Two for one?

It’s rare that you hear much from a lieutenant governor candidate and rarer still that the person talks about policy.

But in keeping with the theme that Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio would be ready to assume the governorship on a moment’s notice, she was entrusted with making a statement on Maryland’s health exchanges.

Under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, implementing the new health care law is more about politics, marketing and spin than improving people’s lives. The Administration wants everyone to believe that somehow Obamacare is free, as if grants magically appear that nobody has to pay for.  They even said no state funds would be used to launch the exchange, which we later learned was not true.

If the new health care exchange is so great, then it should not take $24 million in marketing and technical assistance for people to use it. And make no mistake, this so-called ‘outreach’ is targeted towards their political base.  It’s also strange that the O’Malley – Brown Administration takes credit for creating 300 marketing temp jobs funded by our own tax dollars.  Government-run health care is bringing us an 83% healthcare tax. That won’t be in the glossy brochures, because it’s a fact.

Worth noting is the state’s $24 million tab, which supposedly created 300 new jobs for the “navigators.” $80,000 per job is actually pretty cheap for the state, but don’t worry – I’m sure it will bust its budget before the fiscal year is out. (Locally, we will be “served” by the Worcester County Health Department. We only rated 17 jobs in “outreach, education, eligibility determination and enrollment services particularly to hard-to-reach populations.”)

Of course, the question is what happens next year, and the next, as the program becomes even more entrenched. Do the workers get to unionize? Will they actually receive benefits? (Many of these jobs are wage-only.) There are a lot of unanswered questions.

But the more important point to this article is the fact that the statement was put out by the lieutenant governor candidate. I don’t recall Bob Ehrlich giving Mary Kane or Kristen Cox much to say on the campaign trail; granted, he was already in office when Cox was selected and a fairly known quantity when he picked Kane.

It reminds me somewhat of the saying about Bill Clinton’s 1992 run with “the smartest woman in the world.” Forget Al Gore, the real brains behind the operation would be Hillary, said the pundits. Of course, Craig and Haddaway-Riccio are married, but not to each other. They’ll only be joined at the hip for the next 10 to 15 months on the campaign trail. (It would be interesting to see how Haddaway-Riccio and Ken Ulman would fare in a debate.)

So the selection by the other GOP candidates becomes more important, because David Craig has upped the ante a little bit with this statement. That’s not to say there aren’t other great people for the job out there, but the others should choose wisely.

Report: First GOP ticket is Craig/Haddaway-Riccio

It appears one of our own on the Eastern Shore may be gracing a gubernatorial ticket.

John Wagner of the Washington Post is reporting that Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio will be selected as David Craig’s running mate next week. While Wagner goes through some of the ramifications of the selection, particularly the gender and generational aspects since Craig is 28 years Haddaway-Riccio’s senior, I also wanted to focus on the local angle as well.

Assuming this is true, suddenly a seat on the House of Delegates opens up in what’s a plurality-Republican two-seat district for a politician from Talbot, much of Dorchester, southern Caroline, or southern and western Wicomico County. Haddaway-Riccio is from Talbot County and her fellow Delegate Addie Eckardt hails from Cambridge in Dorchester County.

Obviously no one is going to announce their intentions before the word becomes official, but you can bet there are a couple politicians from Wicomico County who may covet this opportunity. Democrats only managed to run one candidate for the two seats in 2010 – Patrice Stanley from Cambridge – but with the opening they will surely have a primary battle, as may Republicans itching to move up after a decade of the same representation in District 37. Haddaway-Riccio was appointed to the seat in 2003 after the resignation of Kenneth Schisler, who was selected for the Public Service Commission by then-Governor Bob Ehrlich, while the other District 37 representatives have held office since at least 1998.

If Haddaway-Riccio is indeed the choice and Craig is nominated for the GOP bid, it would mark the third election in a row the GOP sends out a female LG candidate; Bob Ehrlich lost in 2006 with Kristen Cox and in 2010 with Mary Kane. The only Democratic ticket thus far announced is all-male, although current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is black and has a white running mate in Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Other Democrats pondering a gubernatorial run are considering diversity of a different sort: prospective candidate Doug Gansler is rumored to be considering another Eastern Shore resident, openly gay Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton, as his running mate; meanwhile openly lesbian Delegate Heather Mizeur is angling to be the first LGBT statewide nominee in Maryland history.

Finally, one has to ask what Haddaway-Riccio would bring to the ticket as far as legislative experience. Jeannie was the Minority Whip in the House for two years until being ousted by new leadership earlier this spring; however, she remains a member of the Economic Matters Committee and sponsored an interesting assortment of bills this year, with a bill expanding opportunities for small breweries being the lone one to pass muster. Two others for which she served as lead sponsor were vetoed as duplicative to Senate bills by Governor O’Malley.

In my years of doing the monoblogue Accountability Project, I’ve found Jeannie’s record is fairly parallel to her District 37 counterparts, as all have lifetime ratings in the low 70s. Jeannie is not the right-wing firebrand of the House and generally stops short of voting along the staunchly conservative lines of other Eastern Shore delegates like Mike McDermott, Michael Smigiel, or Charles Otto, but instead ranks among the middle of the pack overall.

In many respects Jeannie is a complementary choice for Craig, bringing youth and gender balance to the ticket while compiling a record inoffensive to most, although fiscal conservatives may not appreciate her seeming hypocrisy on bond bills. I’ve suspected for some time she would run for higher office at some point, having put in a decade in the House of Delegates before turning 40, and this seems like a great opportunity to set herself up for that success, whether in 2014 or down the road.

Should Alex Mooney resign?

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.

Update: Fellow bloggers Richard Cross and Joe Steffen weigh in.

Romney gains Maryland support (and Pawlenty’s, too)

This news didn’t come to me directly, but it is legitimate: I found it on Mitt Romney’s website too.

Mitt Romney today won the support from leaders in Maryland.

“It is an honor to have the support of so many in Maryland,” said Mitt Romney. “They share my goals in this campaign to reverse President Obama’s failed policies and get our economy moving again. I look forward to working with them as I bring this message to Maryland and the American people.”

Announcing his support, State Senator Richard Colburn said, “Mitt Romney has a proven record of creating jobs and cutting spending. President Obama has failed on these points and it has hurt the American economy. Mitt Romney has the much-needed experience to lead our country toward an economic recovery.”

Maryland Leaders Endorsing Mitt Romney:

  • State Senator Richard Colburn
  • State Senator Joe Getty
  • State Senator Allan Kittleman
  • Delegate Kathryn Afzali
  • Delegate John Cluster
  • Delegate Addie Eckardt
  • Delegate Donald Elliott
  • Delegate Michael Hough
  • Delegate Nic Kipke
  • Delegate Steven Schuh
  • Former United States Ambassador to New Zealand Robert Goodwin
  • National Committeeman Louis Pope
  • National Committeewoman Joyce Terhes
  • 2010 Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor and Former Secretary of State Mary Kane
  • Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane
  • Former Maryland Republican Party Chairman Audrey Scott
  • Former Maryland Republican Party First Vice Chair Chris Cavey
  • Former Maryland Republican Party First Vice Chair Chuck Gast
  • Maryland Republican Party Treasurer Christopher Rosenthal
  • Garrett County Republican Party Chairman Brenda Butcsher
  • Howard County Republican Party Chairman Loretta Shields
  • Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Mark Uncapher
  • Frederick County Councilman Paul Smith
  • Howard County Councilman Greg Fox
  • State Central Committee Member – St. Mary’s County Mary Russell

Well, you won’t find my name on that list – it’s pretty safe to say that Mitt isn’t among my top picks. I see him as 2012’s answer to John McCain. Obviously, these 25 feel differently and that’s fine. Aside from Senator Colburn’s brief statement sure to draw a primary challenger in 2014, I don’t know what led the others to support him so I can’t really pass judgement on their intentions.

Continue reading “Romney gains Maryland support (and Pawlenty’s, too)”

2010 MDGOP Fall Convention in pictures and text (part 2)

And now we resume coverage (Part 1 is here) with a cold, crisp Saturday morning. Actually, the cold felt sort of good since I needed to wake up a bit after just a few hours of sleep.

If I turned around 180 degrees I’d see something like this, as candidates greeted Saturday arrivals with their pitch.

We didn’t have a breakfast speaker this time, but during breakfast I did have the pleasure of finally getting to meet Ann Corcoran of Potomac TEA Party Report. She was there as a proxy for another in her county and to help man the table for the Conservative Action Network, which has an upcoming event.

I also ran into Chair candidate Mike Esteve, who was the lone hopeful I didn’t catch with my camera Friday night.

After breakfast we crowded into the main ballroom.

I must say whoever decided on this setup needs to return to Seat Arrangement 101. The worst part was not having a center row, although being placed in the back wasn’t all that great either. Guess it was our turn.

We had a very popular guest speaker, however. (Being in the back did no wonders for my photography.)

Congressman-elect Andy Harris praised Audrey Scott for being the “key to victories around the state” and reminded us of where we were just two years ago and how far we’ve come. We’re not a regional party as some predicted nor is Reagan conservatism dead. “87 freshmen are living proof that American conservatism is alive and well,” Andy said.

Yet we have to win back Americans’ trust by being innovative, efficient, and willing to listen, added Harris. “Government must first do no harm.”

He vowed to support across-the-board budget cuts, a total earmark ban, and no new taxes as his agenda. “We don’t want the government to put a limit on our hopes and dreams,” Andy concluded to a standing ovation.

While Delegate Tony O’Donnell named the names of all 16 new Republican members of the House of Delegates and applauded our six seat gain in his report, he set his sights higher. “It’s possible to get 28 seats in 2014,” O’Donnell opined. We have to start recruiting now to reach that magic 71 number for the first time since at least Reconstruction, Tony noted.

Senator Allan Kittleman was a little less optimistic about GOP hopes, but did state the case that, “there’s not a whole lot of trust in the (state) government.” In a veiled reference to a former chair, Allan added “we had a hard few years there (in the General Assembly.)”

Giving the county report, Harford County Executive David Craig compared our fate to that of a familiar team.

“Being a Republican in Maryland is a lot like being an Orioles fan,” he noted wistfully, but we were developing the farm team to win. We have a base to start from with all the local successes, even though they occurred in smaller counties. At this time (and Wicomico reflects this as I said the other day) there are more Republican elected officials at the county level than Democratic ones. Still, “we need to help those people out” in areas like Prince George’s County and other Democratic strongholds.

As seems to often happen, we had to do some shuffling around of the itinerary because the Credentials Committee had its hands full with latecomers and proxies. So we next heard the Chair’s Report.

While being Chair “wasn’t on her radar” about 16 months ago, Audrey Scott called the post the “experience of a lifetime” and a “labor of love.”

“We have come a long way” in her tenure, she said, but also believed that our message was sound. It was embodied in a recent experience she had with Newt Gingrich, who expounded on the theme of jobs vs. foodstamps. O’Malley and Obama “just don’t get it.” Speaking of O’Malley, she praised MDGOP’s Ryan Mahoney as being “solely responsible” for uncovering his jobs coverup last August.

And while she claimed to inherit a party a quarter-million dollars in debt and staff unpaid for months, she said the party raised $1.15 million this year, including ‘Victory’ money from the national GOP. (Later Chris Rosenthal said the non-Victory total was about $893,000.) It was fortunate we had Michael Steele as the RNC chair, she continued, saying “Steele deserves to be re-elected.”

While she later joked, “I have lots of critics,” she asked that we “never, ever again…begin an election year in debt” because “the enemy is the Democrats.” (And, if I may add again, there is no bag limit.)

Later, we got other reports which basically repeated what was said Friday night to the Executive Committee from National Committeewoman Joyce Terhes, National Committeeman Louis Pope, and Treasurer Chris Rosenthal.

One issue I had was with the Rules Committee. Why some counties continue to slit their own throat is beyond me, but we retained the ‘compromise’ voting system which has plagued us over the last two years on a 196-69 vote, exceeding the 2/3 majority needed. Wicomico went 4 in favor, 5 against and was joined by Allegany County, Baltimore City, and Montgomery County as counties in opposition. I’ve got an idea to end that mess once and for all!

Thus, my counts (which are based strictly on ‘one man, one vote’) aren’t exactly correct, but should be reasonably close.

Which brings us to the Chair election.

It was a LONG process, as nominees and seconders had several minutes to speak before the candidates did. Notable quotes from each contender:

  • William Campbell believed that “all Republicans have the same values…we are conservative.” He also told us, “if we don’t unify we will be irrelevant” and alluded to his fiscal conservatism by alluding, “when I squeeze a nickel Jefferson ends up in the library in Monticello.”
  • Mike Esteve noted as a Prince George’s County Republican “I want my vote to count.” The Baltimore TEA Party he helped to organize was an “indication that things had changed forever.” He also suggested adopting charitable efforts in impoverished neighborhoods as they would pay dividends down the road as far as minority voting goes and chided the infighting among Republicans – “if you could measure infighting in blood the state would be red from end to end.”
  • Asking “are you proud to be a Republican?” Sam Hale stressed his grassroots background, but also had a good idea for subscription-based fundraising. If just 1/3 of 1% of the party’s registered voters pledged $25 per month the party could raise $75,000 per month – enough to cover expenses and salt some aside for candidates.
  • Mary Kane pointed out things we’re doing better than the Democrats and vowed, “I plan to be honest and transparent for each and every one of you.” Our “opinion diversity” defined the word and she would welcome all opinions. Moreover, no longer could the MDGOP be a “one-man show” and, if she was successful, “we will show up in places we’re not expected.”
  • Alex Mooney was raised to fight for freedom as the son of a Cuban refugee. He was frustrated by not only his close Senate race loss, but three other races where the GOP losers received 49% of the vote (including Michael James in District 38.) We can’t ask our candidates to devote a year or more of their lives to a race and not back them financially, Mooney said.

Our delegation split 7-1-1, with the seven being Mooney and one each for Kane and Hale (me.) Alex carried 12 counties (Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Montgomery, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester) while Mary Kane won majority support in six (Calvert, Caroline, Howard, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot.) Meanwhile, Campbell won three (Dorchester, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s) and Hale carried Cecil County. Baltimore City and Somerset ended up split between Mooney and Kane.

The ‘one man, one vote’ totals: Mooney 116, Kane 87, Campbell 25, Hale 24, and Esteve 13. Mooney was closest to a majority but couldn’t receive it through either tabulation.

Obviously, having won no counties and just a handful of votes, Mike Esteve dropped out after the first round and endorsed Mary Kane. Then William Campbell decided enough was enough and bowed out.

Despite impasssioned pleas of “no!!” from supporters, just before the second ballot Sam Hale also gave in and endorsed Alex Mooney.

With so few more votes needed the second ballot was relatively anticlimactic, with Mooney winning the actual count 164-97. Sixteen counties went for Mooney (Allegany, Baltimore, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, and Worcester.) We were a 7-2 group as I switched to Mooney but someone else switched from Mooney to Kane.

The next two races were relative walkovers: Diana Waterman was elected 1st Vice Chair with 160 votes, easily outdistancing Moshe Starkman with 57 and Debbie Rey with 47. (We all supported Diana in Wicomico.)

In the 2nd Vice-Chair contest, Larry Helminiak emerged victorious with 151 votes while Brandon Butler (the incumbent) had 78 and Debbie Rey finished with 30. (Wicomico split 5-3 for Helminiak over Butler, I voted for Larry – who I nominated.)

A controversy erupted in the already-crowded 3rd Vice-Chair race when a supporter of Eric Grannon claimed his paperwork was in order aside from a minor error. Chair Alex Mooney allowed him to be on the ballot, making it a six-way race.

Grannon was the leader after the first ballot, gathering 109 votes. Patt Parker was second with 55, followed by Brian Griffiths with 34, Adol Owen-Williams with 32, Debbie Rey with 21, and Collins Bailey with 11. The bottom three finishers all decided to withdraw after that ballot, leaving three for the second ballot. (We in Wicomico split four ways, with five votes for Grannon, two for Owen-Williams, and one each for Parker and Griffiths (mine.)

Eric easily won the second ballot with 191 votes to Parker’s 47 and Griffiths’ 19. We had seven Grannon votes with the Parker and Griffiths tallies.

But the addition of Grannon left a bad taste with at least one competitor, who fumed that the victor should have been left off the ballot. “It’s a story for you,” he said.

We had an easy ballot next since Chris Rosenthal was unopposed for treasurer – Mark Uncapher of Montgomery County announced he was dropping out Friday.

Almost as easy was John Wafer’s win for secretary, where he overwhelmed the field with 210 votes to 35 for Nora Keenan and 13 for Alfred Griffin. (We all went for Wafer.)

But we weren’t done voting yet – there were four resolutions on the table.

  • Somerset County was allowed to expand its Central Committee to nine by unanimous voice vote.
  • The most controversial resolution was to “highly encourage” the RNC to “highly recommend” that early primary states New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina close their Republican primaries or caucuses to registered Republicans only. Since the Chair couldn’t determine the intent of a voice vote, it passed a roll call 116-87, with Wicomico 6-1 in favor (I voted yes.)
  • We asked Chairman Mooney to appoint an ad hoc bylaws committee by almost unanimous voice vote. Our county chair Dave Parker submitted this resolution.
  • We honored Richard Taylor, former National Commiteeman from 1983-2004, by unanimous voice vote.

Finally, just after 3:00, we ate the lunch scheduled for 12:30. Louis Pope gave the edited presentation familiarizing the new Central Committee members with their duties – I caught up with an old friend while I ate.

So there you have it, the wildest and wooliest convention I’ve ever attended. Next spring we do it again in a time and place to be determined. Congratulations to Chairman Mooney and the other winners – feel free to stop by our county anytime!

2010 MDGOP Fall Convention in pictures and text (part 1)

It was such a big and exciting convention this time that I decided to return to the practice of making this post in two parts. Part 1 tonight will deal with what occurred Friday night and tomorrow I’ll review the convention itself that occurred today. (One spoiler – our new Chair is former State Senator Alex Mooney.)

Once I arrived and cleaned up, I went down to check out the Executive Committee meeting – the last chaired by Audrey Scott.

The first interesting portion of the meeting occurred with the reading of the Treasurer’s Report. I was thrilled to find our line of credit we’d had since 2007 or so had been paid off, but not so pleased to find out what our outstanding bills were.

With a number of new Chairs there, the questions came fast and furious during this portion of the meeting. One key point zeroed on the lease the Party holds on its current headquarters and why it’s so seemingly excessive. Perhaps a facilities task force is in order, opined Treasurer Chris Rosenthal.

It was also interesting to hear the impact of “Victory” money on the party’s finances; however, the 2011 budget is conservatively based on doing without help from the national Republican Party.

Yet for Audrey Scott it was “extremely satifying and gratifying to be Chair this year.” Our 40 seat gain in local and state races was a “phenomenal achievement” and she thanked all the candidates and their campaign workers.

In the future, our goal is “viability” and “instant credibility,” continued Scott. But “I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses” as Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City would continue to be issues.

While National Committeewoman Joyce Terhes remarked in her report that the newcomers are “embarking on a four years you’ll love,” Louis Pope said he couldn’t recall a 48% turnover in the Central Committees in his nearly 40 years he’s been active in the party. It’s an “incredible opportunity,’ said Pope.

It was comforting to hear from the party’s legal counsel Bob Ostrom that we have a “tremendously positive” relationship with the Maryland Board of Elections. We may not agree with the outcome, but he also stated this most recent election was the “most fraud-free election that Maryland has conducted in many years.”

Among the organizational reports, three stood out.

Moshe Starkman, who was in the running for 1st Vice Chair, gave the Young Republican report. While he talked about effective engagement and involvement, one observer was “very troubled” with the YR Network he set up. The two were encouraged to discuss these issues at a later time as it began to get a little heated.

Chair candidate Mike Esteve gave the College Republican report, noting “this has been a tough year for everyone.” But he pointed out the growth of the CRs from five chapters to eleven, with a goal of 15 by April. Mike also explained the process and discussion behind a controversial CR bylaw change that allowed them to support Bob Ehrlich pre-primary, stating that they had spoken with both candidates before making the decision.

Mike also had complementary words for Fiona Moodie, who ran for office in Prince George’s County at the tender age of 18 – “imagine what she’ll be like at 28,” said Esteve. (She was the only Republican to run for their County Council, getting 21.5% of the vote in her district.) It was apt as Moodie gave the Teenage Republican report. They were working with the CRs on getting a vote on the Executive Committee.

The county reports were waived – everyone wanted to party, and I’m sure you want to check out the pictures!

Some Chair candidates had their own setup, with Mary Kane’s being the most elaborate. She even had an elephant.

Here she is with a couple supporters inside her ballroom.

On a more moderate scale was Alex Mooney’s hospitality suite, where he held court.

His main issue, of course, was fundraising, and he reminded those who dropped by of his plan.

The other candidate who had his own suite was Sam Hale.

Someone showed off their baking ability there.

But perhaps the most anticipated party was sponsored by someone who had no dog in the Chair fight whatsoever. It was dubbed the ‘Renegade Room’ and Joe Steffen (a.k.a. the ‘Prince of Darkness’) was the man with the plan, plastered on the wall to see and sign.

The “Renegade Revolution Resolution” went with the room’s ‘speaking truth’ theme – Joe and Don Murphy only had to kick a couple people out, none named Bill Campbell. The Chair hopeful stopped by to chat with Red Maryland‘s Mark Newgent.

They even had an honor roll out in the hallway.

You may have noticed the text of the document behind Joe Steffen. The signature in the upper-left hand corner is mine, but a number of other people signed too. We don’t hate the party, we’re just concerned.

But the election of Alex Mooney may go a long way in assuaging our concerns, and that’s the subject of tomorrow’s post on the events of today. (A good host leaves ’em wanting more!)

And there is a LOT more of the inside scoop. Part 2 is here.

The final MDGOP line

Well, I’m sitting here at the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis having spoken with all the contenders for the crown, however briefly. Apparenly many are big fans but we’ll see how they feel after this post. Here’s the morning line as the racers enter their stalls (well, sort of…actually I’m getting ready for breakfast.) Previous odds are below.

  • Mary Kane (3-1): She has the biggest suite and the most money. I’ve seen a lot of the “establishment” people wearing her red lapel stickers, and she was very pleasant to me when we spoke yesterday evening. Still, the question remains whether she has the amount of support to go all the way or will she fade going through the backstretch. It’s going to be a long morning for her.
  • Alex Mooney (5-1): Having listened to Chris Rosenthal go through the financial state of the party at the Executive Committee meeting, surely many of those present will be receptive to Alex’s pitch and his lofty fundraising goals. But a lot of how he does depends on who is installed under him, and he may or may not have all the detail work down – only time will tell. There’s also the question of his future plans out there. He had the liveliest and most well-attended suite of the three I stood in, given size and location.
  • William Campbell (10-1): I still think Campbell could be a compromise choice when the time comes, or he could get the endorsement of one of the other also-rans to push him onward. He’s become sort of a dark horse, but his independent streak and reputation as a newcomer will garner him some support – and you can’t beat his fiscal acumen. He’s not spent his money wining and dining would-be voters on hospitality suites and paraphrenalia, which could either boost his outsider image or relegate him to also-ran status.
  • Sam Hale (10-1): The question for Sam is very simple: will the Maryland GOP go with a person who mainly receives his support from a number of TEA Party members who haven’t been involved in the MDGOP political process all that long. If the answer is yes, he beats the odds with a fairly captive audience. If not, he’s out after the first round of voting. Rural areas tend to support him more, but with that he bumps into the same support base that Alex Mooney has.
  • Mike Esteve (20-1): He deftly answered questions last evening regarding the College Republicans’ endorsement of Bob Ehrlich over Brian Murphy, but the group seems to prefer experience over youth. It hurts Sam Hale but hurts Mike moreso. And not having a base of operations (but instead roving around between parties) seems to reduce his legitimacy moreso than it does Bill Campbell.
  • The field (100-1): It’s just the five of them, and I believe we will have our winner from the group – no matter how excited or not the outside observers believe it is.

So there you have it, at least my strictly amateur prognostications. Later tonight I’ll let you know how it all shook out!

A new video from an MDGOP candidate

Unlike the last time we did this, here is the first video I’ve received from a candidate for MDGOP Chair. It comes from favorite Mary Kane.

The video doesn’t reveal much that’s new; in essence it makes the same points that she’s sent out in her letter. And considering the video had ten views before I latched onto it, the message may or may not be getting out.

One difference in approach from last year’s crop of candidates seeking to replace Jim Pelura (who resigned in September 2009) and complete his term seems to be that of looking to grassroots support; in other words it’s not just about the nearly 300 Central Committee members who will actually be voting on the matter. And I’m glad they are, for the most part, embracing the state’s version of a pajamas media.

But I found one thing interesting in her video. It may be a case of being too clever by half on my part, but Mary speaks about the 2014 election (in referring to the need for picking up seats in the General Assembly) yet is an advocate for reducing the term of the Chair to two years – in theory, she may not be around as Chair to see the eventual results of her tenure. In truth, I like the idea and the long-term goal but that’s a point to be made.

If I receive any other videos I’ll be sure to post them – but Mary was first to the line and I suspect she may be the last.

Questions for the MDGOP Chair candidates

Last week I sent a questionnaire to all of MDGOP Chair hopefuls; a list that at the time had eight names. Of the five remaining I got direct written responses from three (William Campbell, Mike Esteve, and Sam Hale) while a fourth (Mary Kane) phoned me. I also have a letter Mrs. Kane sent out to all the candidates so her answers will be a hybrid of that information and what I recall from the phone conversation.

Since I have received no similar information from Alex Mooney he’s not included. (However, he answered a longer and somewhat different set of questions for Ann Miller yesterday, so maybe I took this to press a bit sooner than he would have liked.) Order of presentation is more or less random.

What will you do to encourage new candidates to step forward and avoid putting all our electoral eggs in one basket as the party seemed to during the last decade? 

William Campbell (WC): I will use the Central Committees, Clubs, and activists to encourage highly qualified individuals to become Republican candidates for elected office. Many interested individuals have a misconception that we have lots of potential candidates waiting to run for office. In addition, many potential candidates are frustrated by the lack of information to help them become candidates. We should run training courses on critical skills that successful candidates need to master. My one day candidate training course was inadequate, and far too late to be helpful. At a minimum we should teach the regulations covering ethics (how to file a personal financial disclosure statement), election laws and filing requirements (including a using the financial reporting software), and basic campaign operations.

We should also make a commitment to our successful nominees running in the General Election that they will receive funding and other meaningful support from the MDGOP. Our current “every candidate for themselves” approach discourages many potential candidates, and frustrates our nominees. They should also know that there will be a level playing field where all candidates are treated equally. In closing, we should not preselect our nominees. Each nominee should compete to win their nomination.

Mike Esteve (ME): My philosophy is where you can’t beat them, bleed them. Not putting up a candidate against Doug Gansler has allowed him to continue to build a two-million dollar war chest to use in two years. It is the role of the State Central Committee to ensure that there is as viable as possible of a candidate running for every statewide office. Likewise, it is the role of the County Central Committees to ensure every local Democratic candidate has a Republican challenger. Even just a name on the ballot, where we can’t find a strong Republican, forces the Democratic incumbents to spend money otherwise sent to more vulnerable candidates.

Sam Hale (SH): In a mailer to central committee members, I recently wrote:

“My top priority will be installing a Republican grassroots network across Maryland. As a conservative grassroots activist myself, I believe my biggest contribution to the party will be my ability to involve and relate to the increasing number of conservative grassroots groups in Maryland.”

I plan on installing grassroots networks and empowering central committees to grow the party on the local level. With that in mind, I will encourage those involved to win the registration battle, and elections on the local level first. This will allow us to build the party from the ground up, find viable candidates for every race and avoid placing “all of our eggs in one basket.”

Mary Kane (MK): In her letter, Mary wrote that, “A strong MDGOP means hard work. We must raise money, continue to build a strong grassroots organization, assemble a very strong media response presence throughout the state, and employ these efforts to recruit candidates and increase voter registration. These are basic functions of party building everyone understands and can agree upon.

We will do voter outreach, send new resident mailings, grassroots training, and candidate recruitment to grow our party. And we will work closely with our local committees and elected officials to solidify a strong crop of up and coming leaders.”

Describe your grand plans for fundraising – is it better to look for a few large donors or many smaller ones, and are you already scouting for new sources?

MK: Mary wrote: “We must have a state party that can raise money every week, every month, and every year. We cannot again allow for an MDGOP on the verge of bankruptcy a year and half out from statewide elections. We have donors that will support us. We have to assure them that their investment is an investment in a better future for our small businesses, our economy, our families, and our state.

We can and will have success in our fundraising efforts. Working with the Executive Committee as partners we can put a strong structure in place and develop a long term plan to fill our coffers for 2012, 2014 and beyond. We must actually utilize the talents of our Republican officials and a new Finance team. Our counties and MDGOP will be working together, not undermining and competing for every dollar. Fundraising plans should be coordinated in order to maximize support and to avoid overlap.”

SH: There are close to 1 million registered Republicans in the state of Maryland. In that pool I see 1 million potential donors. The average Marylander spends well over $100 a month on cable, internet and phone. Let’s ask them to spend 1/10 of that on saving their state.

One of my opponents recently said average people do not donate because they hope to gain something from the contribution; they donate because they believe in a cause. He was exactly correct, but the MDGOP is not currently a cause a traditional Republican can “believe in.” Once we restore principal and values to our message, we will restore our competitive advantage as a fundraiser.

I do not believe, however, that big donors and a large pool are mutually exclusive. The Obama campaign recently showed it is possible to be very successful on both levels. Once we restore contrast to our message, principal to our party and clear goals for success, the MDGOP will be something we can sell to every potential donor.

WC: There are two facets to MDGOP fund raising that need to be addressed; raising funds for general operations, and for election support.

The funding for MDGOP operations is relatively modest. Our annual budget is only about $500,000. The Chair is expected to raise approximately $125,000 from donors. This is a modest amount and with our existing donor list should be achievable. I would like to keep our existing pool of donors engaged, and reach out to many small donors. This increases our overall funding, and increases the commitment and influence of the wider Republican community. We are not currently set up to be effective in increasing grassroots support of MDGOP. We would have to greatly improve our information technology suite, and increase our use of social media. I am committed to making these improvements.

The funding requirements for election support are more difficult to address at the moment. First, what is the MDGOP going to do to support our candidates and win elections, and how much will that cost? In the 2010 election cycle, it appeared that the party was competing with the candidates for scarce campaign dollars. Many of the candidates, including myself, were frustrated over the lack of financial support from the MDGOP. I would like to develop both a 2012 and 2014 campaign budget quickly, and then commit to placing all funds collected over those budget levels into a candidate fund that will be disbursed directly to our nominees for the General election.

ME: Fundraising is, by far, the most important role of the State Party Chairman. There are three main points on fundraising:

1. Over the last year, the State Party has rightly expanded and shallowed their donor base. In other words, rather than being dependant on fifty donors for ten-thousand dollar donations, we’re moving in the direction of receiving fifty dollar donations from ten-thousand donors. This creates a much more stable and reliable donor base and that is precisely the direction in which I want to take our State Party – more in the direction of grassroots fundraising.

2. It is not unhistorical that the State Party appoints fundraising directors to reach out to a broader donor base. I have spoken with numerous such potential fundraising directors since my announcement, and it is clear that we have the opportunity to tap into previously uninterested donor sources given our traditional flagship candidate is no longer in the limelight. Potential supporters, particularly wealthier gun owners, who stand to lose many of their rights under another four years of the O’Malley regime, and worse yet, under an additional eight years of an O’Malley successor, are far more willing to support the Party knowing what they stand to preserve. This is the type of outreach we must conduct. 

3. For every successful business, institution, and campaign in the world, there are numerous failed ones. Just in the realm of politics, candidates run and parties form with little chance of success, yet manage to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. When it comes to major donors, individuals don’t contribute their money strictly on the mathematical basis of seeing a return in dividends, but because they believe in the cause. What I offer that no other candidate offers is a fundamental change in belief that this State Party can be successful and can close the chapter of the last ten years. We can rebuild and reform to be more competitive in this state, and stand on the values of our Party. What I offer is faith in the organization and a clear vision forward – that’s what donors want when considering contributing to the cause: vision, direction, and faith.

Our current chair is known for saying, “it’s party over everything.” Is it? Or do principles truly matter to you? 

ME: We have the potential to get conservatives elected in most Maryland counties. The key is to campaign on issues that matter to local constituencies and be mindful of the political makeup of every demographic. Stand on your principles, but market what sells to the electorate.

MK: Mary did not address this directly but wrote: “we will develop the statewide campaign to demonstrate the synergy of the core principles and values of the Republican Party with all Marylanders.”

SH: This type of statement brings up the question: What is the purpose of a political party? Is it solely to win elections for its namesake, or to move the country/state in a positive direction?

I recently wrote in a blog for

“I believe the purpose of a political party should not be solely to win elections, but rather to move the country in a positive direction. Therefore, if the GOP witnesses the social/political tide moving to the left, its objective should be to “turn the tide” rather than “go with the flow.” In “going with the flow” the GOP will not only lose its identity; but ultimately become obsolete, as the electorate’s mindset shifts further left.”

Not only is party over principle wrong morally, but also a ridiculous strategy for long term victory. If nothing is done about the social/political tide moving left the GOP will cease to exist in the long term. As Republicans, we need to fight for what we know is right and refuse to sell ourselves out in the hopes of stealing one or two elections.

WC: I believe that principles are the bedrock for our party. A party, organization, business, or individual without principles is not serving our citizens well, and would not have my support. I am running because I believe that the appearance of compromised principles is just as damaging as the actual commission of unprincipled acts. Many Maryland Republicans believe that we are compromised at present and need to change course immediately. I have a distinguished record of public service, and I will not compromise my principles for political gain.

Regarding internal party business, we have fought over regional chairs and other small county vs. large county issues for some time now. How will you address these internal disputes?

WC: I am amazed that we continue to waste valuable convention time to debating the voting weights of the jurisdictions. I would establish a working group to present an array of proposals to the various Central Committee members for their consideration and approval. In addition, it seems counter-productive to elect the Chair, Vice Chairs, Treasurer, and Secretary to four year terms. We should make these two year terms so we can evaluate their effectiveness after the 2012 General Election and not have another crisis if we need a leadership change. I am also, concerned about the prerogative we grant to Republican Governors to appoint the Chair. We need to have checks and balances between the party itself, and our elected Republican office holders. Otherwise the MDGOP could become an extension of a future Republican Administration, and do their bidding rather than protect the interest of the party.

MK: Mary wrote: There are also internal issues to be discussed. First, I will advocate that the term of office for the state party chair be reduced from 4 years to 2 years. Second, I will form an Ad Hoc Committee immediately to determine the appropriate permanent voting process for our MDGOP meetings to be presented at the spring convention. 

SH: It makes sense that those who represent a larger amount of Republicans should carry a larger weight to their vote. That is the way the Founder’s framed the House of Representatives.

On the other hand, I understand the argument that certain counties that elect zero or few Republicans to office should not drive the ideology for the state party.

I think the long-term solution is to raise awareness among voters as to who they are electing to central committee. Republicans need to realize who is representing them on the party level and the vital role they have on the direction of the party and the state. Sadly, I believe that most Republicans do not know what a central committee is. If this can be solved rank and file Republicans take a role in these elections and elect people who share their values, I feel much of the infighting will dissipate.

ME: Our State Party Constitution is clear that every County Party should have an equal vote in State Party Conventions, yet we suspend the rules every time. This needs to stop. No one county deserves more of a say than another.

How will you deal with the TEA Party influence given its mixed record?

ME: As a co-founder of the Baltimore Tea Party Coalition, I appreciate the energy that the Tea Party has generated. If we as a Party are to succeed, we need to bring together all elements, be them establishment, Tea Party, etc. Only together can we hope to rebuild as an organization.

WC: In running a statewide campaign I met many TEA Party and other Conservative voters. I admire their commitment and passion. They could bring a great deal of energy to the MDGOP, but I do not believe that many of them want to become Republicans. They are fiercely independent and are equally critical of Democrats and Republicans. I would certainly reach out to them whenever possible to find common ground. We have much in common and could work together to elect our candidates.

SH: I don’t think their record in this state is mixed. I believe on the state level their influence was completely disregarded due to the record of our governor candidate and pre-primary shenanigans. In the first district, where the tea party was able to play an active role in providing grassroots for Dr. Harris, he won by 13 points. On the state level where they were either not empowered or not comfortable supporting certain candidates, we lost by about the same margin.

My goal as chairman will be to correct this discrepancy by providing principal to our message and reaching out to the tea party on a state-wide scale. The state party cannot be successful without the enthusiasm and grassroots prowess of the tea party. The MDGOP needs to not only reach out to local leaders and empower them to grow the party, but most importantly gain their trust. They need to know that if they give their time and money, we will support their conservative values. I believe electing a chairman who is one of their own, will send that message.

MK: I don’t recall what Mary said regarding the TEA Party during the phone conversation and she didn’t address this in her letter.

In what rank order would you put the concepts of candidate recruitment, fundraising, fealty to party principles, addressing the needs of smaller counties, and dealing with the TEA Party?

MK: The part of our discussion I recall best is our discussion of this point. We agreed that perhaps a better analogy than the one I presented would be as in a wheel, where fundraising is the hub and six spokes extend out to the other facets, which form a circle.

SH: This is a difficult question as I feel the areas are intertwined. I feel someone who shares traditional party principles will be able to relate to, and inspire, the tea party. And a principled candidate should have the common sense approach to weigh the needs of individual counties. . A candidate who cannot inspire grassroots support will not be an effective fundraiser.

1) Principles
2) Fundraising

ME: The most important job of the State Party Chairman is to fundraise. I don’t see why any of these other elements would have to be separated, or contradictory from that. We fundraise when we stand on our principles. We fundraise when we tap into grassroots Tea Party energy. We fundraise when we represent the needs of all counties. Frankly, we have bigger problems than the feelings of individual Central Committees. We are facing redistricting, which could cost us the first and sixth congressional districts, and trim are already dwindling minorities in the State Senate and House into oblivion. We are facing the crisis of a 35 billion dollar pension and health plan liability that will force 17 billion dollars of unfunded pensions onto the already burdened counties. We have bigger problems than “party fealty.” We, as Maryland Republicans, offer our state something that few other Republican State Parties can offer: the hope of accountable, transparent government. If we are not marketing a clear vision to this state; if we are not acting as whistleblowers and calling out the corruption of the arrogant House and Senate majorities, and their governor; if we are not taking the issues of this state seriously, and offering the voters of Maryland a genuine and clear alternative, then we are simply wasting our time.

WC: This would not be my choice for a priority list. Mine priorities would be (in order of importance) party unity, financial solvency, candidate recruitment and development, and increasing Republican voter registration and participation in Baltimore City, and Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties. However, to answer your question I would rank you issues in the following order: 1. Principles, 2. Candidate recruitment, 3. Fund raising, Smaller County needs, and 5. dealing with the TEA Party. While some may object to ranking the TEA Party relationship last, the reality is that (unlike the first 4 issues) we do not have complete control over that relationship.

Also, please assess the strengths and weaknesses of your last two predecessors as chair, Audrey Scott and Jim Pelura.

WC: I only got active in MDGOP politics in April of this year. I had not known either Audrey, or Jim before then, and have only spoken to them briefly on a few occasions. They have both been courteous to me and I personally like them. I am unable to judge their strengths and weaknesses, and I don’t believe that the past performance of MDGOP Chairs is relevant to the current election. We need to focus on the future of our party and not re-plow old ground.

ME: I have nothing but sincere respect and admiration for the Chairman. She came into a mess of a Party that was deeply in debt and highly divided. She united the Party, dug us out of debt, established a fulltime fundraising and political staff, raised seven victory centers statewide, and left us in the black when it was all said and done. As far as I’m concerned, she met all of her campaign promises and did a phenomenal job. I did not agree with all of her decisions; I did not support all of her methods. She was the best possible Chair at the right time. Now that chapter has come to a close and the Party has different needs. I believe the Chairman recognizes this, which is why she is not pursuing reelection.

I have no comment on Mr. Pelura.

SH: Scott – I admire Audrey’s strength as a fundraiser, her ability to remain positive and upbeat, and her work-ethic and resolve. But she conveyed a lack of adherence to party principles (and rule 11) which alienated the party’s base. She also was unable to innovate and improve on party strategy which led to a continued decline in statewide elections.

Pelura – Jim is a great man of character who was unable to work with the party apparatus to get things done. Much of things said about him simply are not true. Regardless of personal opinion, his term was not an effective one.

I would like committee members to think of my candidacy as the opportunity to start a new chapter of Republican Politics in Maryland. This November proved that we cannot afford more of the same and drastic change is required. I hope to provide that change if elected.

MK: Mary did not address her predecessors.


After reading these questions and compiling this post, I hope this helps – whether you have a direct stake in the decision as a Central Committee member or just happen to be a rank-and-file Republican or conservative concerned about the state of the party in the Free State.

I look forward to a spirited contest culminating sometime Saturday morning.

Response to an interested observer

Expanding her comment to my post about former MDGOP Chair hopeful Andrew Langer’s endorsement of Mary Kane, Right Coast blogger Julie Brewington almost laments about my “almost lament(ing)” the news.

While I know Julie has the best interests of conservatism in mind there are a couple items for which I need to take her to task. I suppose she can plead ignorance because there’s information I’m privy to as one inside the MDGOP as opposed to her outside position. Certainly I would be in a similar situation if the discussion came up about the local TEA Parties or the Wicomico County AFP circa late 2009.

Let’s begin with the Chambers Compact. Originally the brainchild of a group of Red Maryland editors led by Mark Newgent, it was revised and expanded by Langer. While I’ve had my disagreements with the remainder of the Red Maryland group in the past and had to set them straight a time or two, I think they have their hearts in the right place.

When you read the document it calls for, among other things, a leader “skilled at (grassroots) organization” and holding the “career politicians and statists” in Annapolis accountable. I see neither of these aspects in Mary Kane, not to mention that the party was already led once by her husband John, a hand-picked acolyte of then-Governor Bob Ehrlich. Talk about top-down leadership!

I also knew that Langer has been active in the MDGOP for some time, but applauded his efforts to reach out (or, as Julie seems to believe, co-opt) the TEA Party movement. Obviously since I happen to be on the Central Committee as is Julie’s former AFP cohort Joe Collins, we’re all trying to bring the two parties together. Simply put, we believe their political home should be the Republican Party! If that is Julie’s definition of co-opting, well, it is what it is.

But I’m also among those who also believe that many of those things the TEA Party stands for (things the GOP tended to drift away from over the last decade) should become part of the Republican platform. Not all “establishment” politicians are bad and some have decided to bring about change as they can within the system.

For these and other reasons, yes, I was surprised that Langer departed from his stated positions. I know he disgusted several of his potential supporters, including me – as I said, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather. Perhaps Julie’s seen that side of him but I thought he would be more of a man of his word.

As Andrew has, I’ve also spoken at some length to Mary Kane. We had a sometimes-spirited discussion but it wasn’t enough to convince me to give her my initial support. Simply put, I think there are at least two and possibly three others in the race who would do a better job. My observation is based on the past history of the Kane family being in charge of the party and things she has said in both the phone conversation and in writing.

So, yes, color me surprised. Obviously it makes sense that Jim Rutledge would endorse one of his former campaign workers for the post but this one came out of left field – I would have expected Andrew to go in another direction.

Former MDGOP Chair candidate makes surprising choice

So much for my short hiatus from MDGOP politics – you could have knocked me over with a feather.

As he was preparing for a long-planned trip to Algeria, Andrew Langer wrote the following on his Facebook page:

I’m asking you to support Mary Kane for Chairman this Saturday.  I know this may come as a surprise to some of you, but since withdrawing from the race last week, I’ve had the opportunity to have a number of conversations with Mary—and it became clear to me that we share the same vision for the MDGOP.  It is a vision of strength and unity, one in which we all work together towards a common goal of electoral victory.

Mary has expressed tremendous enthusiasm for the principles that were articulated in my Vision 2010 statement—enthusiasm to the point that she has asked me to work with her on implementing those visions.  So those of you who were excited about the ideas contained in that document, you should rest assured that under Mary Kane’s leadership (with all of us working together), those ideas will move from concept into reality.

Mary also has a few key factors which make her the best choice for us in 2010:

1)      She has pledged that she is not using the Chairmanship of MDGOP as a springboard to another office.  I know that is an area of concern for many people, as we want a Chairman who is going to be focused on building and strengthening the MDGOP, not merely holding a post or adding to a resume.  This is implicit in Mary’s understanding;

2)      Mary has proven organizational experience.  This cannot be understated—whoever comes into this job ought to know how to manage an organization.  This is not the same as running things unilaterally—a great leader knows how to bring people together and move them towards a common goal.  She has already offered me some solid ideas as to how to bring the party together, and get the executive team working as a core group.   I think those ideas terrific;

3)      She has excellent fundraising credentials and connections.  Perhaps the most important role of a party chairman is raising money—and as someone who runs a non-profit organization, I can tell you that takes know-how and know-who.  You need to know the art of fundraising, and have some great ideas as to where that money is going to come from.  Again, Mary and I have talked about the development efforts articulated in my Vision statement, and other ideas that she has.  I am more-than-satisfied that she is going to be able to not only build on our fundraising successes of the past year, but substantially pass them.

We need to move beyond the clique mentality.  And I say this as someone who hold deeply conservative and libertarian beliefs.  I believe that we can grow this party by building on those core values, and created a plan for us to get there. 

With Mary Kane as Chairman, we can implement that plan.

Fair enough. However, there are other candidates who fall under each of the aspects Andrew pointed out about Mary Kane as well. I would suspect that, with the possible exception of Alex Mooney, we probably won’t see the other contenders deciding to run for something in 2012 or 2014. And this was the reason Eric Wargotz took a pass on the position.

Personally I would rate fundraising and messaging over organization, and one could also argue that others in the race excelled more at both aspects than Mary did.

Yet what makes this announcement by Langer most surprising is that Kane is perceived by many as the “establishment” candidate while Andrew has deep experience with the TEA Party and the conservative activist movement. Certainly Mary didn’t step far outside her running mate’s moderate campaign to endorse the TEA Party message.

It will be interesting to see whether this endorsement by Langer could convince a few more people within the convention to vote for Mary. The appeal may work for backers of some better than others, but I can’t see those new, more conservative TEA Party activists who attend the convention embracing Mary Kane right away. They’re the ones who feel left out of that “clique mentality” and some may even whisper the word, “sellout.” Unfortunately, Langer won’t be around to refute the charge.

MDGOP horserace: the update

It’s beginning to look like there will be five candidates for Chair; at least that’s how many are actively campaigning at this time.

Today we had a quad-county Central Committee meeting (Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester) and close to two dozen committee members were present. While we had no candidates visit us directly, we heard briefly from three candidates for Chair (Mary Kane, Alex Mooney, and William Campbell.) And while Mike Esteve and Sam Hale did not contact us directly, it’s by happenstance that I have received their answers to my questions and I have also gotten an advance copy of what Mary Kane is sending out to the rest of the state. Furthermore, I am told that Campbell will also be answering my questions in the next few days, so hopefully mid-week I can put together a debate-style presentation featuring at least four of the candidates.

One advantage of getting together a group as we had today was getting a real live sounding board for reactions, which helps in determining who is a favorite and who has less of a chance.

Previously I had placed the odds and race synopsis here; consider this post an update of that one.

Reposting the odds:

  • Mary Kane (4-1): I spoke with her at length yesterday and she answered several of my questions. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of her platform is changing the Chair term to be two years, and I can’t say I disagree with that idea. But I still hear the perception that she’s too tied into the old guard which did little to improve the party over the last eight years since Bob Ehrlich was elected, and obviously as a previous member of his administration and running mate she’ll be part of that legacy. Still, she remains the favorite and having fewer people to contend with helps her.
  • Alex Mooney (7-1): The factor affecting his rise most is his decision to go ahead and go for party Chair (although he would accept 1st Vice-Chair if he loses, and saying that he could be first out if he’s an also-ran on the first ballot, even if it’s not fourth or fifth place.) Yet if you look at party building strictly from a fundraising standpoint, Alex has a lot on his side as he was a rainmaker for state Republicans. Also, he is a known quantity to a number of supporters and his conservative stances on most issues (except perhaps illegal immigration) would bring him favor among movement conservatives. (His 88.49 term rating for the monoblogue Accountability Project placed him second in the State Senate, trailing only Congressman-elect Andy Harris.) His conversation today assuaged a lot of concerns about how much time he could devote to the job as well.
  • William Campbell (8-1): I have heard a few rumblings that the state party was a little less than forthcoming with information he requested, so his effort has been more of a face-to-face one. Yet he seems to be impressing those he talks to, and his late-blooming campaign may be hitting its stride at the proper time. Since it’s highly unlikely anyone will secure a first-ballot win I still think Campbell could be a compromise choice when the time comes, or he could get the endorsement of one of the other also-rans to push him onward.
  • Sam Hale (8-1): Certainly there are those in his corner, but the odds don’t improve for him as much as they do for fellow conservative Alex Mooney because Mooney attracts many in the same wing of the party Hale draws from – but with Alex accruing the added benefit of perceived fundraising ability. In addition, there are still a number of people skeptical that a man Hale’s age would have the connections necessary to build the party’s coffers. (By comparison, Mooney is 39, Kane 48, and Campbell 63.) Yet Hale has boundless energy and a background in grassroots organizing so you can’t count that out completely among the nearly half of Central Committee members who are new and may be new to politics.
  • Mike Esteve (20-1): Consider the problem of age and experience that Hale faces and you get the reason Mike faces the longest odds, since he’s even younger. Granted, Esteve has some ability in convincing a voting population that he’s leadership material as the head of Maryland’s College Republicans, but the perception is that the CRs are minor-league while the game that’s being played at this level is the big leagues. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s nominated for a Vice-Chair position from the floor.
  • The field (75-1): As always, we could have the darkest of horses being nominated from the floor. Daniel Vovak has written me (no, he’s not running) that there may be another candidate – Mike Phillips of Montgomery County – but Phillips may decide to run for one of the lesser positions as well. At this point, I would put Phillips among the ‘field.’

For reference, here were the previous odds so you can see how candidates have moved over the last week:

Original odds 11/30/10: Kane 5-1, Wargotz 8-1, Campbell 10-1, Andrew Langer 12-1 (withdrew), Hale 15-1, Amedori 18-1, Mooney 20-1, Esteve 25-1, field 50-1.

First revision 12/2/10: Kane 5-1, Eric Wargotz 7-1 (withdrew), Campbell 10-1, Hale 12-1, Amedori 15-1, Mooney 15-1, Esteve 20-1, field 75-1.

Second revision 12/3/10: Kane 4-1, Mooney 10-1, Campbell 12-1, Hale 12-1, Carmen Amedori (withdrew) 15-1, Esteve 20-1, field 75-1.

Of course, any new developments will be brought to you as I’m able to bring them to you. Watch for my questions and answers provided back to me to be posted around mid-week.