Opinion

Is David Vogt Ready for Prime Time?

By all accounts David Vogt seems like a decent guy with solidly conservative views on government. His military service record in the Marines is admirable. If the last few days are any indication though, Vogt doesn’t appear to be ready for prime time as a political candidate.

Right out of the gate this week, Vogt stumbled over a hornets’ nest when he was quoted in a Gazette.net article questioning his primary opponent ‘s record of service.

Vogt said he respects his Republican rival, Bongino, but added, “I live in the district. I know what it means to fight for you, because I did. Dan can’t say either of those things.”

This angered a lot of Bongino supporters who know he is a highly decorated Secret Service Agent, responsible for protecting three Presidents of the United States, sometimes in hot spots like Afghanistan and Indonesia. Vogt got lambasted via social media for his remarks and was forced to spin and walk back the statement, all of which looked weak and amateurish.

Vogt makes the accurate assertion that he is the only candidate who lives in Maryland District 6, but by Maryland law a candidate is not required to reside in the congressional district in which he or she is seeking election. Even so, it’s a tenuous point since it appears Vogt has only lived in the district for “about a year.” Bongino may have accumulated that much time in the district just campaigning for the Senate.

A recurring talking point from Vogt is a challenge to other candidates in the race to limit spending to no more than $500,000.

“Before we can, as representatives or Congressmen, stand up and claim to be able to do something about fiscal responsibility as a government, we need to demonstrate that fiscal responsibility ourselves,” Vogt said. “Otherwise, it’s an empty suit that’s talking one way and moving their hand a different way behind the door.”

This looks like a candidate recognizing his own fundraising limitations and trying to spin them as an asset. (It’s like someone trying to box above his weight class while challenging his opponent to only fight with one arm.) Equating highly regulated spending done by a political campaign with the irresponsible deficit spending done by the federal government is specious logic at best. Some may still buy it, but many won’t.

Vogt has a commendable service record as a Marine but his resume is pretty lean otherwise. His campaign website–which didn’t appear until the fourth page of search results when I searched “David Vogt” on Google–even lists his employment at “Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers.” Having done that sort of work is a good thing; many young people today think they’re above working in the food service industry. However, unless you are applying for your first job out of college, that sort of experience usually gets omitted from a professional resume. On a congressional campaign web site it looks like padding.

I’m one of the first to welcome candidates with no prior political experience into a race. We need more citizen legislators. I don’t see public office as an exclusive club for only the longtime party activists or the well connected. Political experience is one thing but political skill is quite another. If this week is any indication, Vogt needs time to develop his chops. He may end up being a fine standard bearer for the GOP one day, but perhaps a congressional race was not the best place for him to start.