In a move that’s truly not surprising, an e-mail was sent by interim Maryland Republican Chair Diana Waterman to Central Committee members regarding her appointment to the RNC Rules Committee. With the understanding that this can be changed at any time, the RNC validated the Pope appointment yesterday:
I have now heard from all three of you indicating that there are two votes for Louis Pope and one vote for Nicolee Ambrose. Therefore, Louis Pope is the representative of Maryland on the Rules Committee.
In answer to Ms. Ambrose’ questions below:
1. Yes, we are ruling that a state may re-caucus.
2. Yes, that means Maryland could re-caucus at a later time.
This is the text of what Diana sent to Central Committee members:
I wanted to share an update on the situation I wrote to you about concerning the RNC Standing Rules Committee. While those who are issuing their criticisms may continue, the fact is, as confirmed by the RNC, that the committee membership was not considered set or seated until after the March 1st deadline and even beyond that deadline a state’s RNC representatives may caucus and nominate a new member. I am attaching an email issued today by the RNC that clearly states there was no procedural issue with Louis Pope’s re-appointment. We caucused Thursday by email to clarify the nomination of Louis Pope to remain on the Rules Committee.
You have an important decision to make on April 20th. Electing a chairman should be about choosing the person that you feel is best qualified in all aspects of leading the Party. If you believe that the decision on who goes to the rules committee is your number one priority, then you should vote accordingly. If you believe that we need to build our party from the ground up, recruit and train candidates for all offices in all districts, grow the farm team, and expand our donor base to raise much needed funds to provide the resources and tools for our candidates, I ask that you vote for me. I may not always agree with you, but I will always listen and let you know where I stand. Working together is the only way we will make our party a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, these goals aren’t as mutually exclusive as Waterman would make them out to be, and her decision means the same Republican party which has done its best to maintain its part in the Beltway political establishment will continue to get support from Maryland.
Yet those same Ambrose supporters who Waterman dismisses also will most likely be the ones who “build the party from the ground up, recruit and train candidates for all offices in all districts, grow the farm team, and expand our donor base.” Unfortunately, they are the ones turned off by the continual capitulation of national Republicans to the liberal agenda and who feel last summer’s rule changes were symptomatic of a party which no longer seems to care about its grassroots.
Nor would this have come up if the Rules Committee change hadn’t been the first major decision Waterman made as Chair – the ink hadn’t even dried on Alex Mooney’s letter of resignation and here she was changing the appointment. Yes, it was within her right to do so as the head of the party – even if that role is only for 60 days – but the speed in which this was done seems to indicate somebody who is a influential member of the state party got into Diana’s ear really quickly. My money is on Audrey Scott.
Needless to say, opponent Greg Kline wasted little time putting out his response:
As you have seen with the release today from Interim State Party Chairman Diana Waterman, Louis Pope has formally replaced Nicolee Ambrose as Maryland’s representative on the RNC Rules Committee. In Mrs. Waterman’s own words, she notes that she chose to replace Ms. Ambrose with Mr. Pope on February 28th after Ms. Ambrose’s letter of appointment had been received by the RNC on February 19th.
This decision and the subsequent explanation from Mrs. Waterman once again goes to show that the Interim Chair lacks the temperament to lead the party through the difficult challenges we face. It once again goes to show the extraordinary need for transformational leadership that works not to divide the party, but to bring the party together. And as my first act as Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, I will reappoint Nicolee Ambrose as Maryland’s Representative on the RNC Rules Committee.
As chairman, I would bring a style of leadership that is more inclusive and more transparent to our state party and advocate for such leadership on the national level. As chairman, I would also view criticism as an opportunity to improve and to dialogue and not react to it as a personal attack.
I ask for your support to lead all of our party.
Yet one can ask whether the shoe would simply be on the other foot if Kline wins. I seem to recall the establishment party got a little upset when Jim Pelura wouldn’t act as they wanted him to, and wallets were snapped shut all over the state. Of course, when fundraising dried up the Executive Committee had yet another excuse to hound a good man out of office, and I fear the same may happen with Kline unless a lot of new donors step up to the plate. The party has its share of rainmakers who have helped to carry it in the past, but new sources of income may need to be found.
If it were up to Baltimore County Central Committee member Eugene Craig III, though, Diana would be ousted from the Executive Committee entirely. In reaction to the Ambrose incident, he has circulated an e-mail threatening a removal vote at the party convention; one which accuses Waterman of “one of the most disgraceful actions you can take to limit the influence of true grass roots activist” by replacing Ambrose. Craig goes on to say that “your loyalty does not lie with the Heart and Soul (the grass roots activist) of the Maryland Republican Party, thus you are unfit to serve as chair. In this short time span as interim Chair you have done more damage to our party then the Democrats could do in an entire election cycle.”
I have also asked fellow Waterman opponent Collins Bailey for a reaction, but have not received his take on this yet. However, he is also on record as saying that, should he win, he would restore Ambrose to the Rules Committee.