Question: When is a political endorsement not an endorsement? Answer: When the person announcing it has made it up completely.
Over the weekend, allegations of two different phantom endorsements were brought to my attention. The first involves Harford County Councilman Joe Woods, running for election in his own right to the Councilmanic District B seat.
On September 21, Woods announced on his website that Bob Ehrlich had endorsed his candidacy. This prompted a Harford County voter – “Abe Lincoln” – to contact Ehrlich’s Annapolis campaign office to check the veracity of Woods’ claim. “After a few minutes, the guy came back to the phone and said that he had just spoke with Craig (sic) Massoni who told him that the ‘GOVERNOR HAS NOT AND WILL NOT MAKE ANY ENDORSEMENT’ in the Council race,” Lincoln reported.
Lincoln confronted Woods with his findings in an email, and apparently bcc’ed most of the Harford County political universe. “I am disgusted with politicians who constantly lie and deceive the people that they are sworn to represent,” Lincoln opines. “Your slogan is Integrity, Dedication and Honesty. You might be dedicated to getting yourself elected, but you clearly have no integrity or honesty.”
It’s hard to say what’s really going on here. Woods’ website shows a picture of Ehrlich wearing a “Keep Joe Woods” sticker, and claims that Ehrlich endorsed him at a rally in Harford County. This, along with the fact that Ehrlich usually endorses GOP incumbents running for reelection in primaries – unless their name happens to be “Wayne Gilchrest” – seems to give credibility to Woods’ belief that Ehrlich endorsed him, at least informally.
If Greg Massoni’s denial is true, then it begs the question of why Ehrlich broke his longstanding policy and chose NOT to endorse this incumbent councilman, even after wearing a “Keep Joe Woods” sticker at a public event. If Ehrlich – a popular figure in Harford County - is not endorsing Woods, then maybe there are specific reasons behind his decision which should be communicated to voters in Councilmanic District B.
It sounds to me that the redoubtable Massoni may have answered a question without asking a few necessary questions of his own. Egos are fragile things, especially in politics, so when it comes to making and communicating endorsements, there’s no room to monkey around.
The other incident occurred this weekend in Baltimore County. On Friday, a mailing appeared claiming that congressional hopeful Dr. Andy Harris had endorsed Dr. Jack Gordon in the 42nd legislative district primary. On Saturday, a second mailing appeared, this one claiming that Bob Ehrlich had endorsed Gordon as well.
It is common knowledge to anyone involved in local politics that Harris and Ehrlich have both endorsed the 42nd district slate which includes Kevin Carney for state senator, and incumbents Sue Aumann and Bill Frank and candidate John Fiastro for delegate. Apparently a phone call has been placed to the state Attorney General’s office inquiring as to the legality of Gordon’s mailings.
Strange things can happen in the waning moments of a campaign. That does not make these kinds of shenanigans acceptable or appropriate. Before you vote tomorrow, make sure the candidates bombarding you with last minute mailings aren’t trying to pull a fast one on you.