We descended on the lovely village of Solomons Island this weekend to hold our Spring Convention. Because it was such an action-packed two days I’m breaking this post into two parts: one dealing with the events of Friday night and the other (for tomorrow) describing Saturday’s action. (Always leave them wanting more.)
First on the agenda was a Welcome Reception sponsored by the three Southern Maryland county Republican parties. In the photo on the right (in the light blue) is retiring National Committeewoman Joyce Lyons Terhes, whose retirement was the impetus in placing the convention there. Although it’s a long haul around the Chesapeake Bay for us on the Lower Shore, I suppose that’s payback for making them come to Ocean City two years in a row.
Also getting an early start on the proceedings was Larry Hogan, who was celebrating the first year of his group Change Maryland. Funny story: if you look at the cake Larry is pointing at, you’ll notice that there’s a mistake as the cake came with an extra zero. I call it optimism on the part of the baker, and while Change Maryland now has 12,000 members 120,000 is an admirable goal for next year.
Hogan has often been mentioned as a 2014 gubernatorial candidate because he made an abortive run in 2010 until Bob Ehrlich made up his mind. But the “unofficially officially in” David Craig had his own table as well, and was also a sponsor of the entire convention. No doubt he’s been laying the groundwork of a run for quite a long time.
Another key element of the convention was the two petition drives, both same-sex marriage and redistricting. I didn’t manage to get a photo of him, but rest assured Robert Broadus of Protect Marriage Maryland was among those collecting signatures in favor of that referendum. Yet it seemed there was more of an “official” push to have the redistricting referendum signed. (I will have an interesting backstory on this involving one candidate later on this week.) So I added my name to the redistricting petition.
Of course, there were other vendors as well. The rear guard effort continues.
But it wasn’t apparent in that evening’s Executive Committee meeting. And while party treasurer Chris Rosenthal opened up the meat of the business portion of the meeting by conceding 2011 “wasn’t that great of a year” for fundraising, he brightened up the room by announcing we were “back on the right track” for 2012.
Included in that optimism was a newly created endowment in honor of the retiring Joyce Lyons Terhes, a fund that Audrey Scott announced the creation of and initial funding for during the meeting.
In his report, Party Chair Alex Mooney expressed disappointment in the 2011 financial statement as well, stating “I accept responsibility…we didn’t do as well as I’d like.” But he’s “working hard” on getting the party out of debt and brought up the fiscal importance of this year’s Red, White, and Blue Dinner which will feature GOP political guru Karl Rove. “We need this to be a successful event,” said Mooney.
He also said there’s “no room for dissent” now that the primary is over.
A better financial tale was told by National Committeeman Louis Pope, who said the Republican National Committee is in “great shape” financially for the fall campaign, well on their way to their fundraising goals.
Those of us among the spectators – which included nearly all the Wicomico County delegation, unique among counties – also heard a number of other reports. Perhaps the most important among them was the Maryland GOP Hispanic Coalition report, where Linda Hernandez made the case that the Latino vote is “essential” to turn Maryland around.
Our County Chair, Dave Parker, was also head of the Credentials Committee, and he gave a fairly lengthy and detailed explanation of the balloting which would take place the next day for Delegate and Alternate Delegate candidates for the national convention. With nearly 80 hopefuls vying for the 20 spots, it was a complex process to gather all the information.
The final report was given by MDGOP Executive Director David Ferguson, who said we were “moving in the right direction” and need to “run the party like a business.” Fair enough, but he also had five priorities for the state party: an effective message, recruiting candidates, a permanent professional infrastructure, utilizing the referendum process as a check on Democratic power, and providing good customer service for local party units. He also had unkind words for Martin O’Malley and noted “Maryland is a GOP state at the local level.” (Apparently this is true, as we have a majority of local seats.)
We also learned during the meeting that the next convention will be held in Western Maryland – it would have been their turn this time had Joyce Lyons Terhes not announced her retirement.
But the Executive Committee meeting isn’t what those who come to the event a day early generally seek out. They come to be social, and those who have a political agenda know this. For example, three of the four National Committee candidates had hospitality suites – Committeeman hopeful Scott Shaffer was the exception.
Nice use of a lapel sticker by the Pope campaign, by the way. I did go to his suite but didn’t think I’d be too welcome in Audrey’s so I skipped it.
I made it a point to stop by this young lady’s space, though. Nicolee Ambrose had one of the more exuberant parties I attended.
Inside the suite, of course, you had signage for Nicolee’s bid. But there were a lot of other items there as well, as this table demonstrates.
And there’s a larger point as well. If you go back to Audrey’s sign two photos above, you’ll notice Nancy Jacobs is among those endorsing Scott. But Ambrose had plenty of space to put her items out in the interest of helping the Jacobs campaign.
I also found this guy there.
As I’ll detail tomorrow, Dan Bongino gave a great accounting for himself at our luncheon. But he was holding court in Nicolee’s suite when I arrived.
This was just a great picture someone taped up in Nicolee’s suite bathroom.
Next up was one of the more interesting conversations I had, with Eighth District Congressional candidate Ken Timmerman.
I confessed to him that his was one of the races I predicted incorrectly, believing that having three Montgomery County residents in the primary would split the vote enough to have him finish second. But he advised me to follow the money – since his MoCo opponents had very little – and noted the political geography of his district was more neutral toward opponent Dave Wallace than I thought.
It was a good give-and-take with the accomplished author, who posed with some of the books he was selling. Bet you could have had one autographed!
And sometimes it’s not about having the suite, but being seen. Two of these ladies are attempting to build a political name for themselves in the consulting field, so they were circulating among the rooms.
With Norma Secoura on the left, Kristin Shields (center) and Hillary Pennington (right) are two of the three behind Purple Elephant Politics, an “exclusive political networking group” which is attempting to stomp its way into the political fray through a number of outlets. They were among Nicolee Ambrose’s biggest backers.
And while I’m not exactly old, I agree that it’s time for a new generation of leaders to begin to emerge so it was good to see their involvement and interest. (They really were doing more than drinking margaritas.) As you’ll see in tomorrow’s installment, though, youth had a tough time being served.
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