Scanlan: Do better at local politics than in Washington

There’s a reason so many politicians get such a bad rap – they’re politicians. We have come to expect that on the national level. We have a president who attacks our allies and NATO while cozying up with known enemies of the United States. He takes Vladimir Putin’s word over our own intelligence agencies, denigrating American law enforcement.

Few politicians of his political party have the courage or moral fortitude to stand up to his blatant disregard for the rule of law and truth. This has become the new normal in Washington, D.C.. Most of us feel powerless to change the virulent atmosphere in our nation’s capital, and we certainly don’t want that negativity infecting our lives here in Carroll County.


Now that the dust has settled from the primary election in June, we can take a moment to reflect on how we got here to prepare us for what to expect this fall. First of all, we had two candidates who thought they could buy their way into office. Both were unsuccessful. Besides the usual mailers and billboards, one even paid for television commercials. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with running a vigorous campaign; anyone running for office knows how hard you must work. However, these two campaigns reveal the dark side of our local politics. Implying you are endorsed by Gov. Hogan when your opponent actually has his endorsement is wrong, plain and simple. Subtle deceit is still dishonesty.

The Republican race for House of Delegates was another matter altogether. The orchestrated smear campaign against David Ellin exemplifies how low some will go to win an election. Whether you supported Ellin or not is irrelevant. The repeated misleading claims and disturbing mailers are transparent examples of politics at its dirtiest, right here in Carroll County. “Team Hogan” now has a serious contender for House of Delegates in Democrat Emily Shank. Del. Haven Shoemaker wasted no time in trying to discredit her. It seems the best he can do is to repeat his bogus claims about nonexistent gun grabbing. Blaming Obama, O’Malley, and all Democrats for Team Hogan’s own ineptitude is proof positive we need someone like Emily Shank to represent us in Annapolis.

It was not surprising to see the support given to “Team Hogan” by the Republican establishment here in Carroll. Conversely, it was fascinating to watch them turn against their own in the District 3 commissioner race. The vicious attacks against Dennis Frazier were clearly scripted and deliberately misleading, though ultimately unsuccessful. It will be interesting to watch this race unfold.

Only two commissioner races are competitive in November. In District 3, Maria Warburton will be a formidable competitor. Both Frazier and Warburton are extremely competent and knowledgeable. The question is whether Republicans will now support Frazier or continue to stab him in the back. If Warburton can earn enough Republican and Independent support, she very well may win.

Paul Johnson, the District 4 Democrat, has a different set of challenges. He has a well-funded opponent in Eric Bouchat. Johnson has an uphill battle for sure, but perhaps enough voters are sick enough of Richard Rothschild’s extremism to vote for a Democrat this time.

The most disturbing development during the primary election was the politicization of the Board of Education race by the Republican Central Committee. The Board of Education is non-partisan for a reason — to keep politics out of education. There is no single more important charge than preparing our young people to be responsible, productive members of society. To deliberately bring partisan politics into such an important endeavor cheapens the electoral process and ultimately undermines the integrity of our democracy. Some of the questions on the RCC’s questionnaire were innocuous enough, but others were politically charged, such as asking the candidate’s view on school vouchers and the Carroll County Education Association. Apparently the RCC believes party affiliation is a litmus test as to one’s values and ideals.

As we move forward to the November general election, let us take the time to educate ourselves about the various candidates and issues facing Carroll County and our state. Let us be vigilant against negative campaigns and falsehoods. Sadly, the Republican party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush is seemingly dead. Instead we hear a chorus of fake news and deep state conspiracy theories. Maybe here at home we can do better.

Tom Scanlan is a member of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee. He writes from Westminster.