Recently re-elected delegate Kathy Afzali (R-Middletown) represents my own District 4, so when she says newsworthy things it’s hard for me not to notice. She’s back on the front page because while attending the banquet of Emmitsburg’s Vigilant Hose Co. volunteer fire department, she sent Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, who was also there, anonymous texts calling him a “wimp” and several other disobliging things (“You have no power. Get used to it”), apparently over his failure to back certain candidates she supported. Since Jenkins like Afzali is a Republican, is often regarded as the most popular elected official in Frederick County, and seldom if ever gets called a “wimp,” this — well, suffice it to say that this was bound to attract attention, and did.
But that’s nothing new. Del. Afzali was among the very first elected officials I noticed after moving to Frederick County a few years ago, in large part because of her penchant for saying unusual things. For example, as I chronicled at the time, just before the vote on the Question 6 marriage issue (for which I worked actively), Afzali sent out a constituent newsletter arguing that one reason to vote against same-sex marriage is that gay males make terrible parents and their kids grow up anxious and without trust. Really, don’t take my word for it — go read what she put in her newsletter. I thought at the time, and still think, that going out of your way to insult some of your constituents was not the best approach to communicating with them. (Hi, I’m your delegate writing to tell you why I think you’re a bad parent!) I also thought the evidence she offered for her claims was laughably weak, and tried to explain why at the time.
That turned out to be just the start with Afzali. Soon thereafter, she went on WFMD and avidly promoted a “save marriage” rally in Frederick which she then proceeded to speak at. The highlight of the rally came when local pastor Luke Robinson noted that after New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg had actively promoted gay marriage, Hurricane Sandy had struck his city.
Over the years, Afzali has said so many colorful and noteworthy things that it would be easy to lose track. For example, when fellow Del. Heather Mizeur proposed legalizing marijuana in 2013, Del. Afzali reacted in a not altogether temperate and collegial manner, telling a reporter: “It’s my firm belief that marijuana makes you lazy and stupid, and while this may really encourage Delegate Mizeur’s base, my base are the hard-working taxpayers of Maryland who are probably not the ones who are smoking marijuana and being lazy.” You know, those notoriously lazy and stupid cannabis users like Bill Gates and Peter Thiel. Wow!
So it was almost inevitable that when her exchange with Jenkins became a nine-days’-wonder in Frederick County — airing extensively on WFMD, the conservative-leaning radio station, and on Facebook, then hitting the Frederick News-Post in Bethany Rodgers’ account — Afzali would react in ways that made still more news. She went on the much-listened-to Bob Miller morning show and gave this interview which is simply chock full of quotable lines.
At 3:50 Afzali says, after praising the “open mind” of the members of the Republican Central Committee in considering “19 or 20” applicants for the vacancy in one of the District 4 seats, a process subject to severe confidentiality rules, “Now, on the Central Committee, I do know that many of them are very strong conservatives and many of them are pro-life. So anyone who answered their application evidently and said that they were pro-choice were immediately eliminated. So that’s something I know from being behind the scenes. So that left only a handful of people that were eligible in their view.”
At 5:15: “Frederick County honestly is the laughingstock of Annapolis.”
At 5:35: After talking about how a candidate needs to team up in elections with members of a party slate “whether you like that person or not,” she told a story from her work as delegate: “I had one fellow from Baltimore, who said to me, God bless him, I’m not going to mention names, but he’s this very straight guy and he had two other delegates who were [slight giggle] lesbians that were the incumbents, and he said, I don’t like ’em, I don’t like their lifestyle, but gosh, I’m going to team up because I’m smart.”
Although Afzali may not have wanted “to mention names,” her remarks inevitably encourage speculation about the identity of the “very straight guy.” Only one Baltimore district in the assembly is represented by two lesbians, District 43, which elects Dels. Maggie McIntosh and Mary Washington. The third delegate from District 43, who presumably has reason to team up with the two in elections, is Del. Curt Anderson. (The state senator from District 43, Sen. Joan Carter Conway, also has reason to team up with McIntosh and Washington, but would not make a suitable referent for the “guy” in the story; all of these legislators are Democrats.) It might be noted that Del. Maggie McIntosh, who has served as Majority Leader in the Assembly, now chairs the Appropriations Committee. Stories like these should be great for collegiality!
Back to Afzali, at 7:50: “I don’t think I’m a polarizing figure at all.”
At 9:00: “What we’ve learned is, it’s very hard to get good people to run for these positions.”
As a citizen, even though I mostly agree with the votes she casts, I am not thrilled to be represented by Del. Kathy Afzali. As a blogger, I can only be grateful for the steady flow of material she provides, seemingly without trying. How long before she gets her own reality show?