A Personal Note on the Immigration Issue and the Maryland Tea Party in the 2010 Maryland Gubernatorial Campaign

Richard E. Vatz

In the 2010 Maryland political campaign, I believe I have made two predictive errors: I predicted with regret that Patricia Jessamy would defeat Gregg Bernstein for City State’s Attorney, and I predicted that immigration would have no traction as an issue in the Maryland governor’s race.

I unambiguously admitted the error in the Bernstein race (before the election), and I have admitted my perceptual error regarding the immigration issue implicitly in a Red Maryland blog and explicitly on several radio appearances, including C-4 and Kendel Ehrlich’s shows on WBAL Radio.

Despite my retraction of my errancy, I continue getting public and private communications asking how I could believe that the proactive tolerance of illegal immigrants in Maryland could not be a significant issue in view of its apparently gaining hold onto many conservatives’ positions on the race.

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I don’t know how to say this more clearly: I believe that, contrary to my earlier skepticism, the issue of illegal immigration and the ongoing Democratic support of illegal immigrant-friendly CASA of Maryland (and, relatedly, the issue of Maryland Senate President Mike Miller’s promise at the recent Obama rally to rid Maryland of Tea Partiers) has potential to significantly affect the governor’s race. I share conservatives’ incredulity at the current governor’s praising illegal immigrants as “New Americans,” and in fact on Kendel’s show this a.m., I indicated that such a quote serves as a marker of a legitimate, significant difference between Gov. O’Malley and Gov. Ehrlich.

Finally, one more personal note to end this overly self-indulgent blog: there has been some resentment I have received from Tea Party members who infer hostility from me. This enmity simply does not exist. There are indeed issues on which we do not agree, but if you have read articles I have written over the years, plus my book on Thomas Szasz, you will know that we have a lot in common ideologically.

It’s time to get rid of unnecessary misperception and friction among kindred spirits.

Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University

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