Last week Mark Newgent of Red Maryland gave us the story about a possible Republican leadership fight upcoming in the House of Delegates. According to Mark, the tag team of Delegates Nic Kipke and Michael Smigiel will challenge the current House Republican leadership of Delegates Tony O’Donnell and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio for the positions of Minority Leader and Whip, respectively.
The upstart pair are challenging the current leadership based on two separate but related items: the House GOP establishment “leading from behind” on the in-state tuition for illegal immigrants petition and a perceived lack of fiscal conservatism, especially from Delegate Haddaway-Riccio.
Well, let’s look at the record, shall we?
In 2011, Kipke was alone among his leadership peers (the group of four including O’Donnell, Haddaway-Riccio, and Smigiel) in voting for the Invest Maryland boondoggle. He was also the only vote among the four to allow the expansion of suits brought for workplace discrimination to include places of public accommodation, which will subject small businesses to harassing lawsuits from aggrieved members of the general public as well as disgruntled employees. Kipke also voted to extend unemployment benefits via SB882, which also depends on so-called ‘stimulus’ funding.
And that’s not a new trend. In 2010 Kipke was the sole member of the group to vote for the pro-union ‘Fairness in Negotiations’ Act, along with accepting the $126 million federal bailout of our unemployment fund (with strings attached, of course) and the 2010 version of the “bond bill.”
You may not be able to access my monoblogue Accountability Project records because I placed them off the public website – but I can still dig them out. And I did.
In retrospect over the 2007-10 term, neither O’Donnell nor Smigiel consistently voted in such a manner to annoy me – in my Accountability Project scoring system Tony O’Donnell ranked 3rd for the 2007-10 term and Smigiel was 17th, in part because he missed a number of votes in 2009 (the absences lowered his overall score.) Otherwise Michael would have likely landed in the top 10.
On the other hand, Haddaway-Riccio ranked a very pedestrian 27th while Kipke was behind her in 29th place. (Bear in mind that there were only 37 Republican members of the House of Delegates at the time, with the lowest Republican – the late Delegate Page Elmore – ranking 39th overall.)
To quote the Newgent Red Maryland piece, it’s Smigiel who “wants a fiscally conservative leadership team ‘willing to fight for the conservative principles they expound.'” The question, then, is why he hitched his wagon to Nic Kipke given Kipke’s penchant for going along to get along with the other side on a number of key issues? (I really didn’t get into the environmental side of things where he and Haddaway-Riccio both cast votes in favor of the “Sustainable Growth Commission,” ‘Sustainable Communities,’ or the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. How is encouraging top-down state planning and little green community organizers in any way conservative, fiscally or otherwise?)
Personally I don’t think it’s wrong to demand some ideological purity among Republicans with a base in conservative principles – especially in the leadership – and it’s really making me wonder who is encouraging Kipke and Smigiel to pick this fight just before the Special Session, a time where we need strength in numbers and good strategy to thwart the massive tax increases planned by the Democrats.
Perhaps O’Donnell was behind the curve on the SB167 petition issue, but those who have been rooted in the way things always have been done tend to be the most resistant to change. Yet the Republicans in the House of Delegates this time around did a lot of good because they generally possessed a united front. Unfortunately, it seemed like one of the weakest links to that front was Nic Kipke – and, based on his legislative record, now is no time to go wobbly by placing him in leadership.