Cardin v. Bongino v. Sobhani: Poor form, dumb politics. Dan misses the point.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

“Dan, Dan, Dan. What are you doing?”

In Maryland, there’s a three-way race for the Senate. Democrat incumbent Ben Cardin is running against Republican Dan Bongino and Independent Rob Sobhani. Senator Cardin has held elective office since 1967, beginning in the Maryland House of Delegates where he was eventually the Speaker of the House, then in Congress for 10 terms and in the Senate for the last six years. Independent Rob Sobhani is wealthy and funding his own campaign. He’s run for the Senate twice before, both times as a Republican. Republican Dan Bongino is running for office for the first time, and it shows.

In an email bulletin that I received earlier this morning, the Bongino campaign has released a statement by Deputy Campaign Manager Sharon Strine. It is defensive and highly critical of Rob Sobhani, including some accusations that are misleading, to put it politely.

Two problems…

One is that, if Dan Bongino has anything to say about Rob Sobhani, he should say it himself. Ironically, of the two of them – Mr. Bongino and Ms. Strine – Ms. Strine appears to be the one with balls, figuratively speaking of course. “Dan, if you can’t personally say what’s on your mind, that alone disqualifies you to represent Maryland in the Senate.”

The other is more serious. “Dan, Rob Sobhani isn’t your problem. Your problem is Ben Cardin.” Ms. Strine begins her comments with, “Despite his collapsing poll numbers, Rob Sobhani…” Ms. Strine is no doubt referring to a recent poll by OpinionWorks. (See the screenshot below of a table from Politico.) As you can see, while Dan Bongino’s percentage has actually gone up two points, from 22 to 24 percent, since the Gonzales poll a month ago, Rob Sobhani’s percentage has dropped from 21% to only 14%. These results are surprising in light of the number of commercials Rob Sobhani has been running, put let’s assume the poll is accurate, and ignore its margin of error.

“Dan, do you know whose poll numbers haven’t been collapsing? Ben Cardin’s 50%.”

Dan, Ms. Strine, Tuesday evening, after Dan makes his concession speech, when you’re wondering why the best you could do is 24% against a candidate with a legislative and campaign financing history as flawed as Ben Cardin’s, DO NOT blame Rob Sobhani. You’re the problem. While Ben Cardin is enjoying his incumbent status, relaxing above the fray, running his feel-good “My friend, Ben” commercials, you’re wasting your time going after Rob Sobhani, doing exactly what the Cardin campaign wants you to do.

(Actually, since Ms. Strine’s statement only went out to email addresses in your files, it may be that what this bulletin is really about is a last, desperate attempt to hold on to the Republican vote you thought, naïvely, was yours for sure. It’s no longer about this election, is it? It’s about giving Dan a basis for running for something else two, four or more years from now.)

It’s too late now, Dan. Stick a fork in your campaign. I’m sorry to be so harsh, but you’ve had months and months to go after Ben Cardin, to push his steady-state 50% down to where you might have had a chance, even with Rob Sobhani in the race. But you didn’t, and that’s why you’re going to lose and why Marylanders are going to re-elect an unproductive Senator who isn’t up to the task of helping Congress solve the critical problems of our time.

Maryland is going to re-elect Senator Cardin because you didn’t give us any reason not to.

-Next Contestant

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16 thoughts on “Cardin v. Bongino v. Sobhani: Poor form, dumb politics. Dan misses the point.

  1. Told you man, he’s running for second place, wants to save his party from the shame of coming in third… over a year of campaigning and he has been unable to make the argument for democrats that they should vote for a republican this time around. Another poll showed Bongino only having 60% of the support of Republican voters.

    • Hey, Stef. Just between you and me, the results of the OpinionWorks poll don’t make any sense. In fact, if they did, make sense that is, if they weren’t contradicted by common sense and internal polling the Bongino campaign might be doing, I don’t see the point of Ms. Strine’s statement. If support for the Sobhani campaign is really collapsing, why not just ignore it and let it collapse?

      We’ll know in a few days.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      -Next Contestant


        Bongino goes after Sobhani… again. Why aren’t his supporters outraged that he’s clearly running for second place ? It’s funny though that Bongino mentions Parrott participated in the telephone town hall, a darling of the Republican party. You’d think he’d want to keep that quiet and hide the divide.

        • Hi, Stef. No question about it, email releases from the Bongino campaign, today’s in particular, are becoming increasingly frantic, long on emotion, way too short on substance.

          Whether or not Dan comes in second, I can’t believe his campaign will be remembered fondly by Republican Party leaders the next time he wants to run for something. My advice? He needs a ideology transplant and to associate himself with a more experienced, more moderate, more mature campaign team.

          Let’s keep talking, even after Tuesday is history.

          -Next Contestant

  2. Unfortunately, in today’s world, money is the greatest impact on who wins or doesn’t win an election. The only reason Sobhani is on the map at all in ths race is because he has dropped 6 million of his own money into his campaign, outspending Ben Cardin, enabling him to buy massive advertising time and space, which mst candidates running against an incumbent do not have the luxury of doing. Sobhani knows that putting his face/name out there in commercials, mailers, robocalls, and teletown hall meetings will help his campaign, even if it is only to 14%. Sobhani has not undergone the vetting process, since he entered the race late as an “independent”. He has not been asked questions about his wor as a lobbyist with Caspian Energy Consulting or the conflict of interest posed by his company working to import oil from the Middle East to the US or what role his own business will play in his “infrastructure” plan, since that is one of the items his company specializes in. He has not been asked about his role in the “Restoring Monarchy Project” which was a plan to overthrow the Iranian gov’t and establish a pupet regime with Sobhani as the hand-picked prime minister. I can guarantee that most of those who will vote for Sobhani don’t know any of this, because these things are conveniently left out of his bio. info. and he has escaped the scrutiny that candidates who have to run in a primary endure. The difference betwen Sobhani and Bongino is not in the quality of the candidate, because Bongino has him beat there. It is not because of the quality of the on the ground campaign, because Bongino has the grassroots support that Sobhani doesn’t have, which is why he has very few individual contributions compared to Bongino. The difference is a simple math problem…Sobhani has 5 million dollars more in campaign money to spend than Bongino. He’s a millionaire; he has it to spend. That certainly does not make him the better or more qualified candidate, just the wealthier, less vetted candidate. Cardin has a major advantage as a progressive in a liberal state. Obama is polling at 19 points above Romney in Maryland. Bongino had a difficult task to begin with, and then when you have three people (2 which didn’t run in the primary) rnning against an incumbent with a lot of money, that task becomes more difficult. Sobhani is a spoiler, and he knows it. He apparently wants to see Cardin reseated. Maybe it helps him in some way. He lobbies the US gov’t for his business, and he has become very wealthy as a result of his business activities.

    • Hi. Thanks for the comment. No question about it, who we elect has way too much to do with how much money his or her campaign has, regardless of its source.

      Let’s forget about the candidates’ politics for a moment. At this point, the results are a foregone conclusion, so we might as well not sweat the details.

      We have Ben Cardin who has never been a creative legislator, never contributing in a material way to solving the most pressing problems of our time, and he’s addicted to taking special interest money in return for who knows what.

      Dan Bongino is too right of center for even the Maryland Republican Party, let alone for the Democrats whose support he needs to get elected to a statewide office. He’s inexperienced, politically immature and doesn’t understand the difference between a crusade and a campaign.

      And then there’s Rob Sobhani, an obviously successful businessman who has no political following and is running on a platform more suited to a candidate for Governor than Senator. In fact, that may be the entire point and would explain his late entry.

      Three candidates, plus a couple more we never talk about, and there’s not one I really want to represent me in the Senate. Now you know why I named the blog…

      -Next Contestant

    • By the way this is a copy-pasted message that the Bongino supporters are spreading everywhere, I’ve seen it multiple times now even on Sobhani’s Facebook before they took it down. Reading the whole thing makes my head hurt, it reads like a conspiracy theory plot similar to the 9/11 theories. These are the same people who say Sobhani is being funded by the Democrat party to split the vote, some have even said Al Qaeda, and the same people who a couple days ago (Red Maryland blog) compared Republicans and conservatives who were voting for Sobhani to Nazi collaborators. Shameful. At least Cardin’s supporters have kept their message respectful and clean, though they probably wouldn’t be if Cardin was polling at 30%.

      • Hi. Here’s another theory for you, a simple one based on voter statistics…

        Dan Bongino won the Republican nomination by coming in first in a crowded field of 10 candidates who ran in this year’s Republican primary. He worked hard and got 68,597 votes, 33.6 percent of the total. Dan was, in other words, the favorite candidate of only one third of the Republicans who bothered to show up. (Richard Douglas came in second with 57,776 votes, 28.3% of the total.)

        Round numbers, only 21% of Maryland’s 960,000 registered Republicans even cared enough to vote in the primary. Dan won the nomination having received only 7% of total registered Republican voters.

        Imagine a normal curve that describes the political philosophies of all Maryland voters. Left to right, we have the Democrats and then the Republicans who, in Maryland, are right of center along that curve. (Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2:1.)

        As far as I can tell, Dan’s personal political philosophy, which is long on passion and short on practical substance, is to the right of most Maryland Republicans. The point is, a good portion of the 7% of registered Republicans who voted for Dan in the primary are probably from the far right of this normal curve. It’s why he never had a chance against a mainstream candidate like Ben Cardin, particularly if you add someone like Rob Sobhani who has positioned himself to Dan’s left, between Dan and Ben Cardin.

        It also explains the source of the bogus Sobhani website and other unfounded and sometimes nasty rhetoric that has characterized some elements of Bongino campaign support. Dan entered the race positioned on the trailing end of the right side of the normal curve, and developed impassioned support there, but has generally failed attract voters from the great middle he needs to win.

        There’s nothing he can do about it now, nor should he. To Dan’s credit, he hasn’t changed his pitch to win votes, although not doing so may have been more a matter of political inexperience than intellectual integrity. To be fair, let’s give him full credit for the latter. That’s admirable, but not a recipe for victory.

        -Next Contestant

        • Hey Les wasn’t sure about reading voter statistics this early on a Sunday morning but thanks for the post it was interesting and I agree. I can’t wait to see the final election results, while Sobhani may not win (and I hope that he at least beats the Republican that would be quite an achievement and would send the Republican party in panic mode) I want to see how many votes he pulled especially from Democrat African-Americans and Conservative Democrats who have been his main focus in the last couple of weeks. With more time and a better strategy Sobhani could have won. He’s a surprisingly strong candidate for a third party.

      • One thing’s for sure. Sobhani is smart.

        I find it hard to believe he thought he could actually beat Ben Cardin, particularly in a three-person race he didn’t enter until September. So why spend the millions only to lose? One reasonable answer is that he’s using a statewide race for the Senate to get exposure he’ll need to run for Governor two years from now.

        -Next Contestant

      • Hey. Thanks for the follow-up.

        Let’s agree to disagree about precisely what’s been going on in this campaign for the Senate. At this point, nothing either of us has to say will change the results. The outcome has been a foregone conclusion for sometime now.

        On the other hand, maybe there is one thing about which we can all agree. This election process – as affected as it is by money, as characterized as it has been by the absence of productive content, and by dishonest, mean-spirited politics, not to mention a pathetic lack of voter interest, especially in the primaries, but also the general election – is no way to elect a relative handful of people, to the House and Senate, on which we’re betting our future.

        Tell me the truth, are any of the three candidates really the best we can send to Washington? Other than as perhaps “the least unacceptable,” is Dan Bongino really anywhere in the vicinity of your ideal choice for Senator?

        Thanks again.

        -Next Contestant

  3. You suggest that Bongino is too right of center for even the MD Republican party. Did you forget that we had a primary, and he was chosen by the Republican voters of Maryland over several other contenders? The “party” is not the establishment, but the voters who identify with the party and whom the party is supposed to represent. Bongino is the candidate selected by Republican voters. The Republican problem in Maryland is that the urban areas, which are overwhelmingly Democratic, determine the politics of this state. Some voters in the general election are swayed by flashy commercials, having never really researched the candidates or educated themselves on the issues. The media does a poor job of informing voters of the background of the candidates or asking difficult questions. The inner cities continue to experience high levels of poverty, crime, etc., yet those who live there continue to vote for those who continue the same failed policies which have done nothing to alleviate the problems. Bongino has been an advocate for school choice, something which should attract the voters in these areas, because education is the great equalizer, and is something that has potential to break the cycle of poverty in these areas. Minority communities were livid at Barack Obama when he eliminated school choice in DC because they had experienced first hand the opportunity given to them by school choice.


    I was wondering how more embarrassing Bongino’s campaign could become, well, apparently it has. I am disgusted, Cardin comes out as the hero in this election without even having done anything. That’s the problem with these tea party guys, they have a scorched earth policy. I think after this election I’m going to go to Florida for a nice vacation at the beach… away from this stupidity.

    • Hey. Thanks for the late night comment.

      You’ll notice that I’m showing the same campaign bulletin in a post this morning entitled “Unsubstantiated accusations.”

      As for your escaping to Florida, I’m sad to say that the closest I’m getting to the beach is the desktop image on my Mac. I’ll settle for taking my wife out for nice dinner. Believe me, she’s earned it by putting up with all my political crap. Maybe I’ll take a break and write a couple of more short stories.

      -Next Contestant

  5. Bongino is a Brian Murphy sidekick, and I predicted would be lucky to get 20% of the vote. I think he ended up with 21%. He was never a good candidate and his close relationship with Murphy should have been enough to kick him out of the race from the beginning.

    This laughable candidate was never vetted, and there is a reason that no member of law enforcement endorsed him. Insiders were asking the question, “is this guy running for something or running from something?” And, just where did all his campaign cash end up, as it was certainly not used for ads.

    Thankfully, there are a couple of MoCo attorneys that will be pulling ALL Bongino campaign paperwork with the intent of following the money, sotospeak.

    As for Red Maryland, I agree with the other posters. They will support anyone with an R after their name, whether or not they were registered Democrats a day before the election. I hear they are “taking names”, and that should really put the fear of god into fellow republicans, because that’s what the party needs in Maryland…pushing more people out.

    If this group was so powerful, they would have a radio show somewhere other than on blogtalk. As for how low can the Bongino campaign go, check out the Wash Post article and be sure to read the comments, all of them:

    Will the republicans take this opportunity to evaluate themselves and get learn some lessons? or will they continue to plod along, ignoring the basic facts, and lose even more elections with even bigger margins.

    • Hi. Thanks for the comment.

      While I don’t like the campaign Dan Bongino ran for a number of reasons, suspicions of unethical or illegal use of campaign funds isn’t one of them.

      I think that, before making such accusations public, you should have hard evidence in hand. Do you? If not, what’s the point if not just to damage his reputation without cause? The proof, if you ever have it, will eventually speak for itself.

      -Next Contestant