I plan on more complete coverage of the events of this weekend tomorrow, but this evening I wanted to update you on the status of the resolution Heather Olsen and I presented to the Maryland GOP Fall Convention.
Just as a review, and also to make things a little less confusing, this is the text of what we originally submitted. It would have been a new section of the Bylaws that’s currently reserved because of proposed changes last spring which weren’t completely adopted:
ARTICLE VII – POLITICAL ACTIVITY
7.1 Political Activity of Members.
No member of the State Central Committee shall sponsor or endorse any candidate of a political party other than the Republican Party in connection with any partisan election or primary in which there is a Republican candidate. Failure of a member of the State Central Committee to comply with the foregoing standard shall subject such person to such sanctions as may be imposed by the State Central Committee, which may include a vote of censure and/or a request for the resignation of that member.
7.2 Neutrality in Primary Elections
a. Neutrality Policy. It shall be the policy of the Maryland Republican Party to remain neutral in all contested primary elections, unless waived as outlined below. This shall be construed to extend to asking the national Republican Party for a waiver of its neutrality rule to assist specific candidates, known as Rule 11.
b. Waivers to Neutrality. Waivers to this policy can be granted through one of two methods, either of which may be utilized at the discretion of the Chair:
1. At a state Party Convention, an affirmative Convention Vote of 2/3 of members present. This vote would be exempt from the procedures outlined in Section 8.4 of the Bylaws and conducted as a “one man, one vote” ballot.
2. Outside of a state Party Convention, an affirmative vote from 3/4 of the total number of Central Committee members. Affirmative votes confirming permission to waive this section must be received from at least 16 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions and represent 3/4 of the total number of Central Committee members, excluding vacancies.
c. Individual Members. Except for the restrictions made in Section 7.1, individual members of the State Central Committee are free to endorse any candidate in an individual capacity, but cannot do so in an official capacity to imply the endorsement of either their county Central Committee or the state party.
So that’s the basis in which we began the day.
Well, the first item out of the chute was an amendment to strike the second sentence of Section 7.2b (1) to eliminate the “one man, one vote” portion of the original. In truth, I had no issue with that although I would have preferred “one man, one vote” because I had two separate paths to adoption and presumably a vote at a county level would be conducted differently. But it wasn’t a deal-breaker to me to lose it.
There was some confusion over a second part of the amendment to strike the “excluding vacancies” clause in 7.2b (2) so that was eventually withdrawn by the sponsor. This change passed by voice vote, almost unanimously.
The second item was much more convoluted and controversial. Introduced by Prince George’s County Central Committee member Michael Gorman, it would have stripped the power to decide on a waiver from the Central Committee at large and given it to the Executive Committee. His amendment would have also weakened the mandate of 7.2a to become a non-binding advisement. Needless to say, Heather and I weren’t in favor of this amendment.
But a funny thing happened on the way to cutting off debate – Nick Panuzio of Talbot County shocked everyone by making a motion to adjourn. Since that had to take precedence over other business, we voted on that motion and it failed by a 313-178 margin in our voting system. (In actual votes, the margin I tallied was 100 for, 124 against.)
Then another motion was made to divide the question into two parts: one dealing with the advisement portion and the other with the transfer to the Executive Committee. This also took precedence to the amending vote, but it failed by the slimmest of margins in our voting system: 249.46 votes for to 249.62 against. (In “real” people terms, though, this would have passed 124 to 106.)
Yet it didn’t matter in the end, as we finally got to the question we were tallying when the surprise motion to adjourn took place – the Gorman amendment failed handily 307-194.
So it finally came down to our proposal, as amended to strike the “one man, one vote” system.
I can tell you that fourteen counties voted in favor, with nine against and one a tie.
In actual votes (by my tally) we had 119 yes votes and 109 no votes. So we had a majority in both actual people and the convention vote, which finished 287-208. But thanks to a rule change at our Spring Convention, we needed a 3/5 majority to pass this change and we fell a heartbreaking ten votes short. Based on 495 votes, we would have required 297 to win.
In the postmortem, I found out that the sole reason Howard County voted all nine votes against was because they wanted to introduce an amendment to make another change, one I could have lived with. But the question was called too soon for them to get to the microphone and those 25 convention votes cost us the ballgame. Now perhaps I could blame them for throwing the baby out with the bathwater but I can understand this wasn’t a perfectly written bylaw change – Heather and I just did the best we could.
So we will go back to the drawing board, although I’ve been told by at least one national committee member (who actually supported the measure) that he really didn’t think it would be necessary now. But I have two words for that member: Roscoe Bartlett. Hopefully with the early primary they won’t feel it necessary to place a thumb on the scale, but we need to watch them like a hawk to make sure. I spoke briefly with Dave Wallace at the convention and he seems like one credible alternative for those who think Roscoe has gotten too accustomed to life inside the Beltway.
As I said at the top, tomorrow I will have more complete coverage of the GOP confab. But I felt like I owed my readers the update on an issue I’m passionate about.
By the way, this will mark my return to Red Maryland – I’ve been away from that sandbox for far too long.