In the summer of 2013, former Bush Administration official Chuck Floyd launched Conservative Victory PAC with a strictly defined goal of increasing Republican numbers in the Maryland General Assembly. With 7 more Senators and a few more Delegates, the Maryland GOP could exert quite a bit of influence despite still being in the minority. A flashy video and a campaign plan set the stage at the PAC’s launch party in Potomac, MD.
Conservative Victory PAC will work to increase Republican numbers in the Maryland General Assembly by first…going to Virginia to help elect Ken Cuccinelli as Governor???
Of course, questions to Floyd were asked immediately. “Why are we financing Virginia’s elections? They can take care of themselves. We need to keep Maryland donor money in Maryland!” (I agree.)
Conservative Victory PAC’s line of reasoning was that they wanted to do two things in Virginia to supposedly benefit Maryland. First, they wanted to hold fundraisers in Virginia in 2013 to build a donor list that they could use to help finance Maryland races in 2014. Second, they hoped that a show of commitment from Maryland donors and activists for Virginia Republicans would necessitate Virginia Republicans repaying the favor by sending donations and activists to Maryland in 2014.
Both points are interrelated so I will address them as one. These ideas are utterly laughable.
I have worked in Virginia politics. There is a waterfall of utter disdain and contempt from Virginia Republicans toward the great State of Maryland. The constant barrage of negativity from Virginia Republicans against Maryland makes a proud Marylander with tons of Maryland friends and fun times in the state want to cut his wrists.
I have had countless conversations with Virginia activists over the years and have heard more stump speeches from Virginia politicians mentioning Maryland than I care to recount. What do Virginia Republicans truly wish for Maryland? Virginia Republicans want Maryland to die so that they can siphon away all of Maryland’s Republican voters to shore up their own at-risk Congressional seat in the 10th District, to quixotically have a shot at defeating Gerry Connolly in the 11th District, and to try to retake the statewide offices. That is what Virginia Republicans truly want to happen to Maryland.
Even if Conservative Victory PAC provided the needed resources that were a determining factor to put Ken Cuccinelli over the top in 2013, Virginia Republicans were never going to repay the favor. They have their own Congressional races and U.S. Senate race to consume their time in 2014.
Was there a hidden motivation for Conservative Victory PAC’s foray into Virginia in 2013? Could the fact that two of its board members – Lynne Blankenship and Chris Melling – live and work in Virginia have anything to do with this misguided foray into Virginia by a supposedly Maryland-focused PAC? (Trojan Horse alert!)
Also, Conservative Victory PAC has been noticeably absent from the Maryland General Assembly races in 2014, contrary to their stated commitment to such races exclusively back in 2013.
With no outside help and no reinforcements from the RNC, the Maryland GOP has continued to make strides in the right direction in recent years at the local level where it counts the most. There is a healthy and growing farm team of Republicans in Maryland and Maryland did not need Virginia’s help to make that happen.
Give credit to the Democratic Party. The Democrats truly care about all 50 states and will stand their ground to fight for their values in every state, even against insurmountable odds. “Moving” is not in the Democratic vocabulary. I know. I spent a large chunk of my political life working with Texas Democrats.
Republicans, curiously despite being advocates of “stand your ground laws”, have a penchant to flee their home states at the first implementation of liberal government policies. That is not a recipe for long term party growth. Republicans will never see national electoral success on the level with Democrats in the modern era if they continually write off California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, DC, and Maryland as “lost causes”. Democrats are fighting tirelessly in Texas as Republicans retreat from Democratic states. It is game over for the Republicans if Democrats succeed in flipping Texas in the next ten years.
This is why it is important for Republicans in Democratic states to recruit, equip, and elevate homegrown talent. People who have a longstanding, emotional connection to their home state (and folks like me who will relocate to Maryland in due time!) will be most fit to serve in a disadvantageous political climate. One of the best decisions the Maryland GOP has made in recent years was to start hiring in-state. In-state talent inside the Maryland GOP headquarters has proven to be more loyal, effective, and passionate than the out-of-state hired guns of the past who viewed Maryland as a stepping stone at best for their political careers. Maryland is a neglected and ignored neighbor in the RNC’s own backyard. This actually provides us with the prime opportunity to set an example on how to build a state party free from the RNC’s interference and cronyism.
I believe that each state’s politics generally exist as an independent unit largely unaffected by the political winds of neighboring states. All politics are local after all. It is true that Virginia is less liberal than Maryland. However, that does not mean that should the Republican Party in Virginia establish total dominance in the Commonwealth, that it would create a “rising tide that lifts all boats”.
In the alternative, if state politics are interrelated in some form or fashion, the following would be true. A Democratic Virginia would help build a more Republican Maryland. It would actually be in the best interests of Maryland Republicans to NOT help Virginia and let Virginia succumb to Democratic dominance. With no strong Republican neighbors, the RNC would have no choice but to be fair to all neighboring states with its time and money earmarked for local support. If Virginia was a solidly Democratic state, Republicans relocating to Washington for work would find Maryland more attractive and settle there. Some would plant roots and even register to vote as Republicans in Maryland. A Democratic Virginia will help build a Republican Maryland.
In the interim, let Virginia be the Washington GOP Establishment’s damsel in distress. As we speak, RNC and RPV efforts to hold Republican seats have become much tougher as known Republicans have moved out of Virginia since Terry McAuliffe’s election and as reports indicate that most new residents in Virginia in recent years are Democratic.
Maryland Republicans should be fully committed and invested in their home state. Focus on Maryland and Maryland alone. There is progress being made and if done properly, Maryland could be a true two-party state in ten years while Virginia becomes a solidly Democratic state.
Virginia – sell high. Maryland – buy low.
No, I am not referring to premiere political blogs of the same name. By the end of 2014, there is a small, but very much realistic possibility that we may see a Red Maryland and a Blue Virginia. Let us take a brief overview.
All Politics Are Local
All politics are local. National trends matter, but in the end, all politics are local. Weird things can happen within a state’s election results that will not be explained neatly within the confines of national trends and the limited knowledge of a national talking head on television. Yes, some of these guys are real con men getting paid 6 to 7 figures for talking political nonsense on television. Remember how Karl Rove and others of his ilk got egg on their face in 2012 prematurely writing about the end of Obama’s presidency?
Republican Bob Ehrlich won the race for Governor of Maryland in 2002. He defeated a Kennedy in his race – Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The Ehrlich-Steele ticket was also one of the most competitive showings for a Republican statewide campaign in the dense and heavily Democratic Montgomery County garnering over 113,000 votes. Being able to secure close to 40% of the vote in Montgomery County was the difference maker in the election for Ehrlich.
Meanwhile, Connie Morella, the longtime Republican incumbent in Montgomery County’s Congressional District lost. Bob Ehrlich and Connie Morella may both be Republicans, but that is where their commonality ends.
Bob Ehrlich is as conservative as you can be in Maryland. His voting record is much more pro-life than he claims to be. Ehrlich is a cultural conservative. In Ehrlich’s recent book which he wrote without the assistance of a co-author or ghostwriter, the chapter entitled “An Insecure Culture” is actually longer and more detailed than the chapter on national security.
Connie Morella is a liberal Republican that would make Nancy Pelosi blush. She supports abortion rights, strict gun control measures, progressive environmental regulations, government funding of contraceptives, needle exchange programs for drug addicts, and legalization of medical marijuana. Morella also opposed many tax cuts, opposed the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and opposed the Iraq War in 1991 AND 2002.
Why did conservative Bob Ehrlich win statewide in his first race for Governor in a Democratic state when longtime Congressional incumbent Connie Morella lost her reelection bid running on her liberal record in a liberal district?
All politics are local. Coattail effects don’t always materialize because each campaign needs to be viewed in the context of its own campaign.
A gubernatorial race is a state matter. In 2002, many Marylanders were upset about the direction of the state. After eight years of Parris Glendening’s Democratic administration, many Marylanders felt it was time for a change. Bob Ehrlich took advantage of this opportunity and presented them with the change they wanted. As a Congressman from Baltimore County, Ehrlich ran on his conservative voting record in Congress and promised Marylanders the change they wanted in Annapolis. Also, so goes Baltimore County, so goes Maryland. Every time a Republican has won statewide in Maryland, Baltimore County has voted for that Republican. Baltimore County is a swing district and a bellwether for the state of Maryland. It certainly helped that Baltimore County overwhelmingly voted for one of their own to be the Governor of Maryland.
A Congressional race is a national matter. In 2002, many Marylanders were upset with Congressional Republicans as they were simultaneously upset with Democratic Governor Parris Glendening. The Bush Administration was beginning to plan for the invasion of Iraq. Tom Delay was a very unpopular figure.
Democratic State Senator Chris Van Hollen ran his Congressional campaign against Connie Morella by repeating this one phrase. “A vote for Connie Morella is a vote for Tom Delay.” The Van Hollen campaign knew that even though Morella was a Republican, she was highly popular with Democrats and was able to easily win reelection every two years since her first election in 1986 because she was a liberal’s favorite liberal. The way to convince Democrats to stop crossing over to vote for Morella was to tie her to Tom Delay.
Never mind that in 1997, Morella voted “present” on the issue of the Speaker of the House, thus denying Newt Gingrich her vote. Never mind the countless instances in which she openly challenged GOP leadership. She was a Republican. Tom Delay is a Republican. Therefore, Morella has to go.
The line worked. Van Hollen won a close election. It also helped that redistricting added nine Prince George’s County precincts where Connie Morella was unknown and Van Hollen ran up the score in PGC.
Fast forward to 2014. Virginia does not have state and local elections on the ballot. There is one U.S. Senate seat up for grabs and all Congressional seats are up for election. Virginia Republicans, who already have a tendency to make state and local elections about Washington, have nothing but federal elections on the ballot with the U.S. Senate race as the marquee event. In an increasingly blue Virginia, Republicans are running against Barack Obama. Make no mistake. President Barack Obama is still a highly popular cultural icon in many segments of the population. Republicans thought that they could unseat Obama in 2012 and were absolutely convinced it would happen. It did not happen. Running against Obama in 2014 in order to maintain and pickup Congressional seats should not be viewed as a solid strategy.
Additionally, while Republicans are expected to flip some U.S. Senate seats, the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia held by Mark Warner is consistently rated as the least likely to flip in 2014 along with Minnesota. Al Franken is running for reelection in Minnesota. That Minnesota U.S. Senate seat will remain Democratic. Mark Warner is running for reelection in Virginia. Mark Warner continues to enjoy broad support from Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
Maryland, on the other hand, does not have a statewide federal election on the ballot. The marquee event is the gubernatorial race. Much of the Congressional races are so heavily gerrymandered to one party or the other that they are an afterthought. All focus is on state and local issues.
This is where Republicans have a window of opportunity in Maryland. Over 50 percent of Marylanders think the state is heading in the wrong direction. When Bob Ehrlich was elected Governor in 2002, the number of dissatisfied Marylanders was actually 39 percent. Many Democrats have soured on Martin O’Malley’s tax hikes and are willing to give Republicans a shot. Republicans are fielding legitimate contenders to flip State Senate and House of Delegates seats. Republicans are fielding candidates at the local levels to build on recent successes at the local level.
Unknown to most observers is that the majority of the counties in Maryland are now dominated by Republicans. In a state where Democrats have had a stranglehold throughout all of the political party realignments in American history, the Maryland GOP is quietly building a farm team for higher office. At the level of government that is closest to the people, Marylanders are starting to learn directly how Republican polices can improve job growth, public education, and the quality of life in their home counties. If you want to know about the long term health of a state political party, don’t look at the top. Look at the bottom. The local level is the foundation. The local level is the here and now and the future.
In regard to internal party issues and “inside baseball” matters, the differences between RPV and MDGOP could not be more stark. The Republican Party of Virginia continues to deal with civil war between grassroots insurgents of the Tea Party and the refined, polite establishment figures of the cocktail party (Editorial: The latter descriptor of the Establishment is NOT a compliment.). There are activists who will not lift a finger to help a nominee because figuratively speaking, the nominee drinks wine while the activist drinks beer.
[Note: Establishment/moderate vs. Tea Party/conservative is a false dichotomy. There are Establishment Republicans who vote like Tea Party people and there are Tea Party people who care more about promoting themselves than conservative principles. The real battle here is cultural. It is between the grassroots who are the kids loitering outside the school on their skateboards while the Establishment is sitting inside the air conditioned school at the “cool kids table” and enjoy favoritism in the classroom as “teacher’s pets”. [Editorial: The writer takes no sides in this debate.)]
However, on the prettier side of the Potomac, the Maryland GOP is showing a great deal of unity compared to the tenure of previous Chairs and Executive Directors which was often marked by fracture and fleecing. Current Chair Diana Waterman and Executive Director Joe Cluster are Marylanders invested in Maryland. They are working to empower candidates so they can spread common sense policies to move the state forward. They are not using their titles to check off a box for their own political ambitions or agenda and, just as important, they are not mouthpieces or puppets for any faction of the GOP. Everyone is focused on electing a Republican Governor and increasing Republican numbers in the General Assembly. The MDGOP leadership has also built a team of grassroots advisors to do yeoman’s work behind the scenes and start preparing for the numerous City and Town Council elections in 2015 to solidify the party’s foundation and create a formidable farm team to draft candidates for 2016, 2018, and beyond.
Where there is no vision, the people perish. The MDGOP is in better health for the long term than the RPV is. Many events can happen between now and Election Day 2014 and let us not forget the fact that the MDGOP faces more electoral disadvantages than the RPV does. However, anything can happen. If the MDGOP continues to press forward in unity while the RPV is mired in strife at all levels, don’t be surprised if we see a Red Maryland and a Blue Virginia after the election.
This is personal for me. Tex Fischer, like yours truly, is a fellow web designer. He is a good one too, who really should be paid a lot more than what he is currently being paid by clients. As vendors and consultants, we have been screwed by too many clients and campaign managers, even with written agreements. In fact, being screwed once is one too many times.
If you go to a restaurant and eat without paying, do you think you can walk away a free man? No. The restaurant will alert the police and you will face prosecution.
Why does the public tolerate campaigns that use and abuse vendors and consultants and refuse to pay them in the end? The sad fact is that some of the good politicians who deserve respect are as deadbeat as the bad ones. Sometimes it is not really the politician who stands in the way of payment but it is the campaign manager or chief of staff who is stiffing the vendor. It is the same thing in the final analysis.
You would think that politicians in a party that purports to support hard work and small businesses would pay vendors and consultants their full market value correctly on time. This is not the case in too many instances. If legal action is an ineffective deterrent because it is too costly for the vendors and consultants, public shame needs to be left on the table as a deterrence.
Meyer Marks is blacklisted.
The Tea Party consistently claims that their protests are routinely law-abiding and orderly as opposed to Occupy Wall Street. This is a truthful statement. On a side note, the right wing, despite their anti-government proclivities, certainly does not attempt to practice the effective strategies of civil disobedience employed by the left wing during the civil rights era. (I would argue that the right-wing can be more effective in generating public awareness if they practiced civil disobedience like MLK, but that is for later.)
However, that does not mean that the right wing are harmless little angels with clean hands. Here is a recent example of right-wing anti-government vandalism. A speed camera protester in Salisbury, MD spray painted speed cameras with the years “1774” and “1776”. These are two important years in the run up to the American Revolution.
Of course, in the minds of the hardcore right-wing, they can do no wrong and will try to blame this on the “liberals who are trying to make them look bad.” Sure. Whatever. We will let the judicial process run its course.
Meanwhile, let me reiterate this settled constitutional fact to the unhinged, right-wing partisans who claim to be the purest defenders of the Constitution. Time and again, the courts have ruled that, “there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place.” You may not like speed cameras, but they are a valid exercise of the state’s law enforcement power.
Delegate Ron George, candidate for Governor, building a new Maryland. The suggested donation is $30 based on the age Ron feels inside!
In an e-mail to MDGOP Central Committee members dated 8/23/13 at 5:47pm, former MDGOP Chair Audrey Scott and losing candidate for RNC Maryland National Committeewoman in 2012 has withdrawn from the State Senate race to replace E.J. Pipkin.
Republican Anne Arundel County Delegate Don Dwyer was arrested and charged with drunk driving on Tuesday. One year ago, Dwyer was charged with boating under the influence after injuring seven people in a boating accident and pleaded guilty in exchange for no prison time.
Dwyer is a right-wing extremist (for our Virginia readers, Don Dwyer is the Maryland equivalent of Dick Black/Dave LaRock/Bob Marshall…the Axis of Crazy) who is often the lone dissenting vote on bipartisan measures on “Constitutional grounds.” Maryland political insiders on both sides of the aisle do not rate him highly on the intelligence scale. Most recently, Dwyer held a political fundraiser in which he raffled off an AR-15 and an AK-47. You can be pro-gun and still think that this is an extremist stunt designed more to stick a needle in the eye of liberals and feel good about yourself instead of promoting self-defense in a positive environment. (I do find it ironic that Constitutional conservatives who adhere to “American exceptionalism” are willing to shell out their hard earned money for a chance to win an AK-47, an assault weapon made famous by the SOVIET UNION. Hello! Is there anything wrong with this picture?)
While many respected Republicans (there are plenty of them in Maryland) are urging Dwyer to resign since he has violated the public trust, there is a strong contingent of Republicans on Facebook and Twitter who are fiercely defending Dwyer. Some say he is a “patriot” as if that is a license for him to do whatever he wants. Others say that they would rather have Dwyer in office than some “RINO who will compromise.” So basically, these people would prefer a drunk clown who is 110% fire-breathing conservative than an upstanding, nice person who is 90% conservative. Therein lies the problem with today’s GOP.
This begs the question. If Dwyer is some sort of Constitutional conservative “patriot” who will cede no ground to Democrats and “RINOs”, is it that difficult to find Constitutional conservatives with integrity that these people must defend Dwyer at all costs? Some of Dwyer’s Constitutional conservative defenders feel like they are victims of a witch hunt and they possess the same victim mentality they like to accuse Democrats of possessing. Surely, if electable Constitutional conservatives with integrity exist, the grassroots would have no problem calling for Dwyer’s resignation because he would be replaced by a nicer, friendlier, and more upstanding Constitutional conservative. It makes you wonder.
Make no mistake. Integrity matters. A Constitutional conservative with no integrity is an embarrassment to the movement and stunts party growth, regardless of how reliable and uncompromising the Constitutional conservative is on his “principles.”
Yet, time and again, we see the same Republican voters who criticize Bill Clinton at every turn, vote for Newt Gingrich, David Vitter, Mark Sanford, and their ilk. Don Dwyer, who used to harbor State Senate ambitions, will aim to tap into this blind partisanship to win reelection in 2014 provided he is not forced out of office by then.
July 11, 2013
Mt. Airy, MD – Former Mt. Airy Town Councilwoman Wendi Peters announced her candidacy for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates (District 4 – Frederick County).
1:44pm: Let the revolt begin.
1:46pm: They are debating the rules. This is going to be a long day.
1:47pm: By the way, “unauthorized media”, which consists of the most respected outlets critical of the Interim Chair has been relegated to the back, including yours truly.
1:50pm: The infighting is well underway.
1:52pm: The microphone is breaking up and experiencing feedback.
1:53pm: This convention is out of control.
1:56pm: Roll Call.
1:56pm: “It is bad that my head hurts already?” – Jackie
1:59pm: Any impartial observer can tell you that this Interim Chair does not command the respect of the Party.
2:03pm: Cheers for the Treasurer’s report.
2:04pm: I am convinced that politicians and their activists have never matured beyond high school.
2:09pm: Motion to close nominations for MDGOP Chair.
2:10pm: Nominating speech for Collins Bailey is happening now.
2:15pm: Collins Bailey speaks.
2:19pm: Nominating speech for Greg Kline is happening now.
2:22pm: Greg Kline speaks.
2:26pm: The microphone stopped working.
2:27pm: Lots of cheers in the unauthorized bloggers’ row for Greg Kline.
2:27pm: Nominating speech for Diana Waterman, Interim Chair, is happening now.
2:32pm: Diana Waterman speaks.
2:36pm: The vote begins.
2:36pm: For once, *****Republicans are questioning the wisdom of a secret ballot*****. They want transparency at all costs.
2:37pm: Secret ballots will be governed by county chairs.
2:44pm: This vote will take a while. However, if you think this is bad with 3 candidates for Party Chair, get ready for 7 candidates for Lieutenant Governor and 2 candidates for Attorney General at the RPV Convention four weeks from now.
2:51pm: The votes are read.
2:56pm: No one got 50%+1 to win outright. Top two finishers are #1 Diana Waterman and #2 Collins Bailey. There is no requirement to drop out if you are in last place.
2:58pm: Meanwhile, I am eating another cupcake.
3:04pm: They are reading the votes for the second ballot. All three candidates have remained in the race.
3:08pm: Diana Waterman wins on the second ballot outright.
3:09pm: Collins Bailey would have won if Greg Kline dropped out and ordered his supporters to back Collins. Two candidates split the anti-Waterman constituency.
3:12pm: Awkward exchanges of support and unity going around.
3:28pm: Collins Bailey nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:30pm: Dwight Patel nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:32pm: Scott Schaefer nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:34pm: Mary Burke-Russell nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:36pm: Mary Rolle nominated for 1st Vice Chair.
3:40pm: Candidate speeches.
3:48pm: 5 minute recess.
3:49pm: No, this is not elementary school recess.
4:03pm: Collins Bailey wins outright out of a field of five.
4:08pm: Elected officials are addressing the convention.
5:00pm: This convention has devolved into a total clown show.