Ben Cardin v. Dan Bongino v. “Rob who?”

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pleasant looking chap, isn’t he.

The “Rob who?” in the title is Rob Sobhani, Independent (unaffiliated) candidate for the US Senator in Maryland. To tell you the truth, like so many Americans, I’ve be so caught up in the party politics of a Presidential election year that I didn’t even check to see who else was running, other than incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin and Republican challenger Dan Bongino. And then I saw one of Mr. Sobhani’s television spots.

Before I go any further, you can learn about Mr. Sobhani by Googling him or just going directly to his campaign website where there is a brief, but nonetheless interesting bio.

A couple things…

First, according to FEC reports through June 30, 2012, he’s raised $227,205 of which he has $94,710 on hand. By comparison, Dan Bongino, the Republican candidate has raised twice as much, $473,091, but has only $101,719 on hand. Unfortunately, the incumbent, Ben Cardin, has raised $4,591,000, of which $1,669,919 has come from non-party affiliated PACs who want and will get who-knows-what in return. Senator Cardin had $2,121,598 on hand as of June 30. That’s twenty times the cash reserves of each of his challengers, and he hasn’t gotten his Democrat Party money yet.

If a poll shows Dan Bongino within striking distance, he may get money from the Republican Party. Good news/bad news… Mr. Sobhani has no party affiliation and won’t be getting Party money. That’s the bad news, but it’s also the good news. His independent status allows him to go to Washington unconstrained by his Party’s politics. To which I say, “Yay!” Dan Bongino says he’s a Washington outsider, which is true, but he’s still a Republican and all that outsider business changes the day he’s elected and finds himself fighting to avoid getting sucked into business-as-usual Washington Republican politics.

Rob Sobhani

Second, pending further research, Rob Sobhani appears better qualified than both the incumbent, whose only qualification is that he’s a career politician, and Republican Dan Bongino. Mr., actually it’s “Dr.” Sobhani holds a Ph.D. in Political Economy from Georgetown University and is an expert on US Middle East policy. More to the point given the state of our economy, he’s the founder and CEO of a “group of companies with international business activities in the fields of energy, including renewable sources, infrastructure development, high technology and publishing.” (That quote is from his website biography.) And he’s a writer, like me. If that isn’t a reason to vote for him, what is?

Yes, he’s run for the Senate twice before, as a Republican in the 1992 and 2000 primaries. In 1992, he came in fourth in a crowded field of 11 candidates. Twelve years ago, in the 2000 primary, he came in second among eight Republicans receiving 53,084 votes. It’s a rough comparison, but Republican candidate Dan Bongino, in this year’s primary against nine other Republicans, won with only 59,301 votes. This time Rob Sobhani is running in the general election as an Independent. He’s paid his dues, as they say, and knows his way around a campaign. Maybe third time’s a charm. In any case, I’m going to study up on Rob Sobhani, and so should you. For those of you who realize what a waste of time and money Ben Cardin has been, but can’t get around to voting for a Republican, Rob Sobhani could be just the candidate you’ve been hoping for.

Unfortunately, the last thing we want is Dan Bongino and Rob Sobhani splitting a total vote that could have retired the incumbent, Ben Cardin. It’s always a problem in a three-candidate race. If only Ben Cardin didn’t have so much money in the bank. On the hand, to encourage Dr. Sobhani, there are honest, professional ways to beat an extremely well-funded incumbent, even in a three-way race. I offer, by way of example and out of respect for Dr. Sobhani’s Middle East expertise, the case of “David v. Goliath.” My advise to Mr. Cardin, who I’m sure is paying zero attention, is to never underestimate a smart, more creative and highly determined opponent.

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