You know, before we pick a new Republican Chair we may want to reflect on what was promised by the old one. This was the video Audrey Scott shot a year ago prior to becoming MDGOP Chair.
So how did she do? Remember, her three main goals were raising money, increasing Republican voter registration, and electing Republicans.
Well, the jury is still out on how much money she really raised because – let’s face it – she got a LOT of help from the national Republican Party. Granted, she may have spearheaded the effort to get that money through charm and hard work, but it’s worth remembering that our state has a friend at the top insofar as the national GOP goes. Since I don’t know just how far the national checkbook opened due to her efforts as opposed to home state pride, I’ll give her a B-plus for fundraising.
Next – increase Republican voter registration. In comparing the actual numbers from October 2009 to October 2010, the GOP indeed saw a registration increase of 2.1 percent. Had it not been for a few dozen voters in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, Audrey would’ve overseen a clean sweep of increases throughout the state. Conversely, Democratic registration was up just 0.89 percent.
But – and this is a big but – unaffiliated voters grew most of all by jumping 10.19 percent. (There is a proviso, though: ‘independent’ voters were no longer counted separately in 2010 and they were shifted to the unaffiliated category. Without them strict unaffiliateds grew 4.9 percent; still that’s faster than the GOP.)
Yet this was a promise kept, so Audrey gets an A there.
The third vow was to elect Republicans, and this was a mixed bag at best.
Obviously we failed to win any statewide office; however we regained the Congressional seat lost two years ago which simply returned us to the status quo of most of the last decade. On a state legislative level it was a wash – we gained six House seats but lost two Senate seats. Since a Senate seat equals three House seats, the percentage changes equal out.
Our biggest gains occurred at the county level, which begs the question of whether credit should go to the state party or to those county organizations which busted their behinds to get local Republicans elected? While it’s anecdotal, the feedback I’ve received about the Victory Centers (including the one in Salisbury) was that they were barely a help to local candidates for state offices and none at all for local county officeseekers (aside from a collection point for signs and literature and a Saturday morning meeting point for lit drops.) The calls placed from the centers mainly benefitted Bob Ehrlich and Andy Harris.
For that promise, I give Audrey a C-minus (and that’s charitable.)
So was her term the success that her supporters (and some of the candidates to succeed her at Chair) think it was?
Remember, near the top of the video Audrey spoke about “collaboration and teamwork” along with “unity.” Perhaps my biggest beef, which was reinforced by watching the video and hearing those words, came from the Maryland GOP’s machinations regarding Rule 11. There was no “collaboration and teamwork” like informing the Central Committees of their intent at a time when they could have had input – most likely they would have had the assent and backing of the group had they simply taken the time to ask.
I do not believe in ‘top-down’ leadership when it comes to party affairs; my philosophy is that I’m no smarter than the voters who elected me. My job is to do my part in promoting the Republican Party, but to be more specific to promote it as a vehicle for limited, Constitutional government. It’s why I happen to agree with much of the TEA Party movement and embrace their involvement in the GOP – to me it’s their natural home.
However, what message did it send for the man at the top of the party’s ticket – who early on received the blessing of becoming the party’s ‘anointed’ candidate months before the primary – to dismiss a fellow Republican governor (although they didn’t serve concurrently she’s still in that fraternity) and TEA Party favorite who happened to believe his opponent was the better choice? I didn’t see Audrey Scott saying that Bob Ehrlich was a good man but wrong to make such a statement about what turned out to be 1/4 of the party (and perhaps a larger proportion of those new GOP voters.) How many of them went back to being unaffiliated after the primary and, more importantly, can we get them back?
While I’m still trying to figure out why I was such a “naughty boy” to her (she didn’t realize I’d been on the Central Committee for four years and thought I’d left), I don’t dislike Audrey Scott. For what she did well as a party chair, I’m grateful.
But I’m not in the cult of personality which paints Audrey as a party savior because I don’t think the success was all hers. A large part of it was from relieving the pent-up pettiness over the actions of her predecessor Jim Pelura (witness the parade of checks upon her election to Chair) while much of the rest was brought about from a movement which stirred when Sarah Palin was named to the McCain ticket, lay dormant for a few months during President Obama’s honeymoon, and blossomed with the advent of the TEA Party.
Indeed, after somehow snatching defeat in this state from the jaws of nationwide victory, we need to be led in a new direction. Let’s not assume that the entirety of the Pelura/Scott administration cleared the path for us to follow in the future.
Done correctly, 2014 could be a banner year for Maryland Republicans – let’s just say it’s a target-rich environment (aside from having no U.S. Senate race that year unless a special election is needed.) And I’m not dismissing our chances of foiling the Democrats’ best-laid plans of Congressional extinction for Free State Republicans in 2012, either.
The right leader can do this by patching together our tattered coalition of conservatives and convincing those moderates to come on over. (You can be the ones taken for granted for awhile – why would you vote against your interests for far-left liberals?)
Our sole job next month is to pick that leader and a good team to follow him or her. Let’s rebuild this grand coalition forgotten by the leaders of the past and take the fight to our enemies in Government House, both houses of the General Assembly, the sparkling offices of the special interest lobbyists, and the county and local government buildings.
Hunting season on Democrats and their loony liberal ideas has just begun, and there’s no bag limit.