Maryland 2014 Election Lessons, Part 2. Early and Absentee Voting

More Democrats in Maryland turned out in early voting than Republicans. I believe the early vote proves the superiority of the Democratic “ground game” in Maryland. Especially in close contests, Democratic candidates make a real effort to identify supporters and urge them to vote early or vote absentee. Think of it as “vote banking.”  Continue reading

Maryland League of Conservation Voters Endorsements Map

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters map of endorsed candidates is here. Easy to click on your own legislative district for endorsements.

Most of the Maryland General Assembly candidate endorsements are clustered in the Baltimore-Washington urban-suburban area.

The ONLY Eastern Shore GA candidate endorsed is Judy Davis, a Democrat running for the new open seat in District 38C (Ocean City, Ocean Pines, N. Worcester County and NE Wicomico County.)

I’m shore that Judy Davis would welcome campaign contributions from loyal Democrats and green voters. Her motto, “Teacher, Mother, Volunteer.”  (This message has not been authorized or approved by any candidate. Just sayn’)

Del. Norm Conway in District 38B has won environmental group endorsements in the past, but was not selected by the League of Conservation Voters this year.

And in other environmental news, the Green Party of Montgomery County has released a scorecard on how members of the Montgomery County Council voted, 2011-2014. You can see the scorecard here.

Marc Ehrlich is the only MoCo council member to earn a 100 percent rating from the Green Party. He’s followed by Nancy Navarro with 88 percent, and Phil Andrews and Roger Berliner both at 75 percent. And so on. Nancy Floreen earned the lowest rating from the Green Party, with 25 percent.

— John Hayden

St. Patrick’s Day Parades Launch 2014 Election Season In Maryland

Democrats have a good chance to gain seats on the Eastern Shore 

Question: Why do Democrats dominate Maryland elections?

Answer: Democrats have superior candidates.

Democrat Judy Davis (second from right) and supporters at St. Patrick's Day Parade in Ocean City. (John Hayden photo)

Democrat Judy Davis (second from right) and supporters at St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ocean City. (John Hayden photo)

St. Patrick’s Day parades mark the start of election year in Maryland — more so than ever this year — because primaries have been moved up to June. Three months from St. Pat’s Day to Election Day. Nearly every Maryland city and town had a parade this weekend, and nearly every serious candidate — both Democrats and Republicans — was marching (or sometimes riding in a convertible.) Let the record show that Saturday was a perfect, sunny day for a parade in Ocean City.

Democrats hold a solid majority in Maryland’s General Assembly. Republicans, as always, hope to improve their minority position. They might pick up a seat or two, but that’s about the limit. Democrats have better candidates nearly everywhere in Maryland.

A case in point is District 38, located in the far southeastern corner of the state, the Lower Eastern Shore (Worcester County, Somerset County, and part of Wicomico County). District 38 will likely have some of the closest and most hard-fought elections in Maryland this year. Let me explain.

Many people presume that the Lower Eastern Shore leans Republican, either slightly or severely. History and election results indicate otherwise.

Four years ago, Democrats gained a Senate seat on the Lower Shore when Jim Mathias, former mayor of Ocean City, defeated a Republican businessman. In 2014, Democrats have every reason to expect to hold the Senate seat AND pick up one or even two seats in the House of Delegates. But it’s hardly a foregone conclusion.

Neither party will have competitive legislative primaries in District 38. All the action — and it could be hot– will be in the November General Election. Both sides are already hard at work.

Democrat Judy Davis meeting the crowd at St. Patrick's Day Parade in Ocean City. (John Hayden photo)

Democrat Judy Davis meeting the crowd at St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ocean City. (John Hayden photo)

Did we mention superior Democratic candidates?

Sen. Jim Mathias has never lost an election. He’s been elected once to the House of Delegates and once to the State Senate. Before that, he was elected councilman and mayor repeatedly in Ocean City. Mathias faces a serious challenge from one-term Republican Del. Mike McDermott. It will be a hard-fought contest, but McDermott simply doesn’t match up well against Mathias in terms of experience, gravitas, or fund-raising ability. Mathias won a squeaker by 640 votes in 2010, and only after a recount. The 2014 results will likely be close, but not that close. I see Mathias winning by 3,000 to 5,000 votes.

Superior candidates for Delegate

After the 2010 Census, District 38 was divided into three single-member districts for House of Delegates. Republicans have two of the three delegates now, but they might be in trouble. In reverse order:

Judy Davis chatting with voters before the parade.

Judy Davis chatting with voters before the parade.

District 38CDemocrat Judy Davis (her brand:  Teacher, Mother, Volunteer) should cruise to victory against Democrat Mike Hindi in the June primary. Davis will probably be outspent in the General Election by her Republican opponent, Mary Beth Carozza, who has not lived on the Eastern Shore since she graduated from high school. District 38C includes northern Worcester County (Ocean City, Ocean Pines, West Ocean City, Bishopville), and the rural northeastern part of Wicomico County.

Ms. Carozza returned to the Shore last year specifically to run for the open delegate seat. Republican operatives from Washington, D.C. where Carozza had a career in Republican politics, are funding her campaign big time. But it will be hard to buy an election in this small-town, one-delegate district, where people know each other. Judy Davis has lived and taught school here for decades. Davis is a graduate of the Democratic Emerge Program, which prepares promising community leaders like Judy to run for public office. I think Democrats, seeing the opportunity to pick up a seat, will give her strong support.

District 38BDel. Norm Conway, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has no primary opposition and is nearly a lock for re-election in November against a Republican named Carl Anderton Jr.  Del. Conway is the only delegate from the entire Eastern Shore with any clout in Annapolis. His support in his Salisbury district is nearly unshakable. (See what we mean by superior Democratic candidates?)

District 38A — May lean by a hair to the Democrats. 38A includes all of Somerset County and the southern half of Worcester County, including Pocomoke City, Snow Hill and Berlin. In 2012, President Barack Obama won Somerset County by a handful of votes. The Democratic candidate, Percy J. Purnell Jr. is a definite threat to unseat one-term Republican Del. Charles James Otto. Otto is quite popular in the Somerset County part of District 38A. I give Otto a slight advantage in a close race in Somerset. But the election will be won or lost in the Worcester County part of the district. The outcome will depend on which party can turn out its voters in this sprawling rural subdistrict.

To recap: District 38 is currently represented by two Democrats and two Republicans. The two Democrats, Sen. Jim Mathias and Del. Norm Conway are likely winners in 2014. The other two delegate seats will be close races. I give the edge to Democrat Judy Davis in 38C and Republican Charles Otto in 38A, with Democrat Percy J. Purnell Jr. making a strong challenge and possibly edging Otto. A Democratic sweep in this district would be a painful loss for the minority Republicans.

— John Hayden

Sunday Photos: A House, Somewhere On The Eastern Shore

Nature reclaims a house by the side of the road, in the middle of a cornfield, somewhere on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

— John Hayden

Rightsizing Your House

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How much living space do I need?

This week, I discovered a new community of  small, bare-bones cottages here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and it got me thinking about how much space is enough.

A lot of folks are intrigued by the tiny house concept. These cottages probably don’t quite meet the standard for “tiny.” Most are one-bedroom, living room, bath, and galley kitchen. Some have two bedrooms. You can look here for more pictures and floor plans.  The rooms are SMALL, but the Web site doesn’t give dimensions.

I estimate the cottages have about as much space as a small,  one-bedroom garden apartment. No doubt, many people in Manhattan live in high-rise apartments smaller than this. And tiny “alley” rowhouses were once commonplace in Baltimore.

This is no-frills living, but I prefer to think of it as a simple lifestyle. You get a front door, a few small windows, a roof. A small closet, but none of the clever, built-in storage niches you find in custom-built tiny houses. You want amenities? The community has a laundry room with  six washers.

Neighbors on both sides. Togetherness. Community! You’ve got as much space as in a modest trailer park, or less. Looking down a row of cottages, I get a flash of a Depression-era work camp. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Not exactly the splendid privacy that many small-house advocates imagine. But I’ve always wondered if the concept of a 12 X 12 cabin on a remote mountainside isn’t contradictory. Elitist even. I mean, a tiny house with your own, private, national park? It is true that when you opt for simplicity, you may also find grandeur. Monks usually take vows of poverty, but sometimes live in impressive old monasteries.

No grandeur is included with the austere cottages pictured above. Don’t be misled because they’re near a beach resort. These cottages are clearly designed for workers, not tourists.

Rent is $600 a month for the one-bedroom models, plus utilities. A modern water and sewer system is paid for by the owners. Your cable TV bill looks like a BIG EXPENSE, in this scenario, especially if you also want Internet access. I’ve been spoiled by cable TV and Internet the past few years. Wonder if I could do without? Remember, we’re talking about simplicity and frugality. TV and Internet are not necessities, like food and water. Or are they?

I could still write on my computer, just not connected to the Net. When I need the Net, I’d go to the library, and use the fast, free WiFi.

I could listen to FM music or news over FREE airwaves. (Imagine that! Free radio. TV signals used to be free, too, but free TV was too good to last forever.)

Long story short, housing is adapting, if only a little, in response to the crash. Are people choosing a simpler lifestyle? Or in the new normal, do people have no alternative? Time will tell, but I doubt that cottages as small as the ones pictured here will become commonplace in America. Other countries, maybe.

For those who want to reduce their carbon footprint, a small cottage is a big step forward. I’m nagged by one reservation: Beware the fine, thin line between simplicity and poverty. Spacious suburban manses — the ideal goal for many Americans — are clearly not a necessity. Space is a nice luxury, if you can afford it.

But I wonder if tiny houses are more a novelty than a viable alternative? Most folks feel more at ease with a bit of elbow room. Space enough for two people to slow dance, at least. An extremely tiny house could be tough on the spirit, it seems to me.

I’m in favor of living space that is, as Goldilocks put it, “Just right.” It’s an individual thing. Or a matter of negotiation, for a couple. Between huge and tiny, a modest cottage might be a reasonable compromise.

— John Hayden

For photos of my own efficiency apartment, take a look here.

You can learn about the Tiny House Movement at  “How I Met My Tiny House Hero,” by Tammy Strobel.

Eastern Shore Blogging: On Coastal Connection, 88.3 FM, Friday (via Ocean City Blog)

Here at Dispatches from Consternation, I write about issues that have no geographical boundary: political and economic change, life after 60, and simple living.

But many blogs have a distinctly local or community focus, reporting on news or life in general in a specific hometown, sometimes even a neighborhood.

I also write one of those community-focused blogs, which I started in 2007 as Maryland On My Mind, and now call simply, Ocean City Blog. I’ll be talking on Friday, April 15, with a couple of other regional bloggers about blogging on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The interview on the local PBS show, Coastal Connection, hosted by Brian Russo, will air at noon and 8 p.m. Friday.

The discussion runs about 20 minutes, and provides a quick general introduction to the subject of community blogging. Details, including a link for Web listening, are in the post below. I hope you can listen in, and perhaps add your own comments below.

Eastern Shore Blogging: On Coastal Connection, 88.3 FM, Friday If youre interested in blogging, particularly blogging on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, youll want to catch Brian Russos Coastal Connection show on 88.3 FM, the NPR news and public affairs station in Ocean City.  The show is scheduled to air on Friday, Apr. 15, at noon and 8 p.m. Brian interviews three bloggers for a sort of round-table general introduction to the state of blogging on the Shore. I was happy to accept an invitation to particip … Read More

via Ocean City Blog