That pesky electoral map

As you surely can tell I haven’t been writing nearly as much on politics the last couple months. I suppose having a Presidential election that reminds me of a nasty toothache will do that to you, and the root canal I need isn’t scheduled until the middle of November when the hoopla and post-mortems finally die down.

But one thing I have done as of late and shared via Facebook is see where states are polling and how that affects the Electoral College. In my last rendition Friday, the news wasn’t as promising for Republicans who pinned their hopes on Donald Trump. I’ll grant that the map is flawed in the fact that not all states are polled equally and it’s based on the last poll or groups of polls released and shared on the RCP website, but in this one Hillary enjoys a 313-219 lead (Iowa and its 6 EVs last polled a tie.) Out of the three I have done so far on a weekly basis it is the worst. The difference between this and previous maps can be traced to recent polling placing Clinton in the lead in Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. Flip those 50 EVs, give Clinton Iowa, and do you know what? We have a 269-269 tie.

(In that case, the Constitution dictates that the House votes – by state – and the majority rules. Republicans have the larger delegation in a majority of states so they would likely vote for Trump.)

The trend, though, seems to be working away from Trump. It’s also worth considering that the most recent polls were compiled after the first debate so Trump’s subpar performance may be reflected in these new polls shifting momentum Hillary’s way.

So the question really comes down to whether the Republicans are more afraid of Hillary or the Democrats are more afraid of Trump. At this point, both candidates seem to have consolidated the support of their party regulars to the tune of 90 percent or more – the #NeverTrump movement has seen the defection of conservative heavyweights such as Mark Levin and Ted Cruz, both of whom succumbed to the aforementioned fear of Hillary and set principle aside for party. (I’m not as worried about Hillary, since my faith assures me God is really in control. So I will vote my principles – I just haven’t decided for whom, but I can assure you it won’t be for at least three people on the Maryland ballot: Clinton, Stein, and Trump.)

Thus, the #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary groups are much like those who would not vote for Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, or Al Gore in 2000. Trump is too moderate-to-liberal for principled conservatives and Hillary is too corporate and war-mongering for the progressive Left. But for now they are a far smaller part of the electorate than the large percentage who won’t vote because they think it won’t matter. In my life I have missed two elections – one in college because I didn’t get my absentee ballot back in time, and the other because I was moving shortly and it was a local election. I consider it a privilege, not to be taken lightly.

I’m pleased to see that Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party and Evan McMullin (a conservative independent) are on the Maryland list of write-in candidates – they are among those I would consider. A vote with conscience is never wasted, despite what those desperate to preserve the R/D duopoly may say. And who knows? If we had the 269-269 scenario with the exception of one state won by the longshot candidate, it is possible for that person to win – especially if he’s conservative and House Republicans thumb their nose at Reince Priebus. I probably have a better chance of winning Powerball, but otherwise the conservative, pro-liberty movement is in for rough times ahead.

If Donald Trump doesn’t want to be in the Al Gore position of winning the popular vote but losing in the Electoral College, it’s obvious where he needs to be.

The price to pay

August 14, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016, Campaign 2016 - President, Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on The price to pay 

It really wasn’t my intention to write about this election very much, as I would rather try to shape post-Trump conservatism, but there is an occasion here for a lesson to be taught.

Late last week we began hearing the rumbles about a letter to the RNC, signed by a number of concerned party members, urging them to stop financially supporting the flailing Trump campaign and concentrate their declining finances on saving the House and Senate from a Democratic takeover. The latter was already a strong possibility thanks to the sheer number of Republican seats in play – the TEA Party wave election of 2010 comes home to roost this year in the Senate. Among those signing are onetime Maryland YR chair Brian Griffiths and my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen, who resigned earlier this summer as county chair in Prince George’s County because she, too, could not support Donald Trump as the GOP nominee.

While I have had my differences with Griffiths over the years, it’s more rare that I disagree with my friend Heather. Yet I believe there are two good arguments for keeping Trump in the GOP financial loop, despite their (likely correct) contention that it’s “throwing good money after bad.”

First of all, those who climbed aboard the Trump Train early on were completely and utterly convinced that he would absolutely steamroller Hillary Clinton just as he has built up his business empire. But now that the polls being reported on a near-daily basis continue to find Trump not only losing nationally but putting several “safe” GOP states in play, these backers not only claim the polls are “fake” but also point to other (non-scientific) polls showing Trump has a “YUGE” lead and analysis saying he’ll win in a “landslide.” So apparently this money is going to a good cause, right? These militant Trumpkins are going to be covered regardless – either he wins and then the purge of the #NeverTrump group from the GOP begins, or he loses because he said early on “I’m afraid the election going to be rigged.”

So if you withhold the GOP money from Donald Trump, it’s just going to be another thing to blame his loss on. “We had these huge rallies and we knew we had this election in the bag,” they will wail, “but Reince Priebus and the GOP establishment wouldn’t give us any support – they must have been in cahoots with Hillary.” Don’t you dare give them that excuse.

As for the second reason, the Republican Party simply needs to be taught a lesson on its own and sometimes the only way to get the point across is letting them utterly fail. They had the chance, several times, to do something to avoid this situation – closed primaries, penalties for skipping debates and insistence on participation to the end, or allowing convention delegates to vote their conscience, as examples – but they did none of these things, allowing a candidate with far less than 50% of the Republican vote to skate off with the nomination. (This doesn’t count the policy failures of Republicans in Congress.) As I have said before: you break it, you bought it. Give Trump the money he’s due, and when the election is lost all of those involved will hopefully resign in disgrace for what they have done to a great party and a great country.

So when I get my appeals for donations to the national Republican party (and even the state version) I’m not giving them a dime. This is actually nothing new for me, since I would rather give to the individual candidate I believe in than a party organization that will be as likely to support a candidate edging left of center as it would a conservative (and perhaps more.) And too often they place their thumb on the scale in a primary even though it’s against their policy to do so. (Heather surely recalls Rule 11 being used for Maryland in 2010.)

It looks more and more likely that a bitterly divided Republican Party will endure electoral disaster unseen in a decade this November. (Maybe it’s years ending in 6, since the last several of those have been horrible for national Republicans – they lost all of Congress in 2006, Bob Dole lost in 1996, they lost the Senate in 1986, and Gerald Ford was defeated in 1976. 1966 was the last successful one.) But just as the Democrats are now split between the radical progressives that backed Bernie Sanders and the establishment which went for Clinton, the GOP is rent asunder by the schism between conservatism and the alt-right populism best expressed by Donald Trump (and, to a certain extent prior to that, Sarah Palin.)

Once we get to 2017, the question will be that of who blinks first. After the new Congress and administration is sworn in, it will be time for the GOP to get together and select new leadership. If things go as expected in November, the January RNC meeting will be must-see TV for political junkies as the fate of the resistance is determined.

But if the right people are placed in charge, the few million dollars wasted on Trump at the expense of Congress will be a memory because many may be willing to open their wallets again. In that respect, perhaps the Trump candidacy will be the catharsis the GOP needed to begin on a path to a post-Trump conservatism. We can only hope.

Pulling the plug

October 30, 2015 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Mainstream media, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Pulling the plug 

Apparently the GOP has had enough.

I didn’t watch the CNBC debacle the other night, but the political tongues are still wagging about it and RNC Chair Reince Priebus took the drastic action of pulling the remaining GOP debate slated for an NBC network off the air. To many the question is: what took you so long?

It’s long been thought that the news networks (with the exception of Fox News) are less than honest brokers when it comes to the GOP, yet our side dutifully went to them hat in hand to televise a share of the debates. As the story goes, the RNC was already suspicious of NBC. (since they own and operate the notoriously left-wing MSNBC) so they insisted the NBC debate be put on CNBC and stick to economic topics. As we now know, that did not happen.

Certainly Priebus was feeling the heat from the campaigns, some of which were slated to meet this weekend to discuss changes they’d like to see. (One of them was Bobby Jindal’s campaign, whose spokesperson Gail Gitcho called the top-ten debate criteria “delusional.” And she’s right, since polling at the early stage of a campaign is all name recognition.)

The suggestion they’re making sounds vaguely familiar to me: two prime-time debates each night, with the field for each randomly selected. That would have given everyone a shot to improve themselves, particularly in the first debate or two. It worked for Carly Fiorina, but as the debates go on, being outside the top ten becomes a self-perpetuating state, while being in the top ten doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate is doing well. Jeb Bush has better, really cool things to do, you know.

One thing which needs to be done in these debates is get some better questions. We don’t need “gotcha” questions, but substantive ones. Why not a robust debate on entitlements or birthright citizenship? There are several subjects where Republicans have legitimate differences, so let them go at it and even question each other – no time limit, and the moderator just keeps a little order.

Think about this, too: why don’t the Democrats ever do a debate on Fox News? I looked it up and over the last three contested cycles (2016, 2008, 2004) Fox News has shared a feed on ONE Democratic debate, out of about 40 or so. Ask yourself why they don’t try and expand their base and present their ideas to cable’s largest news audience, and maybe the idea of the mainstream media being characterized as a Democratic SuperPAC makes more sense.

It’s too bad I can’t moderate the debate, or at least ask the questions. If you want to discuss middle-class concerns – as these journalists, some of whom make millions of dollars a year, purport to do – get some questions from average folks about real issues they face. (No, fantasy football is not a real issue.)

I decided to do my own research before I made my decision, and I’m glad I did. When debates became more about entertainment than enlightenment, that’s where they lost this voter.

My day at CPAC in pictures and text (part 2)

When I last left you at CPAC, I was ready to return upstairs to see Sarah Palin (and ran into Dan Bongino in the process.)

But I wanted to digress beforehand and explain a little bit about my vantage point for the event.

When I walked in early on and finally found the media check-in, they gave me this.

CPAC badge

Obviously that gave me floor access, but for most of my time there (except when I walked up to take pictures) I was back in this area.

By the way, the woman sitting in front of me in the multi-colored shirt was my friend Jackie Wellfonder, who was covering CPAC for Viral Read. Nice work for her!

We were segregated into the area – which had some perks, like free coffee and pop – with the one problem being the obstructed view. But we had a good place to work and power to plug in our laptops.

The only complaint I would have was the internet access. It was provided by the TEA Party News Network, which I appreciate. But it was overwhelmed, with the best analogy I could give being that of sending a Yugo to run a NASCAR race.

I would have liked to do more Tweeting from the event, but it simply wasn’t possible.

Since I knew Sarah Palin was slated to speak at noon, I was upstairs a little early. I came back just in time to see a former Democrat speak.

Artur Davis is a former Congressman (and onetime Obama supporter) who has come around to the conservative side. Davis pointed out that the 43 million conservative voters in America are the country’s largest voting bloc. “This is our America too and we are not going anywhere!,” he exclaimed.

At last, Sarah Palin was introduced.

No, that’s not Sarah nor is that a mistakenly-placed picture. “As all of you know, I’m not remotely cool enough to be Sarah Palin,” opened Senator Ted Cruz. “She drives the media batcrap crazy.”

But he stepped out to proclaim that Sarah Palin was among the biggest reasons he was in the Senate. “She picks winners,” said Cruz, citing as examples Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, Pat Toomey, and Nikki Haley in 2010, along with Deb Fischer, Jeff Flake, and Cruz last year.

“I would not be in the Senate today if it weren’t for Governor Sarah Palin,” concluded Cruz. “She is principled, she is courageous, and she is a mama grizzly.”

Palin’s speech has been reviewed as one chock full of one-limers and quips, and it was.

However, she made time for chastising the Senate for not passing a budget. She also pointed out that leaders take risks while campaigners make promises and made the case that “we’ll never win a contest of identity politics.” Sarah also warned us to not let the media intimidate us and had the prescience to quip “the last thing we need is Washington, D.C. vetting our candidates.” She advised the inside-the-Beltway crowd to “get over yourself.”

But Sarah Palin’s seminal moment was the Super Big Gulp. I think the Southland Corporation owes SarahPAC a pretty hefty contribution for the free advertising they received from this one gesture – somewhere around National Harbor a 7-11 should be advertising that they sold Sarah’s Big Gulp. I wondered why the lights were dimmed before Sarah’s performance – the three roadies were delivering her prop.

(The picture is actually a photo of the monitor in front of me at the time.) But my burning question: was it Coke or Pepsi?

After Sarah finished, I decided to do a little more exploring. Going upstairs I saw the screening room for a number of movies sponsored by Citizens United.

There were also breakout sessions going on, like this one wrapping up from TEA Party Patriots.

But the real reason I went there was that a flyer had advised me of a Breitbart News-sponsored event dubbed “The Uninvited.”

I got a picture of Steve King which turned out this time, as he introduced the event by speaking about Andrew Breitbart, a man whose “integrity was essential.” Breitbart’s CEO Larry Silov added that “we mjust be willing to discuss issues.”

This was an event was intended to address some items which weren’t featured prominently enough on the main CPAC stage: global jihad, persecution of Christians, gutting the military, and immigration were cited. Among the “uninvited” speakers was Pamela Geller, who was also featured at Turning the Tides. They had a packed house.

I didn’t stay for the event, which is the thing about CPAC: it’s way more than one person can see. (The same goes for several of the films screened there as well as the breakout sessions, which occur at the same time as speakers and panels downstairs.) The Uninvited event is covered well on Breitbart’s site, though.

Instead, I had a meeting of sorts to attend. Some of you who have seen my Facebook page have already seen this shot.

Allen West and I

When I had stopped by the PJ Media booth earlier, I was told Lt. Col. West would be there at 1:30 and I arrived just in time to be behind Jackie Wellfonder in line. So I took advantage.

By this time, I decided to head back up so I could see Mia Love, a rising star in the conservative movement. But because they were running somewhat behind, I caught some of the stories of the “Conservatives Under 40” featured as a panel.

Next up was a panel headed by former Senate candidate and Hewlitt-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who believed “this is the century of brain power and innovation.” She was joined by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, who cited the “U-Haul test” and quipped “California is Washington, D.C. is waiting,” and New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce, who asserted that our business is what separates us from South Sudan – they have no “kinetic energy.” The panel eventually suggested that perhaps a million small-business march on Washington may be needed to build awareness of their issues.

Brent Bozell spoke next, pleading his case that we need to stop listening to professional politicians and consultants who are most responsible for our “trainwreck.” He also ticked off a list of things which “aren’t conservative” like the new Ryan budget, House leadership, Jeb Bush, Bob McDonnell (who can “forget his national aspirations”, according to Bozell), and Karl Rove. The mention of Rove drew a chorus of boos from the audience.

We would work with these guys, said Brent, but it would have to be on our terms: “our days of playing second fiddle to moderates are over,” concluded Bozell.

We finally got to listen to Mia Love, who was introduced by comedian Stephen Crowder as a woman “liberals check under their bed for.” Somehow I had a lot of good pictures of her, this was the best.

“The pundits of doom and gloom would have you believe all is lost,” said Mia. But her upbeat message was of great cause of confidence: we can restore our confidence in this country and stand out as examples of what is good and right.

Next up was the final panel of the day. a confab called the CPAC All-Star panel.

I’ll admit that I spent the better part of my time this panel was speaking in writing the first portion of Part 1 of this series, but my ears perked up when Larry O’Connor of Breitbart News mentioned Andy Harris’s evisceration of CDC director Tom Frieden over the effects of the sequester.

After the All-Star Panel concluded its work, Dinesh d’Souza spoke on the upcoming film “America,” which as he stated, highlights the idea of the self-made man. This “couldn’t be more different than Obama’s idea,” which to d’Souza seemed to be one that the free market is a form of theft.

The film will ponder the question “what if America didn’t exist?”

RNC Chair Reince Priebus noted that the “House Republican budget is right for America” while the Democratic budget never balances. He also believed we need to introduce the government to the Tenth Amendment.

“Conservatives have to hold the government accountable,” Priebus concluded. “I applaud the new generation of liberty-minded Republicans.”

NRA head David Keene embraced Priebus after being introduced to speak, saying “he is a guy who gets it.” He also recounted a long history of conservative vs. establishment Republican battles dating back over a half-century and reminded us that 50% of voters under 30 voted for Ron Paul – but party leaders don’t really want voters in their clique, Keene said.

Political movements have two choices, said Keene: they can grow, or they can die. It was interesting to hear a member of the old guard speak to a crowd mainly comprised of those two generations younger, as we shall soon see.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers was another warmup act, one who cautioned us that “for too long we’ve been talking like bookkeepers rather than leaders.” She added, “we need to be the party of the 100 percent.”

After giving out the video of the year award to the University of Georgia College Republicans and the Blogger of the Year award to Katie Pavlich, who accepted the award and told us bloggers “we have the world in front of us to conquer, so let’s do it,” we finally got to one of the last featured speakers.

Ann Coulter was her usual snarky self, particularly snapping at onetime Coulter favorite Chris Christie: “Even CPAC had to cut back on its speakers this year, by about 300 pounds.” Later, when answering an audience question about whether Christie should have been invited to CPAC, Coulter said “I’m now a single-issue voter (on immigration), so Christie is off my list.”

She also made the point of tax hikes, rhetorically asking the question sure to come from the media: Are you saying that you wouldn’t even take $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts? “See, the problem is, we’re the Indians and the Democrats are Andrew Jackson,” replied Coulter. “We’ve been through this before.”

But she got serious during her remarks, telling the audience “the reason we don’t have the Senate is because Republicans keep screwing up. I can think of about ten Senate seats in the last three election cycles that we’ve pissed away through narcissism, greed, or stupidity.”

“Passion is great, but scoring is all that counts,” said Coulter. “On the basis of this one boneheaded statement by Todd Akin out in Missouri, Democrats finally had their talking point: the Republican were waging a ‘war on women.'”

But, countered Ann, “your average Democrat actually believes things much crazier than Todd Akin – but the Democrats don’t let their candidates open their mouths and say stupid stuff.”

Philosophy is not the Republicans’ problem, though. “Conservatism is about the only thing Republicans have going for them.”

She was also harsh on the pro-amnesty wing of the Republican Party, saying “if amnesty goes through, America becomes California and no Republican will win another national election.” Instead, Republicans shouldn’t be desperate and adopt amnesty because Democrats want it. “People always announce their complete triumph a moment before their crushing defeat,” concluded Ann. “Our job, Republicans, is to insure Democrats have that crushing defeat.”

After Coulter finished, the CPAC straw poll results were announced. What blew me away was the percentage of under-25 people who participated, although it should have been apparent in the crowd. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio paced the field. Coming in a distant third was the top 2012 candidate on the ballot, Rick Santorum. (My vote was among the ‘other’ category, since I preferred Indiana governor Mike Pence.)

Finally, we reached the penultimate speaker, newly elected Senator from Texas Ted Cruz.

In his remarks, it’s noteworthy that Cruz spoke in front of the podium, which to me suggests either he memorized his remarks or spoke completely off the cuff, or both.

He opened up by commenting on being called a ‘wacko bird’ by John McCain: “If standing for liberty makes me a ‘wacko bird’ then count me as a proud ‘wacko bird.'”

Cruz revealed one of the biggest surprises he received upon entering the Senate was their defeatist attitude, as he countered that “for the last three weeks, conservatives have been winning.”

On the Rand Paul filibuster, Ted pointed out that the filibuster drew more support as the night went on. “Each of you engaged,” said Cruz. It was something not seen in a long time – “standing on principle.” Ted also revealed the filibuster was the very first time he had spoken on the Senate floor.

Cruz also believed we were winning on sequestration, based on the lack of reaction to Barack Obama’s “scare America tour.” The sequester was a “small step” in reining in the debt.

As part of that, another victory in Cruz’s book was the vote on an amendment her offered to repeal funding for Obamacare. “Now I’ll confess: a couple weeks ago when I said initially I was going to offer that amendment, more than a few of my colleagues were not thrilled. And yet we saw every single Republican in the Senate vote unanimously to defund Obamacare,” said Cruz. On the other hand, all the Democrats voted to keep Obamacare, “even if it pushes us into a recession,” as Cruz charged.

But the key to continue winning is twofold, to defend the Constitution and champion growth and opportunity. “Defend the Constitution: liberty is under assault from every direction,” stated Ted. He cited threats to several parts of the Bill of Rights, particularly the Second Amendment and the Fourth Amendment. “We need to repeal the NDAA ,” said Cruz to thunderous applause.

He also mentioned threats to our sovereignty. “We (the state of Texas) stood up to the President of the United States – who happened to be a Republican – and I went before the Supreme Court of the United States and said no President, Republican or Democrat, has the Constitutional authority to give away U.S. sovereignty.” Adding that Republicans stand up to Republican presidents, Cruz continued “where were the Democrats when Rand and the rest of us were standing on the floor on drones?”

On growth and opportunity, Cruz charged “we are in the midst of what I call ‘the Great Stagnation.'” Only twice in the postwar era have we seen less than 1 percent growth – from 1979-83 and over the last four years. “Obama didn’t learn the lesson from Reagan,” said Cruz. Instead, we need to embrace “opportunity conservatism,” a philosophy to ease the means of ascent up the economic ladder. To do this, we need to do a laundry list of things: repeal Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, eliminate corporate welfare, build the Keystone pipeline, rein in the EPA, audit the Fed, stop QE infinity, abolish the Department of Education, champion school choice, stand with Israel, and stop sending foreign aid to nations that hate us.

Speaking to the audience, Cruz told us it was up to us to spread the message. “There are no longer gatekeepers that can decide what the American people hear and what they don’t get to hear.”  He named his site as one means of doing so, but concluded by saying “we’re here because we’re not willing to give up on America.”

Okay, I’m out of pictures, but I’m not quite finished yet.

One goal of mine was to meet fellow bloggers and promote my site. I handed out a few dozen business cards, found a couple promising leads for freelance work, and did what networking I could. But perhaps the best part was getting to meet a few of the bloggers I’d read from afar as well as make a couple new acquaintances, such as Bill Hughes, who, like me, drove down to CPAC for the day from New Jersey and was my next-door neighbor for part of the day at the media table, or Deb from Kansas (bloggers would know her as Nice Deb.) That introduction was made as I was talking with Cynthia Yockey, who I met for the first time after being linked to her for quite awhile.

And I’ll be interested to see how I turned out on DaTechGuy‘s video, since I was among the last to be featured. Maybe next year I’ll get some cannoli. I also got to meet a woman whose link from my site, if I’m not mistaken, was her first: Becca Lower from my native state of Ohio. If I heard correctly, she was a CPAC volunteer, which is really cool and commendable.

Nor can I forget some of my biggest fans, who saw me as I walked in the door: Larry and Rosemarie Helminiak spotted me and said hello, which made me feel a little more at home.

So that’s how my day went. Last year I stated making it to CPAC was one of my goals for 2013, and I accomplished it despite the limitations placed on me by my other jobs and funding. Next year, though, I’d like to experience the whole event, an endeavor which could run into the four-figure range depending chiefly on accommodations. 2 1/2 hours each way is a bitch of a commute, as I found.

I don’t normally ask this, but if you liked my coverage of CPAC and want to see more, the best way to insure that is rattling the tip jar early and often. People want to know how the mainstream media can be countered, well, here’s an opportunity to get the straight story if you care to support it.

Opening a door – but will they walk through it?

After the Republican National Convention last August, liberty-minded party regulars were chagrined about changes in the party rules that they felt enriched the party elite at the expense of the grassroots, not to mention the controversy surrounding their very enactment. That bitterness extended through the campaign and was among the many reasons blamed for the demise of the Mitt Romney effort.

So this news was welcome, and it comes in part from Maryland’s National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose:

In response to the concerns expressed by grassroots Republicans surrounding the changes in the rules that govern the party, the RNC today made a decision to bring together the members of The Standing Committee on Rules to revisit the amendments that some believe weaken the GOP.

“Our concern is that these rules will centralize power with the top leadership, and diminish both the influence, and the diversity of ideas and experiences, that the grassroots offers to the party,” said John Noisy Hawk, a member of the elected Maine Delegation to the Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida where the rules were adopted. “The GOP believes in empowering the little guy, and we want to see that happen both in our party, and nation wide.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, Maryland Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose of Baltimore rose to praise the committee members and their newly reelected Chair Reince Priebus for the move.

“I’m grateful to be both a grassroots activist and a member of the RNC. In our deliberations it’s important to recognize the many questions we’ve received from activists and donors about our Rules passed at this past convention.

“I congratulate our National Committee, our Resolutions Committee, and Chairman Priebus on hearing this message from the grassroots. Today, we unanimously passed a resolution supporting the formation of a Standing Committee on Rules to examine these concerns. This is exactly the kind of work this committee can do to be most effective in partnering with the grassroots in each of our states.

“We are hopeful about the future and grounded in the belief that every mom and dad, son and daughter are the grassroots who make this country and our Republican Party great.”

Chairman Reince Priebus responded, “Perfect. And to that point… we will have a rules committee constituted at the spring meeting. We will have that meeting the earliest than we have ever done it before… We will have a rules committee to hear any and all amendments, any and all suggestions. And then we are also going to have an official meeting of the RNC at our spring meeting, something we have not done in the past. So that if there are matters and business and rules amendments that are passed out of the rules committee, we can hear those amendments and those suggestions, in the formal body to make them formal amendments under Rule 12.”

The resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, many people are concerned about the rules process at the Convention Rules Committee;

WHEREAS, Rule 12 allows Rule 1-11 and 13-25 to be amended by a majority vote of the RNC Standing Committee on Rules (“Rules Committee”) and a seventy-five percent (75%) affirmative vote by the members of the RNC; and

WHEREAS, the Standing Committee on Rules of the Republican National Committee has not been constituted and therefore cannot consider proposed amendments under Rule 12 of The Rules of the Republican Party (the “Rules”); therefore, be it

RESOLVED, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee 1) will ask all states to submit their Rules Committee member by March 1 and 2) will call a meeting of the RNC in April of 2013 and conduct a Rules Committee meeting during this meeting for the purpose of considering amendments to Rules 1-11 and 13-25.

However, you should color me skeptical until I see action on these concerns, particularly the high barrier to change required. By my count, it would only take 43 “establishment” Republicans to keep the party rules as they are. (Although 125-43 is an overwhelming consensus, it’s less than 3/4 of the group.) That’s a fairly low hurdle for those who resist change to overcome, and as we saw in the fight for two of Maryland’s three National Committee posts, there is significant inertia in the party which needs to be surmounted. Indeed, some will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into this new paradigm which considers the party as a bottom-up rather than top-down structure; something based more on a TEA Party model but with the significant advantage of easier ballot access.

I will caution readers this post is a work in progress. I’ve played phone tag with Nicolee ever since this issue came up, probably because a) she knows I’m passionate about such things, and b) I’m going to hold her and all my other party leaders accountable. But because I’m working on a deadline – one which is self-imposed, but still tight because I have limited free time – I needed to run with this post today. I would encourage Nicolee, Louis Pope, or any of our Maryland Republican leaders to feel free to add their reactions to the comments section, or I can append as needed.

RNC challenger falls short in bid

January 24, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Inside the Beltway, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on RNC challenger falls short in bid 

Unfortunately, it appears that Reince Priebus will be allowed to continue his record of failure at the Republican National Committee without opposition. The upstart candidacy of Maine’s Mark Willis couldn’t get the requisite two members from three different states to back his nomination.

It appears the death blow came after Nevada Committeeman James Smack withdrew his support in the wake of Priebus’s last-minute trip to Nevada. Last-second bids to elicit support from Idaho and Missouri fell short; needless to say my appeal to Maryland’s delegation obviously fell on deaf ears. I can say I’m disappointed, but I can also say that sadly I’m not surprised, seeing that we seem to come from the Bob Michel school of Republican leadership.

Say what you will about Willis’s platform, the fact that he stuck himself out as a choice in the first place says a lot about the condition of the national Republican Party. The elections we have won over the last decade are those where candidates espoused conservative ideas and values, but when the party ran away from their conservative roots (2006 midterms where we lost control of Congress, 2008 with John McCain, 2012 with Mitt Romney) we were beaten and whipped. I really haven’t seen Reince Priebus taking the lead as a party spokesman in quite the way Michael Steele did, and as some have noted Steele was fired despite electoral successes in 2010.

And what did Maryland have to lose? As far as the national Republican Party is concerned, we’re already below the status of even an afterthought.  They’ve talked about minority outreach at the national level for years, but there’s a perfect test case right here and it’s been ignored almost non-stop for decades. When the powers-that-be at the state party level (along with groups affiliated with the MDGOP) give up on the state two months before a key election, that sends a powerful message of debasement to those of us who fight in the trenches.

Moreover, the events which transpired with the Maine delegation to the convention were shameful. Whether they supported the eventual nominee or not, they were duly elected to sit at the convention at delegates. That kind of crap is what I would expect from the other party, not the one in which I’ve made my political home.

The bottom line is that we have two more years of Reince Priebus. Perhaps voters in 2014 can bail him out by doing that which has been a hallmark of elections in the sixth year of a President’s term and add more votes to the GOP legislative column. But I’m not going to hold my breath about getting a lot of help from the RNC in doing so.

Time for a challenge

After the two seminal political events of the ten weeks since the Republican Party slipped farther away from its goal of national governance, it’s become clear that we need a new approach. Lip service to this concept was paid at the Maryland GOP convention back in December, and further calls for rethinking our method of doing business were made at the Turning the Tides 2013 gathering this past weekend.

So it was interesting to me to find out that someone has stepped up to challenge Reince Priebus for leadership of the national Republican Party. You may recall there was a vote at our state convention to request the Maryland delegation withhold support from Priebus as a protest – while the vote failed to secure a required majority, a significant portion (43%) of the Central Committee members properly requested that:

…the Maryland State Republican Central Committee has no confidence in the leadership of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and advises Maryland’s three voting members of the Republican National Committee to oppose his reelection.

Obviously this would have been a non-binding, advisory resolution, which is why I voted for it and why I believe the rest of our county delegation followed suit.

But the challenge by Maine’s National Committeeman Mark Willis presents a lot to like, particularly in two key areas:

The grassroots are the lifeblood of the Republican Party – always have been and always will be. For the grassroots man the phones at the Victory centers, go door to door with candidates, organize fundraisers as well as attend speeches and events. Without the grassroots support, candidates would be standing at a podium, speaking to an empty auditorium with a few Party members off to the side and the rear.

Without the grassroots the Republican Party is an empty passenger ship at sea without a rudder, captained by a few in the bridge who never took the time to go down below deck in order to realize all the cabins were empty. The Republican Party has turned its back on the grassroots one too many times and we desperately need them to stay involved.

In addition:

(T)hose of us who were at the Tampa Convention were outraged at the “gavel up, gavel down” approach with regards to the rules that were adopted as well. Many states, such as New Hampshire, Nevada, Texas, Minnesota, and North Carolina have passed resolutions condemning these rules for if they are not changed, the grassroots will be completely cut out of the 2016 Presidential election process.

Regarding these new rules, many of you know that Rule 12 gives unprecedented power to the RNC to change party rules without the input and/or approval of state parties and their members while Rule 16 removes the rights of states to choose their own delegates by forcing all state parties to allocate and bind the state’s delegation to the National Convention through Presidential Preference Polls.

Furthermore, Rule 16 also allows the presumptive Presidential candidate to disavow (“veto”) any bound and/or allocated delegate and alternate delegate before the national convention for any reason whatsoever…

Maryland should have been another of those states to disavow the rule changes, and I thought there was to be a resolution to that effect at our last convention. But if you really, really, really want to alienate the TEA Party just go ahead and keep these rules in place.

So here’s what I’m requesting from our elected members of the RNC; I’m talking to you, Alex Mooney, Nicolee Ambrose, and Louis Pope. Do you consider yourselves conservative and want to stand up for liberty? It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

Willis needs at least two members from three different states to put his name into nomination; so far he has commitments from a pair of RNC members in Nevada and Maine. That means one state is what stands between him and a chance for something other than a Reince Priebus coronation.

While it seems like Mark may not be the absolute perfect choice for the job, he IS a choice. I believe in contested primaries, regardless of the quality of the incumbent, and I believe that when we have the opportunity to challenge leadership it should be taken up. All three of our Maryland National Committee members are examples of this, as each had one to four challengers for their current position. In my personal case, I weighed the challengers and found some worthy and some wanting. It turned out the state party agreed with my recommendation in two out of three cases, but we had good candidates to choose from in most of the races.

Thus, I am calling on you, the Maryland delegation, to make the difference between a coronation and a choice. As it stands right now, no one else is willing to take the slings and arrows of leadership except for Mark Willis, and I believe he deserves his opportunity to state his case. Be the difference-makers and put his name into nomination and let the RNC decide whether they want to embrace the grassroots, or continue to ignore the needs and desires of those of us who crave liberty and limited government.

If you’re all for hurtling over the precipice into tyranny at a slower rate, go ahead and ignore me – at your peril.

2012 Maryland GOP Fall Convention in pictures and text (part 2)

When I last left you in my narrative, I had just gone to bed after several hours of fun and carousing with many people, some of whom had names and faces I sheepishly admit I couldn’t keep straight. But I think I can get all of these right.

My alarm I’d set for 6:30 never went off so I was a little late for breakfast, and regrettably only caught the end of Ken Timmerman’s remarks. He used a Biblical parable to conclude, saying “we are coming from the desert” and in the process of “picking our Moses for 2014.”

“Organize, organize, organize…never, never, never give up!” exhorted Ken.

He was the lead-in for Delegate Neil Parrott, who’s pictured above. His remarks centered on what’s in the future for MDPetitions.com.

Thanks to the passage of Question 5, Maryland now has the “distinct honor” of having the most gerrymandered Congressional districts in the nation, Neil claimed. But in all of the questions, Neil pointed out in his experience that having someone at the polls influenced the results in our favor to some extent. We could have used more poll workers, said Neil.

We also could have used more money to spend as we were well outspent on each issue, particularly Question 6. Proponents also shrewdly changed the message; for example, Question 4 was made to not be about illegals but about kids. And because the petition was done last summer, the “passion wasn’t there” against Question 4 after a one-year lapse while proponents had the money early on to quietly spread their message.

“What we need to do is reinvent ourselves,” said Parrott, claiming we had winning issues but no campaign. In the future – and there were at least a couple bills which would probably require a petition to attempt to overturn coming out of this year’s session – there had to be a four-pronged strategy for victory: get the petitions out, defend them in court, challenge the biased ballot language (Question 5 was a good example of this, said Neil), and run full-fledged campaigns.

A more full-fledged campaign might be more like those on either side of Question 7, as the campaigns for and against expanding gambling spent twice as much on that issue than Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley combined for in their 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

One other item Delegate Parrott touched on was a privacy bill for petition signers, which he’ll reintroduce this session.

While the groups went off into their individual seminars, I wandered around the Turf Valley facility where I found tables for the aforementioned MDPetitions.com and the similar effort to keep the petition process from being made more difficult.

Right behind the MDPetitions table was a large-scale and signed copy of a “no confidence” resolution sponsored by Baltimore County Chair John Fiastro, Jr.

I also peeked into the convention hall where the action would begin after lunch.

Yep, placed in the back again. But this room was well set up for such an event because it was wide but not deep. Eventually my only complaint would be that we needed a second projection screen for our side of the room because the county signposts would be in our line of sight of the one provided.

Others were also skipping the seminars to work out issues, such as the Maryland Young Republicans. From the snippets I overheard, they were working out details of their own upcoming convention June 1st in Montgomery County.

Before we met for the convention we had to be nourished, so lunch featured speaker and “unusual political consultant” Brent Littlefield.

Littlefield focused mainly on running the campaign of Maine Governor Paul LePage in 2010, noting that a political campaign was “not just tactics, but strategy.” He explained how he microtargeted certain blocs of voters to effectively compete in a seven-person primary where his candidate was outspent 21 to 1.

As for 2012, Brent told us the message was lost, but there was still a reason we’re all here – we believe in certain principles. But we have to expand our circle of influence, not just talk to friends.

Brent also related an amusing Twitter incident he helped to bring about involving Martin O’Malley and his trip to Maine, leading O’Malley to call Maine Gov. Paul LePage a governor who “worship(s) the false idol of tax cuts.” It was great because he took the fight directly to the enemy, infiltrating their own Twitter feed.

It’s worth exploring as well that the Pledge of Allegiance at lunch was led by two-time Congressional hopeful Frank Mirabile. By itself it’s not newsworthy, but Frank took advantage of Alex Mooney’s invitation for further remarks to note the average age in the room was “well above what we need to be” and that we had to break out of our comfort zone. Obviously he had to do so to campaign in portions of his district.

That snippet brings me back to the Maryland Liberty PAC suite and the younger people I saw there. The convention hall could have used some of those younger folks with energy – as one example, I’m 48 and I’m one of the younger members of our Central Committee. Let’s not drive the youth away.

I’ll step off my soapbox now, since this point in the narrative is where the convention fun begins. And like the Executive Committee meeting the previous night, it began with a special guest.

“It’s good to be around friends for once,” said Dan Bongino. But he wanted to take a few minutes to thank us for our support and ask how we can fix this moving forward. “We can win this,” Bongino concluded.

But to win it will probably take a little more money than party Treasurer Chris Rosenthal said we had. And while we had whittled down our line of credit significantly during the fourth quarter of this year, Chris told us “we’re not out of the weeds.” This year will feature a “tight, but conservative” budget for party operations.

Chair Alex Mooney was pleased to see the full workshops, but again cautioned in his report that this meeting could be a long one. We have “things to discuss and air out,” said Alex. He related the story of the bitter RNC meeting he attended where several new officers were elected, a process which took multiple ballots for each. Yet at meeting’s end, there were no “bad sports.”

“If you don’t intend to walk out after this meeting and fight the Democrats, then walk out now,” said Alex. I didn’t see anyone leave so I guess we can turn our guns in the right direction – outward.

As Alex said, there is reason for optimism going forward. And it seemed like he understood that the petition process needs to be followed through on, saying that getting them to the ballot was one success but we need to “take the next step.”

We then had a presentation from party Executive Director David Ferguson on the goals established for this year: financial stability, a modern political infrastructure, successful petitions, and planning for 2014. Something about that presentation I found interesting: of the petition signers for each question, only 59% of those opposing in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 72% of those who opposed the gerrymandered Congressional districts, and 52% who signed the petition against gay marriage were Republicans. Questions 4 and 6 had fairly bipartisan opposition, at least at the petitioning stage. We can build on that.

But now, said Ferguson, “our job is to take out every Democrat in ‘red’ counties.” As I look at that task, it means we work on solidifying the 18 that support us now and start to erode our advantage in the five which most heavily vote against their self-interest as time goes on.

He also announced a new program in the works based on the national “Young Guns” program. It will be tailored not just to candidates, though, but to Republican organizations as well. “Our money should go back to your candidates,” concluded Ferguson.

The legislative reports on the Senate and House, respectively, were given by Senator E.J. Pipkin (above) and Delegate Tony O’Donnell (below).

Pipkin was proud to address the “irate, tireless minority,” and took advantage of our attention to once again call Martin O’Malley the “2 billion dollar man.” That’s how much working Maryland families pay extra each year thanks to the tax increases O’Malley and Democrats in the General Assembly passed over GOP objections. And while Republicans put together a balanced budget each year – one which doesn’t require any tax increases at all – it’s ignored by the majority party. They “won’t stop digging the hole,” said Pipkin. Instead, they want to raise the gas tax – not to fix roads like they might claim, but because $4 billion has been promised to expand the Red Line and Purple Line.

“We provide a different vision for Maryland,” explained Pipkin, one which provides a state where you want to live and not a state you want to leave.

Tony O’Donnell started out his remarks with a movie review – go see “Lincoln.” It made him proud to be a member of the Republican Party. After seeing the infighting end in an effort to pass the Thirteenth Amendment (over Democratic opposition, he slyly added) he realized once again that “Maryland is worth continuing to fight for.”

Tony alluded to his own Congressional campaign, pointing out he had received 95,000 votes and that was the highest vote total for a Fifth District Republican since Larry Hogan in 1992. O’Donnell believed that “we can go to 50 seats (in the House of Delegates) – we can go to 60 seats.” One mistake from 2010 he didn’t want to repeat was having to recruit candidates in the summer before the election. It was a team effort to find 141 House of Delegates hopefuls, but we had to “let no seat go unchallenged.” (In the 2010 election, Democrats got a free pass for 34 seats – almost half of what they needed for the majority.)

Nicolee Ambrose spoke in her first National Committeewoman’s report about the Super Saturday program and lessons we could draw from it. While it had its successes, we needed to rebuild our campaign infrastructure and focus on targeted voter contacts with a eye toward long-term outreach as well.

For 2013 she suggested the Super Saturday concept work more toward voter registration. Other projects on her wish list was IT training for local party leaders (something the RNC is willing to do) and ramping up a grassroots committee which Faith Loudon had volunteered to head up.

Louis Pope was far more blunt and expanded on his “painful” theme from the evening before by revealing some of our losses: Obama won single women by a 67-31 count, Hispanics 71-28, blacks 93-5, and Asians 73-22. He also garnered 60% of the under-30 vote and a majority of those who made under $50,000. Obama “changed some of the issues on us,” said Pope. Instead of the jobs and economy, it became the (so-called) ‘War on Women.’

“We’ve reached a turning point,” said Pope, who believed the one silver lining we had was that we’ve “reached the bottom.”

After all these external political reports were concluded – a process which took nearly two hours – we then turned to several internal committee reports.  For the first time in several conventions, though, we had no prospective bylaw changes so the newly created Bylaws Committee could simply note that fact and alert us at the county level that some possible revisions may come at us next spring.

Similarly, the Nominations Committee had no report. So it was up to the Resolutions Committee to provide the day’s final drama.

Interestingly enough, the order Resolutions Chair Andi Morony presented these in was supposed to be least to most controversial, but the very first resolution presented by Cecil County Chair Chris Zeauskas drew heavy debate. This was a resolution condemning newly elected Cecil County Executive Tari Moore for changing to unaffiliated status; a resolution which contended, among other things, that her election “was obtained through deception and false pretenses.”

And while proponents of the resolution – not just in Cecil County, but in other Republican circles – believed Tari Moore had “sold out” Cecil County Republicans, there were those who noted her principles hadn’t changed but the stalemate which exists between her and some of the four remaining members of the Cecil County Council (all Republicans) could only be broken and her agenda implemented if she was allowed to select her own replacement. Meanwhile, this was described in one media report as a proxy battle between Republicans E.J. Pipkin and Andy Harris, with Pipkin in favor of demanding Moore resign and Harris confident of her return to the GOP fold after her replacement is selected.

Once several had spoken on both sides, a motion was made to table the resolution. With our weighted voting system and the fact I couldn’t tally the vote as it was going, I can’t give you the split in actual bodies but the motion to table passed by a 285-230 voting margin. Thus, the resolution was killed for this convention, although it could theoretically return in the spring.

After careful consideration, I voted to table the resolution; however, our county split 6-3 in favor of tabling. The reason I decided to do so was figuring that she was trying to stand by both conservative principles and trying to better Cecil County. There’s little chance a Democrat or liberal would be put into office, but if she does select one I would be more inclined to support a similar resolution in the spring. Call it a “wait and see” approach for yet another item which could divide the overall party over a county issue.

Resolutions two and three were both very easy to pass and worthwhile to do so. The second introduced condemned the passage of Senate Bill 236 and its resultant attack on property rights, while the third was a Resolution of Commendation for Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild and his battle against the UN’s Agenda 21. Both were introduced by Scott DeLong of Harford County and both passed by unanimous voice vote.

The final resolution was the one I showed the mockup of earlier; authored by Baltimore County Chair John Fiastro Jr., it advised our three Republican National Committee members to oppose the re-election of RNC Chair Reince Priebus.

That also drew a lot of debate on both sides, but in watching those on the “anti” side line up it was apparent that not enough people were willing to rock the boat. The resolution ended up failing by a 223-286 count.

Yet Wicomico County was one which unanimously supported the amendment. While others had their own reasons and I was advised by a few people that there was a hidden agenda at work, my take on this was that I knew it was utterly symbolic at best. Opponents argued that having the Chairman mad at Maryland could hinder the state in getting national funds, but right now we pretty much get along without them anyway. If Reince Priebus doesn’t understand there are legitimate reasons we and others are unhappy with him and can’t put on his big boy pants and deal with them, well, then there’s not much hope he would be a successful Chair come 2014 either.

The dual themes of our convention were a look back at what really happened in the 2012 election and what we can do to improve our lot in 2014. To a significant number of us in the Maryland GOP, that soul-searching has to occur at a national level as well – after all, when Mike Duncan ran again for RNC Chair after the 2008 blowout we suffered there was no shortage of people calling for his head and he withdrew after just a couple ballots. So why the rush to bring back Priebus after failing to defeat the worst incumbent since Jimmy Carter, losing two Senate seats to shrink our minority to 45, and eight House seats including one here in Maryland?

But with the defeat of that resolution, our Fall Convention was over. And it made me realize a few other things are over as well.

The time for playing games is over.

The time for accepting the status quo and “this is how we’ve always done it” is long past over.

It’s time to go to war. If the Democrats think we’ve put on a “war on women,” well, let’s actually give them a war. I call it the “war on voting against one’s self-interest” (yes, a little wordy but it will have to do) and it starts today.

Home state advantage?

January 3, 2011 · Posted in Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Home state advantage? 

It was a small sample to be sure, but unsurprisingly Michael Steele won my RNC Chair poll. There were only 33 votes, which I found disappointing. I enjoyed the write-ins, though.

Here’s how the totals break down (including write-ins):

  • Michael Steele – 11 (33.3%)
  • Reince Priebus – 5 (15.2%)
  • Saul Anuzis – 4 (12.1%)
  • Maria Cino – 3 (9.1%)
  • Gentry Collins – 2 (6.1%)
  • Ann Wagner – 2 (6.1%)
  • Sarah Palin (write-in) – 2 (6.1%)
  • Michael Swartz (write-in) – 2 (6.1%)
  • Gary Johnson (write-in) – 1 (3%)
  • Rush Limbaugh (write-in) – 1 (3%)

While I thank my supporter (or supporters) for the two votes, let me just quote William Tecumseh Sherman, “If nominated, I will not accept; if drafted, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.” Still, I’m flattered.

I think this poll proves two things, though. As I was watching this poll develop over the last few days, initially Steele had an absolute majority but as time went on it became a plurality. This is interesting because the majority (about 3/4) of my readers come from Maryland so one would naturally assume he would do well. Either I had more out-of-state voters come on board or Steele is losing his status as a favorite son.

Secondly, there seems to be a large streak of “none-of-the-aboveism” among the rank-and-file, almost as if they are asking, “is this the best we can do?” Certainly there is some celebrity involved (witness the votes for Palin and Limbaugh) but the votes for Gary Johnson (and to a lesser extent, yours truly) may suggest that a direction more conducive to the TEA Party is desired. (Just for the record, I didn’t vote in this poll.) Despite the naysayers, I think the TEA Party is finding its voice in the GOP. (I’ll have more to say on that opinion in coming days.)

Even so, among the people who count, there is a suggestion that Steele is in peril as he bids for a second term as GOP head. We’ll see how it all shakes out on January 15, although there is a debate scheduled for this afternoon among the six announced contenders. (I had other plans.) I believe a number of those who can vote may be making their mind up after they hear all six speak in a public forum, and I also think that when we get to voting in twelve days there will only be three or four nominated. The bottom-feeders know the score as well as the rest of us.

The man of Steele in trouble?

One outlet following the RNC Chair race closely has been the Hotline OnCall section of the NationalJournal. While the rest of us were watching bowl games or recovering from a night of revelry (or both) they were again updating their whip count on the race. With nearly half the voters having made a first-ballot commitment, none of the six candidates are over 1/3 of the way to the 85 votes they need to succeed.

Surprisingly, though, the leader at this point is Wisconsin state Chair Reince Priebus. Michael Steele lags behind in second place with 15 confirmed to 28 in the Priebus corner.

Further, while it’s no surprise that our national committeeman Louis Pope and national committeewoman Joyce Terhes are in Steele’s camp, the willingness of newly elected Chair Alex Mooney to shop around is encouraging. I happen to know some aspects of what Mooney is looking for in a Chair, but am not at liberty to divulge them. Michael Steele might not be the perfect fit for Alex, although in later rounds (and there will be later rounds if the last RNC election is any sort of guide) he could gravitate back to Michael if that option is still available.

It’s also worthy to note that the last incumbent RNC Chair also made a bid for re-election, but Mike Duncan lost his race on the heels of a 2008 campaign that saw a Democratic expansion of influence in Congress and capture of the White House. Obviously Michael Steele had a better election on his watch, but there have been complaints that the GOP left a few races on the table – particularly Senate races in Alaska, Nevada, and Delaware where ‘establishment’ GOP candidates lost in the primary and TEA Party insurgents faltered in the general election. (The GOP kept the Alaska seat as Senator Lisa Murkowski maintained her party affiliation while winning a write-in campaign.)

Yet the chief complaint against Steele is financial, with opponents pointing out that the party will need a huge infusion of cash to compete for the White House in 2012. President Obama may run the first billion-dollar campaign (not to mention the free publicity of a fawning press) so in order to compete fundraising needs to be key.

Tomorrow will feature a debate between the six announced candidates, with streaming available here. The election will be held on January 15, with the winner possibly becoming the GOP’s 65th Chairman.

He’s out, he’s in – Michael Steele looks like a contender

After spending a good part of yesterday salivating over rumors that Michael Steele would give up the reins of the Republican National Committee after his term is over in January, much of the media had to eat crow when Steele announced he was in last night. So what does this mean?

Currently there are several potential opponents for Michael Steele. Saul Anuzis of Michigan, who is one of them, claims that there are four announced contenders on his website and has already done his own video:

Perhaps Saul’s biggest selling point is the vow to be a “behind-the-scenes” chairman, which isn’t exactly Michael Steele’s forte.

But the other contenders aren’t letting Anuzis, who announced first, get a large lead. Here’s Ann Wagner of Missouri making her pitch.

It’s longer and less slickly produced than Saul’s, but Ann touts her experience.

Yet perhaps the most formidable contender is a former Steele supporter and party General Counsel, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin.

Obviously both he and Wagner can point to statewide successes where Steele cannot.

Others who have announced include Maria Cino from New York, who was a former Deputy Secretary under George W. Bush and former RNC Deputy Chairman, and Gentry Collins of Iowa, who has the slickest website by far.

Regardless of how many contend for the title, it’s highly doubtful that anyone in Maryland’s RNC delegation would vote against Michael Steele. But I believe it’s up to our three representatives – particularly newly elected Chair Alex Mooney – to carefully consider the alternatives. While Steele points to his electoral successes, there are others who contend that we left a lot of races on the table nationally due to a lack of fundraising just as Alex Mooney bemoaned the close races the Maryland GOP lost for much the same reason.

We’ll never know if one of the five contenders Michael Steele bested in 2009 would have taken the GOP to further victories. But the uncertainty of whether the party is positioned well for the 2012 cycle should give pause to those who reflexively believe Michael Steele deserves another two years at the helm. In truth, his position parallels the initial position Mary Kane was in for our state Chair race – Steele is the favorite, but by no means a prohibitive one. And we saw just how that favorite ran on Saturday as the state party decided a clean break from a previous era was best.

Our delegation might be forgiven to support the favorite son once, but as subsequent ballots go on – and I’m sure there will be – they should consider the other candidates remaining as well. Remember, you are elected to represent us and to do what’s best not just for Maryland but for the Republican Party at large. Don’t sell us short.

Update: John Gizzi at Human Events has his take on the race.

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