Hey, if Roch Kubatko can do it, I figure I can too. There were a few things I wanted to discuss in the post-convention aftermath.
One storyline was the low number of hospitality suites and rooms there were. Generally there are six to eight separate parties going on during a typical Friday night at the convention, but in this case I think two closed up shop relatively early so the other three became the centers of action. So it seemed to me that there was a crush of people for about an hour or so, but things cleared out pretty quickly after most of the food was consumed.
But I heard a grumble that the reason there were so few suites was the high price the MDGOP was charging. But since they don’t get a cut of any of the room-sized suites, their only recourse is to charge a premium price for the lobby spaces. Gubernatorial candidates seem to be willing to pay, though: last spring it was Blaine Young taking the spacious lobby of Timonium, in November they had Larry Hogan use the main space of the Annapolis Doubletree, and this time Charles Lollar took the Bethesda Doubletree restaurant.
In November I would imagine at least one Chair candidate using a large space, but that event will likely return to the higher number of rooms common to previous conventions as various party office hopefuls try to gain advantage.
Similarly, I don’t recall there being so few vendors. Maybe it was the way they were set up, but it seemed to me that previous conventions had more tables out. Yet as I noted in my main story, there were a number of counties well under-represented – nowhere close to preventing a quorum, but Diana Waterman pointed out in her remarks that a large number had registered on Saturday morning; more than expected. She had a right to be upset, but I think with so many proxies this couldn’t be helped.
Speaking of proxies, they were blamed for Charles Lollar winning the MDGOP Straw Poll. Here’s a press release Lollar put out:
The Lollar-Timmerman team for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Maryland won a key straw poll today at the conclusion of the Maryland State Republican Party convention in Bethesda.
Today’s straw poll at the Party’s spring convention marks the last gathering of the State GOP leadership before the June 24 gubernatorial primary. Elected representatives from all 23 counties and Baltimore City cast their votes in today’s poll in favor of the Lollar-Timmerman team.
“We are grateful for this tremendous show of support from the elected leadership of the Maryland GOP,” said gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar, a Charles County businessman and reserve officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Today’s poll results mirror the sentiment we have been hearing from grass roots supporters across the state,” Lollar added.
Conservative Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild enthusiastically endorsed the Lollar-Timmerman ticket on Friday night. “Everywhere I go, people have told me they are supporting Lollar-Timmerman,” Commissioner Rothschild said. “Those are the only names I hear.”
Both Lollar and Timmerman were attending other events on Saturday, but delegates at the state party convention erupted in cheers, jumping to their feet when they heard the results.
This latest straw poll victory from central committee members from across the state follows on the heels of a victory at the annual convention of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women in Calvert County.
The Lollar-Timmerman team has also won three successive Montgomery County GOP straw polls, including one on March 26 following the only debate where all four GOP gubernatorial candidates showed up.
“Ken and I thank you for your support and we will not let you down as we march to victory in November,” Lollar said.
I don’t recall the “jumping to their feet” part, but it was somewhat of a surprise to hear Lollar won. However, he didn’t mention that it was far from an overwhelming victory – if all the undecideds came down for third-place finisher David Craig, he would have won. The only one who finished poorly was Ron George; coincidentally or not, he was barely visible at this convention. Shelley Aloi was well-meaning and worked hard, but Ron’s table was unstaffed and volunteer sheet almost blank when I saw it Saturday.
We do know, though, that the party faithful who care enough to come to the convention have much more decisiveness about the race than a group of relatively random respondents selected for the St. Mary’s College Maryland Poll. The big winner in that poll was Mr. Undecided – nearly seven of ten hadn’t made up their minds yet. In that poll Larry Hogan leads by a somewhat comfortable margin, but at just 16 percent of the vote – a total of 43 votes out of 270, which wasn’t much larger than the room full of party activists.
Put another way, even Charles Lollar or Ron George has to convince just 34 more voters out of that remaining sample than Larry Hogan does to prevail. If either can start raising money, it’s doable.
On another subject, perhaps Don Murphy was right when he remarked that local candidates should have been out knocking on doors rather than at the convention. There were a handful of such candidates there who were pressed into service as Central Committee members or proxies, but I saw few General Assembly members about Bethesda over the weekend. Maybe they showed for the dinner, but they weren’t even there Friday night for schmoozing so they were likely following Murphy’s advice.
We also found out the next convention will be December 5-6 at Turf Valley, the site of our Fall 2012 convention/wake. Let’s hope for Maryland’s sake history doesn’t repeat itself.