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Donoghue to the left of courts, Post

October 29, 2006|by George Michael

One of the more interesting local races this election cycle in our area for the Maryland General Assembly is the District 2-C race which covers basically the City of Hagerstown. One reason why this race is interesting is because there actually is a race. In this contest, we have former Del. Paul Muldowney running against Democratic incumbent John Donoghue. Local pundits will be watching this one. So will the bigwigs in Annapolis.

The kid gloves have been off for a time now and it will get more interesting, perhaps even nasty, as we get to the end. Democrats see this as a safe seat. Republicans look at it as just one piece in the big picture of doing something about the sizeable Democratic advantage in the General Assembly. In many respects, Maryland is a one-party state.

Donoghue is a fine, upstanding family man, a decent guy who has served with distinction while a city councilman and also during his years in Annapolis. But it is hard to understand why he would support the crazy legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 2006. The left-leaning Democratic leadership in Annapolis set some pretty high hoops for delegates like Donoghue to jump through. Some examples of seriously flawed legislation include the following.

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The Wal-Mart bill. This was one of the worst things "accomplished" by the General Assembly. Wal-Mart provides thousands of entry-level jobs for unskilled workers. It reduces unemployment. Keeping prices low, Wal-Mart significantly benefits shoppers with billions of dollars in savings each and every month. And yet, liberals hate Wal-Mart. And no wonder. Wal-Mart has done more for the poor than most welfare programs. Liberals don't like the competition. Wal-Mart makes them look bad.

The Wal-Mart bill was a serious incursion into the free market by a heavy-handed and intrusive government. Government should run itself better before it tries to tell private companies how to do their job. This union-backed bill mandated benefits for Wal-Mart workers that the state of Maryland does not provide for many of its employees. Such hypocrisy.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich vetoed the bill, as he should have. The liberals in our state legislature celebrated an override of his veto. The victory was short-lived. A U.S. District Court threw it out, saving our state further embarrassment.

The Early Voting Bill. The idea is that, since citizens are so busy, they need six days of voting before the actual election to be able to cast their votes. This is a new fad with Democrats around the country. In the name of helping people vote, they are giving new meaning to the phrase "Vote early and vote often." A Washington Post editorial earlier this year stated that the Democrats were seeking "electoral advantage by ramming a brazenly partisan measure down the throat of the minority party." The article noted that the early voting polling places, which the Democrats picked without Republican input, would be "at polling stations in Democratic strongholds" and referred to this measure as "odious."

The left-wing legislature passed this bill with great fanfare. The governor vetoed it. The Democratic leadership got another override victory, which was short-lived.

The Maryland's Court of Special Appeals threw it out. And why did they throw it out? Besides the brazen politics involved, our Maryland Constitution specifies voting for the general election needs to take place on the "Tuesday next after the first Monday in November" (Article XVII, Section 2). But who's to let a little thing like the state Constitution stand in your way when trying give your own political party a big election advantage? Another bad idea went up in smoke.

The Public Service Commission. Faced with dramatic increases in state utility rates as the utility price caps expired, the legislature met in an emergency session to deal with the problem. Rather than limit their actions to solving the immediate problem, the Democratic leadership included a provision to fire the whole Public Service Commission. This was done so the legislature could have somewhere to place the blame for the high rates rather than acknowledging they had created the problem in the first place.

Trouble is, the Public Service Commission is a function of the executive branch of government, with appointments made by the governor. But the legislature fired them anyway. The governor and our Washington County delegation, with the exception of Donoghue, objected on constitutional grounds that the Democrats had acted autocratically instead of democratically.

Once again, they lost in court. Maryland's top tribunal agreed that the legislature had exceeded its authority and violated the Maryland Constitution. Liberals like to talk big about a "government of laws," except when the laws don't favor them.

The bottom line is this. To take positions which are more liberal than the Washington Post and the Maryland court system means you really have to be out in "left field."

Delegate Donoghue voted in favor of each of the above, including the overrides of the governor, marching along with the wishes of the leadership in the House of Delegates. He may be in agreement with the liberals in Annapolis but it has to be hard to justify these votes as a matter of principle. On Nov. 7, we will see if it makes any difference to the voters of Hagerstown.

George Michael is a Williamsport resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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