Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Somebody Got Somebody's Attention

The Democratic monopoly in Annapolis regards the state’s outgunned Republican Party and its ideological allies as little more than irritants and convenient scapegoats.

In the rare instance in which Democrats choose to respond to a volley from the other side, it tends to be of the dismissive variety, like a hand lazily swatting at a pesky insect.  

So, when the Democratic establishment actually chooses to engage its ideological foes in a substantive manner, it is a noteworthy development.

That’s what happened recently when the O’Malley Administration returned fire on an organization headed by a frequently mentioned possible 2014 candidate for governor.

ChangeMaryland, which bills itself as “the grassroots movement fighting to bring fiscal responsibility and common sense to Annapolis,” was founded and is chaired by Larry Hogan, a fellow veteran of the Ehrlich Administration.

The organization, which has over 14,000 followers on Facebook, is a burr in the saddle of the O’Malley Administration, frequently criticizing its policies in the areas of taxation, the budget, and the state’s job growth and retention efforts.

Recently, ChangeMaryland released a study in which it maintains that 31,000 high income citizens disaffected by Governor O’Malley’s tax and spend policies fled the state between 2007 and 2010, taking $1.7 billion in lost tax revenue with them.

Largely ignored by the Maryland press, the ChangeMaryland study did receive coverage in the Washington Times and by CNBC, whose story drew a coveted link on the Drudge Report.

That boomlet of national press attention resulted in this rebuttal, bylined by Governor O’Malley’s Director of Public Affairs Rick Abbruzzese and installed on the governor’s official state blog site.

Abbruzzese’s cites statistics contradicting the IRS data in the ChangeMaryland report. That’s fair game in politics, of course. If one side rolls out statistics, the other side typically responds by producing its own, more favorable numbers. It’s the phenomenon Bismarck was complaining about when he railed against, “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

But while the reliance on statistics was not surprising, the personal, partisan, and sometimes defensive tone of Abbruzzese’s rebuttal certainly was.

Abbruzzese dismisses Hogan as a “former Ehrlich appointee, failed congressional candidate and failed would-be candidate for Governor,” and ChangeMaryland as a “GOP-led, partisan organization.”

He then explains that the tax hikes passed in 2007 would have solved the state’s budgetary problem as promised, were it not for bogeymen Bob Ehrlich and George W. Bush and the latter's  alleged, "reckless spending and tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy.”

While I don’t always agree with the things Governor O’Malley does, I think he has some talented political operatives in his orbit – including Abbruzzese. However, statements like these belong more appropriately in a campaign press release than on a state web site.

Meanwhile, Larry Hogan pounced on the gubernatorial slam, writing on Facebook: “Many people are concerned that the Governor used a state website to make highly political, partisan and personal attacks against me and against Maryland's largest non-partisan, grass roots citizen organization. Apparently his rage at an NBC network story got him to act inappropriately. It is unfortunate.”

So, what’s going on here?

With Governor O’Malley’s focus turning to the national stage, his team probably felt that the attention the story had received from CNBC and Drudge obligated them to respond, lest the story of Maryland’s fleeing millionaires become a permanent part of O’Malley’s future campaign narrative.

But, the tone of the piece only blunted its effectiveness. People confronted with two contrary sets of facts will be unsure of which ones to believe. But ladling in the usual attacks only alienates people tired of the shrill, increasingly hostile nature of partisan politics. In effect, O’Malley stepped on his own desired message.

Further, attacks like these only serve to elevate the person being attacked, especially when the attacker is a senior officeholder. This episode reminds me of the incident in which President Lyndon Johnson criticized candidate Richard Nixon as a, “chronic campaigner,” to Nixon’s elation.

Larry Hogan is the only possible GOP candidate for governor in 2014 to have been attacked, indirectly, by the man whose presently has the job. If I were him, I’d be feeling a certain degree of elation, too.


  1. Get em Larry....O'Malley must go. Hes an Obama waterboy the likes of Biden.

  2. Larry, I hate to say it, But the mention of being on the Ehrlich Administration has dropped you down a notch. He's the reason OWE'Malley has served 2 terms, because Erlich is just as bad and just as crooked as OWE'Malley. The people of MD was sick of the Ehrlich Administration and thought OWE'Malley was the lesser of the 2 evils (It truly is a close call). So for future reference, keep yourself part from the Ehrlich Administration as much as possible.

  3. Bill, Larry already knows that.... but he can't change that he's associated w/ Bob in the public mind, and it will be his Achilles Heel in 2014.

    Rich, watching MOM run for president is going to be great fun-- Kark Rove had it right, though. The Dems aren't that stupid.

  4. ALL politicians are whores, it's a sad reality, some might call it the nature of the beast...but among them Marty is reigns supreme...

  5. Bill Wielenbeck, perhaps you should mind the words of Abraham Lincoln: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

    1. Is this why you remain "Anonymous"? To keep from looking a fool with your remarks? Just saying, associating himself with the likes of Ehrlich is'nt a good sign. Ehrlich/O'mally was a lose/lose situation when it came time to vote, Just about as bad as a Bush/Obama type situation... a realy bad to an extremely worse type situation
      I am all for what Larry is doing for Maryland as far as bringing attention to the nation of the likes of O'Malley and his failed tactics as a leader. Keep up the good work Larry!

  6. To be fair to Gov Ehrlich, Mike Miller and Mike Busch made sure that Erhlich was kept in check as opposed to the boy governor who has enjoyed overwhelming support from these 2 until just recently.

    The reason OWEMalley has been a 2 term governor is because of narrow minded and stupid people who drank the kool aid OWEMalley served up and voted for the boy governor.

    Me, I am voting with my feet. Maryland sure will look good in my rear view mirror. All you OWEMalley fans, you got what you wished for now stop crying about the tax, toll and fee increases and keep doing more with less. Me, I am giving myself a raise by moving to a neighboring state with lower taxes and fees.

  7. Bob Ehrlich was a good Governor but was saddled with having been out of power for forty years. Perfect no, but I am proud of my association with him and his administration. My only regret is you can't govern Maryland like it's Texas.

    Al Mendelsohn

  8. As one living VA I always feel MD get the leadership it deserves. Also one million dollars goes futher here in VA than it does in MD. Come on MD you got deep pockets and pay any and all tax increases! Remember you have bigger Boobs in MD (such as your Gov MOM).

  9. Martin O'Malley will be proclaimed, by Md. Democrat birthright, "King of New America & the New Americans"!