Boy, is this going to be a weird campaign season.
We have entered the land of the odd and the wacky. Look at what’s taken place in just the past few weeks.
Timonium businesswoman Wendy Rosen certainly was creative in her brief fling as the Democrats’ 1st Congressional District nominee. She put a unique spin on the age-old drive to extend voting rights: Why not simply double-dip?
Rosen cast a ballot in past Maryland and then voted in Florida elections, too. Not once but four times. Old-fashioned political bosses would be jealous. As ward healers used to instruct their troops: “Vote early and often!”
Now Rosen must face the music. What she did was against the law. In two states. It's also a federal crime. In explaining this mess, the state Democratic Party couldn't get its facts right. Yes, it pressured Rosen into withdrawing, then called for her prosecution, but wrongly claimed a new nominee could be chosen and put on the ballot.
Nope. It’s too late. A follow-up, corrective PR statement had to be issued, and Democrats were left scrambling to find a write-in candidate to serve as the party's sacrificial lamb. That unlucky soul gets to take on incumbent GOP arch-conservative Andy Harris with little time, no money, no organization and Rosen’s name still on the ballot.
Harris, meanwhile, helped improve his image on Aug. 26 by playing Good Samaritan. He rendered emergency medical care along Route 50 near Easton to a 2-year-old boy who had stopped breathing. Harris didn't fake it, either: He’s a respected anesthesiologist.
Defending Emmett Burns
This Baltimore County delegate is an ordained minister and a leader of the effort to keep gays out of Maryland wedding chapels. When he learned Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo had voiced public support for same-sex marriage, the delegate-minister abused what little power he has as an elected official. He tried to silence his opponent.
Burns requested that Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti muzzle Ayanbadejo. How dare a football player “try to sway public opinion”? Burns said he and his supporters were “appalled and aghast.” Apparently only elected officials and ministers have the right to “sway public opinion.” The rest of us aren't allowed to try.
The head of the NFL Players Association called Burns’ muzzling request “asinine.” We're missing the point, though. Emmett Burns has a constitutional right — just like the rest of us — to speak out and make a fool of himself. In this case, Burns succeeded.
Who is this guy?
When I turned on the television this week, my wife kept asking me, “Who is that man in the political ad?” My question: “Why is he wasting his money on a futile race as an independent for the U.S. Senate?”
Rob Sabhani lives in Potomac. He’s a Reagan conservative with tough foreign policy views. He’s twice been a Republican candidate for office. He runs an international trade and lobbying group dealing primarily with Turkish and Azerbaijani matters. He’s close to the son of the ex-shah of Iran. He’s written a 181-page paean to the king of Saudi Arabia.
More important, he’s spent $700,000 for TV ads promoting his longer-than-long shot campaign for Senate.
His campaign pledges to prove convincingly that he should be running for governor. He says he can attract $3 billion in private investments for state roads and bridges. For Baltimore city, he’ll find $1 billion to fix up inner-city homes — without any tax dollars. He’ll bring in $500 million from “global non-profit organizations” for cancer research and treatment here, and another $150 million for scholarships for low-income students.
Is this guy a miracle worker or what? He promises $1 billion in new export business for “Maryland-based companies like Lockheed Martin, Black & Decker, Perdue and Constellation Energy.” (He failed to notice that Black & Decker and Constellation aren't Maryland-based anymore. They’ve been swallowed up by Connecticut and Illinois corporations, respectively.)
He favors a lower, 15 percent flat-rate income tax and a balanced federal budget. Making those goals mesh could defy the laws of mathematics.
How Sabhani hopes to win against a popular incumbent like Democrat Ben Cardin is a mystery. Yet this week, his political TV ads dominated the airwaves around the state. Now that's magic.
Scholarships and gas chambers
Only Roscoe Bartlett could tie government-funded college scholarships to the Holocaust. In doing so, the 6th District Republican congressman may have written his own obituary.
Bartlett says scholarship aid is unconstitutional. His reasoning goes like this: Since scholarships aren’t mentioned in our nation’s basic legal document, they must be unconstitutional.
How these government grants can be viewed as similar to Hitler’s government-ordered gas chamber exterminations is baffling. But then much of what the 86-year-old Bartlett comes up with defies rational explanation. He has given voters another reason to terminate his public service contract in November.
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I couldn't make this stuff up. Thank goodness, Ripley’s Believe It or Not now has a location in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. There should be a special room reserved for the weird and wondrous world of Maryland politics.
Barry Rascovar is a state political columnist and a communications consultant. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.