Two faces of the Maryland Republican Party appeared just a few miles and a few hours apart in Ellicott City last week.
On Wednesday afternoon, Charles Lollar was dishing out his energetic, nonpartisan outreach to several dozen enthusiastic supporters in pink and blue “Achieve the Dream” T-shirts as part of his four-day statewide mini-bus tour launching his run for governor.
Three hours later, a group of mostly older establishment Republicans gathered to hear Bob Flanagan announce a run for delegate, the post he held for 20 years before Gov. Bob Ehrlich tapped him to be transportation secretary 10 years ago. Barely noticed in the small crowd was Harford County Executive David Craig, the GOP candidate for candidate for governor with the most solid experience and the least pizzazz.
It’s not exactly fair to compare Craig’s innocuous presence at someone else’s political announcement with the campaign rally of a rival, but if Lollar had been in the room, he certainly would have made himself visible.
A commanding presence
Lollar, a tall muscular Marine major with a command presence, taps into the Tea Party anti-tax fervor and anyone looking for an alternative to the current Democratic establishment or the Republican one, for that matter.
Lollar’s slogan unabashedly evokes Martin Luther King Jr. “That dream has everything to do with prosperity, opportunity and social justice,” he said.
“It is time to rekindle and achieve the dream,” so that “you can actually be judged by the content of your character and not a party affiliation.”
In both Ellicott City and Annapolis on Friday, and one presumes elsewhere on the dozen stops of his tour, Lollar told a story about greeting a woman at a Labor Day parade. She dissed him when she found out he was a Republican.
“I know Dr. King had a dream, but you’re not it,” Lollar said she told him. Wince.
“We absolutely have to stop the partisan bickering,” said Lollar. “I’m really tired of partisan bickering keeping us from the truth.”
Lollar comes down hard on the “regressive and obnoxious taxes” Marylanders pay, and favors a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that would limit spending growth to the rate of income growth. He promises “tax refunds to every citizen.”
Running to be inaugurated, not ordained
He also seemed to reject running on the social issues so popular with some on the Republican right. “I’m certainly not running to be your priest, I’m running to be your governor,” Lollar said at several stops.
That message got a bit jumbled when the rally at Annapolis City Dock was kicked off by Bishop Angel Núñez of the Bilingual Christian Church praying in Jesus’ name. Lollar chimed in later saying, “I love the Lord Jesus Christ” and admitting he wasn’t perfect, since “there is no perfect person other than the one who died 2,000 years ago.”
Lollar still has plenty of time to refine his message. He has a strong team of committed supporters, and opened a campaign office in the same empty Annapolis office building the Ehrlich campaign used in 2010.
Craig also has months to raise the energy and visibility of his campaign. He needs to share some of Lollar’s fire.
UPDATE Monday noon: Del. Ron George of Annapolis is in the GOP race for governor, but he wasn’t in Ellicott City last week.
He lost me at ‘social justice’. Sorry.
Experience doesn’t get any better than the rank of Major in the USMC, leading people into battle and/or dangerous circumstances for the sake of freedom or sitting down with foreign dignitaries as Mr. Lollar has done in Afganistan to discuss peace and national relations with leaders of other countries. If that experience isn’t enough for some – then take a look at Lollar’s successful career as a businessman – taking a failing region of a Nationwide corporation and turning it into one of the leading regions of that corporation. In Maryland – the Governors primary function is to oversee the economy and set the budget that best builds this state into an attraction for business, jobs, and residential prosperity. Governors don’t come more experienced than Charles Lollar and I will follow him into the battle for our state or anywhere else he asks us to follow. Marines don’t fail. Lollar will Change Maryland
It’s called an opinion; everybody has one. I’ve heard both speak and by far Charles is the more imposing public speaker. Would that make him a better governor? It’s hard to say, but communication is a key to success in office.
I think Charles is indeed a strong candidate. But by your words I would be led to assume that you would vote for Anthony Brown over Charles Lollar because one could argue Brown has “solid experience and more quiet reason.” I hope you won’t.
Gee, could Md. Reporter be more partisan? This article is totally biased. Craig has a solid record of experience and accomplishment. But you act like Loller is ordained for the job of governor because he raises his voice (and the rabble?) So Craig is not a young, hot stuff character: many voters prefer solid experience and more quiet reason to the stump speeches of the inexperienced but noisy.
Trust me, Linda – David Craig has had plenty of moments of being loud and unreasonable.
Gee, could the Washington Post be more partisan?