Tonight our hearty band met for the final time in 2008 as a post-election gathering. For those of you who thought it would be much like a wake, it really wasn’t that bad. In all honesty our expectations were only unmet in one race, that race being the First Congressional District battle. More on that in mere paragraphs.
But first we did our usual club business (that being recitations of the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, reading of the October minutes, and Treasurer’s Report) and heard a reminder about our upcoming Christmas party. It was also noted that the attendance was better than expected with no speaker scheduled this time around, with about 30 members making the meeting.
Because there wasn’t a guest speaker, the meeting promised to be a little more brief than usual. In their report, Mark Biehl, President of the Lower Shore YR’s, reported simply that the club’s next meeting is December 11th at Vinny’s La Roma Restaurant and that they’re doing a canned food drive locally on December 13th. He also was pleased about the continuing uptick in membership, although that may subside now that the national election is past.
Having a headquarters turned out to be extremely successful, reported Bonnie Luna and Cynthia Williams, and after accounting for the expenses it turned out that the freewill donations made were enough to cover, with a little bit left over. Personally I think it behooves the club to give 10% of that sum back to the community – it would be an amount that wouldn’t have to be voted on by the membership (not that they’d object anyway.)
The longest portion of the proceedings by far was the Central Committee report by Dr. John Bartkovich. In a nutshell, he rehashed the two GOP races on both a national and local scale.
In asking those who were there what they thought was the issue with McCain, the consensus was that three issues did his candidacy in, with the obvious being the poor economy. There was also the perception of his term being Bush III and a lack of appeal to the conservative base of the party, save for his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. If you ask my opinion (and even if you don’t because I’m writing this post) the only reason McCain won our county was Palin. I haven’t yet seen the turnout numbers for our county or the First District, but I’m betting our side’s turnout dropped below 80 percent in Wicomico County and 75 percent for the district.
Speaking of the First District, the opinions on Andy Harris’s failure were more divergent. Some of these have been discussed here before in post and commentary (Eastern Shore vs. Western Shore, a perception of Harris’s arrogance because of the SU debate, the $2 million worth of DCCC television ads, and having a Libertarian in the race who siphoned a bit of conservative support) but perhaps the largest factor in the eyes of those attending was Wayne Gilchrest’s endorsement of Frank Kratovil being just enough to tip the soft GOP’ers and independents Frank’s way. Personally I think the $2 million did more damage but then again I saw my precinct’s results and while McCain carried it easily Andy didn’t. That makes a case for Gilchrest’s endorsement being a tipping point. (On the other hand, there were few if any ads attacking John McCain, which serves to bolster my contention.)
In any event Bartkovich did think that the future for the local GOP was still “bright” and was “exceedingly grateful” to all the volunteers who stepped to the plate (well over 100 different volunteers staffed our headquarters during the campaign, for example.) Our local party is still “viable” and will prove that in 2010.
One other interesting question John asked was the sense of who would be the Presidential candidate in 2012. Most of those attending naturally thought…Bobby Jindal. Even though Sarah Palin is “principled” I think the perception was she’ll be too damaged by the constant bad press she’s gotten as the early front-runner. Other names mentioned were 2008 also-rans Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.
It was a pretty interesting meeting since I hadn’t spoken to most of the attendees since the ballots were counted almost three weeks ago. While I have a Central Committee meeting in a week, I think the tenor will be more similar at the upcoming Maryland Republican Party Fall Convention a week from Saturday.
By tradition, the club doesn’t meet in December so our next meeting is scheduled for January 26, 2009. When we next gather we’ll kick off the process of nominating and electing officers for 2009 and possibly begin hearing from the hopefuls in the upcoming Salisbury city election as well. Because that’s a non-partisan ballot we could have some people stop by who wouldn’t normally show up at the Republican Club; for that we’ll have to wait and see.