Maryland’s Senator Ben Cardin. Running on empty.

Sunday, October 13, 2012
(October 17, 2012. Campaign financing data have been updated to include contributions through the Cardin campaign’s third quarter FEC report.)

Maryland’s junior Senator Ben Cardin is running for re-election to his second term. (Before the Senate, he represented Maryland’s Third Congressional District for 20 years.)

Last week, I posted two articles having to with campaign commercials Ben Cardin produced for his “My friend, Ben” series. In one of the ads, Senator Cardin took credit for children’s dental care legislation that he introduced, but which never became law. In the other, he took credit for a DOT grant to improve runways at BWI/Marshall Airport.

Seeing those ads, both of which are very professionally, very expensively done, you’ve got to wonder why Senator Cardin would invest so much money in production and airtime to promote such relatively minor accomplishments. Forget about the fact that neither ad was truthful, even if he had been completely responsible for both the dental care program and DOT grant, were these the most significant legislative achievements he can claim in a time when we’re facing more critical economic, fiscal and social problems?

Unfortunately for Maryland, Senator Cardin doesn’t having anything better to talk about. Take a look at the following table. You can click on it to make it larger.

During almost six years in the Senate, Senator Cardin has introduced 110 bills and 41 resolutions. Of the 110 bills, only three have been signed into law. As you can see from the list in the table, all three are relatively insignificant. Either for a lack of creativity or, heaven forbid, interest, Mr. Cardin has apparently sat back, content to leave far more serious problems to others in his party to resolve. If you don’t believe me, go to and read the titles, and the full bills if you like, for all 110 bills Mr. Cardin introduced. It only takes a few minutes and is well worth your time. You’ll come to the same conclusion, that, for whatever reasons, Senator Cardin has been effectively oblivious to all the really big stuff that’s been in the news, on television and around your kitchen table.

As you can see from the voting percentages, the Senator has voted an average of 97.3% of the time with his party and President. (Think of the money we could have all saved, instead of electing Senator Cardin, by just sending Majority Leader Harry Reid a $3 rubberstamp with Senator Cardin’s face on it.) This exceptionally high voting percentage – higher even than then-Senator Barack Obama when they were colleagues – is not only indicative of mindless adherence to party ideology, it’s an indication of a complete failure on Senator Cardin’s part to work across the isle, to develop and support compromise positions, even though they might differ from his party’s line.

Interestingly enough, while he’s been busy doing nothing in particular, Senator Cardin has managed to collect $1,030,500 in salary, plus benefits of course, in just six years. (How much do you make?) And he’s taken $3,900,399 from special interests, some of which are directly related to the Senator’s committee assignments. “Hmm. I wonder what these contributors want for their investments?” The answer is access to Senator Cardin that the ordinary citizens of Maryland can’t afford and don’t get. Hardly seems fair, does it? Of course not.

Maryland voters need to ask themselves what Senator Cardin has done over his past six years in the Senate to earn what we’ve paid him. Over the past six years, has Senator Cardin made a material contribution to the quality of life for your family, your state and our country? If you have to stop and think about it… If the answer is, as it should be, “Not really,” then you need to vote for one of the Senator’s opponents, either Republican Dan Bongino or Independent Rob Sobhani.

Can you do that? If you’re a Democrat, can you put your party affiliation aside in favor of doing the smart and the right thing? Of course you can. The one thing you can’t do is reward (re-elect) incumbent Senator Ben Cardin for six years of wasting our time and money.

-Next Contestant

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11 thoughts on “Maryland’s Senator Ben Cardin. Running on empty.

  1. WOW! Really good to know. No wonder I was getting the feeling that Cardin doesn’t do anything but spend money! Thanks!

    • Hi. Thanks for the comment.

      For $174,000 a year, you’d think he’d be a tad more focused on solving the critical issues of our time.

      Maybe, instead of salaries, we should our representatives in the House and Senate a commission that’s somehow based on the family incomes of their constituents. What do you think?

      -Next Contestant

  2. Good job again, but guess what I found today ? Back in 2006 Cardin, Steele and a Green Party candidate who polled at 1% had a debate together. I wonder why now 6 years later they don’t want to include the third party candidate who polled at 21% ?

    • Hmm. That is interesting.

      I’m curious. You said Kevin Zeese, the Green Party candidate, polled only 1%. What were that poll’s results for Cardin and Steele?

      And do you happen to know what station(s) aired that debate?

      In any case, it’s up to the media. Maybe it’s just that neither Cardin nor Steele consider Zeese to be a threat, so why argue about it.

      -Next Contestant

      • P.S. It turns out that the first Senate candidates debate, on October 6, 2006, the one that included the Green Party’s Kevin Zeese, was sponsored by the Urban League of Baltimore. I don’t think it was televised and that probably explains why Zeese was invited.

        The second debate was October 26, 2006, live on Meet the Press, moderated by the late Tim Russert. Video and transcripts of that exchange are available on line. Zeese was not included.

        -Next Contestant

  3. These statistics are meaningless in a vacuum. How many bills does the average senator introduce and how many of those become law? The site you used puts Cardin a bit above average on “leadership score.”

    • Hey, Tim. No question about it, most of our Congressmen/women and Senators are as unproductive and as addicted to special interest money as Senator Cardin. You’re right. Let’s not do this in a vacuum. In fact, for the sake of discussion, let’s agree that Senator Cardin is no worse, maybe even a little less unproductive than some of his colleagues.

      Well, you can’t be saying that it’s okay, that we shouldn’t be critical of his performance or, heaven forbid, that he’s earned re-election just because his lack of productivity is typical of what goes on in the House and Senate. You didn’t really mean to say that, did you?

      I tend to agree with a close friend of mine who has gotten to the point of wanting them all out. “If you ask me,” she’ll tell anyone who listens, “they’re all a bunch of yahoos.”

      There’s a reason Congress is dysfunctional. And no, it’s not just Ben Cardin’s fault. He is, however, a perfect example of what’s wrong, of why public respect for Congress is at record lows. We can do better. We certainly can’t reward the ineffectiveness of our elected officials by re-electing them just because they’ve sold access to their offices in return for contributions to their campaigns that enable them to overwhelm their opponents.

      Thanks for stopping by. I mean it. Thanks.

      -Next Contestant

  4. Hey Les my email is down :
    In case you haven’t kept up to date with the debate with Sobhani, three more issues came up in the last couple days :

    – Frederick Women’s Commission, a non-partisan government entity organized a candidate’s forum and didn’t invite Sobhani. They only invited Cardin and Bongino. Their response: “The Commission for Women is a non-partisan organization and therefore does not support any candidate or political party. We used this website to invite the candidates. Mr. Sobhani is not listed on this website”. The website they pointed to is a unofficial outdated non-governmental website that isn’t associated with the electoral authority, couldn’t they have looked at the official ballot ? They haven’t heard of Sobhani even though he’s aired millions of dollars worth of ads ?

    – WOBL radio has said every time when Sobhani on air that they wanted to organize a 3 way debate. The host Larry Young has apparently now told the Sobhani campaign that the other two candidates threatened that they wouldn’t come to the show if Sobhani was invited.

    – Bongino and Cardin have officially refused to debate Sobhani on television saying in a ridiculous JOINT with both campaigns letterheads statement that “accepting your offer would be illegal”. As Sobhani’s campaign says in “1980 then Governor Ronald Reagan himself sponsored a candidates debate in New Hampshire because his opponents were contriving reasons not to meet him on the stage”.

    This senate race is turning into something dark and nasty, a real clear look at how corrupt, powerful and manipulative the system is. At this point you’d think this would get more press coverage.
    At least today there was good news:

    Best Regards


    • Hey. Thanks for the update. It occurs to me that having a three-way debate is less important than what avoiding one says about Ben Cardin and Dan Bongino.

      Relatively few people would watch the debate. The results would be muddled and local media coverage would be too brief and probably not that telling.

      What’s more significant is that the major party candidates are even concerned about what would likely be 60, maybe 90 minutes of mild, uninspired discourse. Is it any wonder that voters don’t really believe in the ability of either of these candidates to represent their interests? To get anything done in the overly-partisan, often contentious world of Washington politics?

      I understand the strategy of not giving free exposure to a relatively unknown opponent. I get it that incumbents don’t want to give their opponents the appearance of comparability by standing next to them on a public stage. I understand, but I don’t care. Personally, I’m not ever voting for anyone who refuses to debate a legitimate opponent, and that’s a point, a question Rob Sobhani needs to ask Maryland voters.

      Ben Cardin is the default choice for two-thirds of Maryland voters. He’s “My friend, Ben.” People just assume he’s been doing his job, and neither opponent, including Rob Sobhani, is telling prospective voters otherwise.

      After months and months of campaigning, Dan Bongino has failed to give voters a good reason to vote for him and, more importantly, any specific reasons not to re-elect Senator Cardin.

      And then, just 60 days from the election, here comes Rob Sobhani running soft-serve commercials introducing himself to Maryland voters. He goes from zero to 21% in the polls, pulling voters who didn’t like either of the other two guys. Now what?

      I remember more meaningful, more substantive campaigns for high school student government. For all intents and purposes, Ben Cardin is running unopposed. Opposition to an incumbent is insignificant unless those challengers make the performance of the incumbent the campaign issue. And, to that end, debate or no debate, both Dan Bongino and Rob Sobhani have so far failed, and barely tried, to make the case that Ben Cardin does not deserve to be re-elected.

      -Next Contestant

      • You’re right, Sobhani needs to hit harder, Cardin is very vulnerable and I think his support can easily be broken. Maybe a debate would have given Sobhani the occasion to get at Cardin. He’s been riding on Mikulski’s back in the last 6 years.

        • No question about it. Rob Sobhani’s commercials and other campaign initiatives could be much more effective were they to go after Senator Cardin by making specific points about his legislation and campaign financing.

          Unfortunately, that’s only an opinion, however experienced, that’s not supported by regular polling to see what effect his current campaign themes are having. Without the benefit of fresh polling, the Sobhani campaign has no reason to change course. Without third party or internal polling, they’re effectively campaigning in the dark.

          -Next Contestant