CECIL COUNTY CHATTER: “Mad Men,” MAD Mike, McGrady’s “McDunn” Web Voice
The popular TV show, â€śMad Men,â€ť about the machinations and over-the-top drama of the early 1960â€™s advertising game, has nothing on our own MAD Men of Cecil County politicsâ€”except perhaps for the broad-shouldered, grown-up suits and wide ties worn by the lead characters on TV.
Trade in the suits for baggy, campaign-slogan tee shirts and athletic shoes for walking door-to-door to drop off political advertising flyers as misleading as Don Draperâ€™s Lucky Strike ads on TV, and voila: MAD Men Cecil County style. Looking ahead to the rest of this seasonâ€™s shows, the MAD Men of Cecil will be playing in the Perryville town election in May and the general election for county-wide offices in November.
And there is already an assist from a Harford County conservative activistâ€”who has received lots of political money from Smipkin aligned political committees– putting a negative â€śvoiceâ€ť on the Internet into the mouth of our otherwise perpetually silent Cecil County Commissioner, Michael (Mike) Dunn (R-3).
The latest episode of our local political comedy-drama came late last week, when the Cecil County Republican Central Committee met at the Howard House in Elkton for what was billed as one of the panelâ€™s infrequent regular meetings and a â€ścelebrationâ€ť of the successful Republican candidates who swept to victory in the April 3 primary.
Just one hitch: seven of the nine members of the GOP Central Committee are firmly aligned with the Smipkin political machine that spent big bucks on robocalls and distorted mailers to attack three of the successful Republican candidates who won in the primary for County Executive (Tari Moore), County Council District 5 (Robert Hodge), and Circuit Court Judge (Keith Baynes.) The Smipkin machine is led by state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, whose state campaign finance committee paid for most of the attacks on the successful Republican local candidates, and his comrade in arms Del. Michael Smigiel, who lost to Baynes in a race for a court seat.
One of the primary election losers who also sits on the Central Committee put on quite a show at the Howard House: Michael A. Dawson, a less-than-one-term Perryville town commissioner who lost his bid for County Executive. Michael A. Dawson (MAD), a recent transplant from Prince Georgeâ€™s County, is known locally as MAD Mike, to differentiate him from Michael W. Dawson (MWD), whose family has lived in Perryville for generations and who ran as a Constitution Party candidate for state Delegate in 2010.
MAD Dawson lived up to his moniker and was mad and angry at everyone, frequently declaring loudly, â€śI have the floor,â€ť to people who tried to respond to or question his verbal outbursts, according to multiple attendees at the event. For those who had not seen him in action beforeâ€”and MAD Dawson has refused to attend any candidate debates or forums in his past runs for County Commissioner in 2010 and county executive this yearâ€”it was an eye-opening performance.
But for other political regulars, especially those who have watched MAD Dawson in noisy action at Perryville town meetings, it was just more of the same and the latest in his multi-pronged attacks on other local elected officials with more experience in local government and issues.
The GOP primary ballots for county executive had barely been counted, delivering an overwhelming win for Moore in a crowded seven-way contest and a resounding defeat for Dawson, when MAD Dawson declared he would now be a candidate for Perryville Mayor in the May 8 town election, running against longtime incumbent mayor James Eberhardt.
That declaration, along with MAD Dawsonâ€™s latest attack on volunteer efforts led by the Greater Perryville Chamber of Commerce in support of a local parade, has prompted a groundswell of activism against MAD Dawson and in support of Eberhardt, including a new â€śFriends to Re-Elect Jim Eberhardtâ€ť page on Facebook, with the slogan, â€śGrounded in History, Focused on the Future.â€ť [SEE page here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/FriendsToReElectMayorJimEberhardt ]
Matt Roath, president of the Perryville Chamber, challenged MAD Dawsonâ€™s assertions at a recent town meeting and posted on his own Facebook wall that MADâ€™s attack on the local volunteer efforts, which do not involve any taxpayer funds, shows that MAD Dawson â€ścouldnâ€™t trick Cecil County voters into voting for him [for county executive], so now heâ€™s decided to try to ruin a community event. Reminds me of my nephews when they donâ€™t get their way.â€ť
Some county political observers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was a growing momentum against Smipkin-aligned candidates that could trigger a groundswell of anti-MAD Dawson activity in what would otherwise be a small turnout, local town election.
Meanwhile, the ever taciturn County Commissioner Michael Dunnâ€”who fails to attend most county government meetings attended by other Commissioners except the bare-bones minimums of Tuesday worksessions and twice-a-month evening meetingsâ€”has suddenly found a â€śvoiceâ€ť on the Internet. But electronic details show his new website voice, attacking other Republicans such as Moore and Hodge, and The Cecil Timesâ€”is linked to a Harford County conservative activist with financial and political ties to Ted Patterson and other Cecil GOP Central Committee Smipkinistas.
Dunnâ€™s new website/blog suddenly became a vocal attack site against Moore, Hodge and The Cecil Times shortly before the recent Cecil County primary election. Internet registration data show that Dunnâ€™s site was registered to a post office box in Aberdeen that is the same box used by Patrick McGrady, a conservative activist and repeatedly unsuccessful Harford county candidate, for his own campaign organization. McGrady has been a recipient of campaign donations from several Smipkin-aligned campaign entities in the past, including Pattersonâ€™s campaign committee and a political action committee for which his wife was treasurer.
In addition, Dunnâ€™s website/blog is hosted on webservers operated by â€śpatrickmcgrady.com,â€ť the same Internet servers and web address as the Aberdeen activistâ€™s recent unsuccessful campaign for mayor in the Harford county town, according to that website and Internet domain registration logs.
McGrady failed as a candidate for state delegate and he was defeated in November 2011 in his run for Aberdeen Mayor against longtime incumbent Democrat Michael Bennett. After his win over McGrady, Bennett condemned his opponentâ€™s negative robocalls and mailers, saying to the local Patch website, â€śThis is absolutely the dirtiest campaign Iâ€™ve ever been involved in and I am dismayed that I have to go through the process of repairing damage to my name that an unscrupulous opponent wanted to put out there.â€ť
In addition, the Dunn/McDunn website violates federal copyright law by ripping off a photograph, taken several years ago by Cecil Whig photographer Adelma Gregory-Bunnell, without any attribution or credit to the newspaper. We will be advising our friends at the Cecil Whig that their copyrighted material has been lifted, in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, so they can take appropriate legal action against Commissioner Dunn and/or his ghost-writer.