Yes, you read right. Andy Harris joined 68 other Republicans in voting against aid for Puerto Rico. Republican values at work.
No Republican has won election to any local or state legislative office in Montgomery County since 2002. Even 15 years ago, the County was not exactly awash in a sea of red, as the two sole elected Republicans were liberal Del. Jean Cryor (R-15) and Councilmember Howie Denis (R-1).
After three electoral cycles of coming up empty, the MoCo GOP’s chances of ending this electoral drought look bleak in 2018. Why is the only viable alternative to the long-governing Democrats in so much trouble?
Trump was a disaster for Montgomery Republicans. Both John McCain in 2012 and Mitt Romney in 2008 won a paltry 27% of the vote in Montgomery—down from 33% won by Bush in 2004 and 34% in 200. Trump managed to drive the Republican share of the vote down another 8% and gained just 19% of the vote in Montgomery.
Tarnished National Brand
The Republican brand at the national level is now toxic in Montgomery. Many people who might be open to an alternative will not vote for anyone associated with a party that is as socially conservative on issues like gun control, abortion and LGBT rights as the Republicans. Trump has identified the party with racism that renders it even more anathema and helps explain its further slide in 2016. Even on economic issues, national Republicans are far more extreme than more moderate Montgomery voters.
In the not too distant past, people were reasonably willing to defect from their preferred party to vote for attractive candidates, especially incumbents, of the other party. No longer. Voters are now much more likely to cast a straight party ticket. In 2016, not a single state split their tickets for U.S. Senate and President. Republicans are on the wrong side of this equation in Montgomery.
Poor or No Candidates
Right now, the only declared Republican candidate for county executive is gadfly and perennial candidate Robin Ficker. When a major party in a county with over 1 million residents is reduced to running a guy who has lost 13 elections and is a frequent flyer at judicial ethics hearings, it has a problem.
Ficker’s antics attract a lot of attention—he makes Nancy Grace look press shy—but he doesn’t do more electable Republicans any favor. Beyond explaining whether they voted for Donald Trump in 2016, Republican candidates will also have to answer if they plan to vote for Robin Ficker for county executive in 2018.
Even though no candidate might benefit other Republicans more than Ficker in the county executive race, the inability of Republicans to find candidates in many races is the sign of a weak party. Democratic primaries, in contrast, tend to be extremely crowded for open seats—a signal of the value of the party’s nomination and a deeper candidate pool.
One might think Montgomery Republicans would respond to their repeat rejection through moderation. However, its base is now much more extreme than in the past. This note I received in response from a locally active Republican to my post over the weekend calling for more attention to the plight of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands exemplifies how massively out of step local Republicans are with Montgomery voters:
[T[his post below I find extremely offensive and lacking in the usual factual rigor that you seem to usually try to bring to bear.
You are making hateful accusations against President Trump that have ZERO basis in fact and which only serve to undermine your credibility.
I hope you will write an apology and a retraction and stick to facts instead of ad hominem attacks against President Trump moving forward.
Here is the “extremely offensive” attack with “ZERO basis in fact” on Donald Trump referenced in the email:
We know the President virtually does not care. Between his ravings on other topics, he barely had time to spare a tweet for Puerto Rico. He did have time to feed red meat to an all-white hard-right crowd in Alabama by attacking African-American NFL players.
In general, I try not to rush to “go there” because there enough hate in the world without suspecting it in ambiguous situations. But Donald Trump has enough of a record that it seems more than fair to ask if he might express more than an iota of interest if these were not overwhelmingly Latino and Black territories?
Donald Trump has now followed up his lack of interest with a new tweet criticizing of Puerto Rico for its debt crisis–amazingly oblivious from a man infamous for welshing on debts from massive loans for casinos to payments owed small businessmen.
As usual, the response from other Republicans is silence.
By Adam Pagnucco.
Governor Larry Hogan may be running away from President Donald Trump as fast as he can, but his base is happy to embrace both of them. Here is the Montgomery County Republican Party’s display from the Gaithersburg Labor Day Parade. (Photo credit: Gretchen Zekiel, Deputy Chair, Bill Conway for County Council.)
By Adam Pagnucco.
After Republicans in Congress voted to allow Internet service providers to sell their customers’ browsing histories and other personal data without their consent, Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) took action to block such practices in Maryland. But one group was able to prevent the General Assembly from even voting on whether to allow such conduct in the Free State.
You guessed it: Republican state lawmakers.
Bills in Annapolis face deadlines for introduction so that each chamber has adequate time to send them to committees, hold hearings and votes, and reconcile them if different versions pass. But Congress’s action to legalize Internet providers’ scamming of their customers took place only days ago and Sine Die, the last day of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2017 regular session, is approaching on April 10. Delegate Frick, who is known for introducing consumer protection bills, had to act fast. The Maryland Constitution requires two thirds of state legislators to agree to let a bill be introduced in the last 35 days of session. So Frick quickly drafted a bill to outlaw the scamming that Congress allowed and asked his colleagues in the House of Delegates to allow its introduction. He needed 94 votes. He got 90.
Frick posted a partial screenshot of the vote page on Facebook (below). Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17) posted the full tally. Every single Delegate who voted against the bill’s introduction was a Republican. So were all the Members of Congress who voted to roll back federal Internet privacy rules in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.
What did the Republican Delegates block from being voted on? Frick’s bill was a simple one. It would have made it an unfair or deceptive trade practice in Maryland for Internet service providers to sell or transfer their customers’ names, social security numbers, addresses, IP addresses and browsing histories without their affirmative permission. It also would have banned them from showing ads derived from browsing histories and denying service to customers who refused to allow their personal information to be shared. The bill made an exception for information subject to a subpoena, summons, warrant or court order.
One Republican Delegate who voted against introducing Frick’s bill, Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County, told the Associated Press that Internet privacy is “a national issue, and a Maryland bill would just drag Washington politics into the state.” Great! So when millions of Marylanders get scammed by Internet predators, the state legislators who represent them should do nothing. Nigerian princes, British lottery officials and offshore bank investors rejoice!
GOP politicians have been known for their squabbling in recent years, but on this one thing, they agree: your personal Internet data should be bought and sold without your knowledge or consent. Remember that in November 2018.
Maryland Democrats have been trying to link Gov. Larry Hogan to Donald Trump. Now, Hogan has done it for them.
Following his pattern of avoiding all politically touchy issues when at all possible, Larry Hogan refused to comment on Trump’s travel ban because it is “the sole purview of the federal government.” An interesting view expressed by the same guy who proudly declared that Maryland would refuse to accept Syrian refugees. Among other issues, the ban resulted in a 5-year old Maryland boy being separated from his mother and held for hours.
Hogan continued his pattern of avoidance by not responding to Attorney General Brian Frosh’s request to sue the federal government on this issue. No doubt Hogan thought this was a clever way to say no while saying nothing, but Frosh upped the ante by taking Hogan’s silence as permission.
Hogan’s silent freeze out ended in a tantrum when the General Assembly voted to give Attorney General Brian Frosh the authority to sue the federal government on this and other issues. Article V of the Maryland Constitution permits either the Governor or the General Assembly to give the AG license to sue.
After he abdicated his responsibility on a difficult issue, Hogan immediately lashed out at the General Assembly for taking action to defend the State on this and other issues:
At a news conference later Friday, Hogan called the Senate vote “unfortunate, rank partisanship.”
“I don’t know why you have to change the rules now that we have a Republican governor, but they’ve been doing quite a bit of that lately,” he said. “I would rather not see that kind of political operation going on and just focus on the problems in the state.”
No change in rules. Just take a moment to read the Maryland Constitution. Don’t get mad when the Assembly exercises its rights just because you chose duck and cover.
Again, remember that for Hogan, Syrian refugees are a Maryland problem but detained child is “federal issue.” Quite a change from when Obama was president. Republicans in the Maryland Senate joined the tantrum by walking out during the discussion of the bill.
The Governor and Maryland Republicans have now taken a firm stand in favor Trump and his policies. While the Governor tried to dodge, he ultimately strongly fought the Assembly’s decision to allow AG Frosh to oppose them, breaking his much vaunted amity in order to vocally support the Trump ban along with plans to dismantle environmental protections and take away health care from thousands of Marylanders.
Two more Republican delegates continue to hug Trump tightly. Let’s start with Neil Parrott:
Del. Parrott is best known for his hysterical advocacy of the “bathroom bill” because he really thought that men dressing up as women to enter the women’s bathroom would become a thing once we passed transgender equality legislation.
These concerns do not extend to candidates that Parrott supports. He remains enthusiastically behind Donald Trump–the candidate who the Washington Post reported today has entered rooms with naked underage girls in it during the Miss Teen USA Pageant who were then forced to fawn all over him while nude:
To have the owner come waltzing in, when we’re naked, or half naked, in a very physically vulnerable position and then to have the pressure of the people that worked for him telling us to go fawn all over him, go walk up to him, talk to him, get his attention.
So the same man who wanted to use fear of a small vulnerable minority to criminalize their use of bathrooms over a nonexistent problem has no issue when the presidential candidate of his own party preys on underage girls.
Moving on to Del. Warren Miller. He rationalized his support for Trump by claiming that “her campaign hates Christians” in a tweeted reply to Dylan Goldberg, who formerly worked for Sen. Guy Guzzone:
Miller clearly lives in the right-wing delusional alternative universe in which American Christians are persecuted and there is a “War on Christmas.” It would seem that the only Christian being persecuted here is Hillary Clinton.
One might add the weirdness of sending this particular tweet to Dylan Goldberg during Yom Kippur. While Miller’s belief about Clinton supporting Christian persecution is a work of fiction, Trump’s invocation of anti-Semitic tropes is on tape and he admitted to similar statements over the past 25 years.
As is well known, Trump retweets material, including the infamous anti-Semitic “sheriff’s star” attack, from right-wing white nationalist websites. His supporters have no problem attacking Trump critics, such as Anne Applebaum, for being Jewish.
In short, no one has done more to reawaken anti-Semitism in the U.S. in decades than Donald Trump. And this hardly compares to his routine demonization of Latinos, Muslims, and Blacks. Apparently, Miller is also fine with Trump’s anti-democratic threat to jail his opponent, undermining of NATO, and cozying up to Putin.
Folks, this is the norm in today’s Maryland Republican Party.
This past weekend, 7S spent much time chronicling the reactions of Maryland Republicans to Tapegate. I summarize here in case you sensibly had better things to do this weekend. They run the gamut to everything except a willingness to repudiate Trump:
Full Ostrich: Gov. Larry Hogan continued his perfect record of never criticizing his party’s nominee and disclaiming interest in presidential politics after racing around the country to support Trump lickspittle Chris Christie.
The Szeliga: Kathy Szeliga was “appalled” but Trump still gets her vote. A common approach.
Szeliga Plus: Amie Hoeber upped the weird by utilizing her personal experience of being subjected to sexism to justify her continued support for the sexist candidate. And Hillary bad.
No Apology Necessary: A model for all wingnuts, Sen. Gail Bates excused Trump as she linked to conspiracy theory rants. She holds Allan Kittleman’s former seat in the General Assembly, which shows just how deep the rot has got in the GOP.
Full Trump: Rep. Andy Harris previewed Trump’s tawdry pre-debate presser and invoked Benghazi like the Expelliarmus charm in Harry Potter.
Remember that all of these people opposed marriage equality but there is seemingly no behavior by Trump that cannot be ignored or excused. This is now the Maryland Republican Party.
It’s getting on 24 hours since the unveiling of the Trump tape, which has apparently allowed some Republicans to connect the dots and abandon their horrible nominee. But the overwhelming reaction among Maryland Republicans is to go full ostrich and pretend that this event and Trump are going away.
Based on a quick examination of her web page, twitter feed, and Facebook page, Kathy Szeliga has neither condemned the latest evidence of Trump’s horrible behavior nor withdrawn her endorsement of the Republican nominee.
As the Baltimore Sun has pointed out, this is part of a long pattern for Szeliga:
With a record like that, it’s no surprise Ms. Szeliga supports Mr. Trump. When he attacked a Gold Star family, she was silent. When he suggested that “Second Amendment people” could take action against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, again, deafening silence. When Mr. Trump claimed that President Barack Obama is the founder of ISIS, she didn’t condemn his words.
So there is nothing Trump can do that would cause Gov. Larry Hogan’s chosen Senate candidate to dump Trump. Nothing from Larry Hogan about Szeliga’s judgment either even though Szeliga advertises Hogan’s support of her candidacy at every turn. Szeliga’s inevitable hard defeat will be a major blow for Hogan, as evidence that his personal support counts little.
Nothing on the web page, twitter or Facebook of the sole elected Maryland Republican at the federal level, Rep. Andy Harris, either. Like Szeliga, Harris has endorsed Trump:
I’m going to work for him. I’m going to help him try to win the electoral votes in the state of Maryland because in the presidential election, it’s always a selection between two individuals. No one is going to be perfect, any individual. But Mr. Trump will be a far better choice for this country than Mrs. (Hillary) Clinton.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has been basking in the plaudits and polls for not supporting Trump. However, Hogan has not criticized Trump at all. He just said that he won’t vote for the guy and made this incredible statement:
“I’ve always been a blunt, straightforward guy, and whether you agree with me or not, you always know where I stand,” he said. “I’m not trying to convince anybody how to vote, anyway.”
But that’s simply untrue. Hogan had time to trot around the country to say nice things about Chris Christie, a bully who has now cozied up to Trump, and is a vociferous backer of Trump supporter Kathy Szeliga. In contrast, this self-proclaimed “blunt, straightforward guy” has nothing to say about any of his party’s standard bearer’s bad behavior. Not exactly #HoganStrong.
After losing a close race for the Sixth Congressional District, Dan Bongino self-deported to Florida, where this self-proclaimed non-politician has decided to run for Congress again.
It’s not going well.
Showing the cool calm when under fire for which former members of Secret Service are known, Bongino lashed out when a reporter accused him of being a carpetbagger. Apparently, he asked the reporter repeatedly “to carry out a sexual act that is not physically possible” as well as using much other ungentlemanly vocabulary that doesn’t exactly read grace under pressure.
If you’re hoping that Donald Trump falls into the category of “this too shall pass,” you need look no further than the Montgomery County Republican Party to see that Trumpism isn’t an aberration but is the Republican Party.
The Montgomery County Republican Party and 7S have been having a lively debate on Twitter (140 characters being so amenable to thoughtful discussion) about the relative importance of Clinton’s emails versus Trump’s willingness to give Crimea to Putin and his hiring of a campaign manager illegally.
In its desperation to change the subject, the Montgomery GOP resorted to Muslim baiting about longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin:
They doubled down on this line of attack later:
In case you’re wondering if these recycled accusations have any merit, here is what Sen. John McCain has to say in response to Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s efforts to scaremonger:
These sinister accusations rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma’s family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way. These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop now.
Ultimately, what is at stake in this matter is larger even than the reputation of one person. This is about who we are as a nation, and who we still aspire to be. What makes America exceptional among the countries of the world is that we are bound together as citizens not by blood or class, not by sect or ethnicity, but by a set of enduring, universal, and equal rights that are the foundation of our constitution, our laws, our citizenry, and our identity. When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.
Our reputations, our character, are the only things we leave behind when we depart this earth, and unjust attacks that malign the good name of a decent and honorable person is not only wrong; it is contrary to everything we hold dear as Americans.
Yet the Montgomery County Republicans continue to promote this scurrilous agitprop.