It's the Economy, Stupid (and The Theme is Freedom)

Maryland’s Ron George and An All-Star Cast

Why would former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and former UN Ambassador John Bolton, among others, spend time and political capital on a race for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates?

The answer is Ron George, the lone Republican among the three delegates elected from District 30 (Anne Arundel County) and clearly a star in a legislative chamber in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by 141 to 36. From battling Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s big-spend and high-tax agenda to fighting against in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, the 57-year-old George can be counted on to be in the forefront of major conservative causes in a state where the terms “conservative” and “Republican” don’t often go together.

“I’m a conservative, pure and simple,” George told me during a recent visit to Human Events. At a time when many Free State Republicans shy away from cultural issues, George (who teaches Sunday school in his Roman Catholic parish) is unabashedly pro-life. In addition, the father of six (and grandfather of three) has been a strong advocate of charter schools and serves on the National Board for Homeschoolers.

Well-known from his chain of jewelry stores throughout Anne Arundel County, George has also been a bit actor in several films made in the area.

Under the Free State’s legislative election system, District 33 sends three delegates to the state legislature. Currently seeking re-election are the incumbents, Republican George and Democrats Mike Busch (who is house majority leader) and Virginia Clagett. Two other Republicans and Democrat Judd Legum are vying for the three seats, but it is assumed that Legum is in the race to face and defeat George.

“And look at where he comes from,” said George, pointing out that Legum was regional director in Hillary Clinton’s ’08 presidential campaign and is now research director for the Center for American Progress, the premier left-wing think tank. The center is headed by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and one of its chief bankrollers is (you guessed it) George Soros.

Because of the forces lining up against George, national conservative leaders have come to the assistance of the embattled legislator. Former UN Ambassador and Maryland resident John Bolton, for example, recently hosted a fund-raising event for George.

“That shows you where [Legum] and I are coming from,” said George. “And I’ll take Ambassador Bolton over Clinton and Podesta any day.”

Committee to Elect Ron George, P.O. Box 1943, Annapolis, MD 21401.

GOP Gains 55 in House, Says Rasmussen

Newport Beach, Calif.—Although five Republican House members from California addressed the Western Conservative Political Action Conference here last week, the biggest hit by far at the annual conservative conclave was the banquet speaker, nationally recognized pollster Scott Rasmussen.

In an address at the Radisson Hotel here that held listeners spellbound, Rasmussen predicted Republicans would gain 55 seats in races for the U.S. House of Representatives November 2—many more than the 39 needed to forge a Republican majority in the House for the first time since 2006.

But the man behind the Rasmussen Reports polling that is so closely watched by politicians and frequently quoted by the punditocracy said that it’s still in question whether Republicans will gain the ten seats they need to take control of the Senate.
“Republicans should have 48 seats, Democrats 47, and five seats could slide either way,” said Rasmussen in his banquet address. He was referring to races for seats in five states that he considers too close to call: California, Illinois, Washington, West Virginia and Nevada or “that mud-wrestling contest,” as Rasmussen referred to the race between Republican Sharron Angle and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

Earlier this year, Rasmussen gained widespread attention when he forecast Scott Brown’s dramatic win in the special Massachusetts Senate race. The major networks did not realize it was a competitive race until the weekend before the election. He also pointed to the political vulnerability among Pennsylvania Republicans of Sen. Arlen Specter, who later switched parties and lost the Democratic primary in May.

It’s the Economy, Stupid (and The Theme is Freedom)

Rasmussen also discussed some intriguing survey figures regarding the economy.

Noting that the top three issues this election year are “one-the economy, two-the economy, and three-the economy,” Rasmussen said his polls show overwhelming support among voters nationwide for cutting spending, taxes and the deficit.
“And by two to one, the veteran pollster said, “voters prefer a congressman who will reduce overall spending to one who promises to bring a ‘fair share’ of government spending to their congressional district,” adding that a plurality of Texas voters backed Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s recent decision to turn down federal dollars from a program because federal strings were attached.

The Republicans’ strong position in the midterm elections got started, Rasmussen said, “when every Republican in the House said they would oppose the stimulus package. That’s when the generic ballot [which measures support for unnamed Republican and Democratic candidates nationwide] started to go up.” He also noted that support for the Democratic healthcare reform bill fell dramatically “when the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) figures showed it would cost more than a trillion dollars.

And support for it never recovered.

Voter nervousness about the economy, Rasmussen said, is clear in the declining number of people he finds who feel their own finances are “in good order.” Two years ago, he recalled, 43% of Americans felt their finances were in good order, 38% felt this way the day Barack Obama was elected and 35% felt that way on the day he took office as President.

“At the beginning of the year, that figure dropped to 32%,” he said, “and today, it is down to 30%.” Rasmussen also said that more than half of homeowners are “unsure if their home is worth more than their mortgage.”

Noting that he periodically polls about different terms—“conservative” and “liberal,” for example—Rasmussen said that the term packing the most response right now is “Tea Party.”

“It generates the strongest reaction, both positive and negative, among voters,” he concluded. “It’s a defining force.”

Two California GOP Winners?

Anaheim, Calif.—Although many at the Western CPAC were miffed that the Republican National Committee was holding an area get-out-the vote rally in nearby Anaheim on the same day as the conservative conference, they were nonetheless happy that local State Assemblyman and U.S. House nominee Van Tran was highlighted at the same RNC event featuring Sarah Palin and Republican National Chairman Michael Steele.

By all accounts, the Vietnamese-born Tran, who is facing seven-term Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez in the 47th District (Orange County), is one of the two best prospects for a GOP net gain in the House in the Golden State. The other is in the 11th District (San Joaquin Valley), where a just-completed Survey USA poll shows Republican David Harmer, whose father John was Ronald Reagan’s lieutenant governor, leading two-term Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney by 48% to 42%.

In Tran’s race, the conservative hopeful was recently helped by Sanchez’s remark on a radio program that “Republicans and Vietnamese” are trying to take the district from her.

“That comment was extremely offensive, and will accentuate the shift toward Van,” said Rich Wagner, past president of the Orange County Lincoln Club (which has just launched an independent expenditure campaign on behalf of Tran). In addition, Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh told me that his organization has just registered 4,000 more Vietnamese-American voters in a district that is 18% Vietnamese.

“And the Vietnamese Americans turn out to vote,” said Wagner.