Craig cites experience in election
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 14:36

David Craig  photo by Ben Boehl

Harford County chief seeks GOP nod for governor

by Ben Boehl

On the day that David Craig kicked off his campaign for governor last June, his second stop was at the Dundalk American Legion Post 38, where he was joined by prominent Republicans including former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, Del. Kathy Szeliga, County Councilman David Marks and former Baltimore County Executive Roger Hayden.
    It appeared that Craig would be the favorite to capture the GOP nomination, but February polls from the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun showed Hogan in the lead. An April 23 St. Mary’s College of Maryland poll showed Hogan leading the GOP field at 16 percent to Craig’s 7.8 percent. A recent straw poll favored southern Maryland businessman Charles Lollar.
    In a visit to the Eagle office on May 12, Craig shrugged off those results, saying his people don’t participate in straw polls, and called the Sun poll a “push poll,” claiming that the paper favors Hogan.
    “The Sun always mentions Larry Hogan. They want him to win [the primary] so he can lose [to the Democratic nominee] in November.”
    Craig said that unlike the other gubernatorial hopefuls in both parties, he is the only candidate with top executive experience in government, having served as Harford County executive since 2006.

Fiscal experience
    “They talk about business experience, but they have not served in that seat. Things are very different then it is in the business world,” Craig said of his GOP opponents. “I have experience at balancing the budget and lowering taxes.”
    He also stressed his experience in delegating authority and overseeing appointees.
    Craig downplayed any prospective difficulty he would have as governor in dealing with a General Assembly dominated by Democrats.
    “It’s not about Democrats or Republicans,” he said about getting things done as a chief executive.He noted that Harford County didn’t become a majority Republican county until 2010, four years into his tenure as county executive.
    “Personal outreach is important,” he continued and touted his relationships with House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller.
    He was critical of former governor Robert Ehr-lich for not fostering personal relationships during his tenure and relying on subordinates to deal with the General Assembly instead. 
    Like his three GOP gubernatorial opponents,  he said that Maryland needs jobs and blamed taxes and regulations for jobs exiting the state.
    Craig said that the state can do little about the jobs that left the area, but he argued that steps can be taken to keep existing companies in Maryland.
    “We need to work first on keeping the businesses that are here to keep a foundation. It would be nice if we still had Bethlehem Steel and Western Electric, but we need to focus on the jobs that are here.”
    The centerpiece of Craig’s plan is the phased elimination of the state income tax. He would lower the top-tier income tax rate from 6.25 percent to 4.25 percent while raising the exemption amount on the state income tax form to $5,000 in the first two years. In the third and fourth years, the top-tier rate would be lowered to 3 percent and the exemption raised again before the income tax would be eliminated entirely.
    “I want to improve the economy by lowering taxes. I want to let businesses do what they need to do,” Craig said.
    “I don’t create jobs. Businesses create jobs.”
    Nonetheless, he said, “we really need to restore manufacturing in Maryland.”
    A key, he told The Eagle, is “to select a good person as director of economic development” and reach out to businesses.
    He said he believes  the lack of an income tax would generate more revenue from business due to increased ecomonic growth.
    Asked how he would respond to any drop in revenue, he stressed that “the key is to spend less money,” but allowed that some revenue might have to be made up.
    “As far as other revenue streams, we will have to look at them,” he said.
    Craig largely avoided specifics as to how that might be done, but did note that the income tax reduction could be matched with a higher rate for businesses.
    “The corporate tax affects mostly large corporations; small business owners usually pay theirs as personal income tax,” he said.
    Another source of revenue Craig said he would eliminate is bridge tolls, which, he said, generates revenue that is supposed to be dedicated to bridge and tunnel upkeep but is instead used for other projects. 
    Craig went on to say that he was not in favor of raising minimum wage, but said he would not push for repeal of the measure now that it has passed.
    “I didn’t support minimmum wage. It is for entry-level positions,” Craig explained.
    “The average [minimum wage earner] just lasts about six months [at that level], and they move up.”
   
No to EPA mandate
    Another tax Craig said he would like to see repealed is the stormwater management fee popularly known as the “rain tax.”
    He said it was not fair that only a handful of counties had to participate in the federal mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Craig said he would not comply with the EPA mandate, even if it meant the state would get sued.
    Any new tax or regulation, he argued, should be subjected to an economic impact study.
    “I don’t believe in this stormwater runoff [problem]. If there is a pollutant from your roof, is it from air pollution? And how is that your fault?”
    In place of stormwater remediation fees, which are levied based on jurisdiction, Craig favors focusing on the tributaries that carry primary and secondary source pollution. He was vague, however about what, if any, regulations he would use to reduce contamination of the bay.
    Craig said that regulation hurts Maryland’s economy. When asked when an industry or business should be regulated, Craig said only that the impact of any regulation should be studied first.  

Education
    Like his Republican rivals, Craig said he does not support the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
    As a former teacher and assistant principal in the Harford County public school system, Craig said he does not like standardize testing and said too much class time is devoted preparing students for such tests.
    He said each jurisdiction should be able to set up its own standards and said he does not want the federal government involved in the process.
    “We don’t need all the federal regulations. [President George W.] Bush’s No Child Left Behind was equally as bad.”
    Going further than his Republican rivals (all of whom voiced general support for broad-based standards even as they questioned Common Core in particular), Craig said he disagreed with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which originally proposed the standards regime that became Common Core.
    “I absolutely think it should be a local thing, regardless of who’s proposing it,” he said “Education needs to go back to where it’s supposed to be. It should be local.”

 “Lexington and Concord”
    Craig said he is “pro 2nd Amendment” and was against the passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013.
    “Think of [the Revolutionary War battle of] Lexington and Concord. We (the revolutionaries) had been complaining about taxes, but we fought when they tried to take guns away,” he said.

“I’m 12-0”
    With the primary set for a week from Saturday, Craig argued that he has the best chance of defeating whomever is the eventual Democratic nominee . He called the Republican primary a “Ravens versus Redskins” battle, with himself as the only major-party candidate from the Baltimore area.
    When asked what makes him a better opponent against the Democrats than Hogan, Craig responded that he is undefeated in general elections and pointed to Hogan’s defeat in the 1992 5th District congressional race by Rep. Steny Hoyer.
    “The last time I ran, I got [79.96] percent of the vote. [Note: According to the Maryland State Board of Elections, Craig did not face a Democratic opponent in 2010. He did defeat Democrat Ann Helton 52 to 47.8 percent in the 2006 Harford County Exective race].
    “I’m 12-0 in general elections and he is 0-1 in general elections” Craig said of Hogan.
    “If someone couldn’t win in one-eighth of the state, what makes him think he could win the whole state?”
    His evaluation made no mention of GOP candidates Charles Lollar, who has never before sought elective office, and Del. Ron George, who has been elected to the House twice.