Al Redmer is one of the two excellent and conservative candidates running for State Senate in Maryland's 7th District. I wish this was a problem we had everywhere - too many excellent conservatives. Redmer is a former member of the House of Delegates, serving from 1991 to 2003. During his tenure in office, he served as House Minority Leader and on both the House Environmental Matters and Health and Government Operations Committees. In 2003, Ehrlich appointed Redmer to be Maryland Insurance Commissioner. He served in that post until the end of Ehrlich's term. Since leaving public office, Redmer has worked in the private sector not as a lobbyist as some politicians become - but back to basics for him in the insurance / healthcare industry. He currently serves as President of Landmark Insurance and Financial Group. I contacted Redmer and the other primary challenger, J.B. Jennings, about a month ago seeing if they would both be interested email based interview where the two candidates would answer the same set of questions. What follows are Redmer's answers.
Matthew Newman: What made you decide to run for State Senate?
Al Redmer, Jr: Since leaving government service a number of years ago, I have been back in the private sector running my business, never really expecting to run for public office again. However, like many others, I became outraged at how our state and nation are being led. I’m running because I’m confident that my background, experience and skill set make me uniquely qualified to help solve some of the complex problems Maryland faces.
MRN: How do you feel your experiences / background will help you in the State Senate?
AR: I am a life-long resident of the area I’ll be representing. I have literally dozens of years of community service and civic activism. And I’ve been a businessman for 30 years. These credentials mean nothing unless the 7th District’s State Senator approaches problem-solving with his constituents’ problems in mind, with the conviction to stick to the local issues that matter, and with the dollars-and-cents practicality that a business owner or manager must apply to stay in business.
To my local roots, community work, and business acumen, I can add a couple specifics from my background that will definitely help me hit the ground running. Beginning in 1991, I served 13 years in the Maryland House of Delegates, the last two as the House Republican leader. In 2003, I was appointed by Governor Ehrlich to serve as Maryland’s Insurance Commissioner and lead the Maryland Insurance Administration. Since this period of government service, I’ve run a regional subsidiary for a public company and now I’m a shareholder and President of a small, Maryland-based business. Bottom line: I know how state government works and I understand the importance of the private sector in the state’s overall economy.
With regard to some specific challenges that we’ll face in the State Senate, I have particular expertise:
A. With my decades of experience in health care and health insurance, I can help solve some of the complex problems that will occur as a result of the new national health care law.
B. As the former CEO of a state agency, I understand the impact that regulation has on businesses and consumers. I know how to create vigorous consumer protections and vigorous business competition through a clear, concise regulatory environment. I have also seen how and where state supervisors hide their excess budget funds from legislative oversight.
C. As a CEO in government and business, I have scrutinized operations and found efficiencies that allow for a more economical and effective delivery of services.
In summary, to use the cliché, I’ve “been there, done that.” I know how things work – and why they sometimes don’t work at all. All this experience, combined with a strong, energetic work ethic is now going to be put to use on behalf of the 7th District if I’m successful in my quest to become the District’s next State Senator.
MRN: In 2010, Maryland voters will once again have the opportunity to vote to hold a Constitutional convention. Would you be in favor of a Constitutional convention?
MRN: What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing the State of Maryland today?
AR: I certainly believe what the recent (July 13-21) poll conducted by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. revealed after it surveyed 807 registered Maryland voters: more than half said the economy is the most important issues facing the state. Can there be any doubt? Government actions – or inactions – impede the creation of jobs, discourage entrepreneurs, and restrain business expansion. Excessive government spending jeopardizes the state budget. Increased taxation hurts citizens right in the pocketbook and – as we’ve seen – even drives some out of the state altogether. If this is not the most pressing issue, I don’t know what is.
MRN: A balanced budget is required by Maryland State law. How would you ensure that we have an actual balanced budget as opposed to a budget balanced with legislative maneuvering?
AR: As a former CEO of a state agency, I have balanced an agency budget. Each state agency needs to do a thorough review of each service it provides and ask the following questions:
A. Is it an appropriate role of government to provide this service? If the answer is no, we need to unwind ourselves from that service and discontinue it. If the answer is yes, then the second question is:
B. Are we providing the service as efficiently and effectively as possible?
Too often, state government provides service and performs tasks just as it has done for decades – without any review or analysis. There is no question that in many, many instances, the state could be delivering services at a lower cost without impacting the quality of service being delivered.
MRN: How do you feel the recently passed health care reform legislation will impact state spending?
AR: It will be a train wreck! Consider this:
In 2007, the legislature increased the eligibility and benefits for Medicaid recipients (health care for the poor) that, naturally, significantly increased Maryland’s cost.
In 2009, the Board of Public Works began slashing financial reimbursements to hospitals and nursing homes -- even closed a mental health facility -- because it recognized that Maryland could not afford the expanded program for which it was then obligated.
Now, in 2010, new health care provisions once again increase eligibility and benefits for Medicaid recipients at an increased cost that, in part, state taxpayers will have to pay for – and all this at a time when we can’t afford the current program.
The train wreck is coming, and, sad to say, few people are discussing it.
During my 13-year legislative career, I served on the committee that was charged with oversight of Medicaid. For many years, I was one of a couple of legislators who served on the Medicaid Advisory Committee – and I actually attended its meetings!
I served as the CEO of a company that delivered health care benefits to Medicaid patients.
All this is to say that I know the system, I understand the complex problems involved in health care, and I have the ability to begin solving these problems on my first day in office.
MRN: In Maryland, social issues can be a touchy subject for candidates to discuss. The next few questions will relate to social issues.
What are your views on abortion?
AR: I am pro-life. (EDITORS NOTE: Redmer was recently endorsed by Maryland Right to Life along with his primary opponent, J.B. Jennings)
MRN: With the recently passed legislation in Arizona, illegal immigration has been on the minds of many Americans. What do you think of this legislation and do you feel similar legislation would be appropriate in Maryland?
AR: I would support similar legislation in Maryland. However, our problem is not that we lack the correct laws. Rather, our problem is that we don’t have leaders with the conviction to enforce them.
MRN: What are your thoughts on Attorney General Gansler's opinion regarding the legalization of out of state same-sex marriage licenses?
AR: I believe his legal opinion is flawed.
MRN: In closing, what is one thing you want to ensure potential voters know about your candidacy?
AR: Our state is headed in the wrong direction. The solution to fixing it is not merely going to Annapolis and casting votes, it’s about being effective, knowing the legislative and regulatory ropes, and getting things changed! I have the experience, skills, energy – and, above all -- the determination to make a difference!
I thank Al Redmer for his honest answers to my questions. As I said at the beginning, Redmer is a solid conservative candidate with great experience. So is his opponent in the primary. If you are interested in learning more about Al Redmer, check out his offical website here.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant