It’s been perhaps the worst-kept secret in Maryland politics for over a year, but it appears as though David Craig will make his 2014 plans official on June 3 as he embarks on a real statewide tour, or at least one more geographically encompassing than Democrat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s puny effort last week when he announced his gubernatorial plans.
Within the last couple hours, the first day of the Craig tour was laid out on Facebook: a 9 a.m. announcement from his front yard in Havre de Grace, followed by an 11:30 a.m. appearance at the Dundalk American Legion Post 38 and a 7 p.m. happy hour reception at Bulls and Bears in Hagerstown. I have it on good authority there will be a Salisbury stop on day 2 of the Craig tour, June 4, although details are probably still being finalized. On that front, I was also told by that same local Craig volunteer this would be a three-day tour, so it’s possible the local Eastern Shore event could instead be June 5.
Craig would officially enter a fairly crowded field as the Republican nomination is opened up for the first time since 2002, the year Bob Ehrlich first won his nomination over two perennial candidates. Arguably this could be the strongest gubernatorial field ever for the Maryland GOP, as the shadow of Bob Ehrlich and his three-election run as the established Republican standard-bearer allowed a number of good candidates to establish a solid local foothold while clamoring to get their chance at the brass ring.
At this point only one GOP candidate has officially filed, and Brian Vaeth – who finished dead last out of 10 would-be U.S. Senate candidates last year with 1.9% of the primary vote – probably won’t present much of a challenge to the remainder of the eventual field. While Blaine Young has been campaigning mainly to party insiders for the last several months and Ron George formally announced his plans last month, we are still awaiting official word from Charles Lollar and Dan Bongino. With the caveat that both are internet-based surveys and are not scientific, Craig has held his own in two recent preference polls on conservative websites with Bongino and Lollar, while Young lags behind. Meanwhile, Ron George performed respectably in the latest Red Maryland poll cited.
Obviously this will be a developing story, and Craig’s entry may break the dam for others to make their intentions clear. It’s likely June will also be the month Charles Lollar makes his draft campaign official while Dan Bongino has no set deadline in mind.
In Dan’s case, though, there is also the chance he could choose to bypass 2014 to concentrate on a 2016 Senate run for what could be an open seat given Barbara Mikulski’s advancing age (she would turn 80 in the summer of 2016) and declining health. In that case, much would depend on whether the GOP wrests control of the Senate (and their Appropriations Committee. which she chairs) from the Democrats. Obviously this is true of the others as well, but Bongino is the only one of the five with statewide campaign experience.
Then again, the other four will catch up on that front should they go through the primary of 2014. Look for more on the Craig front in the coming days.
Update 5/14: It appears the Eastern Shore will be served
either in the evening on June 4 or on the 5th, as thus far June 4 sends Craig to an 8 a.m. breakfast in Silver Spring, the Calvert County Courthouse at noon, and the Annapolis City Dock at 3 p.m.
Update 2 5/14: Salisbury’s stop will be at the Government Center at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5th.
I want to thank Rory McShane for bringing this to light via Facebook and allowing all of us to start our week on a grand note of schadenfreude.
It seems that the Maryland Republican Party is not the only political entity which labors under the adverse condition of being out of power and having the embarrassment of fiscal misfortune. At least we weren’t forcibly evicted from our West Street headquarters!
In fact, in reading about the issues being faced by the Alabama Democratic Party I noticed several similarities to our MDGOP party situation over the past few years, but done on steroids: a new Chair walking into a field of financial landmines and dealing with factions threatening to break apart from the party – and, in Alabama’s case, not just taking their ball and going home, but absconding with furniture, office supplies, and voter lists while adding insult to injury by redirecting donor funds. What is happening with Alabama may even border on criminality, depending on their campaign finance laws.
Stunningly enough, this situation has festered for almost a decade and a half, according to the AL.com website story, as the party initially spent itself near bankruptcy in a failed effort to enact the regressive tax called an education lottery back in 1999. (Fourteen years on, Alabama is still one of a handful of states which has no state-run lottery.) Former Party chairman Mark Kennedy last month blamed a Republican-backed 2010 initiative banning PAC-to-PAC transfers in the state for the party’s ongoing financial crisis.
Yet a quote from Kennedy could be the key to our rebirth in Maryland:
Unlike the Republicans, we just as a party have not developed the kind of broad donor base a modern political party needs and the Republicans have.
The same concept came up in our recent Chair race, as the two challengers to interim Chair Diana Waterman both pledged to go outside the traditional avenues the party has used to raise funds, whether through more internet fundraising or growing the donor base tenfold. Obviously this should be a priority for us going forward.
This story is doubly humorous to me because, up until 2010, the Democrats controlled the Alabama legislature and had done so for 136 years. But now the shoe is firmly on the other foot because the GOP owns 23 of 35 State Senate seats and 66 of 105 State House seats, as well as the Governor’s chair. Their partisan breakdown is “only” R+14, though, whereas we run in a D+30 state here. But other states have found at least some success with similar demographics.
So take heart, Maryland Republicans, because there appears to be a political party much more dysfunctional than ourselves out there. Hopefully we are working in the right direction – let’s allow the other side to do some infighting for a change.
By the way, I received a note from Collins Bailey the other day as well as confirmation from party activist Don Murphy, who’s planning on attending: the Republican Party of Virginia seeks volunteers for their state convention this coming weekend. The RPV convention site is here, and I imagine the interest in the event from Maryland is so we can begin to upgrade our convention in a similar manner.
Perhaps the pro-liberty crowd is still a little restless in Maryland.
Today I got an e-mail from “the Susquehanna Conservative,” a.k.a. Scott DeLong of Harford County. Let me toss out a couple caveats before I begin with my analysis of his remarks: one, he was a Collins Bailey supporter for Chair as I was, and two, Scott is part of the Campaign for Liberty group, which probably makes point number one unsurprising since that was Bailey’s base of support. This rather lengthy e-mail mainly speaks to Scott’s thoughts about our recent convention, although he opines on some other topics as well.
Upon his arrival, he noticed the same thing I did: a handful of Waterman signs but many passionate Bailey supporters out sign waving. Of course, he also highlighted the Maryland Liberty PAC hospitality room to a much greater extent than I did, because I went to several others in my travels that evening. I didn’t realize, for example, that Delegate Michael Smigiel spoke to the group and the information Smigiel related about the SB281 gun bill was quite enlightening. I truly appreciated the overview and wonder if anyone recorded all of the speakers there for future reference.
And since I’m sure I have the attention of the pro-liberty crowd – and hopefully the MDGOP leadership as well – I’d like to offer a suggestion. I’ve alluded to this before, but honestly I’m not sure I have done so in this particular forum: why not move the Maryland Liberty PAC suite out of Friday night, when the focus is more on socializing and schmoozing, to Saturday morning? As DeLong explained later, not all of the Saturday morning fare was well-attended, and to me it would be like a miniature MDCAN conference before our convention business began. Perhaps we could integrate a continental breakfast into it, but in either case I bet it would draw more than seven people.
So only a small portion of Scott’s reflections focused on Friday night. The next part, though, I found interesting. To quote Scott, “It was the Establishment versus 2 grassroots candidates,” but by the very next paragraph he darkly alludes that “The Establishment was going to pull out all the stops to make sure their candidate, Waterman, would win” by “Thugging The Vote.”
Personally I found what I heard to be happening reprehensible, then again, this is politics and “politics ain’t beanbag.” While we had a proxy unsure of the direction to go, having heard conflicting information about following the wishes of the person being substituted for versus following their own desire, I was hearing some of the same stories being related by DeLong in his account.
So let me back up the scenario a little bit. In previous discussions, Dave Parker (our county Chair) and I agreed that our county’s vote could easily (and likely would) split three ways. I actually was mildly surprised by the split as one person I thought of as a Waterman supporter picked Bailey and one other did the reverse. In the end, we were about as split as any county was – but our Chair was perfectly fine with that, and allowed us to make up our own mind.
Contrast that to the browbeating some county chairs gave to their charges, particularly those in the Waterman camp. It was disappointing, but frankly not too surprising. They weren’t going to repeat the same mistakes they made when they thought Audrey Scott had the National Committeewoman’s seat in the bag last spring. Granted, the three votes DeLong alludes to would not have changed the end result – unless it was the tip of the iceberg, and we may never really know that.
But after Scott goes through the voting process, he points out some of the goings-on between ballots for the Chair position:
The chain of events after the first round of balloting for Chairman was interesting.
The Kline and Bailey camps appeared to be genuinely cordial to one another.
It was reported that during that pow-wow that when Kline was deciding what to do that Bailey told him that if he thought he should stay in for one more round, he should.
That’s just Collins being Collins.
However, if one of their goals was to get a grassroots chair and get Pope off the RNC Rules Committee, then the Kline team really needed to be able to see the writing on the wall.
The only thing that would be accomplished with Kline remaining in the race would be the election of Diana Waterman as Chairman since she was 11 votes away and it would be virtually impossible for Kline to get enough to get close.
The Bailey team was prepared to endorse Kline had the outcome been reversed.
The supporters of these two groups clearly had more in common with each other than with Waterman and Pope.
Had either become the Chairman the other groups would have certainly had a seat at the table and would have had their ideas and input considered, and if found workable, implemented.
The Kline guys seemed like a decent bunch, but they clearly need to get better at reading the tea leaves.
Now that last statement will probably earn Scott DeLong the everlasting enmity of the Red Maryland crew, for whom I am an erstwhile contributor (as they like to point out.) One result of this particular election, though, is that it may create a change in the bylaws or the adoption in the future of a special rule where the lowest-ranked candidate is automatically evicted from the ballot. Again, we will never know if a Kline withdrawal and endorsement of Bailey would have been enough to push Collins over the top given how close Diana was in the first place, but as things turned out Bailey supporters got the next best result.
From here, Scott implores us in the pro-liberty movement to “unite for common goals” and launches into a discussion about national party affairs. I believe DeLong is correct that National Committeeman Louis Pope will be extremely resistant to change, and given some of his statements regarding the “Liberty Pack” (as he calls it) it doesn’t appear he will be of much use to the purpose of revisiting the RNC rules.
Yet some of the ideas in the “Growth and Opportunity Project” that DeLong doesn’t like are ones I happen to be in favor of. Personally. I would like to see multi-state primaries – but I don’t want the calendar front-loaded because I would prefer the primaries occur in the timeframe of May through early July, with the conventions remaining in September. With such a compressed schedule, there would be plenty of time for a grassroots candidate to gather support beforehand, not to mention “as much debate and discussion as possible.” (By the way, we should tell the cable networks that either we pick the debate moderators or they can pound sand.) On the other hand, the idea of all caucuses intrigues me as well – perhaps we can have a cutoff number of Republicans in a state (say, just for an example, one million) between a state which can caucus and a state which must hold a primary. (And yes, I think the primaries should be closed. Don Murphy hasn’t convinced me yet.)
DeLong returns to the convention narrative to talk about the reports from Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin and now-former House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell as well as the “usual parliamentary chaos.” I have to agree with Scott on that one.
There have been far too many conventions where we simply ran out of time before important business could be concluded, and to me that’s inexcusable. In one case, I had a pending bylaw change on the short end of the time stick; this time, there was the Tari Moore resolution which was tabled last fall. It always seems like we have some sort of high-priced dinner afterward that no one really wants to attend because they’re dragged out from 24 nearly non-stop stressful hours with very little sleep and – for many – a long drive home. (Next spring in Rocky Gap will be a classic example of that for those on my end of the state, just as Ocean City conventions were difficult on those who came from out west.) I understand we weren’t expecting a Chair election when this spring gathering was scheduled, but why put people through this?
Another place where I part ways with DeLong is over the Tari Moore resolution. If you want to be critical of her budget and other decisions she’s made since becoming Cecil County Executive, that’s one thing and I can accept that. But unless and until she files to run for re-election as an unaffiliated candidate, I think she deserves the benefit of the doubt that she will revert back to her Republican registration so I wouldn’t support such a resolution coming off the table.
To me, Scott is beginning to let the perfect be the enemy of the good and not looking at the 80% rule. Certainly I can pore over anyone’s voting record and find at least a few flaws, but until a better alternative comes along the idea is to try and steer them right.
Yet I think we could have had a better alternative than Nic Kipke for Minority Leader; unfortunately none stepped up to the plate. DeLong correctly points out some of the many flaws in Nic’s voting record but also savages Tony O’Donnell for his mistake of supporting Thomas Perez for a federal position several years ago.
I think Scott’s letter is shorter than my analysis, but in the end he does point out that:
I hope that some of the issues I’ve highlighted in this e-mail provide you with a starting point.
So I made it such. It’s better to get this discussion underway now so we can get through it in plenty of time for 2014, since it’s not like the Democrats aren’t dealing with their own problems.
Over the last few weeks the media has reveled in the divisions which became apparent in the Maryland Republican Party, first in the party chairman race which was only decided on the second ballot and later with an upheaval in House of Delegates leadership which I’m told succeeded by a two-vote margin – Nic Kipke actually only won a plurality of the 43 House members (but a slim majority of those present.)
But there is new leadership in both entities and folks seem satisfied with the final result, at least insofar as the Maryland GOP leadership is concerned because the runner-up in the race for Chair won the consolation prize of 1st Vice-Chair. Incidentally, for the first time in my memory, both Diana Waterman and Collins Bailey will be sworn in at an event outside the convention setting as they will jointly be sworn in May 13 in Annapolis. (Key question: will bloggers be invited to the “media appreciation lunch” afterward? I guess my invite was lost in the mail.)
So the GOP is more or less united and ready to do battle. But what of the Democrats? Well, they seem to have hit a little snag, which was mentioned in more detail at my Politics in Stereo counterpart on the left, Maryland Juice.
On Friday the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee hosts their annual Spring Ball, which, like a Lincoln or Reagan Day Dinner for local Republicans, serves as a key fundraiser and a chance for party faithful to hear from a number of local elected officials and a keynote speaker. But their event is threatened as a fundraiser because a number of prominent Democrats are boycotting the event. Why?
I’ll pass along the explanation from the Washington DC Metro Council of the AFL-CIO:
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and the Montgomery County Young Democrats are among those who have announced that they’re honoring a boycott of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s May 11 Spring Ball. The metro Washington-area labor movement is boycotting – and picketing – the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s Spring Ball because the Committee took a position in favor of the 2012 Question B referendum, which took away the police union’s right to bargain the effects of management decisions.
But I nearly spit up my drink when I read this line, from UFCW 1994 president Gino Renne:
Labor will not tolerate being treated as an ATM and foot soldiers for a party which is often indifferent – and sometimes openly hostile – to working families in Montgomery County.
As the Republicans often seem to ask the pro-liberty movement, where else are you guys going to go? Trust me, they will have this ironed out in plenty of time to give extorted union dues and “representation fees” to those Democrats in Montgomery County and elsewhere in the state. The point will be made at this event, but like any other “family business” they’ll come to an understanding and things will be quietly made whole at a later time when the heat is off.
I find it quite amusing, though, that members and candidates from the party which regularly chastises Republicans for signing an Americans for Tax Reform pledge to not raise taxes or kowtowing to the National Rifle Association on gun issues scurry like cockroaches once it’s learned they would have to cross a picket line to attend a party event. It would be interesting to see how many people brave the picket line (if one occurs; perhaps the threat was enough to make the point) and attend the Spring Ball. I’ve seen Big Labor when it feels slighted, so the question might be whether there will be more people inside the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel or picketing outside.
Of course, it’s not with the Democrats.
This was supposed to happen several weeks ago during session, but cooler heads prevailed and pushed the vote back to last night. All it did, though, was delay the inevitable and this time Delegate Nic Kipke won. Instead of Delegate Michael Smigiel as second-in-command, though, the new Minority Whip will be Delegate Kathy Szeliga. They replace the old leadership team of Delegates Tony O’Donnell and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, which had held their respective Minority Leader and Minority Whip positions since 2007 and 2011, respectively.
And like Delegate Ron George’s announcement last night, it seems like the center is striking back. With O’Donnell being fairly conservative in philosophy – at least as evidenced by his voting record – Kipke leaves a lot of room for improvement; in fact, for as much grief as I gave Delegate George for his choices, Kipke’s have been even worse every year since I started the mAP in 2007, and for many of the same reasons. Yet when I hear Mike Busch saying “Tony did a good job of providing the loyal opposition,” I wonder if the change wasn’t needed.
On that note, Kipke is pledging to work with center-right groups like Americans for Prosperity, Change Maryland, and the central committees to “coordinate the GOP’s push for support.” We won’t find out if this bears fruit, though, until next January.
At that point Nic may have to be the circus master as Delegates eyeing new districts or higher office add their political calculations to the already volatile mix of session business.
Honestly, this one came out of left field for me, but several published reports indicate Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George will formally announce his intent in June to run for governor in 2014, abandoning re-election to his House of Delegates seat in the effort.
It’s interesting to me that, in a state where I’m continually told by conventional wisdom that the Democratic primary will determine the next governor, so many Republicans are considering the race. Most of my readers already know the field by heart, but just as a reminder it most likely includes (in alphabetical order) 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, Harford County Executive David Craig, 2010 Congressional candidate and AFP Maryland leader Charles Lollar, and Frederick County Commission president Blaine Young. I’m becoming less and less convinced that early 2010 gubernatorial hopeful and Change Maryland leader Larry Hogan will make a run; in fact it wouldn’t shock me if at least two others of those mentioned above begged off the race.
There’s no question that George will be trying to make history as just the second governor in modern times to ascend from the House of Delegates to Government House, and the first to be elected – Gov. Marvin Mandel came into office in 1969 as the successor to Gov. Spiro Agnew, who became Vice-President under Richard Nixon. Mandel was elected by the legislature, as the office of Lieutenant Governor wasn’t created until 1970 in the wake of Agnew’s departure.
George hinted that his focus would be on economic issues, being quoted in the Capital as promising:
My plan is to really build a new Maryland – one that has true economic growth, not government-created jobs that don’t last long.
But is that the whole package? From a conservative’s standpoint, George is great on certain issues. But on the monoblogue Accountability Project, George only has a lifetime score of 73 and that puts him in the bottom third of Republican Delegates – one caveat being Republicans from that area tend to score a little lower as they cater to a more moderate district.
Evidence of that is easy to find, since his 2010 election website is still up. It includes accolades from well-known state Republicans Bob Ehrlich and Ellen Sauerbrey and praise from Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, but also has a section devoted to “Democrats and Independents for Ron George,” including this from member Gil Renaut:
In the current “hyperpartisan” climate, he stands out as a delegate who can and does work across party lines for the public good.
But this site also poses a question which should give those up in arms about Agenda 21 and other environmental opportunism pause:
Did you know that Ron also supported and voted for The Clean Air Act, The Clean Cars Bill, The Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund, The Living Shoreline Protection Act, the Green and Growing Task Force, Performance Standards and Accountability that help Smart Growth, the Smart Green and Growing Commission, the Standing Bill and many, many more?
That is how Ron George was nicknamed the Green Elephant.
Aside from the nickname, I can pretty much guarantee I knew this, hence his fairly low score on the monoblogue Accountability Project. I recall, however, that this bid to curtail illegal immigration was one of his bills I wrote testimony on some years back.
So while he has some appeal to the center of the political spectrum and those people who equate “it’s for the Bay” with “it’s for the children”, is that enough to propel him to the GOP nomination? After all, in a statewide election the question generally is why vote for Democrat-lite when you can get the real thing?
And on a more political level, why not announce before the state Republican convention when all the activists are there to be catered to? Yes, we had a messy race for Chair but the distraction may have been helpful.
George is staking out a position alongside David Craig, as both are apparently trying to portray the pragmatic centrists as opposed to the more fiscally conservative Blaine Young, the brash outsider in Dan Bongino, and the more socially conservative Charles Lollar. The latter three seem to be seeking the hearts and minds of the pro-liberty wing of the Maryland GOP, so maybe George’s entrance is good news for them.
Much, however, depends on what other surprises await as the 2014 campaign slowly comes into focus.
It’s not really the season for a political calendar quite yet, but there are two upcoming events I thought important enough to devote a little space to.
For all the caterwauling about MDGOP Executive Director David Ferguson’s March trip to South Carolina – part of which was intended as a conduit to secure speakers for Lincoln Day dinners and the like – well, he may have struck gold with an upcoming event at Bowie State University, or it may have been sheer coincidence. Regardless of the reason, Bowie State’s Students for Liberty president Eugene Craig III excitedly let me know that:
(We have) secured U.S. Senator Tim Scott as our major keynote speaker for this semester… The event will start at 6:30 p.m. (on Tuesday, May 7th), and will be in the Martin Luther King Building Auditorium.
I think this is a prime opportunity for our party to make major inroads in the African American community. We have a unique situation where for the first time in at least a decade an elected Republican is addressing the university, and it just so happens that he is a Black American addressing the old HBCU in Maryland.
It seems pretty sad that it has been a decade since an elected Republican has addressed these students, and I would really love to know how many Democrats have been there in the interim. Nevertheless, this is quite a coup for the group, as I’m sure many groups would love to hear Senator Scott relate his compelling story of growing up poor and building his life for himself. For a few weeks Scott was in the unique position of being the only black Senator until Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick countered by selecting Mo Cowan as a caretaker Senator until the conclusion of the special election for John Kerry’s unexpired term, as Cowan declined to participate in that balloting.
Closer to home, another member of Congress will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser in Ocean City on Monday, May 13. Rep. Andy Harris gets the benefit of the $100 per person event, but the reason I found this noteworthy was that one of the event sponsors is Dr. Mark Edney – coincidentally the featured speaker at the Wicomico County Republican Club June meeting. Of course, Andy could use a good show of support from local movers and shakers willing to continue backing our Congressman.
In the spirit of unity and exploring ideas in the wake of a bitter and contentious campaign for state party Chairman, I want to respond and share my thoughts on a letter handed to me at the convention by party activist and onetime Delegate Don Murphy. I’m not going to reprint the whole letter, which runs a page and a half, single spaced, but I will go through some key points Don makes.
In his diatribe, Murphy has a long preamble which makes the key statement:
It is time to stop defending the status quo, which only serves to keep us in our state of irrelevance. Things could not be worse, so clearly, the risk is worth the reward.
The first point Murphy brings to the fore is the idea of an open primary:
In the near future, (unaffiliated) voters will represent a plurality, and then a majority of the electorate. At some point between now and then, they will demand and receive participation rights in our primaries, or rightfully, call for an end to taxpayer funded nominating elections. The MDGOP should be prepared for this eventuality, and we should embrace it.
His argument goes on to state that several northeastern states, which have high percentages of unaffiliated voters, have elected either Republican governors, Senators, or a majority of state legislators.
Yet the question to me isn’t one of strictly electing Republicans. Indeed, that part of the country has elected a share of Republicans over the years – but do the names Arlen Specter or Lincoln Chafee ring a bell? They were nominally Republican but eventually became Democrats because they were so liberal. I don’t think the northeastern states are a good example to follow given that reasoning. In essence, the way I look at it is that all an open primary does is dilute the vote in a more moderate direction so that we would end up with liberal, milquetoast Tweedledum on the GOP side and liberal, milquetoast Tweedledee for the Democrats.
But Don then throws a wrench into the process:
Opening the primary to unaffiliated voters doesn’t mean we should lose control of the nomination process. It is time for the Party to endorse candidates in the primary. After all, how can we recruit better candidates if we do not support them through the nomination?
Of all the people for Don to hand this to, you would think he would know how much I absolutely hate, loathe, and despise the idea of pre-primary endorsements, such as Rule 11. Did I mention I can’t stand the thought of its invocation?
He must have kept me in mind:
This should not be a closed process like we experienced with the Rule 11 waivers, but an expanded convention or caucus process, similar to the Virginia model, which is opened to nearly 10,000 convention delegates all elected by the voters within their districts.
I guess the question which comes to my mind then is: why have a primary at all? If we’re so much smarter than the voters, why don’t we just fill out the Republican side of the ballot all the way up and down the line? All a would-be candidate would have to do is figure out a way to appease the 10,000 party activists in a state race and for local races it would perhaps just be the nine Central Committee members.
Now I liked what Collins Bailey had to say about opening our convention to the public and trying to make it a more broad-based event even though it would entail conducting some sensitive party business inside a fishbowl. But while I don’t always agree with who the state as a whole selects as a candidate, I think the idea of maximizing Republican participation in the electoral process to the fullest extent possible makes the most sense.
But there is one final main point Don makes, and it’s one I think has by far the most merit of his three main proposals.
…while voting is our Constitutional right and duty, ballot access under the GOP banner is not. Dozens of state parties require signatures to gain access to the nominating ballot and/or fairly high filing fees. Neither of these hurdles keep anyone off the ballot, but they serve to separate the serious candidates from the perennial candidates. These state parties believe their registered voters have the right and a reason to determine ballot access. More importantly, requiring candidates to gather signatures, only serves to make them credible and electable in the long run…
Granted, we had a candidate who petitioned his way onto the ballot in 2012 by spending oodles of his own money to get the signatures. But get them he did.
I’m actually familiar with the process, both on the level of having to go out and get a minimum of five valid signatures to run for Central Committee in my home state of Ohio as well as trudging out in the freezing January cold to do the same thing for a state House candidate. (Obviously his signature threshold was significantly higher, perhaps 500 signatures.) Maryland’s process is indeed incredibly easy as it only involves a filing fee.
And while I am all for having contested primaries and the like, I think this is a pretty good idea. Most states have a reasonable threshold of ballot access signatures, with a statewide candidate generally required to collect from either every county or every Congressional district. The volunteers and assistance needed to secure ballot access via petition can oftentimes be the beginnings of the campaign staff needed to run a good grassroots campaign.
Murphy goes on to make two other minor suggestions, asking that Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the RNC National Convention be elected on the same line (instead of separately as they are now) and to require photo voter ID in the Republican primary – “The MDGOP should lead by example.”
After discussing Murphy’s ideas, I would like to add one of my own, something which I think would encourage participation. In fact, I would gladly trade the idea of having to collect petition signatures for being let out of the requirements spelled out below.
Being on the Central Committee isn’t quite a thankless job, but it’s relatively close. Yet we have to have a treasurer and file campaign finance data for an UNPAID position. Who came up with that brilliant idea and why?
Now I understand that all I have to do is fill out a form called an Affidavit of Limited Contributions and Expenditures (or ALCE for short) on an annual basis to keep the Board of Election wolves at bay. But I still think having to have a campaign finance entity for a job which pays me nothing is nothing short of ridiculous.
There are a number of other thoughts I’ve had on the state and local parties in the week since the convention was hurriedly brought to an end. But I think the back channels between Chair and onlooker may be a better venue for those.
This is really going to be about two separate items with a common theme, sort of a compact version of my old “odds and ends” series.
In the first case, Patrick McGrady of the Maryland Liberty PAC was excited about getting “one of our own” elected as First Vice-Chair of the Maryland Republican Party.
We told you we were going to rock the Maryland Republican Party back to its roots and this past weekend we did just that!
Not only are we building successful coalitions with Central Committee members but today I am proud to announce to you that the liberty movement is now represented in MDGOP state leadership.
On the convention floor this Saturday, grassroots conservatives and freedom fighters joined forces to elect Collins Bailey as (First) Vice Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
It bears pointing out, however, that the group wasn’t all that far from electing Bailey as the Chair, since Diana Waterman only won on the second ballot with 56% of the vote.
McGrady added, though, that the group had advanced a long way:
Last fall we successfully launched the Maryland Liberty Caucus and now this spring our Liberty forces picked up a top state Party leadership position.
As I pointed out in my look at the state convention buildup from last Friday night, the Maryland Liberty PAC had a very successful hospitality suite in which one of the featured speakers was Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild, a passionate pro-liberty elected official who has toured the state (including this local appearance) promoting a variety of ways to fight encroachments on liberty by Annapolis, Washington, and beyond.
I knew about Richard’s latest effort a few weeks back, but I wanted to hold off on mentioning it until it was finally ready to be formally rolled out. But UpholdMyOath.com was promoted at the convention and its key addition to the political landscape is ready for adoption. The “Draft Resolution of Non-Compliance” is designed for counties whose residents believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution – which, after all, is considered the supreme law of the land – trumps any unconstitutional efforts by the state to infringe upon our right to keep and bear arms.
So these are some of the developments on the pro-liberty front in the state of Maryland, and it just bolsters the case we are advancing, not to mention that I’m driving the loony Left crazy. (At the risk of giving this guy some actual traffic, you really should read that link and get ready to laugh.) If we can bring the pro-liberty movement into the GOP fold, it will give us an impetus to bring the middle our way.
After all, who could be against liberty?
In case you missed part 1, it covered Friday night’s events. I noted in that post that I didn’t get to bed until after 1 a.m. – this after working, driving nearly three hours, not eating right, and so forth – so I missed the breakfast speaker. Sorry.
I didn’t get downstairs until after 10:00 so my first photo of the day was noticing this addition to the lobby space.
Nice table, but no one sitting there, at least at the time. So as I (and many others) were waiting for lunch, I spied some nourishment with a curious label. Unity cookies?
Now I don’t know who arranged for these, whether it was Collins Bailey’s idea or not, or whether Greg Kline was asked. I didn’t find it out of character for Collins but wasn’t sure why Greg was excluded.
Anyway, we had our lunch, and while the food was rather disappointing, it was exciting to hear our party awards and a guy who turned out to be a fine speaker. Presenting the awards was Diana Waterman.
The formal awards presented for 2013:
- Aris T. Allen Award (voter registration): St. Mary’s County. Cecil County received an honorable mention.
- Samuel Chase Award (outstanding county): Montgomery County
- William Paca Award (outstanding Young Republican): Dave Meyers
- Belva Lockwood Award (outstanding woman): Mary-Beth Russell
- Charles Carroll Award (outstanding man): Chris Cavey
As I mentioned above, Anirban Basu turned out to be a surprisingly good speaker – after all, he toils in the dismal science of economics so I wasn’t sure just what to expect.
The head of the Sage Policy Group noted he made many of his remarks just a few weeks ago in front of a seminar put on by Change Maryland. But he noted that the business climate in Maryland “further deteriorated” as a result of the General Assembly session; as a result it would take a crisis which is not here yet to get the state to change direction.
Despite the fact the state ranks 40th in business climate according to CEO Magazine and 41st in the nation in tax structure according to the Tax Foundation, the state gained 4,700 jobs in March – a full 5.3% of nationwide job gain from about 2% of the population, explained Basu.
Yet while both Maryland and Virginia share in the benefit of being adjacent to the seat of federal government, it’s Virginia which has the “lion’s share” of large corporations. Meanwhile, Maryland is “overdependent” on the federal government to drive its economy, and while the “token gesture” of sequestration hasn’t affected the state just yet, the next quarter will be a “real stress test” for Maryland’s economy, one which Basu termed “not diversified.”
Moreover, the state continues to drive businesses and high earners away. “When people are leaving your state for Delaware, you have a problem,” said Basu. Maryland businesses are in “the awkward position of waiting for the bad news to come.”
So what solutions did Anirban have? Our side needs to be constructive, tell the truth about the situation, but not come across as rooting for bad outcomes. Two things he would propose would be to completely eliminate the corporate tax rate – a move which would change corporate behavior and create the narrative that Maryland was finally open for business – and allow “right-to-work zones” to be created at the county level.
He also stated the case that taxes are okay, but it matters how the money is spent – some investment and infrastructure is better than others. “(The O’Malley administration) shows a disrespect for the market,” said Basu, pointing to offshore wind and mass transit as two prime examples. Politically, getting the message out means “you have to win one household at a time.” But he also chided the Maryland GOP, even though he was a registered Republican he noted “this room doesn’t look like Maryland.”
This was the best part of lunch, yet I didn’t take one.
With that excellent address, I didn’t mind the so-so lunch fare so much. It was time for the convention to begin.
(Sorry about the blurry photo. As usual, Wicomico was seated near the back.)
And the fireworks only took about ten minutes to begin, as a motion was made to amend the agenda and push the Chair elections to the front. This would have gone more smoothly if we had a quicker Credentials Committee report, although those of us sitting in the back were befuddled at what was going on because the sound system was absolutely brutal. This had to be pushed off because a voice vote was not clear as to who was in the majority.
So there was a little bit of business transpired on the original agenda before it was determined how many voters were in the room. Once we got to that point, the agenda change passed with a larger than 3/5 majority.
Because of that, the votes were moved ahead of the reports from the Maryland Senate and House leaders as well as Congressman Andy Harris.
As expected, three names were placed into nomination: Collins Bailey, Greg Kline, and Diana Waterman. It’s fair to say that we expected a multiple-ballot situation and it indeed came to pass.
On the first ballot, the weighted totals were Waterman 264, Bailey 207, and Kline 75. In terms of actual bodies, Waterman had 131 votes, Bailey 104, and Kline 33. Diana drew votes from 22 of the 23 counties and Baltimore City, carrying 12 outright and three – Allegany, Caroline, and Howard – unanimously. Bailey drew votes from all but four counties – the three where Diana was unanimous as well as Garrett County – carried seven counties, and took all nine Washington County votes. Kline carried only Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and only received votes in 13 of 24 jurisdictions.
Three counties – Dorchester, Harford, and Wicomico – ended up in a tie between Bailey and Waterman.
It was figured by most that, facing the reality of the situation, Greg Kline would drop out before the second round – but he pressed on. So the second ballot remained the same and the votes were unchanged in 13 of 24 counties, but the ones which did were enough to propel Waterman to victory. In weighted votes it finished Waterman 284, Bailey 225, and Kline 37 – the actual tally in voters was Waterman 139, Bailey 117, and Kline 11.
Would Kline dropping out and endorsing Bailey have helped? We will never know, but those who split away from Kline gave just enough support to Diana for her to win.
In a gesture of unity, the two runners-up were invited to speak a few words.
For his part, Collins Bailey said we should “do everything we can to make sure (Diana) is successful…we are what Maryland needs.”
Because Diana won the Chair position outright, we had to have an election for First Vice-Chair after she took care of the formality of immediately resigning the First Vice-Chair position as well as her spot on the Queen Anne’s County Central Committee.
I was a little surprised Collins threw his hat in the ring for First Vice-Chair, particularly when Dwight Patel had campaigned for the job. Patel was also nominated along with three others: Scott Shaffer, Mary Burke-Russell, and Mary Rolle.
We were beginning to think we’d be there all night, facing the prospect of sorting through five hopefuls for the First Vice-Chair position. Instead, Bailey won the job easily, garnering a majority of the vote in both weighted totals and actual members. That balloting was Bailey 135, Patel 36, Russell 33, Rolle 30, and Shaffer 29. Each of the also-rans managed to carry at least one county – Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, and Caroline for Shaffer, Charles, St. Mary’s, and Talbot for Russell, Frederick and Washington for Rolle, and Montgomery for Patel – but aside from a tie between Bailey and Rolle in Allegany, Collins got the rest.
So the Chair question was finally settled, but there was still more controversy as some wanted to move the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee reports up so those votes could be held. Instead, we heard briefly from Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin and House Minority Leader Delegate Tony O’Donnell. (Andy Harris had already left, so we got no Congressional report.)
Pipkin was succinct: “There is no doubt that the state of Maryland has been hijacked and held hostage by the Democratic Party.” He predicted “the gun bill passed in Annapolis will not save one life” and blasted Martin O’Malley’s offshore wind scheme as “the dumbest idea ever.”
Next, O’Donnell made the case that “we had a tough, tough session…for taxpayers.” But he called on us to not repeat the mistakes of 2010 in 2014 and field a full slate of Delegate candidates instead of spotting Democrats 30 seats. And O’Donnell noted the gas tax lockbox “is really a virtual paper bag.”
As it turned out, the final piece of business accomplished this day was the Bylaws Committee report. The three items which were deemed most non-controversial were disposed of rather quickly in a unanimous voice vote. But another item dealing with what were perceived as simple housekeeping changes endured lengthy debate and a few failed motions for amendment before finally passing. (At least I think they did, as the general hubbub in the back of the room made it difficult to hear.)
Lastly came an amendment to give the College Republicans and Young Republicans a vote on the Executive Committee. What was a fairly non-controversial idea – although I had heard some logical “devil’s advocate” arguments against the proposal – suddenly became a hot-button issue when an amendment was proposed to give the Secretary and Treasurer of the Executive Committee a vote, too.
Of course, another fly in the ointment was having to do a second quorum check because a number of participants had departed. But we still had a quorum, and the amendment to the amendment allowing the Secretary and Treasurer a vote passed narrowly.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, an alarmed Diana Waterman came to the microphone and said we needed to be out of this room three minutes ago. But the College Republicans and Young Republicans went home happy because that amendment passed on a voice vote, probably about 3/4 yes. We had to hurriedly adjourn, thus sparing ourselves the National Committeewoman’s Report, National Committeeman’s Report, College Republicans Report, Young Republicans Report, and Resolutions Report. That could have created another controversy because the Tari Moore resolution may have come off the table.
I realize I’m supposed to be in the spirit of party unity now, but having a convention cut short because of time constraints for the second time in three years is pretty much inexcusable. It was bad enough the hotel seemed ill-prepared for an event such as ours, but this meeting was never really kept under parliamentary control as it should have.
Perhaps the return to the more familiar environment of Annapolis this fall will assist in having a more enjoyable convention, and Lord knows we need one after this bruise-fest.
As I have done in the past, part 1 will deal with my observations on Friday night and part 2 will deal with Saturday’s events.
When I finally arrived in Timonium, a good 45 minutes or so after beginning the stop-and-go battle with I-695 traffic that made me thankful I toil in the Salisbury environs, I knew I was at the right place almost immediately.
But not 15 seconds after I grabbed my bags and headed over to check in, I was greeted by these fine folks doing an old-fashioned sign wave.
So the battle was somewhat joined. And the Bailey forces weren’t deterred by the rain which began just after I arrived – they just moved inside, to the spacious Crowne Plaza lobby.
In the meantime, the people putting Blaine Young’s party together were in the middle of their setup, which included this “can’t miss” signage.
Having checked in and after immediately running into old friends in the lobby, I went to my room to freshen up and prepare for the Executive Committee meeting. I was told the Baltimore County suite would be opening first, so I was hoping to grab a bite to eat and say hello to those I knew therein.
But they weren’t quite open yet, and by the time I got back they were closing (more on that later.)
However, there was another suite with plenty of food available, perhaps the best selection. This was the Draft Charles Lollar suite, and although I didn’t get to say hello to the man himself, I will show that he had a nice spread of giveaway items, including several pocket Constitutions.
Alas, I did not get to add this bad boy to my collection. Instead, I retained the useless collection of losing raffle tickets I have paid for over the years.
On my way down to the Executive Committee meeting, I happened by the setting up of the Maryland Liberty PAC suite. As they did last fall, they had a lot of books for sale. Not sure about the flags, though.
They also were on the Bailey bandwagon, showing their support.
To me, it didn’t seem like there were nearly as many vendor tables as there were at past events. There was one with bundles and bundles of the red convention tote bags, but the only other one I noticed was the Stratgeic Victory Consulting table sitting there all forlorn.
One piece of advice for the nice ladies who run SVC – you need fresher peanuts.
We may need a fresher approach to the Executive Committee meeting, which began several minutes late.
It began well enough: Chair Diana Waterman asked for a moment of silence for the Boston bombing victims. But her report didn’t shed a lot of new light, as she recalled the “wonderful event” of the Reagan gala back in February and noted her predecessor resigned, “moving on to other endeavors.”
Looking at current events, Diana noted our Red, White, and Blue Dinner will be held June 20 with Paul Ryan as featured speaker, and proclaimed the Pathfinders program was “going strong.”
Nicolee Ambrose, in her National Committeewoman report, spoke about efforts on both the state and national levels to engage voters and train volunteers. On the state level, the Super Saturday program would return in an effort to register new voters. Saturday morning, she continued, would give activists an opportunity to learn about the new voter registration rules in the state.
On the national front, Nicolee spoke briefly about “another incremental step” in reworking the RNC rules but conceded “there is much to be done.”
Diana Waterman chimed in during Nicolee’s remarks regarding the voter registration efforts to point out that we were working on data services for our counties.
In his National Committeewoman report, Louis Pope gushed that he was “excited about our prospects…(after this weekend) we will go back to unity.” He spoke about the recent RNC meeting in Hollywood, joking that “we decided to invade their territory.” Included among those who addressed the event, Louis continued, were Michael Reagan, Dick Chaney, and Allen West. The party also discussed outreach with Asian and Hispanic leaders as well as CPAC speaker Mia Love. “Republicans need to get into their sphere,” warned Pope. The party was embracing ideas for change, but also was in the process of “internal soul-searching.”
Louis also talked briefly about the RNC rules, noting it was “pretty cool” that people were reading them. He also commented on being named to the leadership of the party’s Northeast region, an area where “Republican prospects are certainly improving.”
The main thrust of Brian Griffiths’ YR report was to stress how we should “put our best foot forward” in two key municipal races: Annapolis and Frederick. He was “really excited” about prospects in Frederick, where a number of young Republicans are seeking alderman posts.
Fiona Moodie, representing the College Republicans, made the case for giving her body and the Young Republicans a vote on the Executive Committee. Those adjunct organizations would join the Maryland Federation of Republican Women, who already have their vote.
Amidst the various county reports, one point which was brought up was the concept of regional gatherings or conventions similar to the one Montgomery County has. Obviously the smaller counties could team up to have enough of a critical mass to make them worthwhile.
On my way back from the Executive Committee meeting, which went into a quick closed session to discuss the budget, I stopped to check out David Craig’s room.
Surprisingly to me, there was plenty of room to move around.
By contrast, I walked next door to the Maryland Liberty PAC room and found a large group of passionate activists.
Arguably, it was the most lively of any hospitality suite although I will concede I didn’t stop by all of them.
At the time I walked in, Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild was speaking on the idea of nullification.
“I don’t think Martin O’Malley wants a dozen counties not following his orders,” Rothschild exclaimed. He is working on a blueprint ordinance for counties to resist the gun ordinance.
Outside of the Liberty PAC gathering, gubernatorial hopeful Blaine Young was wooing supporters with a fancy setup.
(Yes, the photo is dark. Not much light in there.)
For a second, though, I thought I ended up on the set of “The Bachelor.”
As it turns out, these roses were for the women who came in. As an added touch, each table was named after a leading female activist in the party. This one I know very well.
Yes, that would be my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen of Prince George’s County. We didn’t have much mischief cooked up for this rendition of the convention, but you never know what’s in the future…
My immediate future at that point was comprised of a lot of choices.
Even though I wasn’t supporting his bid for state Chair, I decided to pay a visit to Greg Kline’s combined suites, since those non-credentialed members of the new media were welcome there.
They were doing an episode of Red Maryland Radio (or Purple Elephant Politics, or both) as I came by.
As it turned out, I got a little guest role when Jimmy Braswell asked me a question about this post on Greg Kline. I spoke my piece, he spoke his, and we basically agreed to disagree. I also found out my fellow Central Committee member Joe Collins is a radio natural.
But because I was having so many other interesting conversations there, I never made it to a number of suites. Granted, there were extenuating circumstances, such as the fact Baltimore County was packing up theirs as I arrived – apparently at the behest of the hotel.
You see, I was actually pretty surprised to find that several hospitality suites were along the same corridor as my room. Since the hotel hadn’t hosted an event such as ours, they apparently had a number of noise complaints – as one consequence, the Red Maryland radio crew had to turn off their speakers.
Anyway, I never made it back to the MoCo, Bongino, or Diana Waterman suites to see how their action was. But I did see Dan since he was a Red Maryland guest after I was.
And the Red Maryland crew had a special surprise for Jackie Wellfonder as the dubbed her the Maryland Blogger of the Year. (Jackie thought they were going to give it to me, I knew she would get it for her hard work.) As I tweeted:
WTG @princy_lyn: selected Maryland blogger of the year. The student has graduated.
— Michael Swartz (@ttownjotes) April 20, 2013
After several hours of conversation and a couple adult beverages, I realized it was well after 1:00 in the morning, so it was time to put myself (and this part) to bed. Part 2 will be tomorrow morning.
I’d almost like to thank the Maryland Republican Party for handing me a subject I can write on while the state convention is going on, but perhaps this may instead thankfully be the final foot in the mouth for the Waterman regime.
On Thursday we learned that the Maryland Republican Party views bloggers as a cash cow and not a legitimate source of news and information. (Really, I should say independent bloggers since those associated with a mainstream news outlet are okay to them.) Needless to say, a lot of my peers are up in arms about this one.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret – I’ve been covering the convention for years. Media credential? I don’t need no stinkin’ media credential! Granted, I have a job to do for those who elected me as well, but the MDGOP should be well aware by now I put up a summary post or two afterward. So do most of the other blogs in the state.
But do they really think people aren’t going to Tweet, Facebook, or otherwise share what goes on at the convention? The first people who will know who the new state party Chair is will be in the room, but within five minutes the rest of the world will know.
The MDGOP should be honored that someone like William Jacobson (of Legal Insurrection) wants to have the opportunity to cover the event. Perhaps the coverage won’t be as glowing as the party would like, but do they honestly think the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, et. al. will focus on the message we are trying to send out or the agenda they want to hear? Obviously we’ve had a contentious race for Chair and they smell blood – I never see them at an uncontroversial state party convention.
So provided I don’t get rousted out of the event for protesting – I’m planning on wearing my CPAC credentials as a show of support for the Maryland blogging community – look for full coverage tomorrow. I will also be Tweeting as news breaks (@ttownjotes).