In less than a month the transition between terms will be complete and presumably the Maryland Republican Party will have a new Chair – unless Audrey Scott decides to run again and wins. Since I don’t think that’s in her plans, it’s going to be my assumption for this argument that we will get new leadership.
Here are some of the facts on the ground awaiting whoever takes charge of the party:
- The Maryland Republican Party had few victories to celebrate after this year’s election, with the only gains being one Congressional seat (Andy Harris) and a half-dozen seats in the House of Delegates. Yet Bob Ehrlich was blown out by 13 points and we lost 2 of our scant 14 seats in the Maryland Senate.
- While the party is apparently not completely destitute, they lag far behind the Maryland Democratic Party in both fundraising and cash on hand.
- Between 2006 and 2010 Republicans fell further behind in voter registration against the Democrats.
Some may believe that the problem lay with the previous Chair, Dr. Jim Pelura. But his lone problem seemed to be the fact that big donors decided to snap their wallets shut when he wouldn’t play ball with them, although there were some who took him to task about how he interacted with Republicans in the Maryland General Assembly. Personally, I thought he did the best job he could with what he had to work with. Once big donors decided they wanted a change, the more pliable Audrey Scott was installed as party chair.
While the donors and insiders may still be there, a number of changes have occurred in the makeup of the various Central Committees which elect the Chair, and it’s quite possible they would like to see a new face at the top – not the same old party insider. If I had a wish list, this is what I’d want in a Chair:
- Someone who is acceptable to the TEA Party, which means that people too closely tied to Bob Ehrlich may not be a good fit for the party.
- A good fundraiser, but one who can inspire a new set of donors to step up and replace the same contributors who seem to think their contribution gives them the right to dictate party affairs. We see how well that has worked.
- Someone who respects all areas of the state, including the support for regional chairs to ensure more voices are at the leadership table. (This was Jim Pelura’s main asset, even though he was based in Anne Arundel County.)
- A leader who is willing to not just call out Democrats, but members of the Republican Party who stray from the party’s principles. I don’t believe that “party is everything” when it comes to members ignoring conservative principles.
- Finally, a leader who doesn’t think he or she is smarter than the voters and isn’t beholden to one personality to “save” the Maryland GOP.
Many of these same ideas guided my decision on who to pick as our local Wicomico County party leadership and I think we selected a very good team. Certainly a few egos may have been bruised, but overall we did reasonably well. I didn’t vote for all who won, but I can work with those who did and I think the other eight of us can too. There’s room for input from everyone.
There’s around four or five names already being bandied about for state party Chair, with only Maryland YR leader Mike Esteve being “officially” in as far as I know. It’s far too soon for me to make a good, informed decision about who should lead us but perhaps those who are considering it may make it official and let the party leaders throughout the state begin to decide.