The Final Look-See on The District Six Council Election, How Cohen Appointees Are Working for Trumbauer and What We Can Learn From Consultants....Maybe ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Final Look-See on The District Six Council Election, How Cohen Appointees Are Working for Trumbauer and What We Can Learn From Consultants....Maybe

This is a long and detailed post about the Democratic primary race between Chuck Ferrar and Chris Trumbauer as well as Trumbauer's main strategy consultant, Cedar Park Communications, whose staff includes two mayoral appointees. The primary is Tuesday. Please vote.

Cedar Park Communications may not be a household name in Maryland, unless of course you are trying to get elected to the House or Senate or Anne Arundel County Council or maybe even mayor of Annapolis. You would certainly know Cedar Park as a campaign consultant and direct mail specialist if you were Josh Cohen, Chris Trumbauer, Ellen Moyer or Mike Busch. And it just so happens that two of its employees are appointees concurrently working for Mayor Josh Cohen.

They are Lynn Farrow Collins and Hillary Roggio Raftovich. Another staff person is the highly partisan, Democratic activist Melinda Hamilton who has worked hard to inject the abortion issue into the current county council campaign between Trumbauer and Ferrar on behalf of Trumbauer. Cedar Park’s principal is John C. Eldridge Jr, a man often seen in the background with Josh Cohen during his recent mayoral campaign.

Readers will recall the nearly constant showering of mailers day after day urging us to vote for Cohen—which many of us did, but apparently not in enough numbers for him to actually win the primary, as voters will also recall long after we tried to forget about all the mailers.

Cohen spent many thousands of dollars for Cedar Park to do those mailings and Trumbauer has put nearly $12,000 into Cedar Park, some of which was for the recent highly negative pieces that Mayor Cohen, said he encouraged Trumbauer to do, according to The Capital. He also spent over $15,000 with another local outfit, Post Haste which handles list management, addressing and mailings.

Something just seems a bit odd about city employees actively working on a campaign for a county councilman who was hand-picked by their boss, the mayor.

The mayor’s spokesperson Phill McGowan told me that the mayor is aware of their involvement. “The bottom line is that if people are doing political activities on their own time and their own dime, that they can do whatever they want,” said McGowan.
Eldridge, who was most cordial and helpful when I spoke with him, made similar comments, explaining that they are contract workers, generally doing their work evenings and weekends. However, as most observers of City Hall know, their "day" jobs also require that they do some evening work on behalf of the city as well.

Cedar Park helped elect former Mayor Ellen Moyer. One of the mailers they created for her read “When women vote, government works. Vote November 8th for Ellen Moyer” and shows a photo of a handful of women with Moyer, including city employee Ruby Singleton Blakeney who brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against the city. It also shows one of Moyer’s appointees and the ever present Kathy Nieberding Temprine, a force behind many political campaigns.

Another mailer for Moyer says, “What a difference four years make….Ellen Moyer gets it done.”

Indeed, four years did make a difference and Moyer did get it done. Done-in, more like it, but the mailing hand of Cedar Park was with her all the way.

Cedar Park Communications says it “offers comprehensive, aggressive, and persistent voter contact. We are a superior direct mail firm and so much more. From campaign budgeting to GOTV our team will be with you all the way.” Well, they got the aggressive and persistent part correct. GOTV must mean “get out the vote” but I could think of what else it might mean, perhaps “Gone out to vomit” or “Gored our trees viciously” after my mailbox got repeatedly stuffed with the remains of so many dead trees on behalf of Cohen--and again for Trumbauer.

I tried to look up Cedar Park various ways online and came up empty handed. So much for their own marketing! I asked Trumbauer’s campaign for information. I was ignored. Then they said basically it is a direct mailing company. Then after I got a little aggressive and persistent, taking a cue from Cedar Park, which is not in the local phone book either, Trumbauer finally provided the name of Eldridge, but nothing else such as email and phone number as I had asked.

I told Trumbauer “Why you have been so hesitant to provide me with any information is inconceivable and makes it appear as if you have something to hide. You won't provide me any further information about Cedar Park even though you and Josh Cohen spent thousands with them. Why?….. I would think it would make a lot more sense for you and readers if you were more forthcoming and willing to provide more information.”  There was no reply.

Anyhow, from the name Eldridge I was able to find Cedar Park online at, lo and behold, . Yeah, silly me for being unsuccessful otherwise, but why would Trumbauer not provide any information to me?

Cedar Park’s website says “We have a team of seasoned professionals advising you on exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen, and even why it will happen. We know the written and unwritten rules of a campaign.” Yes. Indeed. I am sure they know the unwritten rules and when and why it will happen--since they are tightly wrapped up with those whjo are making it happen. But for a communications service, they could use a little help with the typos on their own website. For example, “We offer stratagies [sic] to achieve viability…”, “Thats why we offer…”, “so you wont duplicate” and says it can “Tailer a complete campaign.” I think they meant “tailor”, but no further comment from me.

While the website says that Eldridge was a Democratic nominee for the Maryland House, it did not specify his campaign outcome, the results of which might not be so good for business. In 1994, he ran for District 30’s House of Delegates and came in sixth out of six, with 13 percent of the vote. Eldridge, a lawyer, had worked as the legislative aide to Anne Arundel's 13-member House contingent and was elected to the county Democratic Central Committee in 1990.

But when I came across the bios and photos of Cohen’s two appointees, my eyebrows raised up. These are people who Cohen hired to join his staff while our finances were in turmoil and other staffers lost their jobs. They are there day in and day out doing Cohen’s bidding, but at the same time, they are working in a political campaign—and for a man hand-picked by Cohen to fill the seat he vacated mid-term (uhh…the second such time) so he could become mayor. Even if their jobs with Cohen do not overlap, it raises questions. They help Cohen get elected. They get a job with Cohen. Cohen helps Trumbauer run for office, which brings them more money--all the while, their jobs with Cohen might have meant someone else did not get to keep their job.

No wonder why they looked so depressed the night Cohen came in second to the outspent, out-mailed and outmaneuvered Zina Pierre. Their promised job prospects just sank with Cohen ship. However, once somebody leaked information about Pierre's troubled personal history to this writer and others, Pierre's subsequent departure left Cohen as the nominee. However, in all fairness to  her campaigning skills, Pierre did manage a robo-call with the voice of her former boss Bill Clinton, although it curiously lacked the required authority line.

Meanwhile, after Trumbauer sent out negative, attack mailers, Ferrar responded but his mailers were drastically toned down from the “my opponent is bad, bad, bad” style of Trumbauer. For example, Ferrar compares and contrasts differences between himself and Trumbauer, rather than just states negative things about him. As the campaign winds down to the primary, they are both sending, more positive “vote for me” mailers. One from Trumbauer reads “it’s time to have a representative for working people and transparent government we can trust.”

Interesting, Lynn Farrow Collins served as the master of ceremonies at Trumbauer's campaign announcement, where she introduced Cohen, who then introduced Doug Gansler who then introduced Chris Trumbauer who has gone on to speak about "it's time for a change" and "to end business as usual." Also spotted in the background again was Kathy Neiberding Temprine, and another familiar face, Joe Taylor, the recipient of major campaign funds for "filed work." Taylor also serves as the personal caretaker for former Mayor Roger "Pip" Moyer.

Perhaps similarly, Ferrar has retained the services of a Curtis Spencer, whose job appears to be showing up at events and putting on fish frys along with longtime political operative and former Moyer contractor, Steve Carr.  Carr also once ran for delegate, coincidentally in 1994, the same year that Eldridge came in sixth in the general. However, Carr never made it to the general because Carr beat him in the primary. The official Democratic primary tally put Carr in fourth place out of sixth, some 250 points behind Eldridge.

Ferrar's campaign has spent some $20,000 on similar services with Don Lamb Minor, a one term delegate and now consultant who was also a contract employee in the Moyer Administration. In 1986, when Lamb was elected to the House, he came in third place behind John Astle and Mike Busch, barely squeezing out John Hammond, a Repulican, by only three votes.

CONCLUSION: Geeze. I dunno. I've laid out the facts. You go figure it out. However, there seems to be one rather consistent thing I have learned here. If you do poorly in campaigning while trying to get yourself elected, there is always a consulting job available for you for the next campaigner, usually a long-term incumbent. What that probably proves is the old adage that those who can, will do, while those who cannot, will consult. Similarly, it tells us that if there are big bucks to be made in political consulting, there must be bigger bucks to be made in being a long-term incumbent. Otherwise, since those incumbents really know how to win elections, they'd become consultants. Or, do they all know something we do not know?

Look here for frequent updates to all the 2010 election campaigns with 2010 Elections Again! LISTEN TO CP Publisher Paul Foer on 1430WNAV at 8:15 every weekday morning or click on the WNAV icon to the right, press On demand and On The Foerfront to listen. READ CP Publisher Paul Foer's "The Ninth Ward" every Wednesday in The Capital at Identified comments are always welcome. ALL ANONYMOUS COMMENTS will be automatically rejected without being opened.


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