I’d love to have said I was there, but family has to come first and my parents came from many miles away.
But I was cheered to see the lineup for the Turning the Tides Conference presented by the Maryland Conservative Action Network, as it included a number of luminaries as well as breakout discussions on a number of subjects near and dear to the hearts of conservatives in Maryland and everywhere else, for that matter. Not only that, the event drew over 200 activists from across Maryland and received coverage from both the old and new media outlets. They even had their very own counterprotest from a liberal former member of the House of Delegates.
So it sounds like we had a nice event. But now the question is ‘where do we go from here?’
It’s obvious we on the right have some measure of power in Maryland, but it’s limited to what our state Constitution grants us. Thus far in 2011 our biggest victories have simply been stopping the most egregious initiatives coming from Governor O’Malley and General Assembly liberals. Examples would include the same-sex marriage bill that was stopped by the House of Delegates, the septic ban that went nowhere thanks to a public outcry from rural legislators, and the Maryland DREAM Act was thwarted thanks to over 130,000 Marylanders who signed the petition to send the bill to referendum. That’s left bill sponsors and allies only a tenuous court case that hinges on the legality of gathering prefilled petitions online. Assuming the court correctly holds up the process, this tactic could be used more often but there is a risk of overreach. Prior to this year’s petition drive it had been twenty years since a repeal even made the ballot, with an actual overturn not having occurred since the early 1970s.
For the foreseeable future, job one will be to attempt to hold serve with our Congressional delegation, whether it’s keeping Roscoe Bartlett’s seat in Republican hands or swiping a different seat from the Democrats to keep some company for Andy Harris in Maryland’s GOP delegation. And don’t think for a minute the smear campaign won’t be placed on Harris either, whether Frank Kratovil tries for round three or someone else gives it a shot. A name I’ve heard quite often is Jim Mathias – we know he knows how to vote left but run right.
The second task would be more herculean, but perhaps an upset of Ben Cardin is doable as part of a red tide that flips the U.S. Senate. And while Barack Obama is an even more prohibitive favorite to win our state, it would be great to see him have to campaign and spend part of his war chest here.
In all three cases, we need to get good conservative candidates for office, and it was noteworthy that five of the announced U.S. Senate candidates (Dan Bongino, Robert Broadus, William Capps, Rick Hoover, and Corrogan Vaughn) took time to address the gathering, while a possible sixth (Pat McDonough) made separate remarks. It might make you wonder what was up with Rich Douglas and Eric Wargotz. I was a bit surprised, though, that Andy Harris didn’t show up. Meanwhile, Richard Falknor at Blue Ridge Forum lamented the lack of participation from Maryland elected officials, noting that only a few showed up.
Those who attended serve a very important purpose for the Maryland Republican Party, although the party may not know it yet. These 200 people could well be next crop of 2014 candidates, campaign staff, and activists who try and improve the lot of Republicans already in the General Assembly – while we have matched our modern-day high water mark of 43 in the House, we lost two seats in the Senate and now have just 12. The goal for 2014 should be to get at least 19 Senators and 57 Delegates – enough, with a unified front, to stop liberal Democrats from enacting “emergency” legislation.
But it all begins with organization and communication. It’s noteworthy that the ‘Occupy Annapolis’ protest, with perhaps fifteen activists, got better coverage than the so-called hatefest occurring just down the road. We don’t mind flying under the radar, though. It’s more fun to shock the liberals when we win.