What Did the Washington County GOP Committee Think? – From The Blue Ridge Forum

What Did the Washington County GOP Committee Think?

Was a capable rising conservative candidate in Maryland, Michael Hough, waylaid by a Republican county central committee that only represents a small slice of the candidate’s district (3B — Frederick & Washington Counties) – – thus leaving it to the radical Democratic governor to choose the more congenial replacement for a departing Republican delegate?

Let the two concerned county Republican committees, Frederick County and Washington County, first tell their story in their own words – –

“Frederick County Republican Central Committee Press Release

FCRCC and WCRCC Vote on Replacement to Vacant Delegate Seat
Frederick, MD Wednesday, January 06, 2010: The Frederick County Republican Central Committee (FCRCC) and the Washington County Republican Central Committee (WCRCC) met this evening to fill the vacant seat in the Maryland House of Delegates (District 3B). The three final candidates were Mike Hough, Charles Jenkins and John Lovell. Each candidate was independently interviewed during a joint interview with both Committees. The final votes were cast by each sitting member of both Committees.After thoughtful discussion and deliberation, Mike Hough, was the chosen candidate to fill the vacant seat by the FCRCC. Charles Jenkins was chosen as the candidate by the WCRCC.The final nominations will be hand delivered the Governor’s Office on Thursday morning. The Governor will have up to 15 days to make the appointment official. It is anticipated that the Governor will perform this important task prior to January 13th which is the beginning of the 2010 General Session.For further inquiries, please contact Frederick County Republican Central Committee Chairman Kelly Schulz at 240-285-5540, or kmsremax@aol.com or Washington County Republican Central Committee Chairman Paula Lampton at 717-504-2053 or paulalampton@yahoo.com.”

To which release candidate Mike Hough replied – –

“If they proceed with this plan, it would allow the Democrat Governor, Martin O’Malley, to choose which Republican Delegate he prefers. 95.4 percent of the voters live in Frederick County, and 4.6 percent live in Washington County. Mike Hough won the vote from the Frederick County Republican Central Committee with a clear majority of 5 votes for Mike Hough, 3 for Charles Jenkins, and 1 vote for John Lovell.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

The Frederick News-Post’s Katherine Heerbrandt reported yesterday

“Hough . . . has called for the committees to revisit the decision and come up with one name. He’s right about a split vote being bad for Republicans. ‘I’m worried about Martin O’Malley making the pick,’ Hough said. ‘It puts a candidate at a disadvantage because he’s beholden to a Democratic governor, and that will set up a major primary challenge. It weakens whoever the governor chooses because he appears to be more liberal.’

Even if Hough hadn’t voted for himself, he would still be the victor in Frederick County, with four votes. Three votes went to Jenkins, and one to John Lovell. Washington County split 5-4, giving Jenkins the nod. The sticking point for Washington County, Hough said, is that he didn’t recuse himself from the vote. That didn’t sit well with the majority of its committee members.”(Underscoring Forum’s.)

In the event, both names were sent to governor Martin O’Malley.

Somehow the fact that candidate Charles Jenkins hadn’t signed the Maryland no-new-taxes pledge –  afoundational smaller-government document – – didn’t trouble the Washington County Republican insiders very much. After all, they may have have reasoned, former governor Bob Ehrlich didn’t do so and he quietly encouraged Republican state legislators to refuse to sign it lest their “flexibility” be impaired. Nor didRepublican state senator and Budget and Taxation panel heavy-hitter David Brinkley. And Maryland celebrity Michael Steele, when running for the U.S. Senate, took care not to sign the national no-new-taxes pledge.

The moral of our no-new-taxes-pledge story is that some Maryland Republican lawmakers are happy to oppose Democratic taxes, and some spending, but when the governor is Republican, taxes become “fees” and spendingis hardly discussed.

That behavior won’t wash with Maryland conservatives and independents any more.

Of the District 3B outcome, the chair of the Maryland Republican Party Audrey Scott said yesterday– –

. . . [T]he state GOP won’t get involved.

“’It’s absolutely a local decision,’ she said. ‘I have total faith in the local central committees. They followed their procedures.’

Scott disagreed with Hough’s assessment. She said O’Malley actually has little discretion — he’s required to pick one of the two recommendations he was given.

But, declared a leading Maryland conservative lawmaker, state senator Alex Mooney – –

“If you’re a Democratic governor, you’re going to pick a go-along-to-get-along guy,” Mooney said.

The perception moreover that the Washington County action is what conservatives may expect from the Maryland GOP Establishment can be deadly to grassroots confidence in the party.

Last week, the national Tea Party Patriots issued a trenchant warning – –

“The history of third party movements in this country is one of division and defeat.  We believe that it is instead time for all Americans to rise up and demand appropriate reform within their own parties.  The mechanisms exist for citizens to participate in their parties,and to drive their parties in the right direction.

The Tea Party Patriots encourage all citizens to get involved in the party process, and to reshape their parties into something in which they may once again believe.“ (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Does the Maryland GOP Establishment agree that “citizens . . . [should] reshape their part[y] into something in which they may once again believe.” Or do they think their party is “about right” just as it is?

Our concern is that state-level Republican Party sachems, not just the Beltway GOP, are often still deaf to national conservative goals.

Whatever one’s view on how the local Republican committee handled the Maryland District 3B vacancy, the basic question is how the many conservative-leaning independents as well as the Republican conservative basewill see the matter.

A combination of ham-handed Maryland GOP moves over the years has discouraged too many Free Stateconservatives.

In 2006 and 2008, we suspect many Maryland conservative-leaning independent voters as well as Republican conservative voters stayed home.  This year, some may be angry enough to follow a third party if nothing changes on the right.  A post on the Tea Party Patriots website gave some advice to help prevent this – –

“To win independents, conservatives, Tea Party Groups and the Republican National Party must lay aside whatever differences exist. The Republican Party is a good party with a solid structure based on sound principles. A third party won’t return errant Republicans to their principles, but together gathering behind a cause will.  Perhaps the US Constitution is a good place to start.

You can get involved:

To get active in bringing the Republicans and conservatives together to win go to: http://www.contractfromamerica.com/Idea.aspx

Readers are encouraged to read the National Tea Party’s entire post “The Grim Irony of Third Party Movements” here.


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