Thursday, November 29, 2007

MD GOP Convention thoughts...

This weekend, the Maryland GOP has it's fall meeting. Some thoughts...

After the loss of the Governorship, even though Bob Ehrlich had better-than-50% approval ratings, the party changed.

It went from finally having power (after about 40 years in the wilderness), to again being considered not relevant, impotent, and a non-entity. The only way to stave off these considerations from being reality is to come together and work together. We have perfected the art of the circular firing squad, where we kill our own while at the same time take fire from each other. Yes, 5 Republicans voted with the Dems for slots, and if they hadn't it MIGHT be possible that the tax plan would have failed. However, that is a possible outcome in an alternate universe that did not happen. We will never actually know for sure if it would have made a difference. Hound those 5 if you want, but at least the party did stick together voting against the taxes. But the O'Gov won, as the Dems will always continue to do, at this point, (as former Governor Ehrlich often would say) "because they can". Only when they can't anymore, when a true two-party option exists in the state, can we hope to stop them. Oh, we can make a difference here and there, if we can win public opinion and get it angry and riled up- see "Jessica's Law" as an example. For the most part though, we can only hope, at this point, to be a thorn in the Dems sides. Oh, we can debate amongst ourselves, as we should, and we can tout this "Real Rebublican/Conservative" over that "RINO" or whatever. But the evil, treacherous back-biting has to stop. We are giving the Dems a show rivaling anything striking writers could come up with. They are laughing at us. That is if they consider us at all. Quit it, people! Just Stop, Please!

Are the by-law changes good or bad? Maybe a little of each. Don't assume they are either. Look at them independently of presumed motives. I may not like the Brian Harlin Rule, but Brian is not a Central Committee member at this point, so it doesn't even apply to him right now. I hope he can be persuaded to continue to be involved, and that some way can be found for him to not be targeted. He has worked hard for the party, and doesn't deserve, as far as I know, bad treatment. I hope this can be done in a way that preserves the noble idea of no conflict of interest. Work on it, Central Committee & State Party "Leaders", prove you are worthy of that term.

As to the budget. Keeping state party headquarters is important. Yes, it could move to a less visible, cheaper location (aren't the Dems are in the basement of AL Goodies Mall?). Heck, we could operate out of a car trunk, but is that the message we want to convey, that we are so beaten-up, so inconsequential, that we are nothing? Out of sight-out of mind. The visibility of 15 West Street is an asset we should at least try to keep. The Dems are in power, they don't need the visibility we do. Besides, their "real' headquarters might as well be the AFL-CIO building, proudly visible right across State Circle from the legislature.

As to staff... Am I right that there are only 2 paid staff members now? Marsha Jitka is irreplaceable. She should be the last one to go. She has served, and continues to serve, this party more than many know. John Flynn, he has a different reaction from people. Some like him, some do not. My understanding is that he already took a pay cut, maybe trying to raise his pay is an attempt to thank him for staying on, and to encourage him to keep working. Is he worth the money? I frankly do not know. But we need somebody there to implement policy and run things, just as we need Marsha to keep running the office. Remember, the Chairman has a "real job" he has to attend to, Kane did as well. We need at least two people in the office if at all possible.

Now as to Kane... during those days we had tons of money coming in, and an ebb and flow of staff circulating through.
You would just get used to this staff member or that one, and they'd be replaced with another young, new, just-out-of college body. But we had a Republican Governor as well, so the National Party would help pitch in. Admittingly, they also took as well, trying to get Marylanders to give to the national needs. We were a donor state, and probably saw less back than we put in. Those days are over, buddy, the well is a bit drier now. As, again, Bobby E. told us, the big money won't be there. Ain't that the truth? Fair-weather friends from outside the party regulars, businesses that gave to us because we were (partially) in power, are back to writing their checks to the Dems once again. This is despite the fact that they are enabling those who would tax and regulate them out of business... they haven't learned.

But it is not only the Ed Hales that were once supporters, then put O'Malley signs at their business locations. Some of our supposedly loyal Republicans have circled the wagons and are unfortunately just looking out for themselves. I have learned that some formerly high-ranking Republican office holders (who shall remain nameless) have promised to help out financially at fundraisers, only to at the last minute agree to just show up, but not help raise money for the party. They may be raising money for themselves, with no clear statement of what they are going to do with it. Former moneymen back off in helping the party. Look at the budget (thanks to Brian Griffiths). There is only 20 thousand dollars from "Major Donors". 20K? Isn't that about what Dick Hug might find in loose change in his pocket?
Everything else must be coming from less well-off people, regular Joes who are scraping together a couple of bucks here and there, and sending it to West Street. You know, maybe that isn't such a bad thing. A growing grassroots support from regular Marylanders fed up with the shenanigans of the Special Session could translate into more votes, and a growing party. Maybe Republicans are not just the party of the "rich", but of the regular people. Besides, O'Gov has assured us that much of the rich will be moving out of state anyway. We need more regular Joes.

Yes, we need to cut back, and we have cut most of the staff we had when Kane left. However, we need some staff, and a place for them to work. Maybe we need to give Doctor Jim the chance to raise money from these regular folks, since the rich Elvis's have left the building. It will take a while, and we won't raise as much, but it could be better for us in the long run. I have heard that the Party was promised that it would have money, only to have it spent and left with very little. That is not Dr. Pelura's fault. He is doing what he can with what he has.

Who is the head of the Party in Maryland now? Ehrlich? Maybe he was when he was in power, in fact wasn't he (and Kane) criticized for trying to be a kingmaker? But he isn't holding office now. Legislative leaders? Which ones? What if they disagree? Who can dictate policy- maybe nobody should? Pelura? Maybe he has his hands busy with trying to keep this ship afloat. Only a crew can mutiny and challenge the Captain's authority. Those that have already abandoned ship, every man for himself, in the lifeboats do not get a vote. If you are volunteering, giving sacrificially to keep the place ship-shape, bailing out and stopping the flooding, then your arguments carry weight. Otherwise you are a mere landlubber. If it is the little guys who are paying the freight, maybe they have more power than the fly-by-night, fair-weather friends we had before. That seems like a good thing.

Whatever happens at the convention, and whatever happens at the primary, we need to hang together, or we'll be destined to hang separately. Savvy?

Crossposted on Maryland Chesapeake Blog by Chester Peake

8 comments:

Greg Kline said...

Chester,

A couple of thoughts. First, I agree with your general sentiments about the need for unity and to keep our staff and HQ. Yes, they are expensive but we have to believe that we can do better fundraising rather than commit ourselves to stepping back to the bad old days when our HQ was far less attractive and in a less attractive part of town.

Also, the staff is great and deserves more support not less. Some complain they have not done enough yet we have asked more from far fewer people and to motivate them we significantly cut their salaries. I think we are being way too hard on Marcia and John.

The fact is the state party needs our support but yet we have elected Republicans raising hundreds of thousands for their own interests and PACs rather than helping the party and dragging many donors with them.

I do disagree with some of the comments. Sticking together as a group is important. Branding ourselves as anti-tax and a real alternative to the liberals in control is vital. Having five members cut our knees out from under us when we had a chance to do something or at least let Marylanders know we gave maximum effort did great harm to our cause. It properly is criticized and with such a small caucus discipline should be easier not harder.

The essential problem is that individual politicians brandishing the Republican label are more interested in individual glory (read reelection) than the good of the team. They join the Dems to convince themselves they are "relevant" when in reality they make the members of our party just less so. It is right to demand loyalty to ideology if not also party as well as the highest ethical standard. I view such criticism as a sign of strength not weakness. Otherwise, we are just Democrat light and give the voters no real alternative.

Chester Peake said...

Greg,

Thanks for your comments.

I guess there is a tightrope walk between sticking together and calling out those who wander off the reservation. I was in no way happy with the "Ef'in Five" at all. Perhaps they need to be called out.

I don't know if the best time to do that is now while the wound is fresh, or later when they are up for re-election and it can do the most good (or the most damage to them). Then that pesky Reagan 11th Commandment kicks in. Ironic since Reagan's son is supposed to come to that PAC fundraiser.
How do we tell it like it is without contributing to the circular firing squad? Is there an answer to that?

The problem with "party discipline" is who gets to administer it? When Bob Ehrlich was on the 2nd floor, everybody felt they had to bow to his wishes, and it was unclear what those wishes really were and what was just wannabes presuming upon themselves to tell us what Bobby wanted. Kane was another one who got a lot of kingmaker criticism. But who is the boss now? Some legislators think they are, and we should genuflect to them. But all they can really do is persuade.
Unlike the Dems, who have a Governor... a Speaker of the House... and a Senate President, they can't threaten to take away committee chairmanships and the like.
What can be done? And who should do it?

Matt Johnston said...

I have a question to everyone out there in "leader land." I have been a registered republican in the state since 1996 and have receive not one--not one--solitication for money from the state party.

How can we raise money without asking for money.

Just a question.

Chester Peake said...

Don't worry, Matt...

If you give once, you are sure to be on a database and hounded for the rest of your life, and then some. Are you sure you really want that? You may want to consider counting your blessings.

concerned MDGOPer said...

this is a very good discussion that needs to be had, but first i think there's some questions that need to be posed:

1) why did 12 out of 14 state senators vote to remove flynn in february? (ignore the fact that they really don't have direct power to do that, although they do hold considerable sway with their county central committees)

2) why does pelura schedule executive committee meetings when he knows people cannot show up (during the holidays for example) and why does he cancel the executive committee meetings at the last minute?

3) why was the state party so embarrassingly quiet during the special session that brought us the largest tax increase in the history of MD? the tax rally was organized by senators and delegates with flynn and pelura forwarding the emails to their list after the fact--not a whole lot of heavy lifting on the state party's part.

4) why does the state party have NO communications with the house and senate leadership?

5) what are the fundraising numbers for 2007 for the state party? why has no one seen them?

the correct answer to the above questions is clearly because flynn and pelura are running the party into the ground. they have demonstrated nothing but dishonesty, arrogance, incompetence, and detachment from reality.

the senators voted to get rid of flynn a mere 6 weeks after he started in the job. that's a heck of a feat. the vote came about because flynn sent an idiotic, juvenile, arrogant, and offensive letter to all senators basically saying that he wasn't going to play with them anymore. he walked his butt over to the miller building and HAND DELIVERED this letter that was so full of sanctimony and sophomoric pontifications that it is just unbelievable. the way i see it, flynn has never been elected to anything in his life while the senators and delegates obviously have and for him to be so brazen and arrogant 6 weeks in shows he is a terrible fit for the job. and he has only made it worse from there. as such, the delegates and senators have no communications with the party because flynn and pelura have no idea what's going on yet they seem to think they know everything. and they think they're mightier than all.

talking about the state party's lack of fundraising and who/who isn't helping is an easy statement. but it would hold a lot more weight if we ACTUALLY KNEW THE NUMBERS. why hasn't anyone seen what they've been doing? why don't we know what's in the door, what we've taken in, where we're falling short? because flynn and pelura dont' want us to know. they do not want to be subjected to the scrutiny that is small "d" democracy.
SHOW ME THE MONEY! SHOW ME THE NUMBERS! until we see them, everything is speculation and attempts to blame straw men.

the special session was a huge opportunity for the party. why is it that the only two press releases that came out of west street were two days late and $2 billion short? because flynn and pelura were too busy rubbing their hands together trying to plot ways to concentrate their power. they have spent months trying to rig the convention, get these bylaw changes passed, and create the ultimate oligarchy. they spent more time putting together the harlin amendment (who has been a true party guy, plus all of the other GOP businessmen and women who have in kinded their services throughout the years to keep our voice out there), the oath amendment, etc. that is a deriliction of their duties. they failed and couldn't even manage to swing at an underhanded pitch. make no mistake about it, the rally was organized by senators and delegates. flynn even had the womens republicans clubs buses cancelled, which cost the rally countless attendees.

i urge everyone who cares about this party to stop this insanity. do not allow these bylaws to go through. as governor ehrlich said, GET ANGRY! demand answers.

if we are going to hold the maryland 5 accountable for their vote, then it would be hypocrisy for us not to do the same with flynn and pelura. this weekend is our chance. the bylaw changes must be given the right scrutiny and not rammed through. also, it should be asked if flynn's 10k raise is in the 2008 salary figures (because alienating the senators, delegates, grasstops, and rainmakers, lying to voting and non-voting executive committee members outright, and basic incompetence deserves a 10k bump, right? fiscal responsibility indeed)

if we do not take this opportunity to get straight answers and carefully deliberate what they are trying to do, it won't be mike miller running us into the ground. it will be our own doing and we will be no better than the maryland 5 or the montgomery county delegation. we will be suckers who let ourselves get beat and fooled.

do the right thing and if you are a voting member, at the convention this weekend, put the party first. we've had many chairmen and ED's over the years, but the party has remained. we need to make sure that continues, even in these difficult times. speak now or forever hold your peace.

STAY UNTIL THE END ON SATURDAY! flynn and pelura have devised a plan: they're going to wear us down with mundane stuff all morning, then breakout sessions that are meaningless. the real action will happen when they think people have left for the day. stay the whole day and demand answers, concrete answers. do not settle for anything less.

if you really care about the future of the party, ask the questions and get the answers, tough out the day, weed through the ploys flynn and pelura will put out, and do the right thing for the party.

this is dire, folks. john flynn and jim pelura have been operating without transparency, honesty, and without being forthright. in good conscience, ask yourself why are you there? if you're there because you believe in our party, then what you need to do should be clear. take the opportunity that is this weekend and do not allow the death-knell to be sounded for the MDGOP at the hands of Jim Pelura and John Flynn!

thanks for the time and the forum.

Chester Peake said...

Wow,"Concerned"

If half of what you say is true, I never knew. I'm sure many of the rank and file don't either.

I am not a flynn supporter, but I do not know what happened.

As to Dr. Jim...
Luis Pope dropped out of the running, not being willing to give up his other office. I don't think too many were serious John White supporters. Jim did seem the best choice at the time. How many of the problems are Jim's and how many are John's? What were Senators even doing taking such a vote? Is there a power struggle where legislators think they are the big cheeses? But that's plural so who would be the big, big cheese? Before Ehrlich, did Chairman Steele and the Legislators get along better? Who was the big guy then?

The party needs prayer,or we haven't got one!

Anonymous said...

Well let's just cut to the chase. John Flynn went after Bob Hooper and did you hear anyone else echoing even the faintest complaints about Hooper when he retired the other week? Nope, not a peep. You know why? Because Hooper made an effort that Flynn could only dream of and his senate colleagues, his company employees, and his friends will all tell you that. Going after him was one of the absolute lowest things that this poster has ever seen in politics and it still disgusts me.

There are, of course, the lies and innuendo. For anyone who claims the top of the state party is a beacon of truth these days also has swamp land to sell you in Baltimore City. From lying about the fundraising numbers to lying about what different people said, there has been a constant flow of inaccurate information from West Street and it's ticked off a lot of people who didn't hold a grudge to begin with.

Central committee members should ask questions and expect answers, real answers. They're being duped and I'm afraid it'll continue. I encourage them to ask their State Senator or Delegate just what they think of the status of the party, and not their bs opinion, but their honest won't repeat it aloud opinion because they will be beyond surprised.

I think Jim Pelura and John Flynn are in over their heads. Neither come from a party perspective and neither have the skills it takes to coral different groups together because the party is about a combination of fundraising, candidates, grassroots, elected officials, central committees, and more.

We have some tremendous opportunity in front of us with Governor O'Malley's tax antics and with the the liberal shift of our state's Democrats, but I am very afraid that our Party will fail to capitalize on this as they already have.

concerned mdgoper said...

chester,
to respond to your questions, first off, obviously the grassroots and rank-and-file don't know about these things. that's exactly what flynn and pelura want. again, they are operating without transparency and honesty.

the vote by the senators to remove flynn was because when he came on, the maryland accountability project report came out a couple of weeks later. one person they hit at hard was bob hooper, who we all know is not well (and wish him the best because he's a solid, good man). senators took issue with hitting hooper and the others because one of their absences that was counted by MAP was when several senators were in a committee meeting on the BGE fiasco, senator pipkin being one. many of the other noted absences were flawed and actually seemed to single out specific REPUBLICANS BY A REPUBLICAN BACKED GROUP. so flynn got questioned about it because an easy google search turned up his involvement with MAP. he was called to a senate caucus meeting where flynn was asked point-blank if he compiled the report. flynn told the senators there that NO he did not. he said he disassocited his involvement with MAP before the new year. flynn then goes on to tell the gazette that, in fact, he did ALL of the work on the MAP report. he lied to the senators directly to their faces (the beginning of his long line of lies). in fact, lowell stoltzfus made a statement in the gazette story along the lines that flynn needed to have "a come to Jesus meeting" with the senators as a result of what he said to them and then said in the gazette. when you have lowell saying that, you know things are bad for you.

the point is not over a fight between cheeses. it is about an arrogant ED who lied to the faces of our republican senators, wrote a nasty, juvenile letter to those senators that was full of arrogance, and illustrates flynn's lack of character. he couldn't even "man up" to what he did. it was shameful on his part and embarrassing for the party as a whole. and jim pelura has been desperately trying to keep him in place all along, going along with the lies and fighting for this arrogant, unqualified Ed who will do pelura's bidding. but flynn has actually proven to hurt pelura more than he could ever dream of helping. why is pelura fighting to keep on this person???

what we need to remember here is that from nearly day one, everyone closely involved with the state party has been lied to by pelura and flynn and cut out. then they have reached into territory never touched by state party officials, such as trying to remove county chairs (they got one successfully in AA county, and still trying in several other counties) another for instance, pelura used his first meeting with legislators to lobby for an equestrian center in AA county and recommended that legislators use their might to get it done, that it should be part of our legislative agenda--self interest for pelura, definitely. relevance to the MDGOP, not even close. it was a ridiculous suggestion that was laughed at and mocked because of its absurdity.

mr. kline--i wanted to address your statement that: "The essential problem is that individual politicians brandishing the Republican label are more interested in individual glory (read reelection) than the good of the team." then how would you characterize flynn and pelura's six month quest to get his 10k reinstated? is that good for the party? have we gotten such a great return from his service that the chairman and ED have done little except to get that money back? their silence during the special session is justified because flynn wants his 10k back?you may need to do some soul searching on that one.

this all comes not from a position of it being personal, it's simply that these two have proven that they cannot and will not do the job that we so desperately need done. they have lied and plotted against our own without fighting the real fight against the liberal establishment. i don't work for jim pelura or john flynn but i do work hard for the republicans in maryland. i will not stand idlely by while those in leadership fail to do what they are tasked to do while seeking out their own personal glory.

use the opportunity that is this weekend and vote your conscience, vote FOR the strength of the maryland republican party. that means the bylaws must be off the table and flynn and pelura MUST show what our current financial outlook is. how can we change things if we don't even know where we are?

we've seen a lot of movements with wind then collapsing from the sails when it was critical. i respectfully ask that this be the time that we break tradition and follow through. remember, flynn and pelura are counting on everyone being tired and ready to go home, even leaving early. DO NOT LEAVE EARLY!

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