This was addressed to the members of the “quad county caucus,” which presumably means that the 36 or so members of our four central committees (Wicomico, Worcester, Dorchester, Somerset) received this e-mail. It was in reply to the post I did endorsing Shaffer’s opponent, Louis Pope. I am posting this as closely as I can to the original, with slight edits as needed for formatting and shortening links. I’m also choosing not to blockquote the letter; instead I’ll divide it manually.
In a recent article on Monoblogue, Michael Swartz of Wicomico County endorsed Louis Pope in the National Committeeman’s race, because as he put it it’s “a case of six of one and a half-dozen of the other.” With respect to Michael (Monoblogue is one of my favorite reads), I’d like to point out some differences between Louis and myself. At the end of the day, I’ve never been the type to hold grudges. Whether a Central Committee member endorses or votes for Louis is his/her prerogative, and I’m not going to let that stop me from working with said Committee member in trying to make our party better. But if anyone votes for Louis simply because they see no difference between the two of us, then I have utterly failed in communicating my vision for National Committeeman.
First off, Louis Pope is a two-term incumbent who believes that he is entitled to the position as long as he wishes to hold it. He has characterized the National Committeeman role as a job reserved only for the most senior member of our party, essentially nothing more than a reward for past service. On the other hand, I am an advocate of term limits (at my very first county Central Committee meeting after being elected, I proposed a bylaws amendment instituting term limits for Anne Arundel Central Committee members). I have stated that I would not seek this position beyond a second term, because it is imperative to the party that we bring in new people and new ideas on a regular basis. Allowing the party to be run by the same small group of people for decades at a time has done nothing to advance our cause. Furthermore, I believe that any election like this should be based on future expectations – what the candidate is proposing, not what they’ve done in the past. The NCM role is too important to be treated as a retirement package or social club membership.
Second, Louis was responsible for the Rule 11 waiver in 2010. But this is only one example of a demonstrated pattern of behavior. He has consistently used his position to sway the results in contested primary elections, by giving unfair advantages to one Republican candidate over another. This year he served as state campaign chair to the Romney campaign, dismissing the other candidates. Now, he is attempting to force a slate of at-large convention delegates and alternates on the State Central Committee at our upcoming convention. My view is that no party officer should be publicly favoring one candidate over another in a contested primary – whether by waiving Rule 11, joining a campaign staff before the primary election, or otherwise endorsing a candidate before the primary. Contested primaries make our party stronger, and the job of our party leaders should be to create a level playing field that allows all factions of our party to be heard, and ensures all candidates have a fair chance at winning over voters. Louis believes he should decide the primary outcomes; I believe the voters should be the ones making those decisions.
I also believe that one of the main responsibilities of this role is constituent service. For Louis, constituent service means nothing more than showing up twice a year at our conventions, and delivering a speech dictating the RNC’s decisions to us. My pledge as National Committeeman is to contact all 24 county Central Committees before each and every RNC meeting I attend; finding out what you need from the RNC so I can truly represent you. Any speech I give at the MD GOP conventions will include status updates on those items important to you. Along the same lines, the state party needs to do a better job of “sharing the wealth” within our state. For example, the annual Red, White, and Blue fundraising dinner should be rotated around the state – and not simply handed to Howard County each year.
Louis believes it’s ok to spend RNC money on his reelection efforts (despite claiming he pays his own expenses). I’m sending you an email (not a “Paid by the RNC” mailing). As the minority party in Maryland, I believe we need to do things better and cheaper, like making the MD GOP’s communication efforts with the Central Committees 100% electronic. Besides cutting out wasteful spending, this also makes us more efficient. We all know what happens when we have to have a 10 day notice required because we’re relying on the US Mail.
Louis has lost the respect of many of his RNC peers, first by mismanaging spending on the Tampa convention and approving a budget putting the RNC in unprecedented debt, then by trying to stonewall RNC efforts to investigate that misspending and related rules violations. I have already been extended an invitation to join the Republican National Conservative Caucus and the RNC Conservative Steering Committee by other RNC members should I win this election. As much as my opponent would like you to believe it, Maryland’s stature within the RNC will not be diminished if he isn’t returned to the post. In fact, our credibility will be restored.
As I alluded to earlier, our state party has been held back by a small number of people in positions of power, who put their future ahead of the party’s future. We have “leaders” who seek to hold on to their titles indefinitely. We have fundraisers who would rather take their rolodexes to their graves than pass on their skills and contacts by mentoring and training the next generation. We cannot survive as a party as long as there are people within it who are “too important to lose.” A big focus of my campaign has been on the need to grow our party within the younger generations of voters, to begin recruiting younger candidates who can reach those voters, and to ensure that our institutional knowledge doesn’t end once our current leaders are gone. But this will not happen as long as there are people at the top who refuse to get out of the way; people who would rather horde their few table scaps of power than ensure our party’s future.
Thank you for your consideration as your next National Committeeman. I look forward to seeing you at the convention. In the meantime, please visit my Facebook page to learn more about me and my campaign.
In all honesty, I wish Scott had written this position paper about two to four weeks sooner because one of my chief complaints about his campaign was that it was so low key for several weeks. Because he was unknown to so many of those who serve on the 24 various Central Committees, it was truly up to him to make the rounds and explain why we need to topple the lone incumbent running. You can’t run your campaign in the last few weeks, because first impressions mean a lot in this particular election. His effort doesn’t favorably compare to the one Nicolee Ambrose is running in terms of mileage driven and meetings attended, at least that I’m aware of.
Now I’d like to respond to a few of the points Shaffer brings to the table. First of all, I don’t believe Louis Pope should be on the RNC for the rest of his life; in fact, I would make the case that 12 years is enough should he be fortunate enough to win this time. It’s why I believe Scott should pursue another party office in 2014 and if he’s still interested make a 2016 RNC run, which I’m more likely to support should I be able to win another term myself. If I do, that would be my last one because I’ve no interest in serving beyond 12 years either.
On the question of neutrality: I think some confusion over that was part of what doomed the Rule 11 resolution Heather Olsen and I put up at the Fall 2011 state convention. It’s a double-edged sword – for example, I was a Herman Cain backer at the time but I was also careful to note that the remainder of my Central Committee may not have agreed with me.
Yet being on the Central Committee should not preclude having an opinion on who is the best candidate. Where I object is when the party places its imprimatur on one candidate over another. And while Louis was one of those who invoked Rule 11 in 2010, he was a backer of our amendment last fall – even though he didn’t think it would be necessary anymore.
While I think Scott is understating Louis’s role to some extent – I recall Pope going through the finer points of fundraising at a seminar during a convention held in my first term, before Shaffer joined the AARCC, as one example – I do agree with Shaffer that communication could be better and Pope could be more of an advocate for individual concerns. That extends to Shaffer’s next point as well, although I would have to look and see about the “RNC money on his re-election efforts” since I don’t have any of Pope’s correspondence in front of me.
As far as the next charge, I would be interested to see those invitations. I’m quite aware that Louis is not the most conservative Republican in the Maryland party.
Yet I most agree with Scott’s final assessment of the state of our party. Having said that, though, and taking into account his paean to conservatism regarding those invitations he’s received, I’m having a hard time reconciling his conservative stance with his opposition to the effort to overturn Maryland’s newly adopted same-sex marriage law – a bill that almost every Republican in the General Assembly voted against. This places Scott on the opposite side of many who attended our quad-county meeting tonight. (I have much more on that tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on when I receive a certain piece of information.) Given that particular stance, I have a hard time supporting Scott. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t work with him if successful (so far in my five years on the Central Committee I haven’t voted for a single Chair on the first ballot, having voted against Jim Pelura, Audrey Scott, and Alex Mooney in succession) but I’ve grown to support them in time because they generally seem to have the party’s best interests at heart.
So it’s still pretty much six of one, a half-dozen of the other. I’m voting for Louis Pope, but I can see the case for voting in Scott Shaffer’s favor as well. Aside from one fundamental disagreement, he and I aren’t all that far apart. Shaffer can do a lot of good and prove his worth if he can lead Anne Arundel County as a testing ground for his GOP growth theories. We have 24 counties, and if something works in one it may be worth a shot elsewhere.