Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tea Party Backed GOP Freshman Challenges Maryland Power Structure

from the Herald Mail

By any standard measure, Neil Parrott's place in Maryland politics ought to be toward the very bottom. He's a freshman Republican delegate in a very blue state, without pedigree or government connections.

Yet through dogged organizing and clever use of technology, this tea party leader from Hagerstown has turned a little-used provision of the Maryland Constitution into a tool capable of overturning chunks of the ruling Democrats' legislative agenda.

Parrott, a University of Maryland-trained traffic engineer, developed a website that makes it much easier to collect the 56,000 valid signatures needed to petition a law to referendum in Maryland. As a result, three laws are headed to voters in November — laws to legalize same-sex marriage, allow some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, and create a new congressional map.

It's the first time in 20 years that any law has been petitioned to the Maryland ballot.

By showing that the referendum process can be mastered, Parrott is shifting the balance of power in Annapolis and offering his party a path to relevance that it has lacked since GOP Gov.Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. left the State House. Maryland Republicans crowned Parrott their Man of the Year at their spring convention.

"He is the person most responsible for what is potentially the most significant change in our democracy for decades," said Del. Steve Schuh, an Anne Arundel County Republican.

"It is clear that Neil is one of the most powerful people in Maryland," said Del. Sam Arora, a Montgomery County Democrat.

In a move that made some in his own party uneasy, he wrote a letter in 2005 to the editor of his local newspaper arguing that HIV-positive patients should be tattooed "in a spot covered by a bathing suit" before being given life-saving medications. The mark would serve as a warning so potential sex partners would not unknowingly become infected, Parrott said.

"An effective way to enforce the consistency of the tattoo would be to provide medicine to the infected individual only after they have received the HIV tattoo," he wrote in the letter. He noted that three sometimes-warring Democratic leaders — the governor, House speaker and Senate president — must agree to pass a law in Annapolis. "It just takes Neil to stop it in its tracks," Arora said.

Parrott, 41, says his goal is to tame the state's Democratic establishment so it won't pass legislation that he says most Marylanders oppose. "If bills are passed that don't go against the will of the people, well, there won't be a need for a referendum," he said. "That is what I hope happens: We will bring some reasonableness back to Annapolis and some common sense."

His website gives wider access to the petitions at the center of any referendum effort. People can print the petitions and mail them in, though Democrats are challenging the legality of this in a complaint filed Tuesday. The site also features an online tool that allows signators to check their names against the voter rolls. This makes sure they sign exactly as they are registered, helping ensure that the signature will be ruled valid.

The site is credited by many with helping opponents of all three measures win a spot on the ballot.

Parrott's success hasn't always sat well with other Republicans. Four-term Baltimore County Del. Patrick McDonough, who had been the go-to Republican in Annapolis on immigration issues, has complained that the freshman has received too much credit for challenging the immigration tuition law.

The GOP establishment was not initially behind Parrott last year when he set out to challenge the in-state tuition law, called the DREAM Act. He recalls that one prominent Republican predicted the challenge would fail and hurt the party.

House Republican leader Anthony O'Donnell did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this article. O'Donnell's deputy, Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio of the Eastern Shore, acknowledged that Parrott started without establishment support.

"That is one of the great things about new lawmakers," Haddaway-Riccio said. "They have the energy and determination to change things and not listen when people say you can't do it."

House SpeakerMichael E. Buschdeclined to comment about Parrott.

Parrott comes across with the earnestness of the Eagle Scout that he used to be. He is just over 6 feet tall, with a trim swimmer's build, and keeps his salt-and-pepper hair closely cropped. He has never lived outside Maryland.

Politically, Parrott's rise was unexpected; he came up as a leader in the tea party movement that Maryland Republican voters have not widely embraced. He was elected in 2010 by a wide margin, despite never having previously held office.

He reliably votes with the GOP caucus and has introduced legislation reaffirming states' rights and calling upon state government to expel illegal immigrants. One of his bills has passed, a measure increasing the penalties for child abuse that results in death.

His style in the chamber differs from most of the GOP leaders, who often give impassioned speeches on the House and Senate floors. Parrott has an easygoing "aw shucks" manner when he gives remarks.

It's a personality that belies his unyielding views on economic and social issues. He took on the American Civil Liberties Union in 2002, arguing that a monument to the Ten Commandments should remain in a public park in Frederick. Parrott won.

Parrott said he has since abandoned the idea because advances in medicine have made the disease more treatable.

The delegate discussed his philosophy and petition successes recently in temporary offices rented by, home of the organization he set up to run petition drives.

The office, a former Centra Bank branch on the outskirts of Hagerstown, was decorated with signs highlighting the boundaries of the new congressional map the Democrats drew. (Parrott said the most effective way of convincing people to sign a petition against the map is simply to show it to them.)

He sat with his wife, April, while their daughters, Patience, 9, and Charity, 8, played nearby. The Parrotts also have a son, Neilson, 6. The family is a familiar presence in Annapolis. Since the children are home-schooled, the whole family moves to the state capital for the three-month General Assembly session so the kids can learn about the legislative process.

The couple met in church when both were living in Anne Arundel County. They are both devout Christians and describe their faith as "nondenominational."

When the couple met, Parrott was working as a traffic engineer with the Maryland Highway Administration in Annapolis. They moved to Western Maryland, where Parrott now runs Traffic Solutions Inc., a consulting company.

The couple recalled their first brush with Maryland's referendum process seven years ago, after the General Assembly passed a package of bills extending some legal rights to gay couples.

The measures protected gays from hate crimes. It is also gave unmarried couples, gay and straight, medical decision-making rights and allowed property transfers among such partners without paying state or local taxes. A fourth law required schools to report bullying.

Conservatives mounted an effort to repeal all four measures, and Parrott — a private citizen who had never run for office — offered to be the Washington County coordinator.

He recorded an automated call asking supporters to gather at a church to sign petitions. To make it easier for people to figure out which ones they'd signed, Parrott printed petition forms for each law on different-colored paper.

The effort wasn't enough, falling short of the initial state threshold of turning in one-third of the necessary signatures. "Around the state, the organization just didn't get together as much as it needed to," Parrott said. "If it is going to be successful, there need to be a lot of people involved."

Parrott also learned another lesson: The state's Board of Elections, which provides the final approval on petitions, has strict criteria for signatures it will accept. That made him realize there needed to be a better way of making sure people were signing their names the same way they'd registered to vote.

He didn't immediately pursue more referendum issues, instead turning to national politics. After Barack Obama was elected president and "everything bad happened," Parrott said, he started organizing busloads of people to go to Washington to protest Obama's health care law.

He and his wife also put together the first Hagerstown tea party rally, in April 2009. They drove in pouring rain to a Hagerstown square, expecting a few dozen people to show up, at best. They found 300.

Three months later, Parrott decided to run for an open delegate seat. He met with four people considering entering the race and convinced them to drop out. Then he crushed his single opponent in the GOP primary, taking more than 80 percent of the vote.

In November 2010, he easily beat his Democratic opponent, who declined to be interviewed for this article. In January 2011, Parrott started his career in Annapolis, one of 43 Republicans in a chamber of 141.

He kept a close eye on last year's same-sex marriage debate and began meeting with the Board of Elections to figure out how he might challenge such a law at the ballot box. When the measure failed to win suppport in the House of Delegates, Parrott put the petition effort aside.

But then the DREAM Act passed near the end of the 2011 session. Parrott was astounded — and posted a message on his Facebook page. "Do you think we should try to get the signatures to take this to referendum so that the people can decide?" he wrote.

Within minutes, 26 supportive comments came back. He decided to do it.

Now — with the potential to defeat that and two other laws in November — he's taking some time with his family to decide how he can best be involved in the statewide campaigns.

"We are going to pray about it," Parrott said. "Ideally I won't be involved at all. This is the time to let the people vote."

But after pausing for a moment, he added: "We do have to be sure they have the correct information."

Will the Democrats Call for an EMERGENCY Late-Nite Special Legislative Session?

from the Harford County Dagger
From Del. Glen Glass:

Maryland State Delegate Glen Glass, member of the Ways and Means Committee and Gaming Subcommittee, made the following statement in response to Governor O’Malley’s comments July 19, 2012. Delegate Glass is opposed to a Special Session on gambling and will boycott if one is called.

“The Governor is correct that we do have an obligation to the people that we represent to show up for work and, I promise that I will be working. I will be in my district, with my constituents, working on things that really matter instead of blowing up to $20,000 a day of their money just to discuss adding another casino. A Special Session is for emergencies only and this does not constitute an emergency. In the history of the United States, no state has ever expanded gaming before first opening and stabilizing the legislated casinos and examining how they perform. My job is not to be in the hands of the corporations and I will not take any part in lowering taxes for corporations after the Democrats just raised them on Marylanders. Changing the rules of the game, which Governor O’Malley originally wrote himself, for businesses such as Maryland Live in the middle of their current agreements is a terrible policy for advancing private business in Maryland. I’m not trying to start a back and forth dialogue between myself and the Governor but my constituents do support this boycott. I urge all Marylanders to call the Governor’s office and ask him not to have a Special Session to take up gambling expansion.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do Democrats Secretly HATE Democracy?

from the Baltimore Sun
In an effort to preserve a map they believe will help them gain a seat in the U.S. House, Maryland Democrats are challenging the State Board of Elections' decision to certify that opponents of Gov. Martin O'Malley's congressional redistricting plan gathered enough signatures to put the plan on November's statewide ballot.

The Maryland Democratic State Central Committee filed suit Tuesday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court alleging that the board accepted thousands of invalid signatures -- allowing the largely Republican opponents of the map to reach the 55,736 they needed to put the convoluted district map before the voters. The redistricting plan was crafted by O'Malley and the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly and automatically became law this year when the legislature did not vote to disapprove it.

The lawsuit takes direct aim at Maryland Republicans' use of a web-based site,, to gather many signatures on line. The site, operated by Del. Neil Parrott of Washington County, has emerged as an effective way for the state GOP to challenge acts of the General Assembly through the referendum process.

The suit contends that the computer-generated process does not meet the requirements of state law for gathering voter information. For that and other reasons, it contends that more than 5,000 of the 59,201 signatures the board certified last week -- enough to knock the measure off the ballot -- should be invalidated.

Jared DeMarinis, director of the board's Candidacy and Campaign Finance Division, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The map is believed to give state Democrats, who now control six of the state's eight congressional districts, a good chance of picking up a seventh in the district now represented by Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

Parrott released a statement criticizing the Democrats' suit.

“Frankly, I’m surprised Maryland Democrat Leaders are suing to stop the people of Maryland from voting on the redistricting map this coming November," he said. "The current map suppresses minority voting interests and divides communities. With this lawsuit, they are actively working to suppress voters throughout Maryland.”

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is America Ready for a Green New Deal?

from the New York Times
BOSTON — Jill Stein, presumptive nominee of the Green Party, is probably the only candidate on the campaign trail who spends an hour a day cooking her own organic meals — and who was, not too long ago, the lead singer of a folksy rock band.

But the differences do not end there. When Ms. Stein is introduced on the trail as “Jill Stein for president,” she is also very likely the only candidate to be asked, “For president of what?”

That’s what Keith Brockenberry, a cook, wanted to know at a meet-and-greet in Roxbury last week. After one of Ms. Stein’s supporters clarified, “for president of the United States,” Mr. Brockenberry seemed both taken aback and delighted.

“Get out of here!” he blurted out. “I had no idea.”

What Ms. Stein lacks in name recognition, however, she is trying to make up for these days in high-energy organization and low-cost social media outreach. When she officially accepts the nomination at the Green Party’s convention this weekend in Baltimore, she will be the party’s first candidate to have qualified for federal matching funds — a milestone for this 11-year-old alternative party and potentially a major boost for a campaign that does not accept corporate donations.

The Green Party of the United States expects to be on the ballot in at least 45 states and to spend about $1 million on its campaign. At the moment, it has secured ballot access, an organizational test in itself, in 21 states, including the battlegrounds of Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, where the major party candidates, President Obama and Mitt Romney, who are raising tens of millions of dollars every month, are locked in a tight race.

While Ms. Stein barely registers a blip in national polling, experts point to Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee in 2000, who was seen by many Democrats as siphoning just enough votes from Al Gore in one state, Florida, to tip the election to the Republican, George W. Bush. Nationally, Mr. Nader had captured only 3 percent of the vote.

Could such a situation unfold again?

Unlike Ms. Stein, a physician on leave from her practice, Mr. Nader, a lifelong consumer advocate, enjoyed high name recognition. But now, more than a decade later, the Green Party has matured to the point at which Ms. Stein’s lower profile may be balanced by a more savvy political operation.

“The Green Party only needs to pull a very small number to provide an upset in a state like Ohio, if the balloting is close,” said Peter Ubertaccio, chairman of the department of political science and international studies at Stonehill College, in Easton, Mass. “Then suddenly their insignificant overall numbers become hugely significant in deciding who gets the electoral votes in that state.”

It’s a danger to their natural allies, the Democrats, he said.

Ms. Stein, 62, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, takes her ultra-long-shot odds in stride and is eager to explain to anyone who will listen “how a nice doctor like me,” she says, “got to be in a Godforsaken place like this.”

A general internist who grew impatient with the social and environmental roots of disease, Ms. Stein said, “I’m now practicing political medicine because politics is the mother of all illnesses.”

The Green Party’s supporters tend to be young, but the party is also popular with liberals of all ages who are disenchanted with the Obama administration.

Emily Winter, 24, is one such voter. “I voted for Obama because he preached change, and he’s done impressive work in the area of women’s rights, heath care and foreign policy,” said Ms. Winter, a Boston University graduate student who approached Ms. Stein on a South End street to ask for a photo. “But I feel like too many other policies are stuck where they’ve been for years.”

Ms. Stein, ever polished in bright scarves and slim pantsuits, is quick to point out that she is the only candidate who has experience debating Mr. Romney, which she did in the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race, her first of four unsuccessful attempts at elected office.

What did she learn? “It’s easy to debate a robot,” she said of his speaking style.

While Ms. Stein ultimately lost big, with only 3 percent of the vote, a poll taken by a local television station immediately after one debate showed that 32 percent of voting viewers said she had won the debate, compared with 33 percent who gave it to Mr. Romney (he ultimately won the race).

“Stein wouldn’t have struck you, if you were watching the debates, as a caricature of a third-party candidate,” Professor Ubertaccio said. “She was thoughtful and spoke about policy quite knowledgeably.”

Still, some detractors dismiss Ms. Stein as a perennial protest candidate who has never gained much traction with voters.

Now a major challenge for Ms. Stein, a native of the Chicago area who lives northwest of Boston with her husband, a surgeon (they have two adult sons), is to show that she can win support around the country. She longs to be included in the nationally televised debates, a high hurdle for any third-party candidate. According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, a candidate must have “a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate” as determined by five national polling organizations.

Ms. Stein’s problem, then, is of the chicken-and-egg variety: to get national name recognition, she needs television exposure in debates. But she does not qualify for debates because of a lack of national name recognition.

She thinks that is by design, to benefit major parties.

“If they actually have to debate a living, thinking, informed person, it’s very hard for them,” Ms. Stein added, referring to Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney. “They have kind of a mutual agreement, which you can see evident in the nature of their debate right now. If it’s important, they won’t go there. Many issues are not on the table.”

Ms. Stein says she emphasizes issues like ecological sustainability, racial and gender equality, and economic justice. The centerpiece of her platform is a Green New Deal, a twist on the Roosevelt-era programs intended to stimulate job growth and the depressed economy. It could be paid for by ending the presence of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the campaign says, and by eliminating waste in the health care system. Beyond that, Ms. Stein favors a progressive income tax that would raise rates on the wealthy.

“There are overwhelming benefits to moving to a green economy that provides jobs and good wages,” she said.

Ms. Stein is quick to align Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, saying their policies are nearly indistinguishable. She cites the former governor’s policy on health care and the president’s health overhaul as an example. (She supports a single-payer system.)

“We need to have people in Washington who refuse to be bought by lobbyist money and for whom change is not just a slogan,” Ms. Stein said. “It seems like there’s a rebellion going on, and people are really ready for something different.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

With Three Voter Initiatives on the State Ballot, What do we Need a State Legislature for?

from the Baltimore Sun
A group trying to overturn the state's new Congressional map received good news from the Board of Elections today: They've hit their mark.

As of this afternoon, the board had certified 56,325 signatures on a petition to challenge the new Congressional map. That is 589 more than the bare minimum needed to trigger a referendum, and the board still has another 2,900 signatures to go this afternoon.

The state Board of Elections plan to continue counting signatures, and expects to be finished by the end of the week.

The Congressional map would be the third Maryland law to be put on the November ballot. The last law to go to the voters was two decades ago.
...or maybe the State Legislature is simply completely out of touch with the sentiments of their constituents??? NAAAAHHHHH, couldn't be. ;)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Corporatizing of America Continues

from the Baltimore Sun
Harford County officials may have been reluctant to talk about a Wal-Mart coming to the Emmorton area south of Bel Air when the subject first came up more than a year ago, but the developer of the site off Route 924 and Plumtree Road is moving forward with the project regardless.

Legal notices were published in The Aegis last week announcing a community input meeting "for a proposed Wal-Mart and other commercial uses" on 33.7 acres on the southwest side of the intersection of Route 924 and Plumtree Road.

The input meeting will be held on July 19 at the Patterson Mill High School auditorium from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Despite the legal notices being published, the county had not posted the meeting on its own website as of 5 p.m. Monday.

According to the legal notice, "the purpose of this meeting is for the applicant to provide information to the community regarding the proposed commercial development (including draft plans for the site layout) and to allow citizens to ask questions and make comments and suggestions."

In the spring of 2011, as the county was planning for its latest Master Land Use Plan update, planning and zoning and other county officials refused to discuss the possibility of a Wal-Mart coming to the Plumtree site, saying there had been no plan submitted or any discussions with Wal-Mart. They stonewalled members of the public who said they were concerned about the impact such a project would have on traffic and the surrounding area.

Wal-Mart at the time also declined to say if it was interested in the Plumtree site or if it was considering moving north and closing its store at Route 24 and I-95, less than two miles away from the Plumtree site.

According to county and state tax records, the 33-acre site is owned by Evergreen Business Trust. All but three acres of the property were zoned R-3 high density residential until 2009, when the entire site was comprehensively rezoned to B-3 business by the Harford County Council, as part of a countywide review of zoning. A contract purchaser of the site requested the change, and there was some public opposition to making it, many people believing at the time that the property was being eyed by Wegmans, which did eventually build a store farther south on Route 24 near the existing Wal-Mart.

Despite the other concerns from the public about Wal-Mart moving to Plumtree, the land use plan update that the county council eventually passed earlier this year by the county council had no impact on the site being developed for a Wal-Mart or any other large commercial building.

Though the site is entirely wooded, it is surrounded by high density commercial development on three sides, while Route 24 serves as a divider on the west side.

Additional details on the project were not immediately available.
So much for small independent retail business and retail business owners in Harford County having ANY chance at all to compete... maybe after the third local Walmart has eliminated every small retailer, Bain Capital can come in and bankrupt the Harford County Walmart corporate monopoly...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The One Party State People's Republic Exodus

Tax Base Growth
from the Washington Times
Maryland lost the most residents in the mid-Atlantic between 2007 and 2010 - and many of them moved to Virginia, according to a study released Tuesday.

Almost 40,000 Marylanders crossed the Potomac River for new homes in Virginia, taking $2.17 billion with them, according to the Internal Revenue Service data used in the study conducted by Change Maryland, a nonpartisan group advocating for less state spending and lower taxes.

The high level of loss may reflect people’s dissatisfaction with Maryland’s tax policy, said Jim Pettit, spokesman for Change Maryland.

“People vote with their feet,” he said, adding that tax policies “absolutely” are tied to the number of people leaving the state. Critics have said Maryland has less-friendly tax policies than Virginia, and new income-tax increases for the state’s highest earners went into effect Sunday.

The study analyzed data from the IRS Statistics of Income Division to show county-by-county changes in the state’s tax base. The numbers represent people who have left Maryland for Virginia and do not take into account people who have moved to the state and their income levels.

According to Change Maryland, the Free State suffered a larger loss in its tax base than 43 other states.

“The benefits of a growing tax base ease the pressure to raise revenues and, conversely, a shrinking tax base often leads to a troublesome tax-and-spend downward spiral as actual revenues fail to meet estimates,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan.

Decreasing population was most prevalent in larger jurisdictions, according to Change Maryland.

Prince George’s County lost more than 44,000 people, and 36,600 left Baltimore County.

Montgomery County’s tax base declined by $22 million.

Change Maryland found only six states that lost more people in the three-year period: New York, California, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and New Jersey.

Nearby, the District lost more than 1,100 residents; Pennsylvania lost more than 8,200. Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia, on the other hand, gained tax filers, according to Change Maryland.

Some Marylanders have been given the opportunity to relocate when businesses move to Virginia. Many high-profile businesses have recently chosen Virginia over its Beltway neighbor.

Virginia won a high-stakes regional battle in 2010 to lure defense giant Northrop Grumman’s headquarters to the state from California. Bechtel Corp., based in Frederick, Md., announced in November it was relocating its corporate headquarters to Fairfax, bringing with it 625 jobs and an $18 million investment.

Silver Spring-based technology firm Acentia announced in January that it would invest $3.1 million in moving its headquarters to Fairfax, bringing with it 60 jobs.

“Maryland does not exist in a bubble. We compete with other states, and counties compete with other counties,” Mr. Pettit said.

Neil Bergsman, director of the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute, chalks up the larger jurisdiction’s losses to housing costs. These areas should be more concerned about affordable housing options than taxes, he said.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration has publicly questioned studies concluding that taxpayers are leaving Maryland especially to move to Virginia. O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory pointed out that the IRS data include only taxes filed before late September, which may exclude some of the wealthiest residents who received extensions for complex returns.

The Maryland Department of Budget and Management, in its own study analyzing IRS tax returns, found that the state had the region’s smallest percent change from 2007 to 2010, Ms. Guillory said.

The department’s report showed Maryland’s tax returns decreasing by 5.3 percent, compared with a 7.1 percent decrease in Virginia, she said.

Despite the losses, smaller counties gained people. According to Change Maryland’s study, those along the Eastern Shore benefited from in-state migration. Kent, Talbot, Queen Anne’s and Worcester counties’ numbers were on the upswing.

Mr. Pettit credits small county government, which is typically not dominated by Democrats as in many of the state’s larger areas, for the growth of smaller counties.

“There’s a give and take on tax and spending issues,” he said. “The focus should be on increasing the tax base, not increasing taxes.”

Mr. Bergsman cited economists and sociologists who conclude that more people move because of life changes such as marriage and jobs than because of taxes. The quality of public services -such as education, health care and environmental quality - play a large factor, too, he said.

“I’m a little bit worried for Virginia that they’re embarking on a program of disinvesting in those things,” he said.

Mr. Bergsman emphasized that the overall number of people who left the state is small in comparison with the total number of tax filers.

“People are moving across the border in both directions. The vast majority are staying put,” he said.

All Hail Rodney this Independence Day

from the Harford County Dagger
Last night (July 1 into July 2, 2012) I awoke hearing the rain battering against my house. This late night-to-early morning rainstorm led me to recall one of America’s forgotten heroes, Caesar Rodney, and his midnight ride for independence. Although Caesar Rodney is unfortunately forgotten by many teachers and textbook writers today, his midnight ride to Philadelphia forever changed American history; as he cast the tie-breaking vote to deliver us independence from Great Britain. The following briefly recounts Founding Father Caesar Rodney’s important role in the fight for American Independence.

On June 30, 1776, a motion for independence was put forward in the Continental Congress. Debates over independence continued into July 1, 1776. A vote was held whereby nine colonies voted for independence. Two colonies, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, voted against independence. One colony, New York, abstained from the vote, and another colony, Delaware, was split on its vote.

Delaware sent three delegates to the Continental Congress: Thomas McKean, George Read and Caesar Rodney. Mr. Rodney, however, was not present June 30 – July 1, 1776, because he was performing his duties as Brigadier General of the Delaware militia. Thus, Delaware’s tied voted was between Mr. McKean, who voted for independence, and Mr. Read, who voted against independence.

Although the Continental Congress had enough support to carry a motion declaring independence, it did not want to move forward with such a declaration without unanimous support from the colonies. Thomas McKean dispatched a rider to notify Caesar Rodney of Delaware’s tied vote and to inform him that he was desperately needed in Congress. The dispatch rider reached Rodney at almost midnight on July 1, 1776. Without delay, Caesar Rodney got on his horse and rode approximately 80 miles, through the night and a terrible thunderstorm, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Caesar Rodney arrived in Philadelphia muddied and in his boots and spurs just as another vote for independence was about to take place on July 2, 1776. Rodney cast his vote for independence, breaking Delaware’s tied vote. South Carolina and Pennsylvania changed their vote and voted for independence. New York still abstained from voting on the basis that its delegates had no specific instructions, but the Continental Congress now had its unanimous support for independence from all voting colonies.

Caesar Rodney’s midnight ride to Philadelphia would have been a strenuous ride for just about anyone, but it was even more taxing on Rodney who was of ill heath; suffering from, among other things, asthma and cancer of the jaw. It is believed that Mr. Rodney had been told of a physician in London who could treat his cancer. Whether that was true we do not know for sure. One thing, however, was for certain—Rodney’s vote for independence was considered high treason and caused him to be branded a traitor to the Crown. As history records, Caesar Rodney gave up the possibility of receiving medical treatment in London because he voted and pledged his life, fortune and sacred honor for American Independence.

It is interesting that Rome fell at the hands of a Caesar and American independence was helped to be born by the selfless and heroic actions of another Caesar—Caesar Rodney. Today, a statue of Caesar Rodney stands on Rodney Square in Wilmington, Delaware and his image appears on the 1999 U.S. Delaware Quarter. On July 4th, as we celebrate American independence by partaking in the excitement of patriotic parades, enjoying cookouts with friends and family, and watching firework displays, I ask you to share with others the story of this important, yet often forgotten, dedicated American patriot.