Voter suppression disgusts sensible Democrats and Republicans alike, but will it sell Bob Ehrlich's new book to Red Meat Republicans?
Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), who lost his comeback bid last year by 14 points despite the Tea Party tsunami, isn’t the first failed Republican politician to simultaneously cash in on the right wing junk book circuit and the unregistered lobbying racket, but he couldn’t have picked a better moment to launch his national book tour than the day a home state jury found his campaign chief guilty of fraudulent voter suppression.
Here’s how Bob Ehrlich’s campaign committed fraudulent voter suppression: They paid a dirty tricks consultant to robocall 100,000 of their opponent’s voters hours before the polls closed on Election Day with a message pretending to be from their opponent (or their opponent’s supporter) telling them to stay home and not bother voting because they had already won. It was stupid and the voters who received it were too smart to fall for it (plus a local television reporter rushed onto the air to set the record straight), but that’s not the point....
Here’s what the call said (my bold)….
"Hello. I'm calling to let everybody know that Governor O'Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. The polls were correct, and we took it back. We're OK. Relax. Everything's fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight. Congratulations, and thank you."
They deliberately left out the authority line required by law (“Paid for by Bob Ehrlich for Maryland Committee”) but they used the words “our goals,” “we,” “we’re OK,” and “thank you,” so voters would think Mr. Ehrlich’s opponent, not Mr. Ehrlich, was telling them not to bother voting.
That was stupid and it didn’t fool anyone, but it was a lie and a fraud and it’s a crime in Maryland, which is why a jury found Mr. Ehrlich’s campaign chief guilty and he very likely will be going to jail. It disgusts sensible Democrats and Republicans, but it will probably help Mr. Ehrlich sell his book to the core of firebrand Republicans who embrace the strategy of preventing Americans whose politics they don’t like from exercising their right to vote.
Last year’s Tea Party Republicans tapped anguish over the economic meltdown brought on by eight years of George W. Bush and Republican policy to claim control of 30 of the 50 state governments. None of these firebrand Republicans campaigned on the phony issue of preventing voter fraud or the evils of spending public funds on early voting, but they immediately went to work to block people who tend to vote Democratic from being able to vote under the pretext of “solving” these debunked fantasies. Almost overnight, they dismantled early voting, same day registration, on-line registration, and other recent steps that made voting more accessible while erecting obstacles designed to prevent Americans whose politics they don’t like from exercising their right to vote.
For balance here’s the right wing biased Wall Street Journal on the Obama campaign’s response to new Republican voting measures…..
and a website on the issue set up by the Democratic National Committee…..
Maryland Republicans might conflate GOP voter suppression measures all over the country with our recent overtly partisan Congressional redistricting process, but they must admit Maryland Democrats would be fools to unilaterally disarm when states under Republican control are redistricting in the same partisan manner all over the country.
Red Meat Republican Book Buyers will love this…..
And lest Mr. Ehrlich’s new friends think him a newcomer to the voter suppression business, they should know he has a history of playing ineffective but racially insulting dirty tricks. On Election Day 2006, the first time he lost his gubernatorial re-election bid, Mr. Ehrlich’s campaign filled 6 buses with indigent men recruited from a Philadelphia program for ex-offenders on the promise of 3 square meals and $100 each, delivered them to Maryland where the governor’s wife and political partner, Kendel Ehrlich, gave them a pre-dawn pep talk and then sent into predominantly African American precincts to pose as campaign volunteers handing out flyers suggesting popular African American Democrats endorsed Mr. Steele and Mr. Ehrlich. Authority lines indicated both Mr. Steele and Mr. Ehrlich approved the flyers.
Of course the plan backfired, as many of the shanghaied men refused to hand out the flyers, the targeted voters were more bemused than angered at the stupidity of the ploy, and the prominent community leaders and elected officials referenced in the flyers denounced the whole affair.
In one singularly stupid act, Mr. Ehrlich, Mr. Steele, and their entire team shamelessly exploited indigent ex-convicts trying to put their lives back together, insulted their own constituents, and effectively stole endorsements from prominent Marylanders who opposed their election, at least one of whom warned them ahead of time not to use his name and likeness in this manner.
Sorry to burst their firebrand Republican bubbles, but…..
Mr. Ehrlich’s new book serves up enough Tea Party Republican red meat on trashing the president, race relations, hating taxes and spending, and saying things that annoy liberals, but before they shell out their $17 discount price for Mr. Ehrlich’s trade paperback firebrand book buyers around the country ought to know….
Bob Ehrlich's record contradicts his anti-tax and spend rhetoric. Mr. Ehrlich criticized his successor for raising taxes by $3.6 billion, but over his single term in office, Mr. Ehrlich raised taxes by $3 billion, including income tax increases breaking his campaign promise, according to the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services (see table on page 32). Two months after he was sworn in, Bob Ehrlich raised property taxes 57 percent through the Maryland Board of Public Works on which he presided (not the Democratic legislature). The next year he raised taxes $2 billion, according to the otherwise GOP-friendly Maryland Taxpayers Association. In 2006 he proposed the largest annual spending increase in Maryland history, which the Democratic legislature had to scale back. [NOTE: One minor HMO tax on the DLS list was enacted over Mr. Ehrlich's veto. The rest of the $3 billion in tax increases, including a 57 percent property tax increase AND personal income tax increases, were enacted by then-Gov. Bob Ehrlich.]
Bob Ehrlich can't hide from his dismal business record. When he was governor, a constant flow of businesses shed jobs, failed, left Maryland, or chose to locate in other states. As a comeback candidate in 2010 he blamed his successor for a spike in unemployment tax that stung Maryland businesses, but that spike was caused by a law Mr. Ehrlich enacted when he was governor.
And let’s not forget the reason I suspect Baltimore’s senior investigative reporter, Jayne Miller of WBAL TV, broke her foot chasing Bob Ehrlich dashing from the courthouse this week—Allied Berton.