I need to give credit where credit is due.
Even though she’s not on the Central Committee – and won’t have a vote unless and until someone else from our county needs a proxy – Jackie Wellfonder has performed a service to the Maryland Republican community by speaking with all three candidates for state party Chair. (So much for the theory it’s a race only interesting to the 300 or so Central Committee members in the state.)
Now I will grant that she’s enthusiastically in the Kline camp, and I can understand her reasoning. Personally, I don’t think I’m quite ready to give my endorsement yet between the two challengers for the Chair position; in fact, I sort of wish I could have a Collins Kline or a Greg Bailey because there’s a lot to like about both gentlemen. I may not know for sure who I’m voting for until I see all three of them on April 18th – fortunately, this is the sort of position where I don’t have to vote for the lesser of two evils in the primary or general election race. (Such was not the case for Salisbury mayor, unfortunately.)
Much has been made about the infighting for Maryland GOP Chair and, in general, the state of the party at large as a gang which just can’t seem to shoot straight. But I’m here to tell you that the other party has its problems too.
Unlike the situation at the national level, where Barack Obama seems to delight in making Republicans the voodoo doll for all of his self-induced problems, the Democrats in Maryland really have no one else to blame for their issues in running the state. Sure, they will try and sell you the notion that the state is succeeding but out here in the hinterlands that message isn’t playing. Instead, we seem to be the chosen whipping boy for liberal policies that of late have restricted our counties, raised our gasoline taxes, and threaten our Second Amendment rights. To some of us, nullification (as proposed by Carroll County commissioner Richard Rothschild and others) is just a half-step – the preferred idea is secession from Maryland altogether.
While a greater Delmarva or even annexation into Delaware probably isn’t in the cards, one question which probably should be asked at our upcoming GOP Chair forum on April 18th is how the candidates will deal with the overall “War on Rural Maryland.” Unfortunately, Kline is somewhat insulated from that discussion since he lives in Anne Arundel County, but Diana Waterman (and to a lesser extent Collins Bailey) should be well-versed in rural issues. Obviously we as a party need to appeal to urban voters to some extent, but the trick will be figuring how to create the proper us-vs.-them message to play will both in the inner city and in rural Maryland – believe it or not, we face some of the same economic issues.
I don’t know if I will be on the panel asking questions at the Cambridge forum (although I think with my inquisitive nature I could easily do so) but I think this is a question which should be answered. While the nine counties of the Eastern Shore account for only about 1 in 10 state residents, we do provide about 1/4 of the Republican vote at the convention. (In the good old days we had over 1/3 of the Maryland Senate too, but that is more a question of secession.)
Worth noting on that front is a note I received from Cecil County Chair Chris Zeauskas: that Eastern Shore coalition isn’t so strong for Waterman. Certainly a few counties are in the tank for her, but I’m finding it more and more difficult to believe she’ll have a clear majority April 20, and my sense is that if Waterman doesn’t get a first-ballot win more will coalesce around the second-place finisher.
We will see what happens.