Monday, June 30, 2014

"The Most Incompentent Man in Maryland"

I am very impressed with this latest gem from the Hogan campaign. I seriously think he can ride this theme into a General Election victory. Note to Brown supporters: "Stay uniformed my friends."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Assessment of the Numbers

I will just say it; Election Day sucks for a candidate. The polls stay open for 13 hours and then it often takes another two hours beyond that to compile the results. Instead of lining up people to cover approximately forty polling locations, I relied on refreshing the State Board of Elections website on Tuesday evening. In theory, it should only take a few minutes to upload the computerized data. For whatever reason, modern technology seems slower than the days of hand counting each ballot.

As the results poured in, I noticed a pattern; I lingered between 4th and 5th place the entire night. At the time, I had no way of knowing what precincts had already reported their data online. By midnight, I only knew that I trailed Michael Peroutka and Chris Casey by about 250 and 70 votes respectively. Meanwhile, Faith Loudon and Nathan Volke won the first two seats by a wide margin. I conceded to my opponents Wednesday morning.

Thursday, the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections website uploaded the tallies from the individual voting precincts. Technically, we have forty-four precincts in District 31, although some locations contain two separate ones. When I looked at the information, a few things stood out to me. For example, at Brooklyn Park Elementary and Brooklyn Park Middle, I received more votes than any of my opponents. Likewise, I finished second at Brooklyn Park Library, Fort Smallwood Elementary in addition to one of the Riviera Beach Elementary School precincts. Finally, I placed third at Belle Grove Elementary, Chesapeake High School as well as Emmanuel Lutheran and the VFW in Pasadena.

Clearly, I did well in the Brooklyn Park area. I concentrated a great deal of effort door knocking in this area. True, I already knew some people in that live in these Northern suburbs. In fairness though, the overwhelming majority affiliate with Democratic Party and thus couldn’t vote for me. I am especially proud about my showing at Fort Smallwood Elementary and the Pasadena VFW. I vote at the former, but many of my neighbors go to the latter. Either way, it shows my neighbors cared about and believed in me enough to give their support. As for Riviera Beach Elementary, I worked that area pretty hard through door knocking, literature drops and a mailer.

As mentioned, I notched third place finishes at Chesapeake High School and Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Pasadena. Many of my stanch supporters live near the high school and I know they worked valiantly to spread the word to their families, friends and neighbors. That’s grassroots politics in miniature. Finally, I spent last Sunday placing business cards on mailboxes of homes on Rock Hill Rd, Valley Rd and Meadow View Rd in Pasadena. Incidentally, one guy on Meadow View Rd starting to bang on his window as I walked up his driveway. I could literally see the veins in his neck pulsating as he demanded me to get away from his property. For some reason, I doubt he knew my identity. Wouldn’t it have been something if he picked my name at random on Election Day? Oh, if he/we only knew.

As for familiarity, I spent time knocking on every voting Republican door in the Fox Chase area, off Hospital Drive. District 31 took over that area from District 32 in the latest round of redistricting. I felt I got positive response from the neighbors, minus the one guy that tried to slap literature out of my hand as he declared I had no business soliciting in the area. Maybe so or maybe no, but that certainly didn’t warrant an assault on his end. Of course, I just smile and move away from jerks. Bottom line, I will not let them deter me from going to the next door. These residents vote at Grace of God Fellowship. In turn, they awarded me with a third place finish in that precinct.

Admittedly, I am very upset with my showing at Marley Middle School and North County Library. I knocked heavily in both areas and took away positive vibes. Nonetheless, I finished 6th and 7th respectively. Now, I won’t declare the visits to Sun Valley and Harundale a waste of my time. After all, I met some great people in those neighborhoods. Over the next couple of months, I will try to rationalize an explanation.

All told, this gave me some insight into how I might refocus my efforts in the slim chance I run for another office. I will continue to discuss the same in subsequent posts.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Republican Unity

A few weeks ago, I vowed to attend the Republican unity event regardless of the results in my race. Certainly, I think it's important to mend fences and stand together. Otherwise, it gives the Democrats more opportunity to expand their stronghold on this state. I have spent the last fifteen years working in public safety. Thus, I can sense tension in a room. For the most part, people said and did the right things. By and large though, it's obvious that many people in that room simply don't like one another. In fact, one minor skirmish almost took place between a Delegate's husband against another incumbent Delegate.

State Republican Chairwoman Diana Waterman and Delegate Nic Kipke tried to fire up the crowd. Meanwhile many folks, including Larry Hogan, kept carrying on loud conversations in the back of the room. Long short, I sensed no real energy in the Columbian Center tonight. In fairness though, the introduction of Laura Neuman and her embrace of Steve Schuh drew a thunderous standing ovation. Beyond that, I didn't get the vibes I hoped to get out of this event.

In the interest of full disclosure, I voted for David Craig in the Republican primary. I now stand firmly behind Larry Hogan. I even took a "Change Maryland" bumper sticker for my car. Keep in mind, I am not one that plasters my car with political propaganda. Still, I think electing Anthony Brown as Governor would prove disastrous for this state. After eight years of Martin O'Malley and his incessant tax/fee hikes, I imagine a lot of Marylanders would consider an alternative. To this day, Brown has remained an unapologetic shill for his boss and their costly tenure.

Judging by the enthusiasm, or lack thereof, in the room tonight, Larry Hogan faces virtually impossible odds. After all, if he cannot electrify a crowd of Republicans, how in the world will he spread positive momentum in the direction of unaffiliated and conservative Democratic voters? I want to change Maryland, but I am not convinced my fellow Republicans share the same thought.

My Journey into Politics

Are you okay? How are you feeling? As one might expect, I have heard those questions a lot over the last day and a half. Generally speaking, I have kept the answer consistent; I have no regrets and my previous opponents have my full support. In other words, I am not upset that I lost this race. It's my hope that people will understand my peaceful mindset after reading my experiences in world of local politics.

Back in April 2006, Senator Phil Jimeno announced that he would retire from the Maryland State Senate. Though Phil would have likely cruised to another term in November of that year, he decided that he wanted to spend more time with his family. As I would later learn, political life separates a candidate from their loved ones. Brian Simonaire, the front-runner and eventual Republican nominee, immediately took over as the favorite to win in a district that shifted decidedly right over the previous decade. I got to meet Brian a couple times since I volunteered on Nic Kipke's campaign. Meanwhile, my father Walt Shandrowsky, asked my thoughts on a possible run for Senate. For those that know, my father won a seat on the House of Delegates back in 1978. In the next election cycle, he chose to challenge the Democratic incumbent. He narrowly lost that contest but went on to have a very successful career in the private sector. I knew my dad would face an uphill challenge against someone who had already campaigned about three years in a Republican-leaning district. Still, I believed in my father. I encouraged him to get in the race. I then made the decision to switch from Republican to Democrat because he faced a contested primary.

On September 12, 2006, my father's 58th birthday, I showed up to vote at Ft Smallwood Elementary. Turns out, the computer still showed me as a Republican. Apparently, the local Board of Elections never processed my change of affiliation. Undeterred, I cast my ballot as I have in every election since I registered to vote in 1995. Over the next couple of months, I worked hard to help elect my father. On Election Night 2006, my dad held a 198 vote lead over Brian Simonaire. I knew that would not hold up after the absentee count. During that cycle, then-Governor Bob Ehrlich convinced many Republicans to vote absentee because of some wild conspiracy over the reliability of voting machines. In the end, my dad lost by 600 votes. I took the loss hard. Incidentally, a new voters card reflecting my change from Republican to Democrat arrived in the mail that January. I tossed it aside and gave it little thought at the time. In 2008, I voted in the contentious primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. No doubt, that stands out as the most competitive presidential primary of this generation.

In 2009, my dad let me know that Charlie Parks would likely run as a Democrat for the council seat in District 3. By now, Republicans built a stronghold in Pasadena. Nonetheless, Charlie has deep roots in this community. He retired from Anne Arundel County Fire Department. During his tenure, he ascended up the ranks from Fire Fighter to eventually Deputy Fire Chief. In the absence of Fire Chief, Charlie represented Anne Arundel County Fire in our local command center on September 11, 2001. Charlie also spent time coaching girls soccer at both Chesapeake and Northeast High. In the interest of full disclosure, I consider Charlie a member of my family. Technically, we share no blood, but we've known each other forever. Charlie is a great guy period. Without hesitation or apology, I supported him as well. Because of the registration numbers though, Charlie lost to Derek Fink.

In December 2012, I went to the Annapolis MVA and renewed my driver's license. The attendant asked me about updating my voter registration. By now, I wanted out of the Democratic Party. Really, I share very little in common with them. I am for smaller government. I am a member of the National Rifle Association. Likewise, I despise my taxes getting raised without a direct benefit. At the same time, I couldn't stand the blatant hypocrisy of our elected Republicans. They bemoan taxes and government spending, yet even the local GOP establishment expensed hotel rooms, meals and mileage at taxpayer expense. Moreover, they voted against state budgets and then took credit for the money from it that got allocated to their respective districts. Think about it; they went on the record and opposed that money yet cheered it when others took the bullet gave it to them anyway. Sorry, such actions are disingenuous at best. There are other issues I chose not to talk about publicly, but I will say it doesn't reflect well on the character or values of certain local Republicans. Long short, I told the lady to mark me as unaffiliated.

Have I bored you yet? If not, fast forward to February of 2014. As a political junkie, I refresh the Maryland Board of Elections website several times daily in advance of the February 25th filing deadline. As races filled up, I noticed couple remaining empty: namely Democratic and Republican Central Committee. I started wondering if I should get involved and put my energy into making some political changes. Now, I never seriously considered the Democratic Central Committee. Bottom line, I disagree with their philosophy. And while I am not enthusiastic
about our Republican establishment, I am more ideologically compatible with them. If this were about getting elected to something, I would have opted for the Democratic Central Committee. Between my family name and familiarity with a lot of the voters, I knew I could likely pull off a victory.

I became the first 2014 candidate for District 31 Republican Central Committee. On the night of the filing deadline, current Central Committee member Nathan Volke and I enjoyed dinner and a drink together at Texas Roadhouse on Mountain Road. We refreshed our phones every five minutes leading up to the 9pm filing deadline. For the record, Nathan and I were not working in cahoots. Rather, we both discussed our vision for the local Republican Party. Most notably, we both left the dinner and agreed not to go negative on one another. It's a promise neither of us reneged on. By the time we left that evening, eight people entered this race.

In the meantime, I am convinced that the Republican establishment scoffed at my candidacy. As they soon realized though, I play to win. That rattled the cage whereas some felt that I didn't "wait my turn" to run for office. Word also got back to me about some of the things said behind my back by guys I otherwise considered friends. Someone famous even told people that I "have no business in this race." Sorry, I let voters make that call.

After setting up my website and Facebook fan page, I started to sign wave at intersections and knock on doors of voting Republicans. I preferred and relied on the latter. I have always viewed sign waving as a superficial way to reach the voters. I prefer to talk to people and earn their votes by looking them in the eye. Yes, that consumes a lot of time and it's unrealistic to hit every home in a short period of time. Regardless, I favor grassroots politics.

When knocking on doors, the responses run the gambit. For the most part, the interaction lasted less than ten seconds. People politely took my literature literature and then shut their door. Often, people weren't home or they outright refused to answer the door. I always left a personal note on my literature and left it at their door. In this day and age, I can't say I blame them for opening up the door for a stranger. Every now and then, people would tell me to get off their property. By and large though, people seemed receptive as soon as they realized I didn't want to sell them something. About 10% of the time, the people wanted to know my stances on issues.

Voters have an absolute right to know a candidate's views on the issues. At the same time though, candidates have a duty to inform voters about the scope of their desired office. Keep in mind, Central Committee members receive no compensation and they work to build the party. They have no legislative authority whatsoever. I know for a fact that some of my opponents purposely mislead voters about this. I have morals and I'd rather lose being me than win as a snake like most of the crowd in Annapolis.

If the absentee and provisional counts follow the trend of the race, I will end up losing to Michael Anthony Peroutka, the Constitution Party nominee for United States President in 2004, by about 300 votes. By a large margin, Faith Loudon and Nathan Volke took first and second place respectively. With the name recognition these three automatically had among Republican primary voters, I am satisfied and at peace with the results. As mentioned on my Facebook account, they have my full support.

I leave this race humbled by the support of my family, friends and complete strangers. If nothing else, I got to meet some great people along the way. Tonight, I will attend the GOP unity event in Severna Park. Believe it or not, it's not a difficult thing to do. I am truly happy for the winners of all the county races. Going forward, the Maryland Republican Party needs to stop their inner bickering. Such tactics help embolden the dangerous Democratic machine in Maryland.