Fowler, Fisher cam­paign ma­te­ri­als spark con­tro­versy

Dis­trict 27C del­e­gate chal­lenger’s en­dorse­ment is de­nied, dis­puted

The Calvert Recorder - - News - By TA­MARA WARD tward@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @CalRecTAMARA

The Calvert County race for the Dis­trict 27C House of Del­e­gates seat be­came more con­tentious in the fi­nal days and hours be­fore the Nov. 6 elec­tion as ques­tions sur­round­ing the va­lid­ity of a pub­lished en­dorse­ment and the ac­cu­racy of can­di­date mail­ers were called into ques­tion.

Del. Mark Fisher (R-Calvert) said he re­ceived a phone call from for­mer sen­a­tor Bernie Fowler Sr. and son Bernie Fowler Jr. re­gard­ing an ad his Demo­cratic op­po­nent Ja­son Fowler placed in The Calvert Recorder.

The ad, placed by Ja­son Fowler’s cam­paign in the Nov. 2 edi­tion, states: “Ja­son is en­dorsed by ...” with sev­eral unions and or­ga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sented by their re­spec­tive lo­gos ar­ranged around a photo of him­self with Bernie Fowler Sr.

“They are very up­set that my op­po­nent sent out a mailer and has ad­ver­tised in the Recorder that he has been en­dorsed by them,” Fisher said in a text to the Recorder on Sun­day.

In a fol­low-up in­ter­view Mon­day, Fisher said the con­ver­sa­tion he had with the two Bernie Fowlers was not about en­dors­ing one per­son over an­other, but about the ac­cu­racy of the ad and sim­i­lar mailer.

“I would never pre­tend that I am en­dorsed by some­one when I am not. I am en­dorsed by the gov­er­nor and it’s in writ­ing,” Fisher said.

Fisher said the el­der Fowler ac­knowl­edged in the phone con­ver­sa­tion that he takes pho­tos with peo­ple all the time and also ex­pressed long­stand­ing con­cern over ru­mors that the can­di­date Fowler al­legedly stated he is some­how re­lated to the for­mer sen­a­tor.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back is when they saw the mailer and the ad in the Recorder,” Fisher said.

“I was shocked when my daugh­ter brought me a clip­ping of the pa­per,” Bernie Fowler Sr. told the Recorder. “No, I did not en­dorse him and he did not ask me.”

“I don’t make a habit of en­dors­ing can­di­dates — both par­ties have been good to me when I left the Se­nate,” he said, sug­gest­ing Ja­son Fowler prob­a­bly knew that.

The sen­a­tor con­firmed he and his son called Fisher to ex­press con­cern over the im­plied en­dorse­ment and re­la­tion­ship. He also shared that Ja­son Fowler came to his house one time while door knock­ing, chat­ted with the fam­ily and asked if they were of any re­la­tion.

“I told him that I don’t know of any re­la­tion­ship — I don’t know you un­til now,” Bernie Fowler Sr. said.

Bernie Fowler Jr. posted on Face­book on Sun­day to set the record straight about the in­for­ma­tion on fliers and ads cir­cu­lat­ing around Calvert.

“My fa­ther has not and does not en­dorse can­di­dates. So maybe this is just con­ve­nient photo po­si­tion­ing but I’m post­ing this at the wishes of my dad. Many have ques­tioned if we are re­lated but not to our fam­ily’s knowl­edge. Hope this clears up any con­fu­sion!!” the post states, wish­ing all the can­di­dates good luck.

The post gar­nered more than 200 shares and nearly 50 com­ments in un­der 24 hours.

Both Carter Mack­iewicz and Larry Wil­son posted sep­a­rately in the com­ments that Ja­son Fowler told them each he was re­lated to the well-known Fowlers.

But not all the com­ments were in op­po­si­tion to Ja­son Fowler. Jes­sica Bel­losi Mul­li­nax posted “this is not at all meant to say he is en­dorsed by the for­mer Sen­a­tor! It’s giv­ing credit as to who is in the pic­ture and the lo­gos are who en­dorsed him. It’s a sign of re­spect,” and other can­di­dates get pho­tos taken with Bernie Fowler Sr. and “use them on their boards, to in­sin­u­ate that he sup­ports them. I’m sure Ja­son Fowler can clear up the poster.”

“I’m not try­ing to do Ja­son any harm, but I don’t have any great con­fi­dence in in­sin­u­at­ing,” Fowler Sr. said.

Con­cern was also el­e­vated about the ac­cu­racy of a cam­paign mailer from Fisher about his op­po­nent’s po­si­tion on is­sues, sug­gest­ing Fowler is a sup­porter of Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Ben Jeal­ous, a pro­po­nent of in­creas­ing taxes, wants Mary­land to be a sanc­tu­ary state and that Fowler is anti-small busi­ness.

“We know we got that right be­cause Ja­son Fowler sup­ports Jeal­ous’ pol­icy of Medi­care for all, [also the pol­icy of] Bernie San­ders,” Fisher said, stand­ing be­hind the con­tent in his mailer. “It would re­quire $24 bil­lion in taxes. Our de­part­ment of leg­isla­tive ser­vices re­ported that fig­ure.”

At a Calvert County League of Women Vot­ers fo­rum in Oc­to­ber, Fowler said if some­one is un­der ar­rest they are sub­ject to the rules and reg­u­la­tions of the state and “if that means [Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment] is in­formed of their pres­ence, that is tech­ni­cally the law of the land and that’s how it should be han­dled.” Fowler also said at the fo­rum that Jeal­ous was not his can­di­date.

Fisher went line by line through his mailer’s text re­fer­ring to retweets by Fowler and post­ings on Fowler’s web­site to sup­port the claims, stat­ing “all this stuff has been doc­u­mented.”

Fisher said Fowler sup­ports politi­cian Rich Madealeno, who threw his sup­port be­hind Jeal­ous af­ter los­ing to him in the pri­mary.

Fisher also pointed to the Mary­land Catholic Con­fer­ence Sur­vey’s ques­tion on im­mi­gra­tion and lim­it­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of lo­cal law agen­cies in fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment ef­forts. Ac­cord­ing to Fisher, Fowler sup­pos­edly re­sponded that po­lice should be kept from do­ing their job. How­ever, Fowler’s full re­sponse to the sur­vey states: “Mary­land should pri­or­i­tize pro­tect­ing fam­ily unity by pass­ing leg­is­la­tion that, ex­cept for cases in­volv­ing in­di­vid­u­als with se­ri­ous crim­i­nal records, lim­its the par­tic­i­pa­tion of lo­cal law agen­cies in fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment ef­forts.”

Ja­son Fowler has ac­knowl­edged re­quests for an in­ter­view from the Recorder to ad­dress both his ad and Fisher’s mailer and said he aimed to re­spond to the news­pa­per prior to dead­line.

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