You probably saw earlier this week that once again the idea of allowing independents to vote in Republican primaries has reared its head. It's something that we discussed at length on this week's episode of Red Maryland Radio, but I believe that it merits additional and further discussion.
§ 8-202. Political parties using the primary.
(a) In general. — A principal political party, as determined by the statement
of registration issued by the State Board:
(1) shall use the primary election to:
(i) nominate its candidates for public office; and
(ii) elect all members of the local central committees of the political party; and
(2) may use the primary election in the year of a presidential election to elect delegates to a national presidential nominating convention.
(b) Requirements for nominees.— Except for a nominee for President or Vice President, the name of a nominee of a principal political party may not appear on the ballot in a general election if the individual has not:
(1) been nominated in the primary election; or
(2) been designated to ﬁll a vacancy in nomination in accordance with Subtitle 5 of this title.
(c) Process to allow voting by persons unaffiliated with party. — If a political party chooses to permit voters not affiliated with the party to vote in the party’s primary election, the chairman of the party’s State central committee shall so notify the State Board at least 6 months before the date of the primary election. (An. Code 1957, art. 33, § 8-202; 2002, ch. 291, §§ 2, 4; 2003, ch. 22; 2006, ch. 44; 2008, ch. 118.)
- 1996: Clinton 54%, Dole 38%, Perot 7%
- 2000: Gore 57%, Bush 40%,
- 2004: Kerry 56%, Bush 43%
- 2000: Sarbanes 63%, Rappaport 37%
- 2004: Mikulski 65%, Pipkin 34%
- 2006: Cardin 54%, Steele 44%, Zeese 1.5%
The damn shame of all of this, however, is the fact that this entire discussion about letting independents vote in the primary is distracting from those very issues that actually will define what is electoral success in 2014. We can't worry about fundraising, message development, candidate recruitment, or tactics when we are distracted by this kind of stuff. Roughly an hour was spent at last week's State Party Executive Committee meeting on this issue, and not even the main point of this issue but the idea on whether or not a committee should be formed to study this issue. Furthermore, even if a committee did go forth and provide a recommendation to open the primary up to independents, the issue is almost certainly dead on arrival when it arrives on the floor of the state party convention because it does not have nearly enough support from Central Committee membership for serious consideration.
This entire discussion about opening up the primaries to independents is a colossal waste of time. No matter what the Executive Committee discusses, no matter how Chairman Diana Waterman decides on the formation of a committee, no matter what the Central Committee decides to do at the Fall Convention, all of this discussion about it will ultimately be a waste of time. We do need to come up with better ways to reach out to independents. We do need to come up with strategies that better highlight our opposition to the Democratic machine in Annapolis and show how Republican governance is both better and different than the nannystatism that is coming out of our state government. But here's the bottom line folks; this entire discussion of opening the primaries will ultimately not move one single voter into the Republican column. None whatsoever. We are less than a year from the Republican primary, and we are 472 days until the General Election. Why is so much time being spent talking about something that distracts us from the important work that will actually help us next November 4th?
I would invite those folks who are championing this idea to return from Fantasy Island and join us back here trying to come up with actual solutions that will help Republicans win next November.