When I first heard about the Maryland GOP’s plans to follow Martin O’Malley around to other states, I thought it was a joke. Then I read a Red Maryland blog post and the party’s press release on the No Left Turn Tour. The only continuing joke is the Maryland Republican Party.
As a South Carolina native, who was active in the party for several years down there, I’ve been severely disappointed in the MD GOP the whole six years I’ve been here and I’ve written about it before.
The Washington Post said that MD GOP Executive Director David Ferguson, “vowed Tuesday that he or someone else affiliated with the state GOP will show up each time O’Malley attends an out-of-state event, starting this weekend in South Carolina.” As many have noted, the trip to South Carolina resulted in the rescheduling of Pathfinders training for candidates and other activists.
Jim Jamitis notes the following:
The South Carolina GOP actually gets Republicans elected to office occasionally. The Maryland GOP can’t even defend itself against O’Malley so how are they going to help a successful state party do the same? The man overboard can’t rescue the ship. If anything we in Maryland are in desperate need of help from the red states like South Carolina.
Specifically, South Carolina Republicans have won every gubernatorial election since 1988 except for one aberration in 1998. Every single statewide constitutional office is held by a Republican now – and that’s saying something. Statewide elected offices include Governor, Lt. Governor (which has been a separate office in the past but will be elected on a ticket with the Governor in the future), Attorney General, Comptroller General, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Education, Agriculture Commissioner, and Adjutant General. Additionally, both chambers of the legislature are Republican – the House since 1994 and the Senate since 2000.
The S.C. Republican Party puts on a presidential primary that is the First in the South and before 2012 had always affirmed the party’s nominee. Maryland’s presidential primary devolved into a choice between Ron Paul and John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney, Paul, and Rick Santorum in 2012. Maryland only has one Republican in Congress and neither Senator. The Palmetto State Republicans have both Senate seats and 6 of 7 congressional seats. Another thing to note is that voters in SC do not register by party and the party itself has precinct organization and conventions that start at the county level.
Richard Cross asks some important questions:
So why is Ferguson doing it?Maybe he sees this as a way to broaden his profile and, in the process, land a better gig in a state with a functioning Republican party or at one of the national party organizations.Or, maybe, he sincerely believes his personal presence in states like South Carolina is the only thing that can dash O’Malley’s national ambitions. Clearly the state that gave us Strom Thurmond is, ideologically speaking, fertile ground for someone with Martin O’Malley’s passion for higher taxes and spending. It’s the domino theory used to justify the Vietnam War all over again. Without David Ferguson’s man against the tank heroics, O’Malley may get a foothold in South Carolina, causing states like Idaho, Utah, and Alaska to tumble to him as well.Behind the scenes, Ferguson and his allies have started to backpedal, questioning the accuracy of Wagner’s reporting and claiming that the South Carolina trip is a one-off event.
I’ve also heard that another supposed reason for the trip is to recruit S.C. notables to come do events in Maryland.
Let’s look at the supposed reasons that have been floated since the original WaPo story and the revisionism since then.
1. The SC GOP needs the help to expose O’Malley.
Yes, because a Yankee Irish Catholic Governor who supports gay marriage, gun registration, higher taxes, very few limits on abortion, etc. is going to do so well in South Carolina. A SC blogger points out dueling press releases between the two parties in South Carolina (notice the Maryland Democrats aren’t lining up to jump into a fight in another state.)
2. The SC GOP needs the help against Vincent Sheheen who is challenging Gov. Nikki Haley next year.
Haley might indeed face a tough race next year against Sheheen, but it’s not something an out of state functionary like Ferguson from a state with an abysmal Republican track record isn’t going to be of much help. Some have claimed the SCGOP invited the MDGOP to come down there, but I’m highly dubious of that claim – why not just ask them for a press release, assistance in opposition research files, and other things that can be done via this amazing invention called the Internet.
3. The MD GOP can use this trip to get notables from the SC GOP to come speak in Maryland.
I’m not sure what the thinking on this one is. I don’t see any elected Republican in South Carolina being much of a draw in Maryland. Even if they were, what would any of those people want to come to Maryland for? Both U.S. Senate seats and the governorship have elections next year in South Carolina. All of the politicos have a full plate right now.
It looks like the Maryland GOP’s No Left Turn Tour has blown up in their faces (what else is new?)
Why call it a “tour” if it was only going to be one trip to South Carolina?
Why would SC GOP officials invite the MD GOP? One theory might be that the MD GOP invited themselves and put the SC GOP in a difficult position that would be hard to say no to.
As many of the other commentators on the right have said, it is an asinine idea that falls under the purview of interim GOP chair Diana Waterman, who has also angered people recently by removing Nicolee Ambrose from the RNC Rules Committee. Waterman, of course, is noted for her lack of political acumen in bragging on Facebook that she had named a black cow her family owned “Oprah.”
Why is the Maryland GOP so divided as a party that completely lacks power? Typically parties out of power hang tough together (the S.C. Democrats are a great example of this.)
Maybe the Central Committee system is at least partly to blame. It’s a great spoils system for the party in power and results in a bunch of infighting in the party that’s out of power for a bunch of relatively worthless positions. (My opposition to taxpayer-funding of internal party elections and party registration can be discussed another time.) The central committee system also needlessly rewards longevity as Richard Cross’ latest post points out.
Plenty of businesses are voting with their feet and leaving Maryland, and I wouldn’t be surprised if residents start doing the same thing. Is the Maryland Republican Party going to hang together and try to actually stop some of the liberal idiocy in Annapolis or are they all going to hang separately as they fight amongst themselves?
I’ve rounded up some more reactions below.
First MDGOP mandarins spent their time recruiting volunteers to leave the state to fight elsewhere in 2012, now they are spending their time & assets traveling around with Governor O’Malley holding competing press conferences. Friends, telling the true story of Governor O’Malley’s reign of economic destruction in Maryland is a necessary task, but this is an RNC task not an MDGOP task. We desperately need help here, at home. Our jobs, our schools, our hospitals are here, in Maryland. Email the MDGOP today at info@MDGOP.org & demand they fight here. We deserve better.
More from Jamitis that pretty much sums things up for me as well:
I admit to being somewhat of a GOP outsider. I’m not involved with any central committee in any significant way, nor have I ever been active in “Republican” circles. I am however an active conservative and a concerned Marylander. As a conservative, the GOP is my default political party because 1) the Democrats in this state are as crooked as a three dollar bill and 2) there is no other viable party. That said, I don’t like what I see from the Maryland GOP leadership.
More reaction from Jackie Wellfonder:
There is also the overall sentiment that many activists are appalled at the MDGOP sending leadership out of state, whether it’s on their own dime or not (which I have a hard time believing) because it’s reminiscent of party leadership bussing volunteers out of state to support Mitt Romney instead of focusing on races here in our home state of Maryland.
Also be sure to read the latest from Richard Cross – an excerpt:
Maryland Republican Party Executive Director David Ferguson’s decision to blow off a long-scheduled training session for candidates to shadow Governor O’Malley in South Carolina, and interim Chair Diana Waterman’s decision to remove National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose from the RNC Rules Committee, both serve to reinforce conclusions I drew about the MDGOP when I blogged about the National Committeewoman’s race a year.
The MDGOP consists of two primary factions: The “Ins” and the “Outs.”
The Ins consists of party regulars, especially creatures of the central committee apparatus.
The Outs are activists who first got involved through other activities, such as blogging, working on a campaign, running for office, or involvement in national political organizations.
The Ins want to preserve the primacy of the status quo.
The Outs want to change what they regard as a culture of failure.