Area Republican group speaks out on referendums
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 11:38

Members asked to vote “no” on all ballot issues

by Ben Boehl

    With the November election approaching, the East Baltimore County Republican Club might be expected to focus on electing its candidates, but the club’s agenda extends to ballot issues as well, as evidenced by a recent meeting at which local Republicans gathered to discuss their positions on this year’s referendum  questions.
    The club held the event at Uncle Eddie’s Restaurant in Essex last week and invited former Baltimore County Republican Chairman Tony Campbell, who is now president of the group Marylanders for Coherent and Fair Representation (MCFR).

Campbell focused on referendums regarding tuition rates at state colleges for children of illegal immigrants (a.k.a. The Dream Act), the state’s congressional redistricting plan, same-sex marriage and the expansion of gambling.
    “We want everybody to vote against, against, against and against,” Campbell said. “The two we have to push is the Dream Act and Redistricting.”
    Carlton Clendaniel, who ran for the House of Delegates in the 6th Legislative District two years ago, explained that he was against the Dream Act (Question 4) because he feels it will hurt the children of American citizens.
    “The children of Maryland should have the first choice towards our colleges,” Clendaniel said.
    Paul M. Blitz, who is second vice chair of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, said that the new congressional redistricting plan (on the ballot as Question 5) is designed to get Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett out of office, as his western Maryland-based 6th Congressional District is being changed to include parts of Montgomery County with large numbers of Democrats.
    “Since Democrats control the redistricting process, they are gerrymandering and they are dividing communities,” Blitz said.
    If the redistricting plan is overturned by the voters in November, members of the Republican Party have an alternative map that would rebuild the 1st and 6th districts that would help 1st District Rep. Andy Harris and Bartlett keep their seats and a new Republican-friendly district would be centered on Anne Arundel County and the Southern Maryland counties.
    According to Blitz, the plan would be better for Republicans, but Blitz doesn’t like how the new map would still divide communities. He gave an example of how places with a high population of Hispanics and African Americans would be placed in a district with Dundalk and Essex.
    “You could have three solid Republican (districts), you could have three solid Democratic (districts) and two swing districts that could go the other way,” Blitz said “However a minority district would be created where Essex and Dundalk would be paired with Highlandtown and Canton. Essex and Canton don’t have the same problems.”
    Many of the Republicans feel that same-sex marriage (Question 6) will pass and believe the only way to stop it is to get more churches to express their opposition to the law.
    Ric Metzgar, who ran for House of Delegates in the 6th District in 2006 and 2010, said the public has become desensitized to the subject and he is also concerned about the wording of the question. The question states “Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license.”
    Metzgar fears that most people will think that people are voting for gay and lesbian couples to have “civil unions” and not “marriage.” He is also worried that churches will eventually have to marry same-sex couples if the referendum is approved.
    “If this law is passed, the first time that somebody’s son goes to church and wants to (have a same-sex) marriage and that pastor says ‘no,’ that family could get the ACLU to take it on,” Metzgar said. “We need to protect these pastors.”
    On the expansion of gambling, Clendaniel  said he doesn’t gamble, but he thinks people should be allowed to gamble. His issue with Question 7 is that gambling is expanding too fast.
    “We have five places for gaming; do we need a sixth? If we need six, why wasn’t it done during the regular session and not behind closed doors?” Clendaniel asked.
    Campbell wonders if Gov. Martin O’Malley truly cares about these laws. Campbell believes O’Malley is using same-sex marriage and the Dream Act to get money for future endeavors from interest groups.    
    Campbell would like voters to defeat all four laws, but said that even one or two defeats would be enough to humble O’Malley.
    “If we can’t repeal O’Malley, we can repeal the laws he created,” Campbell said.