When Blaine Young chose to run for commissioner, we urged him to close out his radio show. The reason is that Young's broadcast clearly gives him a political advantage, a pulpit from which he can broadcast his message three hours a day, five days a week.
Now that Young is making moves to run for governor -- and in our opinion, if you're raising cash you're formally a candidate, even if you haven't signed that official little slip of paper at the state Board of Elections -- we have to repeat that call.
Young is well within his rights to keep his show on the air even while actively campaigning. Yep, the Federal Communication Commission's equal time rule applies only to a person "who is a legally qualified candidate" -- that is, has signed that little slip of paper in Annapolis.
Young could already have decided to run in the GOP primary; we know he's raising gobs of money and schmoozing the Republican establishment hard. He can hold events, meet-and-greet fundraisers galore, probably even advertise, and in every way act like a candidate without actually, legally, being a candidate.
Naturally, when the registration opens, we hope Young will be the first to sign on the dotted line.
We doubt he will, though, because as soon as he declares, he must go off the air, as he did with his commissioners' candidacy. Young knows his show is a valuable political tool and it's a long way to 2014. We expect him to ride that horse as long as he can.
But -- and we'll acknowledge his candidacy is a big but at the moment -- Young is seeking a wholly different political level from a provincial commissionership. He wants to be governor of the state, which will demand upstanding behavior, not just because it is legal, but because it is ethical. We expect our governors to honor not just the letter of the law, but its reason for being. We hold our public servants to a higher standard.
We took Young at his word when he came to meet with The FNP editorial board following his election, where he said he would keep county business and his show separate. Clearly, that hasn't been the case. Young has happily discussed county business with his listeners repeatedly, and his role as shock jock has bled over into what we had hoped would be a more statesmanlike persona while representing the county.
But then, we also thought genuine Young's claim that he had ruled out further office after his four years as commissioner -- you may remember he said he was more committed to his family than his political life, and that at the end of those four years he would retire from public life to concentrate on his wife and sons, and his business.
We can understand that circumstances sometimes require flexibility, but not in this case. The spirit of the FCC rule to us is as abiding as its legality. Young can either honor it or not; he can either grasp at political expediency or be honorable. We hope he makes the right choice.