Ten Questions for – Dr. Jim Pelura, Chair of the Maryland Republican Party

As I like to do on about a monthly basis, here is another installment of what I call Ten Questions.

Back in December of 2006, Jim Pelura and I came into our positions at the Maryland GOP together – I was sworn in as a Central Committee member and he was elected at that convention as Chair of the Maryland GOP. Admittedly, I voted for his opponent but obviously he didn’t hold that against me when he agreed to do the interview.

monoblogue: Let’s go back to the beginning. The 2006 elections have just concluded and Republicans were shut out in statewide races, including the relatively popular Governor Ehrlich losing a reelection bid. Nationally the GOP faced the prospect of being in the minority for the first time in 12 years. So what motivated you to run for the Chair position you now hold, and how many people thought you were completely crazy? 

Pelura: Why did I run?

I had been concerned for some time that the MDGOP was out of touch with the grassroots and the traditional Republican philosophy of small government, low taxes, fiscal responsibility and faith in the individual. I was concerned that the liberal agenda of the Governor and majority of the General Assembly would have no voice of opposition among the Republican rank and file. I was not ready or willing to give up on Maryland that easily.

As for the second part of your question………not as many as one would think, although a friend said that he was going to give me a few sessions with a psychiatrist for Christmas that year!

monoblogue: Oh, there were and still are plenty of voices of opposition to liberal policies here in the Free State. But you found yourself inheriting a Maryland GOP which was in dire financial straits and had to make some unpopular financial decisions. Were you surprised at the extent of the problem when you came onboard? And do you think that the Maryland Republican Party will be able to compete financially in 2010?

Pelura: If you remember, at the December meeting where I was elected, the outgoing Chairman announced that I was being left about $300,000.00. We all knew that fundraising would be difficult due to the recent elections and that money in the bank would be needed to “get over the hump”.

As we soon learned, that $300,000.00 was actually about $20,000.00 and there were about $60,000.00 in bills to be paid. Needless to say, I was surprised.

But, by making significant cuts in expenditures and taking out a line of credit, we survived.

Fundraising is still a concern, however, but there are significant “bright spots”.

The line of credit is nearly paid off, small donations are way up from in the past (in terms of the “health” of the Party, I would rather have 10,000 $1.00 donations than one check for $10,000), and many of the “big” donors are showing interest in giving to the MDGOP once again.

The Maryland Republican Party will be ready for 2010, both financially and in terms of good and credible candidates for elected office. Continue reading “Ten Questions for – Dr. Jim Pelura, Chair of the Maryland Republican Party”

A lesson in dominoes falling

This morning we learned that struggling retailer Circuit City has thrown in the towel, the latest in a series of chain stores to do so. In a few weeks, Americans will have another reminder of how economic times are as they drive by yet another shuttered storefront.

At the same time, President Bush leaves office with the catcalls of the liberals and the media (but I repeat myself) following him out the door and back to Texas. Frequent liberal critic “Final Frontier” delivered one scathing criticism of GWB on a previous post of mine, part of which I’ll reprise here:

I never said Bush acted like a”true conservative,” I said he simply went out and did whatever he wanted to do (or probably more correctly Dick Cheney), which turned out to be a disaster…


…GWB and his republican pals DID spend their political capital by spending like drunken sailors, abandoning any sort of value system … and focusing on Iraq when they should have been focusing on Afghanistan and New Orleans. GWB and his circle of pals paid no attention to the growing fiscal crisis (and the Dems are equally guilty on that one), did not seriously go after bin Laden, did nothing in Darfur, did nothing in New Orleans, did nothing as international opinion of the U.S sank…

The diatribe goes on from there, and I left out the parts of her response concerning gay marriage for the purpose of this post. I do want to rebut Final Frontier in part by noting that Bush’s legacy will be one of fighting the Long War, and success isn’t measured there in what we did but what we did not have to do – that is to say, we haven’t had a 9/11 part 2 thus far.

Fairly or unfairly, anything negative which happens during a President’s term generally serves as another reason to blame him – given the media prism in our society today, it’s especially true when a Republican is president, not so much when a Democrat holds office. However, the comment FF makes does distribute blame equally between the Bush Administration and the Democrats for the economic woes we are facing – a surprising concession on her part.

But I’m choosing to look at this on a larger level, and to bring Circuit City into the picture. First off, I’m sorry to see them close because I liked them much better than Best Buy. Continue reading “A lesson in dominoes falling”

Venting on Human Events

Regularly I get e-mail updates from the Human Events website. Generally it’s for columns I like to read by writers with a number of disparate styles – Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, Chuck Norris, Ted Nugent, and the Evans-Novak Report are among my favorites, even if I don’t always agree with them. It’s the latter which prompted the comments I’m going to revisit here.

I caught it at a time when I could have a front-page comment and steer an argument. So I wrote the following, based on quotes within the story:

“Republicans are comfortably settling into a minority position.”

Well, that’s problem #1 in a nutshell. And people wonder why conservatives are in a revolt?

“Indeed, some Republicans are quietly hoping Coleman will give up the fight.”

When stealing an election becomes an acceptable standard, it’s not just the Republican Party that’s in trouble, but the Republic itself.

Both these comments take the GOP to task for the very complacent attitude that I sense. Certainly there is an argument which can be made for giving the new Congress and President a chance, but I don’t really recall that same courtesy given to the last President – and he bent over backwards and forwards to exhibit his willingness to work with the other side. Remember the “new tone”? Continue reading “Venting on Human Events”

A leadership void

These are the first three paragraphs of an op-ed by Carter Clews at the Americans for Limited Government blog:

Every day in Washington’s political citadels, a new coalition triumphantly announces its emergence as the self-anointed savior of the increasingly moribund conservative movement. Or, some old organization “re-invents” itself and declares that it is now ready to lead as never before.

Most boldly proclaim their unbridled affection for the “New Media.” And some even demonstrate an admirable aptitude for digitalizing prose and pressing “Send.”

All of which is fine – as far as it goes. The problem is, it doesn’t go far enough. In fact, much of it at this point in time is dangerously going in the wrong direction. And the conservative movement desperately needs a few good men – and at least one good woman.

While the remainder is well worth the read, I’m going to take a slightly different angle on this and look at it in more literal terms. Continue reading “A leadership void”

Odds and ends no. 16

This is yet another collection of little items worth a paragraph (or two or three) of comment but perhaps not a full post on its own.

First, I want to announce two changes in format for my site, both of which will begin with this post. One is already something I do on Red Maryland because that site is a muli-contributor post. Beginning with this post, I’m going to introduce the “more” feature.

I wasn’t originally a great fan of that feature because I like to have posts be a complete block, but in many respects there will be advantages to this system. Ideally the totality of my posts would run the length of the sidebars so scanning a week’s worth of posts for occasional visitors would still expose them to my ads. (Hey, I like making a little coin with this site, you know, and the more the better.) So instead of 8 posts on the front page, I’ll push the number to 12 because that’s roughly a week’s output for me.

The second change is just a matter of preference, for which this post will be the first in the new format. Since I began the site, it’s always had a numerical post tag; for instance the last post was p=3225. When I began the site, it made perfect sense because the numbers were sequential. But after a recent WordPress upgrade I made for the site I noticed my numbers were no longer sequential, which defeated my purpose for having that post format. So now I’ll make my site conform more with most other sites which use a title slug as a post tag.

(Late note: this also retroactively updated items so those who have existing links to posts on my site may want to check and make sure they still work.)

Here it works out to be a nice point to insert a “more” tag, which I’ll probably begin to add in on occasions the post gets up around 700 words or so. Continue reading “Odds and ends no. 16”

Thoughts on the live blog and RNC Chair race

There’s a couple other things I’d like to get to, but for tonight I’ll stick with the RNC debate I liveblogged earlier today. Rather than try to copy-and-paste a long transcript, you can just go here and hit “replay”.

It was the first time I’d ever tried liveblogging and I thought I managed it pretty well for the most part. Probably the hardest thing was trying to pay attention to what was being said and also the comments coming in. I only had 2 or 3 different commentors so it wasn’t really difficult once I got the feel for watching the column where comments are shown for approval. But that’s why you have comment blocks instead of their being dispersed closer to real time. Now I know.

In a way I’m sort of glad I didn’t have a giant audience – maybe it was 6 or 8 at most. Then again, people can go back and reread it anytime so there may be more who see the post. As I noted in my introduction, who’s brilliant idea was it to place the debate at the same time Rush was on?

The consensus of those voting in my liveblog poll was split 50-50 between Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele winning the debate. Personally I though Blackwell did the best while Michael Steele didn’t really take advantage of the hometown crowd as much. Saul Anuzis had his moments as did Chip Saltsman. I really didn’t care much for Mike Duncan because he had the opportunity to do these things he was suggesting beforehand and didn’t take advantage – it’s time for new blood in my opinion.

As for the form of the debate itself, I really wasn’t enthused about the “lightning round” questions, nor was I big on all the references to Facebook and other social networking sites. Certainly they will be helpful but if you don’t have a message they won’t matter. Ron Paul pretty much owned the internet insofar as the GOP went and we see how far he got.

I just got an e-mail from the Media Research Center and they’ve made a choice in the race. It may not be all that popular in these parts, but here you are:

The Republican Party needs to be rebuilt.  It needs to be reconnected to the conservative principles that made it the majority Party in Washington.

And we have at this important moment a genuine opportunity to affect the direction the Party will take in the years to come.  The election of the next Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair will take place at their meeting at the end of this month.  Who they choose will determine the future of the Party, and for conservatives and our country this decision could not be more important.

Last Friday, conservative leaders representing some forty different organizations met.  These leaders represent a broad cross-section of the conservative movement.  One attendee, Virginia Republican National Committeeman Morton Blackwell, had prepared and distributed a list of questions for the RNC Chair candidates to help determine who would be best suited to move the Party forward.  (The 37 questions and the six candidates’ answers can be found at Townhall.com.)

All of the candidates responded to the questions, and all made an effort to promote the conservative cause. Each would be a fine choice to lead the important RNC rebuilding effort.

But after our review of the candidates’ answers and a discussion of their other qualifications, my colleagues and I announced our support of Ken Blackwell — and urged the 168 members of the RNC to elect him at their late-January meeting.

We face many challenges in the weeks, months and years ahead.  We need a strong, focused, conservative Republican Party engaged in the fight.  I think Ken Blackwell is the person to lead this charge.

Ken Blackwell has been a principled Reagan Republican his entire life and career.  He ran and successfully served the people of Ohio in multiple capacities as an unquestioned and unapologetic conservative. He has long been a leader in the conservative movement, both nationally and in growing it from the ground up with his involvement with state level organizations throughout the country.  He has been a tremendously successful entrepreneur, and is a stalwart champion of the free market.

He is a man of unquestioned integrity.  He will be an outstanding RNC Chair.

 I think either Blackwell or Steele is going to win. The letter from the MRC asked us to contact our state committee representatives to urge them to vote for Ken Blackwell, but that’s not happening in Maryland, no way no how.

In thinking about this race, I believe that the kingmaker is going to be Mike Duncan. Certainly the “establishment” Republicans will be behind him, and it’s probably not going to be a situation where any candidate wins on the first ballot because there’s six running. However, I see Duncan as a strong enough third to have his supporters be a sizable bloc which can make or break either candidate – my guess is they’d go for Steele as their second choice. The longer voting goes, the more chance that Michael Steele will be seen as a compromise candidate who straddles the line between the rabid conservatives who seem to be lining up behind Blackwell and the establishment Beltway GOP.

I’ll place myself out on a limb and say that if there’s only one ballot, Blackwell wins. But if they need a second ballot or more, eventually Steele will be the victor. In either case, we need someone who will take the fight to our liberal enemy and stand up to those in the party who want it to drift toward the center.

Over the last 30 years or so, the center of the country has actually shifted rightward. This is no time for a course reversal, but an acceleration in those places where we can achieve the desired results. The winner needs to hit the ground running for 2010 because there’s little time to waste.