- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Candidates fired up at annual dinner
By MEGHAN RUSSELLStaff writer
Republican candidates running to represent Calvert County and Maryland at the federal level sang a common tune Thursday night — that they stand a chance to defeat Democratic incumbents in the November election.
Maryland House of Delegates Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s), who is challenging longtime incumbent U.S. House of Representatives Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th), and Dan Bongino, a decorated Secret Service agent from Severna Park running against Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), fired up party supporters at the Calvert County Republican Central Committee’s 2012 Lincoln Reagan Day dinner, held at the Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department.
O’Donnell called the race “very winnable.”
“People have been accustomed to seeing Steny Hoyer build this air of invincibility around himself,” he said. “The citizens are ready for a change. Their congressman has left them and they know it.”
Hoyer’s spending policies have to stop, O’Donnell said, or “there is no guarantee that we will be able to save this nation — this world actually — from slipping into 1,000 years of darkness.”
Soon, he said, the U.S. might not be able to afford the resources the military needs “to keep us free in the world.”
In addition to spending, Democrats are trying to force tax increases at both the state and federal levels, O’Donnell continued. Locally, the state is trying to force the county commissioners to raise taxes, he argued, to help fund teacher pensions and the federally mandated Watershed Implementation Plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
“Many people are on fixed incomes,” O’Donnell said. “When you’re on a fixed income and your real estate tax gets raised, it’s very, very damaging. ... It’s time we changed that downward spiral.”
In Calvert, which has traditionally had more Democrats than Republicans, there are now more registered Republican voters, said Frank McCabe, central committee chairman. Bongino’s Southern Maryland campaign coordinator Rich Romer added that 11 Maryland counties now have Republican majorities. With this trend in mind, he said, “He can beat Ben Cardin. It’s not gonna be easy, but there is a strategy,” which focuses on winning over independent voters, of which there are 6,000 in Calvert alone.
“This is not a blue state,” Bongino said, contrary to what has been widely believed.
Bongino said he spends a lot of time at metro stops feeling people out on their political leanings and found most people hold Republican views.
“Our ideas win every time, but where we lose is we lose sadly on the market,” he said. “It’s absurd, the marketing job they’ve done.”
Democrats, he said, often paint Republicans as anti-environmentalists who like “dirty water,” and politicians who favor “inequality” over “fairness.”
“They use it against us. ... We should be using it against them,” he said.
The U.S. Government has spent $5 trillion “we don’t have,” Bongino said. “Where’s the fairness component to that? Our children and grandchildren are going to be buried by this.”
Addressing Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) push for offshore wind, Bongino said, “You want windmills? Fine, you pay for them. ... Don’t ask [ratepayers] to pay another $30 on their electric bill.”
If elected, he said Maryland “is going to be a recipient of money for the first time, instead of donating money somewhere else.”
O’Donnell, along with Del. Mark Fisher (R-Calvert), also addressed state issues brought to light during the 2012 legislative session and more recent special session, like same-sex marriage, which passed but is likely to be placed on the November ballot by referendum.
Freedom of religion is “under assault,” O’Donnell said. “We’re not gonna allow our politicians to redefine institutions that weren’t defined by them in the first place, namely marriage” between a man and a woman.
Fisher said he was upset by how the special session ended, with tax increases on higher incomes.
“The folks that control Annapolis think that success is bad,” Fisher said, “taxing at a time when businesses are borrowing loans. ... It’s got to stop, and it’s got to stop right now.”
Local party stalwarts also received recognition at the event. This year’s Calvert Republican Woman of the Year was Judith Randall, a founding member and president of the Republican Women of Southern Calvert, and Cal Steuart, who resurrected the county’s Republican Men’s Club, the only men’s club for the party in Maryland, was chosen as Man of the Year.