The position of Comptroller is one that the average citizen of any state will say they may not understand fully. The Comptroller is supposed to serve as the state's accountant is in charge of collecting taxes, handles deliquent tax collection, enforces unclaimed property laws; in summary, the Comptroller is the State's Cheif Financial Officer. In Maryland, the people are represented by former State Legislator Peter Franchot. He is one in a long line of Democratic Comptrollers, which has kept the position barely independent of the Governor and Legislature. The most recent Republican Comptroller was Phillips Lee Goldborough, who served from 1898 to 1900.
In 2006, Franchot beat the incumbent Comptroller and a sitting County Executive in the Democratic primary. In the general election, he did 9% worse than his predecessor against the Republican challenger - former University of Baltimore business school dean Anne McCarthy. He did receive 59% of the popular vote, but the 9% drop from the 2002 election against a relatively untested political entity displays weakness in a strong Democratic year. In 2010, economic issues are going to dominate and momentum is in the Republican Party's favor - so the State's cheif financial officer should be cheif among those to be challenged by a strong, Republican candidate. Enter EJ Pipkin.
Pipkin ran an unsuccessful campaign for US Senate in 2004. He was the Republican standar bearer against the entrenched incumbent Barbara Mikulski. While he did lose the race, Pipkin performed 5% better than any challenger to Mikulski since she was first elected to the Senate in 1986. In 2008, Pipkin made the decision to enter the fray for the 1st Congressional District. This left a bad taste in many conservative's mouth as their preferred candidate, Andy Harris, was vying for the nomination against RINO extraordinaire Wayne Gilchrist. Pipkin split the anti-Gilchrist vote, but not enough to hinder Harris' campaign.
But conservatives can and should forgive Pipkin for this primary. Pipkin is a fiscal conservative when it counts and has a record of drafting pro-growth legislation including those to repeal the Maryland estate tax and to reduce statewide property / income taxes. As the cheif financial officer of the state, we need someone who is fiscally conservative and supportive of limited taxation.
The No BS Zone has a great biography of Pipkin. Pipkin has a great biographical narrative - working his way through college as a construction worker. After receiving his MBA, Pipkin went into business finance in NYC selling junk bonds. In 2002, he challenged an entrenched incumbent state senator and won...by 25%.
In 2010, the narrative will be about the state of the economy. Having a potential candidate with relevant legislative and business experience who can say with conviction that he understands the plight of the downtrodden, that he understands what it's like to have to scrap to get by, and that the American dream is acheivable would be great. Having this candidate running for a statewide office that often gets turned into an afterthought by the political establishment would turn out to be even better.
Crossposted to Old Line Elephant