Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

McDonough says rival Redmer forced his radio show off the air

Claim is the latest dust-up in GOP Baltimore County executive race

Del. Patrick L. McDonough

Del. Patrick L. McDonough (2014 file photo, The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears)

A state delegate with a radio show says he’s off the air because of complaints filed by a political rival.

Del. Patrick L. McDonough said his show on WCBM is on hiatus as a result of a complaint filed with the station by Al Redmer Jr., the state’s insurance commissioner. Both men are seeking the Republican nomination for Baltimore County executive in the upcoming June primary.

“Al Redmer or one of his assistants called the station and complained,” McDonough said in an interview. “Maybe his attorney called.”

The delegate said “some threats were made” but declined to be specific, citing his relationship with station owners and his desire to return to the air after the campaign.

McDonough’s accusation is the latest in a heated primary between two seasoned Republicans in a county that is important to the re-election of Gov. Larry Hogan.

McDonough declined to provide specifics about the conversation, which he said was confidential. Efforts to speak to representatives of WCBM were unsuccessful.

Redmer declined to comment for this story.

In an interview, McDonough cited the Federal Communications Commission’s equal time rule as a reason cited by the station.  The rule requires holders of broadcast licenses to provide equal time to opposing candidates.

James B. Astrachan, a principal at Astrachan Gunst Thomas PC in Baltimore and an expert in media law, declined to speak on the specifics of McDonough’s case but said generally stations might temporarily remove a host who is also a candidate out of “an abundance of caution.”

“The risks to the station could be very serious,” said Astrachan, who is also the chairman of The Daily Record’s Editorial Advisory Board.

Alfred W. Redmer (file)

Al Redmer Jr. (file)

Complaints could complicate license renewals or, in extreme cases, cause a station to possibly lose their license, said Astrachan.

Continuing to allow a candidate to continue a show during a campaign could create “a situation where the station would have to sell like time to another candidate who wants to buy it and that could create an interesting inventory problem for stations.”

McDonough said he rarely used his show to promote his campaign.

“You don’t want to talk about your campaign for two hours because no one would want to listen and you can’t sell advertising,” McDonough said.

Instead, McDonough said, his show tends to focus on President Donald Trump and national and international issues.

“I have a very cosmopolitan viewpoint and present a diversity of information to my audience,” said McDonough, who estimates he has about 15,000 listeners.

McDonough is in his second stint as a state delegate. He first served as a Democratic delegate representing Baltimore City for four years between 1979 and 1983 before changing parties and being elected in 2002 in a district that encompasses portions of Baltimore and Harford counties.

He has hosted a show, for which he buys the airtime and then sells advertising, on the station for the better part of two decades. McDonough said this is just the second time that he has gone on hiatus — the last being a voluntary decision in 2016 when he challenged Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District.

“This is the first time I’ve had to do this in a primary election,” said McDonough.

The delegate said he plans to have a show back on the same station with a different host — something he did in 2016.

The delegate’s accusations are the latest manifestations of bad blood between McDonough and Redmer in a political contest that will likely be pivotal in Hogan’s re-election efforts.

Baltimore County has been key to the election prospects of Republican gubernatorial hopefuls. Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich’s margin of victory — about 64,000 votes — in Baltimore County in 2002 drove his statewide win. Four years later, he won the same county by less than 8,500 votes and lost the state.

Similarly, Hogan’s 2014 victory was driven by his support in Baltimore County. His re-election in a year in which a referendum on President Donald Trump, who is wildly unpopular in Maryland, will likely be central to Democrats and their hope for a so-called Blue wave. Hogan could improve his chances by linking himself to Redmer, who looks more like the governor’s brand of moderate, than with McDonough, who once billed himself as “the Trump of Baltimore County.”

Hogan backed Redmer last fall, publicly endorsing his insurance commissioner at Redmer’s kickoff fundraiser in Rosedale.

McDonough fired back, saying county voters did not want the governor meddling in local politics or picking the next county executive. The delegate also filed legislation seeking to force Redmer to either withdraw from the race or give up his state job in order to run.

The legislation died in committee, but the issue is very much alive for McDonough, who said he plans to file an ethics complaint against Redmer for campaigning while working for the state.

“We’re filing a complaint on him with the ethics commission,” said McDonough.

The rift between McDonough and Redmer has the potential to spill over into the general election. McDonough has declined to say if he would support the better-funded Redmer should the insurance commissioner win the primary.

Such intra-party grudges have contributed to other Republican losses, including in 1994, when Ellen R. Sauerbrey, a conservative Baltimore County delegate, won the Republican primary for governor but lost the general election. Then-Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, another Baltimore County Republican who ran as a moderate against Sauerbrey in the primary, refused to back the party nominee after a bitter campaign.

Sauerbrey lost that election by less than 6,000 votes.

 


To purchase a reprint of this article, contact reprints@thedailyrecord.com.