“MAD Mike” Dawson Files for State Senate; Perpetual Candidate Seeks new Cecil-Harford Seat, with Slam on Cecil Councilor
When one-term Perryville town commissioner Michael A. Dawson declared a few months ago that he would not seek re-election to the post he had only won by one vote, town officials and many residents breathed a sigh of relief. During his brief two-year tenure, Dawson created a whirlwind of controversy, with online attacks and unsubstantiated accusations against fellow elected officials, town employees and even local businesspeople.
It was the only government elective office he had ever won, despite numerous losing campaigns for County Commissioner, County Executive and mayor of Perryville. And his one-vote win on the town council was widely attributed to voter confusion of this Michael A. Dawson, a Prince George’s County transplant known locally as “MAD Mike,” with Michael W. Dawson– a Perryville resident with generations of family roots in the community and a former candidate for another state delegate seat in 2010.
So when MAD Dawson said just a few months ago that he was retiring from local politics to spend more time with his family, most people took him at his word. But last week, MAD Dawson filed papers with the state Board of Elections declaring his candidacy in the Republican primary for a newly-redrawn state Senate District 35 covering western Cecil County and northeastern Harford County.
Under the redistricting maps approved by the General Assembly and formalized by Governor O’Malley last year, the new District 35 Senate seat provides a slight western Cecil County majority of voting-age residents over the Harford County sector of the new district, according to state Planning Department maps and census data.
[SEE previous Cecil Times report on legislative redistricting here: http://ceciltimes.com/2011/12/senate-redistricting-cecil-county-says-farewell-to-nancy-jacobs-cecil-county-holds-majority-over-harford-in-new-dist-35/
The incumbent senator for that previously Harford-only district is Barry Glassman, a Harford County farmer and businessman who has formally announced his candidacy, as a Republican, for Harford County Executive in the 2014 election—thus leaving the 35th as an open Senate seat contest.
The redistricting knocked out western Cecil County’s representation for many years by Sen. Nancy Jacobs, in District 34. In June, Jacobs announced she would not seek re-election in her district which is now solely located in Harford County. Jacobs narrowly won re-election to her seat in 2010 due to her overwhelmingly strong support in what was then the Cecil County portion of her district.
As recently as a few months ago, Jacobs told Cecil Times she was actively considering moving to Cecil County so as to run in the new District 35 Senate race. She had explored putting her Abingdon-area home up for sale, but was concerned that the local real estate market was so weak that it would not yield an adequate sales price. Her husband has also had health problems and that was a factor in her decision-making process.
Political sources told Cecil Times that an experienced Harford County state Delegate—Wayne Norman, a Republican and a Bel Air lawyer—is seriously considering a run for the newly redrawn Senate seat in District 35. Norman, a popular and personable local figure with deep roots in the Harford County portion of the district, would be a very strong contender in the GOP primary for the seat. The personality contrasts alone would make him a viable candidate over MAD Dawson, but Norman also has constructive and significant experience in local government and politics in the Harford portion of the district.
In past runs for Cecil county-wide office, MAD Dawson has come up way short. But the new Senate district, with the most conservative sector of western Cecil County included and portions of Harford County with heavily GOP voter registration, could be friendlier territory for him.
But then there is the “Pinocchio factor.” (As in lies and long noses…)
First, he said he was moving off the political stage for family reasons just a few months ago. Then he filed last week for state office that could send him to Annapolis for four months of the year, with constituent service duties year round, and a much more demanding political schedule than the limited Perryville town council meetings.
MAD Dawson has a long record of attack politics—and has demonstrated in online postings in the past few months that he has not abandoned such tactics—but then he also claimed in the past few days that “I normally try to avoid seeming rude or confrontational…” and “I don’t mean to be harsh.” Really? Anyone attending Perryville town council meetings for the past two years would beg to differ.
Dawson has taken over the website of the Republicans of Cecil Political Action Committee (ROC-PAC), which was created by members of the Smipkin political organization to support its endorsed candidates and attack its enemies in past Cecil County elections. (The Smipkin group has been led by state Del. Michael Smigiel and Sen. E.J. Pipkin, both R-36.)
State election board records show that the ROC-PAC filed multiple affidavits in the past two years swearing that the PAC raised and spent less than $1,000. The PAC’s chair is listed as Josue Sierra and the treasurer is Jillian Patterson, wife of Ted Patterson—another losing candidate for elective office and a leader in “Campaign for Liberty” ultraconservative groups in Cecil and Harford counties.
In past elections, the ROC-PAC was used as a conduit to funnel money from various political clubs and campaign committees into accounts for the group’s favored election candidates.
But all the recent postings on ROC-PAC’s website have been attributed to Dawson, who lists himself as a “board member” of the PAC although he is not listed on state election records in that capacity. MAD Dawson has posted online a new appeal for financial donations to the PAC, ostensibly to attack a proposal by Cecil County Councilor Alan McCarthy (R-1) to open a discussion on ways to prevent “celebratory” gunfire that could injure or kill innocent bystanders.
McCarthy discussed the issue at a recent Cecil County Council worksession, in response to the death of a young child in her grandparents’ Elk Neck backyard by New Year’s Eve “celebratory” gunfire from an unknown nearby location that struck and killed the child. McCarthy said he was not introducing a formal resolution but wanted to stimulate discussion on how to prevent such tragedies without infringing on the lawful rights of citizens to protect their homes and families or trap shooters or hunters. [SEE Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2013/07/cecil-county-council-discusses-gunfire-limits-in-aftermath-of-childs-death-from-stray-celebratory-shot/ ]
But MAD Dawson declared that McCarthy’s concept was an “insane” proposal and a “shooting ban scheme.” His online posts included a graphic including McCarthy’s picture and text attacking him. But, more to his real goal, MAD Dawson declared, “We need money to fight this proposal right now” and said he had a goal of raising $500 for ROC-PAC. He did not say how money donated to ROC-PAC would be used in his purported effort against the McCarthy proposal.
Under state election law, PAC funds are supposed to be used to donate money to individual candidate campaign committees or pay for ads for or against an announced election candidate. (McCarthy’s seat is not up for re-election until 2016.) In reality, money donated to the ROC-PAC now could end up being transferred to MAD Dawson’s state Senate campaign fund.
Asked for comment about MAD Dawson’s assertions, McCarthy told Cecil Times, “There isn’t a word that is true about what I proposed or my intent. This is just dirty politics.”
In announcing his candidacy for the state Senate seat in an email to supporters, MAD Dawson said he would be “a champion for individual liberty in Annapolis” and that he would be part of a “conservative leadership poised to go on the offensive.”
And, obviously without running his comments through spell-check, MAD Dawson declared, “Winning doesn’t come from constantly being on your heals.”
He also listed his top qualification for the state Senate seat was his status as a “committed Christian.” MAD Dawson also said his top priorities in Annapolis would be voting as an anti-abortion lawmaker, supporting tax cuts and opposing any “gun grab” legislation.