By Ryan Miner
With less than 50 days until Maryland’s April 26 primary election, the 6th congressional district’s Republican primary race is in full swing.
Eight Republicans in total are itching to take on incumbent Democrat Rep. John Delaney (or Tony Puca) in a head-to-head general election matchup and finish the job Dan Bongino nearly completed only two short years ago.
Which candidates are up? Which candidates are down? What’s the inside story on the race?
My analysis of the race is as follows:
The clear and obvious frontrunner:
Of the eight Republicans running, who else had $200K cash-on-hand at the end of 2015? None, except for Amie Hoeber. She can raise money and self-fund. She’s putting her money where her mouth is. Some of her opponents claim she’s attempting to buy an election. Those same opponents have run dismal campaigns and cannot raise money. Hoeber isn’t in this to waste money. She’s looking for a big win on April 26.
$200K may not be enough to beat John Delaney head on, but Hoeber has an advantage: A Super PAC promoting Hoeber’s congressional bid is propping her up with positive media ads. Here’s a question for Hoeber’s political naysayers: Why aren’t her Republican opponents and their supporters exercising every available fundraising outlet to mount a credible campaign? Somebody, anybody, please answer this so I understand why none of the other candidates haven’t taken advantage of the law.
Of the eight candidates, Hoeber has assembled the most impressive organically grown network of volunteers. Since her entrance into the race, Hoeber’s volunteer base has grown exponentially. Hoeber’s team is busy making phone calls to registered CD-6 Republicans. Lots of doors are being knocked. According to Hoeber’s impressive Facebook and Twitter feeds, she’s showing up to multiple events around the district each and every day. Her presence in the 6th District is ubiquitous.
Former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett last week spoke on Hoeber’s behalf at a meet and greet in Buckeystown. Bartlett had this to say about Hoeber: “Amie is a very credible candidate.” Bartlett came out from beneath the grid to speak at Amie’s event on her behalf. I don’t anticipate Bartlett doing the same for any of Hoeber’s opponents.
A couple of issues, however:
Hoeber didn’t take the bait on the abortion question nor did she get hung up on said question during the Montgomery County debate; during the same debate, however, she did claim that abortion is settled law. It’s not settled law. We all know that. She made a mistake. Hoeber also didn’t take the bait when sleazy Ken Timmerman asked another abortion-related question (incidentally, Timmerman begged Hoeber’s husband, Mark Epstein, like a dog for money in 2012 but was refused) during the Washington County debate. She quickly adjusted her response, clarified her answer and moved on.
Whether abortion trumps national security, jobs, reducing government regulations, securing our 2nd Amendment rights, upholding the 10th Amendment, and preventing a future terrorist attack (all issues that Hoeber spends the majority of her time discussing) is something only voters can decide. She’s taken a few hits by the usual cabal of political gadflies, including some who don’t even live in Maryland, but her campaign rarely responds in kind.
Hoeber doesn’t attack her opponents. But why would she need to? She has the money. She has run a monumentally positive campaign thus far. Is a twice-suspended ambulance-chasing “lawyer” and West Point expellee someone worth responding to? Maybe, but the aftermentioned individual hasn’t been taken seriously since the 70’s (even back then his presence on the political scene was dubious). Professional heckling must have been a part-time gig during the in-between times when his law license was suspended.
Some of Hoeber’s critics cannot handle that she is a strong and confident woman. Some confuse confidence for radical feminism. And some of the real losers on Facebook are spending time calling Hoeber a Marxist, feminist Nazi and other select pejoratives. How dare women play in a man’s playground at the Pentagon for so long, but then rise up through the ranks to become the Deputy Undersecretary of the Army! How dare Hoeber volunteer for an organization to help women escape abusive relationships! How dare Hoeber mentor women in the defense field and offer sound career advice to aspiring female civil servants!
Hoeber is running a great campaign and her opponents know it. That’s why she’s the frontrunner. And that’s why she is taking some hits. She’s actually running a real campaign. She’s a conservative woman with a plan to win.
Keep in mind The Buckley Rule.
David Vogt is running a formidable campaign and is highlighting his conservative credentials during the CD-6 debates. Vogt’s credibility comes in the form of being endorsed by several of his colleagues in the House of Delegates as well as locking down the support of some key municipal officials, including Washington County Commissioner John Barr, the current President of Maryland Association of Counties.
Vogt’s new campaign manager is tough. I’m betting he’s shopping negative stories to other media outlets and bloggers about Vogt’s primary opponent(s), but that I cannot prove. Cardone is pulling double duty by working for Vogt in Annapolis and running Vogt’s campaign. Not an easy task.
Vogt is doing well in fundraising. He’s raised the second largest amount of money behind Hoeber, and he’s putting the money to good use by releasing ads. Vogt’s campaign is utilizing Facebook effectively. He’s proven himself on policy. And Vogt is distinguishing himself as the true conservative in the race.
Vogt has done well by sticking to policy and avoiding the petty attacks on his opponents. He’s focused on the big prize. I see Vogt and Hoeber bringing a meaningful discussion to the table. If elected, I can see Vogt quickly becoming a leader in Congress.
Overall, Vogt has run a good campaign and has stuck to the script.
- Frank Howard
Howard is doing his level best to beat the pavement and knock doors, following in Dan Bongino’s footsteps. But I just cannot understand why Howard hasn’t raised much money. He gave himself a loan last quarter but still finished well behind the rest of his opponents in fundraising totals.
Jim Pettit is Howard’s secret weapon. Pettit is a media and communications professional – and a good one to boot. Pettit is paid by Howard to pump out positive op-eds, stories, etc. in newspapers and conservative publications to help Howard on the earned media front. So far, Pettit is doing a fine job. I like Jim a lot. He’s a decent man with incredible talent. Howard is lucky to have him.
I haven’t noticed any discernible enthusiasm around Howard’s campaign. What specific issues are Howard running on? What are his three main points? At times, I feel his message is disjointed and disconnected. My understanding is that Howard is a mixture of conservative and libertarian. But I haven’t heard Howard articulate much of the libertarian platform.
Frank is a very likable guy. He interacts well with constituents. And he’s a nice guy. That trait still means something in this vicious political cycle.
I have heard from multiple sources that Frank Howard met with Lawrence Scott, the big-time Maryland political consultant who is notorious for his vituperative attacks, personal take-downs and shady mailers. It’s rumored that Howard may be utilizing Scott’s services in the final days of the primary. Howard’s campaign will neither confirm nor deny whether Scott has a relationship with their campaign. Scott first solicited Amie Hoeber and attempted to work with her campaign for an exuberant fee. Hoeber politely declined Scott’s offer. Scott then claimed that if Hoeber won’t pay his extortion rate, he’ll dip on over to Howard and play the field.
If Frank Howard hires Lawrence Scott, he’ll not only lose my vote in the primary but also in the general. Lawrence Scott’s onslaught aginst Laura Neuman was abhorrent and unforgivable. Let’s hope Howard stays away from said sleazy, overpriced consultant who lacks integrity.
My intuition rarely fails me.
- Terry Baker
Commissioner Baker is well known in the Republican stronghold of Washington County. Maybe Terry Baker is banking on Washington County to carry him big during the primary. Perhaps Baker believes he’ll place second or third in other counties, causing a split in the vote. Except his name recognition in Montgomery and Frederick Counties is virtually nonexistent.
Baker’s campaign is lacking on multiple fronts. He’s held a few fundraisers in Washington County and continues to show up to events around the district. His ending 2015 COH was less than $2K. Dismal. His performances in the last two debates were average. But Baker’s campaign is all over the place. What policies is he running on? He certainly can’t run on his commissioner record because he doesn’t have a record. You don’t have a record when you vote NO on nearly every decent piece of policy.
But I guess Baker is a nice guy. His people, though, have been very nasty to me, including members of his family and his chief advocate, the southern belle lookalike used car salesman, yes, that’s the guy…. Nigel Dardar. A lot of people like Baker because he’s a good ol’ boy. He likes to hold himself as a “blue-collar Republican.” Baker isn’t quite the Trump of the CD-6 race, but he’s angling for those Trump votes.
I haven’t seen much of an organization from Baker. How many doors has he knocked on outside of Washington County? How many volunteers does Baker have outside of Washington County? Does Baker have county coordinators in all five counties within the district? Is he making phone calls? Identifying voters? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I believe in miracles. Terry Baker may need a miracle to be successful against John Delaney (or Tony Puca).
Mr. Baker has a tough road of ahead of him.
Harold Painter, Christopher Mason, Scott Cheng and Robin Ficker.
Harold Painter is a truly decent man and deserves to be taken seriously. It’s difficult, however, for the district to get to know Painter when his business has taken up much of his time leading up to the primary (Painter is a tax accountant). Painter was absent from the Washington County debate because he was unable to locate the Funkstown American Legion. He is speaking to women’s Republican groups in the district, and he has bought some ad space in some of the district newspapers. I really like Painter, and I hope he continues to do well.
Christopher Mason had a breakout moment during the Washington County Republican Club debate. He spoke passionately about policy and stood out among the crowd for his conservative positions. Mason says he is knocking on doors and meeting with constituents. I like Mason. He’s a very nice guy with a bright future.
Scott Cheng has done well in both of the CD-6 debates. Despite the obvious communication barrier, his policies are rooted in conservatism. He’s a smart person. A really smart person. I haven’t seen much of a campaign, but I’m hoping to see more of Dr. Cheng on the campaign trail. He’s also a very nice guy.
Robin Ficker has raised no money. He has no volunteers. He has no grassroots organization. He has done nothing in this primary except place his signs illegally throughout the district and use Facebook to harass Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Hoeber supporters. Ficker continues to embarrass himself during the Republican debates with his goofy shenanigans. I have nothing else to say about Robin Ficker. He’s an unserious candidate who could never – ever – beat John Delaney (or Tony Puca) in a general election. John Delaney (or Tony Puca) would, in fact, crave Ficker as a primary opponent, considering Ficker’s record for being elected in Montgomery County is worse than the Titan’s 2015 season.
That’s it, for now. Stay tuned for more CD-6 analysis coming your way.