Game over. And the score is Money 1, Democracy 0.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First things first. If you’re wondering about the featured image, those are “Incumbent Hogs,” so named by animal scientists for their addiction to green colored feed donated by the same especially interested parties who intend to eat them (the hogs) later.

Now that (all but two of) the September 30 campaign financing reports for Maryland Congressional candidates have been posted at www.FEC.gov, I’m prepared to call most of the races. It’s easy. Com’on, we’ll do it together, one race at a time, using the following table. Take a quick look. You can click on it to make it larger.

Ready? Here we go.

US Senate: Incumbent Ben Cardin is going to win, no sweat. Why? Well, for one thing, because the anti-Ben Cardin vote is split between Republican Dan Bongino and Independent (former Republican) Rob Sobhani. Dan’s been running for months, but doesn’t have the money. Rob just entered the race in September, but has plenty of his own money. (He’s self-financing his campaign. Good for Rob. In fact, financially speaking, I want to be like Rob when I grow up.)

The problem is, neither of Ben’s opponents knows how to run a winning campaign against a long-term incumbent. Note to future challengers: It’s not enough to convince people to vote for you. It’s far more important that you convince voters not to vote for the incumbent! It’s unbelievable that you guys, and most of the other challengers in the table, don’t get this.

Despite the fact that Senator Cardin is a shoe-in, it’s important to note that he’s raised a huge amount of money, way more than he needed, almost $2 million of which is from special interests to which he now owes who knows what. On “The Next Contestant Scale of Political Gluttony,” Senator Cardin gets five hogs. Four hogs is the maximum.

Congressional District 1: Incumbent Andy Harris will defeat his Republican challenger, Wendy Rosen. It’s a prediction I’m willing to make even though I haven’t seen her September 30 report.

Congressional District 2: While I’d vote for Nancy Jacobs if I lived there, because she’s clearly the superior candidate, incumbent “Call me Dutch” Ruppersberger will be re-elected. How’s it possible that the lesser candidate will win? Are you kidding me? The same two reasons. Far superior funding, more than half of which comes from special interests. (I give Dutch four hogs. I’d have given him five were it not that he can’t help himself and I felt bad about picking on him just because he’s ethically challenged.) And because Nancy either didn’t know how to or decided, for whatever reasons, not to go after Congressman Ruppersberger, something she should have started doing months ago. The irony is that going after Congressman Ruppersberger early would have actually helped her raise the money she needed to beat him, while attracting undecided and soft-Ruppersberger supporters who have, by now, made up their minds. I believe Ben Franklin said it best when he advised that, “The early bird gets the worm.” Something like that.

Congressional District 3: John Sarbanes, who is effectively running unopposed, will be re-elected. Just between you and me, I’m considering moving to District 3 just to vote for someone who refuses to accept special interest money. “Go John!!”

Congressional District 4: Congresswoman Edwards will be re-elected. No contest there.

Congressional District 5: Incumbent and Congressional Big Cheese Steny Hoyer wins easily. Like he really needed to raise $3.8 million, $2.5 million of which came from special interests. With the notable exception of Congressman Sarbanes, these incumbents are addicted to special interest money. Five hogs.

Congressional District 6: This is the only interesting race. You’ve got long-term incumbent Roscoe Bartlett who is a thousand years old running for his eleventh term. (Actually, he’s only 86.) Roscoe is a Republican representing a Congressional District where Republicans actually outnumber Democrats and, in Maryland, that’s like being from another planet. What’s interesting is that he’s running against a very well-funded businessman, Democrat John Delaney. This is the one race I’m not calling. So sue me.

Congressional District 7: It’ll be Congressman Cummings in a landslide, running without material opposition. Notice that over 70% of the $760,000 total the Congressman raised came from special interests. He actually has more cash on hand than his campaign has collected. How’s that possible? Because he started this campaign season with $826,704 in the bank. He’s raised over $760,000 to beat an opponent who, as of June 30, had brought in only $2,030?! Needless to say, Congressman Cummings gets five hogs and an extra bacon, double cheese, pork tenderloin sandwich named after him at Clyde’s.

Congressional District 8: Chris Van Hollen. Yada, yada, yada.

No surprise, I’m a proponent of campaign finance reform.

-Next Contestant

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