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Shank faces uphill fight after striking out in Annapolis

April 24, 2010|By TIM ROWLAND

Explaining his inability to pass legislation in Annapolis, Del. Christopher B. Shank said his time in office "transcends passing bills."

Good thing, seeing as how he struck out on every bill he introduced this session.

By contrast, the man whose job Shank wants - state Sen. Donald F. Munson - saw eight of the 10 bills he introduced passed into law.

To win the race for state senator, Shank needs to somehow convince voters that zero beats eight. He needs to show that, in baseball parlance, he does all of those little things that don't show up in the box scores.

Unfortunately, those little things seem to involve ticking off the people in power to the point where they see his name on a bill and toss it into the trash can.

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Shank chalks this up to the cost of doing business.

He's the House's minority whip, which means that by definition, he has to put the crop to the flank of the Democratic horse. Which Shank does with gusto (although in fairness, he's been more calm about it this year). That gets your name in the metropolitan newspapers, but it does nothing for the people of Washington County.

In his legislative record, Shank has good, if it can be called that, company. State Sen. Alex X. Mooney only got three of his 15 bills passed. Mooney says it's more important to play defense than it is to win legislation, and most of his compatriots would seem to agree with him by rejecting his bills.

Mooney's defensive plays include, no lie, protecting subdivision homeowners from overly aggressive regulations on backyard clotheslines. This, for followers of Mooney, is one of many winceable moments.

Del. Andrew A. Serafini struck out on his six bills, but at least he has a serious issue - state pension promises that will be hard for government to pay on down the road. One day, the rest of the General Assembly might have to listen to him.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., who has a bit more political realism than Shank, was three for six, and new Del. Charles A. Jenkins was oh for one.

This means that our three most effective lawmakers were Munson, state Sen. George C. Edwards and Del. John P. Donoghue, who went a collective 22 for 32 in bills passed.

Edwards and Munson, it's worth noting, are Republicans, which kind of shoots down the theory that all GOP lawmakers are persona non grata in Annapolis.

When push came to shove, it was Munson who was able to restore funding for the Devil's Backbone Park dam reconstruction. This saved Washington County taxpayers a half-million dollars that the House had cut from its budget.

Republicans grumbled that they were being paid back in kind for voting against various state budgets. These complaints might have some root in legitimacy, but there is a lesson in hand: If you vote against the bank account, you have no business writing checks.

And if you vote against the state budgets, that's fine, but you sacrifice the right to say how the money in those budgets is spent.

This will be the issue upon which Shank must sell voters in his race against Munson. And it's an uphill fight. Our tax money will be spent somewhere, either here or in some other county. So does Shank believe that being ideologically pure is worth seeing our money go to other counties?

More important, do voters think this?

The real shame of Shank's hard-core ideology is that he actually has some good ideas for new laws. But he cripples himself, and our people, by crossing the Democratic majority at every turn.

Munson himself once was a Republican purist. Through the years, however, he has come to believe that a little bit of something beats a whole lot of nothing. That's earned him respect in the community and in Annapolis.

This year, voters have the chance to return Munson to Annapolis or replace him with a man who is basically another Alex Mooney - an unaccomplished back-bench huffer and puffer concerned with backyard clotheslines.

Frederick County voters seem quite happy with Mooney, however, so there is the chance that Washington County voters will be happy with Shank, seeing no return for their dollar in the process.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com">timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com">opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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