The saying that time gives one perspective is certainly true.
As a result, I submit a few observations on this past bi-annual ‘Publican Jamboree in Timonium aka ChairFest 2013.
The spring 2013 MDGOP Convention was capped off by the Main Event, the election of a new MDGOP Chairman to serve until 2014.
The deluge of debates, campaign emails, county central committee visits and endless Lincoln-Reagan rubber chicken dinners has thankfully come to an end.
The campers arrived Friday evening ready to indulge in the traditional Friday evening festivities of hopping between the various hospitality suites to indulge in food and adult beverages.
When driving up to the hotel one was immediately confronted with a sea of Waterman signs.
Not to be outdone, Collins Bailey had about 20 enthusiastic sign wavers fully decked out in Bailey campaign swag.
Of course, Friday nights at MDGOP jamborees would not be complete without plenty of hospitality suites.
For the second convention in a row most of the buzz and the action was at the Maryland Liberty Caucus suite on the first floor.
The evening featured several speakers, Darren Wigfield, Frederick County Central Committee, Delegate Michael Smigiel, District 36 Cecil, Chris Zeauskas, Chairman Cecil County Central Committee, Dave Pridgeon, Foundation for Advanced Conservative Leadership and Commissioner Richard Rothchild, Carroll County.
Delegate Smigiel amused listeners with tales of the House fight over Owe’Malley’s gun grab bill SB 281.
He noted that the Democrat delegates had a near total lack of knowledge concerning firearms and how, as a result, he and other Republican delegates were able to add unconstitutional poison amendments to the bill in order for it to self destruct in court.
Commissioner Rothschild noted one thing that counties can do to fight the tyranny in Annapolis is for counties to band together and nullify or refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws at the county level which was greeted by loud applause.
By Friday night it appeared it would be a battle between Diana Waterman and Collins Bailey.
On Saturday it was time to get ready to rumble.
It was the Establishment versus 2 grassroots candidates.
It became clear The Establishment was going to pull out all the stops to make sure that their candidate, Waterman, would win.
Thugging The Vote
Around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday there were some very unusual maneuvers occurring on the Credentials Committee.
County Chairmen, allied with Diana Waterman, were working hard to revoke the proxies of members who were not Waterman supporters.
In Charles County, Chairman Kirk Bowie kicked off proxy JT Crawford, son of Joe Crawford, a Bailey supporter.
It seems the Chairman challenged the proxy of a member, a recent widow, who gave the younger Mr. Crawford her proxy.
This controversy swirled for a couple of hours with multiple phone calls to the member until the distraught member was near tears and ultimately relented to Mr. Bowie exclaiming that he should just do what he wanted.
In Talbot County, Chairman Nick “the Knife” Panuzio was successful in striking a pro-Bailey proxy holder for a pro-Waterman proxy.
It was reported that a similar situation occurred in St. Mary's.
With the credential drama ended, the time for the election finally arrived.
Bailey, Kline and Waterman were nominated for the Chairmanship.
On the first ballot there was no winner.
The vote total was Waterman 264, Bailey 207 and Kline 75, leaving Waterman 11 votes short.
After the vote concluded there was a very solemn conference going on among the Kline and Bailey camps.
The ultimate result of that was that Kline decided that he would defy the odds and stay in the race for another round of balloting.
On the next ballot Kline lost half of his support while both Waterman and Bailey gained votes.
However, Diana Waterman was propelled to victory.
The final vote tally was Waterman eking out a tight victory by 9 votes more than required at 284, Bailey 225 and Kline 35.
Now that the 1st Vice-Chair was vacant nominations were heard for it.
There were 5 candidates for the position: Mary Burke-Russell - St. Mary’s, Dwight Patel - Montgomery, Mary Rolle - Frederick, Scott Shaffer - Anne Arundel and Collins Bailey - Charles.
Collins won handily on the first Ballot.
The vote tally was as follows: Bailey 275, Rolle 84, Shaffer 72, Burke-Russell 69, and Patel 37.
This was a win for the grassroots as they have a friend and someone willing to listen in Collins Bailey.
The chain of events after the first round of balloting for Chairman was interesting.
The Kline and Bailey camps appeared to be genuinely cordial to one another.
It was reported that during that pow-wow that when Kline was deciding what to do that Bailey told him that if he thought he should stay in for one more round, he should.
That’s just Collins being Collins.
However, if one of their goals was to get a grassroots chair and get Pope off the RNC Rules Committee, then the Kline team really needed to be able to see the writing on the wall.
The only thing that would be accomplished with Kline remaining in the race would be the election of Diana Waterman as Chairman since she was 11 votes away and it would be virtually impossible for Kline to get enough to get close.
The Bailey team was prepared to endorse Kline had the outcome been reversed.
The supporters of these two groups clearly had more in common with each other than with Waterman and Pope.
Had either become the Chairman the other groups would have certainly had a seat at the table and would have had their ideas and input considered, and if found workable, implemented.
The Kline guys seemed like a decent bunch, but they clearly need to get better at reading the tea leaves.
As Tea Party activists, Liberty activists, and other grassroots groups move forward from here it is important that we unite for common goals.
These include not only continuing efforts within the state party, but seeing the bigger picture of how what we do and who represents us at the RNC will have an impact on the direction of the party nationally.
At future RNC meetings Waterman, Pope, and Ambrose will be voting on a lot of issues that will affect the party and the grassroots activists that do the hard work and without whom the GOP will not be able to win national elections.
Among the things that will continue to be considered at the RNC will be efforts to fix the 2012 Rules so that the party is returned to its historic bottom up grassroots power structure.
In addition, the Chairman, National Committeeman, and National Committeewoman will be voting on the implementation of the controversial "GOP Growth & Opportunity Project."
It is obvious that Louis Pope will continue to block any changes to restore the grassroots and will vigorously maintain the status quo.
If adopted, the “Growth and Opportunity Project” will put into place policies that will negatively affect the grassroots activists and their candidates on the national level.
A sampling of these policies are:
regional primaries where large groups of states vote on the same day
the elimination of caucuses
a big reduction in the number of debates
All of these things are stifling speech and the exchange of ideas.
delegate penalties for candidates that participate in debates not officially sanctioned by the RNC
As the party of ideas we should have as much debate and discussion as possible to make sure we get the best Presidential candidates.
We've had enough dogs as our standard bearers.
If the process becomes about which candidate has the most money to carpet bomb multiple states simultaneously with radio and TV ads during a series of regional primaries . . .
. . . we are guaranteed to continue to lose the White House with flawed Establishment candidates like Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.
Also included in the "Growth and Opportunity Project" is advice that we moderate the conservative message.
This is another losing recommendation.
When we run with an unvarnished conservative message, we win.
When we run as Democrat-lite we lose.
This should not be surprising.
After all, when confronted with a choice between your mother and your step-mother who will you choose?
Most people will choose the real thing.
After the 1st Vice Chair vote was concluded then House Minority Whip Tony O’Donnell and Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin delivered their respective post session legislative wrap up.
From there the convention devolved into its usual parliamentary chaos with the votes on several By-Laws Amendments including:
giving the Chairman the ability to borrow up to $10,000
If we really want to break new ground in the MDGOP there really needs to be a focus on correcting the lack of Parliamentary procedure during these conventions.
giving the College Republicans and Young Republicans a vote, along with MDGOP Treasurer and Secretary, on the Executive Committee
In addition, going forward the MDGOP leadership MUST allow a proper amount of time to conduct the party business.
Four hours twice a year is NOT enough time.
At every convention, business is rushed.
This leads to the break down of parliamentary procedure.
Business is left unfinished and the Chairman typically rushes events to a conclusion before we are thrown out of the meeting room.
The business of the party is important enough to conduct it properly and with deliberation.
If another day needs to be added to the convention to accomplish this then it should occur this fall.
Where From Here?
Now begins the tough task of steering the direction of the party.
The MDGOP I believe now finds itself in a box especially with regard to fundraising.
The MDGOP Establishment is back in control of key positions after a brief interregnum under Alex Mooney.
The Audrey Scott/Bob Ehrlich wing have re-assumed control.
Donors, especially potential big donors, will see it as back to business as usual.
Likewise, Tea Party activists, Liberty activists, and various other grassroots activists also see it as back to business as usual- losing, being shut out and not heard.
As a result, they will likely be reluctant to donate time and money.
Chairman Waterman and the rest of the MDGOP Executive Board are going to need to demonstrate by word and deed what is going to be different if we are to succeed.
What are donors and activists getting for their time and money?
What is our message?
What are our principles?
If you elected more Republicans in Annapolis and in the counties, what things will change in a measurable way?
If this is not done then it will be Groundhog Day at the MDGOP.
Most Awkward Moment
The most awkward moment of the weekend was on Saturday during the morning workshop events.
One of the workshops called “Growing The GOP” was hosted by Louis Pope and Diana Waterman.
The awkward moment occurred when I walked in the room to discover an overflow crowd of 7 people.
I will leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions as to the meaning.
Even A Blind Squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.
The weekend’s squirrel was Louis Pope.
Pope reacted like a blushing maid upon the election of Ms. Waterman because he knew that with her election his place as Maryland’s representative on the RNC’s Standing Committee on Rules was assured.
Pope breathed a large sigh of relief that he would be able to continue as the GOP Establishment’s tool to thwart grassroots activists and their candidates.
During the weekend Pope was heard to say, “I am the grassroots.”
The Reluctant Ingenues
One of the luckiest pols of the weekend was Cecil County Executive Tari Moore.
The chaotic end of the Convention and the continued practice of the MDGOP of not allowing enough time to conduct the party’s business allowed Moore to dodge the bullet of a resolution of condemnation and censure kept from being brought back before the State Central Committee.
The resolution was offered by Cecil County Chairman Chris Zeauskas at the Fall convention, but it was tabled at that time.
On Thursday evening before the convention Moore sent an email to all Central Committee members telling them the resolution was a local political matter, aka none of your business, and cited President Reagan’s 11th Commandment, never criticize another Republican while urging unity aka shut up and sit down.
This would be laughable if it were not so pathetic.
One would have to ask why Moore was quoting President Reagan since she is not even Republican any more.
The only reason for her actions were to attempt to save her shameless political skin.
For those not following this continuing drama, Ms. Moore became notorious when she became a turncoat after her election as Cecil County Executive in November 2012.
Moore ran a campaign of deceit for her own political gain.
She ran as a Republican because the GOP brand carries a strong likelihood of success in Cecil.
Moore also sought and received the endorsement of the MDGOP Chairman, Alex Mooney.
She sought and received campaign funds from the MDGOP.
Once safely elected, Moore became a turncoat and renounced her membership in the Republican Party . . .
. . . so that she and not the Cecil Republican Central Committee could nominate and affect her replacement to the 5 member Cecil County Council.
Did Moore have a sudden epiphany? Hardly.
She interfered with the established political process so that she could appoint someone who would help enact her liberal agenda.
Moore has gone on to appoint Democrats to important positions in Cecil County.
Turncoats are never to be trusted.
By her actions Moore has revealed herself to be unprincipled and untrustworthy.
She should not only be censured by the MDGOP for her traitorous actions, but she should return the funds the MDGOP donated to her campaign.
Remarkably, Moore still receives the support and sympathy of MDGOP Establishment politicians David Craig, Andy Harris and E.J. Pipkin.
Pipkin and Harris tag-teamed to publicly endorse Diana Waterman for MDGOP Chairman late in the campaign cycle.
Diana Waterman supports protecting Tari Moore from any Maryland Republican Party action.
Pipkin and Harris's vote of support for Diana Waterman was nothing less than a vote to protect turncoat Tari Moore from any Party action.
Why would E.J. Pipkin and Andy Harris put personal political calculations ahead of the best interests of the Maryland Republican Party?
The connections go round and round.
It’s just one more example of professional Establishment politicians circling the wagons to protect each other.
And we wonder why voters become cynical?
Remember, friends don’t let friends support traitors.
Central Committee members should be upset with Delegate O’Donnell considering the glowing support he gave to the ascendancy of Uber radical Tom Perez, a key Obama Administration henchman, for Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Dept of Justice.
Marylanders will remember him as President of the illegal immigrant lobby Casa de Maryland.
O’Donnell offered this glowing support of the thoroughly modern Marxist, along with former MDGOP Chair John Kane, despite the strong opposition of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
You can see O'Donnell's letter here on page 3 and Kane's letter here in support of the radical Perez.
One has to wonder why O’Donnell and Kane would support a Marxist socialist like Tom Perez.
The explanation of professional courtesy simply does not wash and is symptomatic of the problems with the GOP Establishment.
With Republicans like O'Donnell and Kane, who needs Democrats?
Perez has now been nominated by The Emperor for Labor Secretary.
If confirmed Perez would be the most radical cabinet secretary since FDR’s former VP and pro-Stalin Agriculture Secretary, Henry Wallace.
Thanks to The Blue Ridge Forum for the information and PDFs.
Drums Along The Severn
It turns out that the GOP caucus in Annapolis has decided that Establishment methods of dealing with the Democrat junta were not working and a new direction was required.
Delegate O'Donnell was ousted recently by House Republicans.
There are a couple of new sheriffs in town.
The caucus elected a new Minority Leader in Nic Kipke and new Minority Whip in Kathy Szeliga.
Unfortunately, this doesn't signal much of a change.
Now Minority Leader Nic Kipke voted for the following:
Medicaid Expansion (increased spending by $620 million dollars)
4 out of the last 7 capital budgets (increasing public debt by $70 billion dollars)
Forced unionism for all teachers in Maryland
And the beat goes on. . .
The Curious Case of Andrew Harris
Two recent actions on the part of Congressman Andy Harris puzzle me.
First, as we mentioned, Andy Harris (along with E.J. Pipkin) endorsed Diana Waterman for MDGOP Chair.
Why would Harris, a self-proclaimed Tea Party Congressman support a top-down Republican Party?
Why would he side with The Establishment against the grassroots conservatives that propelled him into office over Frank Kratovil?
The longer Andy Harris is in office the more he sides with The Establishment and not with the grassroots.
Second, is Andy Harris's recent endorsement of Cecil County Executive Tari Moore's proposed county budget.
Why in the world would a U.S. Congressman get involved with a local county budget process? Very strange.
Why is it that Andy Harris feels the need to support a proposed county spending increase of $7.4 million dollars and raises for county employees proposed by Tari Moore?
Ironically, Harris calls this increased largess fiscally responsible!
Moore's budget also increases a number of local fees on county residents and gives millions of dollars in extra handouts to the local school system.
Does Moore feel that weak that she needs his support?
Or is it a power and patronage building exercise?
Why does Andy Harris continue to run interference for Tari Moore? Hmmm…
Rather than having his fingers in the Cecil County budget it would appear that Harris should be more mindful of events in DC to stop the specter of Maryland socialists.
Recently, 43 House Republicans including the current Chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Steve Scalise, and former RSC Chairman, Jim Jordan, signed a letter opposing the nomination of Tom Perez as Labor Secretary on the grounds of . . .
. . . his “divisiveness, putting politics above good public policy and the politically charged atmosphere of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Rep. Harris’s name never made it onto that letter.
The question is, why not?
When the opportunity comes to blunt a Maryland politician’s chance to advance the cause of Socialism it would seem that Andy Harris's signature would be on the letter.
Perez’s confirmation hearing will be on May 8th before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
You can read the letter from the 43 House Republicans here.
We have a lot of work to do within the Republican Party to take us to victory.
I hope that some of the issues I've highlighted in this e-mail provide you with a starting point.
Member, Harford County Republican Central Committee