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The Pipkin dossier

If what has been reported by my Red Maryland co-contributor Brian Griffiths is true, we’ll get the sixth GOP candidate to jump into the race for the First Congressional District. Fellow co-contributor Bud the Blogger has his thoughts on State Senator E.J. Pipkin’s chances as well.

Well, besides being the hoped-for candidate by the dean of Delmarva bloggers back in May and speculated as Gilchrest’s one chance for victory about that time (by yet another RM contributor, G.A. Harrison), State Senator E.J. Pipkin has kept his name in the news all summer, even here on monoblogue. He’s had seven mentions on my site since mid-2006. Probably voters in these parts have seen him most recently as the impetus behind a anti-tax website, StopMarylandTaxHikes.com, with the authority tag bearing the “Friends of E.J. Pipkin” moniker.

Nor is Pipkin a total stranger to a ballot larger than his native 36th District, running statewide in an unsuccessful effort to oust longtime U.S. Senator Barb Mikulski in 2004. In that race, he ran as the common-man alternative to a Senator who’d “lost touch with her constituents.“ But he only received 34% of the vote and carried just 6 counties statewide, including just two of the four in his own 36th District (Cecil and Queen Anne’s.) As in 2008, Pipkin was able to run “from cover”, having been elected to his current State Senate post in 2002.

Pipkin has had other controversy as well. If you recall the special session in the summer of 2006 to deal with BG&E’s 72% rate hike, Pipkin voted against most of his fellow Republicans and supported the plan which deferred the rate increase through 120 months, plus interest. He doesn’t seem to be a big fan of BG&E/Constellation Energy.

If, and this is still an “if”, Pipkin runs for the seat, it effectively makes the race a three-way battle and likely helps incumbent Wayne Gilchrest. You’ll have one State Senator (Andy Harris) who hails from the Western Shore (which is about half of the district’s voters) facing off against one from the Eastern Shore (probably the more conservative half overall), while Gilchrest has the advantage of name recognition and appeals to the more moderate portion of the GOP. Of course, Pipkin would enter at some disadvantage monetarily since Gilchrest has amassed a sizable war chest over the years and Harris has been fundraising quite successfully since his announcement earlier this spring. However, Pipkin does have some personal assets he can use in the race, as he did in 2004, so the difference may not be all that vast once he gets his feet under him.

E.J. certainly has the fiscal chops to be effective in Congress as a taxcutter, but it’s not known yet where he stands on a number of issues that have already been debated back and forth in the press by the two main contenders; nor is it clear whether he can get his message out when I’m sure media buys are already being made by the two top candidates. While Harris, Gilchrest, Walter, et. al. have been running this race as a marathon, Pipkin’s late entry will force all of them to make a late sprint to the finish line. It remains to be seen who stumbles and who triumphs, but the smart money may shift to the incumbent.

Crossposted on monoblogue.






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