Friday, January 06, 2006

All local politics is...

Um, politics?

Wow, this one's off to a bad start.

Let's start over.

The political winds are blowing. Which way? Can't say.

The big and welcome news of the week is that we finally have someone to take over the seat that David Rakes will lose in the upcoming election.

Calvin Ball, a 30-year-old former Howard County firefighter recruit and Oakland Mills revitalization coordinator, is running for the east Columbia seat occupied now by fellow Democrat David A. Rakes.

Ball, who is to formally announce his County Council campaign Thursday, ran against Rakes for the same seat in 2002 but lost the Democratic primary with 31 percent of the vote to Rakes' 39 percent - a 350-vote margin. In heavily Democratic District 2, covering east Columbia and Jessup, the Democratic nominee has a 2-1 advantage in party registrations.

"I think I have an even better understanding of many of the issues," Ball said, basing that on his experience working in Oakland Mills and in the community. Ball worked for a time as an aide to Del. Neil F. Quinter, served on the Oakland Mills Village Board and is active in Democratic Party politics.

I don't know Ball, but I know of him. And from what I know, he sounds like a smart, hardworking guy who has gone out of his way to serve the community. One wonders what would be different if three and a half years ago 350 people hadn't been transfixed by the glow of District 2 David. Alas.

Anyway, back to Ball, who is--I'm guessing--the only candidate in the history of Howard County to have game named after him. So, he's got that going for him.

More to the point, he has the support of Guy Guzzone and local Democratic party vice chairman Tony McGuffin. And in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, having the support of the Democratic establishment is a pretty good indicator of his chances to win.

However, he may face another primary against Rakes, who apparently thinks the world is his oyster.

Rakes, 68, said this week that he has not determined his next move.

"I'm still looking at my options. I'll either run for the council or seek one of the delegate's seats. I have not decided," he said.

Well, this should be interesting.

Although this is the only "news" to come out this week, I've been busy trawling the local rags for things I may have missed or not paid enough attention to. My search inevitably took me to the Business Monthly, which just published its January edition.

Although the Monthly never really gets a chance to break news--generally, coming out once a month will do that to you--it makes up for this in its comprehensive approach to covering stories, most of which are business-related (boring!). However, the paper's political stories are also quite useful, as they actually devote space to discuss the stances of local politicians and candidates. For instance, here's a long story discussing the election in the fall and it's potential implications.

Meanwhile, here's a less big-picture story that gets into some background on various local candidates. Since it covers a lot of ground, here's are some cherry-picked excerpts with comments.
Charging that consumers are "being ripped off by rebate offers," Howard County Del. Neil Quinter is proposing legislation to require retailers who advertise an after-rebate price to give the consumer the benefit of the rebate at the register when the purchase is made.

"Rebates too often operate as a shell game, confusing consumers and leading them to buy a product at a higher price than they intended to," Quinter said. He made the announcement at a news conference outside the CompUSA store in Columbia, holding up an ad that included a $150 mail-in rebate from CompUSA.

"Why would CompUSA require the customer to mail in its own rebate for a product sold through its own store?" Quinter asked. "There is only one explanation: CompUSA is betting that many of its customers won't actually do this, or will do it incorrectly, and that these customers will wind up paying more to CompUSA than the bold-faced advertised price."

Neil, you're going to ruin it for everyone (well, for me at least). Cheap to a fault, I am as obsessive as one can be about comparison shopping and rebates. Because of the large number of folks who don't care about rebates, my persistence pays off. If it begins to cost more to offer rebates--which it will if Quinter's bill passes--companies will stop offering them and I'll stand to lose out. Not good. Now, if a customer meets the rebate requirements and a company doesn't pay, then I think it should be dragged through coals of immeasurable temperatures. But if laziness precludes a customer from getting their rightful rebate, well, sorry, but that's their problem.

Then, there's this.
Loretta Gaffney says she lost a bet with herself that forced her to change her lifelong party affiliation from Democrat to Republican a few years ago. Now she's gone even further and is running for the House of Delegates in District 13, currently represented by three incumbent Democrats seeking reelection.
The story goes on to say more about Gaffney, but never does it mention what the parameters of the bet were. One can only presume that changing parties was some sort of personal punishment.
"The Republican Party was organized at the time of its founding as an answer to the divided politics, political turmoil, arguments and internal division, particularly over slavery, that plagued the many existing parties in the United States at the time," Gaffney said. "The one-party system that exists in Maryland has inevitably led us to abuse of power, government excesses that resist reform and defy common sense. It is time for a change in the balance of power in the legislature."
Yes, the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, one of the greatest presidents and men our country has ever produced. But that is completely irrelevant to our current situation. Parties change, but their labels--at least over the last 150 years or so--don't. So what if the party was founded in response to political divisiveness? What have the Republicans of today (and the Democrats for that matter) done to mend our divided political landscape?

Wait, there's more...

How do you play of political Twister? Carefully.
"I think Guy Guzzone has done a fabulous job," [District 3 candidate Jennifer] Terrasa said. "There is nothing horribly wrong" in Howard County, "but things can always be done better."
Guzzone's thrown his support to Terrasa, who is currently the only Democratic candidate for his council seat. Not wanting to say bad things about him but still wanting to sound like she can do positive things for the county has put Terrasa in a tricky position, where statements like those above are inevitable. It's all about balance, I guess.
Among the issues important to her are growth and the business climate. "I definitely think that growth has to be done in a smart way," Terrasa said. "You need a certain level of growth to continue on. But I think it has to be done with great vision."
Another carefully worded response, but one that touches upon the albatrossian term "Smart Growth." Best to steer clear of that barrel of monkeys. It is unfortunate that everybody decided to trash Smart Growth--or maybe it's unfortunate that the term was coined as such in the first place. Clearly, smart growth is essential to managing the impacts of development. However, you can't say let's have smart growth because it will immediately bring comparisons to Smart Growth. What to do? Perhaps a new name. How about Intelligently Designed Growth? Whoops, looks like that one's taken, too.

And finally, USC Quarterback Matt Leinert has been taking cues from Courtney Watson, candidate for the county council. Here's Leinert after losing to Texas at the Rose Bowl.
"I still think we're a better football team. They just made the plays in the end."
And here's Watson after announcing that she'll run for the council and not county executive.
"The decision was about public service and not politics," Watson said. Two County Council members, Republican Chris Merdon and Democrat Ken Ulman, are running for executive. "I could have beaten them both," Watson said, adding, "A lot of people were disappointed" that she didn't run for the higher office.
You just have to love such gracious concessions. So, here's mine.
"I could beat down Instapundit in a one-on-one, steel-cage blog match, although since we can't find a cage or arrange a mutually agreeable time, you'll just have to imagine me kicking his ass."
Or something like that.


Dave Wissing said...

Wow, I completely missed that comment from Courtney Watson.

That District 5 race between Watson and Tony Salazar, who is officially announcing his candidacy on Sunday, will probably be the race to watch. The district is Democratic and Watson is well known from the school board, but the Republican Merdon did manage to get 66% in 2002 and Salazar does have some name recoginiton from his Congressional run in 2004.

And I had wondered aloud whether the Dems would actually challenge Rakes in the end. Apparently they have. Now you wonder whether Rakes will fight it out or will he ultimately decide to pass on running for re-election. If so, it would mean a completely brand new County Council in addition to a brand new County Executive.

Hayduke said...

Although District 1 will be a close, exciting race--it already has the most well-known candidates--I'm not sure it will be very important in the bigger scheme of things. That is, unless the Republicans put up a good fight in either 2, 3 or 4. And of those, I think the best chance they have is with Donna Thewes in 3, which is Democratic but is not afraid to elect Republicans (see Sandy Schrader).

I'd also bet on Rakes running again. At least, I hope he does. The man never disappoints a muse-less blogger.