In February, Alex Mooney confirmed what some had suspected all along: he would be leaving the Chair position of the Maryland Republican Party to pursue other political opportunities. As the party bylaws state, the First Vice-Chair took over the duties of running the state party and that First Vice-Chair was Diana Waterman.
I have been directly involved in the state party since 2006, and this isn’t the first time we’ve been through this rodeo. In 2009 embattled Chair Jim Pelura resigned – however, just before the Fall Convention that year First Vice-Chair Chris Cavey announced he would not seek the job full-time for the remaining year on Pelura’s term and the MDGOP instead overwhelmingly elected Audrey Scott.
(The original version of this post incorrectly stated Chris Cavey served on an interim basis as Chair; he reminded me – see comment – that was not so. Unlike this year with Alex Mooney, Jim Pelura served the entire sixty days between the announcement of his resignation and the selection of Audrey Scott at the Fall 2009 convention. Error on the blogger, if you’re scoring at home.)
And in looking at this more recent race, we’re actually dealing with many of the same issues we dealt with back in 2009. In reading through what each of the three candidates has to say about the race, it seemed like three main themes came up: fundraising, communication, and goals for the 2014 election. Specific to each candidate, this is what I took away from their ideas.
Diana Waterman looks to mine some of the former donors who may have stopped or just donated to national candidates. She also promises personal meetings with donors and wants to assist counties in developing their own fundraising strategies for 2014. It’s a sound conservative approach but doesn’t really depart from the plan we have now or the top-down thinking. I know in our county we have ideas for fundraising but we’re never sure what sort of follow-through or assistance we can expect from the state party, if any. At times, it may not even be needed.
On the other hand, while Greg Kline hasn’t yet firmed up his specific plan, his overall goal is to set electoral goals as a product to sell while expanding the pie of potential donors. I like the concept of “1914” but because this plan is still in the process of creation, we lose more valuable time getting it together.
The things which appeal to me with Collins Bailey regarding fundraising are the specificity of his goals – $800,000 by the 2014 election is actually rather attainable – and the idea of expanding the pool of donors through online fundraising. I was actually considering the next point as a separate post, but I think I’ll bring this example into my writing here.
The other day I got one of my frequent e-mails from Organizing
Against America For Action, which detailed that they had raised money from 109,582 supporters with an average donation of $44 apiece. While $5 million is modest for a national organization with millions of e-mail addresses on file, imagine how many people it would take to raise, say, $240,000 for the party at $40 apiece over the internet. We would be 30% of the way toward our November 2014 goal with a minimum of effort and the assistance of just 6,000 Republicans.
Do you know what the total internet fundraising was for the party from January 2011 to September 2012? $31,352. That’s it. We can do a LOT better – in my estimation we are vastly underutilizing the internet. Advantage Bailey.
Second is communication, which is a hot topic of mine. Needless to say, with the decision already made by Diana Waterman regarding the RNC Rules Committee controversy, I don’t have a lot of confidence she will work to improve communication. Note that I’m not talking about the means of communication but the content of communication. Just like in the arena of fundraising, the MDGOP hasn’t taken advantage of social media and new technology and Diana is part of the team which seemingly sat on its hands.
Meanwhile, Greg Kline gets it partially right in terms of utilizing the new media – and why not? He’s a member of it, as am I. The party should be keeping us in the loop because Lord knows they’re not getting a fair shake from the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post anytime soon; meanwhile, Martin O’Malley and Democrats have their narratives set for them.
But Collins Bailey goes a little beyond that to embrace what he calls an “integrated web presence,” utilizing the social media side of the equation for messaging, fundraising, and outreach. And I believe Collins would also be amenable to following the best aspects of the Kline plan, as Greg would probably lean on advice from Collins. To me, this second area is a wash between Kline and Bailey, as both of them seem to “get it” moreso than Diana does based on her brief track record.
Finally, we have the 2014 goals. Diana Waterman’s goals are relatively modest, though, as she’s looking toward 2020 to achieve her plan. There are two basic problems I see with that deadline: one is that 2020 is not a state election year (and would feature an incumbent President running for re-election as we had in 2012) and the second is that we will have missed the opportunity to reset Congressional and legislative districts for more fairness in the next decade. The time to set that up will be 2018, yet she’s happy to have just a filibuster-proof Senate majority.
Kline’s “1914 Plan” is simple: get that 19-seat minority next year to stop bad legislation or sustain vetoes if we should elect a Republican governor. Greg also preaches the importance of filling out the ballot, wishing to recruit a Republican candidate for every contest on the ballot. Yet what are the long-term goals?
Again, Bailey goes a lot further. And damn it, we should have no less of a goal than turning this state Republican as soon as possible. Did the Democrats sulk and moan that all was lost when they lost Government House in 2002 and saw George W. Bush win nationally in 2004? No – they obfuscated, attacked, and played to win, which is what they indeed accomplished in 2006 and 2008. While we as a state and nation are the worse for it, just remember the stated goal of Maryland Democrats was to “bury (Republicans) upside-down, and it will be ten years before they crawl out again.” Well, I’d like to advance that timetable by a couple years and chuck some of the most useless politicians the nation has ever seen – those Democrats who rule our state with an iron fist – down into a hole of their own making. They’ve taxed us, regulated us, worked to take away our guns, gave us the gateway drug to societal breakdown with same-sex marriage, and made the state a magnet for illegal immigrants. That’s a pretty deep hole they’ve dug and we need to give them a push and grab the shovel to fill it in.
What’s quite funny, though, is that Collins is probably one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. If he doesn’t win, Bailey is happy to work with whoever does. So allow me to share something with you.
Last Wednesday, our four Lower Shore counties held a quad-county meeting as we always do prior to a convention. Collins spoke first, presented his ideas and answered a few questions; meanwhile, Joe Crawford was passing out his literature to those attending. Fairly typical.
Next up was Brian Griffiths, representing Greg Kline, who came by himself. As he began to speak, he started passing around Greg’s literature when Collins interrupted him. Brian gave him a piece when Collins said, “no, give me half,” and proceeded to pass it around the opposite table. To me, that’s the difference between a leader and a statesman, and it’s little gestures like that which convey to me the intent of Collins Bailey to be a rock-solid steward of the Maryland GOP.
That’s not to take anything away from Greg Kline, for whom I have deep respect as someone who has helped blaze a trail for Maryland’s new media. The one key concern I had on his behalf may not come to pass; if it does now I think we know how to deal with it. If Greg’s fortunate enough to win, I’m happy to work with him in carrying out the “1914” Plan, particularly since I have a sneaking hunch I live in one of those targeted districts.
If Diana Waterman wins, I hope she can work with whoever is elected as the new First Vice-Chair and – once those of us who care get her aligned in the right direction insofar as listening to the grassroots rather than those who seem to treat the MDGOP as a place to wield their microscopic bit of power – work with her on improving our chances in 2014 and not some far-off election cycle.
Originally I was planning on listening to the Dorchester County candidate forum tonight before I made up my mind. But with the voluminous information made available through the internet and social media on the candidates, it occurred to me that there’s already the tools out there for most to do their homework.
But it was that gesture in Fruitland, reinforced by the candid assessment and glowing endorsement of Gary Rumsey of St. Mary’s County, which tipped the scales. I decided that, even though I now have a stake in the race, those who know me also probably believe I’ll still be a fair arbiter of what’s said later tonight in Cambridge. That post will probably be the last thing I write before heading off to Timonium since I’m sure I will pre-write something unrelated to the convention for Saturday.
You know, it’s sort of funny. Originally I thought Collins was some sort of stalking horse for Diana Waterman but now chances are better and better he may walk off with the whole shooting match.
It’s time to put the bickering and acrimony behind us, and I think the best healer will be Collins Bailey. He doesn’t care about credit, just that the job is done right – and we have a LOT of work to do. He deserves your vote Saturday.