Delegates Nic Kipke (Anne Arundel) and Mike Smigiel (Cecil) may challenge Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell (Calvert) and Minority Whip Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio for the leadership positions of the Republican caucus in the House of Delegates.
“I’ve been encouraged to run by a contingent of delegates from the Anne Arundel County, the Eastern Shore, and Western Maryland,” Kipke said. “It’s a gut check,” said Kipke of his contemplation of challenging O’Donnell for the top spot in House GOP caucus, “do we have the right strategy to grow our caucus.”
If he runs, Kipke will seek greater involvement of conservative activists around the state, and give every caucus member “full and defined responsibilities.” Kipke wants to let caucus members use their own unique talents to serve the party.
Kipke cited the example of Delegates Neil Parrott (Washington County) and Pat McDonough (Baltimore County) and their successful management of the petition drive to put the Maryland DREAM Act, giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens, on the November 2012 ballot.
Kipke noted that caucus leadership initially suppressed the petition effort.
Smigiel, who seeks the Minority Whip role, echoed similar dissatisfaction with caucus leadership, particularly Haddaway-Riccio. His concern is people “talking the talk and not walking the walk” when it comes to fiscal conservatism. He thought tapping Haddaway Riccio to give the Republican response to Governor O’Malley’s state of the state address was a mistake given her bond bill hypocrisy. “Other with more credibility could have spoken,” Smigiel said.
Smigiel, chair of the Tea Party caucus, wants a fiscally conservative leadership team “willing to fight for the conservative principles they expound.”
For his party Smigiel appears to be ready to take his shot, whereas Kipke, when asked when he would announce a challenge said he’s “not able to share that yet.”
As Omar Little said, “If you come at the king, you best not miss.”
A voicemail was left at O’Donnell’s office was not returned. Kipke said he did speak with the Minority Leader and that both of them would work together no matter what happens.
Whether there is any unity in the caucus after a leadership fight will remain to be seen. However, with O’Malley indicating a potential for tax increases and playing Gangs of New York with redistricting, Republicans are going to have to find a way to stand tall, no matter who leads them.