As I lamented this time last year, it’s hard to have an indoor convention with this sort of thing going on right outside. Maybe it was a few degrees too cool for taking an ocean dip, but the ambience was certainly present.
There are some who arrived home last night and perhaps needed a calming scene like that, but I’ll get to that in due course. Let’s talk about the new leader of the band.
In his report Friday evening (which I can share because there was other press in the room, or so he said) Alex Mooney conceded fundraising was “harder than I expected” but he was still making several calls a week. On that front, Newt Gingrich would be lending a hand for the Red, White, and Blue dinner – a date still needs to be finalized for that. Alex also commended a number of people for stepping up and having house parties, but cautioned party regulars that they shouldn’t read anything into who the featured guest is (he used a recent event with Mike Huckabee as an example) because the idea is to raise money for the party and not a campaign.
Speaking of the Presidential race, there wasn’t much talk about that at the event. Only one candidate had anything there placed by a supporter.
On the other hand, Friday night was filled with statewide candidates trying to gain a foothold in their races. I caught up to Corrogan Vaughn – who formally announced yet another U.S. Senate bid at the event – before he changed into more formal clothes.
Another Senate candidate who hosted a hospitality suite was Thomas Capps, with the stylish green stickers marking the location.
Capps is pictured here with MDCAN’s Tonya Tiffany.
Yet another name being tossed into the 2014 mix is onetime gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan. Will he try again?
I don’t think he was discussing that with Central Committee member Karen Winterling. Instead, he was in charge of a popular Change Maryland suite.
In fact, poolside was the place to be.
However, the host county wasn’t left out as they had their suite upstairs.
But hospitality suites weren’t the only way groups made their presence known. Down in the lobby we had the opportunity to sign the referendum petition for SB167. In his Chairman’s Report to the Executive Committee, Mooney believed “we need to use that petition to referendum more often.”
The advertising was even mobile, as I spotted this car Friday afternoon as I arrived.
Another group was comparing the upcoming General Assembly Special Session to a circus.
They even asked for predictions on what would occur this fall. I think I checked almost every box.
But Friday wasn’t all play. We had an afternoon seminar before the Executive Committee meeting, and while many attended a reception for 2010 candidates there were others plotting strategy, like the group backing this concept.
I was spending a good portion of that time with my Rule 11 resolution co-sponsor Heather Olsen trying to guess what would happen during the Saturday convention.
But allow me to backtrack a little and discuss Bob Ostrom’s report to the Executive Committee, for he was the chair of the bylaws committee formed in our last meeting. And while he was “extremely pumped” about the debate which was sure to occur – he believed it would continue to be “informative” and “helpful” – others worried about the effect certain changes would have on their organizations. For example, both the Teenage Republicans and College Republicans were lobbying for an Executive Committee vote while others thought the Maryland Federation of Women should be stripped of theirs.
Yet we were told by Bob to “keep it in perspective,” as our next priority would be the fight over redistricting.
Unfortunately, after a series of informative seminars (including an elected officials discussion I’m saving for a future post) we had to meet for the convention. Obviously this was the calm before the storm.
Early on, Montgomery County planted its flag, both figuratively and literally.
The idea of the agenda was to go through a series of reports while the Credentials Committee made sure we had the requisite number of participants. So we heard Chris Rosenthal give a mixed bag of a Tresurer’s Report – hey, at least the line of credit is paid off.
Then it was Joyce Terhes’ turn as National Committeewoman, and she warned us “we can’t fight about bylaws…bylaws don’t win elections.” That sentiment was echoed by National Committeeman Louis Pope, who told us “we have one job, to elect Republicans…all that defers from that takes up resources.” And even as Alex Mooney in his brief Chairman’s report talked about a plan for victory on the local level which was based on the Wisconsin plan, we were about to discuss…bylaws.
Well, actually we had to get through the rules first. As in previous practice, we adopted rules in three parts: the noncontroversial Special Rules 1-6 went first, and were approved by a voice vote. After that, it got tricky.
Special Rule 7 was a lengthy rule which limited the time for the convention to three hours, the order in which bylaw changes were proposed, and the voting method to be used. There was a motion to strike Section C (the time limit) but it failed on a voice vote despite my objection. Because I objected to the time limit, I was probably the only one to vote against adopting the rule in the subsequent voice vote – but when you have principles, you follow them through.
But the Special Rule 7 uproar was nothing compared to Special Rule 8. Since Montgomery County had seemed to adopt a strategy of talking the voting method to death – and had almost 50 people who could have spoken against it – the motion to limit debate was the penultimate vote on the matter. It needed a 2/3 majority (ironically, using the one man, one vote system) and it passed 178-87 – almost exactly the 2/3 needed. After the question was called, Rule 8 was passed 189-76 and all subsequent votes used the modified voting system.
So we moved on to the bylaws after clearing out a resolution allowing Caroline County to expand its Central Committee to nine members.
Next up for consideration was what was deemed housekeeping measures, which renumbered the existing bylaws and added provisions termed “non-substantive” – except I felt that the final provision of that, which affected the threshold for approving bylaws in the future, deserved its own discussion (plus I wanted to leave the existing language in since I knew my Rule 11 amendment wouldn’t be heard because of the three hour time limit.) The group unwisely defeated my common-sense move 352-176 (the numbers hereafter are rounded from the decimal places.) They then limited debate by a 452-101 count.
So I was stuck with this so-called “housekeeping” provision, thus I voted against its adoption once we limited debate. Still, it passed 457-68.
But there was yet another twist. In an effort to create both something of value for the time spent and perhaps hasten my bylaw change, a motion was made to adopt the seventh item in line, which was the voting provision. This would enshrine it in the bylaws and make having to adopt it as a rule no longer necessary.
As you can imagine, Montgomery County was up in arms and attempted the same stalling tactics. The vote to limit debate was 443-82 and passage was assured by a 425-98 count as the meeting dissolved into confusion over just what we were voting on – Montgomery County had tried other procedural tricks to run out the clock, but eventually they failed.
Once it was over, they immediately began complaining about their fate to Alex Mooney.
Now, I could be cruel and tell MoCo to “get over it.” But the real result of yesterday’s events was to break up the gang of just a few counties which could run things. While their power is diminished to a degree, the voting results now simply mean large counties need to have buy-in from the smaller ones to get things accomplished, while smaller counties can now have some chance at their own coalition given enough broad-based support (and that’s not a given as Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore often part ways on things.)
And we have a lot on the table. Obviously they never got to my Rule 11 amendment, and since the bylaws committee ceased to exist after the meeting was adjourned, it appears that mine and any other proposed changes will have to go through the normal channels – submitted to the secretary and approved out to the floor by the appropriate committee. So the “star chamber,” the fate of MFRW’s vote on the Executive Committee (and the prospective votes of the other affiliated organizations), and a number of other changes which were hotly debated in Ocean City – well, guess what? We may be discussing them all over again come this fall.
True, these things don’t elect Republicans. But now that we have a voting system in place, let’s focus our efforts on getting the bylaws done this fall because the Spring 2012 convention will have its own election for Delegates to the National Convention. (I just might run again.)
I can’t say this convention was a success personally, but I’m really hoping that Montgomery County collectively puts on their big boy pants and adjusts to its new role as a teammate rather than a power broker. They still have a lot more say than most others, and a lot of work to do within their own borders.