David Craig threw down the gauntlet on the rain tax last week, and this is one writer who thinks he'll make plenty of political hay with it. In fact, he already has.
Can Craig ride his position on the rain tax to the governor's mansion? Let's just say he's busted out of the gate, and it's up to other candidates in both parties to catch up.
In Maryland and many other places, getting the government off people's back and out of their pockets resonates with many who are going to vote in the next 40 months.
Yes, we live in a liberal state dominated by a Democratic Party, one that is aided and abetted by a decidedly liberal biased statewide media, but there comes a time when the same tired messages sent by those in power wear thin, even with the most docile and easily manipulated citizens. Just watching the scramble to discount Craig's activism on the rain tax tells me he's on the right track and the political establishment's alarm bells are ringing.
Why would anyone vote for a candidate for governor of Maryland who can be painted as being against cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay? Because in this day and age, even in Maryland, the anti-tax, anti-government stand will trump environmental issues every day. If you are being taxed out of your home, you aren't going to worry about a little misplaced rain here and there, and that's what's happening to many people in our state.
Craig still needs to avoid having to defend his record on the environment to the point where his own message gets lost in the political cacophony. I expect his opponents, in his own party and among the Democratic governor aspirants, will use every opportunity to cast him as an environmental pariah. But this campaign won't be about the environment. It's going to be about O'Malley, Obama and a change in attitude about our state.
Prove such a tax/fee works, Craig said last week. Prove that throwing money - our money - at a problem makes the dirty bay go away. As badly as runoff from Harford County may impact the bay, no place pollutes it more than Baltimore City. Take a walk down an alley in East or West Baltimore during or just after a rainstorm and you'll know what I mean. Don't come out to Bel Air or Elkton or Frederick or Westminster and take our money until you clean up those alleys. That's what I believe many voters are thinking.
My view is Craig's opponents and detractors are not going to overcome him on the rain tax issue and would be better served finding their own issues to call attention to their own candidacies. They need to force Craig to look elsewhere to call attention to himself. The problem is, what does someone like Doug Gansler or Anthony Brown or Ron George or Larry Hogan tout in themselves? I'm with O'Malley, I'm against O'Malley? I'm for guns, I'm against guns? I'm for the bay? I'm against taxes?
While the others stew and try to recover, Craig has gotten himself noticed and built up some momentum, and those in power are suddenly wary of what he's done. Notice there has been no public hue and cry against Craig's position. Just some of the usual establishment shills saying essentially, "How dare Craig be against clean water."
My question to the rain tax advocates is this: Nobody has talked about cleaning up the air pollution caused by all those cars that travel down I-95 each day from Harford County, taking their occupants to work. When the new $5 commuter tax was announced last week, nary a word was said about using the money to clean up the air. That money will go to build more highways to enable more houses to be built in the suburbs followed by more dirty runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.
Politics is hypocrisy in it's highest form. In Maryland it's been taken to a new level. Craig may not become governor, but just watching the number of people he's made uncomfortable about the rain tax leads me to suspect we're in for an entertaining 14 months.