No one in the Maryland news media is really vetting unaffiliated Senate candiate Rob Sobhani. Sure, there have been some interviews and some pieces on TV news but he’s being treated as a novelty news item and not a serious story. This may be because they see him as someone with virtually no chance at winning, but the problem is while he may have no chance he can do serious harm to the campaign of Dan Bongino who might otherwise have a good chance at upsetting Ben Cardin on election day. For the uncurious news media, a Cardin victory has always been a fait accompli and that is probably the primary reason why they have failed to do their job with regard to this race. But they have indeed failed because the unprincipled ,scattershot campaign Sobhani is running should raise serious questions for even a novice reporter.
Sobhani’s campaign came out of nowhere at the last minute and has no support beyond those easily swayed by the vague television ads on which Sobhani has spent millions of dollars. Looking at his campaign finance data on OpenSecrets.org one finds out he has a whopping $34,510 in small and large contributions to his campaign, yet he has spent more money so far than the Democrat incumbent.
What has he spent that money on? On television and radio commercials that reveal a candidate with no core principles and only weird promises to bring private investment into the state. No one in the media that I’m aware of has asked this guy any serious, probing questions. In a local NBC puff piece on Sobhani he was asked why he was running and he said it was because he “hit the jackpot” and out of the goodness of his heart he decided to bless the voters with his candidacy instead of buying another house.
Sobhani’s principles change depending on whether you look at his pitch sheet, his answers to interview questions (here, and here for example), his answers in candidate forums, or the ballot flyers his team is handing out near polling places. Sobhani’s campaign ads attack Ben Cardin who holds virtually the same political views as Barack Obama, but in 65% black Prince Georges County, his campaign literature is emblazoned with a portrait of the President and encourages his re-election.
This is the worst sort of cynical, racial pandering. That same campaign literature encourages voting “NO” on all the ballot questions on which Sobhani has refused to make definitive statements. To anyone doing his homework it’s clear that Sobhani has no principles other than doing what’s good for Sobhani at any given moment. It seems laughable until you consider all the people who have broken their backs the last year and a half fighting for real change in Maryland, only to have this charlatan spend $6 million just to spit on them.
Sobhani’s candidacy is so preposterous it has some murmuring suspicion that he’s actually a plant working for Ben Cardin, deliberately trying to derail the serious challenge Dan Bongino presents. I don’t know if such conspiracy theories have any merit, but Sobhani brags about having Democrats on his campaign. I could imagine a situation where a Democrat knowing of Sobhani’s penchant for political failure might have encouraged him to jump in the race as a way to seal a victory for a lackluster, at-risk Democrat incumbent.
Sobhani strikes me as naive enough to fall for such a thing. But whether or not someone is pulling his strings, I think his ego is largely the problem. He’s so focused on his own desire to run that he fails to see that there already was a movement for big change in Washington and it has sided with Dan Bongino who, while running as a Republican, is hardly the sort of political party insider of Sobhani’s hackneyed slogans. With this being his third attempt at elected office, Sobhani himself is more of a career politician than Dan Bongino, who resigned from his job in 2011 to make this first ever run for office.
Clearly Sobhani is running for Sobhani and not for Maryland, even if he has deluded himself to the contrary. His continued ridiculous presence in this race is practically a guarantee that Maryland will have to wait at least another election cycle to get any real change.