The Maryland Republican Party held it’s Fall Convention in Annapolis this weekend to elect a new chair and leadership positions. I was there and here’s what happened in notebook form.
Friday Night is Renegade Night
The MDGOP Executive Committee met to discuss party finances and hear reports from the Young Republicans, College Republicans, and party counsel etc… Our pal Michael Swartz was there and you can see his post for the details.
Friday however, is the night for the hospitality suites, press-the-flesh schmoozing by the candidates, and in general where the real fun is.
Chair candidates Mary Kane, Alex Mooney, and Sam Hale had their suites as well as some of the larger counties like Montgomery and Anne Arundel. Our own Brian Griffiths and candidate for Third Vice Chair, helped put together the YR spread.
However, the main attraction of the night was the Renegade Room, hosted by Richard Cross, Don Murphy and the Prince of Darkness himself, Joe Steffen.
Complete with—I kid you not—a grilled cheese station, the Renegade Room was the place to be. But alas not all were welcome. Some—like Mickey from Porky’s—had to be tossed out on several occasions. Others, like serial dropout candidate Carmen Amedori, had a better shot of getting a table at the Rainbow Room without a reservation than getting into the Renegade suite. Richard Cross has all the juicy details on that incident. See Joe’s write up of the night’s events here.
The Renegade Resolution was on prominent display as well as an honor roll to reengade candidates.
I had only known, Joe, Richard, and Don through Facebook conversations, but they are every bit as friendly and personable in the flesh as they are online. It was a pleasure to meet and chew the fat or in this case grilled cheese with them.
The buzz of the evening revolved around the incident at WBAL earlier in that afternoon, when Bob Ehrlich dodged WBAL investigative reporter Jayne Miller’s question about those election night robocalls and storming out of the station.
The WBAL incident bothered me so much I rose early Saturday morning to comment on it.
I have a lot of amity for Bob Ehrlich but his continued evasion of a real answer about the robocalls is unacceptable. We at Red Maryland endorsed Ehrlich, supported him and put our own skin in the game for him. He owes us—and all the people who went to the mattresses for him—a better explanation than, “it was done outside my purview.” Unless of course, Ehrlich wants the picture of he and Kendel escaping out the back door to be lasting image Marylanders have of him.
This could have made my appearance on the Kendel Ehrlich radio show that morning all the more interesting/awkward, but I didn’t broach the subject. The spectacle of Barack Obama handing the presidential podium over to Bill Clinton was enough to discuss.
There was one awkward or—depending on your point of view—funny moment when Joe Steffen passed by saying hi in the hotel lobby as I was on the phone with Kendel. Had I any moxie I would have handed the phone to Joe. What a 10:30 news update that would have made for Robert Lang!
I made it into the convention hall as the Rules Committee was presenting it’s report and the party was voting on changes to it’s voting method. Rather than bore you with the technical minutiae, the new voting method gives smaller counties a little more weight in the voting apportionment. County central committee members vote for party officers.
Next were the official nominations for MDGOP Chair and the candidate statement. The best line from any of the candidates came from Bill Campbell, “When I squeeze a nickel, Jefferson ends up in Monticello on the back.” And I believe it. As it’s CFO, he helped tame AMTRAK.
Alex Mooney won the race for chair on the second ballot.
First ballot results:
Bill Campbell 48, Mike Esteve 29, Sam Hale 52, Mary Kane 183, Alex Mooney 276.
Tea Party favorite, Hale dropped out after the first ballot and threw his support to Mooney, Mike Esteve dropped out as well asking his supporters to vote for Mary Kane. Campbell dropped out but did not voice any support to another candidate. Mooney defeated Mary Kane on the second ballot 362-219.
Mary Kane’s loss does not appear to be a reflection on her so much as it was a rejection of Ehrlich. It appears that Kane wasn’t the “establishment” candidate others made her out to be. In fact, a lot of the central committee members I talked to were indeed not all that happy with Ehrlich they simply thought Kane was the best candidate for the job.
Alex Mooney Pros and Cons:
He’s a solid conservative both fiscal and social;
He’s a proven fundraiser;
He’s tied into the conservative think tanks and operations in DC, which he can use to gain access to donors;
Mike Miller hates him.
He hasn’t stated publically that he’s in this for the long haul. We need to know that MDGOP chair isn’t a temporary way-station for him until he runs for Congress when Roscoe Bartlett departs this mortal coil;
He has fundraising plan, but no details on how to execute it;
His social conservatism may put off more libertarian minded members of the party, who would be allies on the fiscal front.
I like Alex Mooney, he’s a fighter who can raise money, and anyone who can piss off Mike Miller is okay in my book. However, he’s a policy guy coming from the state senate. How will he handle a situation where one of his former Republican colleagues in the legislature goes off the reservation?
I hope he realizes that it takes more than simply saying “conservative wins” and that he indeed follows his own advice and indeed gets out there to explain why conservative ideas are preferable to snake-oil liberalism.
Mooney talked a big game, but now it’s time to put up or shut up. Show us something.
Diana Waterman, Vice Chairman of the Queen Anne’s County Central Committee won the race for First Vice Chair. You can see her Q&A with Red Maryland here. Interestingly enough, none of Queen Anne’s votes went to Mooney on either the first or second ballot.
Larry Helminiak, Vice Chairman of the Carroll County central committee and a board member of the Maryland Taxpayers Association won Second Vice Chair.
Our own Brian Griffiths lost his bid for Third Vice Chair. Brian lost to former federal prosecutor Eric Grannon.
Chris Rosenthal reelected to Treasurer by acclimation.
John Wafer won the race for Secretary.