It’s a rarity, but this year the Maryland GOP primary may actually be important. In past years, primaries in this left-leaning state have either been lost in the Super Tuesday spectacle or held too late in the season to actually matter.
But because the 2012 primary has dragged on and there is still no definitive winner, Maryland Republicans have a chance to make their votes count.
The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board wrote that if the Republican candidates are serious about winning support among Maryland voters, they’d better be prepared to show it.
But let's cut to the chase: If Maryland Republicans are going to matter in this thing, then they certainly deserve some pandering. Iowans get umpteen thousand chances to dine with the candidates. New Hampshire voters get their grip-and-grin opportunities, too. It's time Mr. Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul shamelessly sucked up to the residents of this state.
Hey, we're not expecting the kind of Farm Bill goodies or no-tax pledges that those crucial first few primary states get. Just some basic song and dance by the candidates to demonstrate that they know a thing or two about Maryland and its traditions. Like Mr. Romney professing his love for grits in the Deep South, Mr. Gingrich envisioning a moon colony for Space Coast Floridians or Mr. Santorum telling Puerto Ricans why they ought to learn English (well, maybe something a little more respectful than that).
The Editorial Board gives the candidates tips on how to win Maryland voters over. That includes: Don’t say anything mean about the federal government workforce, since that’s a big chunk of the Maryland electorate; eat Southern Maryland stuffed ham with Eastern shore fried chicken, drink a cold glass of locally brewed beer or apple cider and top it off with Berger cookies; mention the War of 1812; and be aware of the dividing line between the D.C. and Baltimore suburbs.
Maryland has 37 delegates up for grabs in the April 3 primary. Early voting starts this Saturday.
Romney is expected to be in Maryland Wednesday afternoon, holding a town hall meeting at an American Legion post in Arbutus. According to the Post, he has no campaign office or paid staff in the state.
“I think Maryland has been lumped in as a Northeastern state, where Romney’s been stronger,” said Alex X. Mooney, chairman of the state Republican Party, though he noted that former senator Rick Santorum “is right next door in Pennsylvania.”
Romney, Mooney added, “had the organizational advantage carry over from four years ago.”
It doesn't seem that Santorum has any events scheduled in the state. The Post reports that Gingrich has plans to visit the state before the primary.
* Republican Senate hopeful George Allen’s campaign launched www.TooMuchAtThePump.com -- a gas price calculator which allows visitors to calculate just how much more they are paying for every fill-up of regular unleaded gasoline since President Obama was sworn into office.
Three years ago the average price of regular gasoline was $1.85/gallon; today it’s $3.87.
It is not noted in the press release, but during President George W. Bush’s presidency in 2008, gas prices were more than $4 a gallon.
“Tim Kaine may say there are ‘aspects about the gas price thing that makes (him) scratch (his) head,’ but it’s pretty clear to Virginians they are paying too much at the pump. In the three years since President Obama took office and Tim Kaine became his Democratic National Committee Chairman, gas prices have skyrocketed,” said Mike Thomas, George Allen for U.S. Senate Campaign Manager.
“Tim Kaine may say he’s for an ‘all of the above’ approach, but he has repeatedly tried to slow, delay and block access to more affordable energy. George Allen has a plan to unleash our American energy resources and reduce prices in the long-term. America can’t afford to sit back and scratch our heads as gasoline prices continue to surge. We need decisive leadership and the political will in Washington to take action.”
* The U.S. House today passed legislation that would protect Western Maryland landowners from potential harm from drilling for natural gas in shale deposits in mountainous Garrett and Allegany counties, according to The Baltimore Sun.
One of the bills would require the gas industry to fund the state’s study of the safety surrounding the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The legislation would require companies to pay $15 per acre on all new and existing drilling leases so the Maryland Department of the Environment can complete its safety study.
Another bill, according to the Sun, would assume drilling companies are responsible for any drinking water wells or streams and ponds within 2,500 feet of a well.
* Gov. Bob McDonnell sent a letter to legislators warning them of what could happen if they fail to pass a budget in a timely manner.
Virginia legislators will reconvene in a special session tomorrow after they failed to pass a budget during the regular session.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that in a letter dated Monday to House and Senate leadership and copied to all legislators, McDonnell criticized Democratic leadership who have said there is “recent historic precedent” for not reaching a budget by the end of the regular legislative session.
He gives examples, according to the Times-Dispatch, of areas that could be negatively impacted if the budget is not passed in a timely fashion.
If the state does not have a budget in place, the colleges and universities will have no knowledge of what to expect in the way of state funding when setting their tuition rates," he writes.
"The most likely scenario is either upward pressure on tuition rates to make up for the risk of not receiving needed state assistance, or a postponement of tuition bills resulting in uncertainty for students in what their tuition payments will ultimately be."