Comin’ Right Up

Yes, it’s Christmas, but I just binge watched the last 8 episodes of The Newsroom, a thoroughly manipulative and often reprehensible, yet strangely addictive and compelling television program to people - like me - who are susceptible to witty and intelligent yet completely unbelievable banter, and who want to believe that everything ends well and the guy and the girl always get together in the end. In other words, hopeless romantics. It’s an Aaron Sorkin thing: I hate myself for being manipulated while simultaneously wanting to live in a world where the stupid yet awesome things he likes to portray actually happen.

So now I’m all charged up about all the cool stories that I have in mind for the next few weeks. Here you go. I need to go watch a horror movie or something to rebalance my brain.

1. In six days, we reach the end of the Q4 campaign finance reporting period. These numbers - which by the way won’t be filed until January 31 - will be the last formal measure of the fundraising efforts of all the Senate and House candidates before early voting starts on April 14. The 2016 Q1 reports won’t be due until the next day, April 15. What will the numbers look like? From everything I hear from a wide range of sources, the operative word is “down.” What will matter in the great majority of situations is “how far down?” and “how did the other guys do by comparison?”

2. Campaign strategies will begin to take shape in a way that we as observers will be able to, well, observe. Who’s got the best ground game? Who’s active in what kind of outreach activity? Who goes on the air, and what kind of message will they be delivering? Who jumps first into the direct mail pool?

3. Polls. There’s only been one internal House poll in CD8, one outside poll in the Senate, and none in CD4. I’ve been hearing rumors about more polls, but nothing concrete, not even for the guy willing to report rumors if enough people are talking about them. It’s all vague and contradictory right now, but I’m going to try to dig up what I can.

4. The candidates going to Annapolis for  days starting on January 13: Kumar Barve, Ana Sol Gutierrez, Jamie Raskin, Dereck Davis, and Joseline Pena-Melnyk. Barve and Davis are committee chairs. How will they and the others manage the competing demands of session and a primary that is now 123 days away? Striking a balance is critical: too much Annapolis means you lose the primary, but too much campaign means you get criticized for not doing your job, which means you lose the primary. See Cardin, Jon, 2014.

5. Issues. Every legislative session brings issues to the fore that nobody was thinking about when session began. Criminal justice reform, police accountability, veto overrides, education, alcohol, the budget, I’ll be doing my best to keep tabs on all of them, not to mention stuff we aren’t even thinking about right now.

6. The presidential primaries. After months and months and months and months of blather, the first votes will be cast in Iowa in 38 days, and in New Hampshire in 46. I’ll be following that too. Right now, if you put a gun to my head, I’d bet that when the smoke clears, it’s going to be Clinton vs. Cruz.

7. Whatever other crazy shit that Maryland politics, the Internet, and my loopy brain can dredge up for your entertainment and amusement.

Hope that’s enough. Going to watch that movie now.

Stay Tuned For Further Developments

Yesterday’s bombshell post on the ongoing war between Mike Miller and Peter Franchot generated so much traffic that it froze my visitor count for the rest of the day. The traffic was almost double the previous highs for the site, and the interest in the Miller letter continues unabated today. But just to show you that I’m no one trick pony, listen up: I have not one, not two, but THREE stories to report that you won’t find anywhere else.

Alas, you’re going to have to wait a bit, as I have carpool responsibilities to fulfill. Yes, leading the fascinating and cutting edge life of a blogger doesn’t absolve me of more mundane responsibilities. But I’ll be back and have some stuff posted before dinner.

So stick around because, as the kids like to say, the shit is about to get real up in here. Promise.

Weekend Highlights

Personal aside here: Thanksgiving has always been a time for self-assessment in my life, certainly as an adult. Since my wife passed away in 2012, I’ve taken the opportunity every year to weigh the good, the bad and the in between, and to figure out what I had to be thankful for - not so easy back then, but a good exercise that has gotten easier and better each year since. Here’s my latest Turkey Day rumination, with a link to the first one three years ago.

All of this is to say that this time of year has always been a time of reflection and taking stock for me. And as I thought about it yesterday and today, I thought - hey, if it’s good enough for me, why not apply it to all those campaigns I’m so obsessively covering? And then: wow, I’m a really smart guy, and good looking, too. That all makes a lot of sense.

So starting tomorrow, I’m going to scrutinize the campaigns the same way I’ve assessed myself the past few years: rigorously and without mercy. Blood in the streets kind of stuff. But all in the name of self-improvement and betterment. Of course.

You won’t want to miss it.

Halloween Teasiness

Is that a word? Well, it is now, because I said so.

Coming later during daylight hours: some legal opinion on a new bill from yours truly, some bad behavior on multiple levels (from the same person, no less), and some more interesting Maryland voter stats. Gonna be super spooky, no doubt. Come back for breakfast - no, let’s make it brunch. More sleep for me.

Field Trip To Charm City [UPDATED]

Couple of interesting events will compel me to leave the Cheetos-encrusted Maryland Scramble nerve center today for a road trip to Baltimore. This afternoon, International Man of Mystery Elijah Cummings will host an event focusing on our court system’s failure to prevent the legal theft of structured settlements from mentally impaired residents by financial companies. Also present at the University of Baltimore Law School event, by happy coincidence or otherwise, will be Chris Van Hollen and Jamie Raskin, which should make for some interesting questions, if nothing else.

Tonight there is a big Democratic Party event at the American Visionary Art Museum to celebrate the 30 years of Barbara Mikulski’s term as senator. Tickets for the event are a very reasonable $50 and can be purchased here.

So I pretty much to get to see a whole bunch of candidates and poobahs over the next several hours, and only pay $50 plus cheap gas for the privilege. Sounds like a good deal to me.

[UPDATE]: Cummings event postponed. Still going to the Mikulski tribute tonight.