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The Tentacle


September 7, 2006

Random primary thoughts...

Tony Soltero

I'm a bit perplexed at what makes a Real Republican these days. Apparently one must be a Developer Darling, and apparently Lennie Thompson and Ed Lulie don't live up to that lofty standard.

That's too bad - I really like Mr. Lulie's ideas regarding county-wide broadband access (one of the best vectors for economic development), but then again, I'm not a Real Republican, either (or even a fake one).

Mr. Lulie's campaign signs are also - maybe not - er, conservative enough for longtime Republicans, though I've got louder neckties. And, given that, the open spaces and the relative lack of congestion (compared to, say, Montgomery and Howard counties) are major components of the quality of life we enjoy in Frederick County...well, let me just say that if "Real" Republicans don't want to lay claim to those virtues, they're welcome not to.

That said, my predictions for the Republican primary are Mike Cady, Billy Shreve, Lennie Thompson, John Lovell, and Joan McIntyre. Though money talks, especially when it's from the pave-the-county crowd, Lennie's just too popular to dislodge. And while incumbency is probably a liability at the national level this year, it'll carry its usual weight in Frederick.

And while I'm here, I will boldly predict that the Democratic Party nominees will be Dick Floyd, Jan Gardner, Kai Hagen, and Ron Wolf.

* * * * * * * * * *

I get the feeling that Candy Greenway's going to give Alex Mooney a little more trouble than he might expect. Senator Mooney's massive war chest, heavily funded by far-right, out-of-state special interests, has become an issue in the campaign thanks to The Gazette's recent coverage of the matter.

Adding in the fact that Ms. Greenway is a plucky, hardworking candidate with nary a fearful bone in her body, and considering that there are some factions within the Republican Party who don't care much for Mr. Mooney's act, we could very well wind up with a competitive race where we least expected it.

After all, Loudoun County's version of Alex Mooney, a man named Dick Black, was defeated last year by a political newcomer. And I wouldn't sell Maggi Hays short in 4A, either. Candidates who have nothing to lose are the most likely ones to take chances - and sometimes those gambles pay off spectacularly.

* * * * * * * * * *

While developer interests are doing their best to shower their handpicked county commissioner candidates with cash, I get the feeling that uncontrolled growth is still going to be a tough sell to Frederick County residents. Many of us came here to escape the sprawl and congestion that has engulfed neighboring counties, and the idea of not having to endure eight traffic lights to get from New Market to Woodsboro is one of the many pleasures of Frederick County living.

My unscientific survey of candidate signs seems to bear that out. I see Kai Hagen and Jan Gardner signs on residential lawns, and Mike Cady signs on business properties, most visibly south of I-70 in New Market.

Many of us have gazed across the river and decided that we do not want to become another Loudoun County - and anyone who's driven on U.S. 15 north of Leesburg is painfully aware of the dire consequences of unchecked sprawl.

Growth is a good thing - but we'd all rather tend to slow-growing lawn grass than fast-growing weeds. Kai Hagen's phenomenal success in grassroots fundraising is no fluke - it reflects the values of Frederick County residents.

* * * * * * * * * *

Josh Rales seems to be a likeable enough man, and his commercials certainly hit all of the right notes, but he hasn't gained any real traction in the polls. This suggests that it's a lot more difficult for an unknown - even a wealthy one like Mr. Rales - to come out of nowhere and "buy" a political seat.

Machine politics remains a major factor in determining a party's nomination, for better and for worse. To be honest, I don't really understand what Mr. Rales is aiming for here. Is he just trying to establish some name recognition for a future go-round?

But if Mr. Rales really is concerned about the direction our country is heading - and most Americans are - he might want to consider applying his resources to making sure that Michael Steele, a man who called our failed President Bush his "homeboy," doesn't come anywhere near sniffing Maryland's junior Senate seat.

* * * * * * * * * *

I have nothing against home schoolers - there are many parents who exercise their right to opt out of the public education system; and they do it for all kinds of reasons. But I am very wary of the idea of a home schooling parent serving on the county's school board. This is at a level with putting, say, a telecom executive in charge of the FCC, or a person who doesn't drive in charge of the county road network.

The needs of the county schools are best served by those who have a stake in the public-school system, not by those who have an agenda to destroy it and re-mold it in a theocratic image.

There are plenty of religious schools in Frederick County serving families who prefer that kind of instruction for their children. But the public schools, for good reasons, adhere to the principle of separation of church and state.

We don't need to re-enact the grisly story that recently unfolded in Delaware, in which a Jewish family was hounded out of town because of differences with a theocratic school board made up of fundamentalist



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