Is showing up only half the battle?

Because they’re my ideological cousins – and have occasionally received my vote – I keep track of what the Libertarian parties of Delaware and Maryland are up to through social media. Every once in awhile I think about changing my registration over to their party, but like a bad case of the stomach flu that feeling passes rather quickly once I remember where they stand on issues like abortion and marriage. If they were inverse on economic and social issues they would probably be Kennedy-Humphrey Democrats of a bygone era.

That being said, though, I want to point out a couple things the current Delaware LP chair, Will McVay, noted on social media. Let’s set this up with a very descriptive opening set of paragraphs:

There’s a man. He’s a registered Libertarian. He was born in 1948, making him 73 or very close to it. I only know his name because I just now read it off of the voter file, but for the sake of his privacy we’ll call him DB. He’s been a registered Libertarian in the State of Delaware since 1972. Wikipedia only acknowledges our affiliate being founded in 1975 so this man registered Libertarian before Libertarian was even really a thing here. I do not know him from meetings. I do not know him from conventions. He’s voted in every general election going back to at least 2004, but we have never met.

I could ask some of the few people who have been involved here longer than even I have, and maybe one of them might recognize DB, but there are others just like him who registered Libertarian in 1976, 1978, 1979, and 1980. These people have been registered Libertarian in Delaware since before I lived in Delaware. Since before I was even born. They don’t come to county meetings though. They don’t come to conventions. They don’t come to bogus “special meetings” commanded by the LNC in violation of their bylaws and ours to involve themselves in the petty drama that seems to be the focus of far too much of our time lately.

They registered Libertarian 40 years ago or more, they protect our ballot access, and I’ll bet you they are consistently voting for us in elections when one of us is on the ballot.

But they have better things to do than to take two hours out of their month and 6 hours out of their year to involve themselves in the governance of our party and it is frankly an insult to expect them to.

Will McVay, Delaware Libertarian Party Chair, December 5, 2021.

Most of you know my background: I was active for over a decade in the Maryland Republican Party, and I’m sure we’ve had hundreds, maybe thousands, of DB’s in the GOP all around Maryland and Delaware. Having been a minority party in these states for decades, the long-timers sort of knew what they were getting into when they signed up, and so did I.

However, I was one of those who did take a few hours out of my month and an overnight trip twice a year to involve myself in the governance of our party, and I assure you the sausage-making was as gruesome as advertised as we argued around and around about bylaw changes that may have threatened someone’s fiefdom. (In my case, that was the Rule 11 controversy when Heather Olsen and I decided the state party should ask the rank-and-file before advantaging one candidate over another in a contested primary.) All those business meetings did little or nothing to elect Republicans, but the parties of the previous evening may have had a little benefit in creating the conditions for further collaboration. That and they were fun.

Having never experienced a Libertarian convention, I can’t comment on their sausage-making but it appears they have more than their share of controversy, particularly based on their election results. Don’t worry, though – I have a few Democrat friends in high places, too, and they suffer from the same malady. Maybe that’s why it’s only the few who sign up for the grief.

Anyway, there was one other passage from Will that I really wanted to hone in on because, frankly, I think it needs something of a rebuttal.

If we are truly a political party and not a social club, then the metrics of our success are not how many people show up to our meetings or how much engagement we can get on a social media post by provoking people to argue with some edgy hot take that alienates more people than it converts or energizes. The metrics of our success are people joining our party. People voting for our candidates. Of course we want people to get involved, volunteer, contribute, run, and do all the other things, but those self selected passionate few are not our customers, in the marketing sense. They are our employees and our investors. The people who don’t show up and do all of those things but still register with us and stick around voting for us for 40+ years are our customers. DB is our customer.

The “Patriots of (sic) Delaware” and before them the 9-12 groups and Tea Party groups also showed up and volunteered and did all the things. The result has been an absolute tanking of DEGOP vote totals since Christine O’Donnell knocked out Mike Castle in a primary and now the Republicans do not hold a single statewide office and can’t even block bills requiring a 2/3rds vote in the Delaware Senate. They have been catering to the people who show up instead of the people who don’t and it’s destroying them.

Will McVay, Delaware Libertarian Party Chair, December 5, 2021.

By this assumption, I am now a customer of the Constitution Party since that’s how I’m registered at the moment. For practical purposes, though, we’ll say I’m a Republican since my ballot (in contested races) only included the duopoly, a Libertarian, and a member of IPoD and in all but one of the cases last time I pulled the trigger for the GOP.

There are two main points I would like to make here. In a lot of cases, the TEA Party and 9/12 groups brought people who were political agnostics into the fray and pulled back those who had wandered away, disillusioned with the direction the country was going. (I think I have a sort of “showed up” idea on this one.) In fact (and this may be of interest to Will) the TEA Party started out with a heavy libertarian influence until they exited because its Venn diagram collided with Christian conservatives who saw the TEA Party as an extension of the Founders’ Judeo-Christian beliefs – and there were far more of them. That was the point where the TEA Party may have jumped the shark but certainly it was much more mainstream by then.

But anyway, those people who were the TEA Party and the 9/12 also became the volunteers for the GOP side, but all that meant in Delaware (and almost everywhere else) was that the battle was joined because for years the Democrats and Big Labor had all those things, plus plenty of money. Trust me, I lived that one too because Toledo is a heavy union town and I’ve been a Republican working a polling place, spending time with the union thugs, for much of my voting life. That was way before the TEA Party.

As for the second part of Will’s assertion, I think it’s something of a chicken-and-egg analogy. Certainly Mike Castle was one Republican who could win consistently in Delaware, but you have to go back decades to find a time when the parties were truly competitive. Based on voter registration totals, it can be argued that the O’Donnell-Castle primary may have turned off GOP voters because their share of the registration totals have since declined. But I found this is part of a long-term trend, and it was such an interesting study to me that I decided to cut this part here and make this thought piece a loosely organized two-part series rather than spend another thousand words on a post rapidly veering toward tl:dr territory.

Trust me, you’ll be glad I did.

The price to pay

It really wasn’t my intention to write about this election very much, as I would rather try to shape post-Trump conservatism, but there is an occasion here for a lesson to be taught.

Late last week we began hearing the rumbles about a letter to the RNC, signed by a number of concerned party members, urging them to stop financially supporting the flailing Trump campaign and concentrate their declining finances on saving the House and Senate from a Democratic takeover. The latter was already a strong possibility thanks to the sheer number of Republican seats in play – the TEA Party wave election of 2010 comes home to roost this year in the Senate. Among those signing are onetime Maryland YR chair Brian Griffiths and my “partner in crime” Heather Olsen, who resigned earlier this summer as county chair in Prince George’s County because she, too, could not support Donald Trump as the GOP nominee.

While I have had my differences with Griffiths over the years, it’s more rare that I disagree with my friend Heather. Yet I believe there are two good arguments for keeping Trump in the GOP financial loop, despite their (likely correct) contention that it’s “throwing good money after bad.”

First of all, those who climbed aboard the Trump Train early on were completely and utterly convinced that he would absolutely steamroller Hillary Clinton just as he has built up his business empire. But now that the polls being reported on a near-daily basis continue to find Trump not only losing nationally but putting several “safe” GOP states in play, these backers not only claim the polls are “fake” but also point to other (non-scientific) polls showing Trump has a “YUGE” lead and analysis saying he’ll win in a “landslide.” So apparently this money is going to a good cause, right? These militant Trumpkins are going to be covered regardless – either he wins and then the purge of the #NeverTrump group from the GOP begins, or he loses because he said early on “I’m afraid the election going to be rigged.”

So if you withhold the GOP money from Donald Trump, it’s just going to be another thing to blame his loss on. “We had these huge rallies and we knew we had this election in the bag,” they will wail, “but Reince Priebus and the GOP establishment wouldn’t give us any support – they must have been in cahoots with Hillary.” Don’t you dare give them that excuse.

As for the second reason, the Republican Party simply needs to be taught a lesson on its own and sometimes the only way to get the point across is letting them utterly fail. They had the chance, several times, to do something to avoid this situation – closed primaries, penalties for skipping debates and insistence on participation to the end, or allowing convention delegates to vote their conscience, as examples – but they did none of these things, allowing a candidate with far less than 50% of the Republican vote to skate off with the nomination. (This doesn’t count the policy failures of Republicans in Congress.) As I have said before: you break it, you bought it. Give Trump the money he’s due, and when the election is lost all of those involved will hopefully resign in disgrace for what they have done to a great party and a great country.

So when I get my appeals for donations to the national Republican party (and even the state version) I’m not giving them a dime. This is actually nothing new for me, since I would rather give to the individual candidate I believe in than a party organization that will be as likely to support a candidate edging left of center as it would a conservative (and perhaps more.) And too often they place their thumb on the scale in a primary even though it’s against their policy to do so. (Heather surely recalls Rule 11 being used for Maryland in 2010.)

It looks more and more likely that a bitterly divided Republican Party will endure electoral disaster unseen in a decade this November. (Maybe it’s years ending in 6, since the last several of those have been horrible for national Republicans – they lost all of Congress in 2006, Bob Dole lost in 1996, they lost the Senate in 1986, and Gerald Ford was defeated in 1976. 1966 was the last successful one.) But just as the Democrats are now split between the radical progressives that backed Bernie Sanders and the establishment which went for Clinton, the GOP is rent asunder by the schism between conservatism and the alt-right populism best expressed by Donald Trump (and, to a certain extent prior to that, Sarah Palin.)

Once we get to 2017, the question will be that of who blinks first. After the new Congress and administration is sworn in, it will be time for the GOP to get together and select new leadership. If things go as expected in November, the January RNC meeting will be must-see TV for political junkies as the fate of the resistance is determined.

But if the right people are placed in charge, the few million dollars wasted on Trump at the expense of Congress will be a memory because many may be willing to open their wallets again. In that respect, perhaps the Trump candidacy will be the catharsis the GOP needed to begin on a path to a post-Trump conservatism. We can only hope.

A regional juxtaposition

In looking at the speaking itinerary for an upcoming event, I think the Worcester County GOP has put together an interesting pairing for its upcoming Lincoln Day Dinner on April 5th at Lighthouse Sound just outside Ocean City. (The restaurant has a Bishopville address, but is located on St. Martin’s Neck Road just off Route 90.)

The two speakers listed would seemingly represent the establishment vs. the pro-liberty group of the GOP, but all is not what it seems.

National RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day is listed as the primary speaker, and she is considered by our National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose to be her mentor. But despite Day’s lofty status at the RNC, there was one action which earned the respect of grassroots activists everywhere. From the Potomac TEA Party Report:

Remember the controversy in the spring of 2009 about whether Michael Steele’s RNC would endorse Charlie Crist for the Florida US Senate seat when conservative Marco Rubio was the up and coming challenger in the Florida Republican primary. Sharon Day was the one hold out of the three national committeemen for Florida who refused to sign the Rule 11 waiver letter! She said NO! She said that the voters should choose their candidate in the primary and not have it decided by Michael Steele and the boys in Washington!

If only one of Maryland’s esteemed representatives at the national level at the time had that sort of foresight! There are still some hard feelings about how Rule 11 was handled in the 2010 election cycle, and it could all have been avoided.

On top of that, the second speaker is Patrick McGrady, Chairman of the Maryland Liberty PAC. They are no stranger to controversy either, as the Liberty PAC is vocal on a number of issues. Nor is he foreign to this site.

Perhaps the controversy closest to the heart of the Worcester County faithful is the HB1513 debacle – not that it would directly affect Worcester County, but the principle of General Assembly members inserting themselves into the Central Committee in that way is probably just as troubling to them as it is to many other such groups around the state. At this time, Worcester has just one resident Republican delegate (Mike McDermott) but could potentially have two after November – Mary Beth Carozza is running in the newly-created District 38C while Somerset-based Delegate Charles Otto had the southern portion of the county added to his District 38A during redistricting in a brazen effort to eliminate the pesky Delegate McDermott; instead, McDermott is running for the Maryland Senate.

Obviously, though, there are some who consider McGrady’s group bomb-throwers who add nothing to the conversation; thus, it will be interesting to see what he has to say at the Bishopville event.

A week later on April 12, Wicomico County will have its own Lincoln Day Dinner. We’re inviting the four gubernatorial candidates to speak before our gathering, and there just might be some other announcements there as well. Stay tuned.

Controlling the message

As you are certainly aware, I have a voice and a vote in the workings of the Maryland Republican Party. To me, though, it’s not about the lady and seven other gentlemen I work with on our Central Committee or those we elect to represent us on the state level. I would even argue it’s beyond the 20,867 or so Republicans in Wicomico County, 2,139 of whom I thank once again for keeping me in my seat for another term in 2010. I happen to believe I represent most of the million or so conservatives who haven’t yet abandoned Maryland, so my philosophy is trying to share information and advance a conservative agenda more or less in line with the aims of the Republican Party. Yes, I will veer off in a libertarian direction at times and might even stop in the liberal camp on a rare occasion, but with most Republicans I’m sure I rest comfortably in that 80 percent agreement zone.

Yet there are some in the party who seem to have a much more myopic view. As a prime example, they seem to believe the upcoming Chair election is only a concern to those who will actually vote on it; worse yet, they seem to be taking pains to only portray their chosen candidate in a positive light. Far from representing their 11,173 constituents, they seem to have formed an insular club that will see no evil, hear no evil, or speak no evil about their preferred choice. Allow me to present Exhibit #2. (Note: this doesn’t seem to work on all browsers, but it did work on IE and the link is good too. You just have to come back here to finish.)

[gview file=””]

The reason this is Exhibit #2 is that Exhibit #1, a link to a note reposted by Andrew Langer and written by Virginia RNC National Committeeman Morton Blackwell refuting recent claims by our National Committeeman Louis Pope about a deal between Blackwell and former MDGOP Chair Alex Mooney in placing Nicolee Ambrose on the RNC Rules Committee and shedding light on Diana Waterman’s role in last summer’s convention rules brouhaha, was only on the Talbot GOP Facebook page for a few short minutes before being deleted. (Mark Newgent shared the note on the Talbot GOP page as well as some others.) Exhibit #2 was my response to that redaction.

There’s no doubt that the Talbot GOP and their Chair Nick Panuzio have the right to do what they want on their page (as well as write misguided policy statements like this) but to me this reflects a mindset that it’s only about the views of their Central Committee and not about informing the rank-and-file Republican voter. (Very astute readers may recall that Panuzio moved to adjourn our convention in the fall of 2011 rather than further discuss the Rule 11 resolution Heather Olsen and I presented to that meeting. So shutting down debate seems to be nothing new with this crew.)

I get that they seem to be solid Diana Waterman backers, but I believe in order to select the right Chair we need to vet our candidates carefully and question their motives when needed. Remember, it was Louis Pope writing on behalf of Diana Waterman who made the Blackwell accusation in question. The objection many had to the change wasn’t solely in the removal of Nicolee Ambrose from nomination to the Standing Rules Committee but in the manner by which it was handled. To me, it was Rule 11 all over and the MDGOP shouldn’t operate like that.

I’m not sure how many readers I receive from Talbot County but this is a practice within your county’s Central Committee you should be aware of. Perhaps in 2014 you can advocate for candidates who will be more open to the party’s membership.

The next Rule 11?

If you’ve been reading here awhile, you probably know I was one of the most vocal opponents of the adoption of Rule 11 in favor of both Andy Harris and Bob Ehrlich two years ago. (If you have not been reading, this is what I’m talking about.) Last year, my like-minded friend Heather Olsen and I came tantalizingly and agonizingly close to making the Maryland GOP seek permission from the rank-and-file before adopting the rule in the future.

Well, the Republican National Committee has done it again, ramrodding through another rule change which is seemingly designed to enrich the powerful at the expense of the grassroots. This is one take on how Rule 16 was adopted:

Others who have chimed in say “these kinds of stunts are not acceptable and should not just be ignored” and “the establishment stole the GOP.” The new rules are a reaction to the “insurgent” Ron Paul, some say. (Boy, do I know how that goes.)

The scenario I fear, though, runs as follows.

Mitt Romney wins election in 2012 but is a centrist disappointment to those liberty-minded Republicans who re-elected a House majority and took back the Senate for the GOP, yet become dismayed by the backsliding in those bodies. Despite GOP majorities in both the House and Senate, Obamacare isn’t fully repealed, spending is still too high, and there’s little movement in getting government out of the way. Things are better economically, but the country still isn’t running on all cylinders and Democrats are planning an aggressive midterm campaign to build upon the lies and smears against the TEA Party (and, by extension, Republicans) recited by minority liberals and parroted by a compliant old-line media.

Because of that, President Romney’s approval rating is less than 50 percent, with Democrats obviously united against him but Republicans also not giving him great marks. They expected more movement on key issues I outlined above, and the honeymoon was short-lived thanks to the perception created by the media.

So Mitt Romney goes into his re-election campaign with the outcome in some serious doubt because rank-and-file Republicans are clamoring for a rightward direction that Romney and the establishment aren’t providing. Yet Rule 16 would make the 2016 nomination process a coronation rather than a discussion of ideas necessary for the party to advance the causes of liberty and limited government they claim to stand behind.

There is a silver lining, though. Another rule passed by the body in Tampa allows for changes in the rules to be passed by a 3/4 majority of the RNC body rather than remaining static through the four years between conventions. And while many considered that to be another way the establishment regains control of the party they feel slipping away to liberty-minded TEA Party members like myself, I can also see this as giving us the slimmest chance to succeed in revoking this disastrous rule before 2016.

Obviously the first step is getting a solid, monolithic bloc of 1/4 who will resist any changes to the rules to further favor incumbent, establishment candidates and encourage robust debate from all factions of the GOP. But there has to be a further push to get the rule rescinded before the 2016 nomination process begins.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear my statement is not to necessarily say we need to challenge an incumbent President Romney – although a primary battle wouldn’t bother me because I like to have options. In fairness, though, I have to point out that on the recent occasions where an unpopular incumbent faced a challenger from within his own party (Ronald Reagan vs. Gerald Ford in 1976, Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter in 1980, Pat Buchanan vs. George H.W. Bush in 1992) all ended up losing their re-election bid. On the other hand, incumbents who received a free ride (Ronald Reagan ’84, Bill Clinton ’96, George W. Bush ’04) won their second terms. In the modern era, we are fighting an uphill battle because Barack Obama didn’t receive a primary challenger and beating him in 2012 would overturn decades of history.

Returning to point, in Maryland we have three votes of the 168 total Republican National Committee members. Obviously two of the three weren’t making a big deal out of this change because I didn’t hear the names Louis Pope or Alex Mooney standing up against the new rules. I will say, though, it’s possible they could be on the pro-liberty side if enough people see this as an issue, nor do I know how the Maryland delegation voted because it was a voice vote and not a roll call, as it should have been given the closeness of the vote.

Instead, I believe this is a job for Nicolee Ambrose to take on, since she wasn’t officially part of this process – her term as National Committeewoman only began when the gavel came down on the Tampa convention. I’m convinced those who worked for her election are not going to be pleased if she doesn’t make a stand for the activists who elected her in a bitterly-fought contest. Going with the establishment flow and ignoring the grassroots who actually help the most with winning elections is the kind of move I would have expected from an Audrey Scott, but I hope for a better direction from Nicolee.

I’ve already talked to a few members of our Central Committee, and they are as upset about this as I am. While we know electing Republicans is job one, I suspect this is going to stick in our craw after the election. Don’t be surprised if our Fall Convention becomes a little more interesting once all the state’s Republicans gather together to discuss this issue along with the election results.

The Scott response

Just as I did with Scott Shaffer a few days ago, I’m going to publish Audrey Scott’s refutation of points made by yours truly and others in its entirety, aside from minor formatting revisions to make this work on my site. It will not be blockquoted.

This comes from a letter to Central Committee members, with two pages being a general letter and a third page entitled “My Response.” I’ll have additional comments at the conclusion, which will come after Audrey’s note commences on the other side of the jump.

Continue reading “The Scott response”

Shaffer responds

This was addressed to the members of the “quad county caucus,” which presumably means that the 36 or so members of our four central committees (Wicomico, Worcester, Dorchester, Somerset) received this e-mail. It was in reply to the post I did endorsing Shaffer’s opponent, Louis Pope. I am posting this as closely as I can to the original, with slight edits as needed for formatting and shortening links. I’m also choosing not to blockquote the letter; instead I’ll divide it manually.

In a recent article on Monoblogue, Michael Swartz of Wicomico County endorsed Louis Pope in the National Committeeman’s race, because as he put it it’s “a case of six of one and a half-dozen of the other.”  With respect to Michael (Monoblogue is one of my favorite reads), I’d like to point out some differences between Louis and myself.  At the end of the day, I’ve never been the type to hold grudges.  Whether a Central Committee member endorses or votes for Louis is his/her prerogative, and I’m not going to let that stop me from working with said Committee member in trying to make our party better.  But if anyone votes for Louis simply because they see no difference between the two of us, then I have utterly failed in communicating my vision for National Committeeman.

First off, Louis Pope is a two-term incumbent who believes that he is entitled to the position as long as he wishes to hold it.  He has characterized the National Committeeman role as a job reserved only for the most senior member of our party, essentially nothing more than a reward for past service.  On the other hand, I am an advocate of term limits (at my very first county Central Committee meeting after being elected, I proposed a bylaws amendment instituting term limits for Anne Arundel Central Committee members).  I have stated that I would not seek this position beyond a second term, because it is imperative to the party that we bring in new people and new ideas on a regular basis.  Allowing the party to be run by the same small group of people for decades at a time has done nothing to advance our cause.  Furthermore, I believe that any election like this should be based on future expectations – what the candidate is proposing, not what they’ve done in the past.  The NCM role is too important to be treated as a retirement package or social club membership.

Second, Louis was responsible for the Rule 11 waiver in 2010.  But this is only one example of a demonstrated pattern of behavior.  He has consistently used his position to sway the results in contested primary elections, by giving unfair advantages to one Republican candidate over another.  This year he served as state campaign chair to the Romney campaign, dismissing the other candidates.  Now, he is attempting to force a slate of at-large convention delegates and alternates on the State Central Committee at our upcoming convention.  My view is that no party officer should be publicly favoring one candidate over another in a contested primary – whether by waiving Rule 11, joining a campaign staff before the primary election, or otherwise endorsing a candidate before the primary.  Contested primaries make our party stronger, and the job of our party leaders should be to create a level playing field that allows all factions of our party to be heard, and ensures all candidates have a fair chance at winning over voters.  Louis believes he should decide the primary outcomes; I believe the voters should be the ones making those decisions.

I also believe that one of the main responsibilities of this role is constituent service.  For Louis, constituent service means nothing more than showing up twice a year at our conventions, and delivering a speech dictating the RNC’s decisions to us.  My pledge as National Committeeman is to contact all 24 county Central Committees before each and every RNC meeting I attend; finding out what you need from the RNC so I can truly represent you.  Any speech I give at the MD GOP conventions will include status updates on those items important to you.  Along the same lines, the state party needs to do a better job of “sharing the wealth” within our state.  For example, the annual Red, White, and Blue fundraising dinner should be rotated around the state – and not simply handed to Howard County each year.

Louis believes it’s ok to spend RNC money on his reelection efforts (despite claiming he pays his own expenses).  I’m sending you an email (not a “Paid by the RNC” mailing).  As the minority party in Maryland, I believe we need to do things better and cheaper, like making the MD GOP’s communication efforts with the Central Committees 100% electronic.  Besides cutting out wasteful spending, this also makes us more efficient.  We all know what happens when we have to have a 10 day notice required because we’re relying on the US Mail.

Louis has lost the respect of many of his RNC peers, first by mismanaging spending on the Tampa convention and approving a budget putting the RNC in unprecedented debt, then by trying to stonewall RNC efforts to investigate that misspending and related rules violations.  I have already been extended an invitation to join the Republican National Conservative Caucus and the RNC Conservative Steering Committee by other RNC members should I win this election.  As much as my opponent would like you to believe it, Maryland’s stature within the RNC will not be diminished if he isn’t returned to the post.  In fact, our credibility will be restored.

Here are two articles you should read about Louis Pope’s tenure on the RNC, and here are two items you should read about how my vision differs from that of Louis Pope.

As I alluded to earlier, our state party has been held back by a small number of people in positions of power, who put their future ahead of the party’s future.  We have “leaders” who seek to hold on to their titles indefinitely.  We have fundraisers who would rather take their rolodexes to their graves than pass on their skills and contacts by mentoring and training the next generation.  We cannot survive as a party as long as there are people within it who are “too important to lose.”  A big focus of my campaign has been on the need to grow our party within the younger generations of voters, to begin recruiting younger candidates who can reach those voters, and to ensure that our institutional knowledge doesn’t end once our current leaders are gone.  But this will not happen as long as there are people at the top who refuse to get out of the way; people who would rather horde their few table scaps of power than ensure our party’s future.

Thank you for your consideration as your next National Committeeman.  I look forward to seeing you at the convention.  In the meantime, please visit my Facebook page to learn more about me and my campaign.


In all honesty, I wish Scott had written this position paper about two to four weeks sooner because one of my chief complaints about his campaign was that it was so low key for several weeks. Because he was unknown to so many of those who serve on the 24 various Central Committees, it was truly up to him to make the rounds and explain why we need to topple the lone incumbent running. You can’t run your campaign in the last few weeks, because first impressions mean a lot in this particular election. His effort doesn’t favorably compare to the one Nicolee Ambrose is running in terms of mileage driven and meetings attended, at least that I’m aware of.

Now I’d like to respond to a few of the points Shaffer brings to the table. First of all, I don’t believe Louis Pope should be on the RNC for the rest of his life; in fact, I would make the case that 12 years is enough should he be fortunate enough to win this time. It’s why I believe Scott should pursue another party office in 2014 and if he’s still interested make a 2016 RNC run, which I’m more likely to support should I be able to win another term myself. If I do, that would be my last one because I’ve no interest in serving beyond 12 years either.

On the question of neutrality: I think some confusion over that was part of what doomed the Rule 11 resolution Heather Olsen and I put up at the Fall 2011 state convention. It’s a double-edged sword – for example, I was a Herman Cain backer at the time but I was also careful to note that the remainder of my Central Committee may not have agreed with me.

Yet being on the Central Committee should not preclude having an opinion on who is the best candidate. Where I object is when the party places its imprimatur on one candidate over another. And while Louis was one of those who invoked Rule 11 in 2010, he was a backer of our amendment last fall – even though he didn’t think it would be necessary anymore.

While I think Scott is understating Louis’s role to some extent – I recall Pope going through the finer points of fundraising at a seminar during a convention held in my first term, before Shaffer joined the AARCC, as one example – I do agree with Shaffer that communication could be better and Pope could be more of an advocate for individual concerns. That extends to Shaffer’s next point as well, although I would have to look and see about the “RNC money on his re-election efforts” since I don’t have any of Pope’s correspondence in front of me.

As far as the next charge, I would be interested to see those invitations. I’m quite aware that Louis is not the most conservative Republican in the Maryland party.

Yet I most agree with Scott’s final assessment of the state of our party. Having said that, though, and taking into account his paean to conservatism regarding those invitations he’s received, I’m having a hard time reconciling his conservative stance with his opposition to the effort to overturn Maryland’s newly adopted same-sex marriage law – a bill that almost every Republican in the General Assembly voted against. This places Scott on the opposite side of many who attended our quad-county meeting tonight. (I have much more on that tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on when I receive a certain piece of information.) Given that particular stance, I have a hard time supporting Scott. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t work with him if successful (so far in my five years on the Central Committee I haven’t voted for a single Chair on the first ballot, having voted against Jim Pelura, Audrey Scott, and Alex Mooney in succession) but I’ve grown to support them in time because they generally seem to have the party’s best interests at heart.

So it’s still pretty much six of one, a half-dozen of the other. I’m voting for Louis Pope, but I can see the case for voting in Scott Shaffer’s favor as well. Aside from one fundamental disagreement, he and I aren’t all that far apart. Shaffer can do a lot of good and prove his worth if he can lead Anne Arundel County as a testing ground for his GOP growth theories. We have 24 counties, and if something works in one it may be worth a shot elsewhere.

The inside baseball races

At the end of this month, I will be among nearly 300 Central Committee members who will vote for two of the three Maryland representatives to the Republican National Committee. As of this writing, both are contested races: Louis Pope is running for another four-year term against Anne Arundel County Central Committee member Scott Shaffer, while former party Chair Audrey Scott is running for a seat opened up by the retirement of Joyce Terhes. Her opponent is Nicolee Ambrose, Chairman Emeritus of the Young Republican National Federation.

It’s obvious that the GOP is at somewhat of a crossroads here in Maryland. The 2010 election didn’t go as well as the party would have liked at the top, since none of the statewide candidates even sniffed victory in their races. Just as a sad review, Bob Ehrlich lost by a 56-42 margin to Martin O’Malley, and he was the closest of the statewide losers. Bill Campbell lost the Comptroller race by a 61-39 count and Eric Wargotz was blown out 62-36 by Barb Mikulski. Worst of all, the party didn’t even field an opponent for Attorney General Doug Gansler, allowing him to save his campaign funds for a 2014 run and assist other candidates.

Down ticket, the state results were mixed. Republicans got back to their traditional 6-2 deficit in our Congressional delegation when Andy Harris avenged his 2008 defeat to Frank Kratovil, and they also returned to the 43-seat minority they enjoyed in the middle of the last decade – their best showing in the House of Delegates in modern history. And aside from the loss of two Maryland Senate seats in close races, the GOP was relatively successful at the local level in picking up a number of local seats.

But the Maryland Republican Party faces other problems as well. Their ongoing financial struggles meant they had to abandon their prime West Street office location for one a little more off the beaten path, a converted residence around the corner on Cathedral Street. Ambitious fundraising goals are set but not met.

Continue reading “The inside baseball races”

A possible rethinking

A little over a month ago I wrote a post which challenged Ron Paul to prove there was caucus fraud or get out of the race. Well, at first I was criticized by rabid Paul supporters who questioned my assertions, stating it wasn’t the candidate himself making them, well, until he actually made that suggestion. Of course they ignored me then.

But after the debacle on Saturday in St. Charles County, Missouri (or as blogger Bob McCarty termed it, the “St. Patrick’s Day Massacre“) I’m reminded of another incident in the recent past. And I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, though, I want you to read a couple other accounts (The Other McCain and All-American Blogger) of the incidents, including the comments, and learn that Ron Paul supporters sometimes leave a lot to be desired in manners. All done? Good.

Now you can continue past the jump.

Continue reading “A possible rethinking”

The beast is NOT dead

Could Rule 11 be resurrected by the Maryland Republican Party?

Well, Heather Olsen and I tried to place it off limits but fell agonizingly short at the most recent convention. But every time I hear the contention there won’t ever be a reason to invoke a waiver again, I’m reminded of two words: Roscoe Bartlett.

And on a recent edition of a heretofore unknown to me internet radio show called Purple Elephant Politics, MDGOP Political Director Matt Proud used the “unlikely to happen” defense regarding Rule 11, but guess which name came up as a possible exception? Listen beginning at the 14 minute mark.

Listen to internet radio with Perfect World Network Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Nice plug. But the trio makes a point I’ve stated myself – as long as there’s the possibility someone can use the rules to benefit one candidate over another in a pre-primary scenario, it’s a temptation that’s too easy to resist. (In an unrelated scenario regarding the U.S. Senate race, Potomac TEA Party Report blogger Ann Corcoran reports on the lengths that a former MDGOP Chair would go to in promoting her chosen candidate. Remember, Audrey Scott was a large portion of the Ehrlich/Harris Rule 11 decision.)

In listening to the show, it’s obvious that one of the hosts was at the convention but I don’t believe she voted for our proposal. While she may not have made a difference by herself, it makes me wonder if the Maryland GOP isn’t going to be torn asunder once again because we failed to slay this beast when we could have. I don’t have a dog in the Sixth District hunt, but by many accounts Roscoe Bartlett isn’t as conservative or as responsive as many of his constituents would prefer. While he doesn’t seem to have veered as far leftward as Wayne Gilchrest did, the Maryland GOP owes the voters of the Sixth District – or any other jurisdiction in the state – a decision without their thumb on the scale.

So the ball is in the court of our National Committeeman Louis Pope, National Committeewoman Joyce Terhes, and Chair Alex Mooney. They can fall for the establishment’s call to anoint a candidate, or stand up for what’s right for Sixth District voters.

MDGOP 2011 Fall Convention in pictures and text

At the risk of a slow-loading post, there are 30 photos on this one. But I took a lot more, and you know every picture tells a story with me. And this is the story of the Maryland GOP Fall Convention, brought to you by…

I’ll begin with Friday night, the usual social time for the convention. Even though I’d never been to the Sheraton in Annapolis, once I saw these I knew I was in the right place.

(Of course, I took that snapshot yesterday morning.)

But first I sat through the first portion of the Executive Committee meeting. We got as far as a brief budget discussion and Chair’s Report before being tossed out when the meeting transitioned to a closed session. Perhaps the most interesting pieces of news were the search for a new Executive Director had attracted 40 applicants and the “several options” for a new home, where the goal is to choose the “place that’s most fiscally responsible.”

So it was time to find a hospitality suite and schmooze for votes. Because I’m a Cain supporter, that’s where I started out.

They had lots of balloons both inside and out. Naturally they had pretty substantial food too.

No, it’s not Godfather’s Pizza. Unfortunately, to be authentic we would have to endure cold pizza, considering the closest Godfather’s location is in Lancaster, PA – 72 miles from Annapolis. (Yes, I verified that.) It’s the thought that counts, right?

But I didn’t get the one thing I wanted from there because they didn’t have this swag on Saturday.

My car doesn’t have the Cain sticker on it yet. Maybe later.

But they also had the most witty signage by far, like this example.

Compare this to the quite understated Mitt Romney suite.

Many of those present there would be what one considers party brass. I see a former Chair and a current Committeeman in this picture.

Actually, I had an interesting conversation there with Audrey Scott there regarding a post I made awhile back. (I think it may be this one where I quoted something I wrote from 2006, before I was on the Central Committee.) I’m glad Audrey appreciates my passion but if that’s what she’s referring to she’s barking up the wrong tree.

Returning to the present day, I can’t ignore the other Presidential candidate with a presence there – although it wasn’t a hospitality suite.

I think that was the only Gadsden flag I saw there, despite the perceived influence of the TEA Party on GOP politics. I’m sure there is a segment of the TEA Party which prefers Ron Paul, but I wouldn’t go so far as saying he’s the most popular in that group.

It was a Senate candidate, though, who had the sweetest suite. Check out this spread, practically guaranteed to induce a diabetic coma.

It belonged to Senate hopeful Rich Douglas, who was holding court there with sponsor and former Ambassador Roger Noriega.

Notice the lapel poppy for Veteran’s Day; a nice touch.

Not to be outdone in the sweets department, fellow Senate candidate Dan Bongino had plenty of Smith Island cake, thanks to a friend. He also had the biggest space.

And, at the risk of making this look like a Weekend of local rock post, he’s the first candidate I’ve seen at these affairs with a band. These guys were pretty good classic rockers – I’m told the singer bassist is one of Dan’s county coordinators.

The signage was a little wordy but touted his endorsements. Dan revealed he has a few more before he’s done.

Besides the Bongino suite, which had decent traffic, I found the host county’s suite the most popular.

Maybe it’s all the elected official sponsors.

Speaking of supporters, it’s also worth further exploring something I touched upon with the Ron Paul table. A number of political organizations and businesses catering to that field had secured spaces. Here’s some of the examples.

The fairly new Maryland GOP Hispanic Coalition promoted an upcoming event – a forum on illegal immigration next week in Ellicott City.

As we were informed during the convention, the fight over Congressional redistricting is not over yet. This group is looking to install a much cleaner and fairer apportionment.

We had no shortage of social issue discussion there either.

Perhaps this group knew PMM was coming, and attempted a little bit of point/counterpoint.

Senator Nancy Jacobs, the former Minority Leader in the Senate, had her own backdrop. But it doesn’t reflect yet her probable run for the Second Congressional District seat held by Dutch Ruppersberger.

She also took a few minutes to appear on Red Maryland Radio, which was on location with co-hosts Greg Kline and Jimmy Braswell.

This looks pretty simple, doesn’t it? Here’s Kline getting set up earlier on.

And if you want true radio gold, give this a listen just after the 60 minute mark. Yes, it’s my RMR debut – long overdue, I must say.

But in all candor it was enjoyable to be part of that remote. Yet the show which was even more interesting came once the sun rose over Annapolis again.

Our breakfast speaker was Frank Kelly III. Now Frank isn’t an elected official, just an interested citizen and business owner who was tapped to speak to us about the marriage issue – something the GOP was “a little bit involved” in.

But I learned a couple things from Frank on the pro-life front. At the time of the adoption of Roe v. Wade in 1973, Maryland only permitted abortion in cases of rape, incest, or threat to mother’s life. That changed in 1990 when abortion on demand was passed through the Maryland legislature. And the chief Democratic opponent? A Senator named Frank Kelly.

The younger Kelly got emotional as he recounted how his dad’s eight day filibuster against the bill ended up costing him a pretty safe seat in the Maryland Senate, where he served three terms from 1978-90. “People were spitting on us” at the polls that year, but “my dad stood for life.”

Returning to the marriage front, Kelly also mentioned how the “language of discrimination has been artificially inserted” into the same-sex marriage issue. Gays want approval for their lifestyle, and thus anything said in disapproval is automatically labeled “hate speech.”

Frank yielded a portion of his time to Maryland Family Alliance president Derek McCoy.

McCoy echoed Kelly’s remarks, but also warned “there’s a culture war being waged” in Maryland and nationally. “We’re fighting for a signpost of morality” for future generations on the marriage issue, noting that North Carolina and Minnesota will have that issue on the ballot in 2012, and Maryland might, too, if a same-sex marriage bill succeeds this time in the General Assembly. Last time pro-homosexual advocacy group Equality Maryland “rigged the system” and threatened business which didn’t support their bill, McCoy claimed, but “we kept coming from so many sides” that a bill guaranteed to pass didn’t.

After breakfast, I sat in on an interesting training session on the media while others talked about candidate recruitment, fundraising, and other intriguing topics.

At lunch, Chair Alex Mooney went over some upcoming events before introducing our speaker, Delegate Neil Parrott.

Parrott was blunt in his assessment: “We see this great country under attack today.” He pointed out that the TEA Party delayed Obamacare by a year, which pushed back other noxious legislation like cap-and-trade. We had won victories on national issues thanks to the influence of the TEA Party.

In Maryland, though, Neil still believed “the arrogance of the liberal leadership is appalling.” Still, the petition drive he spearheaded against in-state tuition for illegal aliens was a model which could be used elsewhere. And since only 1/3 of the signatures gathered for the drive were under contention due to the collection system, there should be more than enough to place the bill on the ballot despite a pending lawsuit. The internet-based system “worked like a charm” in driving down the error rate, and was “a new tool” we could use – provided there’s follow-through and the issue wins at the ballot box, too.

Parrott also brought up redistricting, saying the Congressional map was “ridiculous” and that “we can’t allow O’Malley to get away with this” on either the Congressional or state redistricting.

In closing, Parrott brought up the real-life examples of Wisconsin, Maine, and New Jersey to conclude change is possible if we work hard enough to make it happen.

Finally, it was time for the main event.

I already detailed the fate of our bylaws amendment, but there was a lot more said in the session. I’m going to focus on the reports of the Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin and House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell.

The newly elected Pipkin called it “humbling” to be selected as Minority Leader, but spent much of his time contending that Martin O’Malley wants to drive people back to Baltimore City through the War on Rural Maryland and its 1.6 million residents. Included in that assessment were the proposed septic ban, the “dangerous” PlanMaryland, Watershed Improvement Plans” which would cost 65,000 Maryland jobs, and the refusal to progress on extracting energy from the Marcellus Shale formation under Maryland’s panhandle. “O’Malley’s policies will kill jobs in rural areas,” Pipkin countered.

O’Donnell began his remarks by pointing out the GOP success in Virginia. “I sense it’s coming” to Maryland, he said, as Free State residents react to the prospects of higher gas taxes, Congressional redistricting which “insults the people of Maryland,” and a $28 billion time bomb of unfunded pensions and retiree benefits. He also had a message for the Fifth Congressional District: we “must hold Steny Hoyer accountable.”

We also heard briefly from Prince George’s County Chair Mykel Harris about the redistricting lawsuit he’s a plaintiff to. The Maryland GOP isn’t on defense anymore, he said, but instead “went on offense.” It’s fitting from a party that “passed civil rights and…will enforce it.”

Before we got to the bylaws amendment, we also received quick reports from our National Committeewoman Joyce Terhes, National Committeeman Louis Pope, Chair Alex Mooney, and Linda Hernandez of the aforementioned Hispanic Coalition. One item I gleaned from Mooney’s remarks was his claim that PlanMaryland is indeed subject to referendum. Very interesting.

So there you have it, the sights and words from our biannual get-together. Our Spring Convention should present a united front as the Presidential race will be pretty much decided, but we will have additional national convention delegates and alternates to select. In the meantime, Heather and I will likely redraft the Rule 11 amendment to reflect feedback we received, so look for that as well.

Rule 11 survives…barely

I plan on more complete coverage of the events of this weekend tomorrow, but this evening I wanted to update you on the status of the resolution Heather Olsen and I presented to the Maryland GOP Fall Convention.

Just as a review, and also to make things a little less confusing, this is the text of what we originally submitted. It would have been a new section of the Bylaws that’s currently reserved because of proposed changes last spring which weren’t completely adopted:


7.1 Political Activity of Members.

No member of the State Central Committee shall sponsor or endorse any candidate of a political party other than the Republican Party in connection with any partisan election or primary in which there is a Republican candidate. Failure of a member of the State Central Committee to comply with the foregoing standard shall subject such person to such sanctions as may be imposed by the State Central Committee, which may include a vote of censure and/or a request for the resignation of that member.

7.2 Neutrality in Primary Elections

a. Neutrality Policy. It shall be the policy of the Maryland Republican Party to remain neutral in all contested primary elections, unless waived as outlined below. This shall be construed to extend to asking the national Republican Party for a waiver of its neutrality rule to assist specific candidates, known as Rule 11.

b. Waivers to Neutrality. Waivers to this policy can be granted through one of two methods, either of which may be utilized at the discretion of the Chair:

1. At a state Party Convention, an affirmative Convention Vote of 2/3 of members present. This vote would be exempt from the procedures outlined in Section 8.4 of the Bylaws and conducted as a “one man, one vote” ballot.

2. Outside of a state Party Convention, an affirmative vote from 3/4 of the total number of Central Committee members. Affirmative votes confirming permission to waive this section must be received from at least 16 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions and represent 3/4 of the total number of Central Committee members, excluding vacancies.

c. Individual Members. Except for the restrictions made in Section 7.1, individual members of the State Central Committee are free to endorse any candidate in an individual capacity, but cannot do so in an official capacity to imply the endorsement of either their county Central Committee or the state party.

So that’s the basis in which we began the day.

Well, the first item out of the chute was an amendment to strike the second sentence of Section 7.2b (1) to eliminate the “one man, one vote” portion of the original. In truth, I had no issue with that although I would have preferred “one man, one vote” because I had two separate paths to adoption and presumably a vote at a county level would be conducted differently. But it wasn’t a deal-breaker to me to lose it.

There was some confusion over a second part of the amendment to strike the “excluding vacancies” clause in 7.2b (2) so that was eventually withdrawn by the sponsor. This change passed by voice vote, almost unanimously.

The second item was much more convoluted and controversial. Introduced by Prince George’s County Central Committee member Michael Gorman, it would have stripped the power to decide on a waiver from the Central Committee at large and given it to the Executive Committee. His amendment would have also weakened the mandate of 7.2a to become a non-binding advisement. Needless to say, Heather and I weren’t in favor of this amendment.

But a funny thing happened on the way to cutting off debate – Nick Panuzio of Talbot County shocked everyone by making a motion to adjourn. Since that had to take precedence over other business, we voted on that motion and it failed by a 313-178 margin in our voting system. (In actual votes, the margin I tallied was 100 for, 124 against.)

Then another motion was made to divide the question into two parts: one dealing with the advisement portion and the other with the transfer to the Executive Committee. This also took precedence to the amending vote, but it failed by the slimmest of margins in our voting system: 249.46 votes for to 249.62 against. (In “real” people terms, though, this would have passed 124 to 106.)

Yet it didn’t matter in the end, as we finally got to the question we were tallying when the surprise motion to adjourn took place – the Gorman amendment failed handily 307-194.

So it finally came down to our proposal, as amended to strike the “one man, one vote” system.

I can tell you that fourteen counties voted in favor, with nine against and one a tie.

In actual votes (by my tally) we had 119 yes votes and 109 no votes. So we had a majority in both actual people and the convention vote, which finished 287-208. But thanks to a rule change at our Spring Convention, we needed a 3/5 majority to pass this change and we fell a heartbreaking ten votes short. Based on 495 votes, we would have required 297 to win.

In the postmortem, I found out that the sole reason Howard County voted all nine votes against was because they wanted to introduce an amendment to make another change, one I could have lived with. But the question was called too soon for them to get to the microphone and those 25 convention votes cost us the ballgame. Now perhaps I could blame them for throwing the baby out with the bathwater but I can understand this wasn’t a perfectly written bylaw change – Heather and I just did the best we could.

So we will go back to the drawing board, although I’ve been told by at least one national committee member (who actually supported the measure) that he really didn’t think it would be necessary now. But I have two words for that member: Roscoe Bartlett. Hopefully with the early primary they won’t feel it necessary to place a thumb on the scale, but we need to watch them like a hawk to make sure. I spoke briefly with Dave Wallace at the convention and he seems like one credible alternative for those who think Roscoe has gotten too accustomed to life inside the Beltway.

As I said at the top, tomorrow I will have more complete coverage of the GOP confab. But I felt like I owed my readers the update on an issue I’m passionate about.

By the way, this will mark my return to Red Maryland – I’ve been away from that sandbox for far too long.