Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Democrats, 2014, and "Gubernatorial Wars"

So it is time to check in on the 2014 gubernatorial race, specifically on the Democratic side.

In the past I blogged about two of the candidates who, in my opinion, are potentially best positioned to take advantage of what I think will be a change election cycle – Comptroller Peter Franchot and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. But this time I’m going to look at the entire Democratic field, and I’m going to do it a little differently.

I tend to be a big fan of TV shows that somehow involve the hunt for and sale of collectible items. You probably know these shows I’m taking about: Pawn Stars, American Pickers, American Restoration, Auction Kings, Auction Hunters.

(Of these, American Pickers is probably my favorite, probably due to the presence of tattooed hotness Danielle Colby Cushman. But I digress.)

Anyone, one of these shows – Storage Wars on the A& E Network – involves people competing for the contents of abandoned storage units in California. One of the gimmicks of the show is that the four main stars each have a shorthand brand name to distinguish them from the other characters.

For example, one of the bidders – a guy who bids based on his gut decisions – is called “The Gambler.” The man with an auction company who likes to push other bidders around with his wallet is “The Mogul.” The younger guy with the attractive wife/business partner is “The Young Gun.” And the older, wealthy guy who goes to storage auctions as a hobby is the “The Collector.”

Anyway, this got me thinking…looking at the four Democratic gubernatorial aspirants, and the pre-2014 positioning that is going on among them, I was wondering how best to characterize each one, and the role they will occupy on the 2014 political landscape, using the Storage Wars model.

Here is what I came up with.

Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, “The Establishment”

Brown’s candidacy represents a potential continuation of the O’Malley – Brown political regime. To date, Brown has done nothing to dissuade this emerging perception, as this invitation from an event last December hosted by Governor O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor StephanieRawlings-Blake illustrates. The list of highly recognizable names comprising the Host Committee reflects a cross-section of the Democratic establishment, and includes many consistent backers of Governor O’Malley.

Running with the establishment’s imprimatur carries benefits in terms of organization, fundraising, and building a sense of inevitability (Think Mitt Romney).

But it also brings liabilities, especially if O’Malley fatigue reigns in 2014. The price of Brown’s blessing by the establishment will be his having to defend a whole lot of unpopular decisions, some involving higher taxes, from which his opponents, with varying degrees of credibility, are able to distance themselves.

But Brown’s establishment cred goes beyond his O’Malley pedigree. The loyalty of black voters – presently 29 percent of the state’s population – constitutes one of the supporting pillars of Democratic rule in Maryland. Running as the perceived candidate of the state’s black establishment in a three or four way contested primary certainly could benefit Brown.

But, Brown’s race does not automatically guarantee that such a perception will necessarily coalesce around him. Black voters support white Democratic candidates in Maryland all the time. As Lieutenant Governor, Brown has largely been overshadowed by O’Malley and has not, as far as I can tell, begun to develop an independent public persona. In other words, it is very likely that black voters may perceive Brown as the “O’Malley candidate” before anything else. And there is a perception that Brown’s support in his native Prince George’s County may not be as solid as it likely needs to be.

Perhaps the most important fact of all to consider: no Lieutenant Governor has ever been elected governor. The three who tried – Blair Lee, Mickey Steinberg, and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend – all ran as establishment agents during change election cycles. In most places in America, it is hard for the same party to hold power for longer than eight years. In Maryland, that may not be true for Democrats, but it is true for the subgroup of personalities closely associated with a given administration. If history is any guide, Brown has the most daunting headwinds facing him.

Attorney General Doug Gansler, “The Progressive”

Gansler is an establishment figure, too. The big difference is that he represents the progressive ideological establishment from which Governors O’Malley and Glendening, and most Democratic members of Congress and the legislature have come, as opposed to the political establishment personified by Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown. Of course, there is ideological overlap between the camps, but Gansler was elected and unanimously reelected on his own. He has his own constituency, as well as the opportunity to craft his own public image.

Most of the time, it is safe, perhaps even smart politics in Maryland for upwardly-mobile progressives to align themselves with certain touchstone issues: marriage equality, environmentalism, healthcare, animal rights, and consumer protection. Based on a review of press releases issued from the Attorney General’s office, that is what Gansler has done. In addition to concentrating on and communicating activities important to progressives, Gansler has quietly raised money – an activity made easier by the MD GOP’s failure to recruit an opponent against him.

To me, Gansler’s strategy is one of classic self-positioning using the progressive playbook. Will it work in a change election cycle? I guess it all comes down to whether progressives are enthusiastic enough to go to the polls in 2014. Will they be if Obama is reelected and hits the traditional six-year slump many other presidents have? Will two years of a President Romney be enough to counter O’Malley fatigue? Will Gansler’s campaign money talk in 2014, or will it shout? Stay tuned.

Comptroller Peter Franchot, “The Dissenter”

Peter Franchot is an interesting case. An unapologetically progressive Takoma Park legislator, since becoming comptroller he has hugged the political center, emerging as Governor O’Malley’s resident foil in Annapolis on a number of issues, especially taxes.

I struggled with how to label him. The term “maverick” seems over-utilized these days, so I decided to go with “dissenter,” as it is often used to describe people who were part of a regime or institution before breaking from it.

As I have written before, the sheer brazenness of turning a bomb-throwing progressive legislator into a cautious, responsible executive intrigues me. Using history as a guidepost, the comptroller and his team have sensed the direction in which the state’s political winds are headed, and have wisely positioned themselves to catch the breeze.

So can Franchot pull this perception migration off? As far as I can tell, he already has. Indeed, any attempt to use his voting record against him would likely backfire – at least in the primary – because it would reassure skeptical progressives as to his core values.

Still, progressive voters drive the outcome of Democratic primaries in Maryland. So, looking at it from a mathematical perspective, I’m curious to see if Franchot can build the primary coalition he needs. That requires holding onto enough progressives while attracting the kinds of centrist to center-right Democrats to whom his message as comptroller has been focused.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, “TBD”

From my perspective, together Brown, Gansler, and Franchot add up to a pretty crowded Democratic primary field. But 2014 is a lifetime away in politics, so it is still possible for the well-regarded Ulman to find his niche on the gubernatorial landscape. What exactly that niche is, however, depends upon subsequent events.

I see two possibilities.

First, Ulman could position himself as “The Outsider.” After all, he’s young, suburban, a local official, and a good government guy. Democratic voters upset with Annapolis in a monolithic sense could find an acceptable alternative in someone who has never been part of that scene.

Still, I wonder if there is room for both “The Outsider” and “The Dissenter” in the 2014 Democratic contest.

Despite being part of the Annapolis world for decades, Franchot has emerged as its most prominent critic, as the widespread attention the media gave to his denunciation of the special session illustrates. Given the choice between two change agents, voters may opt for the one who already knows the ropes.

But that still leave Ulman another option: “The Alternative.” And, by that, I mean the establishment’s alternative to Anthony Brown.

Ulman has never shirked from his admiration for Governor O’Malley, with whom he shares a number of prominent supporters. Indeed, I know of one prominent lobbyist/former O’Malley aide who helped Ulman raise money.

Brown has a tenuous hold on the establishment crowd’s support, but it is up to him to sustain it. If he falters or questions about his viability arise, Ulman seems well-positioned to benefit.

Anyway, that is my take. I will take a closer look at the GOP side of the race in the next few weeks. Len Lazarick at Maryland Reporter did a piece recently which I think nicely summarizes where things stand as of now. Since that piece ran, another candidate has announced, and I heard about another – a well-known member of the Baltimore business community – who is allegedly drawing chatter. But I want to see how things shake out before handicapping my own peeps, so to speak.

In the meantime, the new season of Storage Wars starts next Tuesday. As for Gubernatorial Wars, you will have to wait a few years before knowing who wins that one. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why Republicans Should Be Angry at Pat McDonough

There’s one thing, and not much else, you have to know to understand Delegate Pat McDonough: He craves attention.

I realized this in 1995, when he called me – then the newly-minted Press Secretary to Congressman Bob Ehrlich – and gently scolded me for not including him on my press list for his impending “newspaper,” Maryland Citizen.

Shortly thereafter, he announced the birth of Maryland Citizen via a press release and interviews, though I never saw a single issue.

A year later, he launched a bid for the Third Congressional District seat held by then-Congressman Ben Cardin. The man McDonough dubbed “Tax and Spend Ben” creamed him, 67 – 33 percent.

In 2002, he managed to win election to a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates representing Baltimore and Harford counties. 

There he seems to have found his niche.

McDonough has no substance as a policymaker, legislator, or opinion-leader, but like many low grade talk radio hosts, he has a need and a knack for self-promotion. He serves this need by locating the sweet spot on issues sure to appeal to the political fringe.

Among the go-nowhere causes which he has championed: support for so-called “English First” legislation, opposition to a resolution calling upon Maryland to apologize for slavery, and a bill to keep an alleged exodus of Washington, D. C. rats from entering Maryland.

While none of his efforts achieved any real results, he usually wound up with his name in the paper – his real objective all along.  

When not in the legislature, this bewigged demagogue stirs the pot by waging phantom campaigns for higher offices and hosting a program on WCBM.

It was in this latter capacity that he generated his latest controversy.

McDonough issued a press release – the headline: "Black Youth Mobs Terrorize Baltimore on Holidays” – announcing plans to hold a news conference on the subject the very next day on WCBM.

“McDonough said his statement was prompted by several recent problems, including a St. Patrick's Day disturbance and a recent incident in which he and his wife witnessed a fight involving about 100 youths at Pratt and Calvert streets.”

For the record, I have lived in Baltimore City since 2004, and have never witnessed any such gang of roaming and rampaging black youths, much less felt threatened by one.

But reality wasn’t the point of McDonough’s stunt. Publicity was.  

In addition to significant local broadcast and print news coverage, McDonough’s rant got him a mention on Huffington Post, and a link to the Sun story turned up on The Drudge Report.

So, judging by the attention McDonough’s race-baiting rant generated, it was an apparent success. But, for Republicans, McDonough’s actions may have unintended consequences  he either did not understand or simply did not care about.

One of McDonough’s longtime signature issues will help drive Maryland’s 2012 elections: immigration.

A measure to overturn the law passed in 2011 allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at state community colleges will be on the ballot.

As I blogged previously, I oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants for several reasons.

First, it asks state taxpayers to pay for another entitlement as they choke down a new round of tax increases even as the state’s economic recovery sputters. Second, it sets the stage for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants at every Maryland public college and university, the original intention of the bill’s supporters.  Third, by handing out benefits reserved for citizens, it undermines traditional notions of citizenship.

I’m definitely not of the “round them up and deport them” mindset. In fact, I’d like to see the federal government establish a clear path which enables non-citizens already here to earn citizenship and become taxpaying citizens. But the federal government needs to act definitively before politicians start using taxpayer resources to build goodwill with an increasingly important voting bloc.

Interestingly, while McDonough has long positioned himself as the premier anti-immigrant agitator in the legislature, other legislators – primarily Delegate Neil Parrott – nudged him aside as they worked to put the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants law on the ballot. In essence, they recognized him for what he was – a liability – and marginalized his role in the process.

That is, until McDonough reasserted himself.

Now, supporters of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants have, in Pat McDonough, a powerful asset: A right wing, race-baiting, demagogic delegate with a seeming vocal hatred of all people of color, including immigrants.  

Supporters of the in-state tuition proposal needed a bogeyman to advance their cause, and Pat McDonough just offered himself up to them.

People who had never heard of McDonough will remember his “Black Youth Mobs” comment. And if they don’t, supporters of the law passed by the legislation can be expected to remind them of it, and of his past nativist comments on the topic of immigration.

Polls have shown black voters split over the in-state tuition ballot initiative. Putting Pat McDonough’s Archie Bunkeresque face on it – positioning him as some latter-day George Wallace – could help sway some undecided minds.  

In my view, McDonough was merely foraging for relevance by applying the Howard Stern rule: Say the outrageous thing that no one else wants to say, and people will always listen.

But words have consequences, even when uttered by cranks.

State Republicans should aggressively condemn McDonough’s actions as well as his words.

But they should not do this not just because McDonough’s behavior is potentially politically damaging.

They should do it because the behavior is wrong. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thoughts on the "Other" Robocall Trial...

So, last week, the other robocall trial ended with the conviction of Julius Henson.

It is noteworthy that Henson’s co-defendant was convicted of all the standing charges against him (one had been tossed out by the judge), whereas Henson was convicted of one conspiracy charge yet acquitted of the other three counts. I could speculate as to the reasons for this, but I never claimed to be an expert on why juries do what they do.

As I have largely moved on from certain matters in my political past, I honestly didn’t follow this trial as closely as I did the last one.  I wasn't even planning on blogging it, until I heard a story on WBAL Radio refer to Henson as a “Republican political consultant.”

Let me make this point again, people: Both Henson and his convicted cohort were hired gun, Democratic political operatives working for a GOP campaign.

The blame for their hiring, and their subsequent misdeeds, does not rest with “Republicans” generally, but solely with the misguided individuals who hired them - especially in the case of Henson, hired by the Bob Ehrlich campaign despite famously calling its candidate a "Nazi" in 2002 only to be swiftly, correctly fired by the Kathleen Kennedy Townsend campaign as a result. 

Put the blame where it belongs. That is the only message I’d like to leave with you. And, that is the only reason I’m blogging about this robocall matter again.

And, I could not pass up the opportunity to play this song one more time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Energy in the Minority Party

In Federalist Paper # 70, Alexander Hamilton famously argued on behalf of “energy” being an indispensable quality of a successful chief executive:

“Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks: It is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws, to the protection of property against those irregular and high handed combinations, which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice, to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction and of anarchy.”

But energy is an important and necessary quality to have across the political system. Recently, I thought about Hamilton’s words as I contemplated some of the leaders who have emerged as new forces within Maryland’s minority party.

Nicolee Ambrose’s defeat of Audrey Scott in the National Committeewoman’s race is, it could be argued, evidence of a larger trend happening across state Republicans’ ranks. In 2010, even as establishmentarian Bob Ehrlich went down to defeat, the party picked up 47 new officeholders, primary at the local level of government.

Many of these people are new to politics. And, virtually all of them won due to their own efforts, and are therefore not beholden to the individuals who have populated the party’s ranks for decades.

In other words, they are not content to sit and wait until someone else in the party has decided that their time has come.

And, most importantly, many of the newcomers have hit the ground running, and are making their presence known through by contributing their hard work, innovation, and – yes – new energy to the party.

Let me give you four examples of GOP leaders bringing new energy to the state's minority party:

Hillary Foster Pennington:  Pennington is a commodity too often lacking in the party: A young mom with young kids who decided to make the time for politics. So, she ran for and was elected to the Baltimore County Central Committee. From there she became active in several campaigns and as a legislative staffer in Annapolis. In between all of that, this marketing professional started a new business venture – Purple Elephant Politics – and began hosting a weekly Internet radio show which is now a must listen to, or must appear on, affair for GOP politicos. When it comes to GOP politics, Pennington was nowhere and is now seemingly everywhere. Her experience is one I would like to see repeated.

Delegate Neil Parrott:  Republicans in Annapolis are outgunned when it comes to legislation. The only potential tool available to them – the power of the referendum to put questionable laws in front of voters – has not been used since 1992. Freshman Delegate Neil Parrott changed all that. Through MD Petitions, Parrott simplified the signature gathering process for petitions. Because of his efforts, and the efforts of volunteers, now one and likely two referenda items will appear on the ballot in 2012. In essence, he took a moribund process and made it a real tool with which the minority can combat the excesses of the state’s ruling Democratic establishment. In the process, he empowered all Maryland citizens to play a more active role in state government.

Delegate Mike Smigiel: Delegate Smigiel has been a member of the legislature since 2003, but it took the power of social media to acquaint me with his activities.  During the 2012 legislative session, he emerged as one of the most effective agents of pushback against Democratic efforts to increase taxes. Very often, GOP legislators in Annapolis speak with discordant voices, thereby diluting their collective message. But, I noticed that Delegate Smigel emerged as a frequently-quoted legislator. I attribute this to his regular blogging, as well as the fact that he is good at delivering cogent messages. Delegate Smigiel also assumed personal responsibility for assuring a good turnout at Monday’s planned anti-tax rally in Lawyers’ Mall. Clearly he is not a guy who stands around waiting for others to step up. This dive-in mentality is refreshing.

Dan Bongino: I blogged about Bongino before, specifically why I felt he was the best candidate to oppose Senator Ben Cardin in November. Barring some major seismic event on the state’s political landscape, I am still not convinced it is possible for any GOP candidate to win a statewide election in Maryland. What I like about Bongino, however, is he lacks the confining past experiences that have driven some political observers – this one included – towards such cynical, automatic conclusions. He decided to run because he had something to say. There is something Capraesque about that. In the process, he has emerged as one of the more exciting candidates for statewide office the party has had in a while.

I hope each of these exciting newcomers remains active. And, I hope other newcomers are inspired to join their ranks. Based on what we see coming out of Annapolis these days, it has never been more important for the state’s minority party to function. Let’s hope new energy translates into increased functionality. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Robert Caro's LBJ Book: Did I Read What I Think I Did?

So, a change in blogging topics is in order.

I have spent much of the weekend reading the latest volume of Robert Caro’s ongoing biography series about LBJ.

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power starts with the 1960 presidential campaign, covers Johnson's unhappy vice presidency, and concludes with the seven weeks immediately following LBJ’s succession to power. It is the fourth volume in a planned five volume series.

LBJ not being one of my favorite presidents, I resisted reading the lengthy Caro books for a long time, even though I’d picked up two of them at book sales. Once I picked up the first volume, however, I ploughed through it and the two succeeding entries in very short order. I have never experienced a biographer with a better understanding of his subject than Caro has.

I’m about halfway through this latest tome. It’s a good read, even though I have already read quite a bit about the Kennedy presidency, making some of the material redundant from my perspective. And, I noticed that Caro relies on secondary sources more than he seemingly did in prior volumes.

That may explain the reason for the factual error I found.

On page 281 of the book, Caro related an incident in which disgraced former LBJ senatorial staffer and fixer Bobby Baker visits the former president at the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall, Texas. He pins the date of the visit as October 1973. 

Below is a copy of the paragraph in question.

The first time I ever saw a “Special Report” on television, I was six years old. The event in question was the death of former President Johnson at the age of 64. The date: January 22, 1973.

In the end notes, Caro cites Baker’s own book as the source for the incident, so it seems that the error originated with Baker and was repeated by Caro or his researcher. Still, it seems like a surprising thing for a master biographer and the reigning expert on all things LBJ to let slip by.

This probably says less about Caro than the extent to which I am a presidential history geek. Anyway, I hope to finish the book over the next week, and to share my additional thoughts about it when I am done.   

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Two Myths About the National Committeewoman's Race

So, I thought I'd run out of things to say about the National Committeewoman’s race.

But reading news coverage of the race during the past week, I have noticed that two myths seem to have emerged.

Myth #1: The Ambrose – Scott race was an ideological content pitting “tea party” activists against “moderates.”

Myth #2: Audrey Scott lost because of a backlash against Bob Ehrlich.

Let me debunk the second myth first.

The Ehrlich angle was first mentioned in the Baltimore Sun’s coverage of Ambrose’s win:

In some ways, the contest shaped up as a showdown between Ehrlich loyalists and other Republicans — including some tea party activists — who are eager to move the party out of the shadow of the former governor, who led the GOP to defeat in the last two statewide elections.”

The same basic argument resurfaced in the Gazette story which appeared on May 4th, where Maryland Democratic Party spokesman Matthew Verghese is quoted as saying:

What you saw [at the state convention] was a backlash against Bob Ehrlich and any kind of moderation in the Republican Party,”

Now, anyone who reads this blog knows that I have not been shy about pointing out the foibles of the former governor and some of his aides.

And, while an anti-Ehrlich backlash might have cost his 2010 running mate Mary Kane the party chairmanship that year, I saw no evidence of it this time.

Ehrlich was invisible throughout the race, endorsing neither candidate.  Other than brief, occasional mention of him being a beneficiary of the Rule 11 waiver, his name barely surfaced.

Further, his most recognizable surrogates were nowhere to be seen in Solomons. Nor did I hear of them, or anyone close to the former governor, actively whipping or trying to drum up support for Mrs. Scott.

Lastly, the four years Mrs. Scott served as Secretary of Planning in the Ehrlich Administration comprised only a small part of a political career spanning 40 years.  Every indication is that questions about her chairmanship and subsequent activities, rather than her ties to Ehrlich,  damaged her campaign.

As for the first myth, a March 23, 2012 article in the Gazette quotes another Democratic activist, Matthew Crenson:

“In some ways, the fight between the two sides is similar to the struggle going on in the Republican Party at a national level, said political science professor emeritus Matthew Crenson. ‘It’s a fight between the tea party wing of the Republicans and the rest of the Republicans — only in miniature,' Crenson said.’”

Now, there have been high profile, ideologically-charged races across the country in which little known tea party activists have knocked off established political figures. The 2010 race in Delaware between Christine O’Donnell and former Governor and then-incumbent at-large Congressman Mike Castle is perhaps the marquee example.

I get why partisan Democrats like Verghese and Crenson would try to score political points by attributing every intraparty contest in the GOP to similar divisive forces. But the facts in the Ambrose-Scott race simply do not support this scenario.

During the National Committeewoman’s race, the following issues received attention at different times:
  • The Rule 11 controversy.
  • The party’s failure to field an Attorney General candidate in 2010.
  • The desirability of open primaries.
  • Mrs. Scott’s fundraising results as party chairman.
  • Mrs. Scott’s appearance at the gas tax rally.
  • Mrs. Scott’s work to defeat Congressman Roscoe Bartlett in the primary.
The first four issues pertained to intramural party process controversies, and do not in and of themselves point to any serious ideological schism.

Regarding the rally, Mrs. Scott insisted she attended the rally to boost Republican legislation to restore the integrity of the Transportation Trust Fund and not to support a gas tax hike. If this is true, this speaks to Mrs. Scott’s poor judgment and not her ideology.

Regarding Bartlett, Mrs. Scott initially touted his alleged unelectability as her reasons for supporting one of the congressman’s primary opponents who - incidentally - had hired the campaign management firm run by her son Lawrence, and then made contradictory comments about Bartlett’s voting record. This smacks of self-interest laced with political opportunism more than anything else.

Some of the news coverage of the race has framed the contest as between the party establishment versus an insurgency. I believe this statement is accurate, but if only taken in the proper context.

Audrey Scott and Nicolee Ambrose climbed the political ladder in two different ways. Mrs. Scott leveraged traditional party organizations in Maryland – such as the central committee and the Maryland Federation of Republican Women. While heavily active in MD GOP politics as a volunteer, fundraiser, and grassroots activist, the Young Republican National Federation was Ambrose’s vehicle of ascent up the party’s ranks.

So when Ambrose challenged Scott, a product of the cliquish Republican power structure in Maryland, her contrasting national background effectively gave her outsider status. But in the end, this was a contest between two mainstream party veterans.

In the end, Ambrose won because the race became a referendum on Mrs. Scott’s chairmanship and post-chairmanship activities. She built a broad change coalition consisting of several diverse elements. And, she articulated a vision for the future.

It really is that simple. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fallout, Ripped Signs and Life Lessons

My first political gig when I interned for then-Rep. Helen Delich Bentley during college. I must admit…working for a member of Congress at a young age felt like a heady experience at the time. Being immature, a bit arrogant, and – well – 19, my behavior probably felt short of my surroundings at times.

As I look back on the reckless things I did that crazy summer – carousing with my fellow interns and staffers, even feeding the office gossip mill by romancing the congresswoman’s comely blonde scheduler – sometimes I cringe a bit.

So, when I look at the recent questionable antics of one Dave Myers, I’m not unsympathetic.

Twentysomething Dave Myers is Vice Chairman of the Howard County GOP Central Committee, as well as Communications Director for the Senate Republican Caucus in Annapolis. Until recently, he was among the most sycophantic backers of defeated National Committeewoman candidate Audrey Scott.

Sources tell me he was the person responsible for maintaining Scott’s alleged endorsements list – the one which included the names of many people who ultimately voted or publicly declared their support for Scott’s opponent, Nicolee Ambrose. Also, Myers organized an email sent to central committee members in which he and other younger activists tried to position the 76-year-old Scott as the pro-youth candidate.

Of course, Myers was as free to advocate for his candidate as I was for mine. Nonetheless, some of his alleged behavior at the convention in Solomons last weekend apparently crossed the line.

When I arrived at the convention last Saturday, people were buzzing about an alleged incident in which Myers and two other younger activists tore down Ambrose’s campaign signs and pitched them into a stairwell. In a follow-up incident, Myers approached another young activist who happened to be backing Ambrose and tore the lapel sticker off his jacket.

These incidents have both already been reported by Joe Steffen and Maryland GOP Insider. Not yet reported, however, is the fact that Myers is now said to be in deep doo-doo because of them.

Apparently Myers’ bosses in Annapolis called him onto the carpet for his alleged misbehavior. And, I’m told that, like a frightened kid sitting in the mercy seat in the principal’s office, Myers has denied everything.

The only problem with Myers’ denial: He and his accomplices were seen by multiple witnesses.

With respect to the sign incident, I personally spoke with one of the witnesses, a vendor at the convention, who confirmed it occurred. Indeed, this individual even contemplated filing a police report but ultimately, graciously decided not to do so.

With respect to the lapel sticker incident, I spoke with the victim, who also verified it occurred.

For the record, I don’t know Myers other than through a stint as Facebook friends. I’ve only personally laid eyes on him once. He was in the parking lot of the convention venue last weekend, angrily pacing and gabbing on the cellphone immediately after his candidate was defeated.

Myers' zeal clearly eclipses his judgment, so his misdeeds can perhaps ultimately be written off as a function of immaturity.

Still, regardless of age, your actions always have consequences.

If Myers did vandalize Ambrose’s signs – and I believe the evidence is compelling – he should own up to it. He should also apologize to Ambrose, and to the individual whose lapel sticker he ripped off, personally.

Everybody screws up, but only people of character admit to their mistakes. How Myers handles this will determine what, if any, future he has in Maryland GOP politics.