Young's radio gig under fire
Political insiders, watchers debate impact show will have on voters
While Blaine Young will continue hosting his politically charged afternoon radio show on WFMD if confirmed to the Frederick Board of County Commissioners, political insiders and watchers continue to debate if the show will hurt his run for the seat in the fall election.
Some predict that the conservative Republican radio talk show host could alienate voters and hurt his chances for election to the seat by continuing to state his political agenda on air while serving as an appointed member of the board.
"I would say that he would probably lead the top of the Republican ticket in the primary, but because Blaine is so polarizing he may not get the crossover votes he would need to win in November," said Frederick County Commissioner John "Lennie" Thompson Jr. (R), who has had several political feuds with Young over the years. "Because he has gone out of his way to be partisan, he'll lead the top of the ticket in the primary, but you need some votes from Democrats and Independents in the general election."
Young, 38, of Monrovia, also co-owns Yellow Cab in Frederick and wrote a bi-weekly column for The Gazette for two years before his nomination to the board. He has hosted his afternoon radio show on WFMD for about 18 months, and does not plan to stop if appointed to the Frederick Board of County Commissioners.
The Frederick County Republican Central Committee named Young last month as its choice to fill the seat of former Commissioner Charles A. Jenkins, who was appointed to represent District 3B in the Maryland House of Delegates in January.
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has nominated Young, and the Maryland Senate is expected to vote on the matter this week.
Young said he will file to run for commissioner in this fall's election, and he does not think his hosting job will hurt his chances since he attempts to be open and honest with his listeners. "The show is the ultimate form of transparency," he said. "I'm on there every day giving my opinions."
He also believes his radio show will be an asset to the job as an appointed member of the board.
"I will use the opportunity to get people like Jan Gardner [Frederick commissioners' president], who has been a guest on my show multiple times, John Lennie' Thompson, who has been on with me twice, on to the show," he said. "I will make every opportunity for those who want to go on the show. I'll even allow county staff to come on."
Young will not be on the air during the summer, however, because of the federal "Equal Access" law, which in general terms mandates that radio stations provide equal air time to candidates.
Once Young files the paperwork to run for commissioner, he legally becomes a candidate, and WFMD must adhere to the federal law.
That is unrealistic, according to Doug Hillard, WFMD's station manager, so Young must give up the show at that time.
Candidates have until July 6 to file the papers to run in the Sept. 14 primary, and Young said he will file his paperwork on that day.
"Up until then we will keep him on the air," Hillard said.
Hillard said he is not concerned that Young could use his radio show as a forum to campaign until then.
"That would be a kind of foolish thing to do," he said. "Blaine understands that this is a business. Blaine's show does very well, and if he did anything like that it would certainly not be in our best interest, or Blaine's."
Young is not new to controversy or the county's political scene. While serving as a Frederick city alderman in 2001, Young's name was connected to a prostitution sting that allegedly involved several other city officials, though an investigation by the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor found no wrongdoing on the part of any lawmaker.
Robert J. Kresslein, chairman of the Frederick County Democratic Central Committee, said too much time has passed for voters to even remember the "black book" scandal. "That part of his life will have less of an impact," he said. "I'm not sure that controversy has legs. That's old news."
It's Young's outspoken, conservative views that could trip him up in November.
"I think Blaine's issues are whether or not his polarizing positions will hurt him as a commissioner," Kresslein said. "People don't necessarily like bickering. I think that could be a danger."
Young, who describes himself as the "youngest good ol' boy in Frederick," has helped organize local Tea Party protests, a national movement that emerged last year in response to the federal government's stimulus package, fought for landowner's rights, and used his radio show to criticize the actions taken by the boards of county commissioners and education.
It "will be worth watching the exchanges between the sitting commissioners and Blaine," said former Frederick city Mayor Jennifer Dougherty (D) in an e-mail.
"He's no dummy so the debate will be lively. There is a big difference, however, between talking about decisions made by elected officials after hours and hours of meetings and talking about it on the radio without anyone tracking how it would turn out if things were done the way the radio personalities suggest."
In 2005, Young supported his father, Ronald Young (D), in his bid to unseat Dougherty. Young beat Dougherty in the primary, but he lost to W. Jeff Holtzinger (R) in the general.
Michael Powell, a professor of history and political science at Frederick Community College, said he thinks since Young was the choice of the Republican Central Committee, it should hold weight with voters.
"They [central committee] believe he is the best choice to represent the party," Powell said. "That's where the authority lies. I'm sure they feel he will do very well as a county commissioner."
Meanwhile, Kresslein thinks Young's radio show and high profile could work either way come November.
"He has a lot of name recognition," Kresslein said. "One thing about having a radio show is that a lot of people know who you are. That tends to attract people of like mind and turn some people off. It's double-edge sword for him."
E-mail Sherry Greenfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.