In a move timed to coincide with the Maryland Republican Party’s fall convention, Party Chair Jim Pelura announced yesterday that he would step down as of November 14. The press release follows:
Dr. James Pelura, Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, has submitted his resignation effective November 14, 2009. In accordance with the Maryland Republican Party Bylaws, First Vice Chairman Chris Cavey will facilitate the transition for the period until November 14th.
A Nominating Committee has been formed with Montgomery County Central Committee Chairman Mark Uncapher as Chairman and he will follow the nominating process in accordance with our Bylaws.
In a letter to “Republican Leaders” Jim stated he was resigning “for personal and professional reasons” and also noted:
My tenure as your Chairman has at times been trying; however, our steady rebuilding of the grassroots has been very rewarding. For the first time in years, the Maryland Republican Party has asserted itself as the spokesman and the standard-bearer of the Republican philosophy.
I am firmly convinced that a new dialogue has been started with my Chairmanship and it is my hope that this dialogue will continue.
Much of the controversy about Pelura’s tenure stemmed from a perceived lack of fundraising prowess and continual bickering between three separate wings of the Maryland GOP: those who backed former Governor Ehrlich and saw the party as a vessel for his return to elective office, members of the General Assembly who wanted the party apparatus for their ends, and conservative activists at the local level who felt ignored, particularly those representing rural Maryland. It was a balancing act difficult to accomplish in good times, let alone a poor electoral cycle as 2006-08 was.
The dialogue Dr. Pelura started was one of actually listening and paying attention to the smaller counties. After all, they are the areas of Maryland which actually vote Republican. Granted, there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to ending Democrat dominance statewide but certainly those running on the other side in stronger GOP areas have found they need to move rightward to compete – case in point Frank Kratovil’s Congressional campaign in 2008. (It doesn’t matter that they’re reliably liberal votes once they win – they’re counting on voters to believe the promises and not look at the record.)
So, now that Pelura is gone, it’s not unrealistic to expect 2011 to dawn with Republicans in all the statewide offices, a sweep leaving poor old Ben Cardin as the lone Democrat in the state’s Congressional delegation, and unprecedented 141-0 and 47-0 margins in the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate respectively, right? After all, wasn’t Jim Pelura the sole source of the problems?
Look for a number of people to step out of the woodwork now and claim to have all the answers to the woes of the Maryland GOP. It will make for an interesting and newsworthy convention in November, and the coalition building will begin immediately for those who wish to succeed Jim.
For Republicans in Maryland, 2009 just became a campaign year.