Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Smoking Out Saqib Ali

Is Saqib Ali running for the House or Senate? That’s the big question in District 39 these days. Well, we’ve got a number of juicy tidbits for you. Let’s see if we can smoke out Facebook’s favorite Delegate!

Ali got a LOT of attention from his now-famous blog series targeting his alleged teammate, Senator Nancy King. So on September 2, members of the District 39 Caucus asked him what office he was seeking. Ali told them he planned to run for Delegate and if he had further issues with the rest of his delegation, he would keep them internal. Rejoice, ye D39s, rejoice!

And so Senator King sent out the following email suggesting a unity press conference.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Nancy King
Date: Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 4:03 PM
Subject: Last Night's Meeting
To: [Recipients]

Hello all,

I just wanted to thank everyone for last night's meeting. I’d like to thank Kirill, Charlie, and especially you Saqib, for your commitment to our D-39 team. There is a lot we can do for each other to get ourselves through the next election and it is good to know our team will be together.

With that commitment made, I would like to schedule a press conference within the next two weeks, to announce that we are moving ahead as a team. The time is right, there is public interest out there, and I think it will also deter anyone else who might be lusting after one of our seats.

Can you give me some feedback? I know Charlie is having his knee surgery on the 15th, so we should probably do it before that. I'll be glad to put it together with your input. Please respond when you get this so I know if you got it, and that you agree! Thanks, Nancy
My, what a delicious choice of words! When most of the rest of us “lust” after another’s “seat,” we do so on the basis of carnal motivations. Only a politician would use the language of lust to characterize the pursuit of office!

Ali, of course, never responded to the email. Not directly.

On September 4, we ran a post speculating about potential primaries in four districts. Senator Mike Lenett (D-19) was quick to suppress any hint of tension with his potential challenger, Delegate Roger Manno, writing in a comment, “I realize a good blog likes to foment (create?) a little controversy, but I don’t think Roger has an intention to run against me, and, in any event, you guys are very wrong about my feelings for Roger. I certainly do not want to see him ‘gone.’ We need good representatives like him in Annapolis.”

What was Ali’s reaction to our comments about his possible run against Senator King? Did he scold us for our irresponsible speculation, as did Senator Lenett? Goodness, no. Instead, he told his Facebook friends, “Blogger Adam Pagnucco says ‘Saqib knows more about how to run a campaign than most political consultants.’ Wow. Thanks!” There’s a nice way to kill a rumor.

But that’s not all. He proceeded to taunt Senator King over letters to the Gazette written to criticize her stance on gay marriage. Those letters, of course, were a direct product of his guest posts on this blog.

And while his new flyer lists his current office as Delegate, it does not list the office he would like to attain in 2010. Is that an oversight or deliberate dual functionality?

On Wednesday, September 9, Senator King held a fundraiser. District 39 Delegates Charles Barkley and Kirill Reznik came but Delegate Ali was nowhere to be found. King supporter (and potential Delegate candidate) Bob Hydorn questioned Ali about his absence. Ali denied knowledge of the event.

Finally, Ali’s September 25 Gazette column spanking the State Highway Administration for mistreating ICC neighbors can be construed as an unusually subtle dig at ICC supporter King. When Progressive Maryland asked then-Delegate King which transit projects she favored funding in 2006, she named four of them and threw in the ICC as well.

We asked Ali directly if he was running for House or Senate. He told us, “My plan is to run for Delegate. But things could change.”

We confess to a certain amount of chuckling glee in observing Saqib Ali’s maneuvers. He has not definitively declared for anything yet and this is still more fun than any other actual race in the county. We much prefer Ali’s exhibitionist ambition to the simmering grudges between other politicians that never go public. If Ali changed his pajama color, it would go public.

But the Delegate cannot tell the rest of the delegation that he wants to remain on their team while continuing to needle its leader on the blogs, in the MSM and on Facebook. If he wants to run for Senate, let him do it. He has lots of money, tremendous energy and a top-notch skill set for political campaigning. If he continues down the current path of keeping his options open while jabbing his Senator, he risks getting thrown off his slate and facing an uphill battle for re-election as a Delegate. There are a number of people who would love to replace him on the District 39 slate. Some of them are no doubt lobbying quietly to be picked.

This story is great fodder for blogging, but in the end, the business of politics is serious indeed. One way or the other, Saqib Ali needs to make a decision. Or the rest of his delegation will make it for him.