I heard a blurb on the radio today, and it’s probably good that I wasn’t in a lot of traffic as I was driving since it’s tough to cheer and applaud while keeping both hands on the wheel. And I was cheering and applauding!
But State Senator Andrew Harris (R-Baltimore County) is mulling a run for the Congressional seat held by Wayne Gilchrest. He was going to use this weekend’s Maryland GOP state convention (which I’ll be attending) as a gauge to see whether he has enough support. And if the support for Gilchrest is as tepid as the rumblings I’ve heard in my rounds Harris could have a legitimate chance. It’s just my hope that the state party listens to the grassroots and doesn’t take a side in this battle, allowing the two (plus any others) to debate the issues. One thing that I’ve publicly stated my opposition to is having the party bigwigs annoint an incumbent as a perpetual candidate. In this case, I want the higher-ups in the Maryland GOP to put no pressure on Harris to discourage a run. As a Central Committee, it’s our job to support whoever the Republican voters favor, not connive to try to discourage opposition and avoid a messy primary fight. That was my frustration with the Ohio Republican Party and we see where it got them – nice going guys.
Regular readers of monoblogue might recall that I graded our local Delegates and Senators on how they voted in the last General Assembly session on key issues I felt strongly about. So here’s how Harris voted, bearing in mind that my stance was “no” on each issue.
- HB131/SB103 (the “Maryland Clean Cars Act”) – NO
- HB148/SB634 (the National Popular Vote Act) – NO
- HB359/SB91 (“Clean Indoor Air Act”) – NO
- HB430 (Living Wage) – NO
- SB739 (relatives of legislators cannot receive legislative scholarships) – yes
Four out of five ain’t bad – in fact he was more attuned to my views than either of my local Senators. And it goes without saying that I’ve got several problems with the incumbent Congressman, particularly with his stances on the Long War and energy independence.
But something tells me that the Congressman might have suspected something was up when Harris was an attendee at our recent Lincoln Day dinner. Just a few days later I received a letter from his campaign (sent to my old address – come on guys get it right!) Right up top was a quote in bold from Newt Gingrich:
“I think we have more problems making the American government work than we have making the Iraqi government work.”
This may not be something you want to hear, but I think it’s a message that we all need to understand: The Republican party has lost its way, and we need to return to the core fundamentals of our party if we hope to regain the trust of American voters.
I believe our party and our nation is at a crossroads, and that as someone who has been willing to get involved with the political process, you would be willing to join a new effort to regain our momentum and restore America’s trust in us.
But first we must turn away from the negative attack politics of Washington, and we must again become the party of big ideas.
I was recently talking to my friend, former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, and he agreed that our best – and possibly only – hope is to clearly articulate our positive vision for America, and to return to the core principles of our party which brought us the trust and confidence of American voters.
As you probably know, I have gained a reputation for speaking my mind – even when I think our party is going in the wrong direction. But I have dedicated a career to building this party and I am proud to be a Republican, and I believe our best days are ahead.
As you can also imagine, reform does not always sit well with leaders in Annapolis and Washington, and I imagine that some of the entrenched special interests will spend a great deal of money and resources to block a reform movement – and my own reelection.
That’s why I am writing to you today. I think that you can be an important part of our effort to change the way politics works, and we can send a message to our party’s leadership.
In reality, this letter is about three pages long and I just hit what I considered the highlights. But it’s quite intriguing that the nine-term incumbent cloaks himself in a “reformer” mantle. Wonder if that’s a poll-tested remark? Even more interesting is where he uses his friendship with Newt Gingrich to establish what conservative bonafides he does have while voting at every opportunity with the more moderate sector of the GOP, or even with the Democrats on some issues.
And this is why I highlighted Harris’s voting record. Would it not be a message to the rest of the country and the GOP stalwarts if one of their most moderate is knocked out in a party primary by a conservative? It could go a long way to reinventing the Republican Party as I’d like to see it done.
With just nine months remaining until the primary, the time to act is now should anyone wish to challenge any of Maryland’s incumbents in Congress. If there’s a primary fight on the GOP side in our district, it may bring us national attention and we can show the rest of the country how we on the Eastern Shore really feel about the direction of the Republican Party.