"Candidate profiles: U.S. Senate"
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 13:03

Bongino running for Senate with “skin in the game”

 

Republican left Secret Service to take on Cardin 

by Ben Boehl

    Dan Bongino wants to be the next U.S. Senator from Maryland. In order to do that, the former Secret Service agent must defeat Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, who is seeking his second term in the Senate. Cardin previously served 20 years in the House of  Representatives before being elected senator in 2006.
    To Bongino, that longevity is one reason Maryland needs a new senator.
    “I’m met Sen. Cardin. He is a decent man. This is not personal. It’s all about political differences,” Bongino said. “The whole insider policies are accessible to the privileged. The whole system is corrupt. We need legitimate outsiders. Not people that say they are from the outside.”
    Bongino was a Secret Service agent from 1999 to 2011. He decided to resign from his position in order to run for office.
    “It was a very tough decision resigning. I did not retire. With my resignation, I lost my pension and health benefits. But it proves to people that I have skin in the game. This is worth it. I can talk (about the issues) from legitimate experience.”
    On the issues, Bongino is largely in line with his fellow Republicans, promoting a platform that includes tax cuts, free trade, strong immigration enforcement, support for Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s Medicare voucher proposal, increased development of domestic fossil fuel sources and a strong interventionist national security posture.
    Bongino has campaigned all over the state and has spent time in Dundalk. He was at the Dundalk Independence Day Parade and paid two visits to Calvary Baptist Church within the last month, and appreciates the response that he has received.
    “We have such support in Dundalk and Baltimore County,” he explained. “We have gotten a lot of honking horns when (sign waving) in Dundalk.”
    Bongino grew up on the border of Queens and Brooklyn in New York City and he moved all over until he settled into Maryland in 2002. As a resident of Severna Park, Bongino said he is a true Marylander and is here to stay.
    “I’m here in Maryland because I want to be here. I have two daughters that were born here in Maryland.”
    While he tries to unseat Cardin, Bongino finds himself facing another obstacle in Potomac resident Rob Sobhani, who entered the race in September as an independent. Sobhani has significant financial resources and has already built name recognition through a steady stream of TV and radio ads.
    A recent poll by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies showed Cardin leading in the race with 49.8 percent, while Bongino polled at 21.6 percent to 20.9 over Sobhani. The remaining 7.6 percent of respondents were listed as undecided.
    Bongino believes that Sobhani’s candidacy is more detrimental to Cardin.
    “It only helps us. My base is not looking for another option.”
    The Gonzales poll, however, indicates that Sobhani is winning 22.4 percent of self-identified Republicans, as opposed to  15.9 percent of Democrats, while also winning nearly 40 percent of the independent voters Bongino would likely need to unseat Cardin.
    The GOP nominee discounted that ultimate impact of Sobhani’s ad spending.
     “You can’t buy an election. You can buy all the airtime you want. That doesn’t result in winning,” he noted. “I met Rob [Sobhani]. He is a gentleman and a nice guy, but he has no grassroots and no volunteers. You can’t jump into a race two months before the election and expect to win.”
    So how do you win an election against a popular incumbent and a businessman who has a lot of capital? Bongino says that he is just going to be himself.
    “You can’t fake authenticity. I’m not a millionaire like (Cardin and Sobhani) and I congratulate them on their successes. I believe in the free market, but I’m middle class like most in Maryland,” he said.

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Sobhani seeks Senate seat as independent

Says two major parties need accountability

by Ben Boehl

    Rob Sobhani says he is tired of both Democrats and Republicans not having accountability.
    The Potomac resident says it is time for an independent to get into office. Sobhani has entered the U.S Senate race in Maryland, where he will be among six candidates to challenge incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin.
    Sobhani said Cardin, a 26-year veteran of Congress (who is seeking his second six-year term in the Senate after 20 years in the House of  Representatives) has failed on his promises.
    “When I turn on the TV and I see jobs are leaving the state, I ask myself, ‘Why is Ben Cardin running again?’” he said in an interview with The Eagle last week. “When the news leads with a murder in Baltimore, I ask myself ‘Why is Ben Cardin running again?’”
    Sobhani filed as an unaffiliated candidate and officially got onto the ballot when his supporters collected over 77,000 signatures. Even though Cardin and Republican candidate Dan Bongino have the most name recognition, Sobhani is not running to place third.
    “My goal is to win,” Sobhani said. “I’m running for those who are fed up with both political parties.”
    According to the Federal Election Commission, Sobhani has not received any contributions to his campaign, but he used his own money to buy TV ads, which have already been seen on local airwaves.
    Sobhani wants to see Maryland get a bigger slice of the pie and hopes to get $5.5 billion in funding to invest in cancer research, to finance a public-private partnership for the reconstruction of residential homes in Baltimore’s inner-city areas, to invest in roads and bridges and for job creation.
    He said that Dundalk is an example of a town that has suffered with the loss of jobs and needs more job creation.
    “Dundalk should be a beneficiary of a lot more work,” Sobhani said.
    According to his campaign website, Sobhani would like to see term limits for Congress and plans to serve no more than two terms if elected.
    “I’m the only credible candidate in the race,” Sobhani said. “If I don’t get the job done, I won’t run for re-election.”

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Libertarian seeks notice in crowded U.S. Senate race

Ahmad trying to get party’s message heard

by Ben Boehl

    Dean Ahmad decided to run for the U.S. Senate after the Libertarian Party asked him to be their candidate and said the Libertarians supplied him with $10,000 and over 60 volunteers for the polls.
    “They have been supportive. When they approached me, I told them I need money and volunteers,”  Ahmad said.
    Like all the other candidates running for senate, Ahmad believes that Sen. Ben Cardin needs to be replaced and has not kept his promises to the American public. Ahmad supports repeal of the Patriot Act and is upset that Cardin hasn’t tried to use his power as senator to stop the wars in which the U.S. is currently involved.
    “Ben Cardin said he is an anti-war candidate, but he is not willing to cut off funding for the wars,” Ahmad said.
    Ahmad also believes that Republican candidate Dan Bongino is not a better option to Cardin. Ahmad doesn’t approve of Bongino because he is not an anti-war candidate and has not expressed any support on civil liberties.
    The Libertarian Party, which was founded in 1971, takes a consistent across-the-board “minimal government” approach, favoring free speech, firearms ownership rights, minimal regulation of the free market and private property, less powerful government, robust civil liberties (including support for same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights), marijuana legalization and regulation, separation of church and state, open immigration, free trade and non-interventionism and neutrality in world affairs.
    Past Libertarian presidential candidates have included U.S. Reps. Ron Paul and Bob Barr. The party’s presidential nominee this year is former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.
    While Libertarians have failed to make inroads at the federal level or in statewide races — Johnson, Paul and Barr all won their elective offices as Republicans — many have been elected to state legislatures and local offices over the last 40 years. Currently, that party boasts about 150 elected state and local officials nationwide.
    Like most third-party candidates, Ahmad feels there needs to be more than a two-party system.
    “Democrats and Republicans both mention fiscal responsibility, but nothing changes,” he said.           “Democrats want to raise taxes and Republicans want to cut spending, but they won’t cut spending in the military.”
    While the Libertarian candidate usually is a safe bet to place a distant third in most races, Maryland’s 2012 U.S. Senate race features Rob Sobhani running as an independent, and polls show Sobhani and Bongino running neck-and-neck behind Cardin, both well ahead of Ahmad.
    Could Sobhani take away votes from Ahmad and the Libertarians?
    “Yeah. He is an independent candidate, and he could attract some of those independent voters, but we don’t think it will be a factor in trying to grow our party.”
    Seeking enough of a spotlight to make his case to the voters, Ahmad said he has been in contact with the League of Women Voters, and he hopes they can organize a debate between all the candidates for U.S. Senate.
    “I was told by them that if they have a debate, I would be involved,” Ahmad said.