Lollar campaigns with passion
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 13:27

Charles Lollar   photo by Ben Boehl

Republican brings bid for governor to Dundalk

by Ben Boehl

If passion can help a person become governor of Maryland, Republican Charles Lollar may have a leg up on his opponents.
    In an interview with The Eagle on May 5, the southern Maryland business executive and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve major ranged from fiery, raised-voice exposition and broad gestures to hushed tones that seemed to verge on choking up.
    Such peaks of emotion were often coupled with large gestures and an almost reflexive reach to touch the shoulder or hand of his wife Rosha, who sat by his side throughout the Eagle interview.
    When Charles Lollar speaks, it seems he rarely does so without deep emotion.

Income tax at center of economic plan
    Like his fellow Republican gubernatorial candidates, Lollar said the state needs jobs and blamed taxes and regulations for pushing jobs out of Maryland and hindering new growth.
    In response, he described a plan  that would include eliminating the state income tax over a five-year period giving the state government time to adjust to changes in its revenue stream.
    Lollar said he likewise opposes other taxes, including the storm water management fee popularly known as the “rain tax,” but thinks any tax reform program should begin with the removal of the income tax.
    “If we see an economic recovery that blows us away, we would move on to the rain tax and the corporate tax,” he said.
    Lollar said that he was against the recently-passed minimum wage increase, arguing that workers might be getting a $3 an hour raise, but taxes in the state are costing them too much of that additional income.
    The Republican hopeful said he would rather see companies provide profit-sharing opportunities for employees — noting that such things are not possible until businesses start making a profit.
    “When business thrives, people work and families thrive.”

Education
    On the subject of education, Lollar said Maryland has good teachers but that he would like to see the teachers provided with the proper resources.
    “I don’t believe we have bad teachers,” he said. “A big problem is overcrowded classrooms.”
    He did state that he is against the Common Core State Standards Initiative, explaining that not all children learn at the same pace. He gave an example of his own children; all grew up in the same house, yet some learned faster than others, he said.
    “I don’t believe that Annapolis or Pennsylvania Avenue know the right way to educate our children,” he said.

Not afraid of social issues
    Unlike GOP rivals Ron George and Larry Hogan, who took pains to say they did not stress social conservatism during interviews with Eagle staff, Lollar is unapologetic in his commitment to “traditional values” — if a bit unorthodox ­in his approach.
    On same-sex marriage, Lollar said he believes in traditional marriage between a man and woman, but said he respects the civil marriage of same-sex individuals that passed and later approved in a referendum by Maryland voters.
    Lollar noted he is more upset that married couples receive tax breaks and does not want marriage to be part of the government.
    “My focus is how do we get government out of marriage. It is not my job to tell you who to be with.”
    A question about his opinion of changes to marijuana laws brought up an apparent sore subject for Lollar, who said he favors decriminalization of the drug in order to keep common users out of the criminal  justice system, which he said does harm to non-threatening offenders and wastes law enforcement resources.
    “Knowledge and consistency,” he said, are key, and stressed the need for a standard by which Maryland residents know how decriminalization will be enforced.
    He stated that he is not in favor of  outright legalizing the drug and is upset that people have perceived him to be in favor of legalization.
    “People are not noticing the difference between decriminalization and legalization. The low-informed voter is driving me nuts,” Lollar said loudly.
    Asked if his candor might prove to be a liability in politics, Lollar said he wants to be transparent on all issues and added that he is not afraid to admit when he does not know as much as he’d like about a particular issue.
    “Professional politicians know what to say to keep their jobs. I want to be open and honest. Integrity matters to me,” Lollar noted.
    He described himself as “a strong believer in Second Amendment rights,” but when asked if he thought Maryland citizens should have the right to buy and own any firearm of any type, he paused for a moment before answering.
    “That’s an interesting question. I don’t know,” he said.
    He went on to say that he does favor background checks on prospective gun buyers.

Chesapeake Bay
    Lollar opposes the stormwater remediation fees levied by certain counties to comply with Environmental Protection Agency limits on storm water run off. “More money will not solve the bay’s problems,” he said.
    Instead, Lollar said he favors partnerships with neighboring states, which share the Susquehanna River watershed with Maryland, in a regional effort to reduce contaminants reaching the bay.

Defying the odds
    Lollar is regarded by many observers as a long shot to win the GOP nod, and he has trailed the field in most polls.
    An April 23 St. Mary’s College of Maryland poll showed Lollar with only 3.8 percent in the Republican race. However, that poll showed fellow Republican Larry Hogan leading with only 16 percent of the vote, while two-thirds of GOP voters said they were still undecided.    
    Lollar believes he can get those undecided voters to swing his way and is pleased that he won a straw poll at the Maryland Republican Party’s spring convention in late April.
    “Things are shaking up very, very well. We now have a strong grass roots,” Lollar said. “I’m confident, but we are not going to rest on our laurels.”
    His campaign plan includes focusing on eight counties, mostly in central Maryland.
    He thinks he can win at least four of the eight counties and would like to get as many as six.
    As for hoping to compete one-on-one with an eventual nominee, Lollar said he does not have a preference among Democrats Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Montgomery  County Del. Heather Mizeur, as he believes any of the three will be tied to Gov. Martin O’Malley and the party he says many Marylanders blame for the state’s woes.
    I’m not sure if [the state’s problem] is all a Democratic problem, but it is a record that needs to be defended,” Lollar said about the Democratic candidates.

Working with Democrats
    Unless there is an abundance of upsets in this year’s General Assembly races, a Republican governor would still have to work with heavy majorities of Democrats in both the House of Delegates and state Senate.
    Lollar said he is ready for that challenge and that he has campaigned in Democratic strongholds such as Baltimore City and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties to get know the constituents in those neighborhoods so he can work better with the local representatives in that area.
    Lollar also said that if he is elected, he will meet personally with each member of the House and Senate to build a friendly relationship.
    He added that he would not mind if his agenda got passed, but the Democrats received the recognition.
    “It’s an attitude that I would bring. I don’t care who gets the credit as long as Maryland benefits,” Lollar said.
• Dundalk Eagle staffers John Bailey and Steve Matrazzo also contributed to this report.