2008 Maryland GOP Spring Convention (part 2)

If you are just getting caught up after the weekend and missed part one, check it out here. This part deals with the party’s Saturday meeting, along with our awards luncheon. Of course, those of us who managed to get out of bed early enough after the partying earlier in the wee hours had breakfast, with Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Cathy Vitale as speaker.

Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Cathy Vitale chose the party's diversity as her topic.

I seem to recall she spoke to us last year when we had the convention in Annapolis, but we don’t mind hearing from the same speakers. Yesterday morning her speech discussed diversity, and that it was “okay to say the Republican Party is a diverse organization” and to “embrace the differences.” One thing Cathy said puzzled me though – do we really stand for strong government? I hope I misheard her saying that.

It was a good breakfast, though, and we adjourned to get set for a busy day of elections upstairs in the convention hall.

Much to my chagrin as far as photography is concerned, Wicomico County was placed in the back row. Note for next convention - place Wicomico County front and center so my pictures come out.

Some took a little time to check out the tables set up for various groups and candidates.

This table had items to show support for Congressional hopeful Dr. Mike Hargadon with his Maryland's 7th District race.

Even though we sat way in the back, before the event started I managed to catch a smiling Jim Pelura. It was just such a nice photographic opportunity I couldn’t pass it up.

Maryland GOP Chair Dr. Jim Pelura gets ready for another convention.

Since I didn’t get a lot of photos of the convention proper, you’ll just have to take my word on who addressed us. First up was Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, who talked about the “10 to 12 decisions a day” he had to make that affected the well-being of Anne Arundel County. Some of those decisions proved to be popular with the attendees such as cracking down on illegal immigration by ordering companies doing business with the county verify the citizenship status of their employees, or tackling the “spending problem” his predecessor had by slowing budgetary growth – Leopold remarked it was “important to respect the taxpayer’s dollar.” In all, John illustrated why he was popular with many in the party.

I again heard from Chairman Pelura, who in essence reprised his remarks from Friday night. He did add that our party had the “right message” when Governor O’Malley “declared war on the taxpayers” last year. Also, it was asked that we “don’t let up” in the District 1 race and again was pleased to state that all 8 Congressional districts have Republicans running. (In truth, 2006 was an aberration when 2 Democrats had no GOP opposition. It was the first time that any vacancy on the GOP side had occurred since 1988.)

State Senator Janet Greenip represented her side of the General Assembly, letting us know about their fight on a number of issues like the budget, taxes, illegal immigration (according to Greenip, Maryland is now the only state giving licenses to illegals), and stricter Critical Area laws, stating that a homeowner in a critical area “can’t even put a bay window on your home without approval.” She also reminded us about the two Constitutional amendments on the November ballot that deal with slots and early voting.

More passionate was Delegate Don Dwyer, who represented the GOP faction in the House of Delegates. Growing the budget “on the backs of taxpayers” was his chief complaint, and a vote against the O’Malley spending plan “took courage.” Dwyer also took aim at the “galvanizing” issue of illegal immigration and talked about an amendment he placed on a bill forcing a vote to make English Maryland’s official language – only 52 sided with him on the amendment. Overall, witnessing the General Assembly this year “made me ill,” he said. They failed to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness embodied by property rights.

After Joyce Terhes questioned the lot of us about what sort of candidate we wanted as President and Louis Pope rehashed many of his Friday night observations, we reached the end of our speaker list for the morning as former CIA head James Woolsey spoke about John McCain and his energy policy. I did wonder a bit though when Woolsey said that “OPEC decides where they want” the price of oil to be, since OPEC isn’t the entire oil market. Certainly it’s a significant factor, but I was hoping to hear more about domestic exploration.

Finally, it was time for elections. We broke down into Congressional district caucuses in order to pick our Presidential electors. In my case, District 1 picked Andrew Langer of Queen Anne’s County. The two at-large electors were selected from a field of seven candidates who were nominated from the floor. Selected to represent the state of Maryland at-large as electors were Marcia Jicka from the Maryland GOP office and former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele.

We then picked the Delegates and Alternate Delegates, a group that numbered myself as aspirants. It took maybe 10 minutes for the balloting but the tallying wasn’t finished until after lunch. (Granted, we’re talking about 211 people casting up to 20 votes each then having to calculate the LCD factor.) So we finished the morning session with a voter registration report (not so good), the resolutions committee report (regional chairs were rejected for this time because the resolution was “defective” in its wording – fortunately no one decided to bring the measure to the floor despite the thumbs-down by the committee), and a short video from the McCain campaign.

Also stumping for John McCain was our lunchtime speaker, former Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi.

Former DOVA leader Anthony Principi was our lunchtime speaker, supporting John McCain.

Much of what Anthony said spoke to McCain’s character, the “most important thing” about him. He also used the example of President Lincoln freqently in his presentation, comparing Lincoln’s character and leadership in a time of war to McCain’s. Maybe it’s a reach, but we’ll soon see.

There were also a number of awards and honors handed out by the party. The captions tell the story.

Delegate Larry Helminiak (right) accepts the Charles Carroll Award as Outstanding Republican Man for 2007. Presenting the award is National Committeewoman Joyce Lyons Terhes (center) as Maryland GOP Chair Dr. Jim Pelura (left) looks on, May 10, 2008.

Joyce Thomann (left) was the recipent of the Thomas Stone Award for Outstanding Republican Woman for 2007. Chairman Dr. Jim Pelura is on the right, May 10, 2008.

Dustin Mills (right) arrives to receive the William Paca Award for Outstanding Republican Youth for 2007. Presenting is National Committeeman Louis Pope (left) as Maryland GOP Chair Dr. Jim Pelura (center) assists, May 10, 2008.

The Carroll County delegation received the Samuel Chase Award for Outstanding Republican County for 2007, May 10, 2008.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two honorees who could not attend. A Certificate of Appreciation was given to Vivian Costello for her longtime work in the Republican Party, while David Marks was the recipient of the Grassroots Activist of the Year Award. Kent County was also honored for having the largest increase in GOP registration for 2007.

Lastly, we found out who made the cut for the Delegate and Alternate Delegate positions. Representing the state at-large in Minneapolis will be:

Delegate: Chris Cavey, Tony O’Donnell, John Leopold, Mike Geppi, Patt Parker, Corey Stottlemeyer, Chuck Gast, Anne McCarthy, Tony McConkey, and Larry Helminiak.

Alternate Delegate: Eric Robey, Mike Pappas, Ashley Barbera, Nicholee Ambrose, Rex Reed, Gloria Murphy, Stephen Wright, Loretta Shields, Chris Shank, and Kevin Igoe.

Nope, I didn’t make it. I happened to see the next three in each race (top 13) and no one from the Eastern Shore even was that close.

The so-called 'Unity Team' slate. Wonder which team member(s) paid for the signage?

By the way, the “Unity Team” Slate was 16 for 20, which shows that we have some more work to do in bringing the party fully to the grassroots.

I have one final observation. For a post that doesn’t pay and actually costs hundreds of dollars to fulfill, there sure were a lot of people spending some serious coin to fill a spot. I didn’t spend a dime but I guess money talks there too. Maybe my qualifications weren’t the typical ones found among the hopefuls but I believe I would have added to the proceedings – we’ll see how those who were elected advance the conservative agenda.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

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