAA bond rating. He then quickly veered away from O'Malley saying that he is not looking to the past, but wants rather to talk about the future. He mentioned his military experience and then said that he was "on a different mission." He finished with what seemed to be his mantra for the evening: He will get up every morning and fight for working families and middle class values, claiming that Hogan was for favoring a small group of the wealthy and large corporations. This was repeated word-for-word several times. Hogan was not having it.
     Hogan's opening statement was about why he was running and it basically was a list of what he called "the failures" of the O'Malley-Brown administration. He said that he was fed up with the politicians in Annapolis, stating that he is not a politician, but rather a small business owner. He mentioned the over-40 tax hikes, $10B out of the pockets of working families, the 8,000 businesses that left the state, the high unemployment rate compared to the rest of the country, and the "mass exodus" of people leaving the state to relocate elsewhere with less regulations and taxes. He got my attention. BAM!

1. TAXES: WILL YOU LOWER OR AT LEAST NOT RAISE OR CREATE NEW TAXES?

    Brown said, "Let me be clear [where have we heard that before?], there will be no new taxes." He stated that everything that the administration has done has been to attract businesses. He said that his tax relief will start with the middle class, while he accused Hogan of planning to give $300M in tax giveaways to wealthy corporations. He again stated that he will be fighting for working middle-class families. 
    
    Hogan said, "It sounds good, but it is the opposite of your record of failure." He again pointed to the over-40 tax hikes "crushing the middle class, especially those at the lower end of the scale." He stated that 71percent of Marylanders think taxes are too high. He said, "You did that! Are you going to roll them back?" He accused Brown of giving tax credits only to specific corporations [crony Capitalism]. He reminded Brown that he said he was going to reform taxes in 2007 and did the exact opposite. BAM!

REBUTTAL
   
     Brown's rebuttal was to warn voters not to "go back" to raised college tuition and congested streets, implying that Hogan was somehow responsible for these problems, which he and O'Malley corrected. He then named one success story, Armor All, which he claimed is now second in the world in their industry thanks to he and O'Malley's business policies.  

2. EDUCATION: WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE AFFECTS OF RECENT INCREASED SPENDING IN K-12 EDUCATION?

    Hogan conceded that they were doing a "good job" in building schools, but said that they doubled the spending with mixed results. He said we may have the best schools, but we are the lowest in performance, with the performance gap between blacks and whites still too large. He said he would like to push money down to the local level, and to also have the decision-making at the local level. He said that he would put a pause on Common Core, calling it an abject failure. He would push for more charter schools. BAM!

    Brown repeated his ad statement that every child deserves a good education. He said that they have made progress in closing the achievement gap. He asked Hogan what resources he is willing to invest? Brown is promising a free pre-K education for every child. He accused Hogan of opposing that, and also of opposing new school construction, claiming Hogan will cut $450M in construction funding. He warns the voters that Hogan will take them backwards. 
REBUTTAL 

     Hogan said that he is for a pre-K education, but not free, not for everyone. He accused Brown of not telling the truth about this issue in his ads. He said that he is for free pre-K only for those who are 300-percent above poverty level (roughly $75,000 family income) or below. He stated that Brown's plan would not be instituted until 2022, and that he has no viable plan to pay for it. He said that Brown already increased spending by $10M and that we
can not afford it. He said the issue was an election ploy. BAM!

3. TAXES: DO YOU AGREE WITH COMPTROLLER  FRANCHOT WHEN HE STATED THAT MARYLAND HAS HUGE FISCAL CHALLENGES THAT WILL REQUIRE RAISING TAXES. 

    Brown does not agree with Franchot, and again stated that he will not raise taxes. Instead he will give targeted tax credits to small businesses, he will look at spending, vehicle fee management, and Medicaid savings. He accused Hogan of planning to raise property taxes by $300M. 

    Hogan said that everything Brown said in that answer was not true. He said that Brown does not want to talk about almost 8 years of failure including increased spending and increased taxes."You said that during the last election and you raised taxes! He wants a promotion, but doesn't want us to look at his record." BAM!
REBUTTAL

   Brown said that his record will show that he created $40,000 jobs, and through a private-public partnership (P3) created 5,000 jobs at the port. Again, accused Hogan of wanting to cut $450M in school construction and increase the tax base by $300M in property tax. 

4. ENVIRONMENT: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE STORM WATER MANAGEMENT FEE?

    Hogan said that the Bay is a valued asset and top priority, but he would not blame the farmers or the rain. He stated that no one has looked at management of sediment (43-percent) from the Conowingo Dam. He would look to the Federal government, the EPA, and Army Core of Engineers, along with the states of Pennsylvania and New York to pay their share of the cleanup. He then accused Brown of raiding $460M out of the Open Space Fund along with $1.3B from a trust fund meant for the Bay cleanup. He promised not to raid these trust funds. He said that Marylanders hate the Rain Tax and are disgusted with them for passing it. BAM!

    Brown said that Maryland has a tradition of a "balanced approach" to environmental issues. He said that Hogan shouldn't blame other states, and said that he would work with local governments on these issues and also on reducing new septic systems. 


REBUTTAL

    Hogan said that was nonsense, because Brown robbed the money that they could have used to clean up the bay, and that he blamed it on the recession. He said that Brown did not cut spending, but that he had increased spending and taxes. "You are making things up! We are not recovering." BAM!

5. NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING: WHY HAS THIS RACE BEEN SO NEGATIVE?

   Brown said that his ads are a conversation with the voters. Voters have a right to know where Hogan stands on important issues. He said it is fair to show the contrast in issues. He specifically named SB 281 and said that he opposed the bill in total and each piece of the bill including the banning of "assault weapons," limiting magazine size, background checks, and fingerprinting. He accused Hogan of secretly planning to overturn or not enforce SB 281 and called it dangerous. 

    Hogan said that he will not repeal SB 281. He actually felt that the bill didn't go far enough concerning mental illness and Federal background checks. It is set into law. He said that Brown has been running untrue ads trying to scare the public and as a distraction from his own record. "The ad shows an assault weapon on a playground! It is 100-percent false." He said that Brown keeps referring to Hogan's "long record" when he has no long record. He is not a politician. He also said that abortion is set into law and he does not intend to revisit that issue. He said that Brown ran more untrue ads about abortion meant to scare women into voting for Brown. 


REBUTTAL

    Brown spoke about "extreme gun owners" and again claimed that Hogan plans to not enforce SB 281. He said that Hogan has been a "political operative."

6. IMMIGRATION: DO YOU SUPPORT BRINGING CHILDREN FROM THE BORDER TO OUR STATE?

    Hogan first went off topic to rebut the accusation in Brown's last rebuttal. "I don't have a record. You are using an article from decades ago that was actually about my dad. You should apologize to women for trying to scare them." BAM!
    About immigration, my wife is a first generation immigrant from South Korean. I am obviously welcoming to immigrants, but we are a nation of laws. I actually blame the president and both the Republicans and the Democrats in Congress and the Senate for the situation at the border. BAM!

    Brown said, "I am a first generation American, my parents came here from Jamaica. This is a land of immigrants." He blamed the Republicans in Congress for the situation at the border, but stated that we can't fix that in Maryland. He feels we are obligated to protect the children at the border. He feels that we should reunite them with their family here in the states and return them to their country of origin "eventually, if possible." He said that the Federal government should reimburse us for our foster care services. 


REBUTTAL

    Hogan said that the issue is a humanitarian issue and that we should feed, clothe, house and give them a medical exam. He does not think that we should take more immigrants per capita than other states, especially since they have to be bused hundreds of miles to get them here. 
    
7. SAFETY & CRIME: WHAT CAN YOU DO TO LOWER CRIME?

    Brown said again that he lost a cousin to gun crime and that he supported SB 281. He said that crime is at an all time low, but there is more to do. He said we must not rollback or not enforce SB 281. We need to build on the success of our new gun safety laws. 

    Hogan said that we have some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but we are in the top ten in violent crime. He stated that our number one problem is heroin. It is an epidemic all over the state no matter how small the community. Yet, there has been no action. Hogan would call a state of emergency and address the heroin problem immediately.


REBUTTAL

    Brown claimed that they have driven down crime rates and also recidivism. He said that Hogan just doesn't understand the problem.


8. GERRYMANDERING: WOULD YOU DO SOMETHING TO STOP THE EXCESSIVE GERRYMANDERING OF OUR STATE?

    Hogan said that he is nonpartisan and offered proof by pointing to his organization, Change Maryland, which he claims is half Democrats and Independents. He said that we need to take the redistricting out of the hands of the monopoly Party in Annapolis and let it be handled by a nonpartisan independent commission. 

    Brown said that he agrees with Hogan, however, he blames the extreme Right in Congress for the problem. He thinks it ought to be handled at the Federal level with an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


REBUTTAL

     Hogan said, "You just refuse to take responsibility! Your administration did this and it was the worst in the nation." He agreed that there is dysfunction in DC on both sides of the aisle with rabid partisanship. 

9. BUSINESS: HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE THE BUSINESS CLIMATE IN MARYLAND?

    Brown stated that when he is elected his first strategic act will be to move that goal to position one. He said it is debatable that the state is actually hostile to business, so he doesn't want to discuss it. He would rather talk about successes and then he named  4 or 5 businesses that are expanding. 

    Hogan asked, "Then why haven't you? You have had 8 years to do this." He said that Brown needs to take responsibility for driving 8,000 businesses out of our state. He said he has lost 200,000 jobs, and our unemployment rate is higher than the national average.  He said that we have 3 problems: 1) we are 41st out of 50 in business friendliness, 2) the burdensome regulation environment created by Brown-O'Malley, and 3) we have the fourth highest corporate tax in the country. BAM!
REBUTTAL

     Brown again accused Hogan of planning to give huge tax breaks to large corporations, even some that are out of state. "I support tax relief to small businesses." 

10. WOMEN'S ISSUES: WHAT WILL BE YOUR PRIORITY REGARDING WOMEN'S ISSUES?

    Brown  said that the average person on minimum wage is a 33 year old woman, and she cannot raise a family on it. Raising the minimum wage would help to raise her out of poverty. He said that he led the effort to reduce domestic violence, and that he would find a way to increase education opportunities. 

   Hogan conceded that they did a good job regarding domestic violence. He said that woman are worried about the economy. Women typically do the budgeting. The over-40 tax hikes are crushing them. Raising the minimum wage will do nothing, but there will be drawbacks. The minimum wage was never meant to support a family. "It was meant for kids! If you have a better economy it becomes a non-issue." BAM! He believes in unfettered birth control available over the counter. He will not revisit abortion, and again, states that Brown's ads regarding abortion are nothing but lies.

   In closing, both candidates restated their opening statement. 

    In summary, Hogan won the debate, my vote, and I think the vote of my 80-year-old mother who is Democrat. With the condition of this state, and with the complete dissatisfaction with the tax and spend O'Malley-Brown administration, voters are more open to listen to another perspective. Larry Hogan delivers a message that makes sense with an honesty that can't be denied.  
    I think he needs to iron out where he stands on SB 281 and courageously declare the truth of his intent...whatever that is. Making a firm statement and sticking to it will mean more than a wink and a nod to either side. Somebody is going to  be mad or disappointed. I think he needs to realize that and accept it. This election is about the economy first. His strengths are in fiscal financial policies, so in my opinion, he should stick to those.  I personally am disappointed that he isn't more forthright about gun rights, but I will take the 95 percent that we agree on instead of the maybe 9 percent I might agree on with Brown...just so I can stick it to Hogan for the gun issue. It doesn't make sense and I'm not going to do it. 
    I wonder if anyone noticed that there was no mention, from either side, of the failed ACA website and the huge loss of taxpayer money?


#VoteHogan4Governor 




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DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, LT. GOV. BROWN, SPEAKS TO THE CHAMBER

  

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