Sam Faddis said he led the first CIA team into Iraq nine months before the U.S. invaded that country in 2003, so the Davidsonville resident is used to operating in hostile territory under one-party rule.
“I think we are in trouble as a country,” said Faddis, explaining why he’s running for U.S. Senate. “We are being led to ruin by a class of professional politicians,” and that includes people of both parties. “We have too many career politicians.”
That class especially includes Maryland’s senior U.S. senator, Ben Cardin, whom Republican Faddis describes as “the poster child of what we’re talking about. He’s never done anything else.”
First elected to the House of Delegates at the age of 23, Cardin has spent 50 years in elected office — 20 years in Annapolis, including the final eight years as speaker of the House; 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives; and now finishing his second term as senator.
Cardin, 73, has not officially announced his re-election plans, but he has been raising money aggressively and maintaining a full schedule of public appearances around the state, in addition to his Washington duties.
“I’m presuming he’s going to run,” said Faddis. And he’s checked with other Republicans who have run for Senate in the past, such as Del. Kathy Szeliga, and they are not running. Richard Douglas, a Bladensburg attorney who has run twice for Senate, has endorsed Faddis, saying, “Imagine a competent, engaged and well-informed U.S. senator more concerned about serving Maryland than raising cash for his Senate cronies.”
That’s a backhand slap at the state’s new U.S. Senator, Chris Van Hollen, a freshman who heads the Senate Democrats campaign committee, a role similar to one he had in the U.S. House of Representatives. Van Hollen was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1990.
Faddis’s entire background is in national security, first as an Army lawyer, then the CIA, and now as a Homeland Security consultant who occasionally appears as one of those talking-head experts on cable news. He has also written two books: “Beyond Repair: The Decline And Fall Of The CIA” and “Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion Of Homeland Security.”
But Faddis is running on what he calls “kitchen table issues,” including jobs, trade, economic growth and personal standards of living.
“The economic situation is not good,” Faddis said. “For several years now, we’ve had declining life expectancy,” due to what he called “deaths from despair” that resulted from alcoholism and opioid abuse, as many people lost hope about their future prospects.
“I think President Trump has tapped into something very real and very troubling,” the hollowing out of the middle class, their incomes and jobs.
“The government does not create jobs,” but it does create or undermine the conditions for job growth through taxes, regulations and trade policy.
“I’m for fair trade, not free trade,” Faddis said. He supports renegotiation of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), as Trump said he plans to do, and revamping other trade deals that have led to loss of jobs in the U.S.
“These are not particularly good deals for the workers in foreign countries” or the U.S. “Somebody’s getting rich, but it’s not the workers in either country.”
Heroin From Mexico
Related to the epidemic of opioid overdoses, “we need to take control of our southern border,” he said. “Virtually all [of the heroin] comes from Mexico. It’s fueling the violence in Baltimore and the destruction of local neighborhoods.
“This is a question of national resolve,” Faddis said. “It comes down to political will.”
As his book titles suggest, he’s not a big fan of U.S. foreign policy and how the war on terrorism is being fought.
“I don’t see an end in sight” on the fight against terrorism, he said, but “we need to regain our focus on American national interests.”
“I have a son who almost died in Helmand province” in Afghanistan, as a marine fighting there. After the Taliban and al-Qaeda were eliminated after several months, the U.S. focused on nation building that has not gone as well.
“Before you commit military force, you have to identify our national interest,” the candidate said. “You define victory before you start the war.”
Not enough members of Congress have children fighting our overseas wars, Faddis said. They are not feeling the pain of permanent war the way military families are.
He said the Affordable Care Act “is imploding, so the status quo is not an option. You have to find a way to end this spiral of out-of-control health costs” and “taking this back in the direction of the free market.”
When it comes to defeating Cardin, Faddis said, “Donald Trump tapped into some things that are very real,” as did Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on the left. “There’s a lot of anger; there’s a lot of discontent.”
He hopes that will translate into discontent with a politician who has won 17 general elections in a row. “There has to be something more important than getting re-elected next time,” Faddis said.
Getting re-elected next time is what the Republican establishment hopes Del. Herb McMillan will focus on — and not running for the state Senate in District 30 against former delegate Ron George, who has been endorsed by County Executive Steve Schuh and other elected Republicans. In the 2014 election, McMillan got 195 more votes than House Speaker Mike Busch, despite a redistricting that took away some of McMillan’s best precincts.
McMillan, a maverick legislator not considered a team player by many fellow Republicans, had a poll done pitting him against George. It included negative statements about George that pushed voters toward supporting McMillan.
But Republican Party officials think George has a good shot at capturing the seat, especially if Democratic Sen. John Astle wins the race for mayor of Annapolis, and they want McMillan to hold onto his delegate seat.
Republican Dr. Mark Plaster, who got only 34% of the vote running against Rep. John Sarbanes last year, is also running for delegate in the Annapolis-area district in 2018. Speaker Busch filed for reelection May 19, prior to his unexpected liver transplant June 1, partly to quell the rumors and speculation about his health. He is now recovering at home, and pledging to return as speaker.
Dog Bites Kipke
“Dog bites man” is not typically news, but it is when an unleashed pit bull took a bite of House Minority Leader Nic Kipke’s right arm. The dog bite sent him to the hospital for stitches, and his poodle Tucker got chewed up, too.
Republican Anne Arundel County Councilmember John Grasso is term limited, but is running for something next year. First he was running for state Senate in District 32, represented by Democrat Ed DeGrange for the past 19 years. Grasso is now saying he may run for county executive or even governor, two offices already held by Republicans.
I ran into Astle on Bladen Street, near the State House, after he had spent the afternoon door knocking. He shared an interesting factoid that may give him the edge in a Democratic primary, when he faces restaurateur Gavin Buckley. Astle, who is 74, said 78% of Democratic voters in the capital city are older than 60.
And, of course, seniors vote. And many of them look like him.