Tag Archives: Chrys Kefalas

Szeliga, on the marriage battle: “It’s definitely been settled.”

At the WBFF debate for Republican Senate candidates in March, interviewer Kai Jackson (at 35:30) asked a question on same-sex marriage. This might have seemed a set-up for candidate Chrys Kefalas to volunteer something about his own pathbreaking role as a candidate who was gay (and engaged to be married, to radio personality Tommy McFly). But Kefalas didn’t personalize his answer; while indicating his support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, he also emphasized that he took seriously conservative concerns that legal changes might curtail the liberty of religious institutions, and would work to uphold religious liberty if elected.

Equally interesting was the answer of Minority Whip Del. Kathy Szeliga, who was to go on to win the primary in a runaway, and was generally perceived as running to Kefalas’s right. “This has been a divisive issue in the past but it’s definitely been settled. It was settled on the ballot here in Maryland and it’s been settled in the courts.” Del. Szeliga then added that the voters whose concerns she was running to address were worried not about gay marriage but about the troubles of the U.S. economy and the poor performance of federal programs like the Affordable Care Act.

Del. Szeliga’s answer, it seemed to me, would not have been out of place in an interview response by Gov. Larry Hogan or presidential candidate John Kasich. It signaled that she intends to go after the votes of independents and moderate Democrats this fall, a smart strategy for a Republican running statewide in a state like Maryland.

That wasn’t the only favorable portent on Maryland Republicans’ ability to move beyond past divisions on the marriage issue. Two years ago I wrote with some dismay (“An endorsement no one should want”) about how dozens of Maryland Republican candidates had received (though it was less clear whether they had sought) high ratings from “the group associated with Robert Broadus called Protect Marriage Maryland,” which “stands out for its intense hostility toward gay people, its very explicit grounding of that hostility in religious doctrine, and its willingness to use invective seldom found in polite company any more.” This time around, whether because Protect Marriage Maryland was less active or because fewer candidates pursued its endorsement or filled out its questionnaire, its endorsement page limited itself to endorsing a single Republican, Senate candidate Dave Wallace, who came in fifth. Robert Broadus himself ran for the Republican nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives in District 4, but finished third, behind George McDermott and David Therrien.

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Campaigning works: some primary numbers from my county

Getting out there and campaigning for your candidate can make a difference. How do I know? In part, by scanning Frederick County’s precinct-by-precinct unofficial results from Tuesday’s low-profile GOP Senate primary.

As politically aware Maryland readers may know, I was rooting for my friend Chrys Kefalas in his bid for the U.S. Senate nomination, but he fell short, running third after the winner, House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, and Chris Chaffee. Chrys (the one I know, the one with the “y”) campaigned several times in Frederick County and ran about a point higher here than his statewide average, almost but not quite enough to take second place.
Frederick County map
I had a close view of some of the campaigning Chrys’s friends did for him in my part of the county in recent weeks and on election day. To see whether this campaigning made a difference, I decided to check out various precincts from the more suburban parts of the county, where Chrys ran stronger than he did in the rural sections.

In suburban precincts where we made no special campaign efforts, a typical outcome would be for Chrys to finish neck and neck with Chris Chaffee for second place, but well behind Szeliga, with from 30% to 80% as many votes as she got. Thus Orchard Grove, Kemptown, Linganore High School, Monocacy Middle School, North Frederick Elementary, and so forth. At some of these polls Kefalas had good sign displays, others not, but it didn’t seem to matter much.

In a few precincts, efforts were made in the weeks leading up to Primary Day but nothing special other than signs was done on the day itself. These generally outperformed the norm a little: thus Spring Ridge (where Chrys’s literature had been included in a door-to-door literature drop) registered Szeliga 113-Kefalas 78-Chaffee 69 (combined A and B), while New Market Middle came in at Szeliga 117-Kefalas 74-Chaffee 51.

On Primary Day itself, while Chrys’s campaigners swung by a number of other polling places over the course of the day, they targeted two in the southeastern part of the county for sustained efforts in which more than one volunteer distributed literature and talked to voters: Deer Crossing Elementary School, in the Lake Linganore vicinity, and Twin Ridge Elementary School, in Mt. Airy. And these wound up in a class by themselves results-wise. Here are the results from those two precincts:

  • Deer Crossing (covered by Kefalas workers tag-team-style over much of the day): Szeliga 153, Kefalas 152, Chaffee 80.
  • Twin Ridge (one Kefalas worker for most of the day with a second joining in during the evening rush): Kefalas 190, Szeliga 140, Chaffee 53.

Your results, as they say, may vary. In this particular race, candidates tended to lack strong name recognition and many voters had not formed strong opinions; that makes it different from, say, a presidential race, in which few voters arrive at the polls with minds not made up. But if you were wondering if you can make a difference by getting out to canvass in person to help your candidates, the answer is: you bet you can.

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The Maryland primary vote

Despite Maryland’s geographic diversity, the Donald Trump sweep last night was convincing and across-the-board. According to preliminary results, he ran up crushing margins in the parts of the state where he was known to be leading, including the Eastern Shore, with Worcester his best county at 73%, Dorchester at 71, and Somerset, Caroline, Wicomico, and Queen Anne all in the 64-68 range. In Western Maryland, he carried Allegany with 65 percent and Washington with 60. He broke 60 percent in Harford, Charles, Cecil, and Kent.

Equally impressive was Trump’s performance in carrying every suburban county as well as Baltimore City. Although one poll had showed him lagging Kasich by 20 points in the D.C. suburbs days before the election, he won both Montgomery and Prince George’s and even succeeded in carrying Howard County by four points over Kasich. Those three counties, plus Baltimore City, were his only under-50-percent showings; Frederick County, at 51 percent, was his next weakest. (Disclosure: I did some volunteering with Kasich’s effort in the final weeks of the contest.)

Despite talk of strategic voting for Kasich by Cruz supporters, Kasich finished only 4 points ahead of Cruz. And despite talk of a highly regionalized race between the two, Cruz was not as weak in the D.C. area, nor as strong in rural Maryland, as all that. Cruz did top Kasich by 5 to 10 point margins in Hagerstown and points west, and led him by modest margins in Southern Maryland. But Kasich’s vote exceeded Cruz’s in five of the nine Eastern Shore counties. Of the big suburban counties, Cruz managed to beat Kasich by 4 points in Frederick and one point in P.G., and otherwise trailed him by margins of 4-10 points in Baltimore, Harford, and Anne Arundel, 13 in Montgomery, and 17 in Howard.

My friend Chrys Kefalas’s bid for U.S. Senate proved no match for that of House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, whose well executed campaign occupied much the same ground Kefalas had tried to stand on, combining plucky biography with Larry-Hogan-style cheerful problem solving. Between a fund-raising edge, broadcast, 5 mailings, a raft of endorsements from influentials, and solid debate performances, Szeliga did exactly what she needed to do to lock down the nomination, and will now face the heavily favored Democrat Chris Van Hollen in November.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s convincing win is not unexpected, nor is that of Democratic Senate nominee Chris Van Hollen. It’s worth remembering that Van Hollen was deeply involved in the partisan Democratic push for an IRS crackdown on conservative-leaning nonprofits that led to the Lois Lerner scandal.

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Correcting the record: Question 6 and religious liberty protections

At Red Maryland (page archive), Brian Griffiths writes the following:

Something that should have been obvious from the get go but 2012’s Question 6, which was supported by Maryland Democrats and current Republican Senate candidate Chrys Kefalas, contained not a single provision protecting the religious liberties of any Marylanders.

To begin with a parenthetical issue, invoking Chrys Kefalas seems a little gratuitous, since Question 6 was supported not only by a majority of Maryland voters but by a number of elected Republicans like now-Howard County executive Allan Kittleman (and opposed by some elected Democrats). What is not gratuitous, but simply wrong, is Griffiths’ assertion about the bill’s contents, even as he links its synopsis, which even at a glance shows the contrary:

Altering a provision of law to establish that only a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in the State; prohibiting an official of a religious order or body authorized to perform a marriage ceremony from being required to solemnize or officiate at a marriage or religious rite of a marriage in violation of the constitutional right to free exercise of religion; making the Act contingent on the resolution of litigation under specified circumstances; etc.

Emphasis added. And that was only one of a series of religious- and conscience-protecting provisions in Sections II, III, and IV. The bill’s full text, linked from the history/synopsis page, summarizes these additional provisions in its prefatory description of purposes:

…establishing that certain religious entities have exclusive control over their own theological doctrine, policy teachings, or beliefs regarding who may marry within that faith; prohibiting certain officials from being subject to any fine or penalty for failing or refusing to join individuals in marriage; prohibiting certain religious entities from being required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual under certain circumstances; providing that a certain refusal by a certain religious entity or an individual employed by a certain religious entity may not create a civil claim or cause of action or result in any State action to penalize, withhold benefits from, or discriminate against such entities or individuals; prohibiting certain fraternal benefit societies from being required to admit an individual as a member or provide insurance benefits to an individual under certain circumstances; providing that a certain refusal by a certain fraternal benefit society may not create a civil claim or cause of action or constitute the basis for the withholding of governmental benefits or services from the fraternal benefit society; …

Hat tip for noticing this error to David Lublin at Seventh State. Lublin’s point of view on some of the other issues involved differs from my own, but I agree on one point: Red Maryland owes Kefalas in particular an apology. And while we’re at it, after this and the recent episode involving CD-6 candidate Amie Hoeber, would anyone regard Red Maryland as a suitably impartial sponsor for a debate between Kefalas and other Republican Senate candidates?

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In miniature, January 10

  • A supposed civil right to wasteful spending: per ACLU of Maryland complaint, it’s race bias for Hogan administration to pull plug on grossly uneconomic Baltimore Red Line [Baltimore Sun] More: “worst and most counter-productive legal complaint that’s been filed in a long, long time” [Barry Rascovar, Maryland Reporter]
  • Trial lawyers want retroactive legislation to grab billions from manufacturers in lead paint suits. Maryland needs to say no [Baltimore Sun]
  • “I agree with decriminalization” — GOP Senate candidate Chris Kefalas on the Drug War [Fox Baltimore at 2:00; related City Paper (“Like a lot of Libertarian-leaning Republicans, Kefalas is opposed to the war on drugs, he says.”); note upcoming fundraising lunch]
  • Gov. Hogan’s commission on regulatory reform issues report; topics include one-stop permitting, occupational licensure;
  • If you’re feeling a bit hopeful about Baltimore, here’s Fred Siegel to knock you back down again [City Journal]
  • Few opinion pieces manage to call forth so many scathing reactions on so many different grounds [Tricia Bishop, Baltimore Sun via S.E.Cupp; national registry of gun owners, “like those for sex offenders,” would make it easier to decide on playdates, and privacy be damned]

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