Let me note straight away that the guys at Red Maryland think so, and for some very valid reasons.
Something the Maryland GOP has seemed to lack in the time I’ve been involved is forward-looking leadership. I don’t really remember much about John Kane since his tenure was ending as mine was beginning, but there were two facets I gleaned in second-hand conversations: he was Bob Ehrlich’s handpicked candidate and he spent money like a drunken sailor – so much so that another supposed Ehrlich crony, Jim Pelura, had to take drastic action to save the MDGOP from insolvency. But when Pelura departed from the Ehrlich party line and took the party in a more conservative direction, contributor wallets snapped shut and Jim was soon the recipient of a no-confidence vote. (Losing one of two Congressional seats probably didn’t help Pelura’s cause either.)
Enter Audrey Scott, and while the MDGOP’s finances improved (albeit not to the extent she claimed they did) we still only caught a small piece of the TEA Party wave – while overall the GOP gained 63 seats in the House we only got one, and made just modest gains in the Maryland General Assembly. (Local races were fairly successful, but the state party rarely gets involved that deeply in county or municipal races.)
Scott’s year as a caretaker passed and the baton was handed to Alex Mooney after a five-person contest in the fall of 2010. Mooney came in promising to make fundraising a priority, but one convention in admitted he had a tougher time than expected filling the MDGOP coffers.
And while Alex is elected to a four-year term, in the spring of 2011 we passed a bylaws change changing the term of the Chair and executive officers to a two-year cycle, to agree more with the national party. (It becomes effective with officers elected in 2014.)
With that precedent, though, one of three things may happen: through December 1, Mooney could resign either immediately or effective as of the first of December (the date of the state convention) because the party bylaws state a vacancy in the Chair position must be filled within 60 days. In that case, First Vice Chair Diana Waterman of Queen Anne’s County takes over on an interim basis.
If not, Mooney would either have to wait until early next year or create the need for a special meeting specifically for filling the vacancy. That wouldn’t be popular among the rank-and-file and would cost the party several thousand dollars. We’d also fret about reaching a quorum.
Or he could attempt to weather the storm and stay on, but now that Roscoe Bartlett has been ousted from Congress after debating in the first place whether to run again (and leaving a lot of people twisting in the wind, including Mooney) that challenger’s seat is open. If Alex wants to campaign for it, he can’t be party chair once he files.
If Mooney decides to resign, the field for Chair would be wide open:
- Would Audrey Scott accept a second caretaker term, and could she win anyway after the scorched-earth campaign between her and Nicolee Ambrose for National Committeewoman this spring?
- Mary Kane was runner-up in 2010, but perhaps has the “establishment” tag that’s the kiss of death among a growing proportion of Central Committee members.
- On the other hand, those who have been in the party a long time would probably not look twice at another Sam Hale candidacy; besides, he’s busy with the Maryland Society of Patriots.
- William Campbell is planning a second run for Comptroller, so he would be ineligible to finish out the term.
- Mike Esteve is another couple years older, but given his support of gay marriage, may not play well with the conservative base.
- A couple other intriguing candidates who considered a 2010 Chair race and backed out: 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Eric Wargotz and Institute for Liberty head Andrew Langer.
- Wild cards among the elected Vice-Chairs: Waterman, Larry Helminiak, and Eric Grannon.
- And, of course, someone from among the hundreds in the state who might be interested. Sad to say, Daniel “The Wig Man” Vovak is no longer available.
And I thought we would have a dull, boring wake of a convention. It’s not the Maryland GOP without the long knives coming out from time to time.