With it being a presidential election year, it is easy to lose track of the fact that there is an institution called Congress. You may not have heard, but as is the case every two years, approximately one-third of the Senate and all 435 House seats are up for election. I hope to look at the Senate races in the coming week, but this post is for the House of Representatives.
The least suspenseful aspect of the 2012 election are the House races. Certainly there is some drama within individual races, but in the aggregate, the Democratic chances of recapturing the House are somewhere between slim and are you kidding me. Real Clear Politics already has the GOP at 226 seats with lean-R and likely-R districts, with an additional 26 races listed as toss-ups. No matter what happens with the presidential election, Republican control of the House is a near certainty. The main question with regard to the House is how big will the Republican majority be? Even though the Republicans had an historic mid-term pickup, there were a number of close elections that Republicans lost in 2010, many of them in districts favorable to Republicans. Throw in post-census re-districting, and the GOP should retain a fairly strong majority.
I’m not going to go into detail into every tossup race. Consider this an open invitation for those of you either in swing districts or neighboring swing districts to inform us how things are shaping up in your neck of the woods.
I’ll kick things off by taking a look at the People’s Republic of Maryland. Currently two of Maryland’s eight House districts are held by Republicans, which is just too many for the overwhelming Democratic majority in the state. In attempt to knock off the longest-serving Republican – Roscoe Bartlett in the sixth district – the Democrats drew up a laughably gerrymandered map. This is actually a map of Maryland’s 8th district, currently served by Democrat and Nancy Pelosi lackey Chris Van Hollen (click on 2012 map). What they’ve done is place a part of heavily Reublican Frederick County in the northern part of the state and magically patched it with Maoist Montgomery County to the south. At one point the district basically just runs up I-270. The area to the west is the sixth district, which now combines portions of Montgomery County with the more conservative northwest section of the state. In other words, they’ve taken one heavily Democratic district and one Republican district and converted them into two Democratic-leaning districts. The gerrymander is so ridiculous that it is one of the five major state-wide ballot initiatives in Maryland. (Even if the voters decide to reject the altered districts, those elected will serve the districts as currently designed for the next term, and the Democrats just get to re-draw the lines).
Bartlett is facing challenger Joe Delaney, and things do not look good for Bartlett. It would be the ultimate justice if instead of ousting Bartlett, the re-drawn eight district winds up in the Republican column. Ken Timmerman is challenging Van Hollen, and has drawn the support of luminaries such as John Bolton. The district is now “only” 50% Democrat, which means that instead of this being a lock-solid Democrat district, it’s just a very strong Democrat district. Timmerman is going to have to pull a lot of independents to have any chance, but stranger things have happened. In the end, it looks like the state of Maryland will be a net pickup of one for the Democrats.
This looked like a done deal after the Senate approved it, but the same-sex marriage bill went down to defeat this afternoon. I find this to be particularly noteworthy:
Advocates for the bill had hoped Maryland would join five other states and the District in allowing same-sex marriages. The bill had significant momentum coming out of the Senate but ran into resistance in the Democratic-led House from African-American lawmakers from Prince George’s County, who cited religious opposition in their districts, and conservative Democrats in Southern Maryland and the Baltimore suburbs.
People assume that because Maryland is a deeply blue state that same-sex marriage would find more support than in other areas of the country, but there is some innate social conservatism here thanks in part to the substantial African-American population. This was brought home to me just yesterday when I read an op-ed opposing gay marriage in an independent local paper aimed at the African-American community, and not one normally noted as a bastion of conservative thought. But I think this vote represents one of the potential areas for schism within the Democratic party. Just a year ago or so Marion Barry expressed his opposition to DC’s imposition of same-sex marriage, and now we have lawmakers from a majority-black county blocking same-sex marriage in Maryland.
All in all, a day for rejoicing. For now.
There are a pair of companions bills working their way through the Maryland legislature. HB 55 and SB 116, titled “The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act” will soon be coming up for debate. Religious freedom and marriage protection – must be a law that good Catholics can get behind. So what do the bills provide for:
Altering a provision of law to establish that only a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in the State; prohibiting an official of a religious institution or body authorized to solemnize marriages from being required to solemnize any marriage in violation of the constitutional right to free exercise of religion; etc.
So it’s a gay marriage bill. Oh sure there’s a little codicil about protecting religious officials from having to perform gay marriage, but this is a bill about altering the definition of marriage.
You almost have to hand it to the Democrats here in Maryland. They recognize that while Maryland might be a deeply blue state, there is a very large segment of social conservatives that don’t fully embrace social engineering and attempts to subvert traditional morality. So how coy of them to slip this issue under the radar in the guise of protecting religious liberty.
The phrase “culture of death” has been employed the anti-life agenda of the radical left. I think the “culture of deceit” might be equally as apt. From the shenanigans on abortion statistics to this action undertaken by the Maryland legislature, progressives continue to use obfuscation in order to advance their political agenda. Thus the debate over abortion is morphed into one about choice, privacy, a woman’s “control over her body.” Gay marriage becomes a civil rights issue.
We complain about the left utilizing the Courts to advance their agenda, and that is indeed a problem. But they’ve also advanced their agenda simply by lying through their collective teeth, or creatively using and abusing the English language.
George Orwell may have gotten some things wrong, but he certainly prophesied correctly in this regard.