- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer is one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill, but he might not be so popular back home.

The Maryland Republican Party announced last week that, thanks to a voter-registration drive this year, Mr. Hoyer’s home county of St. Mary’s County now has more Republicans than Democrats.

The state GOP issued a news release last week celebrating the shift, which now shows the county to have 24,448 registered Republicans and 24,340 registered Democrats — a difference of just 108 people. Going into 2012, St. Mary’s Democrats edged their GOP counterparts by 158 registered voters.

So what does that mean? It depends who you ask.

Mr. Hoyer, the House minority whip who has been in office since 1981, is still a heavy favorite for re-election against Maryland Delegate Anthony J. O’Donnell. His home county may be ever-so-slightly red but his district includes large swaths of heavily Democratic Charles and Prince George’s counties.

The GOP probably won’t be taking Mr. Hoyer’s seat anytime soon, but state Republicans were quick to run with the good news and pile on the longtime congressman — declaring him out of touch and the target of a revolt by neighbors who were fed up with his landslide victories and liberal politics.

Steny Hoyer is officially out of touch with St. Mary’s County,” said David Willenborg, chairman of the St. Mary’s County Republican Central Committee. “His support of Obamacare and his subordinate attitude to San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi puts him at odds with the values of Southern Maryland.”

Decisions, decisions

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has spilled his fair share of ink writing to Senate Democrats this year. Much of it was related to a two-year budget that did not pass during the regular session of the 2012 General Assembly.

But now he’s apparently found a new pen pal: Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican and the son of presidential candidate Ron Paul.

In a letter dated March 15, Mr. Paul the younger wrote to Mr. McDonnell urging him to sign a bill introduced by Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican, that would prohibit Virginia agencies from assisting in the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial. Mr. Paul wrote that provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would expand the power of the federal government by codifying into law such authority to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects, which he argues is unconstitutional.

Whether or not the letter sways Mr. McDonnell remains to be seen — his office says he’s still reviewing the bill. But the governor, who often says he’s proud to serve in the position once held by the likes of Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, had to at least be impressed with the historical flourish with which Mr. Paul, an ophthalmologist, penned his letter, which includes references to James Madison, the Magna Carta and a 2004 dissent authored by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in which Mr. Scalia writes about the country’s “Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers.”

So will Mr. McDonnell side with Mr. Marshall, Mr. Paul and other “freedom-loving Americans,” as the Kentucky senator wrote in his letter? Or will he fall in line with Mitt Romney, who Mr. McDonnell has endorsed for president and who has said he would sign the NDAA?

David Hill and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.