This week the Maryland Democratic Party instructed Democratic voters in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District race (Eastern Shore, suburban Baltimore) to vote against the Democratic candidate. Hello?
Turns out the Democratic candidate, Wendy Rosen, is so enthusiastic about voting that in the 2006 and 2008 elections she voted once in Maryland, where she’s a registered voter, and again in Florida, where she’s also a registered voter.
Apparently, Ms. Rosen didn’t understand that congressional candidates are expected to break the law after they go to Congress, not before.
Doing damage control, the state Democrats issued a press release demanding that Ms. Rosen withdraw from the race and referring the matter to the state prosecutor. Nailed in the act, Rosen quickly terminated her campaign, but, unfortunately for the Democrats, the deadline has passed for withdrawing a candidate’s name from the Nov. 6 ballot.
So on Election Day, 1st District voters can vote for the Republican incumbent, Andy Harris, or for Ms. Rosen, or for a Democrat write-in candidate yet-to-be-designated by the state party. What a mess.
Truthfully, no one really expected Wendy Rosen to win, no matter how many times she voted for herself. As a Wednesday editorial in The Baltimore Sun thoughtfully pointed out, this affair is really an indictment of Maryland’s wholesale gerrymandering. Allowing incumbents to draw their own re-election districts produces so many “safe districts” overwhelmingly favoring the incumbents that real competition is purposefully eliminated. So, instead of substantive opponents we get candidates like Ms. Rosen, political cannon fodder.
Wendy Rosen, 57, a Cockeysville resident, runs a public relations firm specializing in promoting American-made products. Ironically, her website says she “strives to create new markets for American-made products, protect their authenticity and prevent fraud …”
Apparently, Rosen figured that a no-chance congressional race would help promote her PR firm while never imagining that it might also unearth her voting fraud.
Aside from gerrymandering, Rosen-gate puts a spotlight on some other interesting aspects of Maryland politics.
First, what will happen to Wendy Rosen? Democratic Party chair Yvette Lewis says, “We believe that this is a clear violation of Maryland law.” But how will the state prosecutor and state courts see it?
Earlier this year Julius Henson, a political consultant, was convicted of conspiracy to withhold a political authority line from campaign robo-calls. What’s an authority line? It’s the disclosure, required by law, of who is sponsoring any kind of political ad, as in, “I’m Barack Obama and I approve this ad.”
Henson produced the infamous 2010 Bob Ehrlich robo-calls telling blacks not to bother voting. But the robo-calls lacked an authority line and for this, amazingly, Henson was sentenced to prison! Will Wendy Rosen, a Democrat, go to prison for voter fraud? Don’t bet on it.
Second, press treatment of L‘Affaire Rosen was a reminder that the media gatekeepers decide what we see, hear and think.
When the Rosen scandal broke on Monday, I couldn’t wait to read about it on the front page of Tuesday’s Washington Post. But it wasn’t there. OK, it must be on the Metro front page. Again, nothing.
How could The Post ignore a red-meat story about a politician caught voting in two states? It made The Baltimore Sun’s front page and The Frederick News-Post’s front page, too.
Finally, I found a small story buried in the lower corner of Page B-4. And what, in The Post’s opinion, outranked Rosen-gate for Maryland newsworthiness? A Page B-3 story, “Tots are stung by bees during fire drill.” No wonder people increasingly rely on the blogs for their political news.
Third, the Rosen scandal spotlights the Democrats’ fundamental contradiction regarding voter fraud. According to the Democrats, there isn’t any. If we can’t see it, then it must not exist. (Please note that Rosen’s voter fraud would have gone undetected forever if she hadn’t run for Congress.)
Because voter fraud supposedly doesn’t exist, Maryland has some of the nation’s most lax election laws — no voter I.D. (just give the election judge your name and address), early voting (let’s hope no one tampers with the vote count until Election Day), provisional voting (you can vote outside your home precinct) and no-excuse absentee voting (how Wendy Rosen cast multiple ballots?).
The Democrats believe that permissive election laws increase voter participation which, they say, is a good thing, especially if the additional voters are Democrats.
But, when it comes to voters petitioning an unpopular law to referendum, the Democrats change their tune. According to the Democrats, petition fraud is rampant in Maryland requiring harsh new restrictions on petition gathering.
Until recently, Maryland’s Democrats ignored referendum petitioning because the legal restrictions were already so strict that no bill had been successfully petitioned to referendum since 1992.
But in 2011, Internet petition signing, the greatest technological advance since the voting machine, enabled Republicans to petition three controversial laws — same-sex marriage, the Dream Act and gerrymandering — to the Nov. 6 ballot. That’s when the Democrats suddenly decided petition fraud was a problem.
And that’s why the Democrats have filed legislation and gone to court trying to block Internet petition signing. They claim it’s to protect us from fraud, but really it’s to protect themselves from us.
Blair Lee is CEO of the Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His column appears Fridays in The Gazette. His email address is email@example.com.