The Ego Has Landed

Every politician has an ego. If you didn’t have some sort of ego, you wouldn’t be involved in running for political office. Some politicians though have more ego than others.

And that brings us to Anne Arundel County Councilman John Grasso. Grasso has widely been believed to be running for State Senate in District 32. A very winnable seat for the right kind of candidate. Grasso is the kind of candidate that could win the seat. It’s why the profile picture on his campaign Facebook page looks like this.

Last week, however, a curious posting appeared on his aforementioned Facebook page. The post hinted that Grasso wouldn’t actually run for State Senate necessarily, but that he would potentially launch a primary challenge to Governor Larry Hogan or to Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh.

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I talked to several people, none of whom understood what in the world was going on with Grasso’s page. At least one thought that Grasso’s page might have been hacked or that the posting came from an overzealous campaign volunteer.

Sure enough, however, the postings continued. Yesterday, Grasso posted this on the Facebook page of former Congressional candidate Faith Loudon.

Today’s Capital finally lets everybody in on what this really has to do with; the Anne Arundel County Liquor Board.

This spring, County Councilman John Grasso announced plans to run for state Senate in northern Anne Arundel. But he spent most of the past week sign-waving along Aris T. Allen Boulevard in Annapolis — south of the district he hopes to represent.

Has Grasso lost his way?

No. It’s just that he’s also mulling a run for county executive — or maybe for governor.

Grasso, R-Glen Burnie, said Friday he’s considering all three options for 2018, when his second term on the council is up. The sign he printed for roadside electioneering doesn’t specify a race: all it says, in chunky red letters on a white background, is “Vote John Grasso.”

“In this case, all three races are in play,” he said. “I’m going to keep all three of them on their toes.”

The best part about Grasso’s potential challenge to Schuh over liquor board issues is that the position of Anne Arundel County Executive has absolutely no say over who gets appointed to the liquor board.

Grasso’s comment about “I’m going to keep all three of them on their toes” is curious. Yes, Democratic Senator Ed DeGrange would have something to worry about if Grasso were to make it through the primary to face him in the General Election. However, I’m willing to bet that neither Governor Hogan nor County Executive Schuh’s campaign staffs are losing a lot of sleep over Grasso challenging them in the primary. Grasso is unknown in most of Anne Arundel County, certainly unknown beyond the county. He hasn’t raised any money over the last two years; he filed Affidavits of non-participation in campaign or fundraising activities during the last two filing periods, and his last full campaign finance report showed he had $4,968.57 cash on hand. In a countywide or statewide primary, John Grasso is a non-entity. As State Party Chairman Dirk Haire said in the Capital article:

“If Grasso thinks a liquor board appointment will carry him to a primary win over County Executive Schuh or Governor Hogan, it makes me wonder if he’s spending too much time with liquor,” he wrote.

That doesn’t even get into John Grasso’s political positions. In 2013, Grasso considered running for County Executive as well. We spoke with him at length, where he called himself “the same old dog with a new set of fleas,” defended voting for the rain tax (calling people who voted against the rain tax as “cowards”), defended the size of government, and spending increases among other positions that are outside of mainstream conservatism.

If Grasso wants to change the liquor board selection process, there’s an easy way to do it; he can run for the State Senate, get elected, and introduce new legislation that updates the way that liquor board appointees are selected. He can vote against liquor board appointees going forward. But instead, that’s not what he’s decided to do. He’s decided that he is going to try to make himself a countywide and statewide player by threatening to run for two offices that, if he’s honest with himself and with the voters, he has absolutely no intention of actually running for. Meanwhile, if his intention truly is to run for the State Senate in District 32, he’s wasting valuable time that he could be using to campaign in District 32 to sign-wave and campaign in places that are of no assistance to him in that race. To say nothing about the fact that the Maryland Republican Party is starting to move on from Grasso as a candidate to focus on a candidate actually focused on the District 32 Senate race.

So what is Grasso trying to accomplish with this stunt? Nothing. This is all about a politician servicing his own ego. No more. No less. And we should not be afraid to say so. If Grasso really wants to do well by the people of Anne Arundel County, he should quit this nonsense, run for the State Senate, and continue to try and serve the public.

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