I Could Have Predicted This

In fact, I sort of did earlier today, when Lou Peck’s story about the GOP CD6 debate made clear that Brian Griffiths, one of the moderators for the debate, was smack in the middle of a dustup with one of the candidates, Amie Hoeber. But now it’s turned into a full blown war of words. I may disagree philosophically with Ryan Miner, but he strikes me as a decent guy. And he’s pissed.

Red Maryland’s Editor-in-Chief Brian Griffiths used his panelist perch at the Montgomery County Republican congressional 6 debate to badger Amie Hoeber about her personal stance on whether she is pro-life or pro-choice.

A fair question indeed, but Griffiths had other motivations – as he usually does. His motivations extended to overtly misrepresenting Hoeber’s position in a sad – and really weird – attempt to besmirch Hoeber’s campaign.
I used to enjoy listening to Red Maryland, but then Andrew Langer and Mark Newgent left the network.

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Griffith apparently disliked Hoeber’s answer to his question, so he did what he usually does; he took to Red Maryland’s website and wrote a manipulative, disgusting, disingenuous and patently false article about Hoeber and lied about her position on abortion. Then he blasted his article on Facebook and other social media outlets in a sad attempt to garner ratings.

Amie Hoeber wasn’t exactly thrilled, either. She issued a statement:

I am NOT pro-abortion. The headline in Red Maryland’s article this morning is totally wrong. Brian Griffiths, the author and editor-in-chief, should be ashamed as a journalist for his purposeful misinterpretation. This is unprofessional and un-Republican.

I demand a retraction and apology. Brian is hurting the reputation of all Republicans with this sort of diatribe.
I repeat – I am NOT “pro-abortion,” as Brian Griffiths claims. I encourage voters to review the video itself to determine precisely what I did say and how I stood up to hecklers in the audience who tried to bully me while I was answering.

I was raised by a Roman Catholic mother, and I would personally never have an abortion. But in a larger sense I am adamant that the Federal Government should not intrude into people’s personal lives.

I am the right candidate to take back the 6th District from the Democrats.

I won the straw poll at the first District 6 debate, beating out all the other candidates vying for this seat in Congress. My positions are consistent with Republican values. My primary expertise is in national security and homeland defense, which the Congress desperately needs.

I haven’t listened to the video, but I can say this: the optics of a young angry guy presuming to lecture an older woman about reproductive rights is pretty bad, especially for a state party that insists that it isn’t a crazy, right wing group of nutballs. If the GOP is going to have any chance in the CD6 race or other contests moving forward, this kind of behavior needs to be eliminated. Especially from a guy who hasn’t exactly done the Republican Party any favors.

Turns out I wasn’t the only one who predicted problems with Griffiths as a moderator – apparently he bought his seat at the table. According to the same source in 2015, Griffiths’ tenure as head of the YRs left him wildly unpopular within his own party.

CD6 GOP Debate

There was a debate last night, and sad to say, I wasn’t invited. Perhaps because it was a GOP debate in CD6. According to Lou Peck, it was a “lively affair,” and it turns out that blogger Ryan Miner has assumed responsibility for my job with the Democratic debates in CD8, shooting video of the entire debate. For those inclined to watch such things, head on over and watch.

For now, I’m content to give you some of Peck’s observations.

Appearing at a forum Thursday night in Gaithersburg sponsored by the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, all eight said they supported term limits for members of Congress, and all voiced strong support for the Second Amendment—and opposition to efforts to restrict gun ownership.

“We own guns, and I’m a good shot. Any of you want to take me on, feel free,” Amie Hoeber, a Potomac-based national security consultant and the only woman in the race for the GOP nomination, declared to applause. “I will not stand idly by while this right of ours is being threatened.”

But Hoeber later found herself in a cross fire over the issue of abortion, when one member of the panel posing questions—Brian Griffiths of the conservative “Red Maryland” blog—noted Hoeber’s past involvement in the National Women’s Political Caucus. “Do you support abortion, and, if not, why did you have an association with such a militantly pro-abortion organization?” Griffiths asked.

“I do not think that is a reasonable issue,” replied Hoeber, a onetime deputy undersecretary of the Army. Alluding to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, she declared, “That is settled law, and I have sworn on many occasions as a government and federal employee…I will uphold the constitution and the laws of this country.”

As Griffiths continued to press the matter, Hoeber, 74, asserted, “I am a mother, I am a stepmother, I’m a grandmother. I think I understand in ways unique in this group of candidates before you about the preciousness of life. But I believe the abortion question has been settled by law.”

Brian has a special talent for being, well, special. He’s come to be despised by a whole host of GOP folks (his reign as head of the Maryland Young Republicans being a particular target), and it sounds like he added Republican women to the list last night. If I’m feeling particularly brave later, I’ll consider watching that part. But not on an empty stomach, that’s for sure.

There were other interesting moments. Amie Hoeber is running to John Delaney’s left, opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership ((TPP) deal. If she can get through the primary, that should make for some interesting contrasts with Delaney.

Meanwhile, Hoeber put some distance between herself and the Republican leadership of Congress on another controversial issue: a 12-nation free trade deal with Asia known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP.

“I have some major objections to it,” she said. “NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1993] cost Maryland a number of jobs. The TPP is very much a reflection of NAFTA in its approach to managing trade. I think we have to look very carefully at how it would affect Maryland.”

An unusual alliance of President Obama and leading congressional Republicans are behind TPP, which is strongly opposed by many leading congressional Democrats. Delaney, however, has been one of a relative handful of Democrats to voice support for the deal.

Robin Ficker was his usually interesting and gadfly self:

Ficker, running for his fifth elective office in the past seven years—including a prior run for the 6th District Republican nomination in 2012—was true to his reputation as a colorful gadfly.

“I have a longstanding relationship with western Maryland,” he said. “Before [Delaney] was elected to Congress, he had no connection to western Maryland whatsoever. He thought Frostburg was in Siberia.”
And, Ficker noted, “I’m already ahead of Congressman Delaney in the votes. I’ve got two votes—mine and my son’s—because I live in the district. He and his wife don’t even live in the district, so they can’t vote for themselves. I’m ahead 2-0.”

Christopher Mason vowed never to wear a suit. “We elect people into Congress who lie to us, and the dress of the liars are suits,” he said. “I will not be an empty suit, and I will never wear a suit if you elect me to Congress.” Someone is confusing correlation with causation, I think. That or he’s too cheap to buy some suits. Of course, he’s also pledged to donate his entire congressional salary to paying down the national debt, so maybe he just doesn’t like the ones he has.

Harold Painter wants to solve DC area traffic problems by moving large segments of the federal government out of Washington. “How about we move the Department of Agriculture to—I don’t know, Kansas City, or somewhere maybe where it belongs.” Small government and better traffic planning, brought together in ways you never thought you’d ever hear. Perhaps there’s a reason for that?

Trachtenberg Statement

From the (non)candidate herself:

I certainly feel that the 6th congressional district could be better represented. However, I have not made a decision to run. The filing I made was to comply with FEC regulations and nothing more.

I am no wallflower and if I made a decision to run for Congress, Rep. Delaney would know it. But that isn’t a decision I have made.

No, Trachtenberg Isn’t Running Against Delaney

Over the past several days, there have been several reports that former County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg has “launched” a primary campaign against Congressman John Delaney. There was a report on Daily Kos, citing this tweet, and then today local GOP blogger Ryan Miner reports the same thing, along with a laundry list of negative quotes and reports about Trachtenberg. All of the stories, however, are based on a single document: this statement of candidacy. Nobody actually checked to see if there’s a, y’know, campaign actually going on. 

Moreover, when I went to the FEC website to look up the document, there was another document that everyone seems to have missed. Dated November 15, 2015 – less than a month before the statement of candidacy, the document is known as a “Disavowal Notice,” and it gets sent when the FEC believes that an individual with a federal committee (Trachtenberg has a committee from her earlier 2012 run) has raised or spent more than $5,000 in an election cycle. Under federal law, such activity makes the individual a “candidate,” thus triggering the requirement to either file a statement of candidacy or to “disavow” the financial activity. Administratively, the disavowal process is a nightmare and can take many months – or longer – to fully resolve. It’s therefore much easier to simply file a statement of candidacy, whether one intends to run or not.

Curious that there hasn’t been any mention of a Trachtenberg campaign – I saw her just last weekend – and aware of the disavowal notice, I reached out to sources close to Duchy this morning, and was told – emphatically – that my suspicions about the disavowal notice were right on the mark, and that she is not running against John Delaney.

Don’t believe everything you read on blogs. Except, of course, for Maryland Scramble. Debunking online myths since, well, about right now. As always, you’re welcome.

You Stay Classy, David Vogt

CD6 GOP congressional candidate Delegate David Vogt today issued a press release stating that he intends to file a bill in the General Assembly to investigate the tax exempt status of Muslim organizations that are linked directly or indirectly to “a radicalized notion of Islam.” If I was trying to find a way to have a law that simultaneously violates both the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion in as extreme a fashion as possible, I’m not sure I could do better than this bizarre and fear mongering proposal.

If you want to read his press release, go here. No further quotes from me. I have limits.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Maryland GOP at work.

Republicans Ready To Rumble In CD6

My media crush Lou Peck over at Bethesda Magazine takes a look at the increasingly crowded and potentially expensive race on the GOP side competing for the right to face Congressman John Delaney in CD6.

As Labor Day marks the ramping up of the 2016 campaign, it’s become clear that a second Montgomery County-based congressional district will face a crowded—and financially costly—contest in next April’s primary election.

But, while a seven-way Democratic primary in District 8 is likely to determine the successor to Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the primary season maneuvering in neighboring District 6 has been on the Republican side. So far, seven Republicans have filed to compete for the nomination for the seat first captured in 2012 by Democratic Rep. John Delaney, and more may join them.

Four of the candidates are considered top tier, per Peck’s GOP sources – Montgomery County businessman Frank Howard, Washington County Commissioners President Terry Baker, first term Frederick Delegate David Vogt, and Potomac national security consultant Amie Hoeber.

Hoeber is a name I haven’t heard before, and Peck is chock full of interesting details about her.

“I’m not self-financing— I’m raising funds like mad and I think I’m being very successful,” said Hoeber, a deputy undersecretary of the Army during the Reagan administration who, at 73, is making her first run for elective office. But she acknowledged, “I certainly will partially self-fund it.” She declined to specify an amount of self-funding, but added: “I’m willing to put in a fair amount of money. I care enough about doing this to take some action.”

A significant portion of the funding for Hoeber’s candidacy is expected to come from her husband, Mark Epstein— a long-time senior executive of Qualcomm, a leading developer and manufacturer of mobile communications technology. According to sources, Epstein is preparing to set up a so-called “Super PAC” to benefit Hoeber’s campaign, and donate as much as $1 million of his personal assets to it.
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Hoeber is said to have been urged to enter the District 6 contest by the National Republican Congressional Committee—the campaign arm of the House GOP majority—with officials there eager to recruit a female candidate with relatively centrist leanings. “I think I bring a measured approach to issues that looks at practical solutions—and not extreme ideology—that can attract a broad range of voters, so that we can take back the district for the Republicans,” Hoeber said.

Whew that’s a lot. And she was appointed to a political position BEFORE “Eye of the Tiger” was released. I was still in high school. That was a very long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

It’s a long article and there’s lots of interesting tidbits and gossip. Go read it. This is turning into a race worth watching, even if it’s the folks on the other side of the aisle.

Howard Running In CD6

Frank Howard, a Republican who ran for State Senate in 2014 in LD14, has filed to run for Congress in CD6 in 2016. John Fritze:

A Laytonsville man who worked for Dan Bongino’s congressional campaign in 2014 has filed to run against Democratic Rep. John Delaney in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

Frank Howard, 54, served as campaign chairman to Republican Dan Bongino, who challenged Delaney in 2014. Howard also ran an unsuccessful campaign for state Senate that year, despite picking up several notable endorsements.

“People feel the need for positive change in Annapolis and Washington,” Howard said in a statement. “I’m an independent-minded outsider who wants to represent them.”

Howard, a co-owner of the Utah-based business development consulting firm Shipley Associates, served in the Air Force for four years. He will face a Republican state lawmaker and Marine veteran, David E. Vogt III, in the primary.

Howard and Vogt (and maybe others?) will be vying for the right to face Congressman John Delaney. Unless Delaney runs for Senate. Which he has considered. Which would create a mad scramble among many candidates for the rig to succeed Delaney on the Democratic side. But I digress. For now. Maybe.

GOP CD6 Gossip

Since the John Delaney rumor mill has totally shut down of late, I am reduced to mongering Republican rumors in CD6. 

A sad state of affairs indeed, but here it is: Ryan Miner says District 4 Delegate David Vogt will run for Congress, and further expresses dissatisfaction with the notion that Washington County Commissioners president Terry Baker might also be running. I particularly like this line:

It comes as a shock to me that Terry Baker is contemplating running for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District considering that he has no fundraising base outside of Washington County and is virtually unknown in most of CD-6, especially in Montgomery County.

News flash: I don’t think John Delaney is losing one minute of sleep thinking about Terry Baker or David Vogt. Or Ryan Miner, for that matter. Which is really unfortunate because it means John Delaney still hasn’t texted me his plans. Which is another way of saying that this post is just another desperate attempt by me to get John Delaney’s attention. Utterly pathetic.

John Delaney Is Running . . .

I have been forwarded an email invitation from the Delaneys to “join John’s kickoff at a Backyard Barbeque Bash” (some quality alliteration right there).

The invite, however, never gets around to mentioning an important fact: what office is Delaney running for? A lot of people, including but definitely not limited to yours truly, would really like to know.

At this point, I think Delaney is having as much fun being coy as I’m having pointing it out. That rascal. The game continues. . . .